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Imam Johari Malik & Imam Talib Abdur-Rashid on Zawahari’s Statements on Obama

Abu Reem

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The following are statements of African-American Imams. It’s time to let BAMs to speak for themselves inshallah!

—————–

STATEMENT OF IMAM JOHARI ABDUL-MALIK
From “Out House” to the White House!

johari-malik.jpg

As a black American, I was an admirer of El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz -Malcolm X (may Allah grant him peace) for many years before I finally converted to Islam over 25 years ago.  Like so many other Blacks in America and around world, I am outraged by the comments attributed to Mr. Al-Zawahiri.  Just in case Al-Zawahiri hasn’t noticed, both Malcolm X and President-elect Obama are heroes in Africa, Asia, Europe, around the world and all across America – including Black America.

His shallow attempt at dividing American Muslims from our president is an exercise in futility.  Al-Zawahiri’s comments only serve as a distraction, when we as Americans should be celebrating, we must take a detour to silence more hate speech from this group.

I am offended that this group consistently portrays Islam as a murderous and irrational religion practiced by racists and sexists.  Just as I would not portray the Ku Klux Klan as “Christian” or Hitler as “Catholic”, I can’t call the streaming absurdities of these kinds of people – “Islam”! Racism and murder are not part of Islam – Al-Zawahiri’s comments were (as usual) racist and divisive.

I was also offended at the hijacking of Malcolm X’s legacy in which Mr. Al-Zawahiri implied that Malcolm would approve of their un-Islamic murderous methods.  Malcolm X has said that he believed in the sanctity of life and the rule of law.  The Al-Qaeda gang of lawless murderers is looking to cover their bloody tracks by dragging Brother Malcolm X into their dark and musty cave of division.

In a recent speech by the Deputy-Amir of MANA (Muslim Alliance in North America) said,

“He (Malcolm X) said right here in Harlem in a rally in this very building (Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood), on July 5, 1964 “ … SO LET US TRY THE BALLOT. AND IF THE BALLOT DOESN’T WORK, WE’LL TRY SOMETHING ELSE. BUT LET US TRY THE BALLOT. AND THE ONLY WAY WE CAN TRY THE BALLOT IS TO ORGANIZE AND PUT ON A CAMPAIGN THAT WILL CREATE A NEW CLIMATE.” ”

Let it be known that Black American-Muslims see Malcolm X as a martyr (shaheed in Islam). Black American Muslims did not struggle through the civil rights movement and the acceptance of Islam to go from the “back of the bus” to the “back of the camel”.  How dare this racist Al-Zawahiri use the words of Malcolm X against the legitimate aspirations of Black people.

I was offended that Al-Zawahiri throws around the term “slave” to describe blacks in the pejorative!  This man, Al-Zawahiri, does a major disservice to the cause of Islam in America.  Black Muslims in America plan to pull the sheets off the sins of Arab-style-Klansman using the cover of Islamic brotherhood to exploit our people.

While I say this, I am not racist to call myself a Muslim African-American nor does it violate the spirit Islam to refer to all African-Americans as my people.  The Prophet (as) said, ‘Oh my people…..’ this affirmation was a comment to the people of Mecca both Muslim and those of other faiths.

I recall the prophet Muhammad, (as) said there is no superiority between the Arab and the non-Arab, the White over the Black nor the Black over the White…..

The Obama victory is the culmination on centuries of struggle; lynching, torture, murderer, rape and incarceration for political and religious freedom.  Today, I refuse to be castrated by hating Al-Qaeda group hiding in a cave.

While Mr. Al-Zawahiri comments spew from his  “Out house”.  Barak Obama is an African-American and he is…… ‘In the HOUSE!!!!!’, not  a “house-negro” but a black man’s house!  African-American Muslims are also “in the house!” – U.S. House of Representatives (Muslim congressman: Keith Ellison and Andre’ Carlson) and soon to be in the Senate and one day Muslims……..in every aspect of American life.

We are proud to be Muslim and we love our country. There is no contradiction.

Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, serves as Director of Outreach for the Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church, VA and as Chair of Governmental Issues for the Muslim Alliance in North America. The views expressed do not reflect the official position of the forementioned organizations
————–

talib.jpgSTATEMENT BY IMAM AL-HAJJ TALIB ‘ABDUR-RASHID
OF THE MOSQUE OF ISLAMIC BROTHERHOOD INC.  IN RESPONSE TO THE RECENT STATEMENT ATTRIBUTED TO AL-ZAWAHRI OF EL-QAEDA
Delivered at a Press Conference Convened at the Shabazz Center in Harlem NYC
Nov. 20, 2008

AS-SALAAMU ‘ALAIKUM. THE MOSQUE OF ISLAMIC BROTHERHOOD WAS FOUNDED FOUR DECADES AGO IN PART, AS A RESP0NSE TO THE FACT THAT IT HAD BECOME OBVIOUS THAT THE THEN EXISTING SUNNI MUSLIM COMMUNITIES LACKED KNOWLEDGE AND DISCIPLINE, AND WERE THEREBY EXPOSED TO MANIPULATION AND APPARENT USE AS A POLITICAL ARM.

THIS UNFORTUNATE SITUATION WAS RAPIDLY RESULTING IN CONFUSION, AND UN-ISLAMIC TEACHINGS WITHIN THE SUNNI MUSLIM COMMUNITIES, AND THE ALIENATION OF MANY PEOPLE WHO WANTED A TRUE UNDERSTANDING OF ISLAM. THE SINCERITY OF AFRICAN AMERICANS AND OUR PAST NAIVETÉ HAS APPARENTLY LED MODERN FORCES TO THINK THAT OUR PEOPLE CAN BE MANIPULATED , AT THIS OUTSET OF THE 21ST CENTURY.

SO LET US MAKE IT CLEAR THAT AMERICA IS, AS THE AUTHOR AND RESEARCHER SYLVIANNE DIOUF POINTS OUT, THE ONLY WESTERN COUNTRY WITH AN INDIGENOUS MUSLIM POPULATION OF AFRICAN DESCENT. NO ONE AT HOME  OR ABROAD SPEAKS FOR MUSLIM AFRICAN AMERICANS BUT THEIR OWN LEADERS.
FURTHER, OVERWHELMINGLY, AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSLIM LEADERS REJECT CALLS TO BOTH RELIGIOUS AND POLITICAL EXTREMISM , PARTICULARLY WHEN SUCH CALLS ARE BASED UPON APPEALS TO EMOTION AND A PROJECTED INTERNATIONAL AGENDA DECLARED BY OTHERS, INSTEAD OF A DOMESTIC AGENDA DECLARED BY OURSELVES.

