In light of recent events such as the social movement, Black Lives Matter and black entertainment stars such as Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar now putting black pride in the limelight, I found myself questioning “how does my identity as a Black Muslim identifies with this?”
Can I be “pro-black” and Muslim?
When I saw the performances of both these artists, I was filled with awe and pride. I was happy that it was finally going mainstream even though many don’t understand why it was necessary for people to make a stand in the first place. Even unfortunately within the Muslim communities, issues that people in the black community face are seen as unimportant. Even worse, we have some minority of Muslims that even say racist comments thinking that although they aren’t white they are superior to blacks. They feel that they are a step over blacks in the racial hierarchy.
Due to these kind of attitudes we have in our communities, I feel that a lot of Black Muslims have to choose between empathising with the injustices done to Muslims and those done to Blacks. Even if it feels that they are both equal, many of us don’t feel comfortable proclaiming aloud the inequalities happening in the African diaspora because it’s almost seen as radical. It’s ok to be outspoken about what’s happening in Gaza and Syria, but racial injustice that happens to black people, many who are our fellow Muslim brothers and sisters are not quite seen in the same way. (http://www.vox.com/2016/2/27/11126096/muslim-fort-wayne-execution-murders)
However Islam is against all forms of oppression. Allah says “O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, be he rich or poor, Allah is a Better Protector to both (than you). So follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you may avoid justice, and if you distort your witness or refuse to give it, verily, Allah is Ever Well Acquainted with what you do.” (4:135).
Islam is the only religion I know that directly deals with the issue of race and how to tackle racism. Allah says “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)”. This ayah(verse) is emphasising that we all come from one source, therefore there are no ‘real’ differences between us and all that matters in the end are your good deeds, thereby showing real equality .
Furthermore, during the lifetime of the Prophet (saw) there was an incident where Abu Dhar (ra) addressed Bilal as ‘the son of a black woman’, meant as an insult. The prophet immediately told him that he was still hanging on to the ways of the pre-Islamic days of ignorance. Abu Dhar felt very ashamed and went straight to Bilal’s house and putting his head on the floor, and said: “This head will not rise from here until the blessed feet of Bilal tread on the face of the foolish. Bilal replied “That face deserves to be kissed, not trodden upon”, and forgave Abu Dhar.
This shows that in Islam there is no racial hierarchy and oppression is not tolerated. Therefore being part of a religion that explicitly shows this should make us proud and aware. No matter what negative experiences one may have with the Muslim community in terms of race, there is no room for racism or any type of injustice in Islam. Islam encourages us to tackle injustice everywhere. Islam believes that all lives matter therefore black lives matter.