- Religion and Philosophy
Discrimination Inside Muslim Community
Assalammu Alaikum, Wr. Wb.
A few times ago I had this conversation with my friend, a converted Muslim male from USA, about discrimination inside our own Ummah. He told me about what he feels as “white Muslim”. He said because he is white, it caused him become the most alienated person everywhere. In US, people around him do not like him because he is Muslim, and in Muslim society, people hesitated to give him place in their house as their son in law, because he is white. I objected him at first since I never thought his skin will make him different as Muslim, but Hey! Why am I arguing? It is his experiences and he knew what he is talked about, so it must be true.
Then it made me thinking, what is it feel to be him? Furthermore, what is it feel to be converted Muslimah who lives in the western country where she could get alienated because of her Hijab? My friend can walk around the street without somebody notice who he is, as long as he doesn’t wear his Kufy or turban (if he ever had one), but Muslimah will be easily being recognized by her Hijab or Niqab. What does she feel about it? Will she feel being alienate too? And what is it about “no Muslim expecting white people in their house as family member” statement from my friend? Is it really true?
I remember once my dearest Muslim Sister told me she had a bad time because she feels alienated inside her house in Manchester while her husband at work and her son busy with his own life. As Muslimah wearing Niqab that must be really hard for her to adapt herself in a new neighborhood while many of her neighbors are not Muslim. The situation is easy to read because her Niqaf surely will raise fear and suspicious to her from unbelievers of Islam who meet her at the first time and do not understand what Islam is and why she has to wear Niqab, but will is she too, like my male friend had experienced, will be alienated in Muslim community because she is “white Muslim”?
Before I really active in internet society and get connected with Muslim from outside my world, as Muslim woman in the country where the majority citizen is Muslim, never before I ever thought that we have discriminating thought in our ummah mind. Yes, I know many people inside our Ummah had growth greater hate toward Israelis, but even with Christian, we still have a great relationship and respect each other way of life. The problem did come out from somewhere sometimes, brought by those who do not understand what it is meant to be different. And this kind of hatred is coming equally from both sides. But it is far from my understanding that discrimination also can be found easily, happened among ourselves. Sadly, if thinking back, digging into my memories, yes, I was seen and experienced this kind of problem before.
It was around my time at university, when I, for the first time, and sadly it was happening inside the mosque. Well, I couldn’t say that other Muslim discriminated them, but it is like they did that by themselves; put the differences into real acted which could cause gap among Muslim.
In Dhuhur time we gather in the Campus Mosque to do Sholat and after sholat, I noticed that there are several women wearing black Abaya and Burkha stood at the side of those who doing sholat. I wonder why they didn’t enter the shafts and do Jamaah like other, while so many shafts there are still empty and waiting to be filled; but only stood there until we finished our prayer. After sholat, hidden in the corner of the women side of the Mosque, with the book in my hand, thought that I want to take benefit of that peaceful place to read before my next class began; what I saw while I am there then, made me confused. After every Jamaah (but me and this ladies I mention before of course) out from the mosque, I saw these women, and several men too, go outside the mosque to come back again with the mops in their hands and start mopped the entire praying room. “Hey”, I thought at that moment, “great people. They help Takmir of the Mosque cleaning the place.” But then after they finished mopped the floor; they gather together and doing Dhuhur prayer.
I’m lost inside my own confusion! I did not know about those males who doing sholat with them, but I’m very sure these women entered the Mosque at the same time with me, before Dhuhur sholat starting. The Mosque is big and the Jamaah not even filled a half of the Mosque. If they came to do Dhuhur, why they didn’t do it at that time when me and other Jamaah doing Dhuhur together? Why they waited until all Jamaah for that Dhuhur prayer gone away? And what is it with the mop? The floor not even dirty. Or they think that I and other Jamaah before them carried so many junks and dirty things, or maybe disease inside the mosque while we doing sholat, so they had to be really careful?
In the class then, when I told my friend what I saw, he informed me, these people are Islam Jamaah and they did this all the time. My friend didn’t know the reason too, but no matter what is that, I thought I didn’t want to know either. That is the first time I see some “strange thing about differences” around our own ummah being formed into the acted.
A few years after that when I start blogging, I met this Muslim family from Chicago. The husband is Malaysian and his wife, she was born as Muslim, and she is Israelis. She told me as far as she is able to remember, what she got from Muslim society around her is hate and more hate in every single time. Other Muslim spit on her when they learned where she came from and in so many times people just insulted her for who she is, Israelis. I experienced that too because since me and her interacted with each other, I keep finding many messages that asked me to block her from my friend's list because she is Israelis and that really made me so upset at that time. Why should I block her because she is born as Israelis? Yes, Al Qur’an told many stories about the bad history between Muslim and Jew, but she is Muslim from the first time she is born into the world and those sins Jews ever created in the past, or Israelis do today, it is not her sins. In my sight she is my sister in Islam and she should not be punished for the sin she never did. Isn’t Al Qur’an taught us that no matter who it is, we should hold them as our family if they are repentant with all of their heart and become Muslim, even if it is Jew?
