Category Archives: New Muslims

Hamza Yusuf and the Dangers of Black Pathology

Article written by ‘Strugglinghijabi’ and the original is linked here

Ya know, I’m not very familiar with Sheikh Hamza Yusuf. When I say “not very familiar,” I mean I used to think he was the guy who formerly went by the name Cat Stevens. (Embarrassing, I know.) So when it comes to his reputation and character, I think it better to suspend my initial impressions and rely on the Muslims I know (mostly black) who are acquainted with him. What I’ve gathered seems to boil down to three basic viewpoints:

  • Those who have followed him/known him for years and believe him to be good, kind and absolutely not racist.
  • Those who have followed him/known him for years and think he’s a decent Islamic teacher but have always felt uncomfortable about his commentary on race and politics.
  • Those who could never bring themselves to follow him because his commentary on race and politics always seemed racist and out of touch.

So what do I do with that? How do I reconcile the divergence? Well, it seems he’s probably not an avowed racist, but clearly his thinking is misguided and very much affected and infected by the mythology of black pathology. (Shout out to activist, scholar, artist Su’ad Abdul Khabeer for putting this on my mind.) White supremacy, which results in the othering/devaluing of blackness, is so pervasive that even the most well-intentioned people can suffer from it without even knowing. We can probably all think of racist things that have flown out of the mouths of people we generally love and agree with. In fact, we (black people) can probably think of some of our own statements that have been either tinged or deeply stained with this implanted self-hatred. I’m tryna tell you, it’s deep, son.

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Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, speaker at RIS2016

As a cousin of mine so eloquently put it, our brainwashing has been complete. There is no part of our thinking or experience that has not been affected, influenced and tailored. So when a well-respected, well-loved scholar like Hamza Yusuf gets on a grand stage and tries to counter and discount black justice movements (BLM and the like) by citing the myth of black on black crime and then tops it off with a statement like, “It actually makes me a little sick to my stomach to see all these people rising up about… white privilege,” we see exactly what we’re dealing with and how no one, no matter how popular, is exempt from inheriting diseased thinking.

For those who Stan for Yusuf and cannot and will not accept these comments as anything more than the result of his intense fatigue, I (kinda) understand your pain. I say this because I know how hard it can be to swallow the idea that a person you have revered for years—a person whose teachings brought you deeper into the fold of Islam—can have racist views. I get that you experience it as a loss, and I get that there is a bit of grieving involved for the image you once held. But after the shock subsides, recognize and acknowledge the danger of black pathology and how it was wound all up and through Yusuf’s RIS 2016 rhetoric.

Black pathology is the idea that black people are—perhaps simply by virtue of being born black—steeped in pathology, unable to think and behave normally, healthily, sanely. Black pathology states that we are inherently flawed, not in a “all of mankind is flawed” sort of way, but in a “something is specifically wrong with those people” sort of way. So the many problems that have befallen black people have nothing to do with concerted efforts of concentrated racism and everything to do with our messed up wiring, which prevents us from pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps like so many others.  Yes, I know Yusuf never made such bold and direct claims, but there was definite danger in his words.

Why? Because he had an opportunity to educate a mass of mostly non-black Muslims on the oppression of their black brothers and sisters but instead spoke on black on black crime and how America’s anti-discrimination laws are top notch. Translation: “The problem is them.” To borrow a tweet from Su’ad Abdul Khabeer,

Black pathology is used to explain away structural racism by claims of “bad” behavior, culture, morals, etc

And then to add insult to injury, Yusuf brought up the racism “in our own communities” but only addressed anti-Jewish sentiment and Arab vs. non-Arab (i.e., South Asian) racism. He made no mention, not even in passing, of the very real and visible issue of anti-blackness in Muslim communities. Please tell me you see something wrong with that.

But that was late Friday night. He was tired and wasn’t exactly thinking clearly. He had Saturday to clarify. However, what came Saturday night wasn’t much better. Though he apologized explicitly about his comments directed toward Sheikh Yasir Qadhi and the Muslim Brotherhood, he did not directly apologize about his comments on black people. Instead, he explained how he couldn’t possibly be racist because of his proximity to non-white people. Really, bro?

