Tag Archives: Racism

StreetOrDeen – “STOP ACTING BLACK” MY REPLY AS BLACK REVERT TO ISLAM

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.

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Abu Ibraheem Hussnayn and Standing Firm for Justice

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,

Gingerbeardman

Racism In Our Communities – Nick Pelletier

Assalaamu Alaykum,

Though it is addressed to the Muslims in America, every single aspect of this khutbah could be addressed to the Muslims of the UK or any other western country.

He talks about the racism in wider society, and how as Muslims living in the west we will never help fix this problem until we first address the racism in our own community, and how the racism among Muslims is worse, YES WORSE than the wider society.

We need to fix ourselves up, start setting the example for the rest of society and not keep wallowing in cultural and islamic nostalgia, may Allah swt guide us, and to to the straight path, ameen.

Nabil Abdul Rashid – Welcome to the Club Guys!

“Remember how I keep saying that if not for recent enhancement of unfair anti-terrorism laws: e.g. prevent and schedule 7, Asians would never see structural racism like we Afro-Caribs do?

This stop and search video that has gone viral is proof of it. Sucked he had that done to him, but hey!!! Some of us have grown up having that done to us every day about two or three times a day and it wasn’t done as gently or politely either.

Remember that for the last three or four decades WE have been complaining about the same thing and got told “if you didn’t commit so much crime they wouldn’t be stopping you” and ” well if you’ve done nothing wrong you’ve got nothing to worry about”… welcome to the club guys.. welcome to the club. Racial profiling by racist institutions is not fun, even for ‘model minorities’.”

~ Nabil Abdul Rashid

Huck Magazine – ‘You Get Me?’

Interesting article and photography, and I very much agree there is a crisis in masculinity in the UK Muslim community.
 

Tim Wise – Pathology of White Privilege

This is it… this is the video that finally helped me ‘get it’ when it came to the subject of white privilege a few years ago.

I know Tim Wise has done other later talks in more recent years, continues to address issues of race and inequality from a white perspective but this for me is my favourite, most powerful speech of his I’ve listened to. Maybe as it affected me so much.

And yes… I know he is a non-Muslim, and will occasionally say things as a Muslims we will not agree with but on the subject of racial inequalities, white privilege and the massive problems built up into modern day societies around  these issues he speaks the truth and we should respect that.

Musa Millington – Hamza Yusuf in a nutshell and racism

Link to original post by Musa Millington – Hamza Yusuf in a nutshell and racism

Well in a nutshell in case we forgot:

Hamza Yusuf is a Sufi, Ashari, promoter of Shirk (Qaseedah Burdah) and Bid’ah in the West who said that the most sacred place on earth is the grave of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم). He is also an extreme Muqallid of the Maliki madhab and associates with the likes of Habeeb Jifri; who calls to the worship of graves and shrines and the likes of them. That should be enough for us to be outraged, to distance ourselves from him and to warn others from his misguidance.

His comments regarding the struggles of African Americans also shows his extreme ignorance regarding the political, social and economic history of the United States as it relates to African descendants. Making foolhardy and rash statements that satisfy the white political oligarchy as well as many Muslim American immigrants who wish not to associate with the lower echelons of American society is not from the Sunnah. Rather the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) addressed it head on without any room for interpretation.

For the record the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Upon you is to hear and obey even if it is an Ethiopian slave as if his head is (dark) like a raisin.”

Some foolish orientalists have interpreted this statement as one of racism. However, this is how he chose to address the Arabs as they disliked those of African descent. So he demonstrated that one’s skin colour was not a deficiency.

He also said to Abu Dharr when he called Bilaal the son of a black woman: “Did you find deficiency in him because of his mother. Verily you are a man who has Jaahileeyah (pre-islamic ignorance).”

He also said as narrated in Adab Al Mufrad by Imam Al Bukhari: “Whoever takes pride in his ancestry then let him bite unto the private part of his father.”

He also said: “There is no preference of an Arab over a non Arab or a white over a black…”

Hence, unlike the soft and tamed responses of many Muslims toward Hamza’s remarks (and racism in general) the Prophetic methodology was to take this matter head on in the face of those who have racism within their hearts. He also said as narrated in Saheeh Muslim:

“Three things from Jaahileeyah (pre-islamic ignorance) would remain in my Ummah. Taking pride in one’s lineage, cursing those of others and Niyahah (screaming and ripping off clothes at the death of someone).”

