Channel: Boonaa Mohammed
In this episode Boonaa Mohammed hang’s out with Sh. Abdullah Hakim Quick, they talk about being black and muslim.
Bismillah Alhamdulillah wa salatu salam ala rasulillah salam aleikum, wa rahmatullah wa barakatu. Brothers and sisters, this is Bonnie Mohammed coming at you with another episode of hangout where we literally hang out. And I have the honor of hosting, you know, someone who I personally look up to someone who I think has so much to offer our community and has been doing so much over the past, I don't know how many decades check Dr. I felt like even quixotic project, like I'm so
hungry, that it's an honor having you here and we were having a really fruitful discussion about a topic that actually has has been now kind of spoken more about openly in our community. And there was a hashtag not that long ago, it was called being black and Muslim, where, you know, black people were sharing their thoughts around, you know, being African being black being Muslim, and the different issues that arise in our in our, you know, our Islam and the understanding that we have and how we practice them in our everyday life. And I thought this would be a great, you know, topic discuss with you because I think there is so much we can derive from and understand from the black
Muslim experience. First of all, just before we start, can you define for me? Okay, no, this is a very big question now. But can you define for me, what does black mean? So if someone says they're black? What actually does that mean? Is it just skin color? Or is it more than that? Well, black, of course, you know, in the word itself is a color, right? And so that that concept will vary from continent to continent. But when we are using it in the Americas, now, you and this consciousness is really filtered throughout the world. We're really talking about Africa. And so black, in a sense, is a person who identifies with the African continent, right, Malcolm X, himself, who in the 60s was
one of the strongest Black Power advocates, was a light skinned person with red here. So he shocked the African continent when he went there, right. And they saw him because for them, Black is really dark skin. And the other would be brown or yellow. But in the context of North America, Black is a person who was identifying with the African continent. So whether you're a dark skin brown, yellow, as long as you have, you know, some coffee, you know, some in your meal, something like that.
That coffee is a doc, a little milk in it. Still coffee. Okay, so as long as there's a little coffee there, that is still color. Okay, good. And I think just to clarify that, because I think now in our community, there's a lot of, you know, people have different stigmas against against black people, and even amongst quote unquote, black people, there's obviously some sort of tension, I'll give you the example of my upbringing, because my family's from from Ethiopia. And, you know, coming to Canada, and and being told that I was black, you know, for us, we didn't really identify as black was black for us, meant something else, you know, we thought we were different, or we were African
or whatever. So it just feels like you know, this completely different culture is now just being integrated, right? Where you have people that have Caribbean black experience versus people maybe in South America, people in the Americas people in the continent. And now we're just kind of immodestly put together and told that we're all black. And even in the Muslim community, you'd still find that little bit of a difference, right? where some people feel as though these are black, and these are African Americans. They're black, but we're not black. Right? Is that something you've dealt with before? That kind of tension? Yes. I mean, this is something which, for me, was very strange,
because I was an I'm an African American, with Caribbean roots, and then I went to Arabia. So while I was in Saudi Arabia, and my wife has darker complexion, and one day, you know, she was down, I was downstairs, and she was upstairs with the women. And they were speaking in Arabic, and she had learned Arabic very quickly. And so um, they didn't know that though. So then one of the women said, Who's, who's this new woman? They said, Well, you know, she's married to that white guy downstairs.
