بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
ولا حول ولا قوة الا بالله العلي العظيم
I’ve often argued that a Muslim should ideally be de-racialized. Once you become a Muslim, your race is merely an incidental attribute and cannot be the basis of your identity. It is Islam, your faith, that replaces race or anything else like ethnicity, nationality, etc., in terms of identity. This is truly the only solution to the problem of racism or other superficial divisions among people that they have inherited. The advent of the modern nation state served to divide Muslims more than anything else in our history. Likewise, identity politics on the basis of race and ethnicity has further divided us and is a means of undermining our religious consciousness. Sadly, the majority of Muslims today may consider their nationality or ethnicity as their primary identity, relegating their religion to a secondary role in terms of identity. Religion for many is merely a private or individual expression and they have no sense of a Muslim communal identity or consciousness.
Having said this, I must point out that when a race of people suffer discrimination on the basis of their race, we have to acknowledge its existence and cannot bury our heads in the sand with the so-called “color-blind” philosophy. The reality of our time is that Black African people are the greatest victims of racism, discrimination and prejudice. There are historical reasons for why this is the case. While Muslims who are Black should de-racialize themselves like all other Muslims, we have to acknowledge the racial discrimination they have been subjected to and continue to be subjected to. In the United States, the prison industrial complex, racial profiling, police brutality, and discrimination in employment and housing are real issues that have significantly harmed the African-American community. We have to remember that a quarter of the Muslims in America are African-American, and that an estimated 64% of converts to Islam there are African-American. They are by and large the face of Islam in America, but have been neglected by the immigrant Muslim communities who largely run the organizations and institutions that represent our community. There is a tragic trend of different ethnic groups establishing separate mosques. I myself have personally witnessed mosques that are literally right next to each other, which have been established to serve different ethnic groups. It is not uncommon to hear “this is a Turkish mosque, this is a South Asian mosque, this is an African-American mosque, etc.” In countries like the United States, Muslims should take advantage and celebrate their ethnic and racial diversity. We should not be segregated into different mosques, but all worship in the same mosque. As for language barriers, that is a problem that can be easily overcome. It is true that the immigrant, older generation’s issue with the language barrier has in large part contributed to the establishment of ethnic-based mosques. But as younger American Muslims by and large speak and understand English, we have to make an effort to re-integrate our community and all worship together in the same mosques.