What’s crazy is that most people didn’t even expect him to come out and say, “I apologize for being a racist.” Brother, only you and Allah (SWT) know your heart. If you say with sincerity that you love all of humanity and are not racist, I’ll accept that you believe that, but know that having a Mexican wife and a mother in the Civil Rights Movement doesn’t excuse you from being held accountable when you say racist things. We all must accept correction.

All that was required was a sincere apology, an admission of insensitivity, an acknowledgment of the fact that you don’t have the understanding or cultural sensibilities to speak to such issues.

But that’s not what happened. Instead, you crawled deeper into the cave of black pathology by saying the breakdown of the black family is the greatest issue facing black Americans, not racism. I must ask, how on earth can any person with any bit of black history under their belt discuss the tearing apart of black families, which is a real thing, WITHOUT centering the structural racism that was put in place specifically to do just that? There is no clear picture of one without the other.

Otherwise, you end up sending the message that black men and women are being incarcerated at alarming rates just because. That’s black pathology. You end up sending the message that black people are killed and mistreated (by others and themselves) just because. More black pathology. You end up sending the message that black people tend to be less financially stable just because. Another statement powered by black pathology. This type of thinking attaches itself to existing ideologies of racism and supports them as they grow, further blotting out black humanity. Ergo, it is a very big deal.

So if you are going to discuss such complex topics, be willing to make space at the table for all relevant aspects, including those that make you uncomfortable. And humble yourself enough to admit where you lack knowledge. If you cannot do that, silence is better.

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Participating in Non-Muslim Celebrations – Sheikh Feiz Muhammad

At this  time of year especially many Muslims living in the west, especially reverts (new-Muslims) are faced with a dilemma of whether to join in with the festivals of the disbelievers, or whether to remain distinct and apart from such even if that may offend their work colleagues, friends, neighbours and even family members.

Here Sheikh Feiz Muhammad explains the Islamic ruling on this important topic, may Allah reward him abundantly and keep us all steadfast upon the true deen, ameen

My local Masjid in London was a pub once upon a time

The Imam mentioned today in his Jumuah Khutbah (sermon) that he met a brother last week who said: “I used to come to this building over 20 years ago when it was a pub to drink alcohol and drown away my sorrows. Today I come to the same building to make prayers and prostrate to my Lord”.

‘And Allah guides whom He wills’ [24:46]

~ Shabbir Hassan

Muslim Reverts Put-Up With a Lot of Casual Racism

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http://www.asianimage.co.uk/news/14805797._Many_Muslim_reverts_put_up_with_a_lot_of_casual_racism_leaving_us_feeling_displaced_and_isoloated_/

Written by Umbreen Ali, Writer and Columnist for Asianimage.co.uk

A Muslim revert says the community has a lot to learn about how to treat newcomers to Islam.

Ben Moore, now known as Abu Zayn, converted to Islam seven years ago and has spoken out against racism, accusations of being a spy and becoming an outcast because of people’s cultural norms.

Abu Zayn’s journey towards Islam and subsequent conversion induced an adverse reaction from the onset. “When I converted to Islam I was still living in Dorset. There are almost no Muslims there at all.

“Yet after becoming a Muslim, the local community called me a traitor.

“The EDL took pictures of me on their phone and printed it on leaflets and distributed them in the town centre labelling me a ‘terrorist’ and an ‘extremist’.

Ben, as he was known aged 23, took his shahada in Bournemouth in a Syrian mosque which hosted an ample Arab community.

“They were so accepting and warm and welcoming, the complete opposite to Blackburn.
“The Muslim community in Blackburn have shouted at me and told me I’m a spy.

“If a spy was going to be put in a mosque in Blackburn, no authority would use a white guy with a ginger beard!

“There is a divided community in Blackburn in which there is a lot of cultural mistrust between the community themselves.

“It’s the reverts who inadvertently get caught up in the mistrust.

“There’s a big sectarian divide in Blackburn, between the Deobandi’s and the Brelvi’s.

“The various communities in Blackburn stick to their own mosques. They’re the ones who hold firmly onto racial bias.”

Reverts feel ‘isolated’ and ‘displaced’

He said there were only a handful of reverts in Blackburn, but hostile sentiments from the local mosques had led to him and other reverts feeling ‘displaced’ and ‘isolated’.

