Racism/Tribalism in the Ummah Tribalism in the Ummah
Posted 04 October 2008 - 04:01 PM (#1)
I'm a revert. I've been a revert for Alhamdulillah 2 years, and I am Sunni. Please forgive me for possibly a seemingly negative post from the outset, I have however been a lurker on the forum for a bit...
I would like to address an issue I haven't really seen raised here, and seeing as it's one of the largest Sunni Forums on the Web I would like to post it here (I may possibly post it elsewhere too).
The following isn't a specific attack on the Asian Muslim culture, from what I've heard from a white Imam it can apply to the Somalian, and Arab communities in Britian. However myself and the reverts that I have known and spoken to have only been practicing mainly within Asian Muslim communities. I know that the problem isn't exclusive to my own city, in fact I think the problem is all over the world where Islam was brought to the locality by a particular race/nationality.
The problem I'm talking about is tribalism within the Ummah. When I first came became a Muslim the first year I was immune to noticing these things particularly because I visited London and the surrounding areas often to see a small group of Brothers who gave me Dawah. I isolated myself from my local Muslim community (for reasons too complex to go into now... let's just say there are such things as martial art cults) and survived the human innate need for companionship by regular visits to my brothers in London and visits to the mosque where I took my Sahadah to do Dhikr.
After that initial phase of becoming a Muslim and being a Muslim, and leaving that 'group' I began to engage and practice within my local community. One of the first things I did was look for a wife (I'm happily married now, Alhamdulillah). The local efforts by some sisters to find me a wife received no interested parties. My first personal encounter was with a half Spanish- half Asian lady who was extremely racist towards white people - I brushed that aside to misfortune and continued looking. I (stupidly with reflection) joined an online Islamic marriage site, on viewing the site I was shocked to see the blatant Racism from many sisters seeing signs such as Asian only, Bengali only, Pakistani only, and Guajarati only their profiles. One Asian Pakistani sister I contacted was eager to get married to me however eventually she confessed that her mother and father would not approve and there would be extreme consequences if she married me because I was black. After consulting a spiritual mentor I broke it off.
Simultaneously via weekly classes held for reverts, and a Dawah Table that a (white) Imam, myself and another brother, had set up in our town centre we were hearing - and sharing - stories from reverts of the tribal mentality within the Asian Muslim community. We heard stories of Asians refusing to marry and refusing their siblings to marry people outside of their ancestors nationality/race, people not having Salaams returned frequently, announcements and talks in Urdu, the prevalence of Born Muslims in mosque showing that little to no Dawah has been done in the last 40 years, lack of Dawah from born muslims in general most of us received Dawah from reverts or non Asians (normally reverts and Salafis who do Dawah), and last but not least a deep feeling of social isolation and non-acceptance from born Muslims.
I also know from a sister who attended the local Islamic Girls school that Racism is rampant amongst the youth, and that she (being half black) had to learn to 'fight back' throughout school life, and the same alienation resulting from people talking languages she didn't understand.
I would like to think the above is rare, but it seems to be something I frequently hear from the reverts I meet. One brother that stands out was a white American revert who was told that 'there are no white muslims in America', he was visibly deeply upset by the way the Asian Muslim community had treated him and told us that because his wife was Somalian the Asians began to show their disagreement towards marrying a Somalian, his adopted son was also badly treated in the local Madrassa. He no longer mixes with the mainstream muslim community here, and instead has gone to the non-racist Salafi Muslims here.
This is a side note I would like to add many Sunnis are sometimes shocked by the adherence of many people to Salafism, I'm not and I can see part of the attraction, the general non-racist attitude ie. Many well respected Salafi Ulema are from various races. I'm not a Salafi, but one thing they have is openness and dialogue about Islam to non-Muslims in a time when dangerous, and incredible, ignorance is rampant, and also (the non-Arab) Salafis don't seem to have a problem with Racism. From what I hear from Salafi local Muslims is a mixture of races and cultures in the mosque, which to be honest is extremely rare and something I've only experienced in one Sunni mosque in London.
