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Race Matters: Colorblind Racism in the Ummah

“ALHAMDULILAH, WE ARE ALL MUSLIMS”

I remember the conversation just like it was yesterday. I was attending a local summer camp for Muslim families, and the sisters and I were sitting in a circle discussing the problems of the Muslim community in our state. The discussion turned to the issue of race and discrimination among Muslims.

Some of the sisters in the circle expressed how they felt that racism is alive and well among Muslims in America, and how tight-knit culture-based cliques often make them feel excluded. While most of the sisters agreed with this assessment, one sister took a different stance on the issue. From her perspective, racism among Muslims wasn’t that big of an issue, in fact she said something along the lines of “I don’t see color, we are all Muslims, Alhamdulilah”. Alhamdulilah indeed, but we can’t brush away the experiences of others, and we as Muslims in America should address this big white elephant in the room.

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Allah knows that sister’s intention, but by claiming to not see color when she interacts with other Mulims, this sister may have been expressing the all-too-common phenonemon of color blind racism. Color blind racism occurs when someone disregards race or color as having an effect on a given circumstance or interaction. So, an individual who is a color blind racist tends to make statements such as the following:

*It’s not about race, it’s about culture …
*I have a lot of Black friends…
*I’m not prejudiced, but …
*I voted for Barack Obama.
*I don’t see you as Black.
*It’s not race, it depends on a person’s background …
*It’s not race, it’s economics …

The list can go on, and I’m sure many readers may personally know of color blind racists. But the point is, this form of racism exists in our communities, and too often Black Muslims (i.e. immigrant Africans, first-generation Africans, or African Americans), and convert Muslims are overwhelmingly the ones experiencing this form of racism. So, does color blind racism exist more among some group of Muslims, and not others? We don’t know the answer to that. But let’s try to understand if this is the case. For example, immigrant Muslims are used to insular social groups – that’s the way it used to be back home. Naturally, humans feel more comfortable and relate more towards those who are of a similar skin color, facial features, language, hair texture, and those who share similar culinary preferences. Thus, it may be difficult for Muslims that do not have immigrant backgrounds to fit in as easily. But make no mistake about it, color blind racism is a human phenomenon, not only a Muslim one.

A LOADED WORD

The term color blind racism was originally coined in the 70s, in order to describe White Americans’s continued aversion to Blacks, which fell short of Jim Crow racism – the malignant form of racism in hich Whites used to terrorize and assault Blacks decades earlier. Some individuals may take issue with the word “racism” – perhaps believing it to be too strong when used to describe the the actions of fellow Muslims who could  be labeled as color blind racists. Take the example of the sister from the camp in the beginning of this article. The sister was approximately in her forties and from a immigrant Muslim group. She attends a mosque where the congregation is partially mixed, in which she is a member of the predominant culture, and she spoke well of how engaging and active her masjid community is. From this alone, we may not be able to label her a racist, and we are not in a position to judge others. However, with regards to the same masjid that the sister lauded as being inclusive, I have heard several complaints from converts and other Muslims that this mosque community is less than welcoming. So, the term color blind racism takes into consideration the reality of the situation, from different points of views, as compared to the “whitewashed” version of it, and unlike overt racism the focus is not just on the behavior.

NOSTALGIA FOR THE GOOD OLE DAYS OF ISLAM

From listening to numerous lectures by Muslim American scholars, I’ve learned that one of the roadblocks Muslim Americans face in confronting social issues is that in our minds we sanitize and mythologize the society of the Prophet (PBUH). The reality is, many of the social issues that exist now, such as alcoholism, prostitution, and drugs, all existed at that time, too. And racism is not an exception. The following is an exchange between Abu Dharr and Bilal, may Allah be pleased with both of them:

“Abu Dharr, the leader of the tribe of Ghifar, and one who accepted Islam in its early days, narrates:

Once I was conversing with Bilal. Our conversation gave way to a dispute. Angry with him, the following insult burst from my mouth: ‘You cannot comprehend this, O son of a black woman!’

As Islam expressly forbade all kinds of racial, tribal and color discrimination, Bilal was both upset and greatly angered.

Some time later, a man came and told me that the Messenger of God, upon him be peace and blessings, summoned me. I went to him immediately. He said to me:

‘I have been informed that you addressed Bilal as the son of a black woman.’

I was deeply ashamed and could say nothing. God’s Messenger continued his reprimand: ‘This means you still retain the standards and judgements of the pre-Islamic days of ignorance. Islam has eradicated all those false standards or measures judging people by blood, fame, color or wealth. It has established that the best and most honorable of men is he who is the most pious and upright in conduct. Is it right to defame a believer just because he is black?’

Abu Dharr felt profound remorse. He went straight to Bilal’s house and, putting his head on the threshold, said: ‘This head will not rise from here until the blessed feet of Bilal tread on the face of foolish, impolite Abu Dharr.’

Bilal responded: ‘That face deserves to be kissed, not trodden upon,’ and forgave Abu Dharr.”

JUST SAY SALAM

Despite the gains that have been made in race relations in this country, race is a touchy conversation for many Americans to engage in. The terminology used by color blind racists exists because individuals don’t want to be seen as being racist, and they try to deflect this characterization through semantics (i.e. “I’m not not racist, but…;” “I have alot of Black friends,” etc). For Muslims, we know that all actions are based on intentions. One of the first steps we can do to overcome color blind racism in our communities is to purify our intentions when we interact with individuals from a racial group different than ours. All too often I hear from many Muslims that when they greet some Muslims with salam, it is not returned. Although it may seem like a trivial step in combating racism, in returning salam, you are facilitating peace and brotherhood, and acknowledging other Muslims first and foremost as your sister or brother in religion. Thus, saying and returning salam helps reaffirim to yourself the good intentions of brotherhood and sisterhood and signals to others that you embrace them.

There are countless ways of diffusing color blind racism in our communities, and I invite readers to share experiences and ideas. As Muslims living in a country in which overt and covert racism still exists, we need to have this conversation amongst ourselves. We often hear from politicians and pundits that Americans need to engage in a national dialogue about race. One thing that easily slips from our minds is that the Prophet (PBUH) was a revolutionary man, and that through the revelation of the Quran, he was an agent of societal change, targeting acts of discrimination, as illustrated by the hadith involving Bilal and Abu Dhar. We Muslims have a great religion of racial and class inclusivity to be proud of; lets uphold those standards in our daily interactions.

References:

“Colour-Blind Racism”. ABAGOND. (2011).  http://abagond.wordpress.com/2008/05/31/colour-blind-racism/

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Safia Farole is a second year PhD student in the department of Political Science at UCLA. She studies in the areas of Comparative Politics and Race, Ethnicity and Politics, focusing specifically on the politics of identity, public opinion, and immigration and integration in Western democracies.

86 Comments

86 Comments

  1. Avatar

    MW_M

    February 21, 2011 at 11:04 AM

    what was the point of this article? It didn’t propose any solutions nor even pinpoint a specific problem, nor even adequately define what is meant by “colorblind racism.” I thought maybe the page hadn’t loaded all the way when I read the article, it seems half finished.

    • Avatar

      Safia Farole

      February 21, 2011 at 11:18 AM

      Its Black History Month, and I feel that just like the broader US population, Muslims need to have an open conversation about race. Its fine if you don’t want to, or don’t appreciate it. Just keep in mind that this is a blog article, not a anything that is inherently supposed to be lenghthy or formal. To the best of my ability I defined colorblind racism, and I don’t know how you can miss that. My fear is to bombard readers with too many technical defitions, thats why I kept it simple.

      As for solutions, no one can solve world poverty in a day. The same goes for racism . I proposed a simple icebreaker (i.e. making sure you say salam to all Muslims). Readers are free to chip in; the solutions to this problem are beyond in any one person, including myself.

    • Avatar

      samira

      June 7, 2015 at 11:50 PM

      The point was to expose the Racism rampant in the Ummah..didn’t you get that?

  2. Avatar

    Yusuf Smith

    February 21, 2011 at 11:53 AM

    As-Salaamu ‘alaikum,

    As important as giving salam is returning it properly. A lot of Muslims who are converts (of whatever colour) will report that they have given salam to a Muslim in a mosque and been told “wa ‘alaikum” in response, because the other person assumed they were not Muslim.

    We should never assume that someone isn’t Muslim if they give us salam, unless we know it for a fact. Not everyone who is Muslim is Asian- or Arab-looking, or bears obvious outward signs of Islam, such as hijaab or other traditional clothing or a long beard, and we shouldn’t assume someone is not just because they don’t “look like a Muslim” to us. To return the salam of a Muslim as if they weren’t is very offensive to them.

    • Avatar

      Safia Farole

      February 21, 2011 at 12:25 PM

      I didn’t realize this partial salam thing was going on. But you’re right, that it is just as bad as not responding to salam (given the suspicious nature of the response). Muslims (perhaps, especially the older generation) need to swallow the fact here in the West, what constitutes “looking like a Muslim” is not categorizable.

      Jazakallahi Khair for sheding light on this as an examle of exculsion.

  3. Avatar

    Hassan

    February 21, 2011 at 12:08 PM

    With all due respect, what does color blind racism means? I mean what are we looking to cure? I can understand racism, I have seen people (muslims) who do some racism against others, but I know many (and easily more) muslims that do not do that. So what are we curing/fighting against here?

    • Avatar

      Safia Farole

      February 21, 2011 at 12:18 PM

      From the article: “Color blind racism occurs when someone disregards race or color as having an effect on a given circumstance or interaction. So, an individual who is a color blind racist tends to make statements such as the following…”

      Also from the article: “The term color blind racism was originally coined in the 70s, in order to describe White Americans’s continued aversion to Blacks, which fell short of Jim Crow racism – the malignant form of racism in hich Whites used to terrorize and assault Blacks decades earlier.”

      We aren’t looking for the cure – as I mentioned, how can we cure something like racism? Colorblind racism is a unique form of racism that may slip under the radar, while we are looking for the “blatant” type of racism you wrote about. I’m trying to raise awareness and propose some ways (not all), that can help diffuse the tensions created by racism generally.

      • Avatar

        Hassan

        February 21, 2011 at 12:50 PM

        How do you know if someone is genuinely disregarding color versus someone who is not? Those statements may be indicator, but not for certain, and someone who does not make such statements, still may be racist. Its quite confusing.

        • Avatar

          Safia Farole

          February 21, 2011 at 1:19 PM

          Its social science. There is no such thing as certainty in this field. Since you seem interested in the topic (and since I’m not a social scientist who studies race), I suggest you read this paper about colorblind racism called ” “I Am Not a Racist But…”: Mapping White College Students’ Racial Ideology in the USA”. You don’t have to read all of it, but I think it clarifies answers to your questions. Here’s the link:

          http://www.pineforge.com/oswcondensed/study/articles/08/Bonilla-Silva.pdf

          If the link doesn’t work for you, google scholar the title and you’ll find it.

  4. Avatar

    Uo

    February 21, 2011 at 12:10 PM

    A much needed article, jzk. One thing that I’ve noticed which creates a barrier is language. You frequently see “uncles” in masjids speaking to friends in Urdu, Arabic, or one of the West African languages amongst themselves. It’s understandable, given the comfort level they have with their first born tongue, but it leads to exclusion and diminished communication. I would hope that everyone would try and make a greater effort toward speaking English so as to involve everyone, and I’ve found that youth are typically much better with dissolving racial lines and spending time together.

    • Avatar

      Safia Farole

      February 21, 2011 at 12:21 PM

      I agree with your argument. You’re right that language can be used as a tool for exclusion. I also get the general feeling that Muslim youth are more better at overcoming racial barriers than their parents. Islam is a religion that has never justified racism, and overtime inshallah I pray that race and cultural issues among Muslims becomes a non-issue.

  5. Avatar

    Leo

    February 21, 2011 at 2:11 PM

    Assalamu alaikum. I’m sorry for being a dope but am I correct in thinking colourblind racism is this: when you meet a person of different race you act as though that doesnt change the way you deal/ interact with them? If this is the case then what are you saying in the article? When we meet someone of a different race it should affect the way we interact with them? The way I see it when interacting with someone of a different race we have 3 options: 1. We interact with them better than a person our own race 2. We interact with them as equals 3. We interact with them worse than a person our own race.
    I could be way off target. Again I apologise for being a dope. I bet you didn’t think this article would create this much confusion (it’s not a reflection on you but your readers more likely :) )

    • Avatar

      Safia Farole

      February 21, 2011 at 11:22 PM

      Leo, the question you’re asking is not dope, and I don’t think you’re a dope for asking either:)

      To tweek your defintion slightly, I would add that colorblind racism occurs when someone tries their best to attribute the outcome of a sitation to anything besides race. For some, they may use the langage of color blind racism (examples of which I gave in the article) to intentionally skirt away from being labeled a racist. And as some readers have pointed out, some folks may be doing it unintentionally.

