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Recognizing The Indigenous Crisis This Thanksgiving

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This week President Joe Biden signed an order to address the ‘crisis of violence’ against Native Americans. The order directs federal agencies, including the departments of Justice, Interior and Homeland Security, to create a strategy addressing what the President called a “crisis of violence” against Native Americans.

This is a positive step yes, but it is too little, too late.

Since  the beginning of documented history, war and violent acts against minority groups have filled our history books. These wars or violent acts were perpetrated against people based on gender, race, religion, etc. In the 21st century, with international human rights laws, social media, and global news coverage, these horrendous acts occur in plain sight and have not been scrutinized enough. In an age where the U.S. government does not allow racial or gendered slurs on the airwaves, that same government is guilty of heinous crimes against the marginalized within their borders.

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The indigenous people of North America and the African Americans in the United States, suffer the same fate as the Palestinians by the Israeli government, the Kashmiris by the Indian government, and the Uyghur people by the Chinese government. China is one of the largest economies and is guilty of one of the most infamous genocide in our times. Israel, a colony established by the British and with the United States’ support, has terrorized the people of Palestine for over half a century. India, which claims to be the largest democracy, violates Muslims’ human rights in India and the Kashmiri people daily. African Americans in the United States are continually discriminated against violently and passively. The indigenous people of North America continue to be disregarded as less than equals to their fellow citizens in both Canada and the United States. Our community supports these struggles, either by working directly with these marginalized groups, lobbying the Senate to have them address the Uyghur issue, and providing resources, food, and supplies to the victims of the Indian government.

This holiday, as many of us gather with  our family and friends, we must remember to keep the indigenous people, on whose lands we live on, in your prayers. Get involved in their cause.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says in the Qur’an:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالْإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَيَنْهَىٰ عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ

Verily, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives, and He forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded. [Surah An-Nahl; 16:90]

Ibn Al-Qayyim raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said:

قَدْ بَيَّنَ سُبْحَانَهُ بِمَا شَرَعَهُ مِنْ الطُّرُقِ أَنَّ مَقْصُودَهُ إقَامَةُ الْعَدْلِ بَيْنَ عِبَادِهِ وَقِيَامُ النَّاسِ بِالْقِسْطِ فَأَيُّ طَرِيقٍ اُسْتُخْرِجَ بِهَا الْعَدْلُ وَالْقِسْطُ فَهِيَ مِنْ الدِّينِ وَلَيْسَتْ مُخَالِفَةً لَهُ

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) the Exalted has made clear in his law (sharia) that the objective is to establish justice between His servants and fairness among the people, so whichever path leads to justice and fairness is part of the religion and can never oppose it. [Al-Ṭuruq al-Ḥikmīya; 13]

One struggle is not more important than another; based on the situation, one might be more urgent, but all should constantly be on our radar.

Living with the indigenous community and living on unceded territory, I have personally learned a lot about the indigenous people of North America and the struggles they face daily. Their struggle was no different from the struggles of the African American people in the United States. If one group is marginalized, terrorized, or oppressed, we all are oppressed. That is different for liberation. If one group is liberated, the struggle continues until we all are .

Of course, just because this is mentioned in the Qur’an doesn’t make it solely upto Muslims to take on.

The Qur’an is a mercy for all of humanity. Anas ibn Malik raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

اتَّقُوا دَعْوَةَ الْمَظْلُومِ وَإِنْ كَانَ كَافِرًا فَإِنَّهُ لَيْسَ دُونَهَا حِجَابٌ

Beware of the supplication of the oppressed, even if he is an unbeliever, for there is no screen between it and Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). [Musnad Ahmad 12140, Grade: Sahih]

 

