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Nobody Cares About Black Muslims, He Said

I wrote the above entry in my journal because alone at home with a pen and paper is one of the few places I feel safe enough to be honest about my pain. The other places are when I am alone with Allah, when I am alone with those I love, and those whom I trust love me.

But recently I’ve been taking a few risks, sharing my heart in ways I never have before. It started, I think, with the decision to speak about feeling like I could no longer be Muslim, in the video I Never Thought It Would Be Me. That was a scary first step, but it was a necessary one because I felt trapped in my confusion and pain, and trapped in a life others had carved out for me. Then the words flowed a bit more easily, even if hesitantly, in Pain. From the Journal of Umm Zakiyyah, then Broken yet Faithful, and now Faith.

But it’s still hard, and I often cringe in knowing I’ve shown so much of myself. But today, for the sake of my emotional health and spiritual sanity, I feel I have no other choice.

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The truth is, the most difficult part of the battle to be seen as human is the one waged against oneself. I was taught that I didn’t have the right to exist, and I’d believed it. Though no one used those exact words, it was instilled in me nonetheless. In circles of those who looked like me, I was taught that my existence had to be sacrificed for “the greater good,” for a Black legacy that was bigger than me. I was taught that internal hurts—those inflicted upon me by those who looked like me—had to be kept quiet because the admission would be seen by “them” as an opportunity to inflict more hurt.

But in my eyes, “they” inflicted hurt because of their own internal pain and spiritual depravity, not because I admitted to having pain of my own. Yes, “they” would use any opportunity to say I deserved to hurt, and I certainly didn’t want to give them more power over me than they already had.

But the problem is, this hiding of hurts (and thus giving oneself no opportunity for healing) is itself a grave hurt and a form of oppression, incited by a culture of systematic racism. It is the existence of racism that tells us that we do not exist like others do.

Besides, isn’t it the very definition of being human to have within you, individually and collectively, both good and evil? And is there any group of people who escape this part of human experience? What then, I wondered, was the point of denying my right to be seen as human too?

Equal Opportunity Evil

Here’s the problem with buying into bigoted untruths of the self and others: evil doesn’t discriminate. Shaytaan, as well as his army, views all human hearts the same: as opportunities for corruption and dragging them alongside him to Hellfire. He doesn’t care about the amount of melanin (or lack thereof) in the skin of human beings, the descendants of the one toward whom he felt destructive, envious pride. Ironically, Shaytaan sees us as we should see ourselves: as a single people, a single group, a single family of Adam.

When we, whoever we are, begin to believe evil has escaped us more than it has escaped others, or that good has come to us more than it has come to others, then we have joined Shaytaan and his army, and thus have given our hearts over to the same prideful disease that destroyed Iblis.

Black in the MSA (Muslim Student Association)

When I was in college, I was very active in the MSA. Ultimately, I served as Vice President one year and President another. During my four years in undergrad, I was often the only Black Muslim who participated consistently. But it was a fellow BSU (Black Student Union) member who approached me after class one day and asked if I would come to a speech by a man who had been part of the administration of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan. She showed me some of the man’s writings, and I was appalled. It listed in unapologetic horrid detail “scientific proofs” of the biological inferiority and pathology of Black people. In other words, it detailed how Black people, allegedly, had not fully evolved from apes and thus had underdeveloped intelligence and “inherently” violent and immoral ways.

I sat in the audience listening in shock to a speech by a man brought to the university on school funds. My only consolation was that we, the Black students, had come in groups, prepared to challenge him during Q&A. When I glanced around the audience, I was pleasantly surprised to see some members of the MSA in attendance. Like myself and the Black students, they were different shades of brown sitting amidst the predominately White audience though the MSA members were mostly Desi, from India and Pakistan.

When the speaker made a joke disparaging a Black student, I saw the reaction of some MSA members, and I did a double take. The MSA group was laughing and clapping. When the speaker spoke of Blacks and Latinos being inherently ignorant and mentally diseased and Whites and Asians being inherently intelligent and superior, the Desi Muslims roared in applause. When he spoke of the inherent inferiority of Black people, they nodded in agreement as their eyes lit up in an eager admiration that I associated with someone being in the presence of a beloved celebrity.

A Wake-up Call

I could say I shouldn’t have been surprised, given that the speaker himself was originally from India. But that wouldn’t be true, and it wouldn’t be right. I was surprised, and I should have been. Why should I, or any believer, expect anything less than basic human decency from fellow believers in Allah?

But it hurt. I cannot deny that. These were the same Muslims who sat opposite me, an administrator of the MSA, to brainstorm events to bring together Muslims on campus. No wonder I was the only Black person who participated regularly. I was the only one who hadn’t gotten the memo. But since I’d been voted in as an administrator myself, in the eyes of the MSA, I had no right or claim to my pain. After all, how could they be racist when they voted in a Black board member?

So I went home that day and said nothing about what I’d seen or heard. As far as I could tell, the Desi MSA members hadn’t seen me in the crowd, so after the event, I found my way out of the room and carried my heavy heart alone.

Nobody Cares About You

“Nobody cares about Black Muslims except Black Muslims,” an MSA member said to me months later when I suggested an event aimed at explaining the differences between the Nation of Islam and orthodox Islam. This member was Arab, and I’m sure, like the Muslim supporters at the racist speech, he meant no harm. “Good people” never do.