INSOFAR AS EL-HAJJ MALIK EL-SHABAZZ, POPULARLY KNOWN AS MALCOLM X IS CONCERNED (MAY ALLAH FORGIVE HIS SINS AND GRANT HIM PARADISE), WE WHO LIVE THE REALITY OF WHAT IT MEANS TO BE BOTH BLACK AND MUSLIM IN AMERICA, AS OPPOSED TO JUST READING ABOUT IT – WE THE PEOPLE – KNOW WHAT EL-HAJJ MALIK TAUGHT.

HE SAID RIGHT HERE IN HARLEM IN A RALLY IN THIS VERY BUILDING , ON JULY 5, 1964 :  “ … SO LET US TRY THE BALLOT. AND IF THE BALLOT DOESN’T WORK, WE’LL TRY SOMETHING ELSE. BUT LET US TRY THE BALLOT. AND THE ONLY WAY WE CAN TRY THE BALLOT IS TO ORGANIZE AND PUT ON A CAMPAIGN THAT WILL CREATE A NEW CLIMATE.

IT IS CLEAR TO US THAT THE SUCCESSFUL PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN  OF PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA WAS AN ACCEPTANCE OF BROTHER MALCOLM’S CHALLENGE TO AMERICANS OF AFRICAN DESCENT TO  “TRY THE BALLOT”.

SEVERAL MONTHS AGO, AN AL-JAZEERA REPORTER WHO WAS AN ARAB ASKED ME IF I THOUGHT THAT IF HE WERE ALIVE TODAY, EL-HAJJ MALIK EL-SHABAZZ (MALCOLM X) WOULD VOTE FOR BARACK OBAMA. WHEN I ANSWERED “YES”, THE REPORTER WAVED HIS HAND AND DISMISSED MY RESPONSE WITHOUT EVEN ASKING ME WHY I ANSWERED AS I DID.

WELL I PERSONALLY HAVE SPOKEN WITH SOME OF THE FEW  SURVIVING ELDERS IN THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY, WHO WERE ACTUAL AND AUTHENTIC,  CLOSE FOLLOWERS AND SUPPORTERS OF EL-HAJJ MALIK.

THEY HAVE SAID TO ME THAT THE GREAT AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSLIM LEADER WOULD HAVE BEEN PROUD OF THE DISCIPLINE AND INTEGRITY WITH WHICH THE PRESIDENT-ELECT CONDUCTED HIMSELF DURING THE CAMPAIGN. EL-HAJJ MALIK EL-SHABAZZ WOULD HAVE BEEN PROUD THEY SAY, O F PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA’S TRIUMPH OVER TREMENDOUS ODDS,  AND THE FACT THAT 97%  OF AFRICAN AMERICANS VOTED FOR OBAMA, AS WELL AS MANY, MANY WHITE, SPANISH-SPEAKING, AND OTHER AMERICANS, OF VARIOUS ETHNICITIES AND BACKGROUNDS.

BY THE SAME TOKEN, JUST AS THE PRESIDENT-ELECT HIMSELF HAS SAID THAT DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING WOULD BE IN THE STREETS LEADING POOR PEOPLE RATHER THAN SITTING IN THE WHITE HOUSE WITH HIM, WE UNDERSTAND THAT THIS APPLIES AS WELL TO BROTHER EL-HAJJ MALIK EL-SHABAZZ/ MALCOLM X, WHO FOLLOWED THE QUR’ANIC MANDATE TO SPEAK THE TRUTH NO MATTER WHOM OR WHAT, EVEN IF IT IS AGAINST ONESELF

THAT IS WHAT OUR ELDERS HAVE SAID TO US, AND THEY ARE IN A MUCH BETTER POSITION TO MAKE SUCH DETERMINATIONS, THAN THOSE WHO WHILE THEY SHARE OUR COMMON FAITH, HAVE HISTORICALLY BEEN DISCONNECTED FROM AFRICAN AMERICANS GENERALLY, AND MUSLIM AFRICAN AMERICANS IN PARTICULAR.

EL-HAJJ MALIK EL-SHABAZZ WAS A MAN OF INTEGRITY WHO STOOD FOR JUSTICE AGAINST INJUSTICE. HE NEVER CALLED FOR ACTS OF INJUSTICE AGAINST OTHERS AS A RESPONSE TO INJUSTICE AGAINST HIS PEOPLE. HE STOOD FOR HUMAN RIGHTS,  AND THE PRINCIPLE  OF SELF-DEFENSE RECOGNIZED IN INTERNATIONAL LAW. HE WOULD HAVE REJECTED, AND WE REJECT , ACTS OF POLITICAL EXTREMISM THAT EXCEED THE BOUNDARIES OF ISLAMIC LAW, AND TAKE THE LIVES OF INNOCENT, NON-COMBATANT CIVILIANS.

SO WE SAY TO ALL WHO WOULD SEEK TO MANIPULATE US, OR MANIPULATE OTHERS AGAINST US, THAT WE KNOW OUR FULL HISTORY IN AMERICA AND WE ARE STRIVING TO UNDERSTAND THE GEO-POLITICAL COMPLEXITIES OF LIFE IN THE MODERN WORLD.  MALCOLM X STOOD FOR TRUTH AND JUSTICE AND SO DO WE. WE STAND IN SOLIDARITY WITH ALL PEOPLES WHO SHARE THESE IDEALS.

LASTLY, WE BELIEVE THAT BEFORE PEOPLE CRITICIZE PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA ‘S PERFORMANCE AS PRESIDENT  OF THE UNITED STATES, THAT  BOTH  PRUDENCE AND JUSTICE DEMAND THAT HE FIRST BE ALLOWED TO ACTUALLY TAKE OFFICE AND ASSUME THE POWERS AND RESPONSIBILITIES THEREOF, AND BEGIN TO EXERCISE THEM.

IN MIGHT BE THAT WE AS MUSLIM AFRICAN AMERICAN LEADERS WILL IN THE FUTURE BE CRITICAL OF SOME OF PRESIDENT OBAMA’S DECISIONS AND ACTIONS. ALMIGHTY GOD, WHOM WE WHO ARE MUSLIMS CALL ALLAH, KNOWS BEST.

Abu Reem is one of the founders of MuslimMatters, Inc. His identity is shaped by his religion (Islam), place of birth (Pakistan), and nationality (American). By education, he is a ChemE, topped off with an MBA from Wharton. He has been involved with Texas Dawah, Clear Lake Islamic Center and MSA. His interests include politics, cricket, and media interactions. Career-wise, Abu Reem is in management in the oil & gas industry (but one who still appreciates the "green revolution").

