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Mother of "cucumber, not cooker bomb" toddler, in her own words

Editor’s note: In January 2016, a British Muslim mother was called in for a meeting by her 4 year-old son’s nursery school. The managers informed her that her little boy had been referred to a ‘de-radicalisation’ program after drawing what they alleged to be a ‘cooker bomb’. Shocked by the news, the mother reached out for help on the private Facebook group, Muslim Mamas (see their public page here). Muslim Mamas is a close-knit group of some 9000 Muslim mothers from around the world. This mother now shares her story in her own words for the first time, though the story has been reported in The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph and other news outlets.

Assalamu’alaikum,
Some of you may have heard about the four year old boy, whose nursery wanted to send him to a deradicalisation programme for mispronouncing ‘cucumber’. Well, that was my son. I’ve been a member of Muslim Mamas for a while now and wanted to share my story with you all.

“He told us it was a cooker bomb”

One afternoon back in January 2016, when I dropped my little boy to nursery, the nursery manager and deputy manager called me into a side room and presented me with a document, together with some drawings that my son had drawn. I recognised the drawing straight away, as it was a recent one. It was of a man with a knife. My son had told me it was ‘daddy cutting a cucumber’ so I told the school managers this straight away. They were unconvinced.
“Well, that’s not what he said to us. He told us it was a cooker bomb,” the nursery manager replied.
I was blindsided by this. My son has never talked about bombs at home. I was so confused and upset. At that point, I didn’t immediately associate his pronunciation of cucumber as “cukkabum” with a “cooker bomb”. I’d never even heard of such a thing.
cucumber-bomb
The school then showed me two other scribbles by my son. They said he talked about “pulling a string in Africa.” I explained that my neighbour’s cat used to visit our home frequently and my children often played with the cat by pulling a string. Sadly, the poor cat got run over and, not wanting upset them by telling them that he had died, I told the kids that the cat had gone to Africa to be with his family.

“Prove yourself innocent”

Again, the nursery manager dismissed my explanation and told me that they were referring me to Channel. I had no idea what Channel was, but assumed it was social services. I asked the manager if this was the case and she told me that yes, they did work together and that they would help me raise my children in the ‘right’ way. By this time I was in tears and pleaded with her not to refer me. But her reply did little to console me.
“Your kids might not be taken off you. You can prove yourself innocent,” she said.
I was distraught! I continued to plead with her. She asked me what he was watching on television and I told her that he liked his superheroes, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers, but I would put a stop to this immediately if it would help (and I actually did go home and do this!). I even banned their Disney movies, as the nursery manager described one of my son’s drawings as that of a train blowing up. Incidentally, this is the opening scene in Toy Story 3.
Nothing was going to help me that day. She told me I’d already been referred and I had to “sign the referral form”, which I declined to do. I couldn’t – it just felt wrong to sign a document I did not agree with. My son, according to the nursery’s own description is a very ‘gentle’ child. I couldn’t accept the things that they were now suggesting about him.
I left the meeting and went home. My husband was away, so I telephoned him and explained the situation. He told me not to worry and reminded me that our boy always says “cukkabum” when he means “cucumber,” so obviously they’d misheard him. It then became clear to me what had happened.

“Cucumber, not cooker bomb”

I called the nursery manager immediately, with a renewed sense of hope and told her about his mispronunciation of the word “cucumber”. My son was still at the nursery and I told her to go and show him a cucumber so that it all becomes clear. However, the nursery manager was not willing to discuss things any further and told me that my son had already been “referred” and it was out of her hands. She then asked me again about signing the document and I once again refused. She informed me that she would “have to put down a reason”.
I felt really pressured but I’d spoken to my husband and my sister and they both advised me against signing something I am not comfortable with. So I held my ground and I told her firmly I wasn’t going to sign it as I didn’t agree with it. I hung up at the point and felt really worried about how I was going to find someone who could help me. I felt bullied and was ready to ask the police for help. I didn’t realise then what I realise now: this is state supported bullying.
I frantically called people who might be able to help me. I knew the school was wrong. Had I not been a Muslim Asian, I wouldn’t be in this position. I even messaged Tell Mama and was ignored.

