Who Is Stealing From Whom? Contextualizing The Protests

"..you’re accusing a captive population who has been robbed of everything of looting. I think it’s obscene.” – James Baldwin

Who Is Stealing From Whom? Contextualizing The Protests

“..you’re accusing a captive population who has been robbed of everything of looting. I think it’s obscene.” – James Baldwin

By

Haider Syed
Photo of George Floyd mural in Minnesota.

Disclaimer: every article expressed in our opinions section is that of the writer.

“Who is looting whom? Grabbing off the TV set? He doesn’t really want the TV set. He’s saying  screw you…He wants to let you know he’s there….you’re accusing a captive population who has been robbed of everything of looting. I think it’s obscene.” – James Baldwin 

“When we revolt it’s not for a particular culture. We revolt simply because, for many reasons, we can no longer breathe.” – Frantz Fanon 

We didn’t just watch George Floyd die, we watched him being murdered. We all did. There is something absolutely harrowing beyond adequate expression about this moment that we are living through. George Floyd’s murder is symbolic of the plight of Blackness during our time. 

Floyd was suffocated to death by the knee of Derek Chauvin. As the first wave of protestors marched in Minneapolis, the police threw tear gas at the predominantly Black crowd, stifling their ability to breathe. This occurred amid a pandemic where the coronavirus (COVID-19) unrelentingly targets the lungs – and has killed three times as many Black people than White, in America. 

I recalled how in our Islamic theological tradition we’re told of a time before we came into this world when every soul found themselves in the presence of God in the sea of souls; where Allah breathed a part of his Ruh into us – Nafas Ar Rahman – the Breath of the All Merciful.

It was said that we were in distress in our state of non-existence and the Breath of the Divine bought us relief by bringing us forth into this dunya, bearing witness to his Oneness as we were entrusted with that part of Him inside of us. This sets us on the path towards birth and our coming into this realm, where we ourselves take that first breath still sustained and dependent on what was blown into us. Which is renewed with every breath we then ever take. 

And yet George Floyd had that breath choked out of him in every sense. His haunting last words of “I can’t breathe” still ring in the ears of so many; a phrase ever-demonstrative of the reality of being Black in America – of suffocation. 

 

The way in which the officer kept his knee pressed against Floyd’s neck makes you wonder what sickness of the heart blinded him to the point where he couldn’t hear a man’s gasps or pleas. How is it that he couldn’t see the excruciating pain he subjugated another life to? How was he so devoid of any compassion? That a grown father screamed out for his own mother – that is an anguish that is indescribable. How much hatred do you have inside of you that you can just rob another life with such disdain? As incidents of police brutality always do, Floyd’s murder speaks volumes of a larger phenomenon that goes beyond hashtags and isolated incidents. 

Suppressed and unable to breathe under the onset of violent policing and systematic brutalization from the state, Black people are not given permission to even merely live. Blackness itself is constantly scrutinized. Malcolm X once, when urging the necessity of revolt by any means, described the condition of Black America vis-a-vis the analogy of the foot of the oppressor on their necks. He was disturbingly correct.

READ MORE: George Floyd: Murder Of Unarmed Black Man Sparks Ongoing Protests In Minneapolis

Fifty years later and in fact nothing has really changed. This isn’t just about the past few days; it’s about the past 500 years. It’s about George Floyd but also about what is nothing more than an established practice in America. It’s about identifying and coming to terms with the socio-cultural roots of anti-Blackness and an apparatus that was built specifically to restrict Black freedom. And even more pressingly, an interweaving network of structures designed to sustain the privileges of whiteness.

You can’t separate the events of the past few weeks from the mythology of America. These are not instances taking place in a vacuum. The very idea of America cannot be separated from the toil and blood which assured that whiteness would ensure its superiority no matter what – built on the backs of Black slaves. A people who were never truly emancipated despite the many Black faces that have reached imperious positions in upper echelons of power. Slavery was not abolished, it was clearly reformed.

As the literal terror of slavery could no longer be practiced, a system just the same, to parallel that power dynamic of racial domination, was constructed. From chain gangs, convict leasing, and Jim Crow to the largest prison population in the world- America’s past is entrenched in its current reality and nationalist imagination. 

We have again seen the same sight of murder, protest, outrage and then eventual dissipation as we have every single time. Uproar and then calm. Until it happens again. Another name memorialized and a life summed up inside of a hashtag.

This narrative has become cyclical and repetitive because those same structures that were built to preserve the supremacy of whiteness are still intact today. Some were lauding the fact that the one of the officers in question was detained and charged within four days, yet this like much of the mainstream coverage- it diverges attention away from actually addressing the issues at hand. At the moment all four officers including those who watched their colleague commit murder have been charged. But what will this actually achieve? One of those guilty, has already posted bail despite it being set in excess of $1 million. He was able to crow-fund his release on bail even when it was set so high.

 

It’s no longer about violent policing; it’s about the institution of policing itself. Arrests and charges being laid have happened before, and in the past some of those guilty beyond belief have still gotten off scot-free despite the evidence at hand. Our mentality as a society still being grounded in seeing these as isolated incidents means we don’t actually address it as an institutional problem, but as a case of a few bad apples. We see it as a need for improved training and further reforms; legislation to be passed and a few promises to be made. That there are some good amongst them because they kneel with protestors (moments before they attack them). Yet the very institution of policing has to be called into question just as the whole of the carceral state has to as well. 

When such institutions are inherently racist by default, reform becomes a facilitator of continuing oppression and not it’s eradicator. 

The systemic manifestations of dehumanization and racism denigrate and humiliate Black lives, expressing themselves in these “moments”. We should rightfully honor those who pass, but the fixation on individuals takes away from the fact that that moment of engagement between an officer and a civilian is the end-product of a whole system and culture in motion. 

These moments are the product of not only legacies of hate and vilification at work but the subtle microaggressions and causal racism we often overlook, ignore, and bypass as harmless. Hence complete abolition becomes a necessity, when policing is fixated in a clearly discriminatory attitude. Those patrols and night watches that surveilled and restrained slaves became modern day police forces, and the carceral state and the judicial system all collaborated efficiently to debilitate communities of color and the marginalized in a multitude of ways for decades.

As we live through this moment, America should know that it never actually held to account the wounds it carved. It merely forgave itself for its past rather than healing those wounds. And because it never truly acknowledged what it had done, it hasn’t accepted the actual progress it requires. Hundreds of billions of dollars a year on jailing and policing vulnerable populations is not progress. True progress means it can no longer rely on the same institutions that monopolize such logistics of brutality, marrying terror with anti-Blackness and mirroring policing techniques rooted in enslavement. Within this dynamic, how can it grow a conscience to its own brutality?

READ MORE: Non-Black Muslims Must Care About Black Liberation

The conversation shouldn’t be about banning chokeholds, de-escalation or interventionary practices anymore. 

You cannot expect a system designed to oppress a whole subsection of society to also heal itself through those same mechanisms. You can’t think that the legal machinery put into place to preserve the interests of the white and wealthy while depriving the rights of others to now hold those same individuals rightfully accountable. You can’t depend on a broken moral compass to suddenly guide you. You can’t look at the same match that lit the flame, to now put it out. 

What America – by which I mean privileged, white, middle America that dictates and is serviced by the mainstream – is encountering, is a reckoning that has brought it face to face with the same past it distorts in order to forget the injustice it commits. To overlook the truth, which allows for it to cloak itself in the language of democracy and equality. 

Even where justice seems to be delivered, where verdicts are cheered and legislation is championed – the same violence is ever-recurring – Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Mike Brown and countless others.

The occurrence of police oppression is clearly beyond the realm of individualist actions but that of a disease that plagues the entire framework that produces these individuals. The very ideology that is allowed to fester and be given a chance to thrive as a normative and acceptable way to think, and to see others in a certain light and to act accordingly. That is what has to be confronted. It is as systematic as it is psychological. 