But they somehow manage to continually inflict it. And because they don’t mean to, our job is to suffer in silence, continuously. Because apparently, the only crime greater than good people inflicting pain is for hurt people to openly acknowledge that they hurt.

This is particularly the case if those hurt people are members of a group unapproved for full human existence. If you’re of a privileged group, you can speak of the hurt you felt when the people you hurt didn’t praise you enthusiastically enough for not hurting as much as they could.

Being Black and Muslim

I don’t like sounding like a victim because I am not. I am a hurting human being. But because I am not viewed as a full human being, when I speak of hurt, it is allegedly because I see myself as a victim. When others speak of hurt, it is because they see themselves as a human who is hurting.

Being Black and Muslim is not a victim experience. It is a human experience, and it is my human experience. And it hurts. And it’s not because I bemoan either gift (Blackness or Islam) that God has given me. It is because the suffering inflicted on me by my brothers and sisters in both humanity and faith due to their dislike of the melanin God has given me.

I don’t pretend to understand the fight that people are picking with God when they speak so condescendingly about the black and brown-hued creations of God. But I myself feel grateful for the gift of brown skin that my Lord has given me. If nothing else, it at least offers me that much more protection from destructive human pride.

Also, as I experience daily mistreatment from both fellow Americans and fellow Muslims, I am given the priceless reminder that this earth is not my home.

 

 

Umm Zakiyyah is the internationally acclaimed author of more than fifteen books, including the If I Should Speak trilogy, Muslim Girl, His Other Wife and the newly released self-help book for Muslim survivors of parental and family abuse: Reverencing the Wombs That Broke You, with contributions by Haleh Banani, cognitive behavioral therapist.

To learn more about the author, visit ummzakiyyah.com or subscribe to her YouTube channel.

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MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Daughter of American converts to Islam, Umm Zakiyyah writes about the interfaith struggles of Muslims and Christians, and the intercultural, spiritual, and moral struggles of Muslims in America. She is the internationally acclaimed author of more than fifteen books, including the If I Should Speak trilogy, Muslim Girl, His Other Wife and the newly released self-help book for Muslim survivors of parental and family abuse: Reverencing the Wombs That Broke You, with contributions by Haleh Banani, behavioral therapist.Her books have been used in universities in America and abroad including Indiana University-Bloomington, Howard University, University of D.C. and Prince Sultan University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.To learn more about the author, visit uzauthor.com.

30 Comments

30 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Sister Suzanne

    April 10, 2017 at 2:46 AM

    Dear sister,

    You see only one side of the reality. Many Muslims, I am one of them, love the black people. If some of them are racists, this is their problem. They do not have only this problem, they have a lot of other problems, because they follow their corrupt culture instead of following the pure religion of God. We are all suffering from what Shaytan put in the mind of the people, but the truth is with us, the justice is with us, this is what makes us strong. Do not let your heart be hurt by this, have pity for them, because they are clearly on the wrong direction. May Allah bless you. I love you for the sake of Allah.

  2. Avatar

    Noorunnisa Ibrahim Kutty

    April 10, 2017 at 9:04 AM

    Dear sister, I am an Indian Muslim woman, although not from the USA. When I read of experience like yours, I just wish I lived there – not because I think it is a better place than my own home, but just to show my solidarity with my fellow Muslims of ALL races. When will Muslims understand that ‘Asabiyyah was HATED by the Prophet (saw), and that he will disown the people who practice it!? Let me tell you, Sister, that I admire you deeply for your ability to write honestly and beautifully, and let me also tell you I love you for the sake of Allah. May Allah bless you!

  3. Avatar

    Yo! Khary

    April 10, 2017 at 9:26 AM

    This is needed to be emphasised and ponder upon for all to reflect upon:

    “Here’s the problem with buying into bigoted untruths of the self and others: evil doesn’t discriminate. Shaytaan, as well as his army, views all human hearts the same: as opportunities for corruption and dragging them alongside him to Hellfire. He doesn’t care about the amount of melanin (or lack thereof) in the skin of human beings, the descendants of the one toward whom he felt destructive, envious pride. Ironically, Shaytaan sees us as we should see ourselves: as a single people, a single group, a single family of Adam”

    This is the truth as human beings need to accept.

  4. Avatar

    Ahmad B.

    April 10, 2017 at 9:47 AM

    Assalamu ‘alaikum Sister,

    Thank you for writing so honestly and holding up a much needed mirror to the Muslim community. Racism is disgusting and, to my mind, quite incomprehensible. It just seems so utterly arbitrary; I would really like to know what the origins of it are.

    Let’s get to work, brothers and sisters, on exorcising this demon from within our midst. Islam is so explicitly and unequivocally anti-racist, probably more so than any other religion. The Prophet (saas) explicitly stated that a white / light-skinned person has NO superiority over a black person. And Allah explicitly mentions on many occasions in the Qur’an that the differences in your tongues and *colors* are among the precious signs of His wisdom and power. Bilal (ra) was a black Ethiopian slave who was given the highest honors. Quraysh seethed when they saw him ascend the Ka’ba to call the adhan after the conquest of Mecca. How many Muslims alive today would have similarly seethed?

