Apologies to all those who have tweeted/messaged et al, awaiting a new post.
This will be (Lord willing) educational in some form or other, perhaps different from the usual things I write about.
Yesterday was quite an interesting day. I went to Imam Suhaib AKA The Snapchat Imam’s talk on ‘The Pursuit for Happiness and Love’. As someone who is still relatively new to the whole dawah scene but immersed in the concept of spirituality he seemed to do an excellent job in unfolding the issues of post modernity and Islam today.
Rest assured, I will probably provide a synopsis of his lecture at another point. The reason I brought up his lecture is because of what happened during…
As someone who has spent some 20+ years identifying as a British Muslim, you’d think I’d be apathetic towards the level of discrimination I face.
Funnily enough, no this is not a post about how society views Muslims, and Asians for that matter, under the umbrella typecast ‘terrorist’, ‘jihadist’ or similar. No, rather I want to discuss the open discrimination within the Muslim community itself.
It seemed last night, Twitter was going wild about the racial pecking order within the Ummah (Muslim community). The open discrimination. not just within racial standards but within sects due to such racial standards dominated the voice of Muslim Twitter. Just to hammer in what it is I mean exactly, the following tweets encapsulate everything:
“I have 0 time for Arabs in Karbala my siblings weren’t served in a store cos they’re Asian and the Iraqi shopkeeper would only serve Arabs.”
Whilst another spoke about the disparity in treatment of Black Muslims and Non-Black Muslims stating:
“These lot need to stop acting like they’re in a battlefield coz they’re marrying a black man. Our men are not your charity.”
Evidently, open racism and discrimination has infiltrated numerous spaces and it’s time we call people out on it.
This brings me back to yesterday, where Imam Suhaib (God bless him) asked us all to stand up hug one another and introduce ourselves. The bond of brother/sisterhood is particularly important in Islam, not only as a support mechanism but for Muslims to anchor their faith as is evident:
‘Hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided. Remember the favor of Allah upon you, when you were enemies and he brought your hearts together and you became brothers by his favor.’
What’s ironic is we couldn’t be more divided. I introduced myself, knowing full well the questions and statements to come…
“Omg you’re Asian?!”
“No way, prove it!”
“Omg, I mean I knew that Kashmiris were fair, but you look so European.”
“I don’t understand how can you be Asian?”
“Omg can you speak Urdu? Say something!’
The following things spring to mind:
- Why are you asking me to verify my life? Am I a Twitter account though?
- This scene in Mean Girls:
- When Eminem said “Ya’ll act like you never seen a white person before” in The Real Slim Shady (Which FYI I can rap incredibly well.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sS1mOBMG6QI
- But more importantly, and this is something I have pondered for two decades now: Why do you care? Why are you so invested? and more importantly, How will this benefit your life?
What’s most interesting is as a “White” Muslim, I face less discrimination from the British white population. Possibly because people will call white people out on their blatant racism – So why aren’t we willing to call bigots out within out own community? Moreover, my fake af “white privilege” gets me nowhere because my name is unapologetically of Eastern decent. So either way, I do not benefit. Parred.
For the Muslims reading this – I will never know your pain, at least on a superficial level. I doubt I’ll be stopped and searched, detained under the Terrorism Act 2006, be branded a’terrorist’ or the like, have someone racially abuse me in the streets or similar. Honestly speaking, I feel in some ways the level of discrimination I face in my everyday life is a blessing in some ways. Whilst it is tiresome having to continually justify my heritage over the years (quite frankly, what I deem to be a trivial issue) it has not only reinforced my identity, but more importantly my identity as a Muslim. It seems the Ummah is so fixated in where you’re from, how you dress and what languages you speak etc etc. And then many have the audacity to question how ‘authentically’ Muslim you are. Do me a favour son, know yourself. More importantly – know your religion.
“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. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, do injustice to yourselves.”
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) – Last Sermon
The level of Islamophobia today is unprecedented and is a billion-dollar enterprise in itself. People are making money from turning society into a divisive state – so I ask you, why are you perpetuating more division? How is this, in any way, useful to combating the major issues we face today? Ask yourself the next time you have the urge to ask how someone can be Muslim and not of the same pigmentation, what am I trying to gain from asking such a question? If you are genuinely intrigued, perhaps read a book/go to a history lecture at SOAS/ ask an intelligent question and then move on with your life…
This isn’t just an issue rife within the Muslim community, but one within all communities and it’s time we speak up and call people out on it. It just so happens a large part of the discrimination I have faced has been from Asian Muslims who feel it is acceptable to question my level of faith, ethnicity, family make-up or the like. Unfortunately, my discrimination has predominantly been and likely will remain within the Asian community but I have had enough and I will unashamedly make a stand and so should you.
Why is it ‘One Ummah’ when you’re trying to free Palestine, but you’re unwilling to tear down the barriers and unprecedented discrimination Black Muslims face? How is it that there are Arabs and Asian unwilling to recognise their superiority complex when it comes to this socially-constructed racial pecking order?
As for the women who felt it was appropriate to make such comments: you’re not the first and you probably won’t be the last. Me sitting here and blogging isn’t just for you; it’s for the many that will come after you and those before you, when I was too young, too polite or too willing to sell my identity to be anything but what I am.
Consider educating yourselves in the way you speak to others and about others. I cannot blame you for the colonization of your mind and what can be assumed to be a large part of your primary socialisation and experiences, but I am not here for your ridicule or entertainment. I don’t personally care for or crave your acceptance – mainly because you have no value in my life. I do, however, thank you for being the straw that broke the camel’s back and pushed me into publishing this.
Yes I am British. Yes I am Asian. But more importantly, I am Muslim. I am one of you. I am you.
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