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.