      Any article is open to debate, and I realize that not everyone processes things similarly. I’m open to dialoguing about this, and I’m glad some readers are too!

  6. Avatar

    abu Abdullah

    February 21, 2011 at 2:25 PM

    Alhamdulillah, I am a born and raised Indian and feel , as a collective community, Indians are the biggest ‘color conscious’ people in the world. Not only for color of skin, they prejudice caste, job, sex and so many ultra subtle nuances. Treating daughters as suitcases and sons as fun machine and list is endless. Auzubillah.
    I would like to know how individually you have overcome your own clear/subtle element of racism in persona life. Any practical advice from audience is appreciated.
    wassalam

    • Avatar

      Safia Farole

      February 21, 2011 at 11:33 PM

      Jazakallahi Khair abu Abdullah for sharing your personal experiences with culture, and for being honest about it.

      I also come from an Eastern background as well, and the main form of discrimination in Somalia and among Somalis is tribal discrimination (which includes exclusion based on language, skin tone, facial feature, and occupation). Even living in America, those tribal distinctions continue to haunt us when it comes to business transactions, marriage, exc. I try to overcome these realities by not assuming the worst when I meet someone from a different tribe (or even different ethnicity). As I’ve grown up, I notice that a change in mentality is so important to conquering so many things, and racism is no exception. Its called the “self fulfilling prophecy” in social psychology – if you assume the worst from someone, they will end up acting that way towards you anyways because of the way you treat them (with that projection in your mind). So, I try my best to make make excuses for the way someone acts towards me, rather than instantaneously jumping to racism as the conclusion.

      I hope that helps in terms of providing practical solutions. I know I’m missing something though – readers jump in!

    • Avatar

      CR

      February 22, 2011 at 8:57 AM

      Aleikum salam,

      now look at it in reverse. Thirty years ago I was one of the very few white, middle class nurses doing our course at the hospital we were training in. Each training ward was either run by Mauritians (Muslims … I found out later!), West Indian (big mama sister- in- charge was one of our favourites), Irish or Pakistani or whatever. We had to choose what ward to train on and often the handful of ‘white British’ were singled out for the rotten wards where we had to work harder. I remember being extremely happy on some wards rather than others. Most ‘racism’ towards us came from the Irish ward. I remember the West Indian sister showing me her daughter’s wedding photos and, in those days, colour photos were more expensive to produce. I flippantly commented that she should have done black and white ones then realised my error….. She and the rest of the nurses were in stitches … to my relief!

      I really would prefer to call it ‘cultureism’ in some cases such as above. Certainly a lot of people had a chip on their shoulders about what the British (whites) did to others’ countries in the past. This attitude on both or all sides does get watered down, alhamdulilah, through the generations, especially with inter-racial marriage …… also embracing Islam widens peoples’ minds and educates us away from generalising.

      The story of Bilal was very nice but excuse my warped sense of humour ….. had I been Bilal I would have said, “Which part of my foot….. the black or the white part?” I am sure the people then had the same humour as we do now and not everything was serious all the time!

  7. Avatar

    Hello Kitty

    February 21, 2011 at 3:15 PM

    Bluntly, the article makes some weird assertions, has a confusing narrative, and could probably have been proofread and edited a little better to make it read a little smoother.

    From her perspective, racism among Muslims wasn’t that big of an issue,

    Fair enough, it could be considered color blind racism to willfully assert that the issue doesn’t exist, when there are people around you relating experiences that most assuredly are, in fact racism.

    But how is this racist?

    in fact she said something along the lines of “I don’t see color, we are all Muslims, Alhamdulilah”.

    ^^How does that prove the point of color blind racism? To me, this part of her quote reflects what we should all be striving for too. It’s wrong for her to be oblivious to the plights of other Muslims and how racism has negatively affected their lives, but what on earth is wrong with not seeing skin color in regards to our interactions with fellow Muslims?

    Allah knows that sister’s intention, but by claiming to not see color when she interacts with other Mulims, this sister may have been expressing the all-too-common phenonemon of color blind racism. Color blind racism occurs when someone disregards race or color as having an effect on a given circumstance or interaction.

    What are you talking about here? Am I a “color blind racist” because I don’t act any different when interacting with white Muslims than I do with Arabs, Pakistanis, or sisters from Senegal? I pray the same with them, we talk about the same stuff, and frankly the only time any differences are apparent are when we’re talking about foods we grew up eating, or places we’ve been etc. If someone’s telling me about an experience they’ve had that they directly relate to someone treating them a certain way because of their skin color, or because of their culture, well then of course I recognize that these kinds of things do occur because there are some bigoted people in the world. Their experiences aren’t always going to be the same as mine there, of course. But in my day to day life, if I’m inviting a friend over so our kids can play together, their skin color or ethnicity isn’t a factor in our interactions.

    She attends a mosque where the congregation is partially mixed, in which she is a member of the predominant culture, and she spoke well of how engaging and active her masjid community is. From this alone, we may not be able to label her a racist, and we are not in a position to judge others. However, with regards to the same masjid that the sister lauded as being inclusive, I have heard several complaints from converts and other Muslims that this mosque community is less than welcoming.

    How do you know she was being racist and dismissive of other people’s experiences though? You don’t prove that that was the case here. What if she was just relating her experiences there, which have been nothing but positive? Relating those positive experiences certainly does not mean that she automatically must believe that no one else could have experienced racism or bigotry at this same masjid. Based on the information readers are given here, there’s no way of proving that her words had a racist or bigoted context. There’s nothing racist about being shocked or surprised at reports of racism occurring in a place you had thought was very inclusive and open. Denying their existence, or downplaying others’ experiences would be racist, but her words here don’t conclusively prove that that’s what she was doing.

    • Avatar

      Safia Farole

      February 21, 2011 at 3:44 PM

      Hence the disclaimer “Allah knows that sister’s intention” at the begining of the sentence. No one is trying to judge anyone else; I’m trying to give an example of how the mentality of colorblind racism manifests itself.

      • Avatar

        Hassan

        February 21, 2011 at 4:06 PM

        I think that disclaimer would be accurate if the sister said something racist, and we would try to find excuse for her. Right now we are doubting her non-racist remarks..

        • Avatar

          BintKhalil

          February 21, 2011 at 5:54 PM

          Assalamu alaikum

          I believe the issue is that the sister is downplaying the experiences of racism experienced by others in the community, by claiming that racism does not exist, thereby possibly demonstrating racism herself. It’s like some Muslims who claim that the community doesn’t suffer from problems of domestic abuse, thereby contributing to the problem themselves.

          • Avatar

            Safia Farole

            February 21, 2011 at 6:57 PM

            The covering up of domestic abuse by some in our community is a good analogy to colorblind racism. T

            Thank you readers for being so helpful to others by trying to clarify this example!

          • Avatar

            Hello Kitty

            February 21, 2011 at 7:31 PM

            That’s not even remotely proven by the writer though. She says that’s what it means, but gives the reader nothing concrete to prove it with. With the information given here, how do you know the woman quoted in the article downplayed the others’ experiences? The comments quoted by the writer certainly don’t prove it. I appreciate the sentiments expressed by the writer of this piece, and I think she’s alluding to an important issue, but she doesn’t back any of it up with any real evidence, and that’s a huge problem.

          • Avatar

            BintKhalil

            February 21, 2011 at 10:43 PM

            From her perspective, racism among Muslims wasn’t that big of an issue …

          • Avatar

            Hello Kitty

            February 22, 2011 at 1:34 AM

            From her perspective, racism among Muslims wasn’t that big of an issue …

            Yeah, I know the author says this in the article. That’s the conclusion she drew from this interaction. But nothing else in the article backs up or proves that that is the correct conclusion or only possible conclusion.

          • Avatar

            Hassan

            February 22, 2011 at 9:39 AM

            May be she did not have such experience, what is the big deal? And I said, as muslims, we should be giving other muslims benefit of doubt when they say something apparently wrong, and this case we are doubting her even if she did not say anything apparently racist

    • Avatar

      Ali Colak

      February 21, 2011 at 4:21 PM

      Bismillah ar-rahman ar-rahim

      Assalamu alaykum,
      Color-blind racism refers to racism that is not overtly racist. As a hypothetical example a person may refuse to marry his daughter with a black man but he will not say openly that it is because he is black even to himself. He will use some other reason. Sister Safiia never said that the sister whom she mentioned was racist but simply that it was still possible for her to engage in this hidden form of racism. Color-blind racism is very difficult to detect and therefore very difficult to define. Due to its hidden nature it reminds me a little of riya actually.

      • Avatar

        Safia Farole

        February 21, 2011 at 4:25 PM

        Thank you Br. Ali. You’re explanation is spot on. And you use a great example – it happens all to frequently to many Muslims during the marriage process.

        I feel like some readers are missing the forrest for the trees when they focus extensively on this example I’ve provided. I hope we can have a discussion that is more deep and meaningful.

      • Avatar

        Hello Kitty

        February 21, 2011 at 7:46 PM

        Based on what though? Color blind racism and discrimination is still an awful thing to be accused of falling prey to. It’s not an accusation I would throw about without providing a lot of evidence that it is what that person was in fact doing, and not an accusation I would make before really trying to get to the bottom of what the person said so I could fully understand whether or not I was interpreting them correctly. It doesn’t sound like that was really done here at all, at least with the side we’re given in this article.

        What is a racist, if not someone who engages in racist behaviour, even color blind racist behaviour? It’s not an accusation to be taken lightly, that’s for sure. I don’t agree with the “refusal to marry one’s daughter to a black man” comparison at all either. Who cares if the guy’s in denial about his reasoning, it’s still outright racist, and there’s no way to soften that. Being oblivious to the fact that some people have been discriminated against or treated badly because of their skin color or nationality or ethnicity at your masjid may mean that you need to increase your awareness, and make yourself more open to understanding what others around you experience or are going through, but it doesn’t put you anywhere near the racist dad who doesn’t want a black son in law. The woman in the article sounds a bit sheltered and oblivious, but I see no evidence that she was trying to shut down people from discussing the ways they’ve been discriminated against, or saying she doesn’t believe it’s ever happened to them. That’s a long, long stretch there, at least with what the reader is given in the article.

        • Avatar

          Khaled

          February 21, 2011 at 7:51 PM

          To add to HelloKitty’s point, its possible that the sister even experiences some of what is perceived as racist and she doesn’t see it that way. I go to a lot of masaajid that are run by Pakistanis (I’m Arab) and some of them talk to me, but a lot of the “uncle” types avoid me like the plague. Maybe they can’t speak English/Arabic, maybe they don’t like “Wahhaabis” or maybe they’re racist, but it doesn’t cross my mind in all honesty like it may with a convert, whether black white or Asian.

          I think a more important question to ask is: is this issue a problem with the typical Muslimmatters reader, or is this only an “auntie and uncle” issue which can’t be resolved here because they don’t read this website?

          • Avatar

            Safia Farole

            February 21, 2011 at 9:18 PM

            I don’t think this is just an auntie/uncle issue. I have witnessed and experienced acts of exclusion (call it whatever you will) perpetrated by Muslims my age when I was in college, whether it was exclusion based on race or language. Who is going to be informed enough to correct the actions of aunties and uncles if we don’t have this discussion on a blog like MM?

          • Avatar

            Umm-Ayoub

            February 22, 2011 at 5:24 PM

            I feel like I am sensing some color blind issues from some of you towards this sister. I mean like she said she wrote this article to help create dialog among us Muslims about racism instead you guys are dissecting every word she said. Let us take it easy on each other shall we.

          • Avatar

            Hassan

            February 22, 2011 at 10:10 PM

            May be the concept is so abstract to grasp? What is up with accusing others of racism (either color-blind or what).

          • Avatar

            Hello Kitty

            February 22, 2011 at 11:36 PM

            Baseless accusations of color blind or any other kind of racism are just as wrong. Not cool at all. Critical reading and analysis of the both the article and issue does not equate to any kind of racism. It’s unfortunate that there are people out there like yourself who delegitimize an important topic by making absurd, baseless accusations that completely obfuscate the entire issue. Nice work there.

  8. Avatar

    ahlam

    February 21, 2011 at 8:22 PM

    JazakAllahu Khairan for the article.!