Teachers now legally obliged to report concerns around terrorism

In Luton, where we live, you’d think it was easy to find help but there is no local organisation to help our community in situations like this. It’s actually more like the opposite. People don’t want to get involved, even though they know it’s wrong. They’re scared of the repercussions.
Eventually, I was put in touch with Rehana Faisal, who is a local Muslim community activist. She came round to see me and I went through everything with her. She asked me if I knew what Channel was. I told her I didn’t. It was Rehana who told me that Channel was a de-radicalisation programme and that teachers are now legally obliged to report concerns around terrorism. Apparently, this is called the “PREVENT duty”. I was horrified. She called a local solicitor, Attiq Malik of Liberty Law Solicitors, for some advice and the two of us then went to the nursery together for another meeting.
Rehana talked the nursery manager through what had happened and tried to encourage her to apply some common sense and recognise that the referral was misguided. The nursery manager again stated that the referral was a done deal. Rehana asked the manager if there was something else that had triggered this referral because it seemed ridiculous that they had taken such drastic action over a child’s mispronunciation. Did they have any other concerns about the parents? You see, I wasn’t new at this nursery. I had a seven year relationship with them. Thus far, it had always been a positive one. In November 2015, there was a parent-teacher evening and I was told not to bother coming in because my son was so lovely and gentle.

Questioning children appropriately

The manager told Rehana there was nothing else of concern apart from this one picture, to which my son couldn’t mispronounced “cucumber”. To be clear, my son never said the word “bomb”. This whole incident was never about what my child said or drew. It was about their perception of what he said. My son did not say the word bomb, they did. And they repeated it to him in their questioning. As Rehana pointed out to them, had the staff member he was speaking to questioned him appropriately, without leading questions, they would have realised what he was actually saying. In fact, he, according to their own records told them that a ‘cukkabum’ was something you cut!

“Did Jimmy Saville look like a paedophile?”

At this point in our meeting, the nursery manager repeatedly asserted her position that the referral to Channel had already been made. I was really upset at this point and was crying. I asked her, “Do I look like a terrorist to you?!”
The manager, looking directly at me replied, “Well, did Jimmy Saville look like a paedophile?”
I was shocked. Rehana witnessed this exchange and couldn’t believe how unprofessional the nursery manager was. Rehana informed the manager that we had sought legal advice before attending the meeting and if the nursery chose to pursue this, then so would we. We would go to the press if necessary. We then walked out of the meeting.
That evening, Rehana and Attiq came to see me show their support. Attiq then introduced me to someone from an organisation called PREVENTwatch and discussed what could be done next. They helped me draft a very detailed letter, which I gave to the nursery. They also told me to unblock the kiddy channels and assured me it was normal for kids to be into Power Rangers and the like!
The nursery manager on numerous occasions tried to speak to me alone over the next few days but I just didn’t trust her or anyone at the nursery anymore. Speaking to them was the last thing I wanted to do after being treated this way.

Backtracking

Soon after, I was given a letter by the nursery manager that said they had never made a referral but that everything they had said to me was according to government guidelines. This was a blatant lie. I know this because they had, possibly accidentally, given me a document which clearly states that my four year old has been referred. They had clearly backtracked and I strongly believe this was because they realised, I now had support and backing.
The last few weeks have been a steep learning curve for me. I didn’t know much about Channel or Prevent but I do now. Channel is supposed to be a ‘consensual’ programme but my son’s nursery tried to bully me into it. That’s not right. The whole policy isn’t right. It is not only flawed, it is also deeply discriminatory.

