Reflections of a Black Convert: Part I – A House in the World | Part II | Part III
By Anthony Hardy
“Remember – no matter what you achieve in life,” my mother told me when I was an eight-year-old child, “you will always be nothin’ but a nigger to them.” She looked at me with the piercing eyes only a mother has, the ones that see past your face and penetrate your soul. “When I brought you into this world, you already had three strikes against you: you’re Black, you’re a male, and you’re poor. You ain’t gonna get the same kinda leeway these White folks get.”
It’s the same admonishment all Black parents in America give their children at some point, though maybe not as candidly as my mother did. Above all else, she was a pragmatist and a martinet. Being a poor, single, Black woman in the American South will fashion a pragmatist; the desire to protect your three children from the negative influences of the environment will harden even the softest of hands. When my mother spoke these immortal words to me, the Civil Rights Act of 1965 had been the law of the land for some thirty-nine years; the landmark Supreme Court case of Brown v. Board of Education had been so for forty-five years; and the Civil Rights Act of 1968 – deemed the Fair Housing Act – had been law for thirty-six. Adequate instruction was still a necessity for survival in an ostensibly “integrated” world, particularly for Black males.
My Sustainer saw it fit to fashion me Black and to place me in a poor, deeply rooted Black Catholic community located in a portion of the Bible Belt South. The cathedral serving the community was originally constructed in the late 1800s to serve the ecclesiastic needs of German, Italian and Irish immigrants. A group of nuns opened a school for Blacks and Creoles a few years after the completion of the cathedral. The descendants of emancipated slaves flocked to Roman Catholicism from Protestantism searching for education for their children, as back in those days, Catholics were known for their stellar parochial educational institution. My great grandfather, so my mother told me, was among those individuals who converted seeking something better for his progeny. I would like to think some of those Blacks even shared the pews with their fellow White Catholics.
If so, not for long: the ninety years of Jim Crow laws and the deceptive fallacy of “separate but equal” bifurcated the community. Many of the recent European immigrants who were maligned for being Catholic were able to purchase Whiteness at a fairly cheap price. And then there was the White Flight, the embodiment of discriminatory housing legislation, urban planning, government subsidies, social engineering, predatory economic exploitation, and even physical violence that gave genesis to the coveted suburbs and exurbs, the culmination of the illusionary confluence of separation and equality. These were Jim Crow at its finest—the holy grail of the ever-elusive American Dream, built off the backs of Blacks through savagery, thievery, and connivery.
Long before my mother came into the world in the early 1960s, only Blacks attended the church. Most of the Whites in the surrounding area had long disappeared. In their absence, the powers that be erected in the center of what would become the community of my birth a sewage and water treatment plant. The house of my grandmother, the house in which I was to be raised, was juxtaposed with the cesspool. The cathedral where I was to be baptized was a ten-minute walk down street from the plant; the elementary school where I was to be educated was a fifteen-minute walk from it. For decades, everyone in the vicinity woke up, worked, and laid down to the putrid stench of excrement and chemicals. Some people would even die with the fumes in their breast, said my grandmother.
The smell had not abated when I came into the picture. Sometimes, it was so bad I remember my mother and grandmother praying for God to command the winds to take the fumes. At times, those prayers were answered; other times, we just had to bear it. Allāh subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He), in His Infinite Wisdom, had coined for me a parable using my own childhood as to what I should expect from my existence as a Black man in America.
Said Moses to his people, “Seek help through Allah and be patient. Indeed, the earth belongs to Allah. He causes to inherit it whom He wills of His servants. And the [best] outcome is for the righteous,” (Qur’ān, 7:128).
“Ain’t much else you can do,” both my mother and grandmother would say, “but suffer it and go on.”
Muslims often ask me what brought me to Islam. By way of preamble, I inform people of the obvious – that I’m a Black man – and the not so obvious – that I hail from the South. I then ask them to couple these facts with their own imagination as to why a man in my position from this part of America would accept the message of the unlettered, gentile Prophet ﷺ. Most of my interlocutors, at this point, have inklings as to some of the reasons—a sign, I hope, that people at the very least comprehend the connection between the social and historical realities and the theological consequences of those realities.
