#BeingBlackandMuslim has taken over Twitter by storm as Black Muslims speak out against discrimination and racism outside of and within Islam. It’s an empowering hashtag that gives Black Muslims the mic. And while non Black people of color is Islam preach that there is no room for racism in Islam, we Black Muslims haven’t seen an end to the difference in treatment, discrimination, micro-aggressive comments, and so on. We are always the last to be given the mic. We are the last to be invited to represent. We are the last to be noticed for our accomplishments. This needs to end now.
Let’s pull out the Quran and flip the page to chapter 49, verse 13.
“Indeed we have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes so that you may know one another.”
Now let me completely break down that ayah and tell you how as a Black and Muslim women, I witness the contrary – understanding that my race is what may keep you away – that being Black and Muslim is different for me than it is for those who are not Black and Muslim.
- Being Black and Muslim means proving to Muslims and non Muslims that it is possible to simultaneously be both even though you won’t find my roots from the Middle East.
- Growing up in an area where I was not surrounded by people who shared a mutual culture and religion as me, being Black and Muslim means that I have to remind myself of the significance of Bilal (ra) and his contribution to Islam to let myself know that I am just as Muslim as any Arab.
- Being Black and Muslim also means choosing to wear my hijab “Islamically” instead of culturally to prevent my community from thinking that I’m slowly going to take off my hijab if I wear a turban one day. Why? Because out of the 1.6 billion Muslims with diverse backgrounds who practice Islam, Arab culture seems to claim itself as the face of Islam and turban style hijabs haven’t been appropriated within it yet for it to be considered acceptable.
- Being Black and Muslim also means being rejected by some of my Black friends because I know exactly where I come from, while being rejected by White people as well. I shouldn’t have to explain that I’m not a convert, or that I’m Muslim who is not an Arab. Can we finally understand that Islam is a religion open to anyone, not a country you claim your origins from?
- Being Black and Muslim reminds me that the word abeed” (slave) is still used by Arab Muslims, and this needs to end now! Remember how Abu Bakr al Sadiq freed Bilal (ra)? Your skin color does not make you more superior than me, so watch the words you choose to use to describe me. I’m not your slave, nor will I ever be your slave. I am a Black Muslim queen.
- Being Black and Muslim means that you think I am less informed on Islam than you. Please allow me to share this with you: I am not about accepting your lies on what Islam “really says.” And no, I will not adopt your “when in doubt, assume it’s haram” mentality.
- There’s one very specific struggle of being Black and Muslim in America and it happens to be too prevalent in many lives as explained by Jamal Abdi Adam: “Being Black and Muslim means if you’re not being called a n*****, you’re being called a terrorist.” We are not either.
- As Ramadan approaches, I want you to know that being Black and Muslim means that for three days during Eid, my entire existence along with other Black Muslims comes down to a hashtag on social media, #BlackOutEid. This is our way of explaining to you that we were fasting the past thirty days as well and the celebration of Eid belongs to us just as much as it belongs to you.
Contemplate this question real quick: Whether you were born a Muslim because of your ancestors or you converted, did we not all take the same shahada? Being Black and Muslim does not mean we’re having an identity crisis or suffering from the “Diaspora Blues.”
It means we are both Black and Muslim, and we aren’t going anywhere. We aren’t waiting for you to make room for us at the table anymore. We aren’t serving you. We aren’t less than you. We aren’t going to sit quietly while you speak on behalf of us when it fits your agenda. We aren’t going to pretend you didn’t mean the N word when you call us abeed. We aren’t going to allow you to deflect when we want to talk about issues that concern our struggles.
Set another plate at the table – I’m about to make my own space in case you forgot to invite me.