Don’t Take It Lying Down

I decided to talk about what happened to me in the hope that it will help others who find themselves in such a position. I want people to know that they must not put up with it. I originally spoke to the BBC Asian network and the story was then picked up by other news outlets. After that I was on the morning program on BBC 3 Counties Radio and Inspire fm. I also gave an interview to Luton on Sunday and the Guardian and was on ITV news Anglia.
I hope that this helps people to understand how flawed PREVENT is. It is a policy which is supposed to be making us safer, but it is hardly doing that. I felt scared, intimidated and discriminated against. It cannot carry on. I hope by speaking up myself, I will encourage others to also speak up.
My son is still at this nursery. Some of you might think that it’s a strange decision to leave him there. To say I feel awkward is an understatement. Everyday, I drop my son off to people that I no longer trust. However, my son loves nursery, his friends and his keyworker, who wasn’t present in any of the meetings that the nursery managers had with me. I’m not sure who flagged my son as a ‘radical’. His keyworker is so lovely and always has pleasant things to say to me. I’ve decided I don’t want to disrupt my sons life due to the incompetence of some prejudiced staff members.

Teachers as Spies

While I’m upset at the way the teachers in my son’s school dealt with this matter, I feel sympathy for the teachers who have been forced to act as “security services” in schools. They are given 1-2 hours training and are expected to spot the very complex signs of “radicalisation”. Unfortunately, too many of these “signs” focus on the Muslim Community.
So that’s my story. I’m still struggling to come to terms with what has happened but I want to keep talking about it, and I pray that this helps others.  I never dreamed I could be treated this way, in my own country, as a British Muslim.
If any of you find yourself in this position – GET HELP. PREVENTwatch is a national organisation who can help. If you are in Luton, you can look up Rehana Faisal and Attiq Malik. Speak to them.
As a community, we all need to speak up. Our “community leaders” and elected representatives need to speak up. Let our teachers teach rather than behave like the police or like spies!
I want to end by expressing gratitude for the help and support I’ve received from family and friends, through this horrid ordeal! As for the nursery, I am yet to receive an apology from them.
Anonymous

Cover photo by Keoni Cabral.

The Prophetic ﷺ Response to Islamophobia: The Story of Adi bin Hatem

What can we learn from the Prophetic ﷺ response to Islamophobia? There was once a known Islamophobe, Adi bin Hatem. He was the head of a monotheistic tribe that worshipped the God of Abraham but lacked any further guidance. Adi bin Hatem hated Islam and hated the Prophet ﷺ. His own sister had gone to see the Prophet ﷺ and embraced Islam and this infuriated Adi bin Hatem even more. So when he visited Madinah, how did the Prophet ﷺ treat him? A fascinating, uplifting true story, retold by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani. It is replete with lessons for our time.

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

Shaykh Muhammad Mendes responds to this question during a Lamppost Education Initiative Seminar on Muslim Spirituality From Africa to Americas.

“Why is the colour black – black people and all things black, so foul to humanity?”

Resources for seekers

Cover photo by Andrea Moroni.

Dalia Mogahed’s debut at TED met with standing ovation

What do you think when you look at me?

When you look at Muslim scholar Dalia Mogahed, what do you see: a woman of faith? a scholar, a mom, a sister? or an oppressed, brainwashed, potential terrorist? In this personal, powerful talk, Mogahed asks us, in this polarizing time, to fight negative perceptions of her faith in the media — and to choose empathy over prejudice – TED

Resources for seekers:

On Fences and Our Neighbours. Dr Ingrid Mattson reflects.

Religions for Peace USA’s Our Muslim Neighbor Initiative  is a national effort to end Islamophobia. Since the Paris attacks the U.S. has seen an increase in anti-Muslim rhetoric that isolates our Muslim neighbors and feeds into a culture of fear. What can you do to counteract this trend?
Ingrid-MattsonFor the last three years the Our Muslim Neighbor Initiative has been on the ground in Tennessee buidling communities of trust across racial and religious lines. Over the years, they have developed strategies and resources to help people reach out and relate to their neighbors, to understand Islam and Muslims better, and to build communities of trust that break down stereotypes eating away at the goodwill that is so necessary for strong communities to thrive. To that end, they invited Dr. Ingrid Mattson to address the issue. Dr Mattson is a professor of Islamic Studies and the London and Windsor Community Chair in Islamic Studies at Huron University College, at the University of Western Ontario. She is also the former president of the Islamic Society of North America.
Watch Dr Mattson’s lecture below and read her article on the same topic.