The way a woman clutches her purse when she sees a Black man approaching, the way a white person persistently asks you where you are from, the way some ascribe to “not seeing color” – these are the products of subtle assumptions that predominantly White people carry and project upon minorities, particularly upon Black people. Of suspicion and alarm. To let a person of color know that they are different, domineering to inhibit feelings of shame that allow for them to feel inferior. And these are the types of preconceived notions produced by dominant narratives that otherize minorities, which fuel these feelings of fear and paranoia – which lead to white women calling the police on a Black man bird watching or a shopkeeper to suspect a Black customer as he enters his store.

It’s all about the roles we are expected to play and the boxes that others put us in. They end up getting Black people killed. It’s about the policing we ourselves carry out on each other, rather than looking out for one another. Ultimately, as Malcolm X concluded after his trip to Mecca, racism can only be cured by addressing the diseases within our hearts.

Moments like these are a devastating reminder of the often-invisible structural violence which can become visibilized so suddenly. Floyd was brutally murdered in broad daylight. His execution was publicized, it was recorded and went viral. A dastardly rekindling of public lynchings in the Jim Crow South come to mind. Humiliating and brutal- for everyone to gawk and see. The world witnessed the horror. Had it not been filmed what would the response have been then? There are layers upon layers of intricately designed invisible violence consistently functioning, suffocating and killing Black people daily which the rest of us usually never see despite its persistence. 

What makes this such a critical moment is where it allows for us to go from here. When we speak of defunding police departments or abolishing policing as a whole,  it extends far beyond past reforms such as implementing body cameras on on-duty cops or demanding better training. It’s about reimagining a radically different and new world. It is about confronting the world we have inherited and undoing the lived traumas that many are forced to contend with. Abolishment isn’t about harm reduction, it’s about creating a properly equitable society.

 

 

By defunding police departments and closing down prisons, those resources and budgets that spiral into the hundreds of billions, can be repurposed towards addressing societal inequality and systemic discrepancies in the form of universal basic income, healthcare, free education, and providing community care to build better living conditions rather than endlessly investing in repressive policies and drastic militarization. The abandonment people experience from the state in the first place is what primarily drives the powerless and vulnerable to take matters into their own hands. To not only fend for themselves in order to survive or seek avenues out of the pain and poverty which engulfs them, but to express the rage of discontent. 

To foster systems predicated on care and compassion instead is of paramount importance. We must finally move away from furthering militarial expansion overseas, domestic surveillance and aggression, which only breed poverty and the hostility that divisive ideologies thrive upon. This must open up larger conversations exploring the interdependencies between capitalist modes of production that prioritizes profits over life and well-being.

The same faculties could be better applied to prioritizing low-cost mental health resources or investing in building mutual aid networks within communities based on accountability, de-escalation and conflict resolution instead of punishment and harassing the most vulnerable amongst us. 

Our broader perception of public safety has to change, in a way that doesn’t revolve around terror. What we define as good or bad, as criminality itself- must change. Locking people in cages doesn’t address or resolve the multi-plex forms of continuous oppression and exploitation people were victim to. Because they are extracted and removed from society, doesn’t mean the problem is gone too. Justice isn’t defined by time served. We must get to the root of what necessitates people’s behavior in the first place, in order to uproot it. A society that prioritizes supporting and caring for one another, where no one is left alone or behind, is not impossible despite what we are led to believe. 

Yet within the mainstream, the conversation around the structural violence Black and marginalized people are victim to, is rarely presented through the lens of poverty and incarceration. It is decontextualized and narrativized around disorder and absurdity. . 

And as we watched large parts of the US endowed in what has been no more than an uprising, we should hold the mainstream media and political establishment accountable for having the nerve to bring up orderly conduct now. To have the audacity to speak of rule of law, of tone and to urge calm over people expressing their frustrations after decades of being unheard and every peaceful offering proving futile. 

Did the officer who turned judge, jury and executioner give any semblance of regard to the tone in George Floyd’s voice as he pleaded? Rubber bullets which cause terminal brain damage shot at the heads of protestors or tear gas fired into massive crowds which can cause severe long term respiratory ailment – was that not violence? 

What of the violence of corporations accumulating obscene amounts of capital and resources at the disposal of workers everyday? Those refused a living wage or humane working conditions. What of the violence of landlords who refuse to cancel rent in the middle of a pandemic? What of the criminalization of those who can’t afford to ride public transit but still have places to reach? What about those left hungry and desperate out on the streets? The fact that more people are in jail in the United States than the entire population of Philadelphia says it all. The U.S. spends $182 billion a year to keep millions in cages. The criminalization of poverty and color. That is violence. $750+ billion on national defense in a country where 13 million children don’t have enough food to eat and not one to provide them with it. That is violence.

And let’s not pretend as if America hasn’t been on fire, at war with itself since the moment it bought the first African in shackles onto its shores. As if merchandise and shop windows are worth more than the lives that were taken? In a place where for millions of people, their existence is informed by the inheritance of the trauma of their ancestors being commodified and chastised on that very land? Where for many their lives are made absolute hell every day just because of the color of their skin? 

On land that itself was stolen. Where every day there are those stranded on reservations without clean water? Where is the 24/7 media fixation for them, where is the moral outcry from pundits to alleviate their plight? It seems disingenuous for many to scream ‘All Lives Matter’ when America is a story of constant abandonment. 

Nothing is more despicable than the fact that the mainstream defines poor and marginalized people solely through their rightful retaliation to the systemic violence which they are subjugated to every day. No one bothers to ever contextualize or humanize Black suffering in particular. Because that would legitimize it. It is painted as barbarism and senseless lunacy but it is the full disclosure of the hurt and pain that Black America is told to bottle up and contend with. But when people lay carnage to monuments of those who trampled over their ancestors and destroy the tools of oppression that terrorize them, they are speaking to all of us about just how necessary their liberation is. How unbearable their condition has become.

READ MORE: Black Lives Matter Is Not A ‘Feel-Good’ Instagram Challenge

Stop Posting Selfies, Start Posting #BlackLivesMatter Resources

While it’s no one’s place to tell you what to or not to post, sometimes you have to read the room.

Stop Posting Selfies, Start Posting #BlackLivesMatter Resources

While it’s no one’s place to tell you what to or not to post, sometimes you have to read the room.

By

Nawal Qadir & Khaula Saad

Social Media Influencer at a #BlackLivesMatter rally.

Disclaimer: every article expressed in our opinions section is that of the writer.

For the past several days, cities across the nation (and the world) have broken out in protests. This outburst of marches, sit-ins, and even riots have been in response to the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer. 

Alongside these protests, activists have been taking to social media, using their platforms as a way to inform the masses and connect with those at the protest. From infographics about police brutality to quotes by prominent Black activists to information about how to stay safe at protests, social media has become the ultimate space for people to show their solidarity with the movement.  

But the use of social media as an informative platform hasn’t been limited to activists, as it usually is. Floyd’s murder has pulled back the curtains on a system of injustice that no one can ignore. And nearly no one has. For some, social media is now what it always has been: a place to document their lives as usual. The only problem is that life hasn’t exactly been “usual” and while posting a selfie may seem harmless, it’s actually pretty problematic. 

In a time where systemic brutality is being countered (and people are putting themselves in harm’s way to do so), a beach day selfie or an #ootd seem painfully apathetic. It’s a signal that you’ve chosen to delegitimize the movement and, in turn, ignore the suffering of an entire community of people, even if said selfie is sandwiched between two infographics (which is dangerously close to saying that a movement attempting to end racial inequality is nothing more than an Instagram trend). 

While it’s no one’s place to tell you what to or not to post, sometimes you have to read the room. Black lives have been ripped away by the police for centuries now, and people are being brutalized in the streets for trying to call an end to the murdering. The president is inciting violence against these citizens via his Twitter account, going so far as to threaten military action in several states. If the current events aren’t making you mindful of what you post, you’re not paying attention. 

The atmosphere following George Floyd’s murder is one America has not seen since the ‘60s. Black Lives Matter protests have been held in all 50 states of America. Scrolling through any social media outlet will put you face-to-face with countless videos of police officers attacking unarmed citizens protesting in the streets. There are injustices being brought to light in ways never before possible. Currently, social media is being used as a platform to spread information about what’s happening on the streets and what people can do to help make a change. And even if you don’t want to hear it, now’s not the time to post that #throwbackthursday. 

