“Once, Abu Dharr al Ghifari and Bilal ibn Rabah, two sahaba of the Prophet (pbuh), had a dispute a disagreement among each other. Now what happened was that Abu Dharr, in a state of anger and rage, reproached Bilal about his mother, saying “O son of a black woman!”. At this statement Bilal was deeply hurt and he went to none other that the Prophet to complaint.
The Prophet became angry and then Abu Dharr came, although he was unaware of what Bilal told him. The Prophet turned away from him and Abu Dharr asked, “O Messenger of Allah, have you turned away because of something you have been told?” The Prophet said, “Have you reproached Bilal about his mother? You have still traits of jahiliyyah in you”…
Jahiliyyah is the pre-islamic times of ignorance, when people where ignorant, without any moral character or any kindness and generosity expressed, times when people used to oppress each other because of their tribes and skin colors. But when Qur’an came down, everything started to change, slowly but surely.
Now, we have to know that Abu Dharr was one of the first persons to become a Muslim, therefore, he wasn’t new to its code of conduct and he had a great moral and social character. He didn’t have any sort of superior thinking for himself or any inferiority regarding black people in general but still the Prophet told him that he had in him traits of ignorance.
Coming to our days. We muslims. We all know that we are equal, we are all children of Adam and Eve and we know all about the anti-racism talks, but at the same time, the same people tend to utter such words, that may not seem as outright racism, but are hurtful in their meaning. Some of us have this installment of superiority for our own race or culture or the fact that I’m white and you’re black or viceversa, that we forget or rather neglect the equality and brotherhood required in our Deen.
Like when a brother who might be of a different nationality feels unwelcomed in a mosque, mostly engaged by people of a certain race. There are so many cases where we see our own Muslim brother and sisters, who may have embraced Islam after a long period of time than us. In a time where they’ve come out from darkness into light and need our support and encouragement and what do we do? We isolate them labelling them as convert? For God’s sake, first and foremost they are Muslims…Abu Bakr, Omar, Uthman R.A…all of them were converts, so what? They were the best people to put foot in this earth…Omar R.A. was one who used to drink and do all sorts of things, he even went to kill the Prophet, but when Islam touched him, he became the leader, one of the most prominent man in this world.
We have parents who may have friends coming from different parts of the world, but when it comes to their daughter-in-law or son-in-law, they won’t accept someone from another nationality, who may speak another language or another skin color. I hear all the time people calling “white people” and associating them as non-Muslims and it’s sick! I’m sorry, but we need to know that there are over two billion Muslims, of which many are white, brown, black…does it even matter? One of the greatest Prophets mentioned in the Qur’an were black, like Musa a.s. and Sulayman a.s. and many more, but the Qur’an doesn’t mention it…Why?? Because it just doesn’t matter!
Our problem is that we are so judgemental. We look first and foremost at a person’s appearance before even getting to know them. We have this mindset towards a certain race or a certain skin color. This stereotype that somehow justifies our ignorant thinking and so-called-jokes as non-racist? It’s painful that we even need to remind ourselves that Islam comes in all colors and ethnicities. You don’t get to choose who’s how much Muslim, who’s labelled for what and who you should regard as “pure” Muslim. I mean is there even such a thing as pure Muslim? Where do you get that from?
This issue needs to be raised now so more than ever that the Ummah is facing so much trouble and oppression all over the world. And if we have our minds rooted in this sick mentality, just tell me how are we able to hold tight on the rope of Allah together and help each other out as He has commanded?
Allah said: “O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.”
He made different tribes and people so that we can know each other, we can appreciate, accept and embrace each others’ differences. On the Day of Judgement, Allah will not look at your face, is it black or white, nor at your body, but at your heart.
Guard you heart from such ignorance and mentality.
We are afraid to call ourselves racist…because Muslims cannot be racist and it’s true. Islam came to remove any kind of pride or superiority. This religion is perfect. But we are imperfect and we will never be perfect, but we should always strive to be better Muslims and instead of lying to ourselves and caressing that seal embedded in our hearts, we should try to change our attitudes and be humble before Allah.
Allah says: “Among His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your languages and your colors. Verily, in that are signs for people of knowledge”
Arabs, Americans, Asian, British. Black, brown, white, red. Chinese, Indian, Somalian or Spanish. Every race, every color, every language is an Ayah, a sign, a miracle from Allah s.w.t.
Let’s look at the very pillars of our Deen:
Hajj: the pilgrimage, the congregation and circulation of the Ka’aba that can only be performed together, along our brother and sisters.
Zakat: we give charity to the needy, regardless of their race, color or language.
Sawm: we fast in this month together, pray together and celebrate Eid together.
Sala’at: we pray together in jamaat, shoulder to shoulder, white, black, asian, american, employer and boss, governor and citizen, without any discrimination.
Tawheed: the sealed contract that is the very essence that welcomes us in this togetherness.
“…So, Abu Dharr went away weeping, deeply hurt himself, to Bilal and he puts his cheek on the earth and said: “I want you to step on my cheek”, and Bilal, the man with an excellent character, asked him to get up and instead, he kissed his cheek and hugged him and they both cried together.”
This is the sweetness, the beauty of our faith. We pray together, we sit together, we eat together and we are in this journey towards Allah together. Do not let these differences prevent you from reaching out to your fellow companions. Appreciate the difference.