I then proceed to tell them this. In fifth grade, at a private Catholic school attended predominantly by White middle and upper class children, a fourth grader, a White kid, said, “All you Black people should still be slaves!” after I bested him in a game of basketball. Were it not for some childhood friends restraining me, I surely would have beaten him to Hell and back.
When I got home that evening, I started thinking about certain aspects of Christianity, at least as I understood them at the time. It possibly had something to do with the imagery often used in Catholic churches, chiefly pictures of a European Jesus and his equally European mother and disciples, and how inconsistent I thought it was for Blacks in America to be worshipping someone or something that so closely resembled our debasers. This kid and his parents believed that in accepting a certain theological interpretation of a historical event – the supposed crucifixion and resurrection of Christ – they were somehow absolved of their sins and thus would not have to answer for them. Yet I believed, even back then, people should be held accountable before God for their actions. I never told my mother what happened. She might have razed the school and maybe even the church.
Two years later, I found myself in an under-funded, dilapidated public middle school, an institution befitting of the low property taxes in its proximity, surrounded by teenagers who were more my peers, mostly poor Blacks and a few poor Whites. My mother withdrew me from the Catholic school because she could no longer afford the expensive tuition and because she was afraid I would “become White.” Back then I lacked the insight as to how one could “become White” and was unsure what that meant. I was sure, though, the strange white substance hanging exposed from the ceiling of the school was asbestos and that neighboring the school were a liquor store and a scrap metal yard. I was sure many of the teachers were not qualified for their positions, and those that were had to deal with sparse resources. I was sure many didn’t care at all: they were paid just to show up and leave.
The altercation with the fourth grader haunted me still, and because of it, I spent many nights wandering the streets of my neighborhood, agonizing over both social and theological issues as best I could. Although I believed in Him and although I was starting to challenge foundational Christian beliefs such as the Trinity and Vicarious Atonement, I also thought He was totally indifferent to our suffering or to the suffering of others. I never entertained the question of whether God existed; my concern was, rather, did God care? I wrestled with the wisdom of God putting my family in the position He did. I thought we denizens of ghettos and trailer parks were God’s bastard children, His “mistakes” in the way parents in our society often refer to their children, the ones He created by accident. Like our own derelict fathers, I figured He just left us to rot in the dirty armpits of America. I began to consider maybe there was something inherent to our nature that warranted our condition; or maybe we were guilty of some unknown transgression against Him that necessitated our status in society as just recompense. He seemed to prefer Whites, wealthy ones at that—they were made in His image after all. Why wouldn’t one want to “become White” in that case? Maybe, I reasoned, some element of their being was more favorable to the Almighty. Maybe He played favorites with His creation, the Whiter the better in His eyes. As such, I found myself wishing I looked more like them: wishing my skin color was just a little lighter, my hair was less coarse and kinky, my butt and legs were not as big. I was coming into tauhīd (belief in the oneness of God) in one sense but not in others.
I encountered my first Muslim a few months before I started college. She was a Black woman in her mid-fifties, a former member of the Nation of Islam in her youth who had embraced Sunni Islam later in life. She in many ways reminded of my mother, religious yet down-to-earth, profane yet wise. In fact, had my mother been Muslim, she would have resembled this woman. She elucidated the basic tenets of Islam, which I was eager to accept. I claim if one is predisposed to believing in God and prophets, the message of Islam will inevitably reverberate at a recognizable frequency; however, that being said, this woman, because of her background, possessed a manner of relaying the message that resonated with me on a personal level. Had someone else been placed in my path, I might not have been as receptive to the message. Allāhu `Alim (God is All-Knowing).
Muslims often do not ask what happened after my conversion. In my experience, this appears to be less concerning to them, seeing as how the question seldom surfaces, which is a sad turn of affairs since that response is I think more beneficial and instructive.
Even after I declared shahadah (the declaration of faith in Islam), it took me many years of thinking, soul searching, reading the Qur’ān, considering the life of the Prophet (s), along with a hefty dose of Malcolm X, to reach conclusions about God that were more in line with Islam. I gave much thought to Allāh and how He relates to the suffering and downtrodden in societies, particularly Blacks in America: certain ideas about Blackness in the American context had to be challenged within my own being; ideas about Whiteness had to be jettisoned; old worldviews needed to be dismantled and new ones assembled. The psycho-spiritual furniture and psychological hardwiring in my mind and in my heart needed to be rearranged. The existential angst all humans experience borne of the paradox of infinite potential and mortal finitude needed to be directed towards a different qibla (direction Muslims face in prayer). It’s taken for granted that conversion is a process, not an event.