While social media definitely has its pitfalls, it can be an extremely powerful tool to unite the public. We’re seeing that happen everyday amid these protests. People are learning more about the systemic abuses Black people endure throughout their lives and are becoming more motivated to speak up about them. If you take a moment to consider all of the information that’s being posted online, you probably will find yourself feeling the same way.

Instagram and other social media platforms are meant to serve as a way for you to express yourself and your ideas. And while no one can force you to stop that, it can be beneficial to take this as a moment of reflection. Consider what’s going on around you and what’s at stake. Black people witnessing members of their community being murdered on tape are also scrolling past your selfies. At the absolute very least, it’s disrespectful. 

Instagram will always be there for you to post your workout selfies, a snap of your morning coffee, and your quarantine-makeup-looks. So for right now, hold off for a bit. Take the initiative to learn about everything that’s going on. Take part in the activism. You’ll be glad you did.

READ MORE: We Shouldn’t Rely On Trigger Videos To Care About Black Lives

 

Non-Black Muslims Must Care About Black Liberation

For non-Black people of color and for Muslims in general, this moment is of the utmost importance.

Non-Black Muslims Must Care About Black Liberation

For non-Black people of color and for Muslims in general, this moment is of the utmost importance.

By

Haider Syed
Photo - Hajji Hassan (@forthelovers)

Disclaimer: every article expressed in our opinions section is that of the writer.

For non-Black people of color and for Muslims in general, this moment is of the utmost importance.

There’s a lot to be said on what we see unfolding in front of us as Muslims particularly and where we should stand. The complicity to some degree of the Arab store owner whose employee first called the police over George apparently using a fake $20 hill has opened up a can of worms in the Arab community particularly, one that is all too often swept under the rug- that of anti-Black racism. But other non-Black communities of color such as the South Asian community are no different. While some have chosen to remain silent amid this time, others have taken a stance. Our religious traditions and the Prophetic teachings passed down to us, make clear the significance of siding with the oppressed. We are taught to struggle in the face of tyranny and to speak the truth no matter how bitter it may be. 

Yet some have argued that protesting itself or partaking in such acts of self-determination are haram. Despite it being widely recorded that the Prophet and His companions, in the face of the oppressive Quraish, would engage in strategic guerilla tactics to deliberately stifle the Meccan economy that guaranteed them the means to carry out their oppression.

Others have wholeheartedly denounced the action they have seen taken place across American cities. Imagine, criticizing the retaliation of the oppressed to the repression they are subjugated to, instead of those who are administering that very oppression. 

This stance in particular lays bare the mindset that allows for racism to thrive in our communities. This mentality is a product of our inherent desire to appease the white gaze, thinking we will attain all the privileges that come with physical and ideological proximity to whiteness. It is the belief that by glorifying and mimicking what are literally the very tenants that uphold whiteness and in extension white supremacy, dehumanizing Blackness as it does are worth redeeming. It is a byproduct of idolizing whiteness as the pinnacle of what we should adhere to. And many of us as a result internalize self-hatred and racism by viewing ourselves in opposition to Blackness. It’s evident in our silence on political matters to the way in which we hold education as the primary marker of our value as individuals.

While many have rightfully condemned and acknowledged the racism prevalent in our own homes, families, friend circles and religious spaces, others have had a tougher time swallowing these facts. It goes back to the concept of communities such as the South Asian diaspora being perceived as and expected to be model minorities. 

Beginning in the 1970s with the scrapping of the older quota system, immigrants from across Asia coming to America were no longer discriminated based on origin but from thereon categorized in terms of their value as productive, educated and skilled professionals. They were largely accepted as such. As the likes of Vjiay Prashad have concluded, their worth was based upon their economic output and not their ethnicity as they became the benchmark of what a successful minority should look like. Yet this became the perfect threshold to point out the failings of Black Americans as the conversation and blame could now easily be shifted away from racism being a variable. This phenomenon encapsulates much of the wider non-Black Muslim community. 

Structural racism is embodied in individual racist actions and rhetoric yet it is the culmination of a culture in which unconscious biases, negative assumptions, institutional policies, cultural representations, snide jokes, subtle comments, glaring looks, and distrust are instilled in every aspect of life to a degree where they aren’t questioned but accepted as the norm. This results in seeing Blackness as dangerous and associates a skin color with threat.

The Muslim community is highly prone to this sort of internalized anti-Blackness. We continually deny it even exists yet it permeates in the most profound circumstances, let alone in upholding tropes through ridicule or outright hate. 

We thwart our way into Black culture: through Black inspired or crafted fashion and music, and many of us regularly make use of derogatory terms like the n-word thinking that it’s all harmless because we aren’t white. Yet we’re the first in uproar over our own culture being appropriated. And even more so, we do absolutely nothing to address the inherent racism and colorism prevalent in our most immediate spaces. We rarely factor into it our own psyches or make the effort to actually learn about Black history, like the radical Black political tradition which guaranteed many American minorities the rights they enjoy today – extending beyond MLK or Rosa Parks. It was the very sacrifices of Black people organizing in the face of repression which made possible the avenues that non-Black minorities have used as a stepping stone to achieve unprecedented successes. 

Yet many of us only desire the privilege that whiteness guarantees. Others amongst us are white-passing and their ease in proximitizing themselves to whiteness is even more effortless. Yet both are rooted in our colonial pasts and that of cultures dominated by division by caste, tribe and class. There is a rich tradition particularly of Black and Palestinian solidarity as well as Brown and Black solidarity across the Muslim Third World – it’s time we learn more about them. Supporting Black struggles doesn’t make our own struggles any less important. American-Muslims in particular should know to some degree what it feels to be constantly policed and vilified, in a post-9/11 world. Yet many have not made these connections let alone have empathized. 

Our silence does make us complicit, our supposed neutrality as a means to not appear too radical or threatening to the White status quo does the same. We must have these discussions and conversations as we head towards creating a better world. We can’t just not be racist we have to challenge it in it’s every form to uproot it from our families and sacred spaces. That is where dismantling white supremacy begins. 

 

Many of us shared the video of George Floyd’s death with good intentions, yet we have to be cognizant even of why we don’t have much of a problem viewing the trauma of Black death. This is multilayered. 

The store owner’s policy that he adhered to, of calling the police in a situation such as Floyd’s, goes back to the idea of how we want to be viewed by authority –  adhering to norms even though the consequences are that the situation would likely be potential death. The problem is having no problem doing business in the Black community and profiting off of them yet still holding onto stereotypes that necessitate policing Blackness at every turn. 

We have to let go of these preconceived notions and biases, in order to work actively beyond the realm of hashtag movements and online solidarity. A lot of it has to do with how we engage with Blackness as a construct, as non-Black folks. Of the culture we consume, the books that we read, the music that we listen to, the content that we watch. They all factor in moulding our perceptions of racial tropes and standards. We have to on our own reflect on these questions of why we sanctify whiteness and see it as superior. Why do we associate “bad” with Blackness? Why do we see darker complexions as dirty? 

It begins with holding ourselves and our family members accountable and to stop making excuses for what we deem as cultural norms back home, of challenging racism and discrimination outright. They are learned and can be unlearned. It begins with educating ourselves and others on the historical construction of anti-Black racism and the unjust apparatus that represses communities across America. We can’t just accept things the way they are any longer. There isn’t a need to get into the what-aboutism of who supported who when it was one of our own communities facing oppression. 

The Black community is our own too. Black, Indigenous and Palestinian liberation are inherently tied to the settler-colonialism which dehumanized them and that we benefit from even as recent immigrants living here in North America.

