Prejudice in the Muslim community

‘I never considered a non-Arab equal to me,' a sister once remarked. ‘I know it's wrong, but in the place I grew up in, that was how we grew up thinking.' She had grown up in a country considered "Islamic".

Islam is the most anti-racist and anti-prejudicial way of life. Islamic history testifies to the openness Muslims have shown towards people of different cultures and religions. Within their own ranks, sincere and practicing Muslims have always kept their hearts and minds open to their brethren, no matter what their background.

Yet, there is a problem in the Ummah today. Prejudices are not the problems of others. They have become the very sad reality amongst a number of Muslims as well.

This is not just on the level of small minority Muslim communities in non-Muslim lands. It is also a problem in "Islamic" countries as well. Years of nationalism in theory and practice have diminished the powerful universality Muslims cherished in their societies.

First the bad news

Laws and customs

There are a number of countries in the Muslim world, in which racism and prejudice are in full swing and justified by laws or social customs. These seek to exclude and shun on the basis of ethnicity and in some cases, race.

For instance, in certain countries, it is not permissible for children to study at a post-secondary level, even if their parents have been living or working in the country for a number of years. This is usually because of their national origin.

In other countries, discrimination is used to exclude those who are not the original inhabitants of the land from citizenship.

Discrimination extends to the field of employment as well. In some "Islamic" countries, workers of one national origin are paid less than others although they may excel in their skills, education, and experience. It has been noted that a white or black person carrying an American passport gets better pay than a person of Asian origin carrying the same passport.

Written and unwritten laws in some Arab countries prohibit Arab women from marrying a non-Arab.

Attitudes and words

The discrimination is not reserved to laws though. It's not difficult to hear an uncommon racial epithet used among some Muslims, ignorant or negligent of the Quran and Sunnah's condemnation of backbiting, slander and mockery.

Marriage

We know the Prophet married women across ethnic lines, and therefore, in Islam, there is no ethnic bar to marriage. He also made it very clear, in his last Khutba, that superiority in Islam is not based on blackness, whiteness, Arabness or the lack of it.

Contrast this with, for instance, the Hindu caste system, under which inter-caste marriage is prohibited.

Sadly, such Hindu notions still influence a number of ignorant Muslims in South Asia who will not, for instance, marry outside if they are Syed (claim lineage to the Prophet), Shaikh (a business community) or across tribal lines if they come from the "Khans," "Moghuls" or "Jats".

While some Muslims may justify this as simply a measure to ensure compatibility between husband and wife, it is Islamically incorrect to discriminate upright Muslims on this basis.

The Masjid or Islamic center

There have been some isolated cases in which Muslims who have felt so excluded at specific mosques called anti-discrimination hotlines to complain.

Alhamdu lillah, all Masjids are open to all people and no Masjid has racial policies. However, racially divided neighborhoods result in an ethnically dominant Masjid type. Usually, negative attitudes of some and language specific Masjid programs cause miscommunication. This is because some people want to make sure their mother tongue survives in America.

...and the good news

The prayer: a lesson in Muslim unity

Five times a day, every day, Muslims of every cultural and ethnic background stand shoulder to shoulder. There is no issue of who stands where based on their color or ethnicity.

On a larger level, to remember that millions of Muslims, everywhere of all shapes, colors, sizes, countries, etc. all face the same place to pray, five times a day, is incredible. Yet this lesson not just in Muslim unity, but in ethno-national harmony, is usually overlooked.

The mosque: open to all despite problems

Alhamdu lillah, one problem Muslims do not have is membership-exclusive mosques. Any Muslim can pray in any mosque. While those individual Muslims with racism and prejudice in their hearts and minds may not treat them well, they will not exclude them physically from attending or praying in any mosque, anywhere.

A brother from the United Kingdom who converted to Islam once mentioned how on a trip to apartheid-era South Africa, while he found black and white churches, he did not encounter black and non-black mosques. That made him start thinking about this curious phenomenon, and he eventually accepted Islam.

Muslims united in pain

With the latest headlines focused on Chechnya, Muslims in America and abroad have generously donated to help their oppressed brothers and sisters there.

There is a keen understanding amongst many Muslims that when it comes to oppression, it doesn't matter if you're a black Muslim, a white Muslim, a Kosovar Muslim, a Chechen Muslim, a Kashmiri Muslim or a Somali Muslim, you are suffering.