    We can do much better than this, and must. Malcom X saw better than this among Muslims. He wrote about it so eloquently, how Islam had managed to overcome the ugly racial divide he saw in America. But alas! The problem is still there. If not after 1,400 years, when will we ever learn? May Allah forgive us our collective sins and show us to the way of Truth. Ameen!

  5. Avatar

    Maham Meher

    April 10, 2017 at 10:54 AM

    I cannot believe that this actually happened to you, and to be very honest, I have nothing to say to comfort you but to sympathize with you. I myself am a Pakistani, and thanks to my parents who taught me how to love without seeing color. I respect people (whether or not they are brown or Muslims) to appreciate and acknowledge what they did and not judge them for who they are.

    Im truly sorry for what happened to you, and Im assuming this was in US college?

    I just wanted tot hank you for composing the first legitimate article that I read in which finally someone talked about this issue.
    It’s a shame those people who think this way still call themselves Muslims.

    I also wanted to let you know that my closest friends since I moved to North America have been black or white (both Muslims and non Muslims alike) because I purposely distanced myself from “my” people. I know their way of thinking, and how they will go to lengths to disregard some one based on a stereotype, but let me tell you, at the same time, there are also people who are trying to change this, or doing as much of the opposite to reduce stigma and ignorance.
    All in all, I have met some amazing Muslims in the time I spent here, who happened to be Middle Eastern, black, white and desi, and Im thankful to Allah that I did.

    As for you sister, I really hope that you don’t take this to heart, and that you find true support and real friends elsewhere.
    I would also like to say that please don’t quit MSA, simply because you don’t want them to see that they have gotten to you or that you will quit just because of them. If you are the only black, you have the honor of being the only actively working black student, and you should be proud of that and hold that status.
    Don’t worry about them, they will get their part of the punishment.

    Good luck!

  6. Avatar

    Joseph Ali Bin Muhammad

    April 10, 2017 at 11:05 AM

    The MSA like every other organization Muslims form is infiltrated by agents of sufyani and dajjal. That is who you describe in your article. By failing to understand the people you saw applauding the racist speech are not Muslims but are satanists posing as Muslims you put forth wrongful stereotypes of Indian and Pakistani Muslims. Shaytaan knows every trick. Arm yourself with knowledge and wisdom.

  7. Avatar

    Abu Bilal

    April 10, 2017 at 11:09 AM

    Assalamu aleikom dear sister, I don’t want to make this comment long so I say, your post moved me because I really thought that racism was only found among the elders that grew up during earlier times and that it has at least gone extinct in our younger society but I was wrong.. My sister I named my son after Bilal Ibn rabah, and how he was treated by the community of the prophet and sahaba makes me burst into tears for how far we are from that… I just want to say to any black Muslim or brown Muslim or any one treated with racism that is reading this, that I love you from the deepest part of my heart and that we are all equals in front of allah and that I ask allah that this sickness is cured from people.

  8. Avatar

    Ahsan

    April 10, 2017 at 11:20 AM

    Wow I’m impressed. This actually brought tears. The ending was epic, this earth ain’t our home! May Allah ease our journey.

  9. Avatar

    Arab bro

    April 10, 2017 at 12:19 PM

    May Allah remove the stresses and pain from your heart and my fellow black Muslims like he removed the torture from Bilal. My Allah bring ease and tranquility into your heart and the hearts of my fellow black Muslims like he brought ease and tranquility into the heart of the mother of Musa.

    The pain is real.

  10. Avatar

    Shabeeb

    April 10, 2017 at 1:59 PM

    Asalamu Alaykum

    I am a Canadian Indian, my parents are from India. I can honestly and truly say that I have met black Muslims who are better mannered and softer than desi Muslims. Black Muslims who are more progressive than many of the desi Muslims that I know and encounter often. Isn’t Akhlaaq and activism more important than where one is from. Kudos to you sister for writing this piece. Salam

  11. Avatar

    Wael Abdelgawad

    April 10, 2017 at 2:28 PM

    It’s shocking to hear about the behavior of the students at that event. May Allah educate our Ummah, and bring forth a generation with pure hearts, who see and treat all human beings as equals regardless of race, tribe or nationality.

  12. Avatar

    Dr. Tariq

    April 10, 2017 at 2:51 PM

    I am a non-black Indian Muslim and I assure you that I feel as much love for black Muslims in my heart as for those who are white or brown. I’ve been trained never to discriminate on basis of color, race or country of residence and this is the teaching of Islam. If someone is discriminating on these lines he/she is simply not following Islam in true sense.

  13. Avatar

    rashida

    April 10, 2017 at 2:56 PM

    As Salaam Alaikum sister, I am not surprised, after being shocked myself by an online article that warned fellow muslims to be aware of blacks as the article related a Hadith about a black man who would destroy the Holy Kaaba! I re-read the Hadith as I’d never read it before, how could I have not seen that? I questioned many about it and felt saddened about how Prophet Muhammad (saw) had a dream in which he saw a skinny black man destroying the Kaaba, but the story online was very racist. I was troubled, I no longer looked at foreigners the same. I prayed, I cried, it remained on my heart until one day I asked a fellow muslim of whom I had not seen or heard from in many years about it and he asked me what do you think of it? I answered the same question I’d once asked him, In Sha Allah, I said, one day there will be no need for any symbol, location or direction in which to turn to worship Allah. He said you have answered your own question sister! My answer was from Allah and it surprised even me. And as we must exit this world, Allah’s Will is all that remains. Allahu Akbar!