It begins with sitting down and dealing with the discomfort and guilt of the racism we allow to fester and perpetuate ourselves. It starts with the content we read. It begins with researching on our own and listening to Black voices. We can’t just be non-racist, we have to be anti-racist, to paraphrase the great Angela Davis. And that means investment and not appropriating Black culture thinking you’re being helpful by promoting it. Investing in the struggle beyond just performative activism and surface-level clout chasing. To not just check in or empathize with those in the Black community through this moment, but to have the right intentions with the work that we have to do in the long term. That this isn’t just for a moment where you say Black lives matter and then move on, but that as long as Black people are dehumanized, discriminated and brutalized against systematically everyday- this is a fight we have to take up every single day as well.

As long as the Black community faces the consequences, we must give up the privileges that allow for it to cultivate, and to direct our resources and money towards uplifting the Black community’s mobilization efforts, solidarity campaigns, educational endeavors, bail funds, essential supplies, care and relief work, and so forth. The time is for action, it’s for taking a stand everywhere. 

If we imagine living in a radically different, far more just world, we have to be radical in our thinking of how to make that possible. If we imagine a more equitable society as Muslims, it begins with ourselves personally and what we’re willing give up in these moments. 

There was an image doing the rounds on Twitter the past few days showing Arab store owners armed, standing outside of their store in order to protect it from looting in Chicago. When we talk about reimagining society, it begins with ourselves and what we’re willing to do for the sake of someone else. Particularly, of mutual aid and collective upliftment in moments of grief and anger. If we can stand there with guns which will intimidate and antagonize hostility, we can just as easily stand there and distribute necessary supplies to those in need.

READ MORE:  Dear Non-Black Muslims, Your Silence Is Deadly

Stuck Between White Racist Sexist President And White Racist Sexist Candidate

A perfect way to describe the situation for the 2020 election is the notion of choosing “the lesser of two evils.”

Stuck Between White Racist Sexist President And White Racist Sexist Candidate

A perfect way to describe the situation for the 2020 election is the notion of choosing “the lesser of two evils.”

By

Sarah McCrumb

Photo - AP / Art - Ameer Al-Khatahtbeh

Disclaimer: every article expressed in our opinions section is that of the writer.

Ever since former Vice President Joe Biden said “Well, I tell you what, if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black,” on the radio, I had this feeling of frustration and despair. To put it bluntly, I never supported Biden, as I do not see him having open dialogues in 2020 events. Biden was silent during the first few months of coronavirus (COVID-19), he is silent on the murders of Black people during the current lockdown, silent on Hong Kong, and many other issues. 

This candidate is nothing more than a symbol of a past, that should remain in the past.  He is not Trump, let me just make that clear but it doesn’t make him any better of a candidate. I was told by an 80-year-old family friend that I should just vote Biden to get President Donald J. Trump out of office. While I know many of us will vote for Biden, I’m frustrated that we’re given candidates who are just the same copy and paste mold. It feels that the Democratic party gave up after Obama, choosing leaders most of us would rather not want.

Biden is the Democratic party’s “safe” vote because he doesn’t stir the pot. So much so that he doesn’t even show up when major events happen in the United States or in the World. More importantly, he is just the same as all other old white men who were in office before the Obama era. I don’t see how “safe” would win against the orange baby we have in office, who is known to be “unsafe”. Especially if “safe” to the Democrats just means nominating a racist and sexual predator who is just more tactful. 

We can’t go from Trump to back to the status quo, nothing will work out in any of our favors. The problem I have with my 80-year-old friend’s view of “anyone but Trump” is that it pretty much means “let’s have someone less bad than Trump in the office, but hey it’s not Trump!”

The problem is made even worse if that somebody is not going to fix the issues like immigration policies, climate crises, and loan forgiveness for students. I don’t want to vote for a man who is going to return us back to “normalcy” when that normalcy has always been sexist, racist, and Islamophobic. 

There’s no doubt that Biden’s former policies did decimate Black communities across the nation. The man spent years opposing integrationist efforts, supporting segregation, and considered segregation a good for Black folk of America. I wonder how it felt for him to work alongside a Black president.

READ MORE:  What A Joe Biden Presidency Means For Muslims

In 1988, he plagiarized his speech and had to drop out as a Democratic nominee. Like Trump he is also known for making things up, like saying he marched in the Civil Rights Movement. In 1994, he was one of the main proponents for the Federal Crime Bill, which went on to seriously harm  Black families and communities. In 2003, Biden supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq, claiming he was “tricked” into support. He apparently forgot that since the 90s he openly called for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. 

A perfect way to describe the situation for the 2020 election is the notion of choosing “the lesser of two evils.” In life we all have to make choices that we would rather not, sometimes both choices are just as bad.

In this election, we are told to vote for the lesser evil, but is Biden an evil or is he more of a disappointing option? We have to think logically about how Biden would act in office compared to Trump. If Trump is kicked out of office, the new president will be handed huge issues. There are many problems with Biden’s morals, but does that mean he can’t run for office? 

As Obama’s VP, he dealt with the economic crisis of 2008. This would mean Biden might have some insight on how to fix the economy, compared to a man who constantly goes bankrupt. 

It’s important to not get caught in making our political leaders our idols. Not only is it shirk to do so, but these leaders are not perfect. I don’t think it is asking for much, when we want a presidential candidate to not have a racist or sexist nature. Nor do I think it’s bad to ask for a leader who can lead some kind of change – someone who can actually listen when Black men are being killed by police officers and instead of sending the troops, they actually try to fix the issue. 

The issue with Biden besides his character, is how he is going to run his office. If the Democratic party wants “normalcy” what kind of normalcy are we going to get? Are detention centers  just going to be forgotten, instead of forming a bill to prevent such actions from ever happening again? Is he going to try to send a bill to congress limiting the rights of the President, so the President can be impeached and not be above the law? After Trump there is no such thing as normalcy – if anything the reign of Trump has shown that the era of just “doing” your job is over. Our nation has serious issues that could potentially boil over to something worse than a riot. 

There is no way I can put trust in a man who really is just the same as the man we have in the office, but with a tad bit more tact. They really are on the same coin. I hoped this election we would be given someone different, someone that was a mash of Bernie Sanders, Ilhan Omar, and Obama who would actually create positive change in our society. 

We proved ourselves by electing powerful women into congress, and the Democratic party turned around to give us Biden. When people say we are stuck between a rock and a hard place, that’s an understatement. 

All I can hope is that Biden is thrown out the window and someone better is ushered in for this 2020 election. Someone who doesn’t try to spy on the Muslim community and ban Muslims from entering the country. Someone who actually listens to Black voices instead of being scared of helping them. Someone who actually forgives all student loan debts or sets something better up. I am dreaming, but it’s better than the choice we have. It’s better than being stuck with the choice of lesser evil and evil. 

At the end of the day they both are shaytan.

About Author

Sarah McCrumb

website: niqab-ch.com  Instagram: physicsniqabtwitter: @physicsniqabi

Black Lives Matter Is Not A ‘Feel-Good’ Instagram Challenge

Lazily posting a black screen won’t help save innocent Black lives from being unjustly taken.

Black Lives Matter Is Not A ‘Feel-Good’ Instagram Challenge

Lazily posting a black screen won’t help save innocent Black lives from being unjustly taken.

By

Lamia Rashid
Art - Ameer Al-Khatahtbeh

Disclaimer: every article expressed in our opinions section is that of the writer.

Lazily posting a black screen won’t help save innocent Black lives from being unjustly taken – stop treating the Black Lives Matter movement as your latest “feel-good” Instagram challenge. 

Following the callous homicide of George Floyd and a week of fiery protesting, music industry giants such as Capitol Music Group and Warner Music Group pledged that they, “will not be conducting any business on Tuesday, June 2 in observance of “Blackout Tuesday.”

 

Instead, in a letter posted to their site, music executives Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang state, “it is a day to take a beat for an honest, reflective, and productive conversation about what actions we need to collectively take to support the Black community.” 

Many of us woke up early Tuesday morning confused by this latest “activist” trend: friends and family alike shrouded Instagram with black squares to quite literally participate in “Blackout Tuesday.” 

Please ask yourself, is a stark black background hastily slapped onto our feeds with the caption “#BlackLivesMatter” really fulfilling the serious conversation meant to be held?