28 Comments

28 Comments

  1. Avatar

    AsimG

    November 22, 2008 at 12:26 PM

    Asalaamu Alaykum,

    Man the balance between love of Islam and love of country is not easy to find.

  2. Pingback: Imam Talib Abdur-Rashid and New York Imams Do the Right Thing. « A Singular Voice

  3. Avatar

    Abu Umar

    November 22, 2008 at 12:56 PM

    Again, I think this a completely media manufactured issue and these Muslim leaders show a very superficial understanding over what is really going on. I want to make clear that I’m not an apologist for Zawahiri and have numerous strong criticism for him and his methodology, but that beside the point for the moment. I honestly doubt that any of these Muslim leaders read the transcript of the audio tape in question and are rather just responding to what has been filtered through CNN and the rest of the corporate media. All of this is really a tempest in a teacup. The attempt to portray Zawahiri as being a racist is just absurd and does not much up with the facts. As Muslims, we should not take our talking points from CNN and the assorted “counter-terrorism” blowhards that populate the cable networks, rather we should undertake an objective evaluation of what was said and why and if there is any truth to it. If the Muslims are truly worried about racism, they should be speaking up for all of those brown Muslim people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, and Iran that Barack Obama is admittedly perfectly content to bomb back to the Stone Age.

    I would also ask where were these Muslim organizations and leaders when Zawahiri was issuing videos, books, and articles justifying the killing of non-combatants in Western countries, breaking covenants, as well as the killing of Muslims in terrorist attacks under the excuse that they are “human shields”? Zawahiri has distorted the shari’a to further his the-ends-justify-the-means methodology, yet we don’t see any of these Muslims standing up to defend the shari’a from these distortions and manipulations or writing detailed and scholarly refutations and rebuttals, yet as soon as the Dear Leader is called a “House Slave” everyone is all of a sudden outraged by Zawahiri and wrongfully, and I dare say cynically, calling him a racist, as if he were channeling David Duke. I find the whole situation disappointing.

  4. Avatar

    MM Associates

    November 22, 2008 at 12:59 PM

    [written by abu abdAllah]

    bismillah. ameen to the duas for El Hajj Malik el-Shabaz, aka Malcolm X. RahimAllah. without doubt a man who was killed soon after his hijrah, soon after he had made his hijrah a turning point in his comprehension of submission to Allah, soon after he had become a standard-bearer for his brother and sisters who were still in the Nation. may Allah accept him among the shaheed.

    personally, i still think that the best way to rebut the comments of a minority of hateful people is to refuse to give them any prominence. if someone were to ask me about my opinion of a certain group of people, i hope i have the presence of mind to just say “who? i don’t know anyone who is as interested in their views as you are. maybe you should report on something people do care about.”

    a sure sign that the Obama Administration does not plan on ruling by “divide and conquer” at home, does not plan on perpetuating athe politics of fear and hate? that mention of these militants gradually fades from public life.

  5. Avatar

    Abdul-Kareem

    November 22, 2008 at 1:11 PM

    @ Abu Umar

    Imam Johari Abdul-Malik makes clear in his post that he is outraged by their justifications of murder.

  6. Avatar

    Pasha

    November 22, 2008 at 1:13 PM

    The media cut and pastes and distorts. I’m no commenting on what anyone said or is saying but it’s amazing how everyone rushes to criticism when it’s impossible to get the full facts.

  7. Avatar

    MM Associates

    November 22, 2008 at 1:14 PM

    [written by abu abdAllah]

    bismillah. maybe a group of smart-minded Muslim Americans needs to take out an ad in the NYT and/or WSJ:

    (a sample text that could be edited by someone like Iesa Galloway)
    Stop paying attention to the media trolls of the Muslim world

    An Internet troll, or simply troll in Internet slang, is someone who posts controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum or chat room, with the intention of provoking other users into an emotional response or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion.

    We are in an era of mass media-trolls. So the next time one of these literal and ideological cave-dwellers surfaces and claims to speak on behalf of all Muslims, or bad enough, claims to be addressing American Muslims, just remember that said individual or small group’s comments are no more worthy of reply than a common internet troll.

    When the mass media picks up those comments, it’s the mass media that has been taken advantage of by the trolls. We sympathize with you, but the solution is simple. Start covering the news — and stop following the trolls.

    (props to Amad for that troll definition, used in a different thread)

  8. Avatar

    Abdur-Rahman Muhammad

    November 22, 2008 at 1:27 PM

    Kudos to Imam Johari and Imam Talib in condemning this racist and murderous maniac. Thanks also to Amad. I know we have had our differences in the past, and we still do, but I must be fair and say I really appreciate you posting this in support of the Black community that was attacked by this man.

  9. Avatar

    Abu Umar

    November 22, 2008 at 2:33 PM

    the Black community that was attacked by this man.

    How was his statement an attack on the Black community? Or are Powell, Rice, and Obama (the only blacks attacked by Zawahiri) the embodiment of or the representatives of the entire black community?

  10. Avatar

    Suhail

    November 22, 2008 at 2:49 PM

    Where in the heck did he attack the Black community? You guys are really getting on nerves now. I mean you have no sense of justice. Is Obama a embodiment of black community? If you guys have this much problem with zawahiri using the “house slave” or “house negro” word why do you guys find it acceptable to using within the black community?

    This is media blowing things out of proportion and I find it really disappointing that the leaders of muslim community rushing to condemn him. What has Obama done for the muslims anyways? He has not even given them anything. On the other hand he has picked people like Sonal Shah,Rahm Emmanual etc.

  11. Avatar

    Siraaj

    November 22, 2008 at 2:51 PM

    Really, I don’t see how any of the members of Bin Laden’s group can even attempt to specifically Black Muslims in America. They are as disconnected and far apart as A and Z.

  12. Avatar

    Olivia

    November 22, 2008 at 2:52 PM

    sorry that comment by Siraaj was posted by me.

  13. Avatar

    Abdul-Kareem

    November 22, 2008 at 3:18 PM

    I am curious as to why many non-blacks are trying to tell blacks what should offend them. I tend to defer to them on this

  14. Avatar

    Saad

    November 22, 2008 at 5:07 PM

    Can any of these Imams please elaborate and provide evidences for Islamically accepting nationalism and patriotism?

