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Black Lives Matter: Racism, Social Activism, Justice | A Reader

SeekersGuidance is always committed to provide clarity, answers, and guidance, especially when new issues emerge.

We feel that in these times it is important for us to listen to our black leaders. In this reader we are featuring the voices of some of our most impactful black Muslim leaders, including Imam Zaid Shakir, Dr. Sherman Jackson, Imam Siraj Wahhaj, Imam Dawud Walid, Shaykha Zaynab Ansari, and others.

May Allah make us of those who stand up for justice, truth and equity with principles. In the spirit of the Quran:

People, We created you all from a single man and a single woman, and made you into races and tribes so that you should recognize one another. In God’s eyes, the most honoured of you are the ones most mindful of Him: God is all knowing, all aware. (49:13)

You who believe, uphold justice and bear witness to God, even if it is against yourselves, your parents, or your close relatives. Whether the person is rich or poor, God can best take care of both. Refrain from following your own desire, so that you can act justly- if you distort or neglect justice, God is fully aware of what you do. (4:135)

Articles

Blackness, Racism And How The Arabic Language Rises Above It All

  • When “Black” is good. An insight to what “blackness” truly means in the Arabic language

Black Lives Matter: If You’re Right With God, You’re Right – Imam Zaid Shakir

  • Imam Zaid Shakir has led funeral prayers (janazas) due to blue-on-black crime and black-on-black crime. In this video he touches on the history of the black struggle and sheds some spiritual light on the issue. Allah tells us our lives matter, we don’t need a movement.

Race To The Top – Imam Zaid Shakir – New Islamic Direction

  • It’s okay to get involved. Racism existed, and still does. Let us talk about it.

Spiritual Activism and the Tradition of Salawat in West Africa

  • Imam Dawud Walid discusses the inspiring story of a west African scholar, Shaykh Ahmadu Bamba

 

On Demand Courses

Social Justice In The Islamic Tradition: How to Approach Justice and Uphold Truth with Wisdom and Principle

  • Islam is a truly complete religion; a way of life. Does it lay down foundations for social justice? Of course!

Islam in Blackamerica

  • BayanOnline, an online Islamic seminary, is offering this insightful course for only three easy payments of free, yes, FREE.  Check out this beneficial course with Dr. Sherman Jackson.

 

Answers

How Do I Deal With My Racist Spouse?

  • It’s easier to avoid problems outside your home, but what do you do when the problems lie within?

Hadiths on the “Bad Traits” of Black People

  • How do we understand hadiths which seemingly describe black people negatively?

Would it Be Wrong To Avoid Interracial Marriages For Cultural Considerations?

  • Are you racist if you don’t want to marry someone from outside your race? The following answer discusses some prophetic direction in marriage.

How Do I Deal With Racist Attitudes at Gatherings?

  • Self-hate will lead to a dull fate.

Are the Islamic Rulings Regarding Marriage Racist?

  • Islam doesn’t teach us to be racist. Many people, including Muslims, are simply misinformed.

 

Spiritual Activism and the Tradition of Salawat in West Africa – Imam Dawud Walid

In this reminder, Imam Dawud Walid discusses the benefits of sending benediction and praise on the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace), relating it to Sacred Activism and Centering Black Narrative.

Imam Dawud tells the story a great 19th-century West African scholar, saint, and activist, Sidi Touba, Shaykh Ahmadu Bamba, whose mother, a scholar herself, was descended from the Prophet.

Shaykh Bamba wrote a great number of works in many Islamic sciences, but when exiled by the French, he devoted all of his time to writing poetry and praise on the Prophet as a means for his liberation and that of his people. Shaykh Bamba was a believer in “virtue ethics”—that the way you take means is more important is the end. Imam Dawud highlights a commonly recurring benediction in these poems, called the salat al-fatih.

Imam Dawud concludes that while at looking the issues is important, so, too, is the means we take. In addition, to keep ourselves centred and spiritually grounded, sending benedictions on the Prophet is extremely important, whether through traditional formulas, the salat al-fatih, or reading a chapter of Jazauli’s Dala’il al-Khayrat.

