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5 Ways Muslims Must Stand Up to Racism

While it may sound harsh, non-black Muslims have benefited for far too long from anti-black racism, as we tend to come out of it looking like the lesser of two evils to those who discriminate. Non-black Muslims have used anti-black racism to look safer, more ‘normal’ in society today – and this needs to stop. We must realize that their struggle is our struggle, and that any oppression is our oppression as well.

While it may sound harsh, non-black Muslims have benefited for far too long from anti-black racism, as we tend to come out of it looking like the lesser of two evils to those who discriminate. Non-black Muslims have used anti-black racism to look safer, more ‘normal’ in society today – and this needs to stop. We must realize that their struggle is our struggle, and that any oppression is our oppression as well.

While the recent protests, demonstrations, and rightful discussions around the Black Lives Matter movement have spurred communities across the globe into calling for tangible actions towards ending systematic racism, it remains imperative for us all to look deep within our own communities before calling on others to immediately change.

It’s easy to blame white supremacists and the far-right for helping keep the status quo around the horrendous reality of racism in our world today – but it cannot be denied that our very own Muslim community must do better when it comes to combatting racism. We must acknowledge our own priveledges.

While it may sound harsh, non-black Muslims have benefited for far too long from anti-black racism, as we tend to come out of it looking like the lesser of two evils to those who discriminate – this even causes many Muslims to turn on our own Black brothers and sisters as a way to survive the system of white supremacy. Non-black Muslims have used anti-black racism to look safer, more ‘normal’ in society today – and this needs to stop. We must realize that their struggle is our struggle, and that any oppression is our oppression as well.

Racism is deeply embedded in so many Muslim communities around the world – from specifically targetting Black Muslims to the discrimination against people with darker skin, to the erasure and ignorance around the history of slavery, discrimination, and racism – we cannot just hope for miraculous change. We must first address the ongoing, systemic racism that holds back so many of our brothers and sisters today.

Here are just five ways we need to step up as Muslims:

1. We need to educate ourselves and stop being ignorant.

We do not have an excuse anymore when it comes to being uninformed – if you have access to the internet you have access to immeasurable sources on the topic – whether it’s through books, articles, documentaries, or podcasts, we all need to start by educating ourselves and spreading the knowledge.

On Twitter, #BlackMuslimSyllabus is a compilation of resources for everyone to read – while many of us will never truly understand the Black Muslim experience, we must at least learn from Black voices and experiences. Activists like Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan (@thebrownhijabi) have also compiled important resources as well:

2. Know it’s your DUTY to stand up to those around us who continue to think racism is ok – including parents and family members.

As Muslims, we have been given a duty to stand up to injustice and to stand by those who are oppressed. This means we have an obligation to stand up to injustice wherever it may be – even if it is our own parents or family members. Islam teaches us to love, care, and show respect towards our parents – not blindly follow them regardless of un-Islamic racist beliefs.

“O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted.” [Holy Quran, 4:135]

3. Show solidarity in whatever way you can during these protests.

The current Black Lives Matter protests are extremely important – the sheer numbers of those getting involved are proof of the strength in numbers that can hopefully bring about systematic change. In whatever way you can, Muslims must get involved. We must stand on the right side of history.

Showing solidarity doesn’t have to only mean being out in the streets protesting, although that is always important. You can donate to organizations and charities working with the movement, you can offer support and help to those protesting (feeding protesters, getting people water, helping with basic medical care for those attacked by police), or you can even just help spread the message about where and when these protests are happening on social media. Every small sign of solidarity helps fuel the movement.

4. Support Black-owned businesses and initiatives for the long run.

Systematic racism means that in almost all aspects of society, those targetted can not go up the ladder of success at the same ease as others. The struggle Black business owners, Black entrepreneurs, Black-owned start-ups, and so many more go through is much more difficult than any of us who are not Black can ever imagine. We need to be by them to ensure they are not crushed under the system of anti-black racism.

Even if it means something as simple as going to Black-owned restaurants, or buying books by Black authors, or helping spread news about a new Black start-up can be a powerful show of solidarity.

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Want to show solidarity & support to my brothers & sisters in the black community by shouting out some amazing black-owned & halal restaurants! ๐Ÿ˜ โ€ข @chickenkitchenuk: full halal menu here! Make sure you try their delicious dumpling burger filled with chicken, avocado & cheese๐Ÿ” โ€ข @afriknfusion_fulham : West African cuisine & a full halal menu! Really love their beef pastels (pastries) & Bissap drink made from hibiscus flower ๐Ÿฅค โ€ข @juici_jerk : Jerk chicken joint! All food is halal (excluding 1 sauce). I particularly love their coleslaw, plantain and mac & cheese ๐Ÿง€ โ€ข There are definitely so many more that Iโ€™m missing out- there are so many cuisines I havenโ€™t tried, like Somali cuisine! ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ด P.S. I support all halal businesses regardless of ownership, but wanted to shout out some #BlackOwnedRestaurants to support the community in any way I can ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿฟ

A post shared by HALAL FOOD LONDON (@halalfoodlondon) on

5. Get sheikhs and community leaders involved in the struggle – if they aren’t getting involved, then its time to find another leader.

While this may seem harsh, we must hold accountable those who have roles of leadership and responsibility in the Muslim community. If they are not speaking out on this issue, or are refusing to do so, we must hold them to account and not accept this. Get the community involved, but even if it is just yourself, implore those in leadership roles in the mosque and community centers to speak out on this issue or hold lectures on the topic of racism. If they refuse to do so or ignore the seriousness of this topic, it might be time to change your mosque attendance to somewhere else or go public with their inactivity. Remember, we have a duty to stand up to injustice and side with those who are oppressed – even if it means shaking up our own institutions.

“O you who believe, be upright for God, and be bearers of witness with justice…” [Holy Quran, 5:8]

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