    • Avatar

      Muhammad Rashid Aliyu

      May 19, 2009 at 9:26 PM

      ‏حدثنا ‏ ‏أبو بكر بن أبي شيبة ‏ ‏حدثنا ‏ ‏زياد بن الربيع اليحمدي ‏ ‏عن ‏ ‏عباد بن كثير الشامي ‏ ‏عن ‏ ‏امرأة منهم يقال لها ‏ ‏فسيلة ‏ ‏قالت سمعت ‏ ‏أبي ‏ ‏يقول ‏
      ‏سألت النبي ‏ ‏صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ ‏فقلت يا رسول الله أمن العصبية أن يحب الرجل قومه قال ‏ ‏لا ولكن من العصبية أن يعين الرجل قومه على الظلم

      “O Messenger of Allah, is it Al-‘Asabeeyah (racism & tribalism) that a man love his own people?” He said` ‘No! But Al-‘Asabeeyah is that a man helps his people in oppression and wrong-doing.’[1]

  15. Avatar

    hamdan

    November 22, 2008 at 5:21 PM

    What a joke. Haven’t they heard of al-Walaa wal Baraa’? What are these two going to say when Obama continues the war on Muslims? Islaam is innocent of this racialism.

  16. Avatar

    Mr Lee X Slave

    November 22, 2008 at 6:14 PM

    THE MUSLIM WORLD DOES NOT RESPECT YOU SO-CALLED ORTHODOX MUSLIMS, THEY CONTINUE TO SE YOU BROTHERS AS THEIR SLAVES. SAY WHAT YOU WILL ABOUT THE ‘BLACK MUSLIMS’ THEY MAY NOT LIKE US BUT THEY KNOW WE ARE NOT OR WILL EVER KISS THEIR BUTTS, TO BE RECOGNIZED, BY THE WILLING PARTICIPANTS ( who have not even apologized ) FOR THEIR INVOLVEMENT IN THE ENSLAVEMENT OF US THEIR MUSLIM BROTHERS. DAMN IT IS GOOD TO BE FREE!

  17. Amad

    Amad

    November 22, 2008 at 6:27 PM

    Story in CNN.

    This is a positive outcome alhamdulilah. Average Joe on the street gets an opportunity to see Muslims in America stand up for something that is positive and has wide support. I am sure if you ask an average American, probably a good chunk of them still think Muslims don’t have an issue with Al-Qaeda.

    So, even just using opportunities to get the word out in the media, of mainstream Muslim disapproval of al-Qaida is sufficient justification for what may seem an over-reaction to something trivial, if placed relative to the corpus of Zawahiri’s vile activities.

    In any case, it is amusing to see people tell others who are affected by certain statements how the others should feel about it!

    I am with Abdul Kareem. That is why I posted the statements because I defer judgment of offense to BAMs because they would know what they are feeling better than what I would know how they are feeling. And these statements are coming not from average BAMs, but BAMs who are respected Imams and elders in our communities. These are not members of NOI or black panthers or some other splinter group. They are recognized elders and part of the circle of the American Muslim leaders, whether we like it or not. I hope that we would all show required deference to them, EVEN if we disagree with their opinions.

    wallahualam.

    P.S. Any personal attacks targeted at the Imams, just like any attacks on our Shayookh, will not be tolerated.

  18. Avatar

    al-istiqamah.com

    November 22, 2008 at 7:14 PM

    The glee with which African-American Muslims are rubbing their hands that an African-American has been elected to the WHITE house – purely because he shares their skin colour- is alien to the teachings of Islam regarding not having pride in one’s ancestral roots.

    Has Obama given any indication that the Muslim world will suffer less under his foreign policy than it did under Clinton or Bush?

  19. Avatar

    MT.Akbar

    November 22, 2008 at 8:42 PM

    Ayman Zawahiri is a propaganditst, an extremist, someone who according to Islamic law is a criminal. His comments were offensive because he is an outsider with no connection to the African American history or movement for liberation in America. His usage of Imam Malcolm X was disturbing because the two couldn’t be more sharply different in principles and methodology. The school of Malcolm X sought solidarity with the oppressed of the world and DID NOT make them targets in their schema of power, unlike Zawihiri and his acolytes who have committed atrocities against civilians and other poor folks. Zawihiri is closer to a utilitarian philosophy then a universal one which was espoused by Malcolm who was deeply effected by Islamic principles.

    It is a whole othet topic to discuss the problematic nature of an Obama presidency for both America and the world and the legitimate critique that must be aimed at him and the pressures (as Cornel West states) must be laid upon him to move in a progressive and truly repersentative manner. That discussion must be removed from this vitrolic contribution by Zawahiri “The outsider.”

    In light of recent appointments and past policy discussions it seems Obama will continue to move for neo-liberalism, unrepersentative and undermocratic forces here at home and abroad and imperialism. Aside from these wares which will not be altered in his sales as the merchant of change, the real substantive difference at least that separates him from the rest of the American political cartel is his ability to be open to dialogue and different views and be more diplomatic – this gives us some hope.

    PS. sorry for the ramble

    -MT

  20. Avatar

    Musa Franco

    November 22, 2008 at 9:42 PM

    Mr. Lee X Slave

    You went from being a slave to the White man to being a slave of the black man; oh and then to another white man (Farad Muhammad). As far as orthodox muslims. Well, we are not slaves to any created beings. have been emancipated by the Religion that the prophet muhammad. Not enslaved to a man like farad muhammad. I hope someone can post the article by Zaid Shakir called the prophet Muhammad and blackness.

    Wa Salaam Ala Man Taba3a Al Huda

  21. Avatar

    Naeem

    November 23, 2008 at 2:02 AM

    AA- Amad,

    “I am sure if you ask an average American, probably a good chunk of them still think Muslims don’t have an issue with Al-Qaeda.”

    And if after 7 years of loudly denouncing OBL and his crew, at every possible opportunity, at every public function, the Muslim community is still thought to support Al-Qaeda, what good will this CNN story do?

    Sorry bro, Joe six-pack will always be joe six-pack…ain’t no changing that! Just look at how many Joe’s and Jane’s thought/think Obama is a Muslim.

  22. Avatar

    Sarrah B.

    November 25, 2008 at 5:58 PM

    Jazakh Allahu Khair for this post. I would love to see more colaboration between the immigrant Muslim community and the indiginous Muslim community in America. I truly believe that it is only through more colaboration that we can better understand one another, respect one another, and truly embrace one another in faithful brother/sisterhood as Islam mandates/promotes.