 

Black Lives Matter: If You’re Right With God, You’re Right – Imam Zaid Shakir

Imam Zaid Shakir has had to bury people who were shot by cops and those who were shot by their peers – predominantly young, African-American men. He concludes, if you’re right with God, you’re right. If some racist thinks you’re not right that’s their problem.

Black history is filled with injustice. The actions of Rosa Parks, Brown vs. Education, and Malcom X all are long-standing proof of that. But, Imam Zaid explains, we don’t need anyone external to tell us that our lives matter.

The internal dignity that tells us that we do matter, is what can get us through anything. That was what enabled generations upon generations of African slaves to love, to laugh, and to enjoy life with their families,  even knowing that their happiness was temporary. It was what taught black labourers working menial jobs, that their lives mattered.

Dignity can’t be taken, he says. It can only be forfeited.

We are grateful to Festival of Faiths for this recording.

Resources for Seekers

5 Excellent Resources To Help You Explain Racial Bias To Your Children

Mamanushka, the new parenting blog, has published some stellar content since its launch, including the latest one, 5 Excellent Resources To Help You Explain Racial Bias To Your Children. Worth reading and sharing far and wide.


This past week, with all its happiness and celebrations of Eid, has also been one of great sadness and anger as we once again are forced to remind the world that Black Lives Matter.

It would be easy for me to assume that my children are too young to understand issues of race. That they don’t “see colour” and are immune to racial bias. But when my daughter asks me for a “white doll” because it is “prettier” or questions the colour of her own skin as being dirty, I know that not talking about race is a mistake that will deeply harm her.

 

Resources for seekers

 

#‎Blacklivesmatter Because Our Lord Demands It – Ustadh Salman Younas

‪#‎Blacklivesmatter‬ because our Lord has “ennobled all the children of Adam” (17:70) and commanded us to “stand firmly for justice.” (4:135), writes Ustadh Salman Younas.

‪#‎Blacklivesmatter to me not because it is politically prudent for Muslims to side with African-Americans.
They matter to me not because it’s viewed by some as the new countercultural trend that people should hop on.
They matter to me not because it is a convenient and beneficial alliance for my community.
They matter to me not because of a mere desire to be integrated into mainstream society and its indigenous people.
Why do they matter to me? Because my Lord has “ennobled all the children of Adam” (17:70) and commanded me to “stand firmly for justice.” (4:135)
They matter to me because my Prophet (God bless him) said that when his followers become “afraid to say to the oppressor that you are an oppressor, they will be abandoned by God.” [Ahmad, Musnad with a rigorously authentic chain]
They matter to me because my Prophet (God bless him) spent his entire life serving the weak, underprivileged, and those treated unjustly. His justice and mercy extended to all regardless of their religion or color. His teachings condemned racism as he stressed that virtue lay in doing good and being pious, not through possessing “white skin over black skin.” [Ahmad, Musnad with a sound chain].
They matter to me because oppression, killing, racial injustice and the systematic abuse of a people is a heinous crime in my religion. I dread the day I have to stand in front of my Lord and in front of my Prophet having witnessed police brutality against a black father, the shooting death of an innocent black teenager, the mass and oppressive incarceration of an entire black generation, the racial inequality experienced daily by the black community, and say I did nothing to fight this plague that occurred every day in front of my eyes.

These lives must matter to Muslims because our Lord demands they do, our Prophet (God bless him) demands they do, and our religion demands they do. This is what being a Muslim is about. We will continue to strive for justice and to rid this world of all forms of oppression through whatever noble means we can.

We ask everyone to support such movements in keeping with the directives of God to “cooperate with one another in righteousness” (5:2) and the directive of our beloved Prophet (God bless him) who advised us to “make such alliances in order to return rights to their people, that no oppressor should have power over the oppressed.” [Musnad al-Humaydi]
We ask God to give us the strength and courage to stand up against all forms of injustice in the way our Prophet Muhammad (God bless him) did. May His blessings descend upon us and all those suffering throughout the world.
Follow Ustadh Salman Younas on Facebook.

Resources for seekers