Not too much time elapsed following my conversion before I became acquainted with how the Muslim community actually functions in terms of race, color, class, and culture. Growing up in ghettos and trailer parks grants one amazing powers of perception. In addition to seeking God, I suppose I was also longing for a haven in the houses of Allāh against the monumental tribulation of being Black in America, a place of brief reprieve. I figured if anyone could understand us Blacks it would be the Muslims, who not only possessed a sizeable Black contingency, but who also by this point, post 9/11, were just as much the objects of unjust scrutiny as we were. I was, as it turned out, quickly disabused of this naïve notion: I went from Whites calling me “slave” to Arabs calling me ‘abd (literally, Arabic for “slave”, sometimes used in a derogatory manner to refer to Black individuals), I went from getting leery looks from Whites to getting them from South Asians, I went from Whites calling me “nigger” to Turks calling me zenci (Adopted from the Arabic “zanji”, meaning “one from the land of the Blacks”; more colloquially, the term means “nigger”), I went from hearing from Whites say, “You people can’t marry our children,” to hearing this from Africans, and I went from Whites saying, “You’re scary and uncivilized” to hearing this from non-Black Muslims in general. Not even the fanes of God were exempt, churches and mosques alike.
I remember, some time after my initial run-ins with the Muslim community, I visited my grandfather who was then eighty-two years old. He is from rustic regions of southern Alabama and had survived Jim Crow, portions of World War II, the Korean War, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Civil Rights Movement. On a whim, I asked my grandfather what he thought about race and if he thought the issue was ameliorating. Given his life experience, I figured his perspective would be valuable.
He gave me this response: “Nowadays, if someone wants to call you ‘nigger,’ they won’t do it your face. There ain’t no more ‘Whites Only’ drinking fountains and pools, ya see. There ain’t no more ‘Whites Only’ neighborhood. But what they do is they say make it so you can’t get a house or a job or they cheat you. They don’t say ‘You can’t live here!’ no mo’ but they make it hard to get a house! The Klan don’t do the lynchings. The police do it now. Ain’t no mo’ poll taxes but they still don’t want us voting! They call you ‘nigger’ but they hide it better. Don’t let them fool ‘bout what they say ‘bout progress. Things is really just the same as they always was.”
When I had this conservation with him, Trayvon Martin hadn’t been killed yet, nor had Jordan Davis, or Oscar Grant or Renisha McBride or John Crawford or Mike Brown. Richard Sherman, I imagine, was probably still in high school, so he wasn’t yet the brash “thug” he would become. And no one was asking for Barack Obama’s birth certificate or questioning his American citizenship.
At least not yet, anyway. I guess the old adage is true: the more things change, the more they remain the same. There is as much literal and figurative ‘nigger’ calling amongst the Muslims in America today as there is in American society at large. Like my great-grandfather before me, I sought something better. As my mother would say though, six in one hand, half a dozen in the other.
I’m looking for a house
In the world
Where the white shadows
Will not fall.
There is no such house,
No such house
—Langston Hughes, “House in the World”
What a powerful piece, Anthony!
Thank you for sharing these experiences.
It may not be any consolation to you, but in my first experience in trying to get married an African family told me (as a convert of European descent) that I couldn’t marry their daughter either, specifically because of my race.
Oppression is the heaviest sin I can see, after denying the Majestic himself. Hell, is yet heavier than oppression.
“And mankind took the covenant, indeed man is an ignorant oppressor.”
Hit me up Anthony
Salam Alaikum, this is from the last sermon of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) : “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 white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood…” This is Islam.
May Allah protect us from racism and unite our hearts!
This is powerful and deep. You touched on some of the things I used to think about, but I have decided to be at peace with the fact that ALLAH SWT is indeed just and wise, and it won’t be long before this earthly stage is folded up and the truth of the whole matter will be revealed on a day like no other, and that day will indeed be a tough one for the oppressors and the evil doers.
