Black Muslims in America have to deal with two struggles: anti-Islam rhetoric and anti-blackness. Inside and outside of the mosque, or masjid, there is racism that shouldn’t be ignored. If you tell a Muslim who isn’t black that there is racism among the ummah, sometimes the response will be “That’s not true! There is no color in Islam!” Colorblindness is never a good thing. There are dangers in a colorblind society. If you claim that you can’t “see color”, you are choosing to ignore racial injustices that people face. You ignore people’s identities and conform them to say that who they are is wrong. Just because Islam is diverse, doesn’t mean you should deny my blackness, or the issues we face while being black. Black Americans in particular have had to deal with white supremacy for centuries. It has not yet disappeared.
Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon him) had to teach the Arab people of his day to not discriminate against the black people who followed him. Sadly, that anti-blackness still lingers in many Muslim communities. You would see sometimes during Jummah, all of the black people all together in a corner, segregated from the rest. You would see disrespectful glares of non-black Muslims towards us, and even hear the repetition of racist speech in Arabic. This is not Islam. But this is an unspoken reality. Actually, its spoken of, but always talked over by the loud recitation of Quranic verses and hadiths discussing diversity. If you can’t identify or listen to Black Muslims, or dismantle any racist behaviors, then your quotes on diversity mean nothing.
One of the reasons why “traditional” or Orthodox Muslims don’t like the Nation of Islam is because of the teachings to empower mainly black people to bring us back from a “dead” state. Black power was manifested in our own grocery stores, newspapers, businesses, schools, etc from the Nation of Islam, who had a very big hand in establishing Islam in America. This has gotten criticism for many years as “un-Islamic.” But understand what black people have gone through and still go through daily in an unholy society. Understand the need for self-love in a community with likened conditions as the Arabs in jahiliyyah, during Prophet Muhammad’s time. No one else would willingly teach black people Islam at first.
There are those Orthodox Muslims who claim our great brother Malcolm X, or Malik El Shabazz, yet didn’t care for him until AFTER he got taught by The Honorable Elijah Muhammad. The Nation of Islam cleaned him up. We did that. He learned “As Salaam Alaikum” and all of his prayers from the Nation of Islam, not Orthodox Muslims. No one else taught us until after the fact, and even still, there was discrimination.
With all due respect, there are some so called “Muslims” who sell the forbidden swine in black communities. There are some so called “Muslims” who mistreat black women, and disrespect black people in general. It happens more often than we think, not even limited to American borders, but the issue is always pushed to the back of our minds. There are a lot of black Muslims who have to find an all-black mosque to pray in, because they haven’t been treated as they should in other mosques. It’s a horrible thing when people who claim to follow Prophet Muhammad hate the same people who look just like Bilal.
There is definitely racism in the mosque. You can’t sweep it under the rug and pretend blackness doesn’t exist to make the issue go away. Islam and religion in general needs to be cleansed so that it can be as pure as it’s supposed to be.
(Nzinga Muhammad is based in Rochester, NY. Follow her on Twitter @QueenNzinga13)