I have been to Dhikr and talks in Birmingham of the noble Shaykh Habib Ali Jafri, and Shaykh Yaqoubi, the attendance was 95% Asian, Salaams was again almost non-existent with me initiating most of the time.
I sometimes ponder what would be the plight of my Black grandparents who are above 60, in all like hood they would lose the deep community feel of their local Church. It saddens and - in all honesty -angers me that the Ummah seems to be displaying such tribal behaviour.
My question is most Sunnis like yourselves talk about being lovers and upholders of the Sunnah, Lovers of the Prophet (SAW) , upholders and practitioners of true Islam, etc. I would like to ask why is internal Racism between Asians and Racism towards non Asians Rampant?
Why has the Asian Muslim community been largely isolationist?
Why is the use of Urdu so prevalent in the Mosques when it alienates reverts, and non-Urdu speaking Muslims?
The ***** Sunni vs. ***** and Wahhabis/Salafis may be important to you however what about important issues like breaking down the barriers that have lead to the cultural/racial isolation and alienation that is obviously in the Sunni community in England?
Posted 16 October 2008 - 10:24 PM (#2)
As Salaam Wa Alaikum Wa Rahmatullah Wa Barkatahu,
Thanks for your concerns. I think it is not what Salafi or Sunnis have in mind but it is rather mindset of people. What we put into our mind is what we believe. I hope this generation will be quite free from all this and we have to work on it and free their minds from it.
We usually respond to what we get in return from others. Action causes reaction. But the teaching of our beloved Rasool Allah Muhammad (SalAllaho Alahi WaAlehi Wasalam) there is no racism in Islam. We are all equal and our status according to ALlah Az'zawajal is what actions we do - not color or race.
Hope we are able to educate in all phases ... race, religion and creed.
Jazak ALlahu khayran.
Posted 17 October 2008 - 12:30 PM (#3)
Why is the use of Urdu so prevalent in the Mosques when it alienates reverts, and non-Urdu speaking Muslims
only if they knew how to talk english would they like using it.
during the old times it was disliked to learn and use english as it belonged to the occupying force.
but unfortunately it became a bit too late to recognise the importance english language has in todays world.
i didnt know that tribalism was so deep as you mentioned.
or maybe the problems you have mentioned might be more on other factors than actually being rascist.
anyway we have to recognise that islam is now at its lowest point.
and the scholars are trying their best to pic it up.
An important problem that the scholars have to tackle is the practice of caste system by some muslim communities in india.
Posted 17 October 2008 - 02:19 PM (#5)
It's not limited to predjudice against you and other non-asian muslims.
Also, there's been alot of jokers recently in our area who convert to islam and then expect somebody to give their daughter to them in marriage. People are wary of this and are naturally apprehensive of this type of seedy practise. They're the sort of people who have failed at everything else and see islam as a route out of their loneliness.
Why is it that these reverts are always on the dole or working as street cleaners or other sundry jobs for cash in hand that want these beautiful noble girls in marriage? I await the day a revert who is a company boss, doctor or other well to do educated person comes knocking on the doors of Asian people for marriage to their daughers.
You can talk about unity, but cultural differences will always remain and have always been.
I can speak and understand urdu fairly well, yet I have issue with why they use this language in the mosques, so it's not limited to being a conspiracy against you, but we who speak the language take issue with it. You're blowing that aspect up and make out as if it is isolating only the non-asian muslims who go there!
Posted 17 October 2008 - 03:00 PM (#6)
Brother KNL if you're not a revert then you really can't appreciate what the brother is saying. Imagine converting to Islam and then wherever and whenever you go to mosque to learn the Deen it is always transmitted in another language. In the last 12 years of me being a Muslim i've understood about 2-3 jumahs...can you imagine that?...whenever there is a dars i Qur'aan, mehfil i Milaad, conference you name it it's all in urdu...can't you imagine how isolated you would feel?? Then if you go to deo/wahhabi mosques you're told not to go there because the are wrong yet when you attend the Sunni masaajid you can't understand anything!! I even had to ask different people when Eid jammat was because the announcement was in urdu and so was the poster!!