    The problem is the Ummah is somehow tolerating prejudice and is in a way allowing it to mature and feed into our language and daily life even if when every Muslim says that Islam is against it with their tongue.Our Ummah should be purging it out from within its midst,just like it would do to elements of jaahilyyah because racism or discrimination is part of the kafir pre-Islamic culture where ignorance reigned.So, logically Muslims should be disgusted by it just as they would be with anything to do with Abu Jahl and co. and run the other way when they see it (racism) coming! We don’t want to have any character of Abu Jahl’s in us, do we? Be an Abu Dharr(may Allah be pleased with him), be a hero:)

    I believe its just a symptom of a disease in the Ummah, the disease being lack of Taqwa and love of dunya, because if people did not think they lived for ever and realized that *everything* belonged to Allah, including our bodies and would return to Him, they would be more bothered about saving their skins from the Fire on D-Day than what color it was today! Looking at it from this perspective makes it all seem so pathetic.

    May Allah (subhanahu wa taa’la) forgive us for what we do not know and protect us.

    • Avatar

      Safia Farole

      February 21, 2011 at 9:22 PM

      Money quote:

      “the disease being lack of Taqwa and love of dunya, because if people did not think they lived for ever and realized that *everything* belonged to Allah, including our bodies and would return to Him, they would be more bothered about saving their skins from the Fire on D-Day than what color it was today!”

      This is so true! Thank you for helping to elevate this disusion, and for helping us understand what is one of the root causes of racism.

      • Avatar

        ahlam

        February 23, 2011 at 12:10 PM

        :)it is but from your kindness

  9. Avatar

    Hena Zuberi

    February 21, 2011 at 9:16 PM

    Jazakillah Khair Safia for starting the conversation. At least there is a discussion going on now whereas there was none before. Racism in a problem in our communities across all levels and ages to the extent that even young kids divide across the racial and I’ll throw in ethnic lines in our weekend school classes. These same kids attend regular public school and may not act that way there but once they are within their own ‘crowd’ they fall into the same routine as their parents.

    Unconscious racism is still racism – though perhaps not malicious. It is the taking advantage of being of one race which is dominant or in the majority. ie having an Eid gathering and not inviting a person of another race because you think that ‘they’ wont be comfortable there. Or arranging a talk in Urdu at the mosque because most people speak Urdu but 100% don’t. The person arranging it may be doing it to accommodate the majority not out of malice. Although this may not seem like racism it is the exact kind of racism that Safia is speaking about b/c now you have excluded those that do not speak the language.

    Or take the board of an Islamic organization, you have elections and Race 1’s candidate wins because all people of that race voted for him not because they thought Race 2’s candidate was or Race 2 people were less Muslim but because we are naturally inclined to gravitate towards people ‘like’ us. This benefit that race 1 candidate has is called colorblind racism. This is how I am understanding it please correct me if I am wrong.

    Minimization of racism is in itself racism. Safia, I think maybe you are one step ahead of the rest of the crowd- maybe some of us haven’t even gotten to the point of accepting that there is racism in our communities- we don’t even know what blatant racism is, we don’t think what we are saying or doing is racist, to a lot of us its just a joke or just ‘words’. I am not referring to any commenters, just making a general statement.

    I hope that people add their experiences so we learn more about this.phenomena.
    Salams

    • Avatar

      Hello Kitty

      February 21, 2011 at 10:03 PM

      It would be great if the hypothetical masjid were able to host both an Urdu session and English session so that more people could benefit from the discussion, but at the same time, if 98 people understand Urdu, and 2 dont, why should 98 people miss out on what could be a very beneficial learning opportunity? And how on earth is that racist? If the session can only be held in Urdu, then even though some may not understand it, there’s nothing wrong with holding the session. I only understand two languages. There are a lot more things going on in this world though than just the two languages I can understand. That doesn’t mean those whose languages aren’t one of the two I can understand are racist or discriminating against me. Their lives get to go on even though I can’t follow along because I don’t speak their language. Exclusions happen in life all the time, and not all of them are borne out of racism, inadvertently or not. It’s life, and it doesn’t always mean you’re a victim of racism.

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        Umm-Ayoub

        February 22, 2011 at 5:32 PM

        A good Muslim is someone who is always considerate of other Muslims(and non-Muslims) no matter how big or small or what color their skin. Our Prophet(PB) warn us not to speak in different tongue if there is a person with us who doesn’t understand our tongue and to converse in a tongue everyone present understands .

        • Avatar

          Hello Kitty

          February 22, 2011 at 11:42 PM

          No one has said it’s fine or ok for people to exclude a person in a personal conversation by speaking in a language not understood by the entire group. That’s terrible manners, and discriminatory. But nevertheless, avoiding all exclusions due to language is nigh near impossible. And it’s not due to any form of racism. Participation in this forum automatically excludes non English speakers. Does that mean the existence of this website is then automatically racist because of this exclusion? Of course not.

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      Safia Farole

      February 21, 2011 at 10:35 PM

      Sr. Hena thank you for sharing your observation about Muslim kids. Thats why I love having an open forum of discussion on this blog – I’m learning things from readers that I may have never noticed.

      And your example of language exclusion is all too common. There is a masjid that is literally a 2 minute drive from my home, but I’m putt off from attending khutbah’s because its offered in my native tongue. Although I understand, there are so many Muslims present who don’t speak my language. My heart was crushed when I asked a sister why she likes coming to khutbah at this masjid (even though she doesn’t understand it ) – she said she just wants the ajar. There are countless examples; but like you mentioned, the masjid administrators may not be doing this out of malice for other ethnic groups. But to overlook the fact that there may be discontent among the masses as a result of actions like these is at the essence of colorblind racism.

      I believe you’re correct in that this topic may be too advanced for some readers, who may not have a foundational understanding of what racism is, and the effects of racism (and this is not to look down on others). Its my job as a writer on this blog to try to educate other Muslims on issues that are complicating harmony among us. If I have illuminated one readers mind about this issue that I care deeply about, then I’m satisfied.

    • Avatar

      ahlam

      February 21, 2011 at 10:51 PM

      There is a hadith where the Prophet said that in a group of three, two people should not speak in exclusion of the third:

      Abdullah ibn Massoud quotes the Prophet as saying: “Should there be three of you, then let not two of them be in conversation to the exclusion of the third, because this will hurt him.” (Related by Al-Bukahri and Muslim)

      I think it makes it inconsiderate/insensitive if we ignore that one person in the corner and who could have been beneficial to his community…

  10. Avatar

    Nayma

    February 21, 2011 at 9:27 PM

    JAK Sister Safiya for sharing that hadith about Bilal(ra) and Abu Dharr(ra).

    Racism exists in Muslim communities like it did earlier. But there is hope with the example of sahabas and following the Sunnah, we will be able to overcome it. Islam is beautiful and helps us deals with all sorts of problems in our hearts.

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    Charles

    February 21, 2011 at 11:44 PM

    Racism is a problem, and we should talk about it. But we need to be aware of where terms are coming from and how they are being defined.

    Sr. Safia said it’s “social science.” According to Wikipedia, color-blindness

    is a sociological term referring to the disregard of racial characteristics when selecting which individuals will participate in some activity or receive some service.

    Put into practice, color-blind operations use no racial data or profiling and make no classifications, categorizations, or distinctions based upon race. An example of this would be a college processing admissions without regard to or knowledge of the racial characteristics of applicants.

    In other words, if you treat everyone the same, you’re a racist.

    There’s no doubt that racism exists, as does the denial of its existence. The examples of language exclusion and who people let their daughters marry are pertinent. Yet, terms like color blindness, which turn every act into a form of racism, are statements of a biased ideology that should be avoided.

    Even so, it’s good that Sr. Safia has brought this issue to the community’s attention. And I agree with her that we should “purify our intentions when we interact with individuals from a racial group different than ours” and that we should “uphold [Islam’s] standards in our daily interactions.”

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    ZAI

    February 22, 2011 at 12:21 AM

    This is a really complex topic. It’s not black and white(no pun intended).

    I think it’s really unfair to assume that a lot of things that go on in the immigrant Muslim communities are forms of “color-blind” racism. Just as the disclaimer said and many people’s comments reiterated, we cannot know people’s intentions…

    Have any of you considered the fact that most immigrant Muslims are 1st generation here?
    Why do we expect that they will be any different from earlier immigrants like Italians, Poles, Germans, Greeks, Jews or any of the rest?

    People who are new immigrants experience a new reality that is often very jarring for them and they seek out people of similar cultural background to facilitate their lives by being around those with whom they already have a lot in common, including language. Sorry, but that is NOT racism…it’s natural and a form of coping/comfort.

    Have we considered that for a lot of these people, their language skills are subpar and they might simply feel less comfortable around culturally different people, not due to racism but embarrassment that THEY can’t communicate at the same level?

    It’s really easy to judge that and talk about Islamic ideals…but how many of us would be willing to go to a Muslim majority country, as English speaking Americans, and totally blend in at the drop of a hat w/o ever wishing we ran into another English speaking American?

    It’s really easy to proclaim an Islamic ideal, which YES is the ideal we should work for, but it’s a lot harder to live it. To demand that of immigrants who are new here within one generation is really harsh and unforgiving in my opinion. It’s really easy to say and much harder to do…again, reverse it and put yourself in their shoes.
    Immigrating from everything you’ve ever known is not easy…I think a lot of us 2nd generation folks or non-immigrants simply dismiss that and take assimilation for granted.

    There are a lot of issues that are similar to the language issue where subtlety and some gentleness are required to examine the subject. We can’t just jump and shout racism of one kind or another.

    For example, regarding the marriage issue: again no, it is NOT all racism.
    Again, some immigrants are simply worried about being able to relate to inlaws from a different culture or even the resultant grandkids. It’s not so much racism as it is a worry that they will be excluded because of their inability to communicate or find common ground. That is NOT “color-blind” racism…and it’s deeply insulting to call it that when many of these folks are totally pure hearted and not racist in the least, but are simply worried about mundane/everyday life issues…

    Furthermore, not everyone who is against intermarriage is himself/herself a racist…but perhaps fearful for the welfare of their child because they know its a racist WORLD out there.

    For example an Arab man might reject a black suitor for his daughter because he’s black…but he is not necessarily a racist. He could be a completely pure hearted, kind and egalitarian individual….but his thinking might be that racism against blacks is very prevelant in his community, and he might simply be worried that his daughter will suffer from that racism herself through that marriage, as would any grandchildren, because of it’s prevelance in the society as a whole. Therefore he might just want to spare her the pain of that kind of rejection…

    To those of you who think that’s a cop-out, sorry, but as any parent will tell you they will do whatever it takes, even including being called a moral coward or selling out an ideal, to ensure what they think is a good life for their kids or protect them from any percieved harm. Most people will sacrifice a lot of things for their ideals…but most people also draw the line at their children. You have to be a parent to realize that and a lot of us younger folks who aren’t yet are too liberal in throwing the racist card at our parents. Not ALL of them are racist and in many ways the large society or culture is at fault, not neceassarily many individuals…

    So yeah, call some of these people moral cowards or say they help to sustain the very racist society they say they’re against…so hypocrites. But not racist itself. It is entirely possible to say they are not personally racist. Again..it is more complex than that…

    Those few examples being said…
    Yeah…racism is alive and well within Muslim cultures and it’s definitely an issue. It is a completely repugnant thing that we should strive to eliminate. But the key word there is STRIVE. It is ridiculous to expect an overnight change by quoting an ayah of Quran or a Hadith and being harsh serves no purpose except to put people on the defensive.

    1. Immigrating is hard to do…so it would behoove us to have some mercy and cut some immigrants some slack. They’re not all racists…it’s more complex than that. Centuries of cultural baggage or homogenous “comfort” aren’t gonna disappear overnight…

    2. Even when it comes to marriage, it’s not all “color-blind” racism. Yes, a LOT of it is based on racism…but we cannot apply that label with a broad stroke. There are SOME people who have more nuanced or mundane reasons for being averse to intermarriage, for example, and some of them are coming from places of good intention for their children….they’re not all personally racist…again it’s more complex than that.

    and given 1 & 2…

    3. It is going to take TIME. Sorry, but this change ain’t gonna happen overnight. I would be the first person to condemn racism in our Muslim cultures, but I also realize it’s going to take time to change. It will be a 2nd, 3rd or even 4th generation here who acculturates and defines themselves as part of a larger Muslim community who changes it…we do not have the prophet here to personally guide this change within a single generation.

