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Author Topic: Racism amongst Muslims and general state of the Ummah.  (Read 1104 times)
LeylaNur
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Remembrance of Allah is the true source of peace..


« on: Aug 15, 2008 02:37 AM »


 salaam

Salaams to all my fellow Madinans! I just thought I'd share/discuss something with you that has weighed heavily on my mind lately.

It has to do with racism and exclusion as practiced within our Ummah..

Why are so many Muslims unloving and non-accepting towards each other? You have the immigrant Muslims who mostly keep to themselves, you have the ethnic Muslims who also often keep to themselves, you have the African American Muslim community (some N.O.I., some not) who tend to keep to themselves, the Sunnis, the Shia's, the ultra-conservatives, the 'progressive/liberal' Muslims, and the convert/revert community who are struggling to find an identity within all the Muslim 'cliques'.

So often you will see members of one 'clique' bashing the others.. This group wears colors too bright, this group ties their scarves funny, this group doesn't do this or does that.. Sometimes people will even judge on the color of the skin like happens with many of the African American Muslims. Many people mistakenly think all African Americans are N.O.I. and/or extremist Wahhabis (sp?).

It's not even uncommon to hear the 'N' word uttered by some Muslims. Mostly this is immigrants and they can't seem to get it through their mind that this is not acceptable. My own husband has been guilty of this (he is an immigrant) and can't seem to fathom how they can call it to each other, but non-African-Americans can't use it. He's not a bad man, but he's got a bad habit which I try, mostly unsuccessfully to put a stop to. The thing is, he really isn't even racist.. Anyhow, that's a totally different kettle of fish!

Personally, I think mainstream Muslims have a lot to learn from the N.O.I. if not their doctrine which is shirk and racist, but rather from their organization and discipline.

The N.O.I. made their own communities, they gave sisters a voice in the mosques and in the home, they made schools for the children, textbooks, had extra-curricular activities, gave the sisters life skills like cooking, sewing and child-rearing that some don't receive in their own homes.. They put value on education and community. BIG value on COMMUNITY and TOGETHERNESS. They gave the children and community members PRIDE. They helped clean up common areas where even non-Muslims went. They tried to better themselves and their community and they tried to make EVERY member feel valued.

We have seriously got to pull together and stop this 'clique' mentality within the Ummah. We should take some of the good lessons from the N.O.I.. We need to stop thinking that all African Americans are members of the Nation of Islam, and we need to stop judging others based on their choice of spiritual path or how they tie their hijab or the colors they wear. We need to stop using race-based language..

It's a really tough road to walk, but for the sake of Islam, we really have to pull together!

Other groups we could learn from.. The Jews and the Christians. They have temple/church groups, services, get-together events, etc. Women and men go.. They go to service, they come out, they have some fried chicken and pie and meet members of the community. Friendships are formed. There are sisters knitting groups, children's play-dates, marriage counseling, substance abuse groups (I know some of you Muslims out there are trying to quit smoking.. Maybe even spousal abuse, God forbid!)..

However, there's really nothing like this in most areas for Muslims. Maybe the brothers go meet at the mosque, but there aren't too many extra-curricular activities. Many women don't even go to the mosque. How then, can they develop friendships? How can their kids find other Muslims for halal play-dates? Unless you're part of an ethnic or foreign community like Pakistani or Palestinian for example, you won't really meet anyone. Converts/reverts probably have it the worst.. Due to the lack of community, many fall off the path and not from lack of trying! Some of the lucky ones marry into immigrant families and deal with a whole other set of problems with assimilation, etc. Other ones feel they have no other choice but to pack up and move to Saudi Arabia or another 'Muslim' country for desperation in finding an Islamic way of life and circle of friends.

Things have got to change! Some may say the religion can stand alone, but it's human nature where people need community and this racism and clique mentality has got to stop!

I can't really see it happening though.  Sad

I try to remember to count my blessings each day because I have many:

To be thankful for my health, and that of my loved ones, the presence of my husband and the continuation of our marriage, that we can pay our bills and have food on the table..

So many blessings but often, so little thanks!
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« Reply #1 on: Aug 16, 2008 04:05 AM »

As salaamu alaikum

I'm not convinced that we should be adopting any of the ideals of the NOI primarily for the reason you stated; that much of it is shirk.  Are they as organized as you think?  The concepts they present of going into business for oneself and supporting those businesses may be sound; however the businesses they promote are not sound fiscally.  Are women truly given a voice both inside and outside the home?  Not from what I've seen and heard - from its earlier days up to the present.  Are they tolerate of others and teach unity?  On that we know they don't if only African-Americans are permitted in their ranks. 

Yes there are problems within traditional Islam but those problems were brought about because of adopting more Western ideals of separatism and that is what keeps people from developing the bonds of the past.  I've heard some say that it is because we should stick with our own "tribe"; but we are all Muslims and therefore part of the same "tribe".  No one country of origin is better than another and who was it that decided which countries' people were of what racial/ethnic group?  Non-Muslims decided this and then determined that one group was better than another and people accepted that and Muslims adopted it yet knowing it was wrong.

I've not had the problem so boldly of being shunned because I'm not of a particular ethnic group; now perhaps I've been fortunate to be around sisters who don't play that dangerous and hateful game or I've just not noticed it; however it certainly does exist among the brothers who all desire (or rather lust after) marrying from among only one group and think it perfectly acceptable to insult and belittle anyone who isn't among that group.