Imams often make Dua for oppressed Muslims they have never met, no matter what their skin color. Muslims pray along in sympathy and support.

Here is another clear example of Muslim unity. All we need to do is now pray and help all human beings who are suffering whether Muslim or not.

Muslim American leaders are diverse

Can you name the top four speakers and leaders amongst Muslims in America today?

If you can, you'll realize that all four are of different racial and linguistic backgrounds. They are invited to Muslim gatherings regularly, no matter what the ethnic background of the audience.

These four leaders are: Imam Siraj Wahhaj, an African American Muslim; Dr. Jamal Badawi, an Egyptian Muslim; Dr. Abdalla Idris Ali, a Sudanese Muslim, and Imam Hamza Yusuf, a Caucasian American Muslim.

This shows that a Muslim leader is respected for his knowledge and commitment to the Deen by most Muslims, not his background.

Marriage: the litmus test

All that said though, the real test of openness to other cultures is marriage. Islam and a growing number of Muslims pass there with flying colors.

As mentioned above, we know the Prophet married women across ethnic lines. Muslims, whether in the Muslim world or in North America, are following his example more often today.

So you'll find an African or Caucasian-American convert married to an Arab, Indo-Pakistani or Malaysian; you'll find an Indian married to a Palestinian; you'll find a Kashmiri married to an Arab-American, and on and on.

There is a keen and growing understanding amongst a number of Muslims, in line with Islam, that what unites hearts and people is Islam, not skin color, ethnicity or territory.

Sincerity, knowledge, forgiveness are the cure

Curing the disease of racism takes time. It also takes humility, sincerity and requires seeking out the right guidance. It means admitting we were or are wrong, sincerely repenting and making a concrete effort to change.

While the planet's approximately 1.2 billion Muslims do have their share of problems with each other, Alhamdu lillah, we still have the tools to eradicate the cancer of racism and prejudice in our midst. Let's begin the process with ourselves, and then help them Ummah do the same.

Photo Attribution: "Arab market-1" by Peter Hagyo-Kovacs - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Arab_market-1.JPG#mediaviewer/File:Arab_market-1.JPG

Comments

Why do Muslim controlled countries have privileges written into the constitution for Muslims , and all other people are second class citizens .
Islam has internal problems as the Shia - Sunni conflicts for centuries has shown . Why do Muslims go to Western countries , when their religion does not allow integration . If they destroy Western societies , where will Muslims go to , to be rich , educated and successful , very definitely not Islamic countries

Location

Singapore

Not say any nationality (empty speech) as much as not commit idolatry. :)See? Cause the remembrance of Allah is all that matters. Subhan'Allahi wa bihamdihi. Astaghfirullah wa atubu ilaihi. This is piety (and puirity) of speech.

This is a verbal and written necessity. You are (or she/he is) Muslim. That's it. In the Muslim community. Where honor's from? no other identity can be an honor. :) Here and esp. Hereafter.

minor sabr is a blessing. backbiters are easier to deal with than murderers. Humility, being aa, or looked at as an inferior or disliked person is also a blessing. Cause of tauhid. The greatest duty and spiritual blessing. That should help save that person from commiting shirk. The most unforgivable sin. See? Hmm. :) grateful or understanding is truer than proud.

:) Think above the mind towards Yawm Al Qiyyammah. In this case, please (never say any nationality but) only speak the neccisities of piety and purity. True honor and peace.

Being safe from shirk as an AA should actually be easier. See? There's no power except Allah's Power. Allahu Akbar. Listen to Al Qur'an Al Kitab. These are the points we need to make. This is complete truthfulness. No empty speech shall they hear therein (Jannah) nor untruth. Peace.

Location

Islam

Hello,

First I want to sincerely apologise at least in words for the hate and discrimination Muslims are subjected to in the west by ignorant people. Most people don't care but the media whips up anti Muslim sentiment by always making a Muslim attack front page news. As if the millions of children who die from lack of preventative medicine each year don't exist. Just evil Muslims exist. This turns people against Islam. This is all westerners hear about Islam. The media doctors and brainwashes them to see Islam as hateful.

I am not a Muslim but I believe in Muhammad and the Quran and defend Islam daily but the bigotry by some is so sad. You are human, we are human. No two people will ever be the same so we have to accept each other's differences. No! We should celebrate our diversity.