    4. We need a SOCIETAL change, not just a personal one. In order to truly eliminate racism, you must eliminate the societal/cultural factors , economic environments, educational gaps, etc. that perpetuate it. Until we do that, many people who are NOT racist but simply fearful for themselves, their kids, or whatever will be hesitant to be the first or one of few individuals who go against the grain. They will see it as a risk with “consequences” for lack of a better word and continue to reinforce the system even if they personally disagree with it…It is human nature to be risk-averse

    Again…no disagreement whatsoever that racism is a problem and exists within the Muslim communities, nor that it is a repugnant vile thing where in is found to truly be the case…just saying it’s complex. We can’t just quote Quran and Hadith and think it’ll go away, nor expect immediate results….

    • Avatar

      BintKhalil

      February 22, 2011 at 10:30 AM

      Assalamu alaikum

      Your comment and the one below yours have excellent points.

      Jazakum Allah khair

    • Avatar

      Salam

      February 22, 2011 at 10:40 AM

      Zai, These are excellent points that I fully agree with.

    • Avatar

      Safia Farole

      February 22, 2011 at 11:44 AM

      Thank you ZAI for your contribution to this discussion. I believe I have hit on several of your points in my article – particularly the fact that it is natural for people of similar heritage to seek others like themselves out – its just human! But where colorblind racism comes into the equation is when you DENY that race has anything to do with the outcome of a situation or someone’s condition (i.e. all other assumptions are made, despite the fact that the role of race may be glaringly obvious).

      No one is expecting overnight change. I just want Muslims to especially appreciate that we probably wouldn’t be enjoying the lives we live in this country if it wasn’t for the gross injustice of racism and terrorism that was historically wraught upon African Americans. We need to remind ourselves of that legacy, whether we are immigrant or not (and I’m speaking as an immigrant myself).

      Again, I am satisfied if one reader goes back to their families (who may not speak English), and educate them about how some other Muslims may perceive certain behaviors.

  13. Avatar

    Salam

    February 22, 2011 at 1:00 AM

    As-salamu Alaykum,
    You are touching upon an important issue but have regrettably used confusing examples. The example of the woman you mentioned did not seem racist at all. I am just not feeling that example at all.

    Regarding language, I am an American who currently lives in Jordan. The American Muslims here often get together, speak in English, etc. – and some are currently trying to arrange to have weekly khutbahs in English at a proposed Islamic center that would specially cater to English-speaking Muslims. If you are an English-speaking Muslim like me, you probably think that is pretty cool. But somehow we American Muslims don’t like it when the reverse happens in the United States. I think every American Muslim should have the experience of living in a foreign country and understanding what it is like to be a stranger in an unfamiliar land. I have seen American Muslims in Jordan who seem incapable of mixing with the wider Arab population and only stick to people of their own kind. Yet no one accuses them of racism because we all understand the insecurities they feel at being away from home and having limited experience with the culture, language, etc.

    • Avatar

      Safia Farole

      February 22, 2011 at 11:47 AM

      You’re right, the example I used is not overt racism – that’s the point, the statement she made is one that is characteristic of colorblind racism – i.e. overlooking or denying the fact that someone may not enjoy the same community you do because perhaps they feel excluded (as a result of not being in a majority culture). I hope that helps. If you’re not feeling my example, several readers have offered good ones in the comments section.

  14. Avatar

    Jeremiah

    February 22, 2011 at 2:09 PM

    Jazakillah khair to the author for starting this conversation. Sh. Abdullah bin Hamid Ali has a recent article on immigrant/non-immigrant issues that might be relevant to the discussion:

    http://www.lamppostproductions.com/files/articles/Convert_Non-Convert%20Divide.pdf

    • Avatar

      Safia Farole

      February 22, 2011 at 10:56 PM

      Jazakallahi Khair Jeremiah for adding this source to our discussion. I haven’t finished reading all of it, but I’m definetely bookmarking it, inshallah. I recommend it for any of our readers who are eager to explore this topic further.

  15. Avatar

    Mohammed Guggen

    February 23, 2011 at 11:37 AM

    Safia,

    This is an excellent article!

    Color Blindedness is alive and well everywhere, especially in so-called “islamic” countries, with Saudi Arabia topping the list.

    I am a western convert and have travelled extensively through south asia, far east and the middle east. I found saudi arabia to be the worst in its treatment of muslim expats, especially from indonesia, phillipines, india, pakistan and bangladesh. They get paid far less and are treated as sub-human solely based on their color and ethnicity.

    For example, in saudi there is strict segregation based on gender. However, females can travel in a taxi without a mahram if the taxi driver is from pakistan or india or bangladesh. Now if it is a saudi taxi driver, mahram is required. Go figure ….

    I asked my saudi friend as to why and he explained that saudis consider non-saudi taxi drivers as sub-humans.
    I was shocked. Go figure ….

    • Avatar

      sabirah

      February 24, 2011 at 3:51 AM

      yes, a saudi man cannot marry a non saudi woman as first wife etc, weird racist marriage laws.
      I wonder how they justify these laws. i mean what happens is that they say this is a form of Islam or protection of islamic laws and eventually people will say it’s an islamic necessity

      • Avatar

        Mansoor Ansari

        February 24, 2011 at 10:08 AM

        @Sabirah

        not true… i know both Saudi men & women who are married to non-saudis, infact non-arabs and it’s their 1st marriage. My mom being one of them.

      • Avatar

        MW_M

        February 24, 2011 at 5:10 PM

        forget about first wife, a non-saudi male can not mary a saudi female period

    • Avatar

      MW_M

      February 24, 2011 at 5:11 PM

      I still don’t understand the term color blind racism, how is your term any different from straight up racism?

  16. Avatar

    Nazia

    February 23, 2011 at 11:58 PM

    Assalaamu’alaikum,

    Good article. Haven’t read all the comments, but you asked for ideas on what we can do as a community to correct this social ill…my thoughts are that widening our social circles is an approach, from inviting families from other backgrounds to your house up to allowing your children to marry into another race. Sounds intuitive, but it’s just not happening. Social circles play a big role in our subconscious perceptions of others, and those of us that want to be “broad minded” are at a disadvantage if we do not have personal relationships with individuals from that race. They might still be the “other” whether we like it or not. As far as marriage, I know that’s a can of worms. I personally didn’t want to marry outside of my culture because I really wanted my parents to have a deep and personal relationship with my husband which meant they would have to speak the same language since my parents aren’t THAT fluent in English, and alhamdulillah, my husband and parents get along great. Now that I’m married, I told my husband that I never want to stop my children from marrying outside the desi sphere (and he’s on board!) b/c as first-generation Americans, it culturally puts us on a more even playing field with other races that are also American. I think for Muslims in America, our melting pot just needs to brew a little more.

    • Avatar

      Safia Farole

      February 24, 2011 at 4:18 PM

      You know whats funny?…the title of this article was initially: “Race Matters – From Color Blind Racism to Color Blind Marriages in the Ummah”. So I was also going to write about the flip side to racism – color blind marriages. I know the interracial marriage stuff is complicated, but its happening in our Ummah, and as you mentioned, I don’t think its a Black or White issue.

      I have serveral interracial marriages in my family, and Alhamdulilah they’re working out fine – its just important that both people are on the same footing with regards to deen. Interracial marriages are not scarry…its the future of our ummah in the West, inshallah. Lets embrace it:)

      • Avatar

        BintKhalil

        February 24, 2011 at 7:19 PM

        How would you describe a color-blind marriage – one in which a person is married to someone of another race yet makes racist comments about that race?

  17. Avatar

    sabirah

    February 24, 2011 at 4:03 AM

    asalamu alaikum i like the article because it discusses a touchy subject that nobody likes to talk about. Is there racism? People can’t really deny that it exists, or they are living on a pink cloud.
    it exists based on colour, ethnicity and culture or mazhab. I realized that differentiations are made within all islamic aspect of life in particular marriage etc. Racism in islam is developing into “they don’t pracice our mazhab, ahl us sunnah, etc, they are not proper muslims”. mazhabism?
    Truly, shaytan finds a way to get between people easily, either through skin colour, gender, school of thought. how shall we overcome that as an ummah? Or is it let them fight between each other until the strongest group wins?
    this is a great weakness for us.

  18. Avatar

    Sidiq

    February 24, 2011 at 2:35 PM

    I hope that people understand that not tolerating inter-racial marriages is perfectly permissible in Islam, especially by parents and also such as the Saudi law on Non-Saudis banned from marrying Saudis, there is nothing in Islam preventing this and it is not racism.

  19. Avatar

    Mohammed Guggen

    February 24, 2011 at 4:09 PM

    Sidiq – February 24, 2011 • 2:35 PM .I hope that people understand that not tolerating inter-racial marriages is perfectly permissible in Islam, especially by parents and also such as the Saudi law on Non-Saudis banned from marrying Saudis, there is nothing in Islam preventing this and it is not racism.

    Can you please provide references/verses from the Holy Quran. Thanks!

    • Avatar

      Sidiq

      February 24, 2011 at 4:12 PM

      I would but don’t need to lol. If a person wants to say contrary to what I have said, they are the ones that have to provide the evidence. They have to give me clear proof from Qur’an or hadeeth saying that it is not allowed to prevent interracial marriages by parents or State.

      • Avatar

        Safia Farole

        February 24, 2011 at 4:28 PM

        I’m no scholar – so thats the disclaimer here.

        This is just my understanding, and reflection on this issue. I think everyone has a right to not tolerate interracial marriages, but I think the problem arises when parents refuse to marry their daughter or son off to someone of another race, DESPITE the child wanting to do so. Its okay to not want to intermarry, but I think it becomes a problem when the parent is imposing this option on the child, and outright reject suitors on the basis of race, DESPITE the child wanting to pursue a person of a different race, culture, exc. Remember, the child has the right to marry anyone the want (albeit taking into consideration parents wishes), but the child can’t be forced to relinquish that decision just because mom and dad don’t want to marry into that race.

        I could be wrong. I think the topic of interracial marriages is more touchy than racism itself:)

        • Avatar

          Hello Kitty

          February 24, 2011 at 6:22 PM

          Exactly how does the topic of interracial or intercultural marriages differ from racism itself though? People can talk all they want about how broad minded they are, or how much they believe in standing up to all forms of racism, exposing it, etc. but when it comes time to put their words into action, how many of them end up being little more than hypocrites? That’s the real test right there. If you’re someone who speaks out against racism, but pitch a fit over your child choosing a spouse of another nationality, or skin color etc, then you’re nothing but a hypocrite. If that person’s skin color or nationality is a bigger consideration for you as a parent than their deen, you’re not only a hypocrite, but a bad parent and a bad Muslim. Deen will always trump any other marriage compatibility factor, no matter what. And if you don’t believe that, you’re denying sunnah.

          • Avatar

            MW_M

            February 24, 2011 at 9:34 PM

            Like

            (facebook reference if you don’t get it)

      • Avatar

        F

        February 24, 2011 at 5:45 PM

        Wrong statement. The burden of proof lies on the person making the claim, not the other way around.

        It’s like me saying you are a thief and asking you to prove otherwise. Doesn’t make much sense, does it?

        • Avatar

          Sidiq

          February 24, 2011 at 6:37 PM

          It is well-known that in Islam, the burden of proof lies on the person claiming something to be impermissible when it comes to non-religious matters such as marriage and food etc. So your analogy is redundant/irrelevant and deeply flawed.

          • Avatar

            Hello Kitty

            February 24, 2011 at 7:35 PM

            Where is race or nationality ever mentioned in the Islamic edicts of who is halal and who is not to marry? It’s not permitted to marry fornicators or idol worshippers, etc. but race and nationality are never established as impermissible factors. So then wouldn’t the burden of proof lie on those seeking to make the halal impermissible because of skin color or nationality, by disallowing marriages among those who are Islamically permissible to marry? The only thing redundant, irrelevant and deeply flawed here is you trying to legitimize blatant bigotry. Way gross.

  20. Avatar

    Margari Aziza

    February 24, 2011 at 6:58 PM

    Salaam alaikum,

    Another form of color blind racism is by accusing an offended person who was a victim of a racial slight of being racist for bringing it up. There is the blame the victim thing. Often, minorities are accused of having a bad attitude. “Perhaps it is your fault why people treat you this way, you are standing out because of your attitude.” Or if you can’t blame the victim, then the entire ethnic group for why people treat them that way.

    We need to have diversity training in our communities. We need to address our shortcomings in how we deal with each other.