    Growing up in America it has always boggled my mind how many Muslims (note, I didn’t say ALL) can be so incredibly racist and prejudice to others, while we are living here as religious and ethnic minorities and have experienced *some* of the same prejudice and in fact like to cry about how bad we have it (and I don’t think we have it that bad at all, Alhamdulillah).

    I think immigrant muslims and 2nd generation Muslims really need to take some time to understand the history of this country in order for us to progress as Muslim-Americans in the right direction. I think many would be surprised at what they might find and how they can better understand their role in it all.

    Please keep the posts like these coming! And even better, find a way for more Black American Muslims to regularly contribute to this site.

    Ok final rant – this site is amazing Mashallah. :o)

  23. Avatar

    J

    November 26, 2008 at 5:18 PM

    Bro/Sister al-istiqamah.com

    The glee with which African-American Muslims are rubbing their hands that an African-American has been elected

    Why shouldn’t they be? It is the culmination of many decades of struggle by their people to reach equality in the land?

    to the WHITE house –

    Umm, it’s called the white house because it is painted white.

    purely because he shares their skin colour- is alien to the teachings of Islam regarding not having pride in one’s ancestral roots.

    If a certain group of people have been oppressed for hundreds of years, and finally attain equality (although it’s just a symbolic event of course), then this is something to be happy about. It’s preposterous to link this to jahiliyyah or assabiyyah.

  24. Avatar

    Someone Somewhere

    December 8, 2008 at 5:35 AM

    I think discussing Zawahiri’s is positive, but when we become too affected by it we simply him to succed in fulfilling divisive goals.

  25. Avatar

    Umar Farooq

    September 8, 2009 at 3:53 PM

    @ al-istiqamah.com

    All praise be to Allah the most gracious most merciful. In whose name I bear witness to the truth so help me God if i’m in error. Both sides of the argument have some correctness here( I’m African by the way). However, Allah as my witness, if it were up to the Saudis my black behind would still be in shackles ( It was not until 1962 that King Faisal formally abolished slavery in Saudi Arabia with pressure from the UN- whom we consider to be Kaffirs) .

    I’m not afraid to say that there is a fascist strain of thought flowing throughout the ‘Islamic World’. So don’t be surprised if brothers don’t see eye to eye on this issue.

    I’ll tell you what . when the islamic world is ready to elect a leader regardless of his color or his head being shriveled up like a raisin (as quoted from the racist(hadith) see bukhari Volume 1, Book 11, Number 662.) Then we’ll stop rejoicing at the Obama victory, but until then my raisin headed people quoted in the false hadith are gonna have to agree to disagree.

    ps. al-istiqamah.com -Dont lie , you know how disgracefull it would be if your sister( or any female relative) were to marry a raisin headed blackman (even if he was a muslim ) I lie ?

  26. Avatar

    Umm Uthmaan

    November 8, 2009 at 4:35 AM

    I have helped African brothers marry Asian sisters, so don’t slander me. I’m a Muslim sister, and no, it wouldn’t be shameful to me if anyone in our family married an African or mixed-race Muslim. What is shameful to me is the fact that so many African Americans are responding to the call of jahiliyah. What benefit has Obama brought you so far, as an African Muslim? It’s Christianity that put the Africans in chains, and there you are revelling over a mixed-race Christian being in the White House, who is continuing the foreign policy of Bush.

  27. Avatar

    The Black Whirl Wind

    June 19, 2011 at 6:02 AM

    First Zawahiri, ben Laden and the entire al-qaeda organization are muharibuun (illegal combatants) who are fighting without the permission of a Muslim ruler. the Qu’ran and the Sunna are explicite regarding the rulings of the muharibi. they are to be fought by the collective body of Muslims. If Zawahiri or his ilk had any genuine love for Black people or its large Muslim population, they would have consulted our leadership BEFORE making any attacks upon the nations in which we live and reside. Every single terrorist attack by these muharibuun have had dire consequence upon Muslims in the west and our ability to call people to Allah. if Zawahiri really identitfies with al-Hajj Malik El Shabazz, he would have known that there is an ongoing protracted struggle going on in the US for the rights of Muslims in the country that go back to trhe period of Antebellum America. The evoking of the words of al-Hajj Malik El Shabazz is a ploy and a hook, nothing more. And none of the dedicated soldiers to our struggle in the US will give any weight or consideration to Zawahiri’s words simply because he is legally a muharibi and politically and opportunists.

    Now as for Obama, powell and Rice being a house negroes. That is EXACLTY what they are and I didnt need Zawahiri hiding in a cave to tell me that. In fact, Zawahiri’s remarks fall short of describing the reality of Obama. Obama is typical of the black slave drivers who when they were given charge over the plantation in the absence of the slave master would go out of their way to be more violent, harsh and cruel than the white slave master. So far, none of the unjust, illegal or unconstitutoinal rulings implemented by Cheney and his shadow president Bush have been abolished. More Muslim have been killed under Obama than under Cheney. more tortures of innocent Muslims have occured under Obama than under Cheney. More illegal surveillance of US Muslims have occured under Obama than under Cheney. Obama has done NOTHING for the benefit of the people that he claims to be apart of, with the exception of havuing a few barbeques in the White House and inviting a couple of hip hop artists. All meaningful legislation to assure the protection of the human, political and economic rights of the US’s chief national minority has been ignored by the Obama administration. All the promises he made have all been unfulfilled. And the problem is not a single Black leader including Muslims are willing to admit this – simply because he is black! That is racism.

    So Johari may feel comfortable calling Zawahiri racist. He may well be, although nothing in his statement proves it. I can say that Johari is also racist for supporting an unjust ruler simply because he is black. To me both Zawahiri and Johari are playing the race card, because neither one of them REALLY cares about the genuine policies of al-Hajj Malikl El Shabazz. Zawahiri has an excuse, he’s is an Egyptian hiding in a cave in Afghanistan with no real advisers except somne loser white boy from southern California. What is Johari’s excuse for not actively supporting the political policies of al-Hajj Malik El Shabazz? Like Zawahiri, Johari is also evoking our Shining prince’s words and picking and choosing segments of his words which accomodate his own acquiesance to domestic colonization.

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#Society

Cleaning Out Our Own Closets This Ramadan: Bigotry

Why Eliminating Hate Begins with Us

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Before Muslims take a stand against xenophobia in the U.S., we really need to eradicate it from our own community.

There. I said it.

There is no nice way to put it. Muslims can be very intolerant of those outside their circles, particularly our Latino neighbors. How do I know? I am a Latina who came into Islam almost two decades ago, and I have experienced my fair share of stereotypes, prejudice, and just outright ignorance coming from my very own Muslim brethren.