Hence, the one who is racist is not only ignorant but has an aspect of pre-islamic ignorance. The phrase Jahileeyah affected the companions so much that the great Sahabee, Abu Dharr, upon hearing the statement of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) went to Bilaal, put his head to Bilaal’s feet, apologized and asked Bilaal to stamp on his head.

But to Hamza racism is just another sign of ignorance which in itself proves the extent of his ignorance regarding Islam’s stance on racism.

And for the information of those out there who don’t know there were many Africans (yes black people) who played a very important role in early Islam. Just to name a few:

Bilaal Al Habashi, the first Mu’addhin.

Summayah the first matyr of Islaam

Najashi, the king of Ethiopia and his priests.

Mahajja the first matyr of Badr.

Bareerah who was freed by ‘Aisha.

Umm Barakah the first one who nursed the Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) after his mother died.

Aslam the servant of ‘Umar Ibn Khattab.

Zaid Ibn Aslam who was one of the narrators of Muwatta’

Sa’eed Ibn Jubair who was seen as the most knowledgeable of the Tabi’een.

‘Ataa Ibn Rabaah who was a scholar of Tafseer.

Usama Ibn Zaid who led Muslim armies at 17 years old after the death of the Prophet.

Wahshi who killed Musailamah Al Kaddhab.

Naafi’ the servant of Ibn ‘Umar who brought to us the two recitations of Qaaloon and Warsh.

And there are many more who I didn’t mention and are found in a book called the raising of the status of Africans (Arabs used to refer to all Africans as Ethiopians) by Imam As Suyooti.

The Sahabah didn’t see race as an issue. Africans, as is observed by the list I wrote here, were prominent in the intellectual, political and social development of the early Islam. The likes of this took place with Malcolm X in the 1960s who by Allah’s will made Islam a household name and even presented it as a solution to America’s racial problems!

It is disturbing to see that in 2016, almost 50 years after the assassination of brother Malcolm that immigrant Muslim Americans have compressed themselves into a bubble wherein they boisterously applaud their ambivalence and nonchalance regarding the struggles of those who were pivotal in the development and existence of Islam in the U.S.

Sadly enough, amidst this ambivalence and nonchalance all and sundry cry foul when Trump is selected!

SMH!

#RIS2016

Are White Muslims Racist?

basmillah

O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, 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. So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted.
Quran translation, Surah an-Nisa, 4:135

hamza-yusufAssalaamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu,

I know most of you reading this have listened to or at least heard of the recent terrible comments by Hamza Yusuf on the subject of race at the 2016 RIS conference and maybe you are shocked someone you’ve maybe loved or followed for years could speak these words, perpetrate these racially charged and yes racist myths.

Here is the clip in question for those who have missed it, yes it is that bad. Yes he really does say “It actually makes me a little sick to my stomach to see all these people rising up about… white privilege.” 

I am not so shocked myself though. I ‘grew up’ in terms of the deen as a new Muslim listening to many Hamza Yusuf talks, but over the years I’ve gone off him as my own views came closer to the authentic scholars of ahlus sunnah and drifted away from the traditionalist-ish approach he brings up, as well as when my views on world affairs clashed more and with his pro-western speeches.

You may differ, that’s fine but that is just me and my views of him and I don’t think this particular speech is way out there really, that he was only tired after a long flight as some have tried to suggest, it fits into the same themes he’s been pushing for the past 10 years at least.

Now I’ve been wanting to write an article about the racism of many white revert Muslims for a while now, so rather than devoting a whole article to trashing someone who has already been thoroughly rebuked by so many powerful voices in the Muslim community over the years as well as more recently I want instead to use this incident to ask another more general question about are his views somewhat typical of white Muslim attitudes…

ARE WHITE MUSLIMS RACIST?

Now those who know me personally or have just read my blog over the time it has been up will know I normally complain of discrimination towards reverts (or converts if you like) but in this particular case I want to ask the question are Hamza Yusuf’s comments more indicative of a wider problem among white reverts towards other Muslims, especially black Muslims but also other nationalities, races and cultures?

I would argue they are and as a white revert, involved in new Muslim support activities and Dawah one of my responsibilities to check that racism so it cannot just be dismissed as another bitter rant by an angry person of colour.

WHITE PRIVILEGE

Due to the inherent racism and still colonized minds of so many in the Muslim community, my voice as a white Muslims is heard whilst so many others who are perhaps far more qualified to speak on this topic are ignored and I would be ignoring my own duty as a Muslim if I did not speak out when I am given the opportunity.

