By: Sr. Magda Saleh
With all the incidents of police shooting unarmed black youth and the tense debates and demonstrations that have ensued, we must remind ourselves of Islam's stance on racial equality and justice.
In Surat-il-Hujuraat, Ayah 13, Allah SWT tells us:
"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."
There is no differentiation in Islam from one race to another, no race is superior to another; the only thing that elevates any of us in the eyes of Allah is our degree of righteousness. And, since no one but Allah can know our degree of righteousness, we must view each other as equals and treat everyone with the respect and dignity with which we expect to be treated. The Prophet Muhammad SAWS said, as is narrated in Hadith #13 of the 40 Hadith Nawawy: "None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself."
We all know that our beloved Prophet Muhammad SAWS chose Bilal ibn Rabah, a black slave from Ethiopia, for the esteemed position of mu'ath-thin in Madinah.
We must also remind ourselves that it is not enough for us to treat others equally and to be just. We must remind ourselves that we are commanded to stand up against the unjust actions of others. As narrated in Hadith #34 from the 40 Hadith Nawawi, Prophet Muhammad SAWS said: "Whosoever sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart - and that is the weakest of faith."
Racism, Fear & Violence
Commentary by Local Youth
In a discussion of the shootings of black youth by white police officers, Shamaa Siddiqui stated very adamantly: "Racism is awful. It is awful to hate others because of their diversities."
Maniha Khan responded that she had heard an NPR journalist interviewing a white police officer to ask him where he stood on this issue. He responded, "We are not racist; we are afraid of black men."
When the girls were asked to elaborate on what they thought the difference was: Hate vs Fear, Shamaa explained that, in her mind, racism was a conscious thought process, whereas fear was an instinct.
A discussion then ensued into what causes fear, and it was agreed-upon that ignorance leads to assumptions which can then lead to fear. This fear then leads to uncertainty and anger which can lead to violence.