Resources for seekers:

Excellent Interview with Muslim Woman Removed From Trump Rally

On Friday night, Muslim flight attendant Rose Hamid was escorted out of a Donald Trump rally in Rock Hill, South Carolina after she stood silently for a few moments, wearing a t-shirt that said “Salam: I Come In Peace,” as well as a yellow star-shaped badge reminiscent of the patches worn by Jews in Nazi Europe.

“Do you have a bomb?”

After her ejection, Hamid told CNN’s Don Lemon about the experience, which she said included Trump supporters asking her “Do you have a bomb?” (to which she replied “No, do you have a bomb?”).
Hamid said she attended the rally with the “sincere belief if people get to know each other one-on-one they will stop being afraid of each other and we can get rid of the hate in the world…There were people who were very nice and sharing their popcorn. It was very nice, people around me, the people I had conversations with. But then what happened when the crowd got this hateful crowd mentality as I was being escorted. It was really quite telling and a vivid example of what happens when you start using this hateful rhetoric, and how it can incite a crowd where moments ago were very kind to me. One woman reached over and shook my hand and said “I’m so sorry this is happening to you.””
See also, Hamid’s interview with Marie Claire magazine.

Resources for seekers:

VIDEO: Forget Trump. Focus On The One ﷺ We Are Obliged To Love – Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

In this blessed month of Rabi-al-Awwal, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin warns against wasting time and energy on those who spread hate and injustice, focussing instead on the lessons from the life of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him.

An Obligation to Love The Prophet Muhammad

When we truly fulfill the divinely ordained obligation to love him, peace be upon him, no Islamophobia, no bombs, no dirty looks, no rage, not even death itself will faze us.


Resources for seekers:

Nothing more American for American Muslims

American-Flag-Hijabi

Simply Continue

There is nothing more American for American Muslims to do at this time than to simply continue remaining as Muslims.

Foundations

This country was founded by those who escaped religious persecution and insisted on practicing their deen in the manner in which they deemed important.

No Apology

They did not compromise, apologize or feel they had to change their beliefs and actions in order to thrive.

In Good Company

This country’s history is also filled with many religious groups who faithfully maintained their religious practices and beliefs.

Compromising is Un-American

It is not only unbecoming for American Muslims to compromise their Islam, but it is the most un-American thing they can do right now.”

Statement from Shaykh Mohammed Amin Kholwadia
Founder & President, Darul Qasim

 

Resources for Seekers:

Responses To The Islamophobic Attack On The Bus Illustrate Wider Problems Of Racism

LondonBusRantOver the last few days, the video of a black woman launching an islamophobic attack on two muslim women has attracted much attention on social media, and eventually was reported in the National Press. The provocative lady who undertook a tirade of threatening verbal abuse has since been arrested by the police, and one hopes she will be held to account for her actions.

As a black Muslim woman I was sickened by this lady’s behaviour. It was particularly saddening that a black person acted in such a venomous manner, and undertook a xenophobic attack upon another minority in a way that black people often experience themselves. Her behaviour illustrated sheer ignorance of the history and struggle of her own people; if she had truly internalised the lessons from black history, she never would have behaved in such a manner. Her actions culminated with a distinct lack of humanity, when despite her irrational grievances she felt it was acceptable to threaten to kick a pregnant woman in the stomach.

‘Half of all Caribbeans are animals’ and ‘banana eating inbred’

However, I was equally disgusted by the reactions of seemingly ordinary Muslims who used utterly vile anti-black language on social media in response to this episode. Although part of me is not surprised at this spew of vitriol, the carefree manner in which some Muslims expressed their racism so openly was something I have not seen before. In one social media group full of Muslim women, one commentator thought it was acceptable to state that ‘half of all Caribbeans are animals’. There was a common theme of people using disgusting racist language such as ‘banana eating inbred’. There were references to her skin tone being the product of ‘ancestral rape by the slave master’ and questions around the father of her child (who she can’t possibly know because all black women are whores). Worst still were the numerous references to the enslavement of black people by Arabs; ‘’we used to own you!’’ one social media commenter spited, regardless of the fact that she was of Asian descent and not an Arab.

