Being Black and Muslim

This week, those of you on Twitter may have noticed your Muslim friends using the hashtag #BeingBlackAndMuslim to describe their experiences – both beautiful and sad – of being, well, black and Muslim (here’s a great Storify that sums up the conversation). This online discussion is part of a larger conversation catalyzed by Muslim ARC, the Muslim Anti-racism Collaborative which was publicly launched this week. I’ve often said that the three largest challenges facing American Muslim communities are misogyny, racism and sectarianism, which is why I’m proud to be one of the founding members of Muslim ARC. During Black History Month, we are delving deeper into the conversation, with three more Twitter hashtags, including a Feb. 20 Twitter Talk with African American Muslim leaders.

One of the actions we are asking American Muslim mosques to take is to dedicate at least one sermon during the month of February to address internal racism, especially anti-black racism, within Muslim communities. We are focusing on Friday,  Feb, 21 – the anniversary of the assassination of the great American Muslim leader, El-Hajj Malik Shabazz. Please share our “Letter to Imams” with your mosque leaders and encourage them join our national khutbah campaign.

Assalaamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh

We are contacting you on behalf of the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC)[1] with a khutbah request for Black History Month. From the time of our Noble Prophet ﷺ‎, anti-Black and anti-African racism has plagued Muslim societies and communities. As you are aware, these beliefs go against the messages that are at the heart of our Holy Qur’an and Prophetic traditions.

All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood.

—Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, The Last Sermon.

One way that we can raise awareness regarding anti-Black racism today is by continuing to educate ourselves and others. If you have not already, would you please consider speaking about Black Muslim history and anti-Black racism in the ummah during your khutbah on Friday, February 21st? As an imam, you are a central figure in many Muslim communities and are thus specially positioned in your community to address these important topics and begin a conversation in your city about an issue that is often not thoroughly addressed. We ask that you take this opportunity to highlight our ethical responsibilities as Muslims to challenge ethnic chauvinism and tribalism.

In the interest of strengthening our brotherhood, we are providing you with a list of topics that we think merit particular attention given what we have observed in our ongoing conversations on social media and with Muslim organizers and activists across the country.

We include talking points and some resources in our letter. Please share widely!

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