I understand totally, me and many of my friends and peers feel exactly the same. I have been berated on these very forums numerous times for saying that we need to kick these urdu singing imams out of our mosques or force them to learn English. So this is not limited to reverts but all youngsters.
When it comes to marriage then Allaah a'ala will help and i don't blame people for marrying within their own culture as compatability is a big issue in marriage but we shouldn't solely marry from within our own racial sphere. ......" Why is it that these reverts are always on the dole or working as street cleaners or other sundry jobs for cash in hand that want these beautiful noble girls in marriage? I await the day a revert who is a company boss, doctor or other well to do educated person comes knocking on the doors of Asian people for marriage to their daughers."....yeah cos all asian Muslims are scientists, doctors and astronauts...i mean it's not as if there are any grocery shop cash in hand muslims or muslims working and signing on is it??....is this what you think of reverts...i think you've proved brother luqmans point quite accurately!!I
No, not all asian muslims are, but i'm sure if an asian muslim wanted to marry a noble white secularist girl of good repute and familial background (hypothetically speaking), then surely you can't expect to walk into their house parking your taxi outside 'innit' and expect, nay demand to be accepted just like that.
When you move out of your cultural comaptible circles, then people have higher expectations from you, as you don't bring a cultural background, so what do you have to offer? Street cleaning? illiteracy? cabbing? Well, Amjed puttar has all those credentials as well,, as well as being the son of a very good friend and marriage to him will stregnthen family bonds.
The one thing asian muslims have, is strong family bonds, don't try to coax that away from us and make us feel ashamed of it, using these psedudo islamic arguments.
f people are converting to marry girls then that is wrong...what about pakistani taxi drivers chatting up any woman who sits in the cab, also Muslim boys dating non Muslim girls, getting them pregnant and doing a runner is also highly prevalent...and let's not forget the classic...."we've been "going out" for 3 years now tracey but if you want to marry me you have to become Muslim as my Islam comes first (which if it did he wouldn't have been dating her in the first place!!) so there are nasty parts to both issues.
What the hell's this got to do with anything? This is haraam and sin, what's this got to do with it? It needs to be condemned.
The deos/wahhabs are far ahead of us in dawah and understanding the issue of race from an Islamic perspective. At the ahle hadeeth masjid here in birmingham you see that the majority of the Muslims there are reverts..black..white..you name it and there is an air of racial cohesion and not isolation and this is due to the fact that their imams preach in english and their publications are also in english....i personally can't stand the salafi beliefs but i must admit i feel jealous of their organisational ability, racial harmony and their overall focus on dawah, reverts and the youth.
My deo/ wahabi friends say the same about us!
Posted 19 October 2008 - 12:21 PM (#7)
Waalaykum Salaam Warahmatullah
Brother Luqman, i think a lot of people (Asian and non Asian) can relate to the problems you have pointed out.
The Asian Muslim community definitely needs to modernise its operations in line with the ever changing society we live in today. However, i think that over the last few years thinks have definitely started getting better.
The issue of Urdu only speaking imams was one of the biggest complaints of Asian youngsters who complained that they can't understand what the imam is saying! So this is not an Asian/non Asian issue. As a result many Masjid's have tried to introduce English speaking imams and teachers.
Of course, the extent to which things are improving varies from city to city and from Masjid to Masjid. There is especially good progress being made in Masjid's and organisations with a lot of youngsters who are heavily involved in day to day operations.
The problem is not only when Urdu speaking imams speak at Jummah, but an even bigger problem is when the children go to Maddrasa and can not communicate with their teacher! They can not build a relationship with their teacher, which is what leads to bad behaviour and teachers sending most of the class time disciplining them rather than teaching! This leaves the kids detached from Maddrasa and the deen altogether. But like i said, things are changing slowly but surely. For example, our Maddrasa has a policy when recruiting new staff that they must be able to speak English. But it doesn't stop there, one of the principle aims of the Maddrasa should be to make the Maddrasa the most exciting part of the Childs day! So that they cherish their time their when they are older, and remain attached to the deen throughout their lives.