You (true believers in Islamic Monotheism, and real followers of Prophet Muhammad and his Sunnah) are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind; you enjoin Al-Ma‘roof (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam has ordained) and forbid Al-Munkar (polytheism, disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden), and you believe in Allah.
Quran translation Surah Al ‘Imraan 3:110

This is one of the things I did take from a Hamza Yusuf talk years ago, when he was asked in a Q&A session about the way new Muslims are treated especially well by some parts of the Muslim community, and how it was a responsibility in such circumstances to speak out for the truth and treat that position as an amanah, a trust.

Saying that, it struck me back then and even more so now that that privileged position only really applies to white reverts, the experience of black reverts and other non-white reverts I’ve come to understand is somewhat different.

When some Arab or Asian Muslims is telling a new Muslim he or she is better than them as they’ve reverted, so are ‘like the sahabah’ this is usually addressed to white faces not brown or black ones.

I’ve never met a white revert who has not had this experience probably more than once in one form or another, and I’ve never met a black Muslim who has been treated in this manner… unless you count constantly being compared to and even called Bilal because Bilal is the only black Sahabah or Prophet they know about.

The treatment of white and black (and other ethnic minority) reverts is not the same in our community, that is a fact. If as a white, Arab or Asian Muslim reading this you are suffering from some sort of cognitive dissonance at this point and you are not willing to accept that self-evident and obvious truth then stop reading now because everything else from here on in is going to get even more uncomfortable for you.

I am not saying white reverts don’t suffer some discrimination, they do and dealing with it and the aftermath all the time is part of my job but it’s no-where near on the same levels as other ethnic groups are getting and I’ve known black brothers and sisters leave Islam over this crappy totally anti-Islamic treatment.

It’s not a small thing and nor should we brush it under the carpet because ‘it put people off accepting Islam’ if they are only going to leave later anyway once they experience the reality.

White reverts are treated sometimes as status symbols by the Muslim community, so when a Masjid wants pictures of reverts to put on a fundraising brochure to go to the gulf, who gets called upon to help out?

Who gets the invites (few as they are for reverts) for iftar and Eid with Muslim families or for sitting with visiting scholars from the Muslim lands? Who gets pushed forward as a speaker or even for training to become a scholar and then gets easily accepted as such?

Who then being advantaged in these small but meaningful ways, being known by the community then gets pushed forward for marriage when that time comes and someone has expressed an interest in their son or daughter marrying a revert?

Though white reverts do suffer some discrimination, we should recognize it’s mixed up with a large dollop of privilege as well so it is a duty for us to use that privilege to break down the barriers for those left to one side, to speak out for those who are often silenced or ignored in the masjid and wider Muslim community.

So there is racism towards most reverts, falling least of all upon the whites, but as a section of the Muslim community are we guilty of this most heinous of modern sins? Are many white reverts themselves racist?

roast-beef-dinnerROAST BEEF DINNERS

Get two or more white reverts together in the UK and most likely one will bring up their dislike of curry, or some other ethnic cuisine, or dislike of certain types of clothing and they’ll then have a good moan about how they wanted to become Muslim, not an Arab, Pakistani or a Malay, etc and why cannot they just wear normal English clothing, the worst of them will then explain their need / want to free-mix, listen to music, do Christmas and birthdays etc with their families.

I remember one meeting we had over 10 years ago for the New Muslim Project in Sheffield, where a Masjid was providing us venue and free food for new Muslims and their families and all some of the reverts could do was moan all the way through the meeting about how I bet it’s curry again, why can’t we have have a nice roast beef dinner instead and why do we always get expected to eat Asian / Arab food?

The level of ungratefulness was something ugly to behold, and I am not just saying that because I like curries, I also like roast beef dinners as well but if someone is putting on free food and help for you then don’t whinge and whine about what gets cooked.

There is so often a sense of cultural superiority about a lot of these conversations and meetings and it’s not just white reverts who the only ones guilty of this either.

dont-tell-me-what-they-say-about-meBigoted Asians will often share in their conversations with white reverts some of their own twisted views towards black people, and Arabs the same towards the Asians and blacks in the Muslim community. They attempt to draw you into their conspiratorial little world views as if you will come onto their side or you must already be there purely because of your skin tone, as if these others are ‘not quite the same as us,’ not really Muslim enough, almost other, a lesser being.

They must be used to having such talks with and around white Muslims they meet and know and not being challenged over it, because when it is challenged they are shocked and outraged to be called up over it or else try to claim they meant something else.