A screen-recording, posted to Twitter by activist Kendira Woods, of a scroll through pages and pages of black screens under the #BlackLivesMatter page on Instagram only further proves the harmful ability of solid black screens to clog up critical channels of information and updates on the protests and the movement.

 

Posts of this caliber are now considered the norm in a world where performative activism dominates social media. For those unaware, performative activism is “co-opting social justice movement, rhetoric or stance for personal or economical gain while also being very complicit in the very problem you’re perceiving to absolve.” 

It’s so popular because it’s so easy, right? 

Why take your chances against vicious police retaliation of rubber bullets and tear gas for protesting a system inherently created to place Black people at an advantage when you can post an aesthetically pleasing MLK quote instead?

Why sign petitions calling for the defunding of police or the charge of officers for heinous mistreatment of people of color when you can circulate “heart-warming” videos and pictures of blatantly obvious police propaganda instead? 

Why pick up the phone and call government officials to take consequential action against those who kill Black individuals and leave their bodies to rot in the streets when you can tag ten of your closest friends on some useless Instagram story chain? Oh thank God, good to know that since you’ve been tagged in this chain you’re not a racist! 

The truth of the matter is that it costs us absolutely nothing to click a couple of times and post an eye-catching graphic on our page. It doesn’t cost us our hard-earned money nor precious time all it does is delude you into feeling like you’ve contributed to helping end the century-long oppression of Black people in this country. No matter how much you think you’ve made your feed about “defending” the Black community, you are still selfishly serving yourself. You’re not supposed to “feel good” about uncomfortable and uneasy topics like racism; we don’t talk about it because we’re comfortable. 

It’s not enough anymore to post graphics on Instagram. It’s not enough anymore to just pin a #BlackLivesMatter button on your backpack. It’s not enough anymore to praise people for not rapping the N-word in a song. It was never enough to just do the bare minimum. 

A tweet posted by producer and cinematographer Rodney V. Smith regarding “Blackout Tuesday” reminds us of the grassroots movement’s purpose. “Blackout Tuesday does NOT mean to simply post a black picture and leave social media for the day,” stated Smith, “It means to stop promoting your own stuff for 24 hours, and instead amplify the voices & projects of Black creators, writers, directors, activists and more. pass it on.” 

Taking the lead, streaming services such as Apple Music have suspended features such as the For You page, the Radio, or the Browse section. Instead, subscribers of Apple Music may choose to listen to music already in their library or tune into a live radio station promoting Black artists. 

Photo is of Apple Music

You can properly take part in this blackout too. 

Take some time to shop from this list of Black-owned businesses that are deserving of your money. 

Take some time to watch one of these essential powerful shows or documentaries highlighting racial injustice. 

Take some time to check out this list of resources posted by the Muslim team on how you can better help the cause. 

In the upcoming weeks, another Instagram challenge will rear its ugly head and countless of us will fall for the “feel-good trap.” I only pray we realize that for every black square we post or chain we get tagged in without doing research and hard work behind the screen — that is another Black life we’ve failed to protect.

READ MORE: Dear Non-Black Muslims, Your Silence Is Deadly

Dear Non-Black Muslims, Your Silence Is Deadly

Once again, non-Black Muslims, both in the United States and abroad, have remained deafeningly silent on this crucial issue.

Dear Non-Black Muslims, Your Silence Is Deadly

Once again, non-Black Muslims, both in the United States and abroad, have remained deafeningly silent on this crucial issue.

By

Saj Bey

Photo - Believers Bail Out

Disclaimer: every article expressed in our opinions section is that of the writer.

We have once again witnessed the murder of a Black man at the hands of the police. Once again, we have been reminded of the sheer disregard for the lives of Black men, women, and children that characterizes this nation. And once again, non-Black Muslims, both in the United States and abroad, have remained deafeningly silent on this crucial issue. 

The silence that has reverberated in the wake of George Floyd’s murder is symptomatic of a larger issue that plagues Muslim communities: anti-Blackness. For those who are unaware, the term anti-Blackness refers to a specific brand of racism, opposition, and hostility toward Black people. Despite what you may think, anti-Blackness is not an ideology solely espoused by White people. Rather, anti-Blackness is inherent to virtually every racial, ethnic, and cultural group. Anti-Blackness is endorsed through the movies and shows you watch, the products you use to bleach your skin, and the use of pejoratives such as “abeed.” Anti-blackness is your willingness to step on the backs of your Black brothers and sisters in order to gain proximity to whiteness. Anti-Blackness is your deadly silence in the face of injustice. 

The myth of people of color solidarity has deluded non-Black Muslims into believing that our experiences with racism are the same. More dangerously, this myth has allowed non-Black people to ignore their role in upholding white supremacy. Tou Thao, the Hmong-American officer who stood by as Floyd was murdered, epitomizes the many ways in which non-Black people of color perpetuate and enable anti-Black violence. 

The few non-Black Muslims who have spoken about these issues often equate Black peoples’ experiences with racism in America to the plight of the Palestinians, the Uyghurs, and other subjugated groups to explain why we should support anti-racist efforts in the United States. 

While similarities do, in fact, exist between these various forms of oppression, it is shameful that the suffering of Black people can only be validated through its resemblance to the hardship of others. The need to draw parallels between oppressed groups in order to identify with the pain of Black people is an additional product of anti-Blackness. State-sanctioned violence against Black people deserves outrage, not because of its similitude to other forms of oppression, but because it is an injustice in itself. 

As Muslims, we have no excuse to remain silent on issues of oppression. Our belief in Islam demands that we fight against injustice wherever and whenever we see it. If, as you are reading this, you are wondering what steps you can take to stand in solidarity with your Black brothers and sisters, here are some ideas to get you started:

 

1. Donate to the Official George Floyd Memorial Fund

2. Donate to the Minnesota Freedom Fund, a nonprofit that pays bail for protestors who have been arrested 

3. Educate yourself and others on Black history and resistance movements

4. Support organizations such as the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative

5. Interrogate your own anti-Black biases

6. Hold your communities to a higher standard by calling out anti-Blackness in all of its forms

 

As you conclude this article and reflect upon what I have written, remember that your silence is not just indicative of your contentment with the status quo, it is your complicity with a system that thrives on reigning terror upon Black people. Remember that your silence is dangerous, that it is deprived of humanity, and above all, that it is un-Islamic. 

“And incline not towards those who do wrong, lest the Fire touches you, and you will not have any protectors, apart from Allah. And you will not be helped.”  (Hud, 11:113) 

 

READ MORE: We Shouldn’t Rely On Trigger Videos To Care About Black Lives

We Shouldn’t Rely On Trigger Videos To Care About Black Lives

Video after video we see Black individuals being thrown to the ground, shot at, choked, and beaten to death.

We Shouldn’t Rely On Trigger Videos To Care About Black Lives

Video after video we see Black individuals being thrown to the ground, shot at, choked, and beaten to death.

By

Lamia Rashid

Art - Ameer Al-Khatahtbeh

Disclaimer: every article expressed in our opinions section is that of the writer.

My thumbs are tired of tapping through graphic videos of Black Americans dying. Yours should be too. 

Most recently, the chilling video of George Floyd being mercilessly suffocated to death by officer Derek Chauvin set Instagram ablaze; in February, it was the haunting video of Ahmaud Arbery’s final moments before being shot to death by Gregory and Travis McMichael. 

Video after video we see Black individuals being thrown to the ground, shot at, choked, and beaten bloody. Post after post, we are reminded of the broken justice system which continues to fail Black Americans repeatedly.

Some believe that these videos serve as proof that the US has become “more racist.” But in a recent taping of the Late Show Stephen Colbert, actor Will Smith weighed in on this debate, disagreeing with those who claim racism is getting worse. “Racism is not getting worse,” stated Smith, “it’s getting filmed.”

In a study conducted by Pew Research Center, it was reported found that, on average, #BlackLivesMatter is used 17,002 times a day, and since 2017, has been reported to be one of the top ten most popular hashtags. 