    • Avatar

      Safia Farole

      February 24, 2011 at 7:46 PM

      That is so true Margari. We definetely do need diversity traning or cultural competency in our communities – I think these type of open forum sessions would provide a foundational understanding of what racism is, and its many different forms (as some reader suggested that individuals in our communities need).

      I enjoy reading your blog, and I’m honored that you took the time to read this post!

  21. Avatar

    Charles

    February 24, 2011 at 8:08 PM

    Sidiq,

    I’m having trouble following your logic. If a country has a law forbidding citizens from marrying non-citizens, then it is the country that has made something impermissible, and so it would be the country’s responsibility to provide evidence and reasoning for their position. Wouldn’t it?

    A few years back, Ibn Abee Omar wrote a post, “Thoughts and Advice on Interracial Marriages”, here on Muslim Matters. On another site, a Muslim wrote a thoughtful piece about interracial marriage that may be of interest.

    On a forum at Egyptsearch.com, one poster wrote that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) authorized several interracial marriages, stating,

    The Prophet of Islam encouraged a female in his own family, Zaynab bint Jahsh, to marry a black man, i.e. Zayd ibn Haritha. Zaynab’s brother refused to give her away in marriage on the grounds that Zayd was a freed black slave, whereas she was an aristocratic white-skinned Arab woman of noble lineage. Yet, the Prophet of Islam rejected this attitude of bigotry and insisted that Zaynab marry Zayd based on his piety and good character. The family continually refused until God revealed the following verse of the Quran:

    It is not becoming of a believing man or woman, once God and His Messenger have decreed an affair, to have an option to follow their own choice. (Quran, 33:36)

    This would seem to indicate that one couldn’t make interracial marriage forbidden. Perhaps someone who knows more about this verse and hadith could comment on them.

    Over at IslamToday, in the context of interracial marriage, Sheikh `Abd al-Rahmân b. Ibrâhîm al-`Uthmân, professor at al-Imâm University, responded that although a woman must have her father’s consent, at the same time, her guardian must allow her to marry the man of her choice as long as his religion and character are suitable. He cited this source:

    The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “If a man whose religion and character pleases you approaches you with a proposal pf marriage, then let him get married. If you do not do so, there will be tribulation and great corruption in the land.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhî]

    • Avatar

      Sidiq

      February 25, 2011 at 5:35 PM

      I appreciate your response, I once thought like that, until I was exposed to some Fiqh lessons in Islam… Good questions you have there and nice links. But ultimately race is a factor in determining the compatibility of a couple and if the wali or State decrees that interracial marriages are over-stepping this mark, then they have the prerogative to refuse the marriage. What’s interesting is that the classical scholars mostly were in disagreement over whether or not it is should be obligatory for this compatibility factor to be met, there was not much disagreement over the permissibility of refusing marriages based upon race, social status and other key factors. I heard this in a lecture and coincidently the scholar who conducted it is a writer for here for MM! I’ll say no more.

  22. Avatar

    Mirza Shahebaz Baig

    February 24, 2011 at 8:43 PM

    How about people marrying in the same race and yet able to be racist with the same race, in a way that if someone disagrees ( read different opinion than their) with them, then they are not useful (bad). Its natural human psychology, that one needs to understand. Drawing line could be if it is causing anyone harm.

    For example, its not I get to decide if I am rude to someone or not. Its upto that certain someone’s perception about it.

    Let me give an example of what I am trying to explain about racist by disagreements, albeit I have difficulty explaining myself (in writing particularly). First thing first, I am not trying to make anyone feel guilty, because GUILT works!! (its the self realization and acting on it in such a way to bring ourself closer to Allaah that counts and not forcing anyone to do certain act)

    I vividly remember one Muslim man during 2009 Ilmsummit mash Allah gave a wild card session, It was about Border Crossing and Immigration Problems between US-Mexico. Someone like me, born and brought up in India, working in the midwest, as most Indians do (with computers) by default, may have no sensitivity (concern) for the topic had it not been brought through this. may Allah reward him multiple blessings and continue to bless his studious effort in University of Madinah. Ameen.

    Another example, I recently learned about, could be, Islamic Relief organization mash Allaah organizing campaign for malaria. Guess how many people came for the seminar? 130,000 $$$ odd was the expense, barely 250 people showed up when the expectation was at least 1500 people for that fund raiser. Something you and I consider, had it been a fundraiser for a certain Muslim country in oppressed land ( may Allaah save Muslims from Fitnah and make them closer to His Deen and steadfast against tyrants and close against one another, ameen), I am sure the numbers would be different. And its me and I am not blaming anyone because I need to teach myself that I could not do 10 different things in great way, but I could commit to one of the tasks and try to do it consistently to help out ( self and others) may be just may be Allaah accept it.

    Problem lies in some ways either as a cause or as a result us being desensitized.

    The recent lessons I learnt includes following,

    – its difficult being a father of a girl (in desi culture) in this country, hence the fathers are racist towards their daughters in a very subtle ways ( even though they aren’t really hating the other half of world population, as a whole) they don’t themselves realize that its the daughters that , if raised properly, guarantee jannah for them and its only daughters who could love them much more than their sons would ever do.

    – Silat Rahm. Just because you have a cousin who is american and had jobs in president’s offices impresses you don’t ignore your poor cousin back home who is equally be good to your parents in your absence. You pray for both of them and try to be nice to both of them equally, otherwise it would be a form of being a ‘mutaffif’ (or for lack of a better term ahle sahoolat, people of self convenience) isn’t it? By the way what is arabic for being ‘racist’?

    – Everyone thinks the mode of action they are taking is the right way to do it. (Few acknowledge self mistakes).

    wassalam

  23. Avatar

    Mirza Shahebaz Baig

    February 24, 2011 at 8:44 PM

    Salamualaikum, How about people marrying in the same race and yet able to be racist with the same race? in a way that if someone disagrees ( read different opinion than their) with them, then they are not useful (bad). Its natural human psychology, that one needs to understand. Drawing line could be if it is causing anyone harm.

    For example, its not I get to decide if I am rude to someone or not. Its upto that certain someone’s perception about it.

    Let me give an example of what I am trying to explain about racist by disagreements, albeit I have difficulty explaining myself (in writing particularly). First thing first, I am not trying to make anyone feel guilty, because GUILT works!! (its the self realization and acting on it in such a way to bring ourself closer to Allaah that counts and not forcing anyone to do certain act)

    I vividly remember one Muslim man during 2009 Ilmsummit mash Allah gave a wild card session, It was about Border Crossing and Immigration Problems between US-Mexico. Someone like me, born and brought up in India, working in the midwest, as most Indians do (with computers) by default, may have no sensitivity (concern) for the topic had it not been brought through this. may Allah reward him multiple blessings and continue to bless his studious effort in University of Madinah. Ameen.

    Another example, I recently learned about, could be, Islamic Relief organization mash Allaah organizing campaign for malaria. Guess how many people came for the seminar? 130,000 $$$ odd was the expense, barely 250 people showed up when the expectation was at least 1500 people for that fund raiser. Something you and I consider, had it been a fundraiser for a certain Muslim country in oppressed land ( may Allaah save Muslims from Fitnah and make them closer to His Deen and steadfast against tyrants and close against one another, ameen), I am sure the numbers would be different. And its me and I am not blaming anyone because I need to teach myself that I could not do 10 different things in great way, but I could commit to one of the tasks and try to do it consistently to help out ( self and others) may be just may be Allaah accept it.

    Problem lies in some ways either as a cause or as a result us being desensitized.

    The recent lessons I learnt includes following,

    – its difficult being a father of a girl (in desi culture) in this country, hence the fathers are racist towards their daughters in a very subtle ways ( even though they aren’t really hating the other half of world population, as a whole) they don’t themselves realize that its the daughters that , if raised properly, guarantee jannah for them and its only daughters who could love them much more than their sons would ever do.

    – Silat Rahm. Just because you have a cousin who is american and had jobs in president’s offices impresses you don’t ignore your poor cousin back home who is equally be good to your parents in your absence. You pray for both of them and try to be nice to both of them equally, otherwise it would be a form of being a ‘mutaffif’ (or for lack of a better term ahle sahoolat, people of self convenience) isn’t it? By the way what is arabic for being ‘racist’?

    – Everyone thinks the mode of action they are taking is the right way to do it. (Few acknowledge self mistakes).

    wassalam

  24. Avatar

    Safia Farole

    February 26, 2011 at 2:14 PM

    This video I found from the Islamic Institute of Orange County (IIOC) website may be of interest to readers on this thread. I haven’t watched it yet, but judging from the title, I’m sure its linked to the conversation we’ve been having here:

    “The Status of Racism in Islam” by Imam Jihad Saafir:

    http://www.masjidomar.com/media/video?task=videodirectlink&id=282

  25. Avatar

    RCHOUDH

    February 27, 2011 at 6:08 PM

    Assalamu alaikum sister Safia,

    Jazakillah ul Khair for writing about a very sensitive but important issue and Jazakum’Allah ul Khair to everyone for their input. From my understanding colorblind racism is almost never overt like (insert ethnic/race) supremacist style racism is and most folks engaging in colorblind racism often don’t mean to do it because it’s more subconscious. So for example France engages in colorblind census taking, meaning no French citizen is categorized according to their race/ethnicity/country of origin they are all considered to be French. Now regarding everyone as French citizens sounds ideal, but the reality is that “ethnic” French citizens (those belonging to minority races/ethnicities/religions) face alot of discrimination that goes unaccounted for because there are no surveys/statistics to back up the problems they face. Instead the “ethnic” French are blamed for the problems they face, being told they’re being “too lazy, introverted, religious” maybe if they acted more “French” they could be successful. This doesn’t take into consideration the fact that no much French culture is adopted, the “ethnic” French will still have to contend with racism and discrimination because short of completely changing your physical appearance, name and other markers of your identity, you can’t escape being seen as really not “French”.

    Sorry for the longwinded post I was just trying to show how colorblind racism can manifest in a society (as opposed to regular old-style racism that overtly existed in the US during the Jim Crow era). Even if intentions are benign (like saying you consider all citizens to be equal) the actions don’t follow up leading to racism to manifest anyway.
    One thing I have since learned is that amongst individuals it is best to practice moderation as Islam always recommends. Meaning when you meet someone it is ok to acknowledge their race/ethnicity and it’s good to learn about certain aspects of their culture that might benefit you (like new words from their language, new foods, etc). At the same time however don’t overemphasize upon their race/ethnicity/culture when interacting with them and try to NEVER fall into stereotyping them based on their group. Always challenge whatever stereotypes you may have carried about different groups and always seek forgiveness if you say/do something wrong that you didn’t mean to offend (making racist jokes no matter how innocuous if you see your brother/sister in Islam uncomfortable with the jokes). The Rasul (S) and his Sahabah used to acknowledge the different Muslims among them who were not Arab (Suhayb Ar-Rumi, Bilal Al-Habashi, Salman Al-Farsi). At the same time they never “othered” them by their differences instead they became closer to them based on their exceptional Islamic characters.

    Finally I agree with everyone who stated we should always give someone the benefit of the doubt over some wrong action we believe they might have committed. With colorblind racism, since its effects are more subtle and almost always the person usually doesn’t intend to act racist, therefore the act is not out of malice, we should avoid accusing them of being racist. Rather we should gently try to point out the wrong action and explain why it may be perceived as wrong and therefore the best thing to do is to refrain from it. I pray to Allah to forgive me my faults and mistakes in conveying this message.

    • Avatar

      Safia Farole

      February 27, 2011 at 8:08 PM

      RCHOUDH, Mashallah you really hit the nail on the head with the examples you’ve offered. Jazakallahi khair for bringing them to the table. The French example you give helps us to broaden our horizons, as most readers may be more familiar with examples of race relations in the US.

      In my article I didn’t mention the point about avoiding stereotypes, and its great that you point that out here, because unfortunately sometimes stereotypes do guide our interaction with other races (be they Muslim or non-Muslim).

      Nice job.

  26. Avatar

    abu bakr

    February 27, 2011 at 7:21 PM

    Hazrat Bilal asked for the hand in marriage of an arab woman!! The issue of racism in Islamic societies needs to be discussed. I myself am from a country (Guyana) in which the muslim minority of asian descent has issues with afro converts. I live in a country where Moroccan hate Algerian etc. A lot of backwardness still around inthe muslim world. In fgact, in many ways, we are worse than the christians we criticise

  27. Avatar

    RCHOUDH

    February 28, 2011 at 12:07 AM

    @Safia

    Wa iyaki and I just want to mention a mistake I made with the following sentence. I was supposed to write, “no matter how much French culture is adopted…” Thank you!

