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Abraham, Moses and Jesus Were Probably Black…But That Makes My Asian Muslim Family Uncomfortable

Abraham, Moses and Jesus Were Probably Black…But That Makes My Asian Muslim Family Uncomfortable

A few months ago when that amazing 3D image of what Jesus probably really looked like came out, I brought it up at the dinner table with some of my relatives in India. I said, “Hey, some scientists found out what Jesus really looked like.” Everyone leaned in. I was mostly high off the thought that, yes, this was going to scientifically prove that White people can go suck it because Jesus wasn’t blonde and blue-eyed . In fact, he looked more like me than he did an Abercrombie & Fitch model.
“He was an Arab Jew, and probably had some Black African blood,” I revealed, psyched. Black African blood! Science to the rescue! Suck it, White people! Suck it, Indian Christians who have such deep-seated internalized racism that they hang photos of dreamy Ewan McGregor Jesus everywhere! Jesus is ours.
Considering the sociopolitical climate in the United States at a time when Black Lives Matter and institutionalized racism against Blacks is at an all time high, I reveled in the idea that if everyone realized Jesus was (somewhat) Black, then racists would take a second to reflect on the link between religion and anti-Black racism.
As an Indian, I often align myself more with Blacks and other people of color than I do with Whites. I know this is not the case for many other Brown people. Unfortunately, not many in India were aware of what was going on in Ferguson, and not many cared.
The response to my J-Bomb (Jesus bomb) – I may have left my family members a bit confused. Remember how White people reacted to the Black Storm-trooper? Looks of disgust. Incredulity. Internal turmoil. I’m pretty sure someone tore their shirt off like Marlon Brando in Streetcar and screamed, “Nooooooooooooooooooooo!”
Wait, what? This was the reveal all of us have been dreaming about for centuries. Now I realized, not all of us. The Muslim community is kind of racist. And in my opinion, the Asian Muslim community that I’ve known is definitely probably kinda racist.

For some inexplicable reason, in my opinion, Asian Muslims think they’re the best at being Muslim. (Newsflash: We’re not.)

It might be because we’re Brown-skinned which makes us feel a kinship with Arabs (where Islam all began). It might be because some of us, my family included, believe we are direct descendants of Arab/Persian/Turkish Muslims who migrated along trade routes in Asia. Maybe it’s because we’re not first-generation converts and believe in the idiotic fallacy that being born Muslim is superior to converting. Maybe we’re just dicks and think we’re better than everyone else.
I went a step further and,  just to start some shit , said that Adam and Eve, Abraham, and Moses were all Black too, because all humans were Black in the beginning. We’re all from Africa, which is a supremely cool idea.
Here’s where shit got real. My audience weren’t having it. The feared the thought that the Prophets they cherished and admired possibly did not look like them. This is the same reasoning behind Italian painters depicting Jesus as a skinny Fabio  – people find comfort in praying to someone that looks like them. In Christian history, this turned into fucked up White supremacy. Colonialists used these images of Skinny Fabio Jesus to colonize and tell the Brown heathens that, since God was White, White people are superior. Man was created in the image of God, right?
Why do dark-skinned Prophets scare us so? Is it because we actually think that we are superior to Blacks? If Black people are so inferior to us, then how on earth could we love and respect them as we love and respect our Adam, Abraham, Moses? Were Adam, Abraham and Moses thugs? Were they “street” guys? Were they drug dealers? How low did they wear their pants? Did they listen to rap music? Cornrows? Locs? Jay-Z?
Will Idris Elba play Moses in the inevitable Ten Commandments reboot? (Um, yes please.)

I’m going to go out on a limb here and make a pretty direct statement. Those who dislike the thought of Black Prophets most likely dislike Black people. 

Yeah, buddy…I said it.
But whoa, hey! We’re not racists! There’s a hadith that says something about not being racist or something. And remember Bilal? He was one of the first Muslims , a great man. He was a Black man and a slave and was liberated by Islam. By a show of hands how many of you have said these exact words: “Islam actually ended slavery, you know, 1400 years ago. Have you heard of Bilal?”
See, here’s the thing  – let’s stop using Bilal as the Islamic mascot for anti-racism. That’s the same as a Men’s Rights Activist saying “We gave women the vote so what more do they want?”
Three vibrant, innocent young Black Muslims were gunned down, execution style, in Indiana, USA. Mohamedtaha Omar, 23, Adam Kamel Mekki, 20, and Muhannad Adam Tairab, 17. I shared the news story on my Facebook wall twice. I’ve never even been to the United States, yet these boys were my brothers. I find comfort in having an international community. I got 1 share from a Muslim friend. Most of my Facebook friends are Muslim. You do the math.
These same Muslims go into full throttle during Ramadan with the Iftar memes and infographics showing you when the best time is to offer dua. That’s not the important stuff. This is the important stuff. Our brothers and sisters are being gunned down because we pray to a specific God. Would we have cared more if the boys were of Pakistani or Palestinian descent? I don’t know. All I know is our reaction, or lack thereof, was shameful.
Asian and Arab Muslims , you’re not special. Get over yourselves. Islam isn’t post-racial yet, like we want to believe it is.

See Also
muslim exodus

The liberation of Bilal is not a badge of honor that we all should wear proudly, stupidly on our chests. Islam must be intersectional. Black Muslim Lives Matter.

May Our Three Brothers rest in peace, and may we keep their names in our mouths.
 

Written by Nida Sheriff, who is a freelance writer and producer, currently living in Bangalore, India. Her childhood in Dubai and university years in London made her an intersectional Feminist and certified Third Culture Kid. Nida volunteers for domestic violence charity Chayn and manages Chayn India in her free time.  She wrote this commentary in response to the brilliant opinion by Eman Idil for MuslimGirl.com.
View Comments (7)
  • Um, you believe the Prophet Jesus was a Jew? (No, no shades of anti-Semitism) Wouldn’t a Muslim Prophet obviously be……Muslim? Just a little puzzled here.

    • Jesus was born in Nazareth. Being designated a “Jew” can also refer to ethnicity, not necessarily religion-based.

    • Muslims believe that God gave Christians and Jews true Islam. Islam is the final version of the Abrahamic faiths, and what Muslims to believe to be the final, perfect iteration.
      He’s a Muslim prophet who came down to reform Judaism. No contradiction in that. What was given to him was the same theology as what was given to Prophet Muhammad (saw), but the law was different. So all three religions are the same in their monotheism but differ in the law- prohibitions, prescriptions, etc.

  • This is a nice article, I just wish people would respect the subject matter a little more and not curse. You are writing about prophets (peace upon them all) and cursing in the same breath. That is embarrassing and a little sad. You don’t need to sound ‘cool’ when talking about religion, religion is already cool. 🙂

  • I don’t see why the colour of the prophets’ skin matters. If you make it an issue, it certainly says much about you.
    Also, I didn’t know Asian Muslims are special. Thanks for pointing it out. But then again, may be the fact that you think we think we’re special also says much about you.

  • Yes&yes! A great piece. However, there is nothing wrong with listening to rap music, wearing locks or wearing cornrows. Rap, cornrows and locks are beautiufl. But yeah, I assumed you just wanted to explain the stereotypes about black people. I am a black female convert and I have experienced lots of racism of Moroccans and Egyptians. Many non-black POC Muslims are rampantly racist, especially Arabs and South-Asians, what with the obsession with white & light skin in the Indian subcontinent. And yes, tokenizing Bilal, Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X, God bless them all, doesn’t mean someone can’t be a racist – mostly, it means that someone IS a racist.

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