But despite the ever-trending hashtags, the protests, and the pleads for justice, Black Americans are still being videotaped gasping for their lives and begging not to be killed. Despite the activism and passionate Instagram posts, Black Americans are being killed by the people who are supposed to protect them. 

This problem is seen in corrupt officers like Chauvin: a department veteran of 19 years, who, despite being the subject of numerous complaints throughout the years, had yet to face any disciplinary consequences until his knee pinned defenseless “gentle giant” George Floyd to the ground in cold blood.  

According to 2019 statistics from Mapping Police Violence, Black people accounted for 24% of the deaths as a result of police brutality despite only comprising 13% of the population; additionally, Black people are 3x more likely to be killed by the police than Caucasians. 

In an article published in the Los Angeles Times, it was reported that 1 in 1000 Black men and boys will die at the hands of the police, which is 2.5x more than their Caucasian counterparts. 

The problem is seen again in the dangerous rhetoric used by the President when discussing Black Americans. In a now flagged tweet posted to his account early Friday morning, Trump suggested that the National Guard may shoot looters and protestors enraged over the tragic death of Floyd, a stark contrast to Trump’s reaction to disgruntled Caucasian (and armed) COVID-19 protesters in Michigan earlier this month.

In his tweet he states:

Spot the grotesque injustice? While Trump encourages officers to “see” and “make deals” with Caucasians waving guns in protest for haircuts, Black men and women are disgraceful “thugs” for rioting in pain at the immoral murder of Floyd. 

Tomorrow, another Black person will be senselessly murdered at the hands of police and there will be no hashtags or an alarming video for the world to see. But this shouldn’t make their lives any less valuable. “Liberty and justice for all” never changed, and it shouldn’t take triggering videos circulating social media for us to remember to stand up against blatant injustice. 

Many celebrities and corporations have expressed solidarity with the Black community on social media; recently, Nike posted a video to their Instagram with the caption “let’s all be part of the change. #UntilWeAllWin,” reminding us that we all have the power to make an impact.

If you’re looking for ways to support the Black community, numerous organizations are in dire need of your donations. 

Official George Floyd Memorial Fund on gofundme.com

Organized by his brother Philonise Floyd, the fund was created to “cover funeral and burial expenses, mental and grief counseling, lodging and travel for all court proceedings and to assist the family in the days to come as they “continue to seek justice for George.”

Black Lives Matter

An organization with the mission statement of bringing justice, freedom, and healing to black people across the globe.

The Minnesota Freedom Fund

An organization that helps pay jail bonds for those who cannot afford to fight discriminatory and coercive jailing.

If you are unable to donate, you can support George Floyd’s cause by signing this petition calling for the arrest and charge of the officers involved in the heinous attack, calling County Attorney Mike Freeman at 612-348-5550 to demand a murder charge, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison at 651-296-3353, and Gov. Walz at 651-201-3400.

Hashtags will not combat years of embedded systematic racism in this country nor bring back Black Americans killed in vain; It only signifies an ongoing battle that must be fought. 

I am tired of tapping through graphic videos of Black Americans dying at the hands of police. You should be too. I am tired of flinching at the sight of my Black brothers and sisters being beaten, harassed, and suffocated flooding my timeline. You should be too.

READ MORE: George Floyd: Murder Of Unarmed Black Man Sparks Ongoing Protests In Minneapolis

Let’s Talk About Body Dysmorphia In Muslim Communities

Getting ready and having to look at my body became an uncomfortably gross intimacy.

Let’s Talk About Body Dysmorphia In Muslim Communities

Getting ready and having to look at my body became an uncomfortably gross intimacy.

By

Rania Rizvi
Art - WikiPedia; Body Dysmorphia

Dear Aunties: Keep your comments about my weight to yourself 

Once, I was the chubby, “happy-go-lucky” kid with full cheeks and a rosy glow. I ate unapologetically and wholeheartedly. I drank two Capri-Suns and ate popsicles daily with my friends after school. 

But then reality hit. 

It was time for middle school and that cute Aero top that once fit like a glove was now a bit too tight in all the wrong places. My grandma would call worried from Pakistan, saying she didn’t want her eldest, “prettiest granddaughter” to be fat. 

Dinner parties turned into auntie-commentaries about how I would look “better” if I slimmed down. Familiar faces turned into inspecting eyes, judging me up and down before saying “Salaam!” 

Instagram became an agonizing reminder that my frame was societally subpar and that I was practically obese compared to the tan California girls with 10,000 likes and invisible waists. 

The weight of my weight never felt heavier. 

I became incredibly self-conscious and started researching diets. I learned how to only eat 1,200 calories a day, how to have a cup of coffee for breakfast and be full, how to channel my self-hatred into fuel for my no-pain-no-gain workouts. 

When I was 16, my grandma came to visit me from Pakistan and was stunned by how thin I had become: She soon started mixing butter into my rice so that I would gain weight. 

The commenting aunties suddenly came up to me asking to give them dieting tips. Some were even worried that I might “go anorexic.” 

But overall, they thought I was a success story. 

What they didn’t know was that I woke up each and every day with a torturous mental battle to fight. 

Getting ready and having to look at my body became an uncomfortably gross intimacy. The whispers of “you should lose more weight” inside my head were louder than the ten alarms I set for school. No amount of lighting, weight loss or filters could fix the million, microscopic errors my eyes could miraculously find. 

The weight of never feeling good enough feels the heaviest. 

I didn’t know the words for it then, but my ritualistic dieting, fixation on metrics, and obsession with mirrors was not just vanity or wanting to look good. 

They were symptoms of Body Dysmorphia. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is a mental health disorder in which one obsesses over perceived or minor flaws that are oftentimes not noticeable to others. 

As a result, individuals may avoid or feel anxious in social situations and can spiral into depression. 

Symptoms include: obsession with appearance, believing that one is ugly or deformed because of the perceived flaw, and frequently seeking reassurance from others. 

Older generations accuse us of being “self-obsessed” and that we ought to just grit our teeth and “deal with it.” 

“Allah has given you so much and you dare to be ungrateful?” they say. “This is what happens when we miss salah.” 

This indifference towards mental health is especially prevalent in South Asian or Arab muslim communities that not only cater to traditional ideals of beauty but also weaponize religion to shame those who struggle mentally. 

This is only compounded by the fact that the muslim youth of today live in a society that subsists upon the Eurocentric body imagel, and rewards people based on their looks. It is virtually impossible to not feel bad about oneself. 

But how do we combat this issue? 

Let me offer you some pragmatic perspective. 

We live in a society that profits from insecurity – the cosmetic surgery industry alone accounts for around $20 billion globally. Therefore, it only makes sense that we are bombarded with content that makes us want to look like someone else. People are willing to spend anything to feel loved and accepted. 

We ought to step back from ourselves and take a critical look at the media and what it is selling us, why people fat-shame and make the comments that they do. If we can take back our power and understand that beauty is a subjective term that is based on what sells in that particular time, perhaps we might not feel as bad anymore. 

There was a point in time when your body was the ideal. Trends do not determine your worth. People will always be afraid of what is different. There will always be someone who is skinnier or has more likes, and even those people aren’t “happy.” 

Most of all, we ought to remember to look at the grand scheme of things, beyond the material world’s obsession with unattainable perfection. Even if we perceive our body as a flaw, these are based on human standards, but in the eyes of Allah (swt), we are all equal, regardless of how we might appear.

Remember that our Creator made no mistakes when making you. He has crafted us each with unique imperfections to not only remind us of our humanity, but to teach us where our worth really comes from in this life and the hereafter: the heart inside the body, not the body itself.

Being truly comfortable in one’s body cannot be achieved by joining the crowd, but by authentically embracing our diversity and working on our self-worth from the inside out. 

At the age of 19, I no longer use calorie counting apps and workout for the purpose of feeling good. I have gained weight since my unhealthy high school days, and I am grateful for it. 

While there are still days when I feel insecure about my body, I remind myself that only I get to decide how I feel about my body, not my family, not oppressive standards, and certainly not the aunties. 