Racism is just as as disgusting as Islamophobia

Furthermore, not only were there those who readily used anti-black language, there were those who sought to justify their use of it – ‘we are racist towards black people because of women like her’. Let us be very clear that the South Asian Muslim community of Britain has struggled with racism, and this incident somehow gave a number of racist Muslims the ‘courage’ to publicly air their views. For those that found this ignorant black woman’s islamophobia disgusting, it would be hypocritical if they were not equally disgusted by the racist anti-black reactions. It is imperative that we condemn both equally and unreservedly.

She didn’t create Islamophobia

However, let us not forget that whilst this black woman’s actions are totally reprehensible, she didn’t create Islamophobia. She isn’t the person who has criminalised Islam and made it synonymous with terrorism and violence. She is not the enforcer of the laws that continually view Muslims through the lens of securitisation. She does not give muscular public speeches, beating Muslims with a stick that they must adopt undefined ‘British values’ (even though the overwhelming majority of Muslims proudly assert their British identity). She is not of those spreading suspicion throughout society, encouraging others to view the Muslim community as the fifth column. Whilst she has no doubt been influenced by much of the negative discourse surrounding Muslims, we must remember that much of it is essentially coined by the upper echelons of society.

Of course, this in no way diminishes the crime that took place on that bus, especially now that this woman has now been arrested and charged, but what next? Should we demand the arrest of Daily Mail writers, and certain politicians who tread ever so closely on the boundary of free speech and inciting hatred? Whilst this isolated attack on a bus is indeed shocking, the ‘well-articulated, well-reasoned’ Islamophobia we face is far more sinister and much more insidious than what this woman did.

The rise in racism throughout society is indeed a worrying phenomenon, and superficial approaches to the problem will do little to address it. The BBC recently ran documentaries on Britain First and the Ku Klux Klan in America. However, I think there is a fundamental problem in focusing on fringe groups when addressing racism, as in some respects these groups become convenient scapegoats in much the same way that this ignorant black woman has become following this incident.

It’s about power

At the heart of the debate around racism and Islamophobia is power and that many of those who run our society hold similar, narrow-minded views. Documentaries such as those aired by the BBC hide from this fact, leading us to fall into a false belief that anti-Muslim and anti-black sentiments are largely limited to a handful unintelligent individuals that are part of a crazy cult. It absolves the institutions of the state; from politicians, the media and the police from the role they play in creating and perpetuating racism and Islamophobia. It allows cross sections of society to be under a collective illusion that hate and xenophobia are exceptions; it isn’t us, it is ‘them’.

This type of superficial analysis does nothing to challenge the structural and institutional racism and Islamophobia that affects us all and impacts adversely on our children. We should be angry at this latest incident, but let’s also have some perspective and get a grip on reality; this woman isn’t the root cause of the problem, her actions and the actions of others like her are symptoms of a deeper problem that is in fact far more dangerous than a lone black woman’s vile rant on a 206 bus in London.

By Sulekha Hassan. Republished with much gratitude to our friends at Islamicate.


Resources for Seekers:

Our Condition Today: the Disease and the Remedy
Advice from Habib ‘Umar: How to defend the Prophet
Hadiths on the “Bad Traits” of Black People
Letter to the West: we just have to learn to live together
Race To The Top
Would it Be Wrong To Avoid Interracial Marriages For Cultural Considerations?
Dealing With Those Who Harass Muslims
“Sound societies come from sound hearts”
Allah’s Mercy and the Mercy Showed by People

Islamophobia is alive and well but are we capable of a compassionate, introspective response? Tanya Muneera Williams

WindrushOn the 22nd of June 1948 the landscape of England changed in the most unprecedented way. The arrival of the empire Windrush from Jamaica to Tilby docks in Essex has been pinpointed as one of the biggest changes in post-war British history.

It can also be said that the 500 or so passengers on board the Windrush, represented a complete rethink of what it meant to be British, and in essence it was the start of what has become known as multiculturalism.

An Era of Social Bias

My father left Jamaica and came to England in 1962 on a Spanish ship called ‘The Big Owner’, the ship docked in Southampton, and in a matter of hours my father was in the back of van on the way to Bristol, where he was met by his two brothers. This was the era of cramped housing and notorious slum landlords, this was before ‘foreigners’ could freely enter public buildings such as banks, pubs, and shops, this was the era where racial bias was an acceptable criteria in the work place, this was the era of Teddy-boys, this was the era where physical assault and verbal abuse was the norm.