What the terrorists have done is turning the west against Islam. These terrorists must hate Islam to do that and in the Quran 2:190 it and other Suras it clearly says only self defense is permitted yet they disobey and unless they are stopped they will turn humanity against itself. What for? God already owns the earth so he doesn't need a proxy army to reclaim it for Him does He?? It's all greed and hate motivated, yet westerners madly quote sura 2:191 BY ITSELF out of context hoping to turn more people against Islam. As a fellow human being I defend your Faith but the terrorist and war in the Middle East with western jets bombing everywhere doesn't help. We all humanity need to come together and pull back these madmen on BOTH sides from dragging us into another world war NONE of us want. If we say and do nothing it's sure to happen as the sun rises.

God bless humanity.

Location

Australia

The way foreigners come to America and shun black American Muslims is disgusting. They look down on us and many won't even return a greeting. It really makes me wonder how people claim to love Allah and His messenger can behavd this way. Not only this, but Muslims all over the world are killing each other, but will not help those brothers being oppressed by the israelis and kafirs. It's shameful how weak we are around the world and the way we treat each other is even worse.

I agree with you 100%. Islam as it is currently manifested will not survive in America.

Location

Big Flays

I am not Muslim and it saddens me that there are people who are prejudiced. I get e mail from a couple of people who are against Muslims and believe everything they read on the Internet as thought it's true. I get very annoyed. Yes, there are bad Muslims. But, there are also bad people of every race and nationality. I wish that people would stop to think that one bad apple doesn't spoil the whole box, so to speak.I have friends who are Muslim and I resent people who try to convince me that they are all bad. I KNOW that isn't true. I have even tried to compare these few people with the bad people of their country and asked them how they felt to be labeled because of a few. But, it was like talking to a brick wall. Certain people just don't WANT to know the truth. It's easier for them to sit there and be ignorant. However, what we all have to try to remember is that the number of these negative idiots is about as small as the number of bad Muslims, thank God. NOBODY should have to put up with people who are ignorant. I wish I knew the answer to stop people from being prejudiced. First it was the Blacks, now it's Muslims. Who's next???? It saddens me that some people have nothing better to do with their lives than live with hatred!!

Location

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

hi, first of all we as human must be aware that violence is forbiden no matter what is the reason we should always be peacfull and support each oher, well islam is a religion those terrorists are killing people in the name of islam in our religion which is islam there is no such a thing we are against violence, no matter what we do we avoid being violent in our language, our daily life and we give a hand of support as our friend here said one apple spoil the whole box there no such bad and good muslim there only one category amuslim and being a muslim means ur a good person becouse "bad muslims" are not real muslims becouse it take us a great efforts tobe muslims we must be good all the time with all people we are not racists nor with each other either with others from other communities we welcme you no matter what is ur backgroun hope those people who are accusing us as terrorist to take alok at islam than they will realize that they accused as

Location

algeria

Yes! So many people just believe everything from the internet, they don't even try to find the actual truth!

in one commenity some good people and some bad it depend upon you however who muslism or not

Location

islamabad

I was on a bus 242 in Hackney last week and the bus driver asked if I had a bomb in the box I carried onboard.My family is NigeriaN, I look Muslim and wear a Kufi and have a full beard on my face without any pretty shaving.My Mum was born Muslim, is now a christian.I am of no strict religious faith having tried it all, even 5% Nation of Islam and Farrakan's Nation of Islam when I was in America.I prefer to look and dress looking like my Mum's side of the family.Does that mean I should be shot on sight the next time London goes code red for terrorist threats?Are all Muslims to be considered bomb carriers?I even sent the following to Insted:My mother was born muslim but is now a christian.I am of no religioous faith but dress/look Islamic. I wear a Kufi and have a full unshaven beard.Due to my look and being African/Black I was asked by a bus driver on bus 242 in Hackney while getting on board with a box of turntables for record playing if I had a bomb in the box.This at the time caught me off guard but now I'm upset Muslims and myself may be targetted as suspected terrorists especially as Russia has now had its own taste of extremism.Can you please advise me on how to deal with this? I have just complained to London Transport today. It's taken me over a week to digest the incident.I also have just watched 'Shoot on sight', a movie based on the innocent man shot in Stockwell.Many thanks for your help and time.Lordy lord!London is going mad and this needs to be addressed, this is harassment being asked stupid questions like "Are you carrying a bomb" and it will do nothing for Islams self esteem in Limey land.

Location

Hackney, London

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