    • Avatar

      Yusuf Smith

      April 11, 2017 at 1:44 PM

      As-Salaamu ‘alaikum,

      I believe I have heard another version of that hadeeth, namely that a specific Ethiopian or Abyssinian ruler will destroy the Ka’aba before the End of Time. Not merely “a Black man”. As we know, central Ethiopia and parts of Eritrea remain Christian to this day; the number of Black African Muslims is much larger, and about a third of the population of Ethiopia itself is also Muslim.

  14. Avatar

    slamet riyadi

    April 10, 2017 at 6:53 PM

    Assalamu’alaikum, I am a Muslim from Indonesia … don’t be sad my brother. We are all brothers, we are all equal before God. Let us pray for one another. Although we are far apart, although we had never met, but I know that we are brothers. Keep the spirit … we all pray for you.

  15. Avatar

    slamet riyadi

    April 10, 2017 at 7:03 PM

    Assalamualaikum, I am a Muslim from Indonesia. I was thrilled to read your story. Do not be sad my brother, we all have weaknesses, and also I have many weaknesses. Let us pray for one another. In order for us to be strong and mutually reinforcing. I hope you are always in the protection of Allah

  16. Avatar

    Yll

    April 10, 2017 at 7:49 PM

    Selam Alaikum Umm,

    I definitely understand your pain, and it’s important to recognize and validate it, without jumping to ‘explain’ the ‘why’ as a way to ignore the injustice.

    I came upon this article via a friend, and it amazes me how just some small details of history can illuminate a deeper understanding of the human race, and can actually prevent all this avoidable racism. I still don’t get why people choose to speak ignorantly, and I’m curious to learn what are their actual underlying fears.

    http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Heres-How-Black-Muslims-Lifted-Europe-out-of-the-Dark-Ages-20170409-0026.html

  17. Avatar

    Aisha P

    April 11, 2017 at 12:50 AM

    I love your honesty Masha Allah. I am a convert, my skin is very light and I have only felt welcome and comfortable in Masajids that are mostly African American. Unfortunately the closest one to me is 25 miles from my home and 15 miles from my office so I don’t even get to attend Jummah unless I take a half day off of work. As much as I wish the environment in the 5 Masjid close to my home would change, it won’t. They will always be cultural or anti convert, etc…. And as much as they say they want you involved, they disregard you’re ideas. So what I have done is, like you, not give up on my relationship with Allah and I joined and have become active (as the token Muslim) in the Racial Justice committees. I Love it… and I feel like I am actually making a difference in our nation through the will of Allah.

  18. Avatar

    B

    April 11, 2017 at 2:32 AM

    I was so shocked to read this; I didn’t expect that young people, young so called Muslims would be like this! How horrible! But then again, they were probably non-practising Muslims, cause I can’t believe a practising Muslim is racist. In that case it would be even logical, as they probably don’t pray, so if they can disobey Allah so easily… and Shaytaan is around them the whole time as well, may Allah guide them.
    Then IF they were practising Muslims, something went completely wrong. I mean, somebody who knows about Bilal r.a., who knows about Musa ‘alaihi essalaam (about whom is said he’s dark skinned!), about ‘Isha ‘alaihi essalaam (superdark skinned according to the soundest narrations), and OUR OWN FATHER ADAM ‘alaihi essalaam! Either they’re superignorant or they’ve got a giant problem which might block their entrance to Jannah. The same problem Shaytaan had: feeling better than someone else because of their creation. LIKE THEY CREATED THEMSELVES OR CHOSE IT THEMSELVES -_-‘. How ignorant can a person be..
    Anyway sis, be strong and DO speak out definitely. May Allah guide us all.

  19. Avatar

    Timi

    April 11, 2017 at 7:32 AM

    I am Desi, I know how you feel. These so called D’esi’s can be very cruel and subjective when it comes to color. I myself am desi of Pakistan and do not feel comfortable around them because I am brown as well. What a shame that as a Muslim, they are denying Allah’s creation and thus making fun of Allah SWT. Brother thank you for sharing your story and stay strong. Black have brains and intelligence, what they have lacked is opportunities which is a huge determine of success. Those who called themselves Muslims, desi, white have just shown lack of intelligence by their applause, and laughs making fun of Allah’s creation. These people are ignorant, not well informed and lack intelligence to underdtand and appreciate Allah’s creation.

  20. Avatar

    Syed h

    April 12, 2017 at 1:39 PM

    The Shining Light (pbuh).

