In a recent article I discussed the problem of Islamophobia and how it distracts our community from other relevant and immediate issues. I addressed this, as well as the disparaging silence from the Muslim community on race-based violence towards the black community, in the following khutbah at Middle Ground on June 8th, 2016:
While it may offend some (not that I care…) but Islamophobia is one of the biggest distractions which allows the greater Muslim community (i.e., non-Black Muslims) to be content with local acts of oppression, particularly those inflicted shamelessly on Blackamerica. Islamophobia is also detrimental to Blackamerican Islam in that it erases the acknowledgement of continued (not just historic) oppression against Blackamericans. The Islamophobia narrative in the Muslim community directs all of our communities energy and resources to garnering acceptance from those who loathe us. And for groups of American Muslims who are not the primary targets of Islamophobia (i.e., Blackamerican Muslims) our concerns are not only erased but are concerns for other-than-Islamophobia generate hostility towards us, calling into question our commitment to Islam in total. And even the so-called gains the non-Black Muslim community in America perceives it achieves in its fight against Islamophobia, none such gains trickle down to Blackamericans, Muslim or otherwise. And thus, Islamophobia becomes for Blackamerican Muslims, doubly a fitnah. And as God says in the Qur’an,
وَالفِتنَةُ أَشَدُّ مِنَ القَتلِ
“And fitnah (trials and tests) are more severe than murder”. Qur’an, 2: 191
The reality is, the enterprise of Islamophobia leaves Blackamerican Muslims oppressed by our own government and society while simultaneously abandoned and betrayed by our coreligionists. This is particularly detrimental to Muslim identity on the part of Blackamerican Islam in that it undermines a fundamental tenet in Islam of egalitarianism amongst believers and standing for justice. Islamophobia, as an obsession (which at its root is about being accepted by white America), is unconscionable given the loss of life in the Black community continues to endure in these so-called modern and progressive times. God has revealed to us through the conduit of history that there is no anchor for Islam in America without blackness, yet we continue to fixate on Islamophobia. The tragic irony of all this is that Blackness is the proverbial “Banu Hashim” (that seventh century Arabian tribe, mostly of whom were non-Muslim!, which sheltered and supported the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and his followers) for Muslims in America today. And like Banu Hashim over a thousand years ago, Blackness has been that institution which has taken in, supported and rooted Islam in America. And thus the myopic pursuance of Islamophobia only makes this betrayal all the more bitter. Given the recent responses of Muslims waving pink flags and rainbows and standing in questionable solidarity at best with the LBGT community, this pursuance of Islamophobia is a miscarriage of justice that, for all our sakes, must be rectified.
The following is an audio interview I did with Mina Kim of KQED in San Francisco regarding the shooting in Orlando and what it means, if anything, for the Muslim community: