Originally authored on 6/8/20 - Please click link for reference: https://www.quora.com/q/discoverislam/Islam-The-Solution-to-Americas-Racism
America’s Struggle Against Racism
As protests continue to happen throughout United States at the death of George Floyd, a black man killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, many are questioning if Civil Rights Act of 1964 and similar legislations (Voting Rights Act of 1965), that gave blacks and other minorities equal rights and citizenship in US, ever fulfilled their purpose. These acts were the result of struggles by famous rights activists such as Rosa Parks, Malcom X & Martin Luther King Jr. who initiated their civil rights movements to end the curse of segregation based on skin color. In 1955 when a black lady named Rosa Parks was arrested for not leaving her seat for white commuters, her defiance gave the major impetus that mobilized the blacks in America under Martin Luther and Malcom X to peacefully struggle till acceptance of their rights as equal citizens. Despite passage of historical legislations, we continue to experience incidents like one in Minneapolis. After several decades, the American people wonder why struggle for equal rights for blacks and other minorities continues to be a national crisis and why racism is still found institutionalized in certain public sectors especially the law enforcement such as police and similar agencies.
The Root Cause of Racism in United States
The slavery of the blacks in the United States was justified through a passage of Bible, Book of Genesis, famously called the “Curse of Ham”. According to the Bible, Ham, one of the sons of Noah, finds Noah drunk and naked in his tent. He tells his brothers, Shem and Japheth, who proceed to cover their father without gazing at him. When Noah finds out what happened, he curses Ham's son Canaan, saying he shall be ''a servant of servants”. ''And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father. . . .When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, he said, “Cursed be Canaan; a slave of slaves shall he be to his brothers.” (Genesis 9:22-24,25) Given the fact that Bible underwent changes throughout its history, one cannot be sure of this incident, yet it has been widely accepted by Judeo Christian leaders. Throughout history, Jewish and Christian scholars interpreted this incident by assigning slavery and servitude to Ham and his sons. Despite the fact only “Canaan” was cursed in the text, the primary target became Ham himself because of how he acted in a dishonorable manner towards his father. In addition to this, the Hebrew word “Ham” or “Haam” in the Rabbinic literature means “black” or “brown,” and thus indicated associations with the black skinned Africans. Interestingly in Arabic “haam” or حم also means “black” or “burn” or “hot”, Hebrew being a sister language of Arabic gives the same variety of meaning to this word. Due to these variety of meanings the black populations inhabiting the hot Sub-Saharan African region are considered the correct descendants of Ham. Since Noah cursed Ham’s descendancy, one of them named Kush or Cush, the eldest of Ham’s son, considered as the progenitor of many black African nations, became the primary target.
This interpretation was used as the pretext to enslave blacks from the African continent by Christian European Colonizers and brought to the US. This concept of defacto status of less honor for any given race or nation should be no surprise for the Jews & Christians because Judaic teachings strongly believe in the defacto status Children of Israel as “God’s chosen people” among humankind (Deuteronomy 7:6). With higher status comes greater responsibility but throughout history there has been a tendency among the Jewish clergy to consider this status as their “unconditional God given right”. One of the major expressions of this misinterpretation can be observed in the illegal and brutal occupation of Palestine and enslavement of Palestinians by the Israelis who consider it their right to do this as they have a special status.
How Islam Can Help Defeat Racism?
Quran, which Muslims believe is the extension of the Bible, the Final Testament revealed to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ to deliver God’s message for entire humankind. The primary purpose for this final revelation is to confirm the teachings of previous Prophets such as Moses (a.s) and Jesus son of Mary (a.s) and correct the misinterpretations done by the followers of these 2 great Messengers’. The Quran explicitly opposes concepts of race superiority and chosen peoples and provides no room for any racist interpretation whatsoever. It teaches that the first sin to have ever committed by anyone was the arrogant act of racism by satan or iblees (Arabic form of diabolo) against Adam (a.s) claiming “I am better than he is: You created me from fire and him from clay.” (Al Quran 7:12). The Quran approves cultural diversity, rejects Judaic chosen people concept solely based on lineage (Al Quran 2:124) and emphasizes that all humans are equal in the sight of God and the best is not the one who has a particular color, belongs to a certain race or ethnic background, in fact “the best among you is the one who is most pious & righteous” (Al Quran 49:13, 30:22). An echo of this teaching can be found in the famous farewell sermon (khutbatul wida) that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ delivered and said “a white does not have any superiority over a black and neither does a black have over a white, an Arab does not have over a non-Arab and vice versa, and that all of us have been descended from Adam (alaihi salaam) and he was created of earth” thus reminding us of our true origin. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, himself an Arab reminded the majority of his Arab following that “I admonish you to fear Allah, to listen and obey even if an Abyssinian slave (black man) is appointed as your leader…” Islam discourages slavery and emancipation of slaves is one of the most highest acts of piety (Al Quran 2:177). One of the major sources of inspiration for Malcom X to accept Islam was the incident when Prophet Muhammad ﷺ rebuked his companion Abu Dharr Al-Ghifari (r.a) for mistreatment of his black companion named Bilal ibn Rabah (r.a), who rose to a leading position within the Muslim community of 7th century Arabia. Abu Dharr (r.a) called Bilal (r.a) "the son of a black woman." Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was annoyed and criticized Abu Dharr for identifying people by skin color and stated, "you are the man who still has the traits of jahilliya (ignorance) in him." The jahilliya refers to the "pre-Islamic state of ignorance” in which the Arabs were engrossed before Islam came to their rescue. Religion holds a sacred place in the hearts and minds of individuals and can become a source of major change in people’s lives and nations. Since the Biblical text employed for centuries to support discrimination and racism against others, it is only religious sacredness that can help defeat racism in America at all levels. Martin Luther King Jr correctly said “Sunday morning remains the most segregated hour in America” because majority among each community goes to their own churches, blacks go to theirs and so does Whites, Hispanics, Asians etc. Two in three (66 percent) Americans have never regularly attended a place of worship where they were an ethnic minority, according to new polling analysis released by LifeWay Research. This is obviously due to the impact on Christian hearts and minds of their centuries old teachings. In Islam, it’s the opposite. The worshippers in any given masjid in US, hail from different ethnic backgrounds, all equally stand shoulder to shoulder 5 time a day before their Creator, with no discrimination whatsoever. As Islam explicitly addresses and opposes the problem of racism, its sacred teachings can impact the hearts and minds of Americans and accomplish that no anti-racist legislation can.
The last 30 minutes of George Floyd's life
امریکا میں سیاہ فاموں کے حقوق کے لیے ہونے والی جنگ کی داستان
Bible Gateway passage: Genesis 9 - New International Version
The Curse of Ham - David M. Goldenberg 2009 - https://muse.jhu.edu/chapter/1186558
Civil rights movement
Slavery in the United States
Sunnah.com - Sayings and Teachings of Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم)
Sunday Is Still the Most Segregated Day of the Week
Prophet Muhammad’s Farewell Pilgrimage and Farewell Speech
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