  28. Avatar

    Candice Elam

    March 6, 2011 at 11:41 PM

    Assalaamu alaikum, folks! This is just a personal thing, but people who claim to not be racist make me very uncomfortable. Given the fact that racism existed even in the society of the Prophet (saws) and the fact that every single Muslim country (and most other non-European countries, for that matter) were colonized and stratified in such a way that the lighter skinned people had greater social, political, and economic advantages, I just can’t imagine that anyone nowadays would be completely free of even a shred of racism, overt or color blind. We’ve come to the point that calling someone a racist is almost as bad as calling someone a pedophile. As soon as you throw either word out there, people just run the other way. Nevertheless, I believe that the only way to move towards anti-racism is to challenge it within our own selves. Most people don’t want to go there, so they tell themselves (and anyone else who’ll listen) that they’re not racist. It takes very little to spark racial tensions, and the people who are convinced of their non-racism are not in a position to interpret why they acted/reacted/spoke/thought a certain way when those tensions arise. As Muslims, we’re ordered to speak the truth even if it’s against our own selves. That being said, if each of us were better at being self-critical about racism than we are at finding manifestations of racism in others, we’d be a lot closer to bringing about anti-racism in our communities, masaajid, and families.

  29. Avatar

    Chaz

    May 13, 2011 at 11:01 AM

    If I was a slave trader my self, buying more than selling, and called black Africans pug nosed raisen heads… would I be a racist?
    Thanks,
    Chaz

  30. Avatar

    Hassan

    July 26, 2015 at 12:06 PM

    I found the article thought provoking and informative. There are many Muslims do not see or understand the concept of aversive racism or color bland racism. I’m an indigenous American convert who has a white mother and a black father. Many races have inherent racist biases against specifically people of color. This is not a new phenomena. Look at the Hadith of ubadah bin Samit and the ruler of Egypt (muqawqis) refusal to speak with him because he was black. The Sahaabah rejected someone else speaking in place of ubadah bin Samit. I never understood why Muslim immigrant come to America but they are not willing to assimilate to western culture which does not clash with Islamic beliefs or their cultural values. EVeryone needs to seek out the benefits in other cultures also diversity is needed.

  31. Avatar

    Wali Khan

    February 24, 2016 at 4:16 PM

    Jizak Allahkher for this lovely article sister. As a Muslim I see and feel racism deep within our communities and it saddens me greatly. I don’t believe at all in racism (the belief that one group of people are better than another), however I am not colorblind. I clearly see race, but to me its a wonderful thing not a divisive issue. If a person has a bowl of lettuce he or she cannot call it a salad. Now when this person adds cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, croutons, carrots, cheese, and dressing then the person as made a salad (and a tasty one to I might add)! That is how our Ummah was meant to be and how it should be. Having a mixed and diverse community makes the Ummah stronger, not weaker.

  32. Avatar

    shahgul

    November 24, 2016 at 3:21 AM

    What about institutionalized and canonized gender discrimination? Women have been relegated to second class membership in the ummah for a long time. How many women speak at mega conventions? How many are allowed to sit on the stage? How many women have voice?
    The ummah is still dealing with domestic violence as allegedly sanctioned by scripture. What do I care about race, color and ethnicity if being a woman precludes being treated as an equal.

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#Society

The Problem With “When They Go Low, We Go High” In An Anti-Black Society

In 2016, First Lady Michelle Obama’s quote, ‘When they go low, we go high’, was first invoked in response to growing anti-black and racist sentiments hurled by the current president and his supporters. Like many others, I believed it was stirring and motivational, yet never felt right in my heart, let alone mind. Going high, but what was the starting point? How are we defining the actions of the ‘they’ or ‘them’? What is the breaking point, when engagement with the ‘they’ becomes problematic and leads to your destruction? Are there rules to this engagement? What game are we playing? Who gets to be the judge or referee? So, the quote and the sentiment never really set right in my heart and led to more questions than answers.

The first assumption of the quote, ‘they’  have a moral compass and actively engaging you in this manner, placing you on the same level. The reality, whiteness in America seeks to maintain its power and control. White slaveholders and the system of hate they used to justify those they enslaved, built a model of power and control, which is the foundation of our current economy and societal structure. This institutionalized whiteness is so ingrained in our culture we are blind to its implications and oblivious to how we each play a role in maintaining this system. Ignorance of the historical development of this country and the narrative of being ‘American’ allows for ‘them’ to maintain their control and a passive acceptance of ‘their’ control and power.

The ‘they’ is often not embodied in a singular person or one group, but a collective body of thoughts and behavior; perpetuating fundamental beliefs or maintaining a perceived status quo. It is individual, institutional, and structural. While social media is full of single racially- charged incidents, when viewed as a whole, they are rooted in long-held beliefs and perceptions of white superiority and disdain for Black presence in their daily lives. Guilt, maybe. Fear. Many are not even aware of how and why they ‘hate’ Black people they simply, do. Here is where we will begin, if you cannot soundly identify or recognize why you hold a particular belief or idea, your actions can never firmly centered in a morally or ethically position. Many of the recent encounters reveal whiteness is predicated on lies; and the belief that white words are superior to truth. The interaction between a San Francisco couple, confronting a Black Man. provides a case study in how we are often engaged and the surveillance of our presence. Threats to call the police, with false information was of no significance to them in their minds, they were right and justified. This incident and the modern-day lynchings of Black persons, allows us to understand ‘they’ or morally bankrupt and will do whatever is necessary to maintain their perceived control.

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A quote by Matshona Dhilwayo bridges the gap between the contradictions in my heart and the understanding my mind seeks,

“It is possible to turn the other cheek when one has stopped counting.”

For generations, Black Americans have taken the ‘higher’ road in response to prejudice and discrimination. At times I believe, we have stopped counting because we knew few changes were coming or justice. During the pinnacle of the civil rights movement during the 60’s the emergence of Malcolm X, challenged the idea of ‘turning the cheek’ when faced with violent acts perpetrated upon Blacks by Whites. The slaps, the senseless murders of Black people on the streets, you count and recognize your enemy for who and what they represent.

In confronting our enemy, we must meet them on their home field of engagement. Millions have taken to the streets across the globe, no longer willing to accept the status quo and suffer needlessly at the hands of those who seek to negate our very existence. As a country, we must understand, this was NEVER a fair fight, on an equal field of battle, or with ample weapons. Nothing about the ‘American’ way of life ever guaranteed any of us a fair shot or equality.

You can not get justice from a system founded by people who in the 1700s published books on how to address the ‘negro problem’. Even Thomas Jefferson knew this day was coming, but in the end, he still held firmly to the belief we were an inferior race who could be easily controlled and manipulated.

Did the enemy play fair when Dr. King was trying to catch a moment of calm at the Lorraine Hotel? Was the enemy morally centered when Malcolm stood in the Audubon Auditorium and was assassinated in front of his family? Did they think twice as Medger Evers pulled into his driveway to spend the evening with his wife and family? When Fred Hampton lay in bed beside his wife was there a second thought?

The idea is not to meet your enemy on some lofty plateau of moral superiority, because they have none; their superiority is based on an ideology that doesn’t even recognize you as their equal. The real lesson, learn from your enemy- their tactics, fighting styles, and methods of engagement. Fight them not with their tools, but your own.

As people of faith, we tend to view those around us, as divine creations of The One; forgetting it was one of those divine creations, who we call the Shaytan. Yes, we accept others for who they are and respect all of humanity. The balance then becomes in recognizing just as the Quran teaches, not everyone will be called to faith or will lead peaceful harmonious lives. This is where we find ourselves, after almost five hundred years of oppression and abuse across the world, here in America, there may not be any redemptive hope for our enemy or the system they created. This does not mean, we simply acquiesce to their control and power, it means we engage them on a level playing field and defeat them using their own rules and weapons.

Knowing your enemy does not mean you become them; nor does it eliminate Divine intervention during periods of unrest. Knowing your enemy, is simply that you fully embrace the reality that they are your enemy and act accordingly. While we hold firm to our faith and the knowledge that He is the Best of Planners, we cannot enter into the enemy’s seat of power believing our mere presence and fervent prayers will somehow miraculously and instantly change their heart. That is not our calling or role, and not our divine purpose. Imams, scholars, and activists engaged in the work of justice and equality, are not divinely elevated to personas and are not representatives of our Lord, but mere offering religious insight and guidance. They hold space, offering insight, and protection.

Never, in the history of this country, have those in power and control ever fully recognized, accepted, or atoned for the entrapment, kidnapping, and enslavement of Africans. Instead, they have violently and systematically created a country of denial and continued oppression. The argument is that things have improved from the ’60s.  My response, I am still not free of the anxiety of having my children taken from this world, simply because they are Black.

We are not allowed to move about this world without having to do twice as much; be ten times better; while still being thought of as less than.

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#Society

On British Muslims & Racism: Do Black Lives Matter?

Q. As Muslims, what should our stance be on racism or racial discrimination, and should we be supporting social justice movements like Black Lives Matter (BLM)? And isn’t all of this support for BLM privileging justice for black people over others, especially when we Muslims realise the increasing Islamophobia and injustices being perpetrated against our fellow Muslim brothers and sisters around the globe?

A. At the outset, let me be clear about how I intend to engage these concerns. And that is by rooting them in mainstream teachings of Islam so as to address the issue of racism in a manner that might be meaningful in a British context, and recognised as being Islamic in a Muslim one. I have divided the response into five parts: [i] Islam & racism; [ii] modernity & racism; [iii] Britain & racism; [iv] Muslims & racism; and [v] BLM & racism.

I. Islam & Racism

Although the following verse is not speaking of the modern social construct of racism per se, it is speaking to the pre-modern concept of groupings of people related by significant comment descent; in terms of location, language, history and culture. Thus we read in the Holy Qur’an: O mankind! We have created you from a male and female, and then made you nations and tribes that you might know one another. Truly, the noblest of you in the sight of God is he who is the most pious. God is indeed Knowing, Aware. [Q.49:13]

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The Prophet ﷺ brought skin colour into the mix in these words: ‘O mankind! Indeed your Lord is one, and indeed your father is one. Truly, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab over an Arab; nor white (ahmar, lit. ‘red’ or ‘reddish’) over black, nor black over white – except by piety. Have I not conveyed [the message]?’1

In fact, the Qur’an doesn’t only negatively condemn such discrimination, but it positively and actively celebrates diversity too: And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the differences of your languages and your colours. In this are signs for people of knowledge. [Q.30:22]

The above verses and prophetic statement, then, were a total restructuring of the moral or ethical landscape prevalent throughout Arabia at the time. True worth would no longer be determined by skin colour, lineage, or even by grandiose shows of courage or generosity. Rather, true worth would be measured by taqwa – ‘piety,’ ‘godliness’ and ‘mindfulness’ of God’s commands and prohibitions.

Once, when one of the Prophet’s wives hurled a racial slur (or ethnoreligious insult, as we might say today) at another co-wife in a state of annoyance, disparagingly called her ‘the daughter of a Jew’, the Prophet ﷺ said: ‘Indeed, your [fore]father [Moses] was a Prophet; your [great] uncle [Aaron] was a Prophet; and you are married to a Prophet. What can she boast to you about?’2 Again, when one companion insulted another person, by insulting his mother because she was a non-Arab, the Prophet ﷺ said to him: ‘You still have some pre-Islamic ignorance (jahiliyyah) in you.’3 Thus no Muslim has even the slightest right to resurrect the vile attitude of racism; xenophobia; tribal bigotry; or insulting people due to them being seen as the ‘Other’, when the Prophet ﷺ radically eliminated such attitudes from the believer’s worldview and relationships. Ibn Taymiyyah said: ‘There isn’t a single verse in God’s Book that praises someone or censures someone due to just their lineage. Instead, praise is due to faith and piety, while blame is because of disbelief, immorality or disobedience.’4

II. Modernity & Racism

In the 1830s, Samuel Morton, an American craniologist, amassed and studied hundreds of human skulls so as to measure differences in brain size between people from various ethnic backgrounds. Morton believed he had used science to prove that white people were intellectually superior to other ‘races’. In his Crania Americana, Morton declared that not only did white people have larger brains and thus were intellectually superior to all other races, but also that black people had the smallest brains sizes and were hence inferior to all others. Morton and others used this conclusion as a ‘scientific’ justification to continue slavery in the United States and negatively stereotype black people. Many hold Morton to be the founding father of scientific racism. It’s here that, based upon this pseudo-science and on certain superficial differences in physiological traits, the categorisation of people into distinct ‘races’ begins in earnest. And while the institutional racism, racial prejudice, and white supremacy that was to follow were directed at all races in Morton’s descending hierarchy, providing adequate grounds to treat other races differently, in terms of rights and privileges, it would be black people (at the supposed bottom of the heap) that would bear the greatest and most sustained brunt of it.