And that was shocking, because to say the word white but in Arabia, it means light skinned, all right. So they would not use the word us what, okay, or soda with somebody who was lightest get that person is like up yet, you know, so so it's a different concept. What we have to remember is that being black in America, connects us to the Atlantic slave trade. And slavery was an international phenomenon. It was every culture. There were Chinese slaves, African slaves, European slaves. But what separated the Atlantic slave trade. Now you're talking about, you know, that the 15th, the 16th 17th century. What separates that slave trade is that when the European colonists first came to
North America, Central and South America, they tried to enslave the native people who were living, but that didn't work because this was the land of the native people and they would need to sit down
Right away, then they tried to enslave the poor white people, Europeans, that didn't work, because they were fleeing from oppression in Europe. And finally, they look to see, can we find somebody who is easy to identify? Who knows that the climate, the tropical climate, and can assist us in growing cotton, tobacco and other, you know, products such as this. And so they realized West Africa, Central Africa, that's the best place, right? So they began to steal people literally from the coastline. African selling Africans, there were no Arabs in West Africa at the time, by the way, but Africans who had prisoners of war, they would sell their prisoners war on the coastline. So the
slave trade began. And after a period of time, about 100 years or so, they did what they call the code law, where they said, Any person who is of African descent, light skin, medium range or black, you are now black, and you're a slave. Okay, so the concept of being African in the West, from around the 17th century or so, became synonymous with a slave. And so negative connotations came in, and even the slave traders themselves who are human beings, they needed some sort of justification for taking people captive. Just imagine being on a boat, and you have hundreds of people who are dying, and you throw them overboard, and you're killing them and torturing them. This was affecting
the psychology of the slave trade, right? And so
black then became negative or evil. And so you would say, for instance, black magic and white magic. So black means negative, bad magic, white magic, okay. All right, I'm telling a white lie, it's not such a bad way. Like, I'm dreaming of a white Christmas. What do I mean by that, if you if you looked at the dictionaries before, they would literally say the word white means innocent, pure, and holy. That's what all these concepts and if you look up the word black, it would mean, dirty, it would mean pessimistic, evil, you know, filthy, dangerous, all these negative concepts came with black, they even introduced it into religion. And that really was the worst form of distortion,
because, by by making, by by showing Jesus as a European, being white, and then God, you know, in their Greek and Roman, you know, pictures, as being white, you are literally saying God, or the Son of God is white. And generally, the devil would be the black or brown or red, or something like that. So literally, you know, the whole psyche, of, of people's thinking of minds was changed, you know, in the, in this Atlantic slave trade, this was to the advantage of, of the slave masters, because then they could control the population, they could kill people, get rid of them bring more grow crops, and become the dominant nations that they are. So therefore, within the context of the
Western world, Black has been associated with evil, negative,
not productive, lazy, lazy, stupid, all the negative concepts, whereas White is innocent, pure and holy. And that is the reason why up until today, in America, if a black man is running down the street with a hoodie on, that he'll probably be arrested or shot. Whereas if a white man, a white young young man was running down the street with a hoodie on, they will say, Well, he's just jogging. He's going to Starbucks
concept in a rush, because he's innocent, pure and holy. So in other words, he's innocent until proven guilty, right? Whereas the black man, the African, right, because of the effects of slavery, is guilty, until proven innocent. And that's the reason why people do not want to identify with black. That is the reason why we're still having a great crisis now, you know, within North American society. So really, the essence of this is racism itself. And the first part of racism is ideology. It's your belief. It's like a belief system, that one group is superior to another, right? It filters down in societies in different ways. There's a way in North America, there's a way even in
Africa, there's a way in Arabia, you'll see it in many parts of the world, that, you know, one color, whether it's dark or light can be used against the other. In some places, they'll turn things around as well. Whereas the darker skinned person is better than the lighter skinned. We're in places like in Senegal and you know, places like that, where people are very dark skinned, right, that's beautiful to them. And when they look at the Europeans, you know, they they did their first impression is the person
Sick, because like you need some color. And that's the reason why people will even go to the beach and put on suntan lotion, because they feel like they're sick. And you know, you've been in the winter and you don't have any health, whereas the rich, melanin based dark complexion near the equator, is this more life in it? Right? Right. So so these are the things that have come out of this, right? It's interesting, you mentioned that because I know like, for instance, you have, you know, countries within Africa, Algeria, Egypt, you know, these nations that still don't define themselves as Africans, per se, right. And there's still this complex, where even a lot of these,
you know, Northern African countries that are predominantly Muslim, really, sometimes themselves have this negative connotation of Africans or black people. What do you think of that? Again, this is the effects of slavery and the colonial period, because during the colonial period, and this is starting back from, you know, the late 19th century, you know, when the countries were subjugated, right, the French and the British and the German and so forth and so on,
they became the dominant power, right. So in other words, to get it, you know, to raise up in education, to be considered civilized, you had to be closer to the European. And so when a few generations went by that filters down in society, where people still think that the closer you are to a European base, you know, is the more successful you'll be the more intelligent you are, even within European mythology, and you know, children's stories, like for instance, we have stories of Snow White,
right, and you always see the queen or the Princess of Goldilocks, the golden here, even for the children today, us today, you have Star Wars. So you know, Princess Leia, you know, light skinned Darth Vader, you know,
he's the most evil you could get, because it's pitch black. So therefore, the people, you know, sort of in the middle zones,
you know, it is a human weakness that they want to identify with the dominant race. So there was a time in history. In ancient Egypt, you know, when the darker skinned people of Nubia, and this is back in 3000 bc and 2000 BC, they were the dominant race. And so people wanted to look like them. And they and they, they even darkened themselves. And, you know, because they were the dominant race, time has changed. This is a different era, the lightest skin races, the dominant. And so this is our human weakness, to always want to identify with the powerful, and to stay away from the so called perceived weak, right? You were mentioning something earlier that I think, actually is
extremely relevant. And it's this idea of slavery, right? And slavery now, especially in the context of Islam and Western propaganda against Islam is a hot topic. It's a it's a topic that everybody mentions that, you know, is something that Islam is is, you know, has been abusing over the years and the centuries and, you know, Islam took slaves and took them from Africa and, and the Muslims, and you hear even companions, like Bill alleman are about what we know, obviously, the status of below the line. But for a lot of people, they don't recognize, you know, the institution of slavery as something that wasn't unique to Arabia, and it becomes something that's very problematic. And I
actually I was mentioning to off camera that I know of even Muslims who have left Islam and they partly blame the issue of slavery to say that How could a religion like Islam permit something like slavery? How is that even possible that a religion of mercy, love and peace would allow such an evil institution to exist and occur within its belief system? So is that is that something you've also I'm sure you've had to deal with that people are criticizing it? Yes. And this is something which really hit me personally, as well, because as an African American, whose roots go back into the slavery period, you know, I hate slavery or anything to do with it. And we rebelled against slavery,
we consider ourselves to be, you know, rebellious, against, you know, slavery as an evil and that our servitude is to Allah subhanaw taala. Right. So when we say Abdullah, the slave of Allah, you know, that's where we want to be, you know, slaves only to the Creator. So I had to deal with this and I checked it out very, very closely. What is important with any issue is to look at the context, okay? You cannot understand any phenomenon without looking at the environment. You know, that happened in and you know, the context, slavery 1400 years ago, was a worldwide phenomena. And you'll see, up until only about 200 years ago, the majority of the people in the world were actually
slaves, because a slave only means somebody who is under the control and domination of another individual. Okay. Look at the word slave itself. It actually comes from slavery. Because the Slavic people of Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, they were slaves to the Romans. And so the Romans
Literally, you know, use the word slough to mean a slave. It wasn't a black person at the time. Okay, so slavery, the time of the Prophet Muhammad SAW someone, it existed in Africa, China, Arabia, Europe, even the Native Americans, he had slaves, especially prisoners of war. That was probably the most common form of servitude because we know once you defeat another nation, and you have prisoners of war, you integrate these people into your society. So they become in bondage, so to speak, until they prove themselves to be worth worthy within the society, right. So at the time of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, the slaves were of any color. So manual fallacy, the Persian wrote the
law when he was a slave. So hey, by Rumi, the Arab who looked like a European and lived in Constantinople. For many years, he was a slave, blond hair and blue eyes.
