Black Muslims And Black Issues

December 12, 2016

Had I been born an Egyptian during the time of Pharoahs it would’ve  been a good time to be black. Black people were the ruling class. The oppressed class at least for a period of time were the Hebrews. But I was not born back then, I was born in 1988 in America, and being black here and now means being a part of the oppressed class. Hundreds of years of slavery, decades of legalized mistreatment, disempowerment and overall injustice. I live in a time where saying ‘Black Lives Matter’ after of string of murders perpetuated by police is met with mockery and belittlement. I live in a time where a black man can be accused of everything from sexual harassment to rape decades after the alleged incidents and it ruin his legacy while white men accused of molestation continue to make movies. I live in a time where black relationships are falling apart and black children are falling behind. And yet, despite the residue of slavery, the average white American can feel more sympathy for a holocaust it didn’t cause than for the descendents of slaves on it’s own soil.

There are times in my life where I go months even years without thinking about race and racism. It’s too painful, too upsetting and too unbearable. But what I’ve come to realize is that God uniquely made me black and he bestowed upon me enough blessings to make a small dent to empower myself and my people.  If MLK and Malcolm X didn’t eradicate racism I certainly won’t either. And I’ve come to realize arguing with white people or non black Muslims about racism, trying to prove the humanity of black people or the inhumanity of our suffering should be a minuscule if not non existent part of that struggle. My struggle is to use what I have to “cast my bucket” where I am and give my people whatever I can to benefit our community.

It also means ignoring a lot of other things. I don’t plan to spend any significant portion of my life fighting ‘Islamophobia’, essentially the systematic oppression similar to what is inflicted on blacks being inflicted on “Muslims” -Muslims being, in the eyes of a typical American, Arab or South Asian. The internal racism in the Muslim community makes it so that South Asian and Arab problems become ‘Muslim problems’ while black issues are ignored. There were people in the prophet’s time who constantly came to him for knowledge then went back to their people to them Islam, did he ask them to stay with him instead and become a teacher in the “Muslim community”? Or was it natural and expected to go back and give what you’ve benefited back to your people?

It saddens me when I hear a black Muslim speaker speaking on “Islamic issues” that are in fact South Asian and Arab issues. For example, a lecture on marriage in Islam where parental approval, cultural differences and forced marriage are spoken about as if they’re universal islamic issues when they in fact have nothing to do with Islam and nothing to do with the black community that imam came from, for example. I recall Imam Siraj giving a khutbah about marriage and speaking about what I call the ‘marriage suitability problem’ that is a reality for his Muslim congregation 0black Muslims, and it would have been delusional to discuss forced marriage in any significance. Muslim speakers talk about the issue of parents forcing their chikdren to be doctors and engineers, again not a Muslim problem but an immigrant one. Had the black Muslim voice been as legitimate in the conversation focusing on the double digit employment rate, poor nutrition and institutionalized racism would be just as legitimate a discussion.

I’m not sure if black people have a huge ability for compassion and empathy or a major self esteem issue but we can’t continue to put others issues before our own communities allowing our house to burn while we put our their fire. Police brutality has been an issue in the black community -which includes black Muslims, for a very long time yet the “Muslim Community” gave no voice to this issue. So should we be expected to lend our voice when our struggle becomes there struggle as well? No, fighting for non- black Muslim rights under the general guise of “Muslim Rights” is no more important than fighting for black human rights which include Muslims. Why should we give up on our struggle for theirs? We can’t afford to lose a single soul in the black community in the fight against oppression and for empowerment.

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