Race Against Racism and Injustice

Speaking against racism and injustice is easy, but keeping oneself free from the viruses of this disease doesn’t seem to be so easy.  More often than not, people speak against racism not because they abhor this practice or they want to eliminate the reminiscences of racism from the society all together. Rather, many people’s public stance against racism is dictated by a kind of utilitarian consideration and calculation. After all, the social, political and even financial cost for anyone’s being exposed as “racially insensitive” is too high in America today, as evident in many political down falls and firing from offices of high stature. Our politicians therefore are keen to craft their language with anti-racist rhetoric and this way they seek to maximize their political gains and support. The worse scenario, however, emerges when people start speaking the language that is politically correct, but they continue to act otherwise. Their formula is very simple, as described by Professor Taylor: “Acknowledge that the problem exists, while actively undermining any effort to deal with the problem.” (K. Taylor, “Civil rights and civil wrongs: Racism in America today,” International Socialist Review, Issue 32, November–December 2003). Former President George W. Bush’s speeches could be cited as a classic example of this trend. While visiting Africa in 2003, he (Bush) said in one of his speeches: “My nation’s journey toward justice has not been easy and it is not over. The racial bigotry fed by slavery did not end with slavery or with segregation. And many of the issues that still trouble America have roots in the bitter experience of other times.” Yet, it didn’t prevent Bush and his party stalwarts from dismantling affirmative action and adopting discriminatory policies that put the minorities in great disadvantage and despair in many aspects of their lives.

Racism is primarily a psycho-moral and spiritual problem. Therefore, the pathology of racism requires a spiritual remedy at both the individual and collective levels

Racism, as we all know, has many forms and faces –it can be blatant or subtle and disguised. It’s thus no wonder that the ascendancy of Barack Obama, an African American man, to the highest office of the United States, didn’t dismantle the racist structure of the society. While Obama’s election as the President is certainly a historic achievement and development, one has to recognize this fact also that there are so many subtle and covert ways in which racism can be manifested at all levels of society.  To quote an analyst, “Modern’ racism still involves a rejection of minority groups and discrimination, but is now framed in terms of values and ideology rather than a straightforward dislike. Research has demonstrated that the modern variant of racism is more insidious, entrenched, resilient and difficult to counteract.” (See “Moving beyond Racism,”http://www.psychology.org.au/publications/tip_sheets/beyond/)
So, how to get out of this hell hole? Before delving into that we should also enquire why today after having all the historic legislations and initiatives, society continues to suffer from the disease of racism. The answer is obvious: “while man’s actions can be legislated, their hearts and fears cannot.” Indeed, racism is primarily a moral and spiritual problem, and therefore, it requires spiritual cure both at individual and collective level.

Our fellow citizens and humanity must know that Islam provides that spiritual cure. The Qur’an declares: “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 honored of you in the sight of God is he who is the most righteous of you” (Quran 49:13). This declaration brings to our notice that “there is no race or cultural group that is superior to others, and people are not ‘lesser’ because of their racial, ethnic or cultural origins.”
The Prophet Muhammad (saws) has also concurred: “O people, Remember that your Lord is One. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a black has no superiority over white, nor does a white have any superiority over black, except by piety and good deed (Taqwa). Indeed the best among you is the one with the best character (Taqwa).” (Excerpted from the Prophet’s Last Sermon)

It’s worth mentioning that this is not an empty slogan, rather a strong reminder and a serious warning, for its rejection is tantamount to abandoning Islam and its non-compliance means returning to Jahiliyyat (darkness). In both cases, the consequences are same: Straight Hell-fire. The Prophet (saws) thus further warned: “Whoever has pride in his heart equal to the weight of an atom shall not enter Paradise.” A companion asked: what about a person who likes to wear beautiful clothes and fine shoes, and the Prophet said: God is beautiful and likes beauty, but pride is different—it’s rejecting the truth because of self-esteem and looking down on other people.” (Muslim). The Prophet also said: Let people stop boasting about their ancestors. One is only a pious believer or a miserable sinner. All men are sons of Adam, and Adam came from dust (Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi).

This is how the Prophet (saws) cleansed the mindset of his people and the society from the vices of racism and prejudice. Should we want that today, we must also embrace and emulate his teachings whole heartedly and race against racism and injustices by all our means and force! May God, the Almighty, enable us to make it! Ameen. SOURCE