Excellent reply from our brother Hussain Thomas, an active Da’ee from London who regularly attends speakers corner on why the statement from Abu Ibraheem was so problematic to our black brothers and sisters, and why he is going to find it so hard to get over these words.
O you who believe, be persistently standing firm for Allah as witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just, for that is nearer to righteousness. Fear Allah, for verily, Allah is aware of what you do.
Quran translation, Surat Al-Ma’idah, 5:8
Assalaamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu,
A large number of people on social media, including myself have been critical on our respected brother Abu Ibraheem Hussnayn for his racism during his otherwise very admirable efforts to forbid the munkar during ‘Chaand Raat’ celebrations in Birmingham. This is a cultural celebration with no basis in Islam which takes place the night before Eid and often involves many blameworthy acts.
His words if you’ve not heard or seen them yet were,
‘Brothers, we’re not black; let’s stop talking like we’re black! Let’s talk in a decent way, with decent manners.’
Though this was one comment in a long night, we need to be clear about this, using black as synonymous with gangster-ism is extremely insulting, it’s degrading of a whole people and yes it’s racism and anyone saying it is racist to some degree and I am surprised people cannot see this clearly.
It also turns out this is not the first time he has done this, so it cannot be excused as just a slip, as some have tried to do on his behalf. More comments have been found and exposed from a talk he gave in the past entitled ‘Evil Effects of Music’ when he makes similar comments, “When they are out on the streets they are gangsters, they talk like Jamaicans, they walk like Jamaicans but the man was born in like heartlands hospital.”
WHY IS THIS RACIST – SURELY HE DIDN’T MEAN TO BE?
Using black, or Jamaican as shorthand for all the worst shortcomings of urban living is racist, it shows an individual is at best on a subconscious level taken on and then perpetrating these harmful stereotypes that these negatives are due to blackness or black culture.
Now no one is saying a person who does this is a Nazi, or National Front level racist, but it is a form of racism and the person who does this is a racist. Racism is not a binary, either you’re a good person or you’re Adolf Hitler, it’s instead a spectrum.
Racist is defined as: showing or feeling discrimination or prejudice against people of other races, or believing that a particular race is superior to another.
Being racist therefore does not require active intent or feelings of superiority as some claim, many good people or those at least striving to be good as Muslims should be, will fall into it unintentionally from time to time.
Some reading this might also be uncomfortable and defensive upon hearing this label being used here in it’s correct and right place, as people you know and love or perhaps you yourself have made similar comments.
Asians and Arabs … Yes I am talking to you now or many of you at least, and yes, you the white reverts. Your discomfort is because you’ve probably heard racial slurs, negative stereotypes from people around you often as you grew up or attended madrasah or the masjid, or sat or ate with your friends and family. You most likely never challenged it, many of you thus normalised it, maybe yourself you internalised it and you don’t now want to feel you or those around you are evil or wrong.
That discomfort of yours’ should not stop us addressing the issue, we cannot excuse it but also should be clear that is not the same as saying you or these other people are irredeemably evil or might not be good in many other ways.
STANDING FIRM IN JUSTICE
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.
Quran translation, Surat An-Nisa 4:135
We also need to be fair, we cannot throw someone under the bus for what is in most cases probably unintentional bias, coming from decades of living among people who also have such biasses on a day to day basis.
Racism is from jahiliyyah and needs to be corrected in our hearts, speech and actions as Rasoolullah (Salallahu alayhi wa salam) said to Abu Dharr when he insulted Bilal (May Allah be pleased with them both) “You are a man in whom there is still some jahiliyyah.”
Abu Ibraheem is a brother who has helped hundreds through his Ruqya and thousands, including myself through his many beneficial lectures and talks on the evils and dangers of Sihr, the jinn as well as many other topics.
He’s a brilliant speaker, a da’ee, calling people to Islam and to the practice of Islam and I don’t doubt his intentions were good during these talks. But even if you don’t like his style or delivery, or content of his reminders most would at least say he does not mean to be racist or sees himself as such.
Another form of Jahiliyyah is use of profanity, cursing others, being unjust and people have been going way over the top when it comes to this matter and it’s reaching the levels of mob justice.
But even if they were saying evil things in response, it doesn’t justify the original comments and besides we hold our respected teachers, activists and imams to a higher standard than general laypeople but still we need to be fair also and not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
It certainly looks to me that he’s catching the flak for the whole Asian community right now which is unfair on him, and those around him but is the nature of the beast when it comes to public speaking and being a public figure.
RACISM IS JAHILIYYAH NOT KUFR OR NIFAQ
Though this is not kufr or nifaq, unless like some other sins it becomes justified or taken to extremes but this is still not a small issue, just a minor sin, a slip up or casual mistake as people have said who have tried to defend their brother, themselves or those they know, or their own culture when they’ve shown these traits.
Our black brothers and sisters are leaving the deen or leaving off practicing Islam partially over the way they are treated by Arabs and Asians (and yes white reverts) in the Masaajid and the wider Muslim community in the UK and too many of those crying foul now this has been brought to light were silent when it was not causing them issues personally before.
But we still have to be fair, and if someone falls into error on some matter it does not mean we cannot benefit from them elsewhere, even whilst we urge them to change their ways, this is especially true when their error be on a subconscious level, i.e unintentional.
Though this has been a very ugly episode, especially coming right after Ramadhan if we process and work through this problem correctly then Allah willing all of us, and I mean all, including those who have fallen into this mistake can when matters calm a little use this episode to move forward after a period of reflection.
To do that though requires bringing this problem into the light, so we can then check ourselves, check those around us and make sure racist attitudes are never again tolerated in our community no matter who is the perpetrator.
Assalaamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu,
“What we’re seeing on the streets of Birmingham and tower hamlets has not come out of the blue. It’s been building for generations. When we have drug dealers in our communities poisoning children the community turned a blind eye, some glorified them, others praised their mansions in Pakistan, the mosques happily accepted their money and prayed their funerals. When they acted out violence on the streets, we gave them respect and reverence, we looked up to them and we stayed silent. Then the younger generations saw them as their role models, we praised them fighting dogs, didn’t question where their money was coming from, the drugs, the fraud, the extortion. These criminals posed with local councillors, supported them and sometimes were from their extended families.
We were quick to take the moral high ground about atrocities around the world but remained silent on the thugs among our midst.
What we are seeing now is what we have been complicit in for years. Harsher sentencing and tougher policing won’t solve this. The solution must come from the communities where these people live and act unashamedly.”
~ Assed Baig
Assalaamu Alaykum brothers and sisters,
I saw the above image on my facebook feed and it really struck me as being totally true and the answer to so many of our problems in life, whether with others or even ourselves.
Yes, often people are stuck in terrible situations they just cannot get out of, either ones they’ve made themselves, or been trapped in by others, and in such situations sabr is the solution alongside turning to Allah in du’a and other means.
But too often, when we are looking at a problem objectively it not becomes clear there are opportunities along the way to stop the abuse, or evils taking place, to actively remove a harm but that the victim’s sabr in the face of problems actively contributed to it’s continuation or even makes things worse.
Advising sabr in such a situation as a long term ‘solution’ is not helpful, it’s absolutely harmful but it’s the first response, almost the default response from so many imams, community leaders, elders etc.
Another common orientalist trope in Western media: The sad Muslim bride forced into marriage. But this is not Western media. It is Aljazeera.
Reflect on the hypocrisy on display with Western culture. It is considered healthy and acceptable for children as young as kindergarten (5 year olds) to “explore their sexual identities” or even their gender. It is perfectly acceptable for school children (6-12 year olds) to be involved with sexting and sexual relationships (as long as it is “safe” sex!). It is natural for high school kids (13-18 year olds) to be sexually active and fornicate to their hearts’ content. Only the “late bloomers” are still virgins by freshmen year of college.
But if a 15 year old gets married, suddenly that is a human rights violation and a crime against humanity?
Western standards of sex and marriage are projected onto the rest of the world, but to understand these practices, we have to understand the larger social context. Within kinship-based societies, marriage has more than just romantic significance. It has economic and social significance as well. Getting married is an important way to connect families and to create larger networks of support and economic opportunity. Marriage is also the primary avenue of socialization and religious development for young adults.
None of this makes sense from a Western paradigm because Western states have systematically destroyed kinship structures and destroyed the family unit, forcing their populations into an atomized existence, where all must be servile to the state and its corporate subsidiaries.
Westerners can understand these marriages with a simple analogy. Marriage in kinship-based societies is an institution analogous to formal education as an institution in Western states. In the West, children are *forced* — against their will — to attend primary school education and then college. This schooling is a means of socialization (i.e., tarbiyya) and often is the only path to economic opportunity and social mobility.
Of course, “education” is glamorized in modern discourse, but the reality for many people is that their education buys them a spot as a lowly cog in the engine of corporate drudgery, and only if they’re lucky. The vast majority have to content themselves as blue collar or service workers slogging long hours to scrape out a modest living. This is what education buys them, yet we are keen to export this panacea to the rest of the world, i.e., to make sure the poor girls of Niger leave their “forced” marriages to “willingly” go work in the sweatshop. I mean, what other amazing career paths exist in the villages of Niger? Or Afghanistan? Or Iraq? Last time I checked, there weren’t many Fortune 500 companies opening offices in this locales. Only us lucky ones in the West get to enjoy deep, fulfilling, meaningful careers as corporate peons, toiling our lives away in order to ensure that investors see sufficient growth from one fiscal quarter to the next.
Islam is a kinship based deen. The family structure is the cornerstone of any healthy society. The majority of the maladies we see around us is due to the disintegration of this structure. We have to be aware of these larger dynamics and be prepared to defend the rationality, morality, and superiority of Islam if we want to address the attacks against the Sharia when it comes to the fiqh of marriage without resorting to superficial reactionism. Unfortunately, the reality is that the average Muslim would be scandalized by the uncensored, unabridged fiqh of nikah. That is why Aljazeera can publish trash like this without pushback.
NB: if you go through the details of this report, you can plainly see how insidious it really is. The father explains that his daughter was secretly hanging out with a specific boy, so, given the circumstances and his consideration of the situation, he said they need to get married. Seems like a good decision by all accounts. Preventing zina is so important and if there is no reason to delay, why do so? We need to be applauding this father and mother and learn from their example.
And the bride herself admits that her husband is treating her well. I bet she isn’t really even that broken up about it but that does not stop Aljazeera from making it look like the biggest tragedy of all time. When Muslim women are actually surveyed about their views on being married off early, the vast majority support it and for good reason, but don’t expect that to make CNN or BBC. They just dismiss these opinions as internalized patriarchy, false consciousness, and due to a lack of “education,” i.e., Western brainwashing.
Furthermore, look at how much they are pushing these UN aid agencies as the saviors who are “educating” the Muslims to avoid early marriage and to limit the number of children they have. This is the kind of social engineering being used to fundamentally disrupt and corrupt the Muslim world under the guise of aid. In reality, it is a continuation of colonization.
“Those who hasten to show sympathy with the non-Muslims when they are afflicted, and slow to express that when Muslims are afflicted, are weak in faith and have a problem in the creed of allegiance and disavowal.”
– Shaykh Muhammad Salih al Munajjid
For those who see the cultural practices Saudi Arabia of the criterion of right and wrong in our deen…