Powerful piece indeed. How are you living your life now, knowing that, unfortunately, the problem of communities, both non-Muslim as well as Muslim, still exist in respect to blacks? I guess I’m just wondering how you are living knowing this reality exists?
May Allah cleanse our hearts of arrogance and attachments to false notions of color.
Thank you for reading my piece.
There are two more forthcoming pieces – insha’Allah – where I answer your question(s) and where I attempt to delve deeper into this topic, far deeper than I think most Muslims are willing to go. As unfortunate as this reality is, it in no way hinders my pursuit of truth, purpose, and dignity whatsoever. As far as I’m concerned, the Prophetic directives concerning both proper comportment and worldview are clear and concise enough to live a dignified existence, regardless of my social standing within or outside the Muslim community. As such, this unsavory aspect of being Black (and Muslim) in America does not hamper me, though I must admit at times it is terribly trying; however, this may not be the case for some people, which was one of the motivation for me writing this piece and the ones to come.
May Allah bless you and your family.
Dear Brother Anthony
Your article was touching. Do these people forget about the great Sahabah Bilal (RA)? Or Wahshi (RA)?
Regarding the situation in the Deep South, much of this hatred amongst Blacks was due to the extremist racist views of the Southern Baptists – they misinterpreted certain verses of the Bible – Genesis 4:11-16 which described the tragic event of Habil (Abel) being murdered by Qabil (Cain). It goes on to describe the Curse of Cain. According to Southern Baptists, they considered the cursing of Cain to be a physical sign and for some strange reason believed it to be associated to darkening the skin. Therefore in some twisted manner, these so-called Christians, believed the darkening of skin was in line with Black people! Astaghfirullah!
Now regarding Muslims who have said the things you have mentioned..I am appalled by their level of stupidity and they should fear Allah! These people have no right to say anything like that! Unfortunately there is some history as to why such appalling attitudes arose within the Ummah.
We all know about the Atlantic Slave Trade – about 30% of African Slaves were Muslims. I think in Birmingham, Alabama, there is a museum which shows that?
There was also the Arab Slave Trade – Despite Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) saying we are all equals in terms of race, culture, gender, class and age, but only through our actions in faith do we gain superiority or inferiority over others in the ‘Eyes of God’, the Arabs developed certain ethnic prejudices sometime after the demise of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) due to at least 2 reasons:
1. Their extensive conquests and slave trades.
2. Influence of Aristotle’s view of Final Cause that slaves are slaves by nature.
Certain Muslim scholars tried to refine Aristotle’s views by regarding the Turkic and African people as slaves, thereby giving, rather cheaply, their justifications for doing so. Their reasons to slave Africans was based on the Geonim – the widely accepted spiritual leaders of the Jewish Community during the Abbasid Caliphate. The Geonim stated that in the Babylonian Talmud, mankind was divided between the 3 sons of Noah (AS) – one of the sons, Ham, was cursed by having black descendants and subsequently turned to degenerates. Such racial biases has no say in Islam, and it such a shame that the Judeo-Christian Beliefs were perverted to such an extent that they went against the Beauty and the Message of what Allah SWT gave to the Mankind.
Due to the Arab Conquests that further went into unchartered territories, mutual assimilation between the Muslims and the Judeo-Chrisitan Cultural & Scriptural Traditions occurred. This explains the Curse of Ham, amongst the Later Arab Muslims, towards the Africans. But the Africans were not the only race to be affected by the Slave System – the Turkic race were also affected by this too, but the Turkic race made the Arabs taste their own medicine when they rose to power to become the Mighty Seljuks, Mamluks and the Ottomans. Just to reiterate neither in the Quran nor in the Hadiths does it indicate racial superiority/inferiority amongst mankind. After all why would Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) allow a black man like Bilal (RA) to be one of his closest companions as well as give him permission to be the prime Adhan Caller AND to top it off have him stand on top of the Kaabah (on the Day of Conquest) to give out the Adhan??? Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) wanted to remove the Social Class Barrier and the Racial Barrier that was common all over the world, during that time and even now!
Allah SWT knew that the slavery system was deeply rooted into the many different cultures since the times of Antiquity. Even the Bible does not mention the abolishment of the Slavery System. In fact the Christians and Jews, even then, were involved in Slavery. This is mentioned in the Old Testament, Genesis 17:13,14. In Exodus 21:20, 21, it states that the master is permitted to torture their slave provided they don’t kill them – if the slave happens to gain consciousness from the torture within 2 days then no punishment for the master!