Of course, modern science has long since shown that brain size isn’t necessarily related to intelligence. Instead, brain size is tied to things like environment, climate and body size, while intelligence is more related to how many neurons, or how efficient the connections between neurons, are in the brain. Indeed, modern science has also largely debunked the biological basis of race, showing that there is as much genetic diversity within such racial groups as there is between them. Science now regards race as a conventional attribution; a social construct, but not a scientifically rooted or valid classification. And while today we tend to favour the term ethnicity over the arbitrary construct of ‘race’ based upon skin colour and physiognomy, race remains, for some, a focus of individual and group identity, particularly members of socially disadvantaged groups, like blacks, where it oftentimes is a source of pride and joy. All this has led many anthropologists to argue that since there is no scientific basis for race, we should just chuck the whole idea in the bin. Others say that if we’re going to continue to insist on the social fiction of racial differences, let it be based on ethical considerations that enhance justice, fairness and familiarity between peoples, not hatred, discrimination and xenophobia. In fact, this latter way of looking at ethnic or racial divides is probably more in keeping with what Islam wants for humanity. After all, God made of us nations and tribes lita‘arafu – ‘that you might know one another.’

The above, then, amidst the activities of European empires and colonialism is where such modern ideas of racial discrimination and racism were birthed; ideas and realities which still reverberate frustratingly down to these present times. Just how many ordinary white Britons internalised the racist pseudo-science over the past one hundred and fifty years or so, not because they were particularly bad or evil people, but because they believed the ‘science’, is anyone’s guess. Add to that the usual xenophobia that often exists against the outsider, the modern feats and achievements of white Western Europe which feed into the idea of white exceptionalism or supremacy, and the political utility of whipping up blame against immigrants in times of national difficulty and economic downturn, make for well-entrenched myths and discrimination against people of colour.

III. Britain &Racism

Although the history of the United States is drenched in racism; with the issue of race still being the most painful, divisive one for its citizens, it is racism in Britain – my home, and where I was born and raised – that I’d like to confine my remarks and anecdotes to. And in Britain, just as in America, while peoples of diverse ethnic minorities have undeniably been, and continue to be, victims of racism, it is discrimination against black people that is by far the more endemic and systemic.

The recent anti-racist protests that are taking place across the country aren’t just to show anger about the death of yet another black man, George Floyd, at the hands of yet another American police officer. They are also protests against the systemic racism here in Britain too. Long before racism against blacks, Asians, and Eastern Europeans, Jews as a people, and also the Irish, suffered racism in Britain. Jewish people still do.

Whilst structural or institutional racism is difficult to conclusively prove, the lived reality of people of colour, as well as statistics after statistics, or report after report, all point to similar conclusions: Britain has a race problem. It doesn’t just have a problem with casual racism (now called micro aggression; as experienced in schools, jobs or everyday life), or racism born from unconscious bias (snap decisions conditioned by cultural upbringing or personal experience); it has a problem of systemic racism too – racial discrimination and negative stereotyping within many of its key institutions: the police force and the criminal justice system deemed to be among the main culprits.

It is, of course, argued that although Britain does indeed have individual racists, and that acts of racism do tragically still occur here, but Britain itself; even if it may have been in the recent past, isn’t institutionally racist anymore. We have the Equalities Act of 2010, as one of the clearest proofs against any institutional racism.

Or the case has been put that, ever since the Macpherson Report of 1999, which came as a result of the murder of Stephen Lawrence, in 1993 – and the two words in it that stood out from the rest of the 350 page report, that London’s Metropolitan Police was ‘institutionally racist’ – Britain’s police forces have internalised the criticism and have come on leaps and bounds since then: individually and institutionally. So to describe Britain’s police forces as still being systemically racist is unjust and unfair; or so the argument goes.

Be that as it may; and while many positive changes of both mind and structure have been sincerely made, the stark, present-day statistics tell us another story. Modern Britain is a place where black people, in contrast to white ones are: 10 times more likely to be stopped and searched; 4 time more likely to be arrested; twice as likely to be temporarily excluded from school; and 3 times as likely to be permanently excluded from school; and twice as likely to die in police custody. From any unbiased standard, does this look anywhere like equality? And just as importantly, are we saying that institutional racism is totally absent from these numbers?5

For most of my life, I’ve lived on one council estate or another in East London. In my pre-teen years, I grew up on an estate in Chingford, where most of the people were white, with a few Afro-Caribbean families and a couple of Asian ones: my family being one of them. I, like many other non-whites of my generation, encountered my share of racist abuse; and for a short time, a little racist bullying too. On the whole, I got along with most kids on the estate and at its primary school, regardless of colour; and they got along with me.

For my entire teen years, I lived on another estate in Leytonstone, where this time most of the residents were black. It was the mid 1970s, and it was a time when many young black people were, I wouldn’t say suffering an identity crisis, but more that they were searching for an identity. For unlike their parents, they were neither Jamaican, Bajan [Barbadian], or Trinidadian, nor did they feel (or were made to feel) totally British. Instead, young black Britons were turning to their Blackness to make sense of their place in Britain, developing a sense of collective cultural identity in the process. I felt a greater affinity to that culture, than I did any other. Voices like Bob Marley, Burning Spear, the Wailing Souls and Black Uhuru spoke to our plight and our aspirations. But whilst their conscious lyrics of roots reggae was coming out of Jamaica, it was home-grown, British reggae artists that would tell our own specifically British story: artists like Steel Pulse, Black Roots, Mikey Dread or, particularly for me, Aswad (or early Aswad, from ’76-’82). Aswad sang of African Children (which I’d swap in my mind for ‘immigrant’ children) ‘living in a concrete situation;’ in ‘precast stone walls, concrete cubicles. Their rent increasing each and every other day; Structural repairs are assessed and yet not done; Lift out of action on the twenty-seventh floor; And when they work, they smell.’ All of us youths crammed into the estate’s small youth centre, smiled, nodded away approvingly, and perfectly identified with the message when we first heard such conscious lyrics booming out at us. Whilst Marley spoke of the daily ghetto struggles of growing up in the concrete jungle of Kingston 12; Trenchtown, for me, Aswad spoke of parallel struggles growing up in the concrete situation of Leytonstone E11. We all a feel it, yes we a feel it!

Back to racism. My one little anecdotal proof of black victimisation from the police comes from the time when I was living on Leytonstone’s Cathall Road Estate. Police raids were a fairly usual occurrence on our estate as well as in the youth centre; sometimes with actual justification. In the youth centre, the police (usually with their police dogs), would stomp in; turn off the music; stamp out any spliff that was lit up; and then we’d all be told to line up against the wall with our hands behind our heads. Every time this happened, without exception, when it came to searching me, they never did. They’d simply insist that I leave the centre, or go home, which I would. I’d then usually come back half an hour or an hour later, and resume playing pool, table-tennis or bar football; or just soak up the vibes (not the spliff). Once, after a raid had happened, I came back to the centre, only for one of my close Rasta friends to advise me that it would be best if I stay home for a few days. I asked why? He told me that some people who hang out at the centre, but who don’t really know me, nor live on the actual estate, are saying that it’s odd that I never get searched and that maybe I was a grass. It would be an understatement if I said that I was scared stiff. I took the advice, and stayed away from the centre for a week, till I got the nod that things were all okay. A month or so later, and yet another raid. But this time, for me it was a Godsend: they actually searched me! I felt relieved, vindicated, and took it as a badge of honour. My point being is that throughout the ’70s and ’80s, there were countless times when I saw specifically black people stigmatised and victimised by the police.

To be honest, by the mid 1980s, with the Anti-Nazi League and Rock Against Racism doing their thing against the far-right National Front; with Reggae and Two-Tone Ska bands and gigs more and more mixing blacks and whites; and with attitudes of the young positively changing, I thought (perhaps naively) that racism in Britain would liklely be a thing of the past by the mid ’90s. Optimism, of course, is entirely healthy, as long as it doesn’t become blind to realism.

IV. Muslims & Racism

Here I’d like to speak about something that some Muslims will find uncomfortable: which is that we [non-black]Muslims need to admit the anti-black racism that infects our own communities. Sadly, racism against black people – including fellow black Muslims – is all too common among British Asian Muslims of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi descent. Whether it is being stared at by elderly Asians in the mosque and so made to feel self-conscious, to the way we of South Asian descent use the word kala, ‘black’, in a derogatory way; or whether it’s about marriage, or thinking all black Muslims must be converts and then dishing out patronising praise to them over basic acts like making wudhu – this un-Islamic nonsense; this jahiliyyah, simply has to stop.

We must speak to our elders about their anti-black racism. We need to respectfully discuss why so many of our mosques continue to make black Muslims feel unwelcome, or drive them away, and what can be done about it? Yet while our masjids are undeniably masjids; ‘Most mosques function as “race temples” created as enclosures for single ethnicities, and their mono-ethnic and introspective leadership are generally unfamiliar with any novelty occurring outside their silos.’6 Such ‘race temples’ are where Ethnic Islam rules the roost, even at the cost of shari‘ah race equality, sirah hospitality, or sunnah unity.

But racism isn’t just an issue with South Asian elders? It lurks in the hearts and minds of my generation too; and maybe that of my children’s? It’s less the stares or the ignorance about Black achievements, and more the negative stereotyping; post-colonial complexes; desperation to whiten-up; or outright racism when it comes to marriage. Here as an Asian Muslim parent, I’m happy for my daughter or son to marry – religiously speaking – some adamant fasiq or fasiqah – especially if they are of a lighter complexion: but I could never accept them marring a godly, well-mannered, responsible Black person! But we convince ourselves we are not racist: after all, I love the sahabi, Bilal. I weep when I read Bilal’s life story. My good friend, Bilal, is black. But the proof is in the pudding, and the truth is that we need to move beyond tokenism; beyond Bilal.

Those Muslims who make an issue of colour; whose racist or tribal mindsets lead them to look down upon a person of darker colour or treat them unequally, let them consider the son-in-law of the Prophet ﷺ, and fourth Caliph, sayyiduna ‘Ali b. Abi Talib. The classical biographers all state: kana ‘ali adam, shadid al-udmah – ‘Ali was black, jet black.7 Or take our master ‘Umar who is also described in the same terms.8 The colour, adam may refer to skin complexion which is dark brown, like a native American; or darker still, like in native Australian aborigines; or jet black, like many Africans. When the phrase, shadid al-udmah is added, ‘extremely dark’, then there’s no mistaking what is meant: a person who, for all intents and purposes, is black. Such a description seems quite usual for the Arabs among the sahabah. Black skin is also the colour of the lady with whom the whole Muhammadan saga begins: our lady Hagar (Hajarah); she was a black Egyptian. Or consider the Prophet Moses, peace be upon him. Our Prophet ﷺ once said: ‘As for Moses, he was tall and dark brown, as like the men of al-Zutt.’9 The Zutt were a well-known tribe of tall dark men from the Sudan.10 After knowing the above, if we are still going to look down at people merely due to their darker complexion, then what ghustakhi; what mockery and disrespect will we be possibly drowning in?

Islam is neither racist nor colour blind. It wants us to understand that skin colour has no intrinsic worth, only piety does. Yet at the same time, it allows us to celebrate differences in a way that does not offend Heaven, and in a way that causes us to offer joyful thanks to the One Who is the Maker of all Colours.

Islam is neither racist nor colour blind. It wants us to understand that skin colour has no intrinsic worth, only piety does. Yet at the same time, it allows us to celebrate differences in a way that does not offend Heaven, and in a way that causes us to offer joyful thanks to the One Who is the Maker of all Colours.Click To Tweet

So let’s have the conversations. Let’s have some serious introspection. Let’s listen to what Black Muslims have to say. Let’s desire to be healers, not dividers. Let’s educate ourselves about the reality of Black lives in general, and Black Muslim lives in particular. Olusoga’s Black & British and Akala’s Natives are good places to start. Sherman Jackson’s Islam and the Problem of Black Suffering is, with its theological insights, a must read. Above all, let’s work towards not just being non-racist, but anti-racist.

