Fulfilling our responsibility in upholding justice as Muslims
Videos have recently been circulating of the brutalisation and deaths of black people in America and for every person watching with a conscience and heart, this is a deeply sad and painful time of grieving. There have been too many names and too many videos recently and it’s important to note that this has been happening for a long time. However, this is perhaps the first time in history that the global community is watching recordings of it happening and truly seeing the situation.
George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. Eric Garner. Philando Castile. Trayvon Martin. The names of black people treated unjustly are endless and we know that Allah SWT has the list of every single one of their names. The weight of injustice in His eyes is immense, and far more comprehensive than what we see. This stream of news of black people dying and black bodies being brutalised is traumatic, especially for those who look at these videos and pictures and think, that could have been my mother or my husband or my son, or, that could be me next?
Studies on racism and its impact on mental health have found that ‘witnessing ethnoviolence or discrimination of another person, historical or personal memory of racism, institutional racism, micro aggressions, and the constant threat of racial discrimination’ is processed as trauma. These traumatic experiences can become PTSD if left unaddressed. Videos now circulating and the vivid descriptions of people’s deaths and violence directed towards black people has a heavy mental toll, especially on black people.
A lot of us cannot imagine seeing bodies that look like ours being brutalised and photographed for the world to see especially seeing these images day in day out, week after week. We cannot imagine seeing videos of members of our community dying at the hands of people who have no concern when they hear their victim pleading for mercy. Being utterly devastated and outraged at the state of the world is not righteous, it is the absolute bare minimum. We can’t leave Black people, Muslim and non-Muslim, to think that we do not care about the deaths of their community members.
We are not a community to just sit back and watch whilst members of our own community and others are in clear distress.
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.”
This is the time to use our hands. Use them to donate to funds that support the protection of black people, provide legal aid for them and mental health and welfare services because their trauma is innumerable. This is the time to check in with our black friends and community members. Letting them know that you care about them and you want to help in any way you can, but now is not the time to ask questions about race, or request explanations and history lessons. Without a doubt they are already sad and exhausted (which is an understatement). Google exists, and if we can search for simple word definitions, we can search for this. Take initiative and learn using the many resources being circulated now.
Ijeoma Oluo has said “Don’t make us swim through your tears whilst we fight”. We can feel the deep injustice and deep sadness but what is needed now is action. Do the work to learn how to become anti-racist.
“The beauty of anti-racism is that you don’t have to pretend to be free of racism to be an anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it’s the only way forward.”- Ijeoma Oluo.
Perhaps a place to start is by working through Layla Saad’s book “Me and White Supremacy”. Layla Saad is a Black Muslim whose work is informed by her beliefs. Her work is based on the understanding that “you shut down a part of your humanity in order to participate in white supremacy… Racism doesn’t just hurt the people on the receiving end of racism. It also hurts the people who are being racist.” Educate yourselves and your family members regardless of how uncomfortable this may be for you. Know that this discomfort is nothing in comparison to the pain black people have experienced. Whilst you journey towards being an active ally to black people you will also free yourself of the poison of white supremacy which may also be causing you a lot of pain too.
Donate if you can. Support black owned businesses. Support your local black community in the ways that they need and request for it. Keep speaking and supporting but remember to centre black voices. Pray for the healing of every soul that resides in a black body in this world that has been traumatised, bereaved, falsely accused of crimes, beaten, hypersexualised and living in abject poverty because of racism.
To our Black supporters and followers, we stand with you in solidarity. We want to support what we can, and we want to hear from you. We want you to know, making our team more diverse and representative is a standing agenda but unfortunately we do not have enough black representation in our organisation so we urge you to consider volunteering with us if you are able to, and as always, we are here for you, if you need support, contact us.
We have previously discussed how the media influences our mental health, the use of social media, and how it can be hard to find the balance as things can get overwhelming – we hope you all take care of yourselves and be mindful about media consumption.