“The reverts here are put off going to mosques and would rather pray at home.
A newcomer to Islam speaks out about being white and Muslim

“We’re too white to be Muslims in Blackburn.

“As a revert I am expected to conform to Asian culture.

“A so called ‘mufti’ told me that I am not allowed to take anything from my English culture as it’s not Muslim culture.

“However, according to this man, we are allowed to take anything from the Pakistani culture because it’s a Muslim country.

“Therefore, I am supposed to dress in shawlar kameez and not jeans otherwise I am imitating the kufar.

“Yet the irony is, the men in Blackburn who wear the jubba, the shalwar kameez or the turban are the most arrogant people I have met.”

Abu Zayn said much of the prejudice he had encountered has taken place within local mosques in Blackburn, leading him to question the significance of Asian culture over religious etiquette.

“Before Ramadan, a Hafiz offered to teach me some Quran. I’m passed basic level in reading but he just helped me out with my Tajweed.

“As we sat in the Masjid reciting, the Imam, who can’t speak English, came over and stared at me for about five minutes before talking to the Hafiz in Urdu.

“The Hafiz translated the message and told me that the Imam wanted to inform me that I was being disrespectful to the masjid because I wasn’t wearing a hat.

“I can’t help but think, you have a revert in the masjid who is sat willingly learning the Qur’an and instead of giving me salams and offering me support and asking if I want help like an Imam should, you chose to just pick on me about an item of clothing!

“It’s very petty and pathetic.

“Wearing a hat is not a wajib anyway or a sin if you do not, but of course I could not sit and debate with the Imam.

“On another occasion, an uncle reprimanded me for wearing socks in the mosque. He said that the carpet will start to smell if I wear my socks. Despite the fact that there was no sign saying ‘remove your socks’ and unsurprisingly, everyone else present in the mosque was wearing socks.

“It feels like he targeted me because he thinks I’m dirty.”

Don’t call me a ‘gora’ I don’t like it

He feels that Imams find it difficult to communicate with the younger generation and with reverts.

“I approached an Islamic school where you can do an Alim Course. I was categorically told I was not allowed to study there because I don’t speak Urdu.

“So I asked to take Urdu classes. I was given another lame excuse to prevent me from doing that.

“And I know for a fact that there are Arab students that study there.

“But I wasn’t allowed because I’m white and they equate that with me being a spy.”

“Darussalam is the only mosque in Blackburn that has been accepting.

“Other reverts attend Darussalam too.

“Other mosques in Blackburn don’t have a curriculum for reverts, so there is no access for learning.”

As well as facing discrimination from local mosques, Ben says that the casual racism he has experienced from the Asian youth in Blackburn leaves him feeling disillusioned.
“My Pakistani friends still call me ‘the gora.’

“I find that term so offensive. I ask them how they would feel if I called them ‘paki.’
“They have patent double standards.

“There’s a guy that work in a local takeaway. He has a long beard and wears clothes that people would associate with religious men.

“Yet when I say ‘salam alaikum brother’ he always responds with ‘alrite Dave.’
“He is blatantly taking the p***.”

Muslims are just as racist towards other Muslims

However, it is not just subliminal racism towards him that he found alarming, but also racism between the Asian communities.

“Pakistani’s in Blackburn are more racist towards Indians and vice versa than they are to white people.

HOW CHRISTIANS TRY TO TRICK MUSLIMS TO CONVERT – YUSHA EVANS

Many Muslims take other religious people at face value, assuming that the teaching of lying being a sin that almost every religion claims to uphold would mean they wouldn’t dream of lying to promote their faith.

In our deen it is totally forbidden to hide our beliefs, to lie to spread our faith but there are many Christians, claiming to be ex-Muslims, yet almost every single one of them is a fraud and liar.

Anyone active in Dawah comes across these jokers, and you will quickly learn not to take them at face value but for everyone else who make be taken in by these evil liars here is a lecture from brother Yusha Evans explaining how many of the fake ex-Muslims we meet out there are liars.

Not only are they liars but they are trained liars, taught and tutored to deceive and that such lies in the modern times at least can be traced back to the Anglican Bishop of Al-Quds (Jerusalem) who wrote a book ‘Call of the Minaret’ on how to try to convert Muslims to Christianity through trickery.