Change, thankfully, is in the air. For urban, millennial Muslims, and those of a generation younger still, these older ethnic divides are more and more of an irrelevance in their lives (though I’m not sure how much this applies to those raised in ethnic silos in Britain’s less urbanised cities). Such millennials have heard the stories of the intra-ethnic fighting; the anti-black racism; the token hospitality to black Muslims, but without ever giving them a voice; and the fruitless attempts to make the ‘race temples’ more inclusive, and how after decades, it’s a case of banging heads and brick walls. So owing to this, they are seeking to create more inclusive, culturally more meaningful spaces; away from all this toxic, ethnic Islam. Surely that’s where the rest of us should be heading too?

V. BLM & Racism

The Qur’an says: Help one another in righteousness and piety, help not one another in sin or transgression. [Q.5:2] Between this verse and the hilf al-fudul pact the Prophet ﷺ upheld and endorsed even after prophethood, we have a solid religious basis for supporting any individual or group working for issues of social justice: be it for Muslims or non-Muslims; be it led by Muslims or non-Muslims.

The Black Lives Matter movement has proven itself to be a powerful and effective vehicle over the past five years to demand reform in terms of anti-Black racism; with their current focus on justice for George Floyd and his family. Thus, how can Muslims not support it? Of course, we cannot give any organisation carte blanche support. Religiously, we Muslims cannot give unconditional support to anybody save to God and His Prophet ﷺ. Given that BLM has a few stated aims that are inconsistent with Islam’s theology (‘freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking’ is one of them, for instance), our activism must be guided by sacred knowledge and illumined by revealed guidance. Our intention is not supporting BLM, as such. Instead, it’s a case of making a stand against injustice, in this case anti-Black racism: supporting those individuals or organisations that are likely to be the most effective in achieving this goal. (It should go without saying, that we can work for justice for more than one cause or more than one set of people at the same time). And this is what the above verse and the hilf al-fudul pact have in mind. And just like the BLM describes itself as ‘unapologetically Black’, perhaps some of us need to be a tad more unapologetically Muslim?

But let’s take our focus off such theological nuances for now, and tie a ribbon around the whole thing and say: Let us, at least in spirit and in principle, if not in body, fully support Black Lives Matter as a cause, more than as a movement, in seeking to resolve structural racism; get justice done for all the George Floyds and all the Stephen Lawrences; and to get people to reflect on their own attitudes to racism and the racial ‘Other’ – ensuring our knee isn’t on the necks of others. We should support the overall goals of any grassroots movement that is working for a fairer, more just and tolerant Britain for everyone: black or white. Of course, for that to happen, from a Black Muslim perspective, anti-Black racism as well as an ever-growing Islamophobia must be tackled. Currently in Britain, God forbid that you are ostensibly a Muslim and Black!

Racism affects all people of colour. But when it comes to Black people, they face a unique anti-black prejudice as the ultimate Other, propagated both by white majorities and even other ethnic minorities. As a marginalised community South Asians, no doubt, have their own prejudices thrown their way. But they are not the same lived experiences as that of Black people. And while it can be easy to lump everyone together and perceive ourselves as having a shared trauma, statistics show that this equivalence is not really true.

In closing, I’d like to thank my youngest daughter, Atiyyah, for inspiring me to revisit and renew my ideas on anti-black racism; and my friend, Dr Abdul Haqq Baker for prompting me to write this piece, offering invaluable suggestions, and then reviewing it for me.

Wa’Llahu wali al-tawfiq.

1. Ahmad, Musnad, no.22978. Ibn Taymiyyah declared its chain to be sahih in Iqtida’ al-Sirat al-Mustaqim (Riyadh: Dar Ishbiliyah, 1998), 1:412.

2. Al-Tirmidhi, no.3894, where he declared the hadith to be hasan sahih.

3. Al-Bukhari, nos.2545; 6050.

4. Majmu‘ Fatawa (Riyadh: Dar ‘Alam al-Kutub, 1991), 35:230.

5. GOV.UK: Black Caribbean Ethnicity Facts and Figures.

6. Abdal Hakim Murad, Travelling Home (Cambridge: The Quilliam Press, 2020), 49-50.

7. See: Ibn ‘Asakir, Tarikh Madinat al-Dimashq (Dar al-Fikr, 1996), 42:24.

8. As per Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr, al-Isti‘ab fi Ma‘rifat al-Ashab (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 1971), 3:236

9. Al-Bukhari, no.3438.

10. Ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani, Fath al-Bari bi Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari (Cairo: Dar al-‘Alamiyyah, 2013), 8:61.

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Non-Black Muslims Will Need To Do More Than Post Hashtags And Attend Rallies To Combat Anti-Black Racism

The events of the past two weeks have highlighted the disastrous outcomes that emerge when racism and white supremacy interplay with police brutality. The unbridled aggression by the police results from ineffective and insufficient sanctions on police power and authority. The casual murder of Mr. George Floyd by a police officer, filmed by bystanders and security cameras, is the spark that apparently allowed for more citizens to galvanize and echo the cry that “Black Lives Matter.” In response to this, various Muslims and Muslim groups and organizations have come out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and have attempted to raise their version of awareness.

Data from the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) in 2020 show there is a strong support from the Muslim community towards building coalitions with Black Lives Matter movements, with 65% of Muslim respondents to a nationally representative survey indicating support, more than any other faith group measured.

 

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Although another ISPU survey administered in 2017 indicates there is strong Muslim support for the Black Lives Matter movement in general (66%, higher than any faith group measured that year, and the general public), there are questions around how much of this is performative, perfunctory and merely playing to the popular theme of the moment. Black Muslims and Black Americans – in general – have consistently experienced anti-Black treatment at the hands of non-Black Muslims in business, social and religious spaces. In ISPU’s 2017 American Muslim Poll, 33% of Muslims who identify as Black or African American reported experiencing racial discrimination at the hands of another Muslim. Although Black Muslims are more likely to report racial discrimination from outside their faith community (56% vs. 33%), one cannot ignore the issue of intra-Muslim racism, especially since the experience is often far more painful when it comes from a fellow believer.

Since protests began in late May, various non-Black Muslims and non-Black Muslim-led organizations have attempted to speak up and lend their voice to the issue. The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) are just a few of the organizations that have made statements, hosted events or co-sponsored events to help raise awareness of racism. Muslim organizations have over the years consistently addressed oppression – mainly in other countries. There have been hundreds of rallies and protests against oppression that have occurred in non-White Muslim countries. Additionally, Islam as a theology, calls on us to depise oppression and challenge it. Therefore, it is understandable that non-Black Muslims and non-Black Muslim organizations would eventually see the need to speak out against oppression of minorities in America, and now specifically African American and Black Muslims. But it has taken many generations to get here, even though oppression has been a bedrock of this nation for centuries.

For many years, non-Black Americans championed the causes of non-Black Muslims but seldom the Black Muslims. For many decades, Black Muslims have called the Adhan, raised money for foreign causes and highlighted foreign issues. The support and respect have seldom been returned or reciprocated to the Black community. Although the faith and approximated-shared experiences may at times allow for empathy from non-Black Muslims toward African Americans and Black Muslims, non-Black Muslims and organizations continue to fail to be real purveyors of justice when it comes to the oppression of African Americans and Black Muslims in America.

For years, various organizations have hosted or publicized events that do not have Black Muslims on their panels. The line-up changes once the community pushes back. In a number of cases, there is a connection between anti-Black racism and the exclusion of Muslim women, particularly Black Muslim women. The exclusion of Black Muslims from the public and national discourse on the American Muslim experience, is an example of the anti-Black racism that is not interpersonal, but systemic in the Muslim community. This is important to note, because an event is seldom conceived or approved by one individual.

In one example from less than a month ago, two national organizations were prominently featured as co-hosts. We can then safely say that at least two people (we can assume with a fair degree of certainty that it was more) saw the line-up and the final ad for the event and still chose to publicize the event. One of the speakers then chose to decline to participate and recommended an African American Muslim woman replace him on the panel. That multiple Muslims were involved in the planning of this event and approved the final list of speakers while choosing not to correct or be more just in their representation of Islam in America points to this issue of anti-Black racism as not merely being interpersonal, but systemic. This is just one example of many. ISPU data collected in 2017 illustrates that Black Muslims experience a higher rate of intrafaith racial discrimination than non-Black Muslims, with 33% reporting that a fellow believer discriminated against them because of their race in the past year at least once. (Figure 2)

Muslims Experience Racism From Other Muslims as Well as from the General Public.png

In this past week alone, I have had to personally deal with acts of anti-Black racism while talking about the importance of addressing racism in this country. In one incident, I was invited to be part of a newly formed coalition. Attendees were majority African American Muslims, but there were also non-Black Muslims (white and minorities) scheduled to be in attendance or helping to organize. One non-Black Muslim was effusive in how they communicated with me during the day. However, once I began pushing back on how the event was being organized, their tone shifted to dismissive and rude. I struggled with naming this anti-Black racism because, as a communication scholar, my default is to look at the theory behind why we communicate how we do. So even as we experience it, we still try to find reasons not to believe it.

In a second incident, a number of individuals with religious duties were discussing the topics of engagement for our upcoming meeting. A non-Black Muslim of color indicated that they wanted to discuss another topic in addition to Black Lives Matter and the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder. I responded stating that the way in which the statement was worded was hurtful and represented an erasure of the lived experience of Black individuals in this country. The response was further dismissal and glossing over of the experience, even after other non-Black Muslims attempted to redirect the individual and encourage them to focus on anti-Black racism. The person’s initial response was clearly rooted in anti-Black racism–even if unintentional–as to this moment, it does not seem like the person understands how their initial statement and subsequent responses continue to perpetuate anti-Black racism. In the end, the individual did agree that they will also focus on Black Lives Matter in our next meeting as long as we were willing to focus on other issues in future meetings.

These various types of aggressions against Black Muslims in Muslim spaces continue to place a burden on the Black Muslim community, particularly the African American Muslim community. I am a Black Muslim who has spent over half of my life here in America. However, I also know that as an immigrant, I sometimes experience a different level of privilege as a result of my immigrant status.” It feels like I am seen as different from African American Muslims at times. Anti-Black racism among Muslims is layered, insidious, systemic and interpersonal. The approaches to addressing anti-Black racism and to supporting Black Lives Matter Movement cannot be sporadic or occasional. It will require painful discussions, robust analyses and purposeful action to continue the changes that have gained some momentum in this moment.

There are many who are already doing the work to bring meaningful change and awareness. Non-Black Muslims will need to do more than post hashtags and attend rallies. To address racism, it is important to use valid tools, invite and connect with the appropriate people and support active organizations. Supporting any Black organization is not the approach. There needs to be a seeking out and supporting of organizations, individuals and tools that do or support anti-racism work in our communities.

  • Organizations to research, work with and/or fund long-term: MuslimARC (Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative), Muslim Wellness Foundation and the Black Muslim Psychology Conference, Black Muslim COVID Coalition and Sapelo Square. These are just a few to begin with. There are more. Research. Find them. Support them.

  • Individuals to learn from and grow with: Ms. Margari Hill, Dr. Kameelah Rashad, Dr. Donna Auston, Imam Dawud Walid, Sr. Ismahan Abdullahi, Imam Mik’ail Stewart Saadiq, Imam Nadim Ali and many, many others. Many of these individuals are currently engaging in a lot of scholarly work, community support and community keeping. Research their work, look up events when they are slated to speak and give talks, and engage them in that way as a start. If they or their organizations have opportunities where you can pay them to do a presentation that is in the normal scope of their operations, then do that. I would urge you not to offer them a mere stipend. See what it takes to have professional development for an organization and compensate accordingly. There are many other non-Muslim intellectuals who are doing work and have written extensively. We have intentionally named Muslims and Muslim organizations in this piece.

    • There are some non-Black Muslims of Color who are also doing significant work that can help individuals of particular cultural backgrounds understand the underpinnings of their own anti-Black racism.

    • Dr. Mona Masood is doing great work facilitating discussion on anti-Black racism among diasporic populations from South Asia particularly.

    • Dr. Sylvia Chan-Malik also researches Black Muslims and offers classes on combating racism. These classes are specifically targeted for a non-Black cross-section of the community.

  • Tools to employ:

    • The Black Islam Syllabus, developed and curated by Dr. Kayla Renée Wheeler, is an extensive list of scholarly research and writings, movies, poetry, TV shows, websites, essays and hashtags. This is a great place to begin.

    • Identity Politics podcast, co-directed by Sr. Makkah Ali, can provide insight into issues around race and identity in the Muslim community.

There are many other resources available that can start or enhance the process of working to combat anti-Black Muslim racism, bolster support for Black Lives Matter initiatives and draw us closer to being a community and nation that truly values each other with equity.

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