And I am not alone.

My own family and Latino Muslim friends have also dealt with their daily doses of bigotry. Most of the time, it is not ill-intentioned, however, the fact that our community is so out of touch with Latin Americans says a lot about why we are often at the receiving end of discrimination and hate.

“Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves…” (The Qur’an, 13:11)

Recently, Fox News came under fire for airing a graphic that stated, “Trump cuts aid to 3 Mexican countries,” on their show, “Fox and Friends Weekend.” The network apologized for the embarrassing error, but not before criticism of their geographical mishap went viral on social media. The reactions were of disbelief, humor, and repugnance for the controversial news channel that has become the archenemy of everything Islamic. People flooded the internet with memes, tweets, and comments regarding the ridiculous headline, Muslims included. American Muslim leaders quickly released statements condemning the lack of knowledge about the difference between Mexico and the nations of Central and South America.

Ironically, however, just about two months ago, my eldest son wrote an essay about the bullying he experienced in an Islamic school, which included insults about him being Mexican and “eating tacos” even though he is half Ecuadorian (South America) and Puerto Rican (Caribbean), not Mexican. I include the regions in parentheses because, in fact, many Muslims are just as geographically-challenged as the staff at Fox News. When a group of Hispanic workers came to replace the windows at his former school, my son approached them and spoke to them in Spanish as a means of dawah – teaching them that there are Latin American and Spanish-speaking Muslims. His classmates immediately taunted him saying that the laborers were “his cousins.” Although my son tried countless times to explain to his peers the difference between his origins and Mexico and defended both, they continued to mock Latinos.

On another occasion, a local masjid invited a famous Imam from the Midwest to speak about a topic. My family and I attended the event because we were fans of the shaykh and admired his work. A few minutes into his talk, he made a derogatory remark about Mexicans, and then added with a smile, “I hope there aren’t any Mexicans in the room!” A gentleman from the community stood up behind my husband, who is Ecuadorian, and pointed at him saying, “We have one right here!” Some people chuckled as his face turned red. The shaykh apologized for his comment and quickly moved on. We looked at each other and rolled our eyes. This was nothing new.

Imam Mohamed Alhayek (Jordanian Palestinian) and Imam Yusuf Rios (Puerto Rican) share an intimate moment during the 16th Annual Hispanic Muslim Day. Photo/Caption by Melissa Barreto — at North Hudson Islamic Educational Center (NHIEC).

Once, I visited a Pakistani sister, and as I enjoyed a cup of warm chai on her patio, she turned to me earnestly and said, “You and (another Latina Muslim) are the only educated Hispanics I know.” She then asked me why Latinos did not have “goals and ambitions” because supposedly, all the Hispanic students in her daughters’ school only aspired to work in their parents’ businesses as laborers. She went on to tell me about her Hispanic maid’s broken family and how unfortunate it was that they had no guidance or moral values. I was shocked by her assumptions, but I realized that this was the sentiment of a lot of Muslims who simply do not know a thing about our culture or have not taken the time to really get to know us.

When I accepted Islam back in 2000, I never expected to hear some of the narrow-minded comments and questions I received from those people who had become my brothers and sisters in faith. After all, I came to Islam through the help of an Egyptian family, I declared the Shahada for the first time in the presence of people from Pakistan, and I was embraced in the masjid by worshippers from places like Somalia, Sudan, Palestine, India, Turkey, and Afghanistan. A white American convert gifted me with my first Ramadan guide and an Indian sister supported me during my first fast. I expected to be treated equally by everyone because Islam was for everyone and Muslims have been hearing this their whole lives and they preach it incessantly. I do the same now. As a Muslim Latina, I tell my people that Islam is open to all and that racism, colorism, classism, and xenophobia have no place in Islam.

Nevertheless, it did not take long for me to hear some very ugly things from my new multi-cultural community. I was questioned about whether I was a virgin or not by well-meaning sisters who wanted to find me a Muslim husband. My faith was scrutinized when my friend’s family introduced me to an imam who doubted I had converted on my own, without the persuasion of a Muslim boyfriend or husband. I was pressured about changing my name because it was not “Islamic” enough. I was lectured about things that I had already learned because foreign-born Muslims assumed I had no knowledge. I was even told I could not be a Muslim because I was Puerto Rican; that I was too “out there,” too loud, or that my people were not morally upright.

I know about good practicing Muslim men who have been turned down for marriage because they are Hispanic. On the other hand, I have seen sisters taken for marriage by immigrant Muslims to achieve citizenship status and later abandoned, despite having children. I have been approached by Muslim men searching for their “J-Lo,” who want to marry a “hot” Latina because of the disgusting exploitation of Latina women they have been exposed to from television, movies, and music videos. I have made the mistake of introducing this type of person to one of my sisters and witnessed their disappointment because she did not fit the image of the fantasy girl they expected. I have felt the heartbreak of my sister who was turned down for not living up to those unrealistic expectations, and who continues to wait for a Muslim man who will honor her as she deserves. An older “aunty” once said to my face that she would never let her children marry a Latino/a.

I met a brother named José who was told that he had to change his un-Islamic Spanish name so that he would be better received in the Muslim community, even though his name, when translated to Arabic, is Yusuf! I have been asked if I know any Hispanic who could work at a Muslim’s store for less than minimum wage 12 hours a day or a “Spanish lady” who can clean a Muslim’s house for cheap. I have spoken to Latino men and women who work at masajid doing landscaping or janitorial services who have never heard anything about Islam. When I approached the Muslim groundskeeper at one of these mosques with Spanish literature to give them, he looked at me bewildered and said, “Oh, they are just contractors,” as if they did not deserve to learn about our faith! I have heard that the child of a Latina convert was expelled and banned from returning to an Islamic school for making a mistake, once. I have been told about fellow Hispanics who dislike going to the masjid because they feel rejected and, worse of all, some of them have even left Islam altogether.

Latina Muslims share a laugh during the 16th Annual Hispanic Muslim Day.
Photo/Caption by Melissa Barreto — at North Hudson Islamic Educational Center (NHIEC).

