Sudan & Acknowledging Anti-Blackness in the Ummah

In an interview, Malcolm X told Muslim brotherhood leader, Said Ramadan, that he founded the Organization of African-American Unity in a “racist white society” to unite Blacks “regardless of religious affiliation.”  Said Ramadan expressed concerns that Malcolm X still sounded like a Black nationalist in his speeches. He asked Malcolm X “How could a main of your spirit, intellect, and worldwide outlook fail to see Islam its main characteristics, from its earliest days, as a message that confirms beyond doubt the ethnological oneness and quality of all races, thus striking at the very root of the monstrosity of racial discrimination?

Malcolm X responded that “My first responsibility was to my 22 million fellow Black Americans who suffer the same indignities because of their as I do.. Much to my dismay, until now the Muslim World has seemed to ignore the problems of the Black Americans, and most Muslims who come here from the Muslim World have concentrated more effort in trying to convert white Americans than Black Americans.”

Recent catastrophic events in Africa demonstrated a continuance of much of the Muslim world ignoring the problems and undermining the problems facing Black folks. Look no further than the truly fascinating nation of Sudan. Sudan is home to multiple ethnic groups and a true example of the fluidity of ethnic identity with Arab and African identity and of course “black” being used almost interchangeably when it comes to context and more recently, I’m sorry to say, convenience.

Sudan has been home to what some erroneously would describe as conflict and civil war but would really more fittingly be described as ethnic cleansing, when I speak of this I don’t mean the recent events that have been catapulted into the social media realm but rather I mean the wanton murder, rape and cultural eradication of non-Arab ethnic minorities that has occurred in Sudan to the deafening silence of the wider Muslim community.

There are endless resources for information on all the gritty grim details of the rmpowerment of the vile ethnocentric cancer that is the Janjaweed death squad and their genocidal nepotism so I shan’t attempt to give a full history of this conflict here however, what I will state is that considering how fairly accessible this information is one must agree that it’s absolutely appalling just how ignorant the majority of the so called “ummah” has been of this nations issues until now (conveniently).

As with all discussions to do with antiblackness the plight of the Sudanese non-Arab /sub Saharan/ black ethnic groups when mentioned was often met with dismissive wilful ignorance and even subtle justifications such as “it’s not a racial issue, it’s religious” which is highly problematic as this firstly is unacceptable even if it were true as we are to be merciful towards people of the book.. the sahaba and Muhammad (saw) protected an’ nasarah and maintained good relations with them, furthermore we find that Muslims are oddly able to feel compassion for Syrian and Palestinian Christians in the face of ongoing aggression from Israel yet somehow this empathy does not extend to the African Christians (and Muslims) who face oppression from Arabs in Libya, Sudan and even countries like Algeria and Tunisia. Why is this?

Are they not people of the same book? Furthermore dismissing the ethnic cleansing of Sudan prior to ongoing pandemonium is just plain inaccurate as south Sudanese (after the split the majority of non-Arab Sudanese have seceded to southern Sudan as a state) comprise of Muslims, Christians and those of indigenous African faiths.

More harrowing still is that the above retorts to this issue aren’t even the most flippant or ignorant as recently as few months ago we have seen so called Muslim intellectuals and political activists who have gained notoriety from opposing islamophobic government policies (through organisations modelled on the black civil rights movement and its struggle against structural racism) flat out deny not only the existence of structural racism and antiblackness but even the possibility of it because “there are black people in Muslim countries” and then went on to name Sudan as one such example.

None other than Moazzam Begg, a man looked at by many Muslims in the Uk, young and old, as a symbol of defiance against structural discrimination and the islamophobia industry. A man who is viewed as the height of intellectual debate against draconian laws designed to marginalise a minority having been at the brunt of it himself and ironically some may argue that the movement to spread awareness about his plight and demand his freedom as well as many others in similar predicaments was indeed spearheaded by individuals and organisations who have knowingly or unknowingly been heavily influenced by the civil rights movement and have used arguments very much influenced by the concept of structural racism which is directly related to antiblackness and forms the skeleton for most ideas behind the acknowledgement and tackling of islamophobia. Organisations like Cage are very often referred to as being part of the Muslim civil rights movement).