There is a huge amount of work to be done, but it is up to those who feel strongly about the issue, and who want to see change to do something about it. Put pressure on your local Masjid's and imams try to get more involved in helping the masjid in its activities.
InshaAllah things will continue to improve. Even if one masjid makes bold changes other Masjid's will eventually follow their lead.
Posted 19 October 2008 - 04:05 PM (#8)
Posted 19 October 2008 - 04:41 PM (#9)
Posted 19 October 2008 - 04:46 PM (#10)
I applaud your honest and you bringing up this topic.
I can tell people I've experienced strange things myself...but being from an asian background I probably dont stick out too much like a sore thumb.
I've had people look at me like dirt saying, "you dont speak mirpuri?"
And I'm like, "hello im a revert...having asian skin doesnt mean you can put me in a box!"
And then there are those, "Mummy will never accept you because you are not from my tribe (beradari), tho masha Allah ur a gr8 sister."
I think only reverts can truly understand, how after the initial shahada period...
we are left
isolated, alone, and it seems like no-one cares anymore; and when we look for marriage it seems no one wants to help.
I know a revert sister who just cand find a brother who is willing to marry her because she is half caste!!! And masha Allah she is one pious sister... and I have tried so many brothers to the point she's fed-up.
It's a lonely life being a revert.... my spouse and I are both are reverts (of different colors, nationality, etc)... but alhamdulillah we are blessed with a wonderful community of fellow mureeds who are not at all rascist and have really welcomed us into their worlds.
Unfortunately this situation does occur; and there is a lot of... you cannot marry this color, this language, this tribe people.
I know a sister who was beaten up totally because she was a mirpuri wanting to marry a rai ?!? I also know one of her brothers is on this forum! Whats up with that?
We cant deny it occurs. I just hope that newer generations are more tolerant and realise that deen is the most important thing!
As for saying the reverts are all street cleaners, etc.... have u thought that money is not everything. Wouldnt you rather your daughter was married to a man who treated her well according to the deen, rather than a CEO of a company who may very well be making his 500,000 a year plus his pretty little PA on the side. Of course good muslim reverts expect practising sisters because they have given up so much themselves to become muslim, and this is what islam teaches us...to marry for deen not petro-dollars!
Posted 19 October 2008 - 05:00 PM (#12)
Posted 19 October 2008 - 05:44 PM (#13)
My family is from a pakistani background, however we are from punjab and not mirpur.
Alhimdillah my aunt married a hindu revert of indian origin (about 5 years ago), and the family has welcomed him with open arms. I will admit that at first there was a problem trying to convince my grandfather - however, after a few days he came round to the idea.
So - this problem does exist, but please don't paint all Asians with the same brush.
Confidentiality will be maintained.
Posted 19 October 2008 - 05:52 PM (#14)
SalaamMy family is from a pakistani background, however we are from punjab and not mirpur.Alhimdillah my aunt married a hindu revert of indian origin (about 5 years ago), and the family has welcomed him with open arms. I will admit that at first there was a problem trying to convince my grandfather - however, after a few days he came round to the idea.So - this problem does exist, but please don't paint all Asians with the same brush.
Alhamdulillah thats great!
Let me take this oportunity to point out the same problem on the flip side....
the non-muslim family also give pain to the revert for marrying a muslim/different culture... (in effect the converts need a lot of support, not further problems from both families....)
so how did ur uncles family react to him marrying a pakistani?
Posted 19 October 2008 - 05:58 PM (#15)
so how did ur uncles family react to him marrying a pakistani?
His family disowned him as soon as he embraced Islam. The problem was slightly bigger than marrying a pakistani - the problem was marrying somebody who was NOT A HINDU!