A few weeks ago, news was released about the sentencing of Darwin Martinez Torres, who viciously raped and murdered Northern Virginia teen, Nabra Hassanen during Ramadan in June 2017. The story made national headlines and left her family and the entire Muslim community devastated. Although the sentence of eight life terms in prison for the killer provided some closure to the public, the senseless and heinous act still leaves sentiments of anger and frustration in the hearts of those who loved Nabra Hassanen. Muslims began sharing the news on social media and soon, remarks about the murderer’s Central American origin flooded the comments sections. One said, “An illegal immigrant from El Salvador will now spend the rest of his life in a U.S. prison where all his needs will be met, and his rights will be protected… When we attack efforts to stop illegal immigration and to deal with the criminals coming across the border every day, remember Sr. Nabra… we should all be united in supporting common-sense measures to ensure that our sisters do not walk in fear of attacks. (And no, this is not an ‘isolated case’…).”

Although I was just as relieved about receiving the news that there was finally justice for our young martyred sister, I was saddened to see that the anti-Hispanic immigrant sentiment within our own community was exposed: To assume that Latino immigrants are “criminals coming across the border every day” is to echo the very words that came from current US President Donald Trump’s mouth about immigrants prior to his election to the presidency. To blame all Latinos for a crime committed against one and claim it is not an “isolated case” is to do the same thing that Fox News and anti-Muslim bigots do when they blame all Muslims for a terror attack.

Why are we guilty of the same behavior that we loathe?

I do not like to air out our dirty laundry. I have always felt that it is counterproductive for our collective dawah efforts. It is embarrassing and shameful that we, who claim to be so tolerant and peaceful, still suffer from the very attitudes for which we blame others. As I write this piece, I have been sharing my thoughts with my close friend, a Pakistani-American, who agreed with me and said, “Just like a recovering alcoholic, our first step is to admit there is a problem.” We cannot demand our civil rights and expect to be treated with dignity while we mistreat another minority group, and this includes Latinos and also other indigenous Muslims like Black Americans and Native Americans. I say this, not just for converts, but for my loud and proud, half Puerto Rican and half Ecuadorian children and nephews and others like them who were born Muslims: we need a community that welcomes all of us.

Latinos and Muslims share countless cultural similarities. Our paths are the same. Our history is intertwined, whether we know it or not; and if you don’t know it, then it is time you do your research. How can we visit Islamic Spain and North Africa and marvel at its magnificence, and travel to the Caribbean for vacation and notice the Andalusian architecture present in the colonial era structures, yet choose to ignore our shared past? How can you be proud of Mansa Musa, and not know that it is said his brother sailed with other Malians to the Americas prior to Columbus, making contact with the indigenous people of South America (even before it was “America”)? How can you turn your back on people from the countries which sheltered thousands of Muslim immigrants from places like Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey after the collapse of the Uthmani Empire, many of which carry that blood in their veins?

Latino Muslim panelists during “Hispanic Muslim Day” at North Hudson Islamic Educational Center, Union City, NJ Photo/Caption by Melissa Barreto — at North Hudson Islamic Educational Center (NHIEC).

We need to do a better job of reaching out and getting to know our neighbors. In recent years, the Muslim ban has brought Latinos and Muslims together in solidarity to oppose discriminatory immigration laws. The time is now to establish lasting partnerships.

Use this Ramadan to reach out to the Latino community; host a Spanish open house or an interfaith/intercultural community iftar. Reach out to Latino Muslims in your area for support, or to organizations like ICNA’s WhyIslam (Por qué Islam) for Spanish materials. A language barrier is not an issue when there are plenty of resources available in the Spanish language, and we have the universal language that has been declared a charity by our Prophet, Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), and that is a welcoming smile.

There is no excuse.

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#Society

MuslimARC Releases Guide for White Muslims By White Muslims

The author of the MuslimARC Guide writes an introduction

Bill Chambers

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“As people who are both white and Muslim, we straddle two identities -one privileged in society and the other, not. We experience Islamophobia to varying degrees, sometimes more overtly depending on how we physically present, and at the same time we have been socialized as white people in a society where white people hold more social power than People of Color (POC). The focus of the toolkit is to provide resources and information that will help guide us toward good practices and behaviours, and away from harmful ones, as we challenge racism within the Muslim community (ummah) and in society at large.” MuslimARC Guide 

As part of our mission to provide education and resources to advance racial justice within the Muslim community, the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC) is producing a series of community-specific guides to be a resource for those who want to engage in anti-racism work within Muslim communities.

The first in this series, the Anti-Racism Guide for White Muslims, has been written specifically for white Muslims, by white Muslims under the guidance of the anti-racist principles of MuslimARC. While white Muslims know that Islamically we are required to stand for justice, growing up in a society that is so racially unequal has meant that unless we seek to actively educate ourselves, we typically have not been provided the tools to effectively talk about and address racism.

The Anti-Racism Guide for White Muslims is a tool and resource that speaks to specific needs of white Muslims who are navigating the process of deepening their understanding of racism and looking for concrete examples of how, from their specific social location, they can contribute to advancing anti-racism in Muslim communities. The Guide also addresses views and practices that inadvertently maintain the status quo of racial injustice or can actually reproduce harm, which we must tackle in ourselves and in our community in order to effectively contribute to uprooting racism.

The Guide was developed by two white Muslim members of MuslimARC, myself (Bill Chambers) and Lindsay Angelow. The experiences, approaches, recommendations, and resources are based upon our own experiences, those of other white Muslims we have encountered or spoken to, and research and analysis by others who have been cited in the Guide.

As white people, we are not always aware when we say or write something that reflects our often narrow analysis of racism and need to be open to feedback from Muslims of Color. My own personal process of helping to develop this Guide made me aware of the many times I was in discussions with Muslims of Color, especially women, when I had reflect better upon the privilege I experience as a white person and also the white male privilege that comes with it. It is difficult not to feel defensive when you realize you may have said too much and listened too little on a topic that is really not about you.

Talking about racism is a hard topic and we anticipate that for many white Muslims reading the Guide, there may be a feeling of defensiveness and having difficulty learning from the examples given because you feel that the examples don’t apply to you. You may feel the need to call to attention the various forms of injustice you feel you have experienced in your life, for example where you felt like an outsider as a convert in Muslim community. Our advice is to recognize that those reactions are related to living in a society where we are very much shielded from having to deeply understand racism and examining our role in it. In the spirit of knowledge seeking, critical thinking, and the call to justice communicated to us in the Qur’an as expectations that Allah has of Muslims, we must push past those reactions and approach the subject matter in the spirit of knowledge, skill-seeking, and growth.

“People, We have created you all from a single man and a single woman, and made you into races and tribes so that you should get to know one another (49:13).” One of our most important purposes is to really “get to know” one another, build just and loving communities together, all the time knowing we all come from the same source and will return together. If this Guide does anything, let it inspire a deeper understanding of our unique identity as white Muslims and how to use it to advance a more just society.