Tension between minorities evident on a daily basis

Maybe this is one of the reasons why I was sickened to see the video of a black British woman, who was quite possibly of Caribbean heritage abusing a pregnant Muslim woman on the bus in a multicultural area not so far from me. A few days later, another video emerged of a young man hurling abuse at a disabled Turkish man. I should not be that surprise, because despite living in an ethnically diverse area of London, on a daily basis I see contentious interactions between mainly migrant communities, but more specifically between ‘Black British people’ and people from a Muslim background.

LondonBusRantI am often astonished how the act of sitting on a bus, or waiting in a queue can get so volatile. This was summed up perfectly when one day I was standing in rather long queue at a cash point when an East African Muslim lady who was the first person in line at the cash point, could not find her card and continued searching for it despite the queue growing longer; out of nowhere a young ‘Black British man’ maybe in his mid 20s shouted out “You can’t come to England and be a problem, now you want to take my time.”

At first the lady did not respond, but after some members of the of the queue started showing solidarity towards the man and others huffed and puffed, she swore at him and the slanging match started. Thank goodness she was able to give as good as he got, and in the end she boldly walked away, but that does not disparage the fact that an everyday event escalated in a matter of minutes and by time the incident finished, they offended each other with terms like ‘bloody refugee’ and ‘fatherless child.’ Granted these terms were said in the heat of the moment, but on some level they are indicative of wider cultural perceptions.

A deeply rooted, self-inflamed anger

Back to the bus incident, however, in the first few seconds of seeing the footage, to my shame, I thought what did the pregnant Muslim woman do or say to get the other woman so enraged, but before the first minute was over it was clear to see that the pregnant Muslim woman probably could not even speak English and even if she could, whatever issues the abusive lady had, were deeply rooted within herself, and the anger that she unleashed was self inflamed.

Not that it needs to be said, but for the sake of clarity, what happened was totally wrong, and as the abusive woman has handed herself to the police, she will no doubt see the repercussion of her wrong doings.

The antagonist is our sister in humanity

Someone asked me if it is difficult for me to see the wrongs of the ‘black woman’ being black myself, I was mystified by the logic because the school of thought that I am from is that we have to be self analytical, we have to be able to critique ourselves, our actions and inactions in order to develop and grow in a healthy way. Although it may be shocking to some, I see the antagonist as my sister, my sister in humanity and my sister in ethnicity, so as my sister I want better for her, I want her to learn that her actions are not the type of action that can be tolerated in this society, and want her to know that in short, her attitude stinks.

Descendants of immigrants become aggressors to new immigrants

Being that she is only a little older than me, the likelihood is, like me she is a second generation immigrant to this country; the hardships that my father and many others like him endured during the Windrush era and the lasting consequences of their efforts would absolutely be in vain if 50 years down the line we as their children become the aggressors to immigrants who too are seeking a better life.

Racist, derogatory responses on Muslim social media

Another interesting thing this incident bought up, which sickens me equally if not more, is the sheer amount of racism that is festering deep in the crevice of some believing people’s hearts. This is not a new phenomena, many people have been speaking about it for years, and have been told “it’s dying out”, “it’s not really racism, it’s just cultural differences”, “you have an inferiority complex”, “you are causing divisions in the Ummah” or “oh you are one of those black Muslims.”

Poetic Pilgrimage with Tanya Muneera Williams (right) and Sukina Douglas (left)

Poetic Pilgrimage with Tanya Muneera Williams (right) and Sukina Douglas (left)

But after seeing the comments to the video of the bus incident, no one can deny the sickness that in many cases is not hidden that deep beneath the surface. Some of the comments used terms like “Nigger”, which was justified by someone else saying it was only used for the ‘black women’ in question not anyone else. Another person actually said “had it not been for Islam you would all be slaves,” in reference to those from the African diaspora.

