Be Unapologetically Muslim: Dealing with Islamophobia & Racism

(Listen to the full speech here)

"I always hear people say Islam is a religion of peace. But I always tell people what's more important to me about Islam is that it's a religion of justice. If we don't talk about and don't show that Islam is a religion of justice, it's hard for us to talk about Islam being a religion of peace." — Linda Sarsour 

There is an intense climate of fear surrounding Islam and Muslims that began on 9/11 and it has gradually increased since then. Unfortunately, often times this is due to the acts of people who claim to be committing violence in the name of God and Islam. As a Muslim, I cannot think of anything more blasphemous than to selfishly take the lives of innocent people, Muslim and non-Muslim, in the name of God. How will this create peace in our communities? As a human being, I am sickened by these heartless acts. Overall, I am disturbed by the lack of the use of intellect amongst people who apparently share my faith and those who discriminate against Muslims without considering the complexity of the politics of violence and terrorism. Professor Hamid Dabashi says in his latest Al Jazeera article 'Trump is a Symptom not the Disease', "Today, Muslims around the world face not one but two dangerous fronts: One internal, the other external."

This is why I truly appreciate Linda Sarsour's keynote speech at the 2015 UMMA Benefit Gala on upholding justice and dignity and serving others while being unapologetically Muslim. If I could add to it, I would say:

Yes, we should serve others regardless of their faith but if we, as Muslims, aren't willing to take care of our communities and uphold the rights of our brothers and sisters don't expect others to do the same for us. If you have any consciousness within you, I implore you to reflect on yourself. Being unapologetically Muslim doesn't only mean a resistance towards practicing Islam in a way that appeases non-Muslims but to also practice Islam in a way that pleases Allah and to uphold justice among non-Muslims and also Muslims, regardless of the differences in terms of our skin colour, social status, school of thought, and nuances in our practices.

via The Alchemy of Happiness, a commentary by Hamza Yusuf
There is no doubt that Muslims are being tested collectively right now but we have all the more reason to step up and strengthen our position, earn our recognition and assert our influence. Be strong enough to start giving and doing from our hearts (if you need ideas on how you can do this, listen to Sarsour's inspiring speech). If not for the sake of our love for God and His creations, then for the sake of purifying our own hearts because there will surely come a day when "wealth and children will not benefit anyone except he who comes to God with a sound heart" (26:8 88 - 89). Yes, be unapologetically Muslim, but remember why you are doing it and Who you are doing it for. There is injustice in our communities (and in our homes!), some we have no control over and some we do, but until we start to practice and uphold justice ourselves, we will never find it. Be conscious of your privileges or the contradictions in your actions and beliefs. Don't be afraid to question yourself. Try not to be so defensive or take criticisms personally; be open to discussions and disagreements because without criticism (and sometimes condemnation) there can be no growth. Even though I'm not an American Muslim, I found this discussion on The Stream regarding faith and race in America pertinent to my growth as a person, a Malay and a Muslim, because it made me reflect on my behaviour and beliefs on prejudice, racism and sexism.

Be unapologetically Muslim. That is the most empowering thing we can do right now. These words by Ibn Arabi (رحمه الله) from the book 'Divine Governance of the Human Kingdom' (translated by Shaykh Tosun Bayrak) gave me strength and comfort when I needed them most and I believe they are, and will always be, relevant:

Help and serve, as much as you can, the people who hide their misery, who are content with their poverty, the travellers on the path to truth. Do not attribute to yourself virtue, goodness, and graciousness because of your service to the creation. Consider that you owe other people thanks for having humbly accepted your help. It is incumbent upon you to lighten the load of those who are burdened. If people whose pain you have helped to alleviate cause you pain in return - if their responses, their ways, their habits are dark and cast shadows upon you - show patience and forbearance. Do not forget that Allah says:

"... surely Allah is with the patient." (2:153)


Nasra said…
MashaAllah,it is making my wheels turn and think. Thank you.