So readers, especially reverts but also others please start responding and challenging such attitudes and behaviors or be prepared to face the consequences of potentially sharing in those sins on the day of judgement.

On the authority of Abu Sa’eed al-Khudree (radiallahu anhu) who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) say, “Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.”
Sahih Muslim

BIGOTRY IN MARRIAGE

I know a lot of black reverts get annoyed that it is only when it comes to marriage that bigotry is brought up in the Muslim community but it’s a topic I did want to bring up as an example, showing the racism of many white reverts and how far we have yet to come as it is an experience they know themselves.

I know as best as I can that it’s not the once in a lifetime issue of marriage which is the main problem, it’s the one hundred and one other little acts of racism and prejudice which cause more day to day problems for black Muslims in our community, the number of times the salam is neither initiated or responded to, the way people stick to their own or those they see like them or like who they would like to be, the way white culture is looked up-to and emulated by the culturally colonized Asians and Arabs especially those brought up in the west but black brothers very quickly get told they need to leave their culture at the door or else told they have jahiliyyah and a chip on the shoulder.

But you ask any white revert just about, and all of them will tell you they’ve struggled to get married, had rejections based on race, culture etc, but ask these same people whether their own children could marry a black revert… and all of a sudden all the racist stereotypes come out.

It’s not just the revert themselves either, sometimes their born Muslim spouse will have bigoted attitudes as well. Saying such a partner is unsuitable for their offspring, they are too strong a character, too lustful,  they are lazy, or have a chip on the shoulder, or else won’t be accepted in our community as if these reverts now they’ve made it and been accepted find it then acceptable to turn their back on others who are still to some degree held on the periphery of the Muslim community.

IT’S TIME TO END THIS

We know that racism whether in subtle or overt forms can be stopped, Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Salam) did so, and provided the Prophet model on how it can be done but it requires action and speech from everyone to do so as a community and as individuals.

We need to really challenge the racist trash when you hear it and not let it go, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES FROM OUR MUSLIM BROTHERS AND SISTERS. We need to reach out in brotherhood, genuine brotherhood to those around us, and pull together as a community and that means listening and acting upon the concerns of others.

It also means slapping people down occasionally when they say something incredibly silly and / or racist. Stop making excuses just because fulan fulan is an imam, or your neighbour or your uncle, just stop it.

O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, 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. So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted.
Quran translation, Surah an-Nisa, 4:135

We need to listen to those voices who are telling us that things are not OK, just because it’s sometimes mostly alright for the white reverts like Hamza Yusuf or myself, that doesn’t mean everyone else is sharing the same experience or that we need to belittle their complaints as it doesn’t seem to fit in how we see ourselves and our lives.

Stop making excuses for racism, whether it is within or without the Muslim community. Just stop it, there is no justification. When you hear that Munkar stand firm against it.

We need to encourage the imams to speak up, to challenge this sort of thing just as they do so when the dhulm, oppression affects them or their own people whether here or around the world. Especially those of us who are listened to because of privileged position, use that privilege to put a stop to the conditions that brought it about in the first place if you know it is not really justified.

We say we are one Ummah, one nation but if one section of the Muslim community is being affected massively by a serious problem, but we don’t see it as our problem because it doesn’t hurt us then we’re not really a community are we?

An-Nu’man ibn Basheer reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The parable of the believers in their affection, mercy, and compassion for each other is that of a body. When any limb aches, the whole body reacts with sleeplessness and fever.”
Sahih al-Bukhari 5665, Sahih Muslim 2586

Even if we don’t have these attitudes ourselves, if we the white Muslims turn our backs on others, their problems and experiences because they do not share our own background are we not then guilty of helping perpetrate a racist system?

 

 

 

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.

image

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.

MUSLIMS NOT LIKE US – Nabil Abdulrashid

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 01/12/2016 - Programme Name:  Muslims Like Us - TX: n/a - Episode: Muslims Like Us (No. 1) - Picture Shows:  Nabil - (C) Love Productions - Photographer: Gareth Gatrell

Article originally taken from islamicate.co.uk – Linked here

Having taken part in the part social experiment that was “Muslims like us” I have come to realise that Muslims want to have their cake and eat it. We constantly cry and whinge about lack of representation in mass media, but as soon as Muslims step up to do just that the criticism begins.

Many Muslims complaining that those of us who took part in the show did not reflect what they considered to be an accurate portrayal of British Muslims, expecting all ten of us to be bearded and fully ‘hijabed’ because obviously that’s exactly what the Muslim populace of Britain are like. To them we all wake up for Fajr at the same time and every single Muslim in Britain is a hafiz.