To all the aunties who ever had a comment to make about mine or anyone else’s weight: stop. Stop making impressionable kids feel ashamed about their bodies. Keep the generational trauma to yourself because my generation is just trying to love themselves. 

 

READ MORE: The Double Standard Between Billie Eilish And Muslim Women

Is Gun Violence A ‘Muslim Issue?’

The word “violence” does not even appear in the Quran. Not once. So why are Muslims always villainized?

Is Gun Violence A ‘Muslim Issue?’

The word “violence” does not even appear in the Quran. Not once. So why are Muslims always villainized?

By

Mohamed Alagteaa
Art - Ameer Al-Khatahtbeh

Disclaimer: every opinion expressed in written pieces is that of the writer, and doesn’t represent the view of our publication.

 

On average, almost 100 people die each day in the United States from gun violence, according to a report done by Jama Network. As one of the richest nations on the planet is losing the battle against this pandemic, it’s worth noting that this fight is a matter the entire world is grappling with. 

Guns are the means, but the violence perpetrated from the use of these agencies is committed by people from all backgrounds and all walks of life. This poses the question of whether gun violence is a specific problem of one component of society, the Muslim one for example, or is it a burden that everyone must tackle? 

So, is gun violence a “Muslim issue?”

The simple answer is: yes.

But, like every topic Muslims deal with, the answer is never easy or straightforward and this one is no different. This one-word answer lingers with complications. 

You’re at home, you switch on the news while you’re in the kitchen making a snack. Suddenly, you hear Wolf Blitzer’s voice blaring “CNN Breaking News.”  A shooting, somewhere, many dead, more injured and the suspect is still on the run.

A non-Muslim’s reaction is, oh God, another shooting.

A Muslim’s reaction is, oh God, hope he’s not Muslim.

It’s the worst-case scenario for so many of us, because what we observe at home, learn in Masjid and experience on a daily basis will be twisted and shown dishonestly.

The Quran does not reference gun violence specifically, because guns did not exist at the time of the revelations. Quran with the Hadith together transcended the means to direct its teaching toward the action itself. Both the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet categorically and unequivocally reject any act of transgression.

“And fight in the way of God against those who fight against you, but do not transgress. Truly God loves not the transgressors.” (2:190) al-Bagarah

“There should be neither harming nor reciprocating harm.” A ruling by the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) narrated ‘Ubadah bin Samit

Allah and his Messenger make it clear, with no dubiety, harm in any shape or form is unacceptable. 

But what about all those verses of killing non-Muslims?

The Quran’s description of violent actions are put in place as directions of protection, a manner of self-defense, which is the only justification for resorting to them, and even then, it’s better to dock at the port of peace. 

“God does not forbid you, with regard to those who did not fight you on account of religion and did not expel you from your homes, from treating them righteously and being just toward them. Truly God loves the just” (60:8) al-Mumtaḥanah

There is not a single verse in the Quran that calls for an unmitigated or unqualified cause of violence. Yet, extremist groups interpret verses to endorse their incoherent and unislamic violent actions. 

That is a fact, and while the perpetuated stereotypes of Muslims being synonyms to hate and destruction of human life are unjust, it is what makes violence committed using guns a Muslim issue. Simply, firearms are one of their weapons of choice. 

The Parkland shooting intensified the urgency around gun control and need for measures to be taken and implemented now. But, there were no Muslim casualties nor was the attacker Muslim. That was the case in many other shooting incidents and other sites of crimes where guns were used to slaughter innocent people.

Hence, it is easy to sit in the background and watch another community suffer from these events, yet we as Muslims are compelled to be the first to be on the front lines, not because it can happen to us in the future, and it did (Christchurch, New Zealand), nor because we were the victim of the same monstrosity before. It is because we are supposed to be categorically and unequivocally against violence.

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “The most hated persons to Allah are three: (1) A person who deviates from the right conduct, i.e., an evil doer, in the Haram (sanctuaries of Mecca and Medina); (2) a person who seeks that the traditions of the Pre-Islamic Period of Ignorance, should remain in Islam (3) and a person who seeks to shed somebody’s blood without any right.” Narrated Ibn `Abbas

It should not be lost upon us as well, the word “violence” does not even appear in the Quran. Not once. 

Whether we are the victims, or collectively wrongfully accused or it is another community that might even be the one collectively wrongfully accusing us, our cornerstones of belief demand us to be the vigilant sounds of gun control.

So, when the next “Breaking News” comes along, we are profoundly moved to action, unapologetically and filled with conviction in support of our own people and of our fellow citizens. 

 

What A Joe Biden Presidency Means For Muslims

For the Muslim community, we should be particularly weary given his stances on a number of issues.

What A Joe Biden Presidency Means For Muslims

For the Muslim community, we should be particularly weary given his stances on a number of issues.

By

Haider Syed
Art - Ameer Al-Khatahtbeh

Disclaimer: every opinion expressed in written pieces is that of the writer, and doesn’t represent the view of our publication.

In an age of rising right-wing fascism – let alone the tide of hopelessness gripping much of our world through the ensuing COVID-19 pandemic and looming climate catastrophe – it’s easy to slip into despair. The past four years in particular have felt like shockwave after shockwave. 

The era of Donald Trump has come to define the absurdity of our world. An abhorrently brash and reckless presidency thus far, since taking the oval office in 2016 Trump has certainly stayed true to his time in the entertainment industry, running his administration like nothing more than a reality-tv show. He handles the presidency with a soap opera-esque feel with shocking gaffes, firings left-right and center, and a gripping anticipation of what will happen next. 

Over the past four years, the Trump administration has turned anti-Muslim campaign rhetoric –  which riled up support for him amongst hard-right factions – into legitimate policies. The Muslim ban perhaps most ardently shows the grim circumstances that Muslims are facing, with chances that a second Trump term would see further measures of increased policing, restriction and harassment targeting other minorities under the guise of protecting the country against terrorist threats. Not to mention the increased hostilities against Muslims: reports of attacks skyrocketing and the normalization of Islamophobic rhetoric and bigotry in the mainstream. 

This has been nothing but a testing time, and the community has become heavily invested in the 2020 election campaign.

So it’s understandable that many would take the first opportunity afforded to get rid of Trump. The Muslim community in America and much of the Muslim world are closely eyeing the upcoming November elections and wondering what outcome will ensue. 

The early promises of the Bernie Sanders campaign and his embrace of the Muslim community was met with a wave of overwhelming support from Muslims, especially from young Muslims. But as the attacks against him increased and further candidates began to drop out of the race, Sanders’ promise to quickly fizzled out. Losses in mid and late March led him to suspending his campaign by the first week of April.

Enter Joseph R. Biden Jr. 

Going into Super Tuesday, he was down in the pecking order, an afterthought, and someone who was expected to bow out of the race at any moment. But that night quickly shifted everything in his favor and now today he stands alone as the man millions will be looking towards to defeat Trump in a few months. 

Biden promises, both figuratively and literally, a return to the pre-Trump days. The former Vice-President symbolizes the stark contrast between the gloom and chaos of the current administration to that of the Obama White House – one of the most popular presidencies in recent American history. 

Biden has built a reputation as a charming fatherly figure, an old-timer whose experience and guile are unmatched; a career politician who has what it takes to dethrone Trump as commander-in-chief. He’s seen as the “Mr. Nice Guy” of American politics who even Lindsey Graham once described as “….as good of a man as God ever created.” 

The former vice-president has presented himself as an exemplar of honesty, a pillar of morality, and the candidate to bring stability back to a nation looking towards its leadership for sanity and direction. 

But who really is Joe Biden? Once you start scratching beneath the surface, a far more grim picture begins to take shape. Under the veneer, his track record is an atrocious plethora of issues that makes him out to be an extremely vulnerable candidate – especially since he’ll be up against someone like Trump who will not hold back in his attacks. 

Beyond the smile, we have seen a man struggle significantly on the campaign trail thus far as he routinely forgets things while speaking, displays moments of sheer cluelessness, incoherence and so forth. But what actually should be troubling potential supporters is his past. 

