Saturday, June 09, 2007

Islam Session #1: Muslims and Racism

Does racism exist among Muslims?

Indeed, it is a sad reality that must be confronted. Black Muslims have been targeted both by Arab and Asian Muslims. Some white Muslims have also derided Arabs and other Muslims. Of course, it can be the other way round in rare circumstances as well. But this doesn’t take away from the fact that racism is a reality within the Muslim community. For instance, check out Muslim Apple’s first hand account of it.


Is the conflict in Sudan about racism?

I spoke to a Christian Sudanese gentleman last year in July and he said it was because of land and Muslims and other things. What he overlooked was that the victims of this conflict have basically been Muslims. It is a conflict over land and hegemony, nothing racial. In fact, the anti-Arab discourse on this subject in the First World Countries and by Zionist groups in the US has been racist. It’s been their way of ‘getting back at the Arabs’ for the justification of their treatment of Arabs in Iraq and Palestine. You have to look at a country like Congo. 3-4 million people have died in Congo than in Sudan, but nobody talks about Congo. Nobody cares. This stems from ‘residual racism’ which we are now seeing as directed against Iraqis, arguments like “they don’t deserve democracy”, “their mindless rage”, “they hate each other” etc. etc. So no, the conflict’s not about racism. But we mustn’t overlook the silence of Arab leaders over it, which again proves nothing as they continue to be silent as Iraqis die.


What is Islam’s attitude to racism?

Zero tolerance. Islam has never tolerated racism or any such evil. Someone told me that the difference between Easterners and Westerners was 500 years of a period called the Enlightenment. What he meant was that Easterners were 500 years backwards or inferior. To even suggest such a thing is grossly incorrect. For example – compare the treatment of Afro-Americans in the American South until the Civil Rights Movement in the US with the treatment of Bilal, a companion of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Bilal was a man who climbed up to the mosque and delivered the first adhan (call to prayer) ever. He was the first muezzin in Muslim history and a beloved companion of the Prophet. He was equal in his humanity to everyone, and it was not 1960 in the English calendar but much before 960. Now am I to assume Easterners are 1200 years superior to Westerners? This also proves that race is a historical and social construction. The Arabian Nights which relates stories of wanton Muslim men and women owning ‘black slaves’ is a literary record of that tradition, of mankind’s exploitation of another group. Of course, this logic applies to Columbus’s and Captain Cook’s notions of the ‘New World’, whereby the land on which they stepped was “discovered” even though there were folks living there. This discourse of the European Enlightenment stems from Euro-centric arrogance, something which we must oppose in these times when words like “civilization”, “democracy” and all are used to justify oppression and colonialism as before. To cut a long story short, it is an Islamic ruling, placed by God in the Qur’an (the holy book of Muslims) that all humanity is equal. Racism is one of the worst sins a person could commit. This is drawn from the fall of Iblis who disobeyed God because he thought he was ‘superior’ to a human. And to watch humans thinking they are superior to each other because they are from Saudi Arabia or Europe or the United States or Israel, under the Hitlerian argument of some sort of racial or cultural purity, is idiocy and a kind of moral blasphemy in itself.

88 comments:

jamal said...

Unfortunatly this happens. It is very bad that some/many muslims forget Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) last sermon;

“All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over a white - except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belogs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not therefore do injustice to yourselves. Remember one day you will meet Allah and answer your deeds. So beware: do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.”

Anonymous said...

It's great that you have highlighted the problem of racism among Muslims, because it is a real problem. However, as a Muslim in Britain, most of the racism I have noticed has been from Asian Muslims against eachother (Pakistani/Bangladeshi/Indian) or against white and black Muslims. In particular there is a very racist attitude (mainly from Asian Muslims) towards mixed race marriages, even forbidding their children to marry someone with different colour skin. It's a real problem that needs to be addressed by the whole Muslim community.

Anonymous said...

I'm a white Muslim revert and I have noticed a lot of racism amongst Muslims. One of the most racially sensitive topics is mixed race marriages.

I thought that the two characteristics that we should look for in a partner is good deen and character. However, for some people race and culture is an important issue.

It is almost as if for some people their Islam is a form of cultural tribalism.

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