By Ayse Ulukaya
All Muslims will agree that racism is wrong. Thinking of the way we treat our dear Muslim brothers and sisters, and the way we stereotype, can we truly make that statement? We can all easily say “Racism is not tolerated in Islam” but we don’t really abide by it. We might not see anything wrong with referring to people as “black”, “white” or “brown”. It is the color of their skin after all, right? But it’s not about what is being said, it is about the perception. You may have just hurt the feelings of a brother or a sister. In Surah al-Hujraat verse 13, Allah says, O mankind, we have created you from a male and a female; And we have made you tribes and sub-tribes that you may know one another. When Allah (SWT) refers to humans, does He not say ya ayyuhan nas Oh mankind? Allah does not say “oh you Arabs” or “oh you Ajam.” When we associate certain positive and negative traits and characteristics to certain ethnic groups, aren’t we accusing Allah of being unjust? We were all created from the same dirt by the will of Allah (SWT).We were brought out by Allah SWT as an Ummah to benefit people. The ayah indicates that the purpose for the creation of nations is so that we may get to know each other. We are good with getting to know those from our own tribe and nation, so much that we do not let our children marry someone from another tribe. We all are leading a very different lifestyle than the Sahabas we name our children after. One of the biggest differences is that as an Ummah, we lack the respect and sincerity that the Sahaba had for others.
As Muslims, we constantly wonder why our Muslim community does not receive any respect. When we don’t respect those who are not Muslim, we cannot complain about the way we are stereotyped. The best form of dawah is being the best Muslims we can be. Most of us are familiar with the phrase “A picture is worth a thousand words.” As Muslims, through our actions we must paint the best picture we can to invite those who have yet to meet the real beauty of Islam. Giving dawah is an important step but so is helping the converts stay Muslims. Studies show that 2/3 of the converts do not stay Muslim due to the community and their families. As born Muslims, we often don’t understand how privileged we are to have a Muslim family or a family that is familiar with Islam at the least, Alhamdulillah. What we fail to recognize is that when a person converts, most of the time, they do so by leaving their families behind.We need to become their family. For some reason, it becomes harder for us to accept those converts who have tattoos. Some of us get offended by it. What we need to keep in mind is that when a person converts, Allah blesses them with the gift of being reborn into this world SubhanAllah. Allah gives them a chance to start new. Therefore, we cannot hold them accountable for their past. Allah brings the converts into to the Ummah by removing them from sin, but we end up pushing them away from hidayah.
Another issue that the converts have, is getting married. We have a hard time letting our children get married to somebody with minor cultural differences as it is. When it comes to converts, we seem to have even more trouble. If they can embrace our religion at the cost of their families, we should be able to put our best efforts in to embrace them as well. One point to remember is that not every one of the Prophet’s companions accepted Islam because of tawheed. We tend to push away those who agree to become Muslims for the sake of marriage. There are great number of Sahabi who became Muslim to marry Muslim women. When Umm Sulaym’s husband asked for her hand in marriage, she refused because he was not Muslim. When he asked what he needed to do, she replied saying that her mahr is Islam and if he wanted to marry her, his mahr is deen. This was known as one of the best mahr given among the companions (the gift given from the groom to the bride at the time of marriage).
Ask yourselves, if a man who is not from the same tribe, same country, same color etc. came to your door and asked to marry you or your daughters, would you say no based on race? Language? Ancestors? If yes, perhaps we should all look over our tawheed. Living in a non-Muslim nation, we do not have a lot to pick from. It is unfair that most parents trust their children to face the reality of this duniya to go to college and to get a job but do not trust their judgment or even consider their opinion when it comes to choosing the man or the woman they are supposed to spend their lives with. Prophet Muhammad SAW said “If someone comes to you whose religion and character pleases you, then marry him.” (al-tirmidhi 1084). If you find a person of La Ilaha Illallah that is holding onto their character, deen, chastity and you believe they will make good husbands or mothers, there is no legitimate reason to say no. The only marriage process mentioned in the Qur’an is of Musa A.S. marrying one of the daughters of an old man, which was an intercultural marriage. Cultural differences are only a barrier if we make it one. Keeping in mind that we are Muslims before we are Indian, Arab, Pakistani, Turkish, African etc., we need to learn to be accepting of others in order to get to know each other as stated in the ayah.
To understand someone else, we need to humanize them and see them as a decent person. Instead of forming tribes based on ethnicity and language, we need to form a tribe of hidayah. We have become infatuated with judging people and pushing them away.We were all created equal; no one race is superior to the other and Allah reminds us of that when we stand in rows, shoulder to shoulder and pray to Allah. Allah has a beautiful way of bringing us all together. A simple salaam can make a difference. We need to remember that there is barakat in brotherhood and communication is the key. Allah is Al Wahaab, Al- Mu’ti, the Giver of Gifts. All of our physical characteristics were a gift from Allah. How can we dislike and disregard a gift given by Allah? Allah is not unjust to his slaves; we are unjust to one another.
May Allah forgive the sins we have committed whether knowingly or unknowingly. May Allah strengthen our tawheed so that we may become color blind to race. May Allah SWT unite our hearts and make us love the truth more than we love falsehood.
Picture Reference: http://khadijahrising.com/united-ummah-the-story-of-the-bull/