zaytoven had a slave. So anybody who did not have power in the Arabian Peninsula, could be put into this position. When Islam came, slavery is now the relationship like today, we have employer employee, Boss work, everywhere in the world that was slave and master. Islam immediately took out all the negative connotations to do with slavery. In other words, you can't read for slaves, you don't capture people. You don't buy and sell slaves, you know, in the marketplace, like horses, you know, all of this was cut out. The only way slavery or what I would call bonded servitude, was allowed to there's a difference. There's a difference, okay, was in as a prisoner of war right now
there was when you say a slave, we're talking about somebody who's being whipped and beaten, and Derrick, during the plantation, know, what we're talking about Islam was, they were prisoners of war. And so Allah subhanaw, taala, you know, helped the Muslims in a sense to sort of phase out slavery. And so the Prophet peace be upon him freed all the slaves, our bekah was freeing all the slaves, there is no slave rating in the time of the Prophet Sal seldom, nor the time of the full life of Rashi. Dean, there was nothing like this, it is only later on when Islamic leadership became a kingdom. And some of our leaders were copying the kings of the world that slavery was, you know,
reintroduced, you know, in that negative form. So there's a difference between bonded servitude, where a person is a servant literally has a contract, you know, with the person who's in charge. And in the case of a woman, it's like a marriage contract. And so it's a bonded servitude,
bonded servant, that's, that's completely different than a slave. What is happening today is that this is a distortion and stereotyping, where they want to throw the evil form of slavery, where all your rights are taken away, when you are sexually abused. You know, where you are, we are, you know, broken down and, and you are hurt. They want to put this onto the Islamic form of bondage. So again, this is a distortion, it's taking things out of total context. And I believe really looking at the texts, you know, constantly receive revelations saying free asleep,
you know, you break your fast free a slave, you make an oath, and you break yourself free, a slave, it's constantly being set. So the whole concept of free the slaves was part of the, you know, early, you know, foundational Islamic expression. It is later on when corruption came in, you know, that people would take slavery, so called the name of Islam. So therefore, there's a difference between slave owners, you know, who own somebody because of the greed. And, you know, the early phenomena within within Islam, you know, that was being phased out. The Prophet Muhammad SAW Selim even said in one of the Hadith, his sayings is that, you know,
of the people who Allah will not look upon on the Day of Resurrection is a man who captures another person and makes him a slave, and then, you know, sells that person alone will not look at him on the day of as much. So this this is a very clear distinction between the practicing of Islam and the weakness of some Muslims, who have done many different things under the guise of Islam. But really, it's hypocrisy. It's also this, this particular form of of slavery that existed within Islam in the early times. It wasn't restricted to just black people. No, right, any color, it was all different color. And again, it's clear because some mental fantasy the Persian men, they had to buy his
freedom from a Jewish slave owner in Medina. So haber Roby. He was a slave in Rome, and then he came down into Mecca, and you will literally see
You know, people of all different colors who were actually slaves, not just below one, he was only one of the slave was a person who was controlled or dominated, not a not a person of one particular race, right? unfortunately still to this day, though, you'll see that people will use the term like I made, and they will use this, you know, your this context of slavery to derogatorily kind of offend, you know, African or black Muslims, right. In our community, this still exists, this is an unfortunate circumstance. How do you feel we as a community moving forward can kind of overcome this, you know, this disease that lies in the hearts of some people where they feel a sense of
superiority, or they feel as though some people are lower than them? Or they feel better than other people? How do you feel moving forward, this can be something that we completely erased from our mind? Well, again, you know, we need to go back to our sources. And if we look at that early generation that the prophets of Salaam said is the best generation, you see the example of a Buddha or the loved one, you know, when he it came out of his mouth, he called below the son of a black woman, because for him, that was something that wasn't, you know, that was lowly. It wasn't all of the Arabs. But he said that and you know, then below went to the province of solemn in the provinces
face got ready was angry. And he told us, you have Jaya Lee and your ignorance in you. And I was I was so remorseful that he went to Bilal and said, put his head down, said step on my head, but below forgiving. You also see in one Hadith, it's a very powerful hadith of is looked at the right way. The prophet SAW Selim said, hear and obey your leaders, even if one of them is you know, an African or Abyssinian slave, whose head is like a razor.
But you would say, Whoa, that was some racism.
But what it was, is that in Arabia at the time, there were certain features that many of the Northern Arabs especially loved, they called show moonroof. They like the big Hawk nose, a broad forehead, you know, somebody who had, you know, a new, more Central African features would not fall into that. So in other words, the prophet said, even if somebody is of a group that you don't like, you don't like their appearance. And that's your mayor, obey that person. So what what he was really doing was what we call today, anti racism. He was really showing them that there's something greater than you know, your superficial judgment of people based upon their color or the or the shape of
their nose or their face. Right? It is their taqwa it is the fact that he is your Amir. And so you hear and you obey your meal. So what he was doing was breaking down any concepts of racism that may have existed existed amongst them. He was breaking it down, you know, to do to make it clear that there's no difference between black and white. As he said, arafat's sermon is allowed to taqwa it's only consciousness piety that separates individuals. Does that make that shift for them very insightful discussion, and I'm sure there's a lot of points of benefit people can derive from it. Make sure if you like to find out what this conversation is all about. And I want to hear your
thoughts as well. Make sure you check out the hashtag hangout show and show on Twitter. Let us know your thoughts and feedback on this particular episode. And for watching inshallah, we'll see you again on the next episode of Hangout. This is Brother Mohammed signing off.
Sky then confetti, then