Over the recent days there has been an increasing amount of protests across the world, particularly America and most recently the UK in response to George Floyd’s death.
George Floyds death has again surfaced the sad realities of the racism and injustices many Black people have had to endure and are still enduring. George floyd has become a household name.
What ever the circumstance may have been for George to have been detained by the police is irrelevant, the reality is that the force used by the police was completely unjustified and excessive. Despite the delay, and mostly definitely driven by the overwhelming evidence and outpour by the community, the perpetrators have been arrested and charged.
What has come out of this tragic death is the recognition that there’s definitely a problem in the world, especially where the African Caribbean’s are residing as a minority among a majority white population.
The annals of history tell us about how black people were enslaved to white owners and how even today they bare the marks of their history by just their names alone.
As Mohammed Ali once mentioned that he checked the history of his original name ”Cassius Clay” and discovered it was in fact the name of a major slave owner, hence at some point his ancestors were given this name by their slave master so that people would know that he was their owner.
Needless to say the impetus for Muhammed Ali to change his change from the former was in his words to free himself from slavery.
The disgraceful history of slavery doesn’t just end there. Does the injustice still exist today? If we look into our societies today does inequality not prohibit the black community from living a free fair and equal life just the same as the white community?
The majority of the black community definitely believes that these injustices still happen to this day.
There was a report on the BBC about a study conducted by researchers at Nuffield College’s Centre for Social Investigation (CSI), which concluded that people with an African name had to make 90 percent more applications compared to people with an White English name, to receive a call back from a recruiter. The experiment was carried out using the exact same CV’s the only change being the name.
As a Muslim, I find it hard to understand, let alone accept, that people can discriminate solely based on the colour of someone’s skin, at any time, let alone in the 21st century.
There was a time when being born into black skin was considered a disease and the person was killed as a result.
There was also a time when black people were not allowed onto public transport and if they ever were lucky enough, they were strictly prohibited from using the seat despite seats being available.
Black people were not allowed into restaurant and shops. They were not paid equally, and neither were their children given education of the same quality to white children. And when we remember the history of the black people, one needs to remember that the injustices were based solely on their skin colour alone.
Of course today is a far cry from those appalling times. Times have changed. Black people can use a seat on the bus and they can go into restaurants and yes they can go to school.
In fact they have succeeded on many fronts. There are black superstars, TV personalities, football players, some of the best boxers in the world are black, we even had a black family residing in the American WHITE house. Not as slaves but democratically elected to lead the “free world”.
So why then, if times have changed, and the oppression in which the black community once lived in is no longer the same, do we have mass protests and a feeling of exclusion within the black community.
Why are members of the black communities having to disguise their name from job applications, for a better chance of selection?
Why are blacks more likely to get convicted of a crime in comparison to a white person where the crime is of similar nature. And of course why are black people more likely to breath their last when being stopped by a police officer in comparison to a white person. Why the injustice? Why the inequality?
My worry about the current situation is the detrimental effects on future generation if tensions and the racial divide between the black and white races were to widen. A middle ground needs to be found soon.
We also don’t want the victims to turn perpetrators. It’s a known fact that many people who suffer systemic abuse are often at a higher risk of doing the same thing to someone else due to the psychological effects its left on them.
Looting, robbing, burning down buildings is not the answer. It may be a cry for help, but its not the answer.
Of course it’s easy for someone to say this who hasn’t suffered in the same way, but these actions will legitimise the rhetoric of the racists who want to keep the racial divide. The black community has come far, it needs to keep moving forward, not backwards.
The story of Bilal – may Allah be pleased with him
Islam taught us that the colour of our skins is irrelevant in the sights of our Creator. Our actions are what matter, and its these actions that set us apart and determine the good from the bad.
There was once a man named Bilal. He was a slave who heard about the call to Islam which Prophet Muhammed – peace be upon him – was propagating in Arabia.
Bilal recognised that this was the truth and he became Muslim. When his master found out he beat him ferociously, in a attempt to make him denounce his belief in Islam.
Bilal was so firm in his belief that in midst of the brutal beating he kept say aloud “one God, one God”.
He never wavered.
Umayyah ibn Khalaf was the master of Bilal, and Abu Bakr who was wealthy and was also a close companion of the Prophet Muhammed – peace be upon him – went to Umayyah and offered to purchase Bilal.
Abu Bakr paid a large amount for his freedom, so large that after the transaction Umayyah said, If you had offered half of what you paid I would have still freed Bilal as he was of no use to me anymore, and neither to anyone else after the beatings.
Abu Bakr responded by saying If you had asked for double the amount I paid I would have still paid it.
This showed the value Islam bought with it for other human beings. Here was an Arab willing to do what ever it took to free an oppressed black slave at the hands of an oppressor.
Imagine if we all followed this example, how many people could we liberate.
The story of Bilal doesn’t end there. Bilal was now a free man. He was given such a high ranking amongst the arab Muslims that amongst all the arabs present, Bilal was chose to do the nobel task of calling out the call for prayer. The Prophet Muhammed – peace be upon him – could have asked anyone of his companions to do this, and they would have be honoured to do it, there were arabs from elite linage, there were Arabs who were wealthy, but despite all this it was Bilal who was chosen. The Black freed slave.
Alhumdulillah what a example the Prophet Muhammed – peace be upon him – has left us with.
Even at the last sermon of his life the prophet Muhammed – peace be upon him – addressed the race issue. He specifically mentioned that no arab was superior then a non Arab and no white is superior that a non white. It hard for some people to stomach such a statement in today’s times, one can only imagine what it must have been like all them 1400 years ago.
Black lives matter, they always have and they always will. Just the same way in which lives of white/ brown or any other colour of skins matter. We all matter, the children who go without food on a daily basis, the sick, the disabled, the oppressed wher ever they may be, they all matter. Bilal never wavered, Abu Bakr never hesitated, the prophet saw never discriminated. May this be a lesson for us.
May Allah, the Almighty, give us all the ability to be a positive means for his creation and earn his pleasure through it.