    O Rasoolallah (pbuh), my Nabi, my Shining Light.
    The world was illuminated by your arrival so bright.
    Your life shines brighter than the brightest sunlight.
    No words can express the beauty of its might.
    Every aspect every angle so serene and right.
    O Rasoolallah (pbuh), my Nabi, my Shining Light.
    Memories beautiful memories come to me.
    As I go through the journey of your blessed life.
    First there is Badr, the day Allah called Yaum ul Furqan.
    When you begged Allah for victory crying all through the night.
    Allah loved those words of yours begging His mercy.
    For the 313 unarmed who were ready to fight and fight.
    AbuBakr (ra) stood up saying go Rasoolallah go.
    We are with you whatever the battleground however tight.
    Then it was Umer (ra) crying out in union with Siddiq.
    Go Rasoolallah go, you will find us by your side.
    O Rasoolallah (pbuh), my Nabi, my Shining Light.
    These words these emotions pleased you very much.
    But you looked towards the Ansar waiting inspite.
    Sa’ad bin Muadh stepped forward and said firmly.
    O Rasoolallah we will jump in the oceans if you say so.
    We are steadfast in wars and ever upright.
    Victory came your way my Nabi, my Shining Light.
    Down the lane of memory comes another sight.
    So beautiful, so memorable that it stands outright.
    When Khaled, Amr bin Aas and Uthman came together.
    To accept Islam and hold on to it tight.
    The words You said have a fragrance unexplained.
    ‘Makkah has thrown out its gems’ your voice held delight.
    O Rasoolallah (pbuh), my Nabi, my Shining Light.
    To me the final beauty is the scene at Makkah.
    That same Makkah you had to leave overnight.
    But you were now returning as a Hero my Nabi.
    Your entry in that city is engraved in me deep inside.
    Your head was bent low in humility and humbleness.
    With Osama bin Zaid sitting behind, holding you slight.
    On your blessed lips was praise and glory for Allah.
    The one and only whose beloved you are infinite.
    O RasoolAllah (pbuh), my Nabi, my Shining Light.
    Umm Imad.

  21. Avatar

    Brother

    April 14, 2017 at 9:44 AM

    Salaam Sister. Shatyan is a racist; he believes he’s better than humans because he’s made of fire. It’s strange that the non-Black brothers and sisters didn’t find it offensive when the speaker said their ancestors were apes. It would require them to reject what the Quran teaches in order approve whatever pleasantries the speaker spoke about their race. Shaytan will not cease to trap any of Adam’s (pbuh) children.

  22. Avatar

    Muqeet Ahmed

    April 15, 2017 at 7:10 AM

    Being Black and Muslim is not a victim experience. It is a human experience, and it is my human experience.

  23. Avatar

    A SA indian Muslim men

    April 16, 2017 at 12:35 AM

    My sister in Islam
    This has been a brilliant article with true living facts that needed to be mentioned. This incident is one of many that I see daily. There is no justification and no excuse. Really enjoyed the part of how could we be racist when we voted a black MSA member, exactly like we named our son Bilaal.
    What I enjoyed most is the comments, my dear people there is No justification and No excuse.

  24. Avatar

    Khadijah

    July 12, 2017 at 8:43 PM

    Mash’Allah! This story hit home for me! As an African American Muslim, I have personally experienced racism and culturism in muslim communities, in particular where the majority of people are from abroad. Ramadan was hard. The sisters all sat together chatting in Urdu, just ignoring me..I felt very uncomfortable and I attend this masjid regularly. I have come to the conclusion that we African American Muslims need to form our own identity and stop trying to fit in!

  25. Avatar

    run 3

    March 30, 2018 at 4:00 AM

    Regarding this post, with major depression, unfortunately, I have a severe negative connection with the Quran. Even though I’ve memorized a lot of it from when I was connected to it, when I remember Allah, the depression increases. So while the Quran has made the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم grow old in a positive way, the stress from trying to recite Quran and pray has taken the life out of me and too made me grow old and unable to worship Allah and work and live.

  26. Avatar

    zaynab

    May 26, 2018 at 5:57 AM

    As an African American I have experienced so much racism, including from an Arab teacher who told others in the class not to speak to me or pray near me. This is just some of the things that has happened to me. I have had many years of abuse from many Muslims and cannot take anymore. We are told in the Quran that
    the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said in his last sermon “No Arab is superior to another Arab, nor a non arab superior to a non arab: A white man is not superior to a black man neither a black man is superior to a white man, except by piety alone.”

    I just wished that this was implemented by all Muslims and all Muslims are aware of this but still carry on being “racist”, hateful, divided and segregated. I still practice Islam (for now) but have decided yet again to stay away from Muslims.
    Islam is not a religion of peace !

  27. Avatar

    DI

    March 10, 2019 at 10:19 PM

    I think it would be more beneficial for MM to talk about African scholarship. I don’t see much changing until all Muslims have a greater appreciation for the richness and power of African Islam. MM has limited itself to talking about Black Muslim experiences which are valuable but not the whole picture. Why not talk more about Africa and its history of Islamic Scholarship and Righteousness? This will penetrate the hearts of Muslims because it has the scent of iman.

    di.

  28. Avatar

    fnaf

    June 17, 2019 at 12:51 AM

    I am very sad because of this, everyone has equal rights and that is the fairness between people and people

  29. Avatar

    ps5 release date

    April 27, 2020 at 11:40 PM

    I do not know what to say really what you share very well and useful to the community, I feel that it makes our community much more developed, thanks

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#Society

Shaykh Seraj Hendricks: An Obituary

This article was originally published at Al-Madinah Institute.

 

An internationally recognised Islamic scholar, who saw spirituality, justice, and knowledge as integral to an authentic religious existence.

Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

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Shaykh Seraj Hendricks, who passed away on the 9th of July 2020 at the age of 64, was a scholar of international repute, able to communicate and engage on the level of state leaders, religious scholars and the broader public. As a scion of one of the most prominent Islamic institutions in South Africa and internationally, who also spent a decade studying at the hands of the most prominent of Makkan scholars, he not only inherited a grand bequest, but expanded that legacy’s impact worldwide. In particular, he upheld a normative understanding of Islam, embedded in a tradition stretching back more than a millennium – but deeply cognisant of the needs of the age, including the need to strive to make the world a better place.