Some may argue that within this video there was a black brother so therefore antiblackness is not at the crux of such selective comprehension, my response is that the black
brother within the video was not there to state any opinion of his own but merely to regurgitate verbatim the manifesto of the particular organization which  he has been a part of for decades,  Hizb Tahrir, which has gained criticism for its failure to discuss any actual pragmatic solutions to socio political issues to any depth save for its usual stance of “we must establish a khilafa first and then we can eradicate these issues.” Which is an argument akin to “don’t worry about the foundation, we will build the house first! Then we can worry about foundation material and bricks!”

Taji Mustafa inclusion in this video considering he admittedly had never heard of structural racism until he was called (by whom I wonder? His superiors?) and asked to discuss it was such a blatant and grotesque use of tokenism that it actually further proved the points many make about Muslim organisations in the west and abhorrent structural racism. It is very worrying indeed that an esteemed public figure in such a position made this very statement in a roughly hour long video discussing antiblackness.

Please feel free to watch the full video just to verify that this claim isn’t made up. The actual statement is around the 21:50 mark but before and after that there is plenty of
highly questionable commentary from both men.

 

Racism: How Islam solves it

*** Racism: How Islam solves it ***- looking at recent debates amongst some Muslims Moazzam Begg and Taji Mustafa discuss. Please SHARE. Jzk#Islam #OneUmmah #OneDeen #Racism #Jahiliyah

Posted by Taji Mustafa on Sunday, July 1, 2018

It is shocking and disappointing to see that someone who I would like to believe has the Muslim ummah’s wellbeing at heart would so callously erase the struggles of thousands of people with an argument so illogical that had I not replayed that particular comment multiple times I would’ve thought it was tongue in cheek or a sarcastic comment. He also went on to dismiss he idea of  racism existing among Muslims because the Quran states that only taqwa differentiates the status between Muslims and not race.

By that same logic America cannot be racist because it has black people in it (one was even a president!) and America by this same logic (or lack thereof) cannot be islamophobic because it is home to millions of Muslims. Two of whom are the most known Muslims worldwide in the last century Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X (May Allah grant both Jannah) Also by this same logic there is no such thing as theft, prostitution, murder or adultery in Muslim lands because these acts are all prohibited by Islamic injunction and Muslims are somehow magically unable to do anything haram which thereby negates the need for a sharia or even dawah because apparently taking shahada makes one perfect (which is odd because even after taking shahada Abu Dhār was still racist to Bilal (ra) a point that Daniel Haqiqjatou couldn’t seem to understand when debating Hakeem Muhammad). Consider this, if a man who is at the forefront of political debate regarding Muslim issues can be this oblivious of such a serious issue and can so brazenly dismiss it so openly imagine the attitude of the lay (non-black) Muslim towards issues of antiblackness in general in Sudan and beyond?

Let me clarify exactly what was denied in this video just in Sudan alone, so it can be understood that this was by no means a minor issue or perhaps an uncharacteristic skirmish that took place in Sudan that a political commentator of such esteemed repute May have simply not known about or overlooked, what Brother Moazzam denied exists in Sudan is a systemic persecution that saw 500’000 darfuris ethnically cleansed from their villages, mothers were shot, darfuri babies were swung in the air and smashed headfirst to the ground by Janjaweed in front of parents, children were raped in front of mothers before being shot families were burned alive and where applicable young boys were kidnapped , drugged and forced to return with their oppressors to kill their own families for the amusement of the Janjaweed . Villages that were inhabited by Arab tribes of Darfur were left unperturbed whereas black or non-Arab/Cushitic villages or areas that were inhabited by more sub Saharan looking Sudanese were targeted and subjected to state sanctioned barbarism. The
UN confirmed ethnic cleansing was taking place in Sudan and the Muslim world (save for some African nations) responded with a deafening silence.