However, where the Tampered Bible went to lengths of torturing the slaves, the Quran wanted to eradicate the discrimination against slaves and give them rights – although it wasn’t going to be easy as many of the Arabs were involved in the Slavery System and the fact that a big portion of the world economy was made up of the Slavery System. Though that being said we see examples from the Early Muslims wanting to remove the issue of Slavery, for example, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) advised his cousin, Zaynab Bin Jahsh (RA) to marry his former slave Zayd Bin Harithah (RA). Also he (pbuh) and many Sahabahs were known to manumit the slaves, who were under their wing, out of love for Allah and fellow man. This was not a common tradition in other world cultures at the time – even amongst the Arab Pagans. Whilst the Arab Pagans were known to humiliate their slaves, the Muslims treated their slaves as humans, and Allah SWT gave the slaves rights, which is mentioned in the Quran. Islam was the first to recognise the social illnesses that perverted Slavery and was the first to eradicate it through gradual elimination – though did the Judeo-Christians make any attempts into eradicating it?
During the time of Isa (AS), the institution of slavery was rife and prevalent. There has been nothing from amongst the sayings of Christ (AS) in the New Testament which serve to show the treatment that was to be meted out to the slaves. Apart from Ephesians 6:5-9 and Colossians 3:22 (which describes how slaves need to be faithful to their masters just like they should be with their Lord), nothing much is written about slavery – the letters of Paul do not say anything else about slavery. It can be seen that cruel system of slavery that prevailed in the Greco-Roman tradition continued to exist without any change, whatsoever, after its Christianisation. It is of extreme importance that the Romans who boasted of its own tales of a cruel and barbaric form of slavery had Christianity as its official religion.
But lets not forget that it has been recorded that many Muslim Slave Traders did not proselytise Islam to the Africans as it was strongly discouraged to slave a Muslim (unless he reverted during his service to his master). The Slavers would deliberately hold back Islam for such people, so that they could enslave them without feeling guilty!
Interestingly fellow Africans also traded their own people. Different ethnicities and Tribal Affiliations played a strong part in Africa.
Now it should be said that the Abrahamic Faiths were not the only ones who were involved in slavery as the Dharmic religions were also involved in it too. The Hindus practised a discriminatory form of slavery – the Caste System, which still goes on today albeit hidden. Confucianism in the Far East also allowed slavery, and these slaves had no rights due to filial piety.
With the advent of Western Colonialism in the 18th and 19th century, the South Asians and the Africans became the victims of slavery. The South Asians undermined the Africans, and it will be interesting to note that even Mohandas Ghandhi criticised the Africans, which is why, if you notice, you will not see a statue of him in South Africa, where he worked as a lawyer!
So brother Anthony just to make you aware that those brothers who were from South Asia, and spoke to you in such an ignorant manner, they did so out of cultural ignorance, and not due to religious reasons…I am not defending them in anyway as they need reprimanding, but just to be aware.
Like I said in a different article – the 1st generation of Muslims who migrated to the West, arrived with a culture shock, and they did not expect to be surrounded by the many variable cultures. To them everyone was an alien and only their nation and culture made sense. But also do not forget that in the Arab World, especially in Saudia Arabia, we see South Asians living like crap despite being Muslims. Anyways I digress…the 2nd and 3rd generations of Muslims, who are born and bred in the West, are well acquainted with the Western culture, and only they can break these racial and cultural barriers that have poisoned the minds of many Muslims who live in an insular manner.
Thank you for your lengthy reply.
You know, I’m familiar with some of what you wrote in terms of the dreaded and stupid Curse of Ham being in the Talmud (I didn’t know it was in the Babylonian Talmud) and the affect it had on the Arabs in the Abbasid Caliphate. I was not aware of the role of Aristotelian logic, and I would surmise Platonic logic might also factor in with its obsession with Forms. Nevertheless, I know Ibn Khaldun refuted the Curse wholesale in his Al-Muqaddimah. My problem, though, is that this aspect of history is generally NOT taught to Muslims whatsoever. I’ve encountered Muslims who have faith crises when they chance upon some of what you have written in the history books. They literally lose their faith or they almost lose it because Islam and Muslim history is idealized, ESPECIALLY when it comes to racial/tribal issues, as if slavery under the Arabs was something laudable, even relative to the European chattel slavery. There is a conspicuous lack of historical consciousness with modern people in general, Muslims especially.