Although, he visits his mother whenever he can. To put it bluntly, 99% of his family contacts were severed.
His brothers have also plotted to severely beat him.
Confidentiality will be maintained.
Posted 19 October 2008 - 06:23 PM (#16)
I can relate to that!
Posted 19 October 2008 - 06:27 PM (#17)
Some of these people already drowned in their own culture, racism and dunya worship that they are blinded, yet they think they represent some kind of true Islam.
Alhamdulillah when I reverted to Islam I was accepted by the Arab Wahhabi community instantly, and there was never a question about it. Though I have felt somewhat of racism and prejudice from some people at times. But not from the practicing brothers who actually care to study the deen.
The reason Wahhabis are less racist and treat all races justly is because the Salafis want to go back to the roots, whether we agree with their methodology or not, they intend to wash away all the filthy cultural practices, while the so called traditionalists have left Islamic practices for cultural traditionalism. People speak of not imitating the kuffar, but caste systems etc are surely from imitation of the kuffar and their kufr beliefs.
Of course some sisters and brothers find it hard to go against their family and community. And if we take compatibility into concideration, of course this is acceptable. But many brothers and sisters feel that they are compatible, but family don't accept it. It's peoples weakness that makes them fall into this bad cycle. It's understandable that they don't wanna go against their families and severe the ties etc. But as a whole, whether it starts with one person, one family etc, it has to be done sooner or later to save the community from this filth. People care more about what their neighbour thinks than what Allah (jalla jallalahu).
The Prophet (sallAllahu alayhi wa aalihi wassalam) predicted that this behaviour would continue in his Ummah, but they (sallAllahu alayhi wa aalihi wassalam) didn't find it acceptable the least bit. Once again people care more about neighbours and local community than the Prophet (sallAllahu alayhi wa aalihi wassalam) that they claim to follow. Now some people are just weak, that's another thing, but some people believe it's an acceptable system or even good, these people don't realise that they are trying to turn haram into halal, or even mustahab. This is a curse for the Ummah.
What Know the Ledge wrote is just another sign of this. His ignorant and outrageous statements are not only an insult to the reverts but also to Islam itself. Saying people revert because they failed, subhan'Allah, not realising that reversion to Islam is indeed the greatest of victories.
It doesn't matter whether one is a doctor or a street sweeper, both are needed in this society. So you can't find fault at someone fulfilling their position in society. Or how would it look if everyone was a doctor or a company boss. Then everyone could sit there with their own companies and rot to death when they don't have any employees.
A pious person will not reject another pious person because he doesn't have enough money etc. So it only shows that these people won't marry their daughters to such a man because of their dunya-worship.
Saying Asians have strong family bonds etc is just a way to run away from the real problem. The problem is that they put these family bonds (as the brother claims) before the deen. Now they can continue corrupting the deen in the name of family unity, or they can take a stand and help to purify Islam from all the filth.
And why take the example of an Asia muslim marrying a white kafir.
Of course this kafir family is not gonna care about Islam, the reason why it looks to prove your point.
Some people have some serious waking up to do.
Posted 19 October 2008 - 06:37 PM (#18)
But many brothers and sisters feel that they are compatible, but family don't accept it.
It's so true... what would so and so say?? How many times have we heard this!!
Subhan Allah, but maybe only reverts appreciate the trueness of this...we dont take our deen for granted.
Its true.... why are so many graduates un-employed... there are too many graduates and not enough people to do the other jobs. And now the ministers want to complain about immigration due to unemployement when in fact the problem is the british born see blue collar, low skilled jobs as beneath them.
Posted 19 October 2008 - 06:46 PM (#19)
I disagree with this notion that your job is totally unimportant, and i do not believe for one second that you will be happy if your daughter marrried a street cleaner.
Yes - deen plays an integral role, however you also need to make sure that the husband can provide for the family.
Confidentiality will be maintained.
Posted 19 October 2008 - 06:51 PM (#20)
so lets not go there about "providing" for the family.