Many non-practicing Muslims were quick to slate women on the program who did not wear hijab or openly practice the faith when they themselves were a reflection of these sisters. It seems as though Muslims expected reincarnations of the sahaba to be headhunted for this BBC2 program and because predictably we fell short, we have been labeled sellouts and conspirators pushing an agenda to normalise ‘Liberal Islam’.

Muslims fail to understand a couple of things. Firstly, had the Muslims on the show all been perfect saints who did no wrong, all practiced the exact same version of Islam and agreed on all issues nobody would have watched the program, because frankly it would have made for boring viewing. Not even British Muslims would have watched a program about perfect Muslims living among each other perfectly whilst doing perfect things. Another reason why such a cast could not be produced is that it would be impossible unless scripted and definitely would not be a realistic portrayal of British Muslims as we are.

I appreciate that I have received some very positive feedback for my contribution to the program, as have one or two others but the reality is that I only stood out because of the chaotic bunch I was in the show with. I can say this with certainty because all the issues I faced in the house are issues I face in the wider community as do many young black Muslims.

I did my utmost best to carry myself with class in the face of hostility and anti-blackness that was prevalent in the house and I have been commended for it. The reality is there is nothing I faced in the house that does not happen in local masjids, in schools and online. Myself and Abdul Haqq were often subjected to aggression and disrespect for daring to have an opinion on aspects of Islam as if we were somehow less worthy of speaking on the religion and when we tried to justify our stances using Quran and sunnah we were called “dominant”.

Time and time again, I was subjected to micro aggressions and casual racism from fellow housemates ranging from being told that Nigerians deserved to be colonised by the English for “not fighting back” (we actually did and gave the English hell) to how Africans should look at the bright side of slavery and colonialism and how the Indians built all the great things in Africa (yes someone said this to me with a straight face). The vast majority of these interactions unfortunately were not featured in the program, due to editing and what people saw was the culmination of it all, in quite possibly the most normal form of conflict in any household, yes, I am talking about onion gate.

For daring to complain about someone using something I bought without my permission (someone who had been provoking me for six days consecutively) and taking umbrage to him being rude to me I was surrounded by almost all the “liberal” south Asian housemates and called aggressive whilst being shouted at and squared up to.

Surrounded, out numbered and abused, at no point did I raise my voice or behave in a threatening manner, yet somehow in the minds of my housemates I was an aggressive bully. For a period of ten days I had to endure this high level of ignorance and many have asked me how I managed to remain calm in such a situation, the truth is simple. This was just another day in the life of a black man in the Muslim and wider community. My proof is in the outpouring of comments from non-black Muslims online who somehow found a way to blame me for the confrontation. The narrative of the “angry black man” is an easy sell it seems.

Very few questioned why the same brother who united an entire household to do act in the way of charity and serve the community by feeding the homeless would lose patience. No excuses made for a black brother who had very much been the mediator of the house.

It reminded me that as Muslims we are only as good as the last thing we did unless our name is Muhammad Ali or Malcolm X. And of course let’s not forget Bilal, every non-black Muslim’s token black friend. In the end I’ve come to the conclusion that the program was a success as many non Muslims from areas where there aren’t an abundance of Muslims have reached out to me to ask for information about Islam and for this I am completely grateful to Allah.

This program was designed to entertain and enlighten, not as a dawah project however wherever there is Islam there will be dawah because that is the beauty of Allah’s religion. Most Muslims I spoke to feared to partake in the program not because of what the editing would do but simply because they feared that no matter how hard they tried to do good, their own community would condemn them.

I took part in this program because I didn’t want to be one of the angry backseat drivers/keyboard scholars that sits and criticises from their armchair. I did not want to watch this program at home and regret not doing it after seeing someone else “let the ummah down” so I stepped up to the plate. Was I perfect? No. But hand on heart I can say I made my best efforts to show Islam, as I know it, in a good light.

Are there better Muslims and representatives than me out there? Absolutely, but I’m not one to wait for someone else to do something for me.

Muslims are quick to hold other people to standards they don’t hold themselves (complaining I didn’t show enough restraint whilst not showing any themselves as they openly slander us) as if we are somehow more obliged to be good Muslims because there is a camera and England is watching. One must remind British Muslims that we are all being watched, not just by cameras but by the One we worship five times a day. If you are more concerned with how Muslims look in front of a camera than with how we all look in front of the King of kings, I do believe you are not in a position to judge anyone and may want to revisit the fundamentals of your religion.