Indeed, most of the slaves of the Arabs were of Turkish or Slavic origin (hence the term “slave” itself); yet, it is no coincidence, at least to me, that the term “slave” become for many Arabs became synonymous with Black Africans. I’ve yet to hear of an Arab refer to a Turk or an Eastern European as ‘abd and I expect I never will.
Lastly, I’m aware of the appalling treatment South Asians, Filipinos, and Ethiopians receive at the hands of their Arab brethren in humanity. I’m not sure not what this has to do with Arabs, South Asians, Turks, Persians, Africans and Allah knows who else treating Blacks in America treated like crap. If the point is to say, “everyone treats everyone like crap,” then this gets us nowhere. Usually, saying such things only serves to detract us from the actual issue at hand. And as for second and third generation Muslims: I hate to be negative but some of them are just as affected with the same sorts of poisons as the ones who came before them; they are just acculturated to Western norms, much of which has anti-Black elements as it is.
[…] of a Black Convert: Part I | Part II – Eating at the […]
My dear brother in Islam, you have identified the disease but not the cure.
But one much like you has made the same diagnosis and prescription.
You may find this insightful prescription at the following link.
Unfortunately Brother Anthony, there are some brothers and sisters who naively believe that the History of Muslims was always on the positive side and rosy….but history dictates otherwise. Indeed it is hard to hear certain people who called themselves Muslims and followed Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the Quran, committed atrocities that would be deemed questionable even by today’s standards. Although, there were major advances in the sciences and arts, as well as the emergence and recognition of world-reputed Mujahids who defended Islam against foreign and domestic forces; there were also incidents which we need to ask ourselves. The problem is that we have tried to hide our historical flaws and attempted to romanticise that history we know today. Brothers and sisters who have faith crises based on what happened after the death of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) should not assume this is all related to Islam…I mean the Final Revelation was given to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and what happened afterwards was up to us – if we wanted to commit atrocities then so be it, BUT we will be questioned about it if we didn’t stop. Just because we are Muslims doesn’t give us the right to act like jerks or savages towards other nations. We all love the stories of the Great Kurdish Warrior Salahuddin Al-Ayyubi and the Ottoman Warrior Sultan Fateh Mehmed II, but we also shouldn’t forget the stories of those who were involved in the tragic events either, one in particular The Armenian Genocide/Massacre in the late 19th century committed by the Ottoman Turks; we turn a blind eye to these sorts of events – we have to take the truth as it comes be it bitter or sweet. Another good example is the Madness leading up to Caliph Uthman’s (RA) assassination! …if the son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was killed in a cold-blooded style by Muslims, then what else could happen??? These brothers and sisters need to open their eyes and realise that there were Muslims who did good for Islam, and there were some Muslims who did bad for Islam. A modern example of tragic events is ISIS and when Boko Haram kidnapped those 200 girls and forced them to become Muslim…such negative events will go down in history books, and there is no way the General Muslims be able to hide away from these tragic facts.
Regarding what you said about being unsure how “…the Arabs treating South Asians, Filipinos and Ethiopians like crap has something to do with the treatment of African-Americans..” what I meant to say was that there is racial tensions even amongst Muslims of different ethnicities too. Take for example. the Ummayad Dynasty, certain Caliphs treated Non-Arab Muslims as Dhimmis! ..they had to pay the Jizyah despite being Muslims!….it was one of the main reasons why the Ummayad Dynasty fell. Even then there were racial tensions; then there was the Final days of the Ottoman Caliphate – during this time, the Turks were the ones who were acting like big-headed nationalists – they treated the Arabs like crap, which is why the Arabs revolted. So you see everyone did treat each other like crap, and it sad to say but true. This is why the Muslim Ummah is humiliated by the Non-Muslims – because we judge each other wrongfully. We have not learnt what happened to the Children of Israel – how Allah SWT made their enemies who were not even believers, humiliate them and destroy the Temple Mount. Therefore if the Muslim African-Americans are being treated wrongfully by fellow Muslims, then we are only destroying ourselves as an Ummah.
