Over the past few weeks, the world has started to turn around and face the hideous truth of the racism that still exists today. For hundreds of years, Black people have been facing racism from all groups of people, especially the white majority. This racism has been rooted so far into our society that it has been the foundation of the systems we live according to. In light of recent weeks, people are educating themselves on these injustices and about what needs to be done on a global and individual scale. We are standing with our Black brothers and sisters, saying their names, signing petitions, donating in support, having those difficult conversations, and educating ourselves and others. 

The first step to creating change is to acknowledge that our actions don’t fit with our values, and then to take accountability for those actions. Within the Muslim community, racism against Black Muslims is very much a reality that continues to exist. However, this goes against the words of Allah (God) and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). 

The very thought and action of putting oneself above another due to our race is in fact the mentality of the Shayatin (the devil). In my daily Tuesday Love Letters by Aida Azlin, Aida writes, “Sheikh Mikaeel Smith said the very first act of ‘racism’ is when Shayatin refused to bow to Prophet Adam (AS) because he thought he is better, more superior than Prophet Adam (AS).” Growing up in a Muslim household, I’ve heard the story of how Iblis (Lucifer) became a devil. But, hearing this very line gives me a completely new perspective of the narrative. I never did connect racism to this story, but looking at it now, it is a perfect example of how racism works. Allah has taught us from the very beginning that this idea of one being greater than another due to their differences is a backwards way of thinking. 

In fact, it is a known fact that the Holy Quran is structured and put together in a sequence with divine wisdom of our Lord. Three verses from Surah Ar-Rum (The Romans) really highlight the perfection of the flow in the Quran, and stress that we should love diversity and not be against it: 

“One of His signs is that He created you from dust, then—behold!—you are human beings spreading over the earth. One of His signs is that He created for you spouses from among yourselves so that you may find comfort in them. And He has placed between you compassion and mercy. Surely in this are signs for people who reflect. And one of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the diversity of your languages and colours. Surely in this are signs for those of sound knowledge” (30:20-22). 

The first verse highlights that all human beings are created from dust. This is built upon in the second verse, which says we are made a soulmate, whose relationship will hold love. In the third verse, Allah explains that humans are created with diversity of languages and colours. This verse celebrates and beautifies the diversity we have and the colours we are made in. It does not tell us to segregate ourselves and divide ourselves, but rather to come together with love as a human race. 

Today, many young Muslims who are seeking to get married come to face an issue when they look for a spouse outside of their ethnicity. When a son or daughter brings home a Black Muslim to their families, there is this embedded fear of rejection. It is encouraged in many Muslim families to find someone of the same colour and background, and often discouraged to seek anyone outside of this criteria. That mentality demonstrates the racism within our Muslim communities. Where being friends with a Black person is allowed, yet marrying them is a crime. Being a part of the next generation of parents, we need to acknowledge that this is racism, and we must dismantle this backwards ideology within our own households. 

In times like this, where the world is demanding change, we seek Allah’s guidance to justice, for He is the most Just. When we want to seek advice, we turn to the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Something I find so powerful and comforting is reading about the prophets of Islam, especially one particular Black prophet. This prophet is mentioned the most of all the prophets by Allah in the Quran. This prophet is the one whom Allah spoke directly to. This prophet is Musa (AS). He was described by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to be a resemblance of the people of Zut or Shan’uah, who were dark-skinned tribes. We are shown how being dark-skinned is just a pigment, and that some of the greatest people to have walked this earth are amongst those people. To belittle and devalue anyone darker than us is surely an act of someone who is ignorant. 

This ignorance still exists today, sometimes within ourselves. However, we are also taught in Islam that we can turn around from our ignorance and learn from it. We see this with the Sahaba (companion) of Rasulullah (messenger of God, Muhammad). The Sahaba were merely humans who made mistakes, yet it was the way they acknowledged and then dealt with those mistakes that makes them so special. Their ability to ponder and learn from their mistakes is what makes them the role models that Muslims all across the world look up to. A man by the name of Abu Dharr, an Arab Sahaba, called Bilal (RA), a black Sahaba, “son of a Black woman,” out of anger. This was not taken lightly by the Prophet (peace be upon him), as when he heard about this from an rightfully upset Bilal (RA), he was furious and told Abu Dharr that he still held ignorance in his heart. Abu Dharr did not try to defend himself or argue that he didn’t mean it, but rather, he acknowledged the severity of his actions and sought forgiveness for his actions. He searched for Bilal (RA) and publicly got on the floor, telling him to step on his head. Bilal (RA) simply knelt and kissed his head, forgiving Abu Dharr. This story clearly teaches us multiple things. First, racist comments and acts are signs of an ignorant heart and not a pure one. Second, holding yourself accountable when you are in the wrong, then seeking forgiveness from the one you wronged is how we are taught to deal with our mistakes. This teaching highlights the key things people are protesting for. Black people want others to truly acknowledge their ignorance, to apologize for it, and to further seek justice by dismantling the deeply rooted racism we see today. 

As Muslims, we are required to stand against injustice. So don’t hide now, stand with our Black brothers and sisters. In Surah An-Nisa (Women) Allah says, “O believers! Stand firm for justice as witnesses for God even if it is against yourselves, your parents, or close relatives” (4:135). Allah clearly commands us to stand up for justice regardless of who is against it. He also says in Surah Al-Maidah (The Spread Table), “O believers! Stand firm for God and bear true testimony. Do not let the hatred of a people lead you to injustice. Be just! That is closer to righteousness” (5:8). These verses show that by being silent and not standing up against injustice, we are certainly not abiding by Allah’s commands. Taking this into account, make it a point to learn more and be at the forefront of this movement. Be someone who confidently stands against racism, both on a global and individual level. We must remove the racism within our families to remove it from our governments.

There have been too many Black lives lost at the hands of racism, at the hands of ignorant hearts. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Dr. Jameela Yasmeen Arshad, Shukri Abdi, and many, MANY more beautiful lives have been murdered all because of the colour of their skin. Many Black people have been imprisoned for longer sentences compared to white people who have an identical file, with the only difference being their colour. This is injustice. This is what Martin Luther King Jr. fought against, what Malcolm X, a Black Muslim, fought against and what Muhammad Ali fought against in the mid-1950s through the 1960s. This is the same exact injustice we too should be fighting against today. 

We hold great power being youths of today. We hold the key to ensure change for a better future through our actions, by continuously asking questions, educating ourselves and others, attending protests, donating to organizations supporting the movement and Black businesses, signing petitions, and demanding to be heard. Below are many resources that are accessible with just a tap, so learn and stand with all Black lives.

Resources to Educate Yourself and Others: 

  • Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man – A series created by Emmanuel Acho, a Black man, who invites white people to have an uncomfortable conversation with him about racism and what needs to be done. 
  • Black Lives Around the Messenger – Seven Free online classes about the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) Black companions taught by Shaykh Adeyinka Muhammad Mendes. Alongside, there will be four guest teachers joining as well.
  • 40 Hadiths on Social justice: Chapter 32 – A lecture done by Imam Omar Suleiman where he “describes how the Prophet (peace be upon him) dealt with structural racism and tribalism at every level.” There is also a PDF of the notes from this lecture. 
  • Anti-Racism Work – A talk given by Margari Aziza Hill, who explains what anti-racism is and the importance of it within Islam. 
  • Racing Against Racism – “A seven part video series aimed at combating racial injustice.” 

Resources to Support the Black Lives Movement