“Those who conceal the clear (Signs) We have sent down, and the Guidance, after We have made it clear for the people in the Book, on them shall be Allah’s curse, and the curse of those entitled to curse,Except those who repent and make amends and openly declare (the Truth): To them I turn; for I am Oft-returning, Most Merciful.”Noble Qur’an 3:159-160.
Allah forgives Jew who repents. Allah Himself; as the one who has the first right to be angry because He is the one that Jew didn’t want to listen; forgiving them when they repent. So why we still hold the grudge against them? And if we should accept those who repent, then why, for the woman who born as Muslim, we treated her really bad because she is also born as Israelis, even when she never involved with the sins that we are so dare accused on her?
Thinking this back, related it to what my friend told me, I wonder why we do this to our own Ummah. Why we divided ourselves from each other? What is it wrong being white inside Muslim community so they deserve to get alienated?
Maybe one clear answer to this question already answered by my beloved Mom. She told me she doesn’t have a problem to have a white man as her son in law as long as he is Muslim and he doesn’t have AIDS.
Don’t take her wrong, my Mom is good woman and not accusing all white have the ability to become carrier of AIDS, but because it is for her precious daughter, that is why she will put every prevention upon everything, even if it has to make her become cruel to others or even have to stand opposite from my side; her own daughter; if she think what I chose to myself is not right for me. If you see here, beyond all her words, it is only one reason for this, which is; she is afraid. And sadly, my Mom is not alone on this.
Logically all Muslim understand those who converted are the most blessed people than the others because they got their Hidayah (blessing) and their sins suddenly being erased from their life, once they become Muslim. Like a baby, they just being born again, and they usually have strong improvement in teaching themselves how to become Muslim in their future because it is their own will to become Muslim, while many born Muslim have to struggle with their Iman in the whole of their life. Converted Muslim deserved to be loved and accepted in our community because they already achieved what born Muslim might not be able to achieve if we are sitting in their place, but it is logical. Too bad, somehow heart and mind not always go together.
Suspicious, fear and anxiety are always become first to blow inside human mind, and I guess with all the differences “white Muslim” had and carried from their past and also their culture, it is quite hard for many Muslim families to open their heart fully and accepted “white Muslim” to become part of their family. They are afraid if all the differences this person brought from who he or she was before becoming Muslim, somehow will affecting their life and drag it to the unknown zone later. It is easy to be understood, but do not mean it is right behavior and right thought to be kept.
Another Type of Discrimination
In the other hand, there is another type of discrimination I ever encounter long time ago. There is one time I became good friend with one brother who has lineage came purely from Arab. We were had a good time together purely as a friend, but one day, suddenly, he just disappeared from my life. Then when I asked about him to one of his friends, he told me that this friend of mine had to give up on me before our relationship grows into something more closer than only a friend. Because his parents demanded him to.
As pure Arabian, they want to keep their blood to stay pure, and this means he was not allowed to marry a lady whose not came from the Arabian race. They don’t want their blood mixed with other blood because of other Muslim outside those Arab only second-class Muslim. What?
Lucky me, he is only friend to me and no matter what he feels about me back then, which was a reason for his parents to demand of my disappearance from his life, it was only his to be held. But from that experience finally, I saw the way Arabian seeing other Muslim around the world who not came from their race. This fact had been proven by so many friends of mine who experienced the same treatment from an Arabian race. One of them is an Imam from Nabawi Mosque who’s born as Malaysian. He told me,
“Dear, mind me but don’t you know what Arab thought about you, Muslim from Indonesia? They thought of you as second-class Muslim.”
I am really sure not all Arabian have this thought, because so many of them are great people who understand that all of us is the same in the sight of God no matter what is the color of our skin, but these experiences are clear example about how discrimination and racial issues indeed existed inside our own community.
"Be not like those who are divided amongst themselves and fall into disputations after receiving Clear Signs: For them is a dreadful penalty,-" Nobel Quran 3:105
“Hold fast, all together, to God's rope, and be not divided among yourselves. Remember with gratitude God's favor on you, for you were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His grace you became brethren. You were on the brink of the fiery Pit, and He saved you from it. Thus does God make His signs clear to you, that you may be guided.” Qur'an :3.103
“Let there arise out of you one community, inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: those will be prosperous. Be not be like those who are divided amongst themselves and fall into disputations after receiving clear signs: for them is a dreadful penalty.” Qur'an :3: 105
“Maintain religion, and do not stir up any divisions within it.” Qur'an 42:13
Discrimination, division, sects: named it! It is not a right thing to do or to be chosen as our behavior in treating our own ummah inside our community. Those verses above already told us in a very clear way, but we still do that. We can add so many reasons as our excuses but no matter what: it is still wrong.
My Brothers and Sisters in Islam, we need to gather together as one. We need to be standing side by side as a whole. Not as Arabian Muslim, Asian Muslim or White Muslim. Not as Sunni or Shia, etc, etc. Allah, SWT, Al Qur’an and Muhammad, SAW never taught to divided people into a different group of people. Based on Al Qur’an, inside Muslim ummah there only two types of people: which are good people and bad people. Allah taught us through Al Qur’an that good person will be staying with good people, and bad people will be staying with bad people. Never mention about Arabian Muslim should be only with Arabian Muslim, Asian Muslim should be only with Asian Muslim. Never! But we forget about this lesson and only followed our own conceited mind and thought that ourselves are way better than others who not similar with us.
Remember, Islam is about love and peace. As Khalifah in this world in the extension of Muhammad, SAW duty to spreading Islam, we should become a good example for humankind. But how we will be able to become a good example for the world, no mention to become a role model of Ummah, if inside ourselves we are divided and never want to try to take steps to pass through those differences?
You don’t have to be born as Arabian to be able to become respected Muslim.
You don’t have to be born Muslim to be able to become respected Muslim.
You don’t have to wear Kufi to get your identity as Muslim. Black, white, brown, and yellow, all you need to do is to read Syahadat with all of your heart to become Muslim, and once you do that, you are Muslim, no matter what is the color of your skin or from which race you had been born.
The only reason to make you no longer Muslim only if you are doing shirk and worshipping other than Allah, also denying Muhammad as Messenger of Allah, the last prophet that ever existed.
Please, do not be divided, because being divided only will make us weak!
“And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations in your languages and your colours: verily in that are Signs for those who know.” Noble Qur’an 30 :22
“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).” Noble Qur’an 49 :13
Above verses told us exactly why Allah made us into a different race. It is because He wants us to know each other, to put respect on each other. It is also the sign of Allah greatness for us, not the reason to be a divide. It is not a bloodline or skin colors that make human have the dignity to live in this world. It is not the person past that count him or her as good or bad person. But it is his/her behavior today and how he/she maintain themselves in the future that should be count. Don’t hate other because of your own pride and prejudice, my Brothers and Sisters in Islam. It is not Islamic way, so should not being cope as Muslim behavior.
If you want to think further, the existence of “white Muslim” among us is really good things to celebrate. As Muslim, they brought along their understanding about western lifestyle and western wisdom, and there are many of them who really have wider knowledge about Bible. They get used to western technology and they are the proof of the power of Allah which able to reach far from the zone where Al Qur’an came down to our Prophet at the first time. Their existence inside our community will bring fresh wind inside our knowledge (ilm). Their knowledge will be useful for us to learn more about western lifestyle and wisdom. Not to copy it of course, but to use this knowledge for our benefit, to bring Islam to it golden time, the time that Al Qur’an already put prophecy on it.
We should celebrate their coming in our community, not in reverse, which is rejecting them. I’m sure many Muslim who read this will said: “I am nice to them and accepted them as good friends in my house.” Yes, of course, but will you accept them as the member of your family? (This is not my question, but this is my friend’s question. To be honest, I write this Hub to provoking him to write a Hub about his experience on this subject. I wish he will do that soon.) Will you mix your blood with them? Will you call them; my children? Will you be proud to have them in your genealogy? Please, think about this, and tell the truth about your opinion, not just some flowery nonsense that we all never need.
Be Strong, My friend
Talking about this make me feel like I’m standing in two different worlds and trying to build the bridge in between to relating it. In one side, I can see and understand the fear, but on the other side, I also can see and understand the pain. I wish I can build that bridge, and I will always try to, but somehow, for now, all I can say to my friend and all brothers and sisters who have experienced this; please, be patient.
Our ummah still has so many things to learn about each other, and all of you, as those who brought diversity into our home, I hope can be the reason for our ummah to be change, to be more open-minded and brave to face the world today. We are different, but our diversity is a gift from Allah to make our life become more colorful, not to give a reason to divide ourselves.
Don’t give up trying to become Muslim. Usually, life hits hard in the stomach and knocks all the air out of you when you least expect it (I steal this line from Muslima61. Love you, Sis!), but when one door closed to you, there will always be another door open for you to enter. When everything feels too hard for you to face, just remember, in every hardship, will certainly also have ease, and usually the glory of it always as great blessing from Allah. All we can do is to keep trying for the best and let Allah present us the result because only Allah who knew the best.
I hope this useful.
Wassalammu alaikum, Wr. Wb.