Also I am sorry to hear about your negative experiences even with 2nd and 3rd generation born and bred non-white Western Muslims – they need a kick up the backside if you ask me! lol. They have inherited the cultural aspects of their parents, and they strangely perceive that to be acceptable according to Islamic Standards, which is obviously wrong. But Brother Anthony don’t feel bad but pity these people – inshaAllah they will open their eyes, and if not then they will be asked on the Day for their prejudice towards their fellow Muslim. At end of the day, it all depends on the individual – Just to let you know I personally know of a South Asian Sister who is married to an African and they have a child – both their parents were happy for them…so not all is lost Brother 🙂
I think that to your point br. Adam, we have a tendency as Muslims to be sensitive when it comes to the history of Ottomans, Ummayads, etc because to say anything that insinuates impiety or evil would say Islam is evil. What we have to understand is that Islam came to polish human beings, as a famous scholar (I believe Ibn Taimiyah) eloquently put it. But human beings are human beings. We need to use the Quran as a lens to examine history. I think if we did that, we wouldn’t feel on the defensive when people criticize our faith, or feel like our religion is a house of cards.
As-salaam-u-alaykum Brother Ali
I think we must begin to realise that Islam should not be a reflection of the Muslims, but that the Muslims should be a reflection of Islam.
Therefore any dubious acts which our Ummah has committed in the past, present and soon to be done in the future, should be acknowledged and critiqued. I have said it before that we no longer appraise ourselves – there were many Caliphs who used to appraise their people and themselves e.g. Caliph Umar bin Khattab (RA). I can appreciate we don’t live in a Caliphate system in this day and age, but that doesn’t mean that gives us the excuse to turn on our fellow Muslims and cheat them & treat them like inferiors; nor does it give us the excuse to treat every non-muslim as a scum of the earth. We shouldn’t regress but progress and we have the Islam to help us with that. The beauty about Islam is that it can be applied to times of hardships as well as times of ease for the Muslims.
Just to note appraising doesn’t mean we go around punishing everyone and anyone, because then we create fear, and fear within a society turns to unease and corruption, which in turn, turns to chaos and revolutions – this has been seen from time and time again all over the world. The people who have been affected by this are the civilians – they are the ones who get ‘the rough end of the stick’.
Like you said that Islam came to polish human beings, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) came to this world to improve their characters. As Muslims, we will always expect dirty, cheap, lousy tricks from the Islamophobes – they will always try to nitpick anything about Islam or Muslim History whilst disregarding their own major deficiencies..that is indeed a given – but we as Muslims should be better than that – we need to be smart and not be hasty in achieving short-term gains, but long-term losses.
Indeed the Quran is our template of what to expect from us, but many of us will interpret it for our own gains. And if there are members of the Ummah who are doing that, then they are only wronging themselves, which is why we shouldn’t feel we have to go on the defensive or have a faith crisis because of someone else’s wrongdoings. If Boko Haram for example did wrong by kidnapping those girls, then they are wrong…we should say that, but we must also say it has nothing to do with Islam, and it truly hasn’t! As I said earlier a Muslim doesn’t dictate Islam, but Islam dictates the Muslim. So if they feel they are doing it for Islam, then they clearly need to recheck their Islamic values AND if they did, then they will know kidnapping girls and forcing them to convert is not Islamic! The Beslan Massacre wasn’t Islamic – bunch of Chechen Muslims who went rogue and decided to take kids as hostages, and in the process killing many of them. If Islamophobes say this was due to Islam and the Quran, then they can get lost, because this has nothing to do with Islam – no need to get defensive about it. Keep your head held up high and be firm in knowing when it is right and wrong. In the Quran if it mentions that we must be truthful witnesses even if it be against our own family, then clearly we must realise that also applies to the Ummah too. This also relates to this article that Brother Anthony has experienced.
I just would like to add my thoughts!
In the case of Beslan, and all such similar sad events we must never forget to examine each time the root causes !
Oppressions and injustices and the consequential vicious cycles! Only Allah knows and may he forgives each and everyone of us!
May Allah reward you Bro.
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