The imams are given the authority over the congregations and so should be speaking against those very acts but  is it being done or are the people listening?  Who knows which is the case.  The people if they are truly walking the path of faith should know this for themselves and therefore do a better job of promoting unity beyond just praying shoulder to shoulder or performing the rites of hajj/ummrah together and being civil during only those times.

Yes there should be more activity at the masaajids where people can actually spend time together in the more social gatherings in order to strengthen the bonds but how many actually have the time?  Most time is spent working trying to survive - especially those of us that are unmarried and therefore have complete responsibility and thus don't have the free time to spend even if the desire is there.  Married women with children often don't get the opportunity to go out and about because they are taking care of those children and don't often get a helping and supportive hand and when they do go out do they find the mosque to be "family friendly" or even "sister friendly" or are they relegated to some tiny out of the way space where they gain limited benefit because no one really wants them there in the first place?

Another issue is that everyone wants to be in charge even if they have no clue as to what they are doing so why would others want to be actively involved? 

Are other faith groups any better?  Nope.  Amongst the Jews not only is there the difference between the conservatives and orthdox etc. there is also a difference between your white and your black jews.  They don't attend temple together they are very much divided.  Same goes for Christians.  Not only the Catholic/Protestant division and its various sub-divisions but the racial/ethnic division even among similar sub-divisions as well.  You don't see all these groups getting together or social gatherings and breaking bread together; they don't even sing the same songs the same way.

So who knows what it will take to make the change back to where we should be or if there will be so much resistence thatit wll never happen.  I do know that so long as we continue to remain divided we will continue to be fought against until we are seemingly eliminated and the ummah grows smaller as people don't marry because they aren't among the "preferred group".

Fa'izah
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« Reply #2 on: Aug 25, 2008 04:59 PM »

As salaamu alaikum

This issue of racism within the ummah continues to weigh on my mind and my heart and continues to come up in discussions of every topic in subtle ways.  Yet it is never fully discussed nor more to the point ever resolved.  It is a "disease" that continues to "infect" the ummah and it is beyond disheartening; it is frightening.  Yes it is a tragic secret that we perhaps want to keep from those outside of us but it is noticed by the very ones we try to keep away from it and ignored by the ones that need to resolve it.

How I wonder can we collectively continue to say that we (as Muslims) are the most diverse and unified by a common faith and belief system when this very real problem exists and divides us?  The problem doesn't seem to have an impact on those who are placed at the "high" end but is very real for those who are placed at the "lower" end.  It is something that invades every aspect of life - from interactions in and outside the masjid (as has been mentioned) to the ability to marry the person who is most suitable and compatible (only the "select" or "preferred" or"chosen"group get to choose from the larger pool while the "non-select" or "non-preferred" or "unchosen" get the smaller "not so good" pool.  If the problem is as some have said the continuing effects of Western colonization or the like then is it not time to shed those non-Islamic values and outlooks?  Or is the problem deeper than that and if so what must be done to eradicate this problem once and for all?  Do we look to our imams and scholars for the answers or do we look within ourselves?  If the former then there is not enough actual discussion about it and if it is the latter then for the most part we have fallen short.  This makes one wonder if anyone actually wants to resolve it at all or is it a case of the ones who are negatively impacted by it are merely "whiners" and "complainers" and need to just be patient while the ones who are unaffected by it are concerned only with themselves while they continue to remain "at the top".  It is a similar problem to the "white" vs "non-white" division that exists in the US that no one really wants to talk about and resolve but without talking about it there's no hope for it ever going away.

So much energy is expended discussing and debating "minor" issues and so little on the "major" issues.  Outsiders lump all Muslims together while we continue to divide ourselves and in doing so are doing nothing but aiding those who wish to change Islam into something that doesn't resemble Islam at all.

After a recent discussion with a non-Muslim supporter of the Muslim community about this problem (as it was brought up by a third party in the context of the indigenous Muslim (in the US) vs. the immigrant Muslim populations).  I was asked to seriously consider having a meeting to explain the problem and how additional actions by those who are unaware are only fueling the problem - how I wind up as the "bridge" so often is a mystery to me; although I know the problems it does produce.   Truthfully I'm not sure if I'm ready to spearhead such an initiative when the subject is so painful and the ones that need to be talking about it (Muslims ourselves) aren't willing to actually talk about it and to me that is where the discussion needs to begin.

I guess all I can do is pray and do my part to address it and pray that not only will others follow suit but actually find a way to fix this problem; although I doubt it will help me to the extent that I need it to.  *Big sigh of frustration*

Fa'izah
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« Reply #3 on: Aug 25, 2008 06:35 PM »

Asalam Alaikum,

I do think that people have prejudices and if they come from outside of the US, they are unaware of the history of the US.. and hence the use of language that is unacceptable. Now  if I hear language I will tell people that it is not only NOT acceptable in many ways, in the US, well it can offend people and they may shoot you.. (and I teach self-defense, and it is a general principle to not use inflammatory language of any kind cause it can lead to trouble). Yeah, I am blunt, but “road rage” is real.  Its like if I go to Turkey, I pay attention to things I can and cannot say. Its raising awareness.

Why is it this way, I think it both ignorance upon people and their religion, and an unwillingness to examine these issues and themselves.

In the end, I think most people become “independent” and most do not go the Masjids. I myself tried for a few months but just got weary of it all. And I belong to no group really.
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