Shaykh Seraj Hendricks was a high school English teacher between 1980 and 1982 in Cape Town before leaving for Saudi Arabia in 1983 to study at the Umm al-Qura University in Makka. Before this, he spent many years studying particularly at the feet of his illustrious uncle, the late Shaykh Mahdi Hendricks – erstwhile Life President of the Muslim Judicial Council and widely regarded as one of the foremost scholars of Islam in southern Africa – as well as his father, Imam Hassan Hendricks.

Shaykh Seraj Hendricks studied the Islamic sciences for more than a decade in the holy city of Makka, spending three years at the Arabic Language Institute in Makka studying Arabic and related subjects, before being accepted for the BA (Hons) Islamic Law degree. He specialised in fiqh and usul al-fiqh in the Faculty of Shariʿa of Umm al-Qura University and graduated in 1992. Shaykh Seraj took ijazat from both the late Sayyid Ahmad Mashur al-Haddad and Sayyid ʿAbd al-Qadir b. Ahmad al-Saqqaf, as well as his extensive time spent with the likes of Shaykh Hasan Mashhat and others. These scholars are all known as some of the pre-eminent ‘ulama of the ummah in the 20th century, worldwide.

Additionally, he obtained a full ijaza in the religious sciences from his primary teacher, the muḥaddith of the Hijaz, the distinguished al-Sayyid Muhammad b. ʿAlawi al-Maliki, master of the Ṭarīqa ʿUlamaʿ Makka – the (sufi) path of the Makkan scholars. Together with his brother, the esteemed Shaykh Ahmad Hendricks, Shaykh Seraj and I wrote a book on this approach to Sufism entitled, “A Sublime Way: the Sufi Path of the Sages of Makka”. Alongside his brother, he became the representative (khalifa) of the aforementioned muhaddith of the Hijaz.

Further to his religious education, Shaykh Seraj was also actively engaged in the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa during the 80’s and early 90’s, alongside the likes of figures like Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool, comrade of Nelson Mandela, and the renowned journalist, Shafiq Morton. His commitments to furthering justice meant insistence on expressing constant opposition to injustice, while fiercely maintaining the independence of the institution and community he pledged himself to his entire life. At a time when different forces in Muslim communities worldwide try to instrumentalise religious figures for partisan political gain, Shaykh Seraj showed another, arguably far more Prophetic, model.

The shaykh also was keenly supportive of the rights of women, whom he saw as important to empower and cultivate as religious figures themselves. His students, of which there were many thousands over the years, included many women at various levels of expertise. I know it was his wish that they would rise to higher and higher levels, and he took a great deal of interest in trying to train them accordingly, aware that many unnecessary obstacles stood in their way.

After his return to Cape Town he received an MA (Cum Laude) for his dissertation: “Tasawwuf (Sufism) – Its Role and Impact on the Culture of Cape Islam” from the University of South Africa (UNISA), which is currently being prepared for publication as a book. He translated works of Imam al-Ghazali, and summarised parts of the Revival of the Religious Sciences (Ihyaʾ ʿUlum al-Din), most notably in the Travelling Light series, together with Shaykhs ʿAbdal Hakim Murad and Yahya Rhodus.

Some of his previous positions included being the head of the Muslim Judicial Council’s Fatwa Committee (which often led to him being described as the ‘Mufti of Cape Town’), lecturer in fiqh at the Islamic College of Southern Africa (ICOSA), and lecturer in the Study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg (UJ). He was a member of the Stanlib Shariʿa Board, chief arbitrator (Hakim) of the Crescent Observer’s Society, and was listed consecutively in the Muslim500 from 2009 to 2020. He was also appointed Dean of the Madina Institute in South Africa, a recognised institution of higher learning in South Africa and part of the world Madina Institute seminaries led by Shaykh Dr Muhammad Ninowy. Shaykh Seraj was also appointed as professor at the International Peace University of South Africa, holding the Maqasid Chair for Graduate Studies.

Apart from fiqh and usul al-fiqh, some of Shaykh Seraj’s primary interests are in Sufism, Islamic civilisation studies, interfaith matters, gender studies, socio-political issues and related ideas of pluralism and identity. He lectured and presented papers in many countries, sharing platforms with his contemporaries. Shaykh Seraj taught a variety of Islamic-related subjects at Azzawia Institute in Cape Town, where he was its resident Shaykh, together with his brother Shaykh Ahmad Hendricks. His classes showed an encyclopaedic knowledge that was rooted in the tradition, while completely conversant with the modern age.

But beyond his classes, he was a pastoral figure to many – a community made of thousands – whom he gave himself completely to, in service of the religion, and counselling them as a khidma (service), with mahabba (love), in accordance with the Prophetic model. Many urged him to restrain himself in this way, fearing for his health, which suffered a great deal in his final years as a result – but he saw it as his duty.

