Threads Political Perspectives:
Community Activism: Muslims Don’t Take Enough Action
words | kauser adenwala
The following piece is a personal reflection meant to facilitate discussion on critical issues that most Muslim communities across the West often do not ponder upon. The intention in mind is to prompt Muslim dialogue on social activism in order for us to view it as a necessary and imperative Islamic and civic obligation.
Philando Castile. Charleena Lyles. Sandra Bland. Michael Brown. Eric Garner. Stephon Clark. Alton Sterling.
Each name represents black individuals who were killed by racist institutions that solely aim to disparage and slander black people. When our black brothers and sisters fall victim to this heinous injustice, Black Lives Matter activists are the ones that speak up. Yet most Muslims who are also marginalized in the West often do not choose to become activists in this movement ─ or any other that does not affect them, for that matter.
The passiveness of Muslims is not only evident in fighting for our black brothers and sisters, but in politics as well. Only recently have Muslims started to speak up, realizing that our community is under attack. This is because our community is not unified ─ it’s divided by agencies of colorism, which is palpable in mosques that cater to specific ethnicities. In South Asian and Middle Eastern cultures, fair skin is traditionally deemed as “beautiful” and this trickles down to erroneously marginalizing and ostracizing black people in mosques through racism and colorism -- two ideologies Islam despises. The Holy Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Verily, Allah does not look at your figures, nor at your attire, but He looks at your hearts.” [Muslim]
Racism and colorism undoubtedly stem from obscenity present in society and emanate from ruthless leaders and colonization, not from Islam. We have witnessed this firsthand with the Travel Ban imposed by Trump in 2017 against Muslim-majority countries (six, to be precise), where a new-found sense of advocacy and activism was aroused; similarly, 9/11 brought about Muslims who proudly wore the hijab (the Muslim veil or headscarf; the Arabic word “hijab” means “to cover”) and represented Islam. While these forms and practices of activism are absolutely necessary and critical in a strained climate, they only pertain to one group: Muslims. Activism in Islam entails fighting for all of our brothers and sisters ─ regardless of their ethnicity or faith. Islam entails fighting for labor unions and those who clean our bathrooms on a paycheck that cannot allow them to afford insurance or basic health coverage. Islam entails fighting for the Dreamers who fear deportation every single day. Islam entails fighting for the Palestinians who are fighting for their land and their lives.
There should not be any “apolitical” Muslims. Recently, apoliticalism arose when most Muslims spoke out for justice for Stephon Clark, but only after finding out he was a Muslim. Muslim activists did not become revolutionary by remaining passive or uninvolved ─ they spoke out against the injustice of all minorities and represented Islam in the best, most comprehensive nature they could in the most utilitarian manner possible. Hence, if we, as students of higher educational institutions in the West, can unite to collectively take action and continue to fight for causes that most give up on from the get-go, perhaps one day, our community can help prevent the maltreatment and injustice of all marginalized communities.
In Sha Allah - if Allah wills.
photos | sania elahi