“The mosques in New Jersey are finally opening!” I eagerly texted my friend Khadija.
“Oh, that’s good to hear,” she replied, “but I don’t go to the masjid anymore.”
Seeing as though the masjid is at least a 45 minute ride from Khadija’s house I naively assumed that the distance was keeping her from attending, so I replied, “It’s too far huh?”
“It’s not that,” texted back Khadija, “It’s just that the last time I attended the masjid my younger brother was playing, like most young kids do, and a congregant lambasted him and called him several racial slurs. I guess Black people aren’t wanted at our masjid, and honestly, I’m not surprised.”
In the wake of the recent Black Lives Matters protests, I’ve learned that posting on social media is an integral part of spreading awareness. However, as a Muslim community we should take these protests as a wakeup call and do some much needed introspective work. It’s no secret that many Muslim communities are plagued with an Anti- Black sentiment which seems to permeate through the walls of mosques in the United States.
It is not enough to simply post a black square on Instagram or tweet out “#BLM.” The entire Ummah is culpable of the bigotry that our Black Muslim brothers and sisters face. It is incumbent upon all of us to rid our mosques of biogtry through the authentic teachings of Islam and the sunnah of the Prophet Mohammed (p.b.u.h.).
We know all too well that some Muslims associate their cultural norms as Islamic norms, even when these cultural norms explicitly go against the teachings of Islam. One such example is the misogyny that is clearly present within many majority Muslim nation cultures. Another cultural norm is the overt racism, and more specifically Anti-Black attitudes that many Muslims adopt. But what does Islam really say about racism, specifically Anti-Blackness?
Since the inception of Islam, Black Muslims have played an integral role in molding the fabric of our religion. Prophet Adam himself, Allah’s first creation of whom all other human life derived from, was indeed Black. In fact, the name Adam translates in Arabic as “a person of a dark skin complexion.” Prophet Moses, the prophet who is mentioned in the Quran more than any other prophet, and the man whom Allah (SWT) spoke to directly was indeed a Black man. Not only was Prophet Moses Black, but an authentic hadith (Sahih al-Bukhari 3438 Book 60, Hadith 109) confirms that Prophet Moses was from the people of Zut, a people of jet black complexion. Prophet Suleiman, whom Allah gave command over the animals and jinn, was also a Black man.
As Muslims, it is incumbent upon us to tackle the overt and implicit anti-Black sentiments that permeate our homes and other Muslim spaces. We must remind ourselves that racism is the sunnah of the Shaytan. He deemed Adam to be inferior because Adam was created from clay, whereas Shaytan was created from fire.
We must remind ourselves that Shaytan’s biggest sin was arrogance. We must resist against the stereotypical, biogted, and monolithic views and see beyond the White hegemony that has been shoved down our throats – and accept Islam for what is, a perfect religion that rejects all forms of racism entirely.
Ibn Qayyim deemed racism a form of shirk. Prophet Mohammed (p.b.u.h.) recognized that racism is dangerous and he spoke about its pernicious effects in his last sermon, where he proclaimed:
“All mankind is from Adam and Eve; an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a White has no superiority over a Black nor a Black has any superiority over a White – except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood.”
We cannot be racist as consciously practicing Muslims. So, we should be aware of our actions and our words in order to prevent ourselves from falling into the practice of racism. And while many of us are more interested in performative activism than in correcting ourselves and those around us, we must look at our other actions as well. Would we reject a spouse for our children simply based on the color of their skin? The notion that black or dark skin is inferior to lighter skin belies all the teachings of Islam and the Sunnah of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.). Let us espouse support for equality and actively speak out against the pervasive anti-Black rhetoric that exists in our community, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s the Muslim thing to do.