The Shaykh was an international figure, a teacher to thousands, and an adviser to multitudes. Many today ask the question as to why ‘ulama truly matter, seeing as it seems so many of them can be compromised by different forces in pursuit of injustice, rigidness and petty partisanship. Such a question will not be asked by those who knew Shaykh Seraj, for in him they saw a concern for spirituality, not paltry political gain, and a commitment to justice and wisdom, not oppression or slogans. In him, many saw, and will continue to see hope for an Islamic commitment to scholarship that seeks to make the world a better place, rising to the challenge of maintaining their values of mercy and compassion, and exiting the world in dignity.

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#Current Affairs

Oped: The Treachery Of Spreading Bosnia Genocide Denial In The Muslim Community

The expanding train of the Srebrenica genocide deniers includes the Nobel laureate Peter Handke, an academic Noam Chomsky, the Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, as well as almost all Serbian politicians in Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. One name in this group weirdly stands out: “Sheikh” Imran Hosein. A traditionally trained Muslim cleric from Trinidad and Tobago, Hosein has carved his niche mostly with highly speculative interpretations of Islamic apocalyptic texts. He has a global following with more than 200 hundred thousand subscribers to his YouTube channel, and his videos are viewed by hundreds of thousands. He has written tens of books in English, some of which had been translated into major world languages. His denial of the Srebrenica genocide may seem outlandish, coming from a Muslim scholar, but a close inspection of his works reveals ideas that are as disturbing as they are misleading.

Much of Hosain’s output centers around interpreting the apocalyptic texts from the Qur’an and Sunnah on the “end of times” (akhir al-zaman). As in other major religious traditions, these texts are highly allegorical in nature and nobody can claim with certainty their true meaning – nobody, except Imran Hosein. He habitually dismisses those who disagree with his unwarranted conclusions by accusing them of not thinking properly. A Scottish Muslim scholar, Dr. Sohaib Saeed, also wrote about this tendency.

In his interpretations, the Dajjal (“anti-Christ”) is American-Zionist alliance (the West or the NATO), the Ottomans were oppressors of the Orthodox Christians who are, in turn, rightfully hating Islam and Muslims, Sultan Mehmed Fatih was acting on “satanic design” when he conquered Constantinople, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 were a false flag operation carried out by the Mossad and its allies, and – yes! – the genocide did not take place in Srebrenica. Such conspiratorial thinking is clearly wrong but is particularly dangerous when dressed in the garb of religious certainty. 

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Hosain frequently presents his opinions as the “Islamic” view of things. His methodology consists of mixing widely accepted Muslim beliefs with his own stretched interpretations. The wider audience may not be as well versed in Islamic logic of interpretation so they may not be able to distinguish between legitimate Muslim beliefs and Hosain’s own warped imagination. In one of his fantastic interpretations, which has much in common with the Christian apocalypticism, the Great War that is nuclear in nature is coming and the Muslims need to align with Russia against the American-Zionist alliance. He sees the struggle in Syria as part of a wider apocalyptic unfolding in which Assad and Putin are playing a positive role. He stretches the Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings to read into them fanciful and extravagant interpretations that are not supported by any established Islamic authority.

Hosain does not deny that a terrible massacre happened in Srebrenica. He, however, denies it was a genocide, contradicting thus numerous legal verdicts by international courts and tribunals. Established by the United Nations’ Security Council, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) delivered a verdict of genocide in 2001 in the case of the Bosnian Serb General Radislav Krstić. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague confirmed, in 2007, that genocide took place in Srebrenica. In 2010, two more Bosnian Serb officers were found guilty of committing genocide in Bosnia. The butcher of Srebrenica, Ratko Mladić, was found guilty of genocide in 2017.

In spite of this, and displaying his ignorance on nature and definition of genocide, Hosain stated in an interview with the Serbian media, “Srebrenica was not a genocide. That would mean the whole Serbian people wanted to destroy the whole Muslim people. That never happened.” In a meandering and offensive video “message to Bosnian Muslims” in which he frequently digressed to talking about the end of times, Hosain explained that Srebrenica was not a genocide and that Muslims of Bosnia needed to form an alliance with the Orthodox Serbs. He is oblivious to the fact that the problems in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in the former Yugoslavia stem not from the Bosniaks’ purported unwillingness to form an alliance with the Serbs, but from the aggressive Greater Serbia ideology which had caused misery and destruction in Bosnia, Slovenia, Croatia, and Kosovo. 

Hosein’s views are, of course, welcome in Serbia and in Republika Srpska (Serb-dominated entity within Bosnia), where almost all politicians habitually deny that genocide took place in Srebrenica. He had been interviewed multiple times on Serbian television, where he spewed his views of the Ottoman occupation and crimes against the Serbs, the need to form an alliance between Muslims and Russia, and that Srebrenica was not a genocide. His website contains only one entry on Srebrenica: a long “exposé” that claims no genocide took place in Srebrenica. Authored by two Serbs, Stefan Karganović and Aleksandar Pavić, the special report is a hodge-podge of conspiracy theories, anti-globalization and anti-West views. Karganović, who received more than a million dollars over a six year period from the government of the Bosnian Serb-led Republika Srpska for lobbying efforts in Washington, was recently convicted by the Basic Court in Banja Luka on tax evasion and defamation. The Court issued a warrant for Karganović’s arrest but he is still on the loose. 

