For non-Black Muslims denying that racism exists in the Ummah, this is for you.
Yes, there’s racism in the ummah; it does exist.
We don’t talk a lot about anti-Blackness in the Muslim community, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.
If you don’t know what I mean about anti-Blackness, here’s an example of an incident that happened a few months ago, that illustrates exactly what I’m talking about.
In February of this year, news broke about the deaths of Mohamedtaha Omar, Adam Kamel Mekki, and Muhannad Adam Tairab, three young Black men who were murdered. Groups came together to mourn and honor the victims. This came after a sweeping condemnation of the silence from the Muslim community on the execution-style murder of these three young men. A few Muslim Student Associations (MSAs) held candlelight vigils, but then there was one MSA that chose to cancel their vigil for reasons that seem…well, fabricated.
This student group posted that they decided to cancel the vigil they had planned, without posting an explanation. A Muslim student from that school decided to ask why they were cancelling the event, and their explanation was that a vigil was un-Islamic. That’s fine. We all have different interpretations Islam, but duly note that the same organization chose to host a vigil for the victims for the Chapel Hill Shooting.
Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt, and say they do somehow now think candlelight vigils are haram (unlawful). The student then asked if the organization would consider organizing an event where people could get together and read Quran for the victims. They declined, saying that “gathering to read Surah Yasin or any other Surah is not what the Prophet (PBUH) taught us to do when someone passes away.”
Yes, that’s a direct quote.
Okay, cool, so this MSA had a change of heart, and somehow decided it was haram to have a candlelight vigil. But to not even facilitate a conversation, to not read Quran for the victims, to not even hold a conversation, is a slap in the face to the Black Muslims you claim to represent.
Then they deleted the entire thread.
Does that make any sense? The Prophet (PBUH) said we couldn’t read Quran together when someone dies? Who taught you the deen, fam? Better question: Why are people like this allowed into leadership roles, and given the opportunity to represent Islam on campus?
This is exact what I mean by anti-blackness. This MSA saw it as being inappropriate to read Quran for the victims, and cited a terrible interpretation of deen as their reasoning.
This is the year Black Muslims reclaim their narrative. This religion does not belong to people with diseased hearts, who try and choose what bodies are worth mourning. They ruin the name of Islam with racism, when Islam stresses equality.
Are all Muslims racists? No, and that’s not something that any reasonable person would argue. But do too many of us allow racist remarks to go unchecked? YUP.
I’ll say this again: If you are not a black Muslim, you do not have the RIGHT to say anti-Blackness does not exist in the Ummah, because you have never experienced it in the first place! Denying us our narrative and our truth–that anti-Blackness is real–is just one more form of anti-Blackness. Do you want to know what anti-Blackness is? It’s micro-aggressions like telling your daughter not to go outside because she will get darker. It’s asking an African American Muslim if they are “really” Muslim. It’s referring to black people as ‘abd (a word that can mean “slave”) or kaali, and saying it just means black, as if we aren’t intelligent enough to see through your nonsense. Miss me with that “It’s just what our language says” nonsense. Your language is racist, point blank. Change your terminology, or admit to it.
Let me tell you what Muslim racism looks like. It’s the fact that we don’t teach Black history in our Islamic schools, even during Black History Month, and pretend the only notable Black Muslim was Bilal (RA). It’s that we ostracize people who commit sins that only harm themselves, like drinking or gambling, but let racists into our mosques and often allow them to be the loudest voices. The worst among you are those that do nothing and turn a blind eye, or give justify their racism, and say they are not bad people, just ignorant, or they have that “back home” mentality, as if that makes it okay.
As a non-Black Muslim, your responsibility is to listen, and then help initiate change as an ally. When you make remarks like “Racism doesn’t exist” or “Not all Muslims are racist,” you are derailing the conversation and quite honestly, being problematic.
Still think racism isn’t a problem in the Ummah? You and Donald Trump might have more in common than you think.