No place for racism

I feel foolish having to point out the obvious, but there is no place for racism in Islam. The conversion experience of Malcolm X attracted many converts from the African Disaspora to the Deen – particularly his experience of men of all colour treating each other equally. For many, part of the conversion process is trying to separate seemingly racist encounters with people of Muslim backgrounds, from the words of God and the practices of the Prophet Muhammed, peace be upon him, and it was his practice to rid racism wherever he saw it. So this should be our Sunnah, up there with men wearing beards, or fasting on a Monday and Thursday.

If the words “An Arab has no superiority over a non Arab nor a non Arab has any superiority over an Arab” and “A white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action” is not enough for us, then let us then reflect on the actions of the Prophet, peace be upon him, and how he welcomed black people into his family in the case of his adopted son Zaid b Harithah, or how he honoured and respected his Black mother by breast milk, Barakah Bint Tha’labah. We can also reflect on how Allah has honoured Bilal by allowing our Rasool, peace be upon him, to hear Bilal’s footsteps and call to prayer ahead of him in the heavens.

Allah has said in Quran 49:13 “O Mankind, We created you from a single pair of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other. Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is he who is the most righteous of you.”

Racism is not befitting to a believer, and as the reality of Islamophobia has dawned on us and we are now making strategies to tackle it, so should the reality of racism dawn on us so we can make strategies to tackle it and fulfil a sunnah.

The community’s lack of acknowledgement

These are comments and attitudes that don’t belong in Islam, and are not befitting for those who believe in the Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him). It is not so much the racism that bothers me, it is our community’s lack of acknowledgement of it, which will naturally lead to inactivity toward changing it, which leaves me thinking how are we as a Muslim community in Britain going to develop and grow in a healthy way?

A polarised public discourse

Every day, “Muslim terrorist”, “sex grooming gangs”, “refugees”, “halal meat”, “Shariah law”, “Islamic State”, and whatever other negative connotations that can be conjured up are fed to us through the media. We are in the era of political parties increasingly leaning towards the right, the era of comments like “multiculturalism has failed” and “Muslims are not integrating”. Coupled with tensions between communities means that unfortunately, appalling incidents like the one we witnessed on the bus are liable to be on the increase before they decrease. A perfect example of this is another clip which recently came out, which shows a mix heritage young man acting aggressively towards an older Turkish man, again on a London bus. After his tirade, the perpetrator threw the elderly man’s zimmerframe off the bus. The direct physical threat was made clear and explicit. What was sad to see is in both this clip and the one involving the pregnant Muslim woman is that no one on either bus intervened.

Injustice to ourselves

As Muslims we keep faith, point out injustices and continue to showcase the beauty of our path, but what maybe a greater task is looking at our own short comings, pointing out when we have done an injustice to ourselves, for the sake of preserving this beautiful path.

My prayers are with the pregnant sister who was the victim of the attack, may you give birth to an awliya. My prayers are with us all.

By Tanya Muneera Williams

Tanya Muneera Williams or Muneera Pilgrim, is a Bristol born, London based, rapper, poet and cultural commentator. She is one half of the hip-hop and spoken word duo Poetic Pilgrimage. She facilitates workshops, gives seminars and performs around England and Europe and has toured South Africa, Morocco and The United States. Muneera has facilitated a series of participant led, poetry performance courses in Sudan where she lived as a teacher and performer, she conducts engagement workshops in schools and performs and hosts around England. She is currently studying for her MA in Islamic studies where she is focusing on the Caribbean contribution to Islam, migration, gender and race. Using her talent, skills and passion Muneera colourfully etches a space of dialogue that can be accessed regardless of cultural, religious or gender boundaries. Rooted in spirituality, she uses communication for edification and change.

 

Resources for Seekers:

Our Condition Today: the Disease and the Remedy
Advice from Habib ‘Umar: How to defend the Prophet
Hadiths on the “Bad Traits” of Black People
Letter to the West: we just have to learn to live together
Race To The Top
Would it Be Wrong To Avoid Interracial Marriages For Cultural Considerations?
Dealing With Those Who Harass Muslims
“Sound societies come from sound hearts”
Allah’s Mercy and the Mercy Showed by People