True conspirators of the Srebrenica killings, according to Hosain, are not the Serbian political and military leaders, and soldiers who executed Srebrenica’s Muslims. The conspirators are unnamed but it does not take much to understand that he believes that the massacres were ultimately orchestrated by the West, CIA, and NATO. Hosain even stated on the Serbian TV that if people who knew the truth were to come forward they would be executed to hide what really happened. Such opinions are bound to add to an already unbearable pain that many survivors of the Srebrenica genocide are experiencing. It is even more painful when Bosniak victims – who were killed because they were Muslims – are being belittled by an “Islamic” scholar who seems to be more interested in giving comfort to those who actually perpetrated the heinous crime of genocide than in recognizing the victims’ pain. These views are, of course, welcome in Serbia, Russia, and Greece.

It is not difficult to see why Hosain’s views would be popular in today’s day and age where misinformation and fake news are propagated even by the world leaders who should know better. A conspiratorial mindset, mistrust of established facts, undermining of international institutions – these are all hallmarks of the post-truth age. In another time, Imran Hosain would be easily exposed for what he truly is: a charlatan who claims religious expertise. Today, however, his opinions are amplified by social media and by the people who already question science and established facts. For these reasons, he needs to be unmasked to safeguard the very religious foundations which he claims to uphold but ultimately undermines. 

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#Life

A Festival Amidst a Pandemic: How to Give Your Kids an Eid ul-Adha to Remember

Eid ul-Adha is less than 3 weeks away!  This year, more than ever, we want to welcome Eid ul-Adha with a full heart and spirit, insha’Allah, despite the circumstances we are in with the global pandemic.

If you follow me on social media, you probably know that my husband and I host an open house brunch for Eid ul-Adha, welcoming over 125 guests into our home. It’s a party our Muslim and non-Muslim neighbors, friends, and family look forward to being invited to each year. It’s a time to come together as a community, share heart-felt conversations, have laughs, chow down lots of delicious food, and exchange gifts. Kids participate in fun crafts, decorate cookies, and receive eidi. The reality is that we cannot keep up with the tradition this year.

Despite social distancing, we have decided that we will continue to lift our spirits and switch our summer décor to Eid décor, and make it the best Eid for our family and our child. We want to instill the love of Islam in my daughter and make the Islamic festivals a real part of her life. We want to create warm Eid memories, and COVID-19 isn’t going to stop us from doing that. I really hope you plan to do the same.

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Here are 4 ideas to inspire you to bring that festive spirit alive for your family this Eid ul-Adha:

Hajj and Eid ul-Adha themed activities and crafts

There are so many activities to keep the little ones engaged, but having a plan for Eid-ul-Adha with some key activities that your child will enjoy, makes the task so much easier.

Kids love stories, and for us parents this is a great way to get a point across. Read to them about hajj in an age appropriate way. If you don’t have Hajj and Eid-ul-Adha related books, you can get started with this Hajj book list. Read together about the significance and the Islamic traditions of hajj, and the story of how zamzam was discovered. While you teach them the story of the divine sacrifice of Ibrahim 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), ask relatable questions. As a lesson from the story, give your child examples of how they can sacrifice their anger, bad behavior, etc. during this season of sacrifice for the sake of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Ask your children how they would feel if they had to give away their favorite toys, so that they can comprehend the feeling.

Counting down the 10 days of Dhul Hijjah to Eid ul-Adha is another fun activity to encourage kids to do a good deed every day. Have different fun and education activities planned for these 10 days.

Family memories are made through baking together. In our household, Eid cannot pass without baking cookies together and sharing with friends and family. Bake and decorate Eid ul-Adha themed cookies in the shape of a masjid, camel, or even lamb, and share with the neighbors one day, and color in Islamic wooden crafts the next. This DIY Ka’bah craft is a must for us to make every year while learning about the Ka’bah, and it’s an easy craft you can try with your family. Have the kids save their change in this cute masjid money box that they can donate on the day of Eid.

Decorate the main family areas

We are all going to be missing visiting friends and relatives for Eid breakfast, lunch, and dinner this year, so why not jazz things up a bit more at home than usual?

Start decorating the areas of your home that you frequently occupy.  Brighten up the living area, and/or main hallway with a variety of star and masjid-shaped lights, festive lanterns, and Eid garlands, to emphasize that Eid has indeed arrived. Perhaps, decorate a tent while you tell your children about the tent city of Mina.

Prep the dining room as if you are having Guests Over

Set up the breakfast table as if you are having family and friends over for Eid breakfast.

These times will be the special moments you spend together eating as a family. Now, with all hands on deck, plan to get everyone involved to make it a full-on affair. What specific tasks can the little ones take on to feel included as part of the Eid prep and get excited?

While the Eid table set-up itself can be simple, the moments spent around the table sharing in new traditions and engaging in prayer will insha’Allah be even more meaningful and memorable.

 An afternoon picnic

Family picnics are a perfect way for family members to relax and connect. If Texas weather permits, we may take advantage of a cool sunny day with a picnic at a nearby, shady park. With the heat wave we are experiencing, it may either not happen or will be an impromptu one.

Out of all the picnics, it’s the impromptu family meals on the lawn or at a park that I love the most. The ones where we grab an old quilt, basket, light meals, fresh fruits and venture out into the backyard or a nearby park. It’ll be a perfect socially distanced Eid picnic.

Eid ul-Adha comes around just once a year, so let’s strive to make the best of it for our children, even amidst this global pandemic.

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