Missing Indigeneous Women

According to the CDC, the top three causes of death for an average American are heart disease, cancer, and unintentional injuries. According to the Urban Indian Health Institute, the leading cause of death for  an indigenous woman is murder. In 2016 over 5700 indigenous women were reported missing, but the Department of Justice logged only 116 deaths, significantly downplaying the matter’s seriousness. More and more cases of sex trafficking of Native people worldwide are being exposed and the under-reporting of 5,500+ missing indigenous women does not help the fight against sex trafficking. Unfortunately, we are uneducated in the matter, and when we think indigenous, we think of the reservations. In reality, over 70% of indigenous people live in an urban environment. Cities with high rates of missing or murdered indigenous women include Seattle, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Tucson, and Albuquerque. Geography is essential to mention as most of these cases happen in the western part of the United States. Data collected from 71 Cities shows that there were 506 victims. Of the 506, 25% were missing (not found), 56% were murdered, and 19% were unknown. So, the next time we talk about marginalized women’s rights, please remember the indigenous woman who are statistically the highest at risk for abduction or murder because of their race.

Allahsubḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has said:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُونُوا قَوَّامِينَ بِالْقِسْطِ شُهَدَاءَ لِلَّهِ وَلَوْ عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَوِ الْوَالِدَيْنِ وَالْأَقْرَبِينَ إِن يَكُنْ غَنِيًّا أَوْ فَقِيرًا فَاللَّهُ أَوْلَىٰ بِهِمَا فَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا الْهَوَىٰ أَن تَعْدِلُوا وَإِن تَلْوُوا أَوْ تُعْرِضُوا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرًا

“O you who believe, be persistently standing firm in justice as witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. Follow not your desires, lest you not be just. If you distort your testimony or refuse to give it, then Allah is aware of what you do.” [4:135]

 

Finally, the best advice I could give is not from me, but the words of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), and that is not to compromise your deen when seeking justice or for the sake of justice.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)says:

وَدُّوا لَوْ تُدْهِنُ فَيُدْهِنُونَ

“They wish that you should compromise (in religion out of courtesy) with them, so they (too) would compromise with you.” [Al-Qalam:9]

 

I hope this brief article about one of the most vulnerable and marginalized groups in North America, Indigenous Women, has increased your knowledge, awareness, and empathy, and inspires you to speak out for justice.

Here are some suggestions of ways you can help:

– Find out whose lands you are on

– Get involved with issues that affect indigenous peoples, by contacting your reps, getting involved with the #LandBack movement, and/or showing up to protests or other direct actions

– Support and amplify the work of indigenous creatives

– Spend time learning about indigenous issues

– Donate directly to communities, and to organizations that support indigenous liberation

 

 

 

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. 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.

Abu Ryan Bilou Al Dardiri has completed two masters in education. He is currently enrolled as a student in Mishkah pursuing a bachelors in Islamic Studies. He is working at the WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) as an educational advisor. He is the founder and Chief Coordinator of the non-profit organization The Building Blocks of New Jersey whose mission is: “To aid self development, promote activism, and bolster community building”, and AJR International focusing on Muslim villages in India and Nigeria. He also consults and is a trustee at “Outreach on the Barrio” based in Houston, and Green Muslims based in Washington DC. In 2019 he published his first children’s book titled “My First Illustrated Hadith Book”.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Daoud

    November 25, 2021 at 2:06 PM

    I don’t understand. Doesn’t the holy Quran and the Hadiths (not to mention reality of history) recognize the Jews as the indigenous people of Israel? I have heard this from many imams as well. Whatever the situation is with the Arab Palestinians and the Arab Israelia and the Jews, it’s not a question of indigeneity and colonization.

    Moreover, the British claim is ridiculous. The British supported the Arab Palestinians against the Jewish Palestinians repeatedly and gave them their fortified positions when left. Then the British supported the Arab League with weapons and training, especially in Transjordan.

    Again, for both theological reasons and those of historical fact, your explanation of the situation in Israel is just wrong.

  2. muhammad

    November 27, 2021 at 10:04 PM

    Who cares? These natives are not muslims and we as muslims have no responsibility for these disbelievers. People like you should rather care for muslims and their issues.

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