The “anyone but Trump” rhetoric starts to feel futile when we take a closer look at Biden’s record on a number of significant issues. For the Muslim community, we should be particularly weary given his stances on a number of issues that involved minority and civil rights. 


Joe Biden visiting Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in UAE.

 

Perhaps most notorious is Biden’s reputation on racial integration during the civil rights era and furthermore his role in legislation that decimated Black communities across the nation. Biden was a long-time close friend of ardent segregationist Strom Thurmmond, whom he publicly praised numerous times as a remarkable individual. 

Biden remarked once that Thurmmond – whose career was defined by his long-standing opposition to the implementation of Civil Rights in America which included him switching parties for the sake of it – told him that if there were ever to be a Democrat as President he’d like it to be Biden. 

Biden spent years not only vehemently opposing integrationist efforts such as busing (which came up in the debates in a heated exchange with Kamala Harris) to appease white constituents back home, but did not shy away from outrightly defending the segregationists he was collaborating with then. He advocated opposing desegregation under the banner that it was for the good of Black people and culture in America. 

These inconsistencies, or outright lies, come into the spotlight again when we look at his last campaign for the Democratic nomination in 1988. Then, he had to humiliatingly withdraw from the race after it came out that he plagiarized parts of speeches from Neil Kinnock and Robert Kennedy verbatim. 

When this came to light at the time, it was hugely embarrassing for him. He had also been accused of plagiarizing during law school, as well as lying about his academic achievements – all which he at first then denied but later on admitted to as well. 

In addition, he has a scathing history of simply making things up if not out-right lying about them. For one, he lied about apparently being arrested for protesting during apartheid in Soweto, South Africa when he had been attempting to go see Nelson Mandela who was imprisoned on Robben Island. 

Biden has time and time again referred to his work within the civil rights movement as a young man. Yet it isn’t helpful that in 1987 he clearly stated that in no capacity had he ever marched nor been an activist. From such antics it becomes apparent that Biden is the sort of politician who is willing to jump on bandwagons and say what he has to sway people’s opinion of him, even if that means being dishonest. This doesn’t do much to separate him from the pathological lying of one Donald Trump.

But even more pressingly when it comes to policies on social justice, Biden’s record is dicey, if not outright alarming. In 1994, Biden was one of the main proponents of the Federal Crime Bill. To say it was tough on crime would be an understatement. 

As the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Biden espoused the bill fiercely until it was passed, and it went on to decimate Black families and communities unrelentingly. The legislation was passed at the height of the crises evoked by the crack-cocaine epidemic. It was proposed by Bill Clinton, and having wide ranging bipartisan support from Democrats and Reaganites alike, it added dozens of new offenses, far harsher sentences for menial misdeeds, and contributed billions of dollars towards the construction of new prisons with obligatory minimum sentencing. 

While the legislation did lower crime momentarily, that was largely due to the increased deployment of officers out on the streets, which single handedly doubled the imprisonment rate over the next decade and a half.

At the time, Biden’s rhetoric and language on how drug related offences should be handled, and particularly in addressing the Black and Latino communities plagued by the worst of the violence, advocated for harsher punishments and the full brunt of a more aggressive policing system. 

His work in writing the 1995 Omnibus Counterterrorism Act to stifle the flow of drugs in America as part of the War on Drugs shouldn’t come as a surprise. And, the Patriot Act which was signed into law in 2001 following the September 11th Attacks and the beginning of the War on Terror was attributed to Biden – something he has bragged about in the past. 

Note: This was the same legislation that gave the US intelligence apparatus unparalleled authority, which they used to police, harass, spy on and dehumanize Muslims throughout America. The interconnectedness between the violences that minorities, immigrants and racialized folks in the US face at the hands of the state could not be more apparent than this. 

Minorities and marginalized folks are attacked through the same channels –and Joe Biden has been there conducting the traffic for a long time.

Then, there’s Biden on foreign policy. Most notably, he’s been criticized for his support of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He now claims he was tricked into supporting it by the Bush administration and later opposed it right as it started, at a time when he was Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. 

But this turns out to be untrue, seeing that Biden had been regularly calling for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein since the late 1990s. And in 2003, after the invasion took place he repeatedly praised President Bush for doing so, admitting he was going against those in his own party but stating it would have been a greater mistake to allow Saddam’s reign to continue. 

It doesn’t further his cause of appealing to Muslim Americans that he was Vice-President during the Obama years which were seen as an ample opportunity for the U.S. to repair its relationship with the Muslim world, yet did little to go in that direction. 

Biden has a track record for being nothing more than a war hawk. The failure of closing Guantanamo Bay in the early years was overshadowed by the ways in which the national security state was expanded during their administration, which curtailed civil liberties and gave the President only more power. 

We’ve come to know of Biden’s time as vice-president as one which revealed the extent of the NSA’s espionage metrics, record deportations, the infamous Obama Kill-List and the lawlessness of the drone assassination program in countries like Yemen or the unauthorized bombing campaigns in Libya, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Building a devastating apparatus that Trump inherited.

When we talk about a “return” to normalcy and Trump, is that what we’re going to get more of under Biden? Free handouts to the tune of $30 billion more to fund Israeli expansionism deemed hostile and illegal under international law?  Further war and aggression in the Muslim world? A failure to live up to promises made to communities in distress?

And while we often berate Trump for his connection with fellow fascist sympathizers like Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, we cannot forget the fact that Biden’s own campaign’s Muslim outreach coordinator was one Amit Jani who has long standing connections with the BJP, who he has praised significantly and was even pictured with Modi recently. 

The same Narendhra Modi who has long incited religious violence in India against Muslims. That this was the individual who Biden saw as fit to make inroads with American Muslims says a lot.

Joe Biden's Modi supporting "Muslim Outreach" co-ordinator.

 

And then there are the scathing allegations on Biden for sexual misconduct and harassment. In April 2019, eight women came forward with allegations of some form of inappropriate gestures across a number of years against Biden. The behavior these women have reported are not out of line with the sort of stuff we’ve seen from Biden in recent times – pictured frequently to be overtly intimate, in touching, hugging and kissing women who are visibly in discomfort in professional settings, on the campaign trail and at events. 

In recent weeks we’ve seen one allegation in particular gain further credibility. His former Senate staffer, Tara Reade, accuses him of sexually harassing her in 1993 – with now various fragments of her story aligning to give her claims a source of integrity

Biden this week outrightly denied the allegations and fellow Democrats have come to his support, as he felt bewildered by the timing of Reade’s allegations. She has repeatedly spoken of the difficulty of coming forward personally and the challenges she’s faced when she went to her superiors about the misconduct. 

Yet it’s disheartening to see that just over a year ago when it was Brett Kavanaugh who was being grilled about his own sexual misconduct, Biden remarked, “For a woman to come forward in the glaring lights of focus, nationally, you’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she’s talking about is real, whether or not she forgets facts, whether or not it’s been made worse or better over time.”

The way in which those same Democrats, who have repeatedly drawn hammer blows at President Trump’s own history of sexual misconduct and misogyny are now defending Biden, underlines the fact that some only believe women when it’s for political gain.  

When it comes down to it, it’s more about choosing sides than gaining justice for the victims – indicators of moral bankruptcy, and an indicator of the perverseness of contemporary American politics. 

Taking all this into account, it becomes apparent that the Democratic establishment haven’t propped up all their support behind Biden because they think he’s the best man for the job – but because they want to tap into that same supporter base that won Donald Trump the 2016 election. That a racist apologist and a misogynist can actually get the vote.

The fact of the matter is that Joe Biden is a closet Republican who has been parading as a progressive democrat for far too long – the party’s top brass feel they can exploit this in their favor by winning over large swathes of the Right across the country. 

Rather than shifting the conversation towards the Left and guaranteeing everyday Americans with basic necessities such as universal healthcare, the party has gone for a centrist politician who is riddled with vulnerabilities that are already being laid bare, and by November will probably have cost him the election, leading to four more years of further turmoil under Trump.