Saturday, 20 April 2019

Disease of Racism (Part 1)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
ولا حول ولا قوة الا بالله العلي العظيم
Racism is a disease of the heart and a kind of spiritual blindness in which a person discriminates on things as superficial as skin color, hair texture, shape of eyes, nose, lips and other physical features. We may acknowledge our racial differences, but to think a race of people are superior or inferior on the basis of their race is sheer ignorance. Islam is the only Religion which seriously addresses the issue of racism, while some other religions like Hinduism actually perpetuate racism and construct a theological foundation for discrimination on the basis of race, caste and color.
A large fraction of the Muslim community hails from the Indian subcontinent and are descendants of Hindu converts, including myself. Although we are Muslims, our society and culture still carries a lot of undesirable baggage from our pre-Islamic, Hindu heritage, especially certain racist attitudes and behaviors. In fact, in some aspects we are worse than the Hindus. The prevalence of cousin marriage, for example, is largely a Muslim phenomenon. While Islamic law recognizes the validity of cousin marriage, this license has been used and abused by Muslims, especially certain South Asian and Arab communities, to create a tradition of first cousin marriage for generations upon generations. This has led to so many genetic, health problems due to lack of diversity in the gene pool. Interracial marriage, which is sadly considered a cultural taboo among so many Muslim communities, is actually something good and liked by our Religion, as evidenced by the Prophet’s own Sunna of arranging interracial marriages. Among the benefits of interracial marriage is that healthy diversity within the gene pool, which actually contributes to greater physical beauty and attraction along with improved health and physique. I myself am a product of a diverse marriage - my father hails from Hyderabad (India) and my mother is a Punjabi woman from Pakistan, whereas most of my other maternal relatives practice the common Pakistani-Punjabi tradition of first cousin marriage that has proven to be so destructive and unhealthy.
Colorism is another social disease among Muslims of South Asia. The thriving market of “whitening” products, which are quite harmful to the body and are known to cause skin cancer, is an example of how our culture prefers fair complexion and looks down on those who have more melanin in their skin. I view this phenomenon as evil and an example of the the Qur’anic condemnation of “changing the creation of Allah” (Sura 4:119). Likewise, the phenomena of nose jobs, lip injections or reduction surgeries, and African people using certain harmful chemicals and other products to “straighten” the natural texture of their hair, is a result of an inferiority complex which European cultural colonialism is largely responsible for. Allah created every race of human beings beautiful; each race has its unique features and beauty. But it is more important to focus on the inner beauty of the heart which increases with acts of compassion, good deeds and selflessness.
The Arabs have a greater responsibility to act upon the pure and honorable teachings of Islam. That they have largely abandoned this responsibility and are among the most corrupt of our community is quite self-evident. The mistreatment of South Asians, Africans, Filipinos and other non-White groups in the Gulf countries is a well known problem. Arab culture has a lot of racism directed at Black Africans due to the historic injustice of chattel slavery, a legacy of the pre-Islamic Arabs. Certain deragatory slurs are quite commonly applied to Black Africans by Arabs who must be shamed and called to account for this haram racism which, as I said, is a perversion of the heart. So although we have a problem of racism in the Muslim community, it is not comparable and at the same level as that which exists in non-Muslim societies like Hindu India, China, Europe and Latin America. In fact, often we Muslims are the victims of racism of non-Muslim bigotry, as is increasingly the case in Europe and America. Muslims have been subjected to genocide such as what happened in Bosnia during the 1990s, and more recently, the genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Burma. In these genocides, Muslims were targeted not only on the basis of their faith, but also because of their ethnic and racial differences. These days there is a revival of White supremacism and racism in the Western world. While these far-right forces of White supremacy target many different non-White groups with their vitriolic hatred, we should always remember that they consider us Muslims as their greatest enemy. In other worse, we have the greatest stake in this global struggle against racism and prejudice. The recent horrific terrorist massacre at two mosques in New Zealand reveals how this racist and anti-Muslim bigotry is entering a dangerous, violent phase which we should not ignore.

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