The situation in Darfur was so dire that that opportunistic Christian missionaries from America saw this as an opening to gain coerced conversions from Sudanese Muslims using food and water as their “bait”. How any activist, Muslim or otherwise could deny this is beyond imagination and surely were he attached to a non-Muslim organisation there would have been a quick response to separate his views from that of the organisation and perhaps some form of uproar from other Muslims of note and clout, what would the response have been if one had made such an erroneous statement about the Palestinian struggle?

Imagine a prominent Muslim attached to any “Islamic” organisation (other than the likes of Quilliam foundation) openly and nonchalantly dismissing the plight of Palestine, the uproar and righteous indignation would only be curtailed with official apologies. Cage till date has made no official statement on the issue despite this incident leading to two of their well known female supporters severing all ties with them with one even formally requesting all her videos be taken down from their social media.

When even an organisation modelled on pursuit of justice and providing the voice for the voiceless is silent on such an issue it is a sign of the times we live in, if truly the ummah is one body then no peoples struggle should be undermined, while I use the above organisation and individual as an example of the fatal indifference towards global antiblackness in the ummah and particularly as relates to Sudan I must concede that I do respect some of the work they have done as I too have at a time openly shown support for them and it is for this very reason that I feel it imperative that they must be called to account as no human and no man made organisation is beyond reproach and also because while I have come across the dismissiveness towards the Sudanese from many “everyday” Muslims this is one of the most current, relevant examples of indifference to not just the struggles of black Sudanese but also the shideen of Pakistan, the Jarawa of India, the habash of Bangladesh and India and the indigenous aborigines found in Australasia, Malaysia and other parts of south east Asia who are all facing systemic persecution for their race and proximity to blackness and mainly at the hands of Muslims despite his assertions that this is not possible simply because they happen to exist in these spaces.

In an almost bitter turn of irony we see much of the online clicktivism highlighting the fact that the reason the current situation in Sudan has been met with “silence” (despite it currently being a media and social media trend) is because those being killed are black. This is very ironic indeed considering many of those currently on the moral bandwagon ignored the plight of the south Sudanese for that very reason. I pray that Allah grants ease to all my brothers in Islam and humanity worldwide regardless of their race but I also pray that we Muslims realise that Allah may not rectify a people’s situation until they rectify themselves. The Muslim is in a macabre state and things are bound to get worse before they get better. If the Muslim Ummah is truly one body then we need to understand that if we allow a small infection on that body to go untreated then it spreads, festers and becomes worse. Antiblackness is a cancer in our Ummah and Sudan’s current state is an example to use of two things.

We see clearly that the very same Janjaweed who learned their death dealing trade by plying it against non-Arabs in Darfur have become more extreme in their bloodshed and turned their weapons on their Arab brethren simply so they can keep the tyrants who militarised them in power. As we have seen time and time again with Shaytaan he will always make us transgress a little bit more, when oppression is unchecked it will always expand and branch out into new forms of depravity. Had the wider Ummah cared more for the victims of the genocidal campaign against non- arab Sudanese and put a stop to the Janjaweed early we wouldn’t see this situation today.

Lastly just to highlight why there is a clear hierarchy in our perception of the importance of human life in the ummah, recent events in Sudan have seen (as at the time of this article being penned) one hundred north Sudanese killed and we can all see the social media outrage that has caused. Meanwhile south Sudanese death toll as a direct result of Arab anti-black violence was estimated at 1.9 million between 1983 and 199 and has continued since then till date, due to instability and displacement of the south Sudanese it has been hard to follow up with another more accurate estimate (especially as many of the tribes that have been “cleansed” were nomadic and did not take part in any census) logically we can conclude that the number of deaths for black Sudanese will now have heavily exceeded two million.

To put things into perspective, that is basically double the population of Birmingham. Picture if you can, all of your borough filled with dead bodies, imagine your home town being one mass grave, as morbid as that is it’s the reality for our black Sudanese brothers and sisters, till date I have seen no media outrage or awareness campaigns that compare to what we have seen for north Sudanese. Some may argue that the advent of social media helped but my response is that the Palestinian struggle began long before the rise of Mark Zuckerberg et al and people still knew, conversely the Muslim purge in Central African Republic receives no attention from