You can find the  #AntiRacismGuide for White Muslims at http://www.muslimarc.org/whitemuslimguide

Further reading:

White Activism Is Crucial In The Wake of Right-Wing Terrorism

Beyond Muslim Diversity to Racial Equity

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#Current Affairs

Why Sarfaraz Ahmed’s Racist Slur Strikes Beyond Cricket

Abu Reem

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The Pakistani cricket team, that has been dogged with many off-field problems in the past decades, is now facing an issue that many outside the Indian subcontinent find perplexing—charges of racism, after Sarfaraz Ahmed, the team captain was caught on mic calling a South African player a “kala” (literal translation black).

Some are wondering how racism could even be an issue in a team which has all shades of brown, from very fair to very dark. In fact, racism in the subcontinent is dirty laundry that no one wants to talk about.

For far too long, racism has festered in the brown world (or “desis”—a term that encompasses the people of this region), be it the Indian subcontinent or Arab countries. And thankfully (not for Sarfaraz of course), it has been brought into sharp focus with Sarfaraz’s racial slur caught on mic.

Lets face it, the word “k*^la” is offensive and derogatory, but if you were to ask most desis about this incident, they would tell you that the word “kala” is normal part of the language and completely innocuous. While “k*#a” and other iterations of this word are indeed a commonly used “taunt”, it is nevertheless a taunt and far from innocuous.

The repercussions of a national team captain normalizing racism goes far beyond a joke.

It would not be surprising if Sarfaraz himself does not understand the gravity of the situation, because of the routine use of this word in Pakistan. Many consider it neutral. In fact, cricket fans in Pakistan often refer to the West Indian cricket team as “Kali Aandhi” (Black Storm).  The intention, many would argue, is not to insult but just a factual observation of blackness. But that explanation falls flat, because it is not as if Pakistanis call the Australian team “Chitti Aandhi” (White Storm).

Others would argue that this is just out of habit. So should we just let bad habits fester?

In reality, there is nothing innocuous and innocent about racism among brown people. The British left the Indian subcontinent more than 70 years ago, but not before infusing a white superiority complex among their ex-subjects.

The derogatory capacity of a pejorative word has far reaching consequences. Slurs perpetuate prejudices and cause intolerance and harm.

Let’s look at the negative coloring of this word- no pun intended.

As an example of why this issue extends beyond humor or innocence, ask most desis: what is the number one attribute in brides that parents look for, especially  in arranged marriages? The answer would be “light colored skin”. It is not a secret that most brown people still do not appreciate their children having dark or black spouses. While some of these folks may argue that not marrying into the black race is related to cultural differences, how come it is much more acceptable then to marry into the white race?

One needs to realize that the difficulty of considering darker/black spouses is not borne out of instant prejudice. It stems from a slow and steady indoctrination process that is common among most desis and Arabs. Many times, this process is not out of ill intent. It is not even conscious for the most part. It just happens out of routine behaviors. As an example of this process, mothers will tell their children to stay out of the sun, not because they may be harmed by sun exposure, but they may become “kala”. What is amusing and sad, is that many white people spend countless hours and money to willingly become a little “kala” by resorting to sunbathing or staying locked up in tanning parlors!

Let me speak from personal anguish—a painful personal experience that I have not shared with many others out of embarrassment. Growing up, my family used to visit Pakistan often. While I am not at the darkest end of the “brown spectrum”, I was darker than my cousins. This was enough for me to be routinely subjected to taunts of “k&*a”. Dark was bad was the message I got, as do many young children. I cannot recall if my uncles and aunts participated in this, but I do know they did not admonish their children either. Amusingly enough, I was even called “Indian” as a taunt (this continued well into adulthood too), because in the petty minds of my cousins, Indian was near synonymous to black—it was like two insults packed in one!

While I pretended to shake this off, it bothered me enough to secretly buy a stash of skin-bleaching cream, transfer it to an unlabeled container to avoid embarrassment and use it. I was only 11 or 12 years old! Please tell me how harmless these taunts must be to cause a young child to want to change his skin color that Allah gifted to him?

Recently, playing cricket with some desi friends, I was reminded of those painful times. The same “kala” slurs that you heard from Sarfaraz were targeted at a very dark friend. To make it more palatable, the taunts were packaged in jokes, such as “we need more light, because so-and-so will be in the picture”, or “don’t let your blackness rub off on the ball”, etc.

My dark friend took it with a smile or a laugh. However, I always wondered what was going on inside his mind. I regret that I did not say anything from the very first time I heard it, but being dark myself I felt hesitant to come to his defense. I never participated in the jokes; it would be hypocritical. But I know I could have—because it is like a pecking order, the lighter shades joke about the darker shades, even if the differences in shades are invisible to an outsider.

Eventually, I garnered the strength to advise my good friend (very light-skinned) who was the main source of the comments to lay off and that he may be hurting our friend’s feelings. And while I have no doubt about our fair friend’s good heart, I suspect that similar to those with white privilege, he didn’t even realize the problem with his jokes.  

It is not enough to just talk about racism and its cousin colorism, as if it only affects other societies. It is intricately woven in the desi and Arab societies. It gets passed down from generation to generation, like an inherited disease.

It is time for a change among our societies. The Muslims among desis and Arabs need to pay heed to their own Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), who forbade racism of any kind. What culture is more important than the Islamic culture of an egalitarian society, where race and color have no impact on position or influence or the opportunities for success?

It is time for all brown people, Muslim or not, to purge the scourge of racism, not just from our tongues, but our hearts. Stop telling your children to avoid sunlight to avoid becoming dark. Stop using the word “k*&a” at your homes in ANY context of someone’s skin color. Stop telling your family the color of your newborn child is congratulatory if white or a commiseration if dark. Stop your children’s friends or cousins from making any negative comments (in jest or otherwise) with respect to anyone’s complexion- this is a form of unacceptable bullying. Raise children who feel completely comfortable and beautiful in their complexion, no matter the shade.

Because black and white are both beautiful.

. هُوَ اللَّهُ الْخَالِقُ الْبَارِئُ الْمُصَوِّرُ لَهُ الْأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَىٰ يُسَبِّحُ لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ

He is Allah, the Creator, the Inventor of all things, the Bestower of forms. To Him belong the Best Names . All that is in the heavens and the earth glorify Him. And He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise. (Surah Al-Hashr 59:24)

A Shade Less | Not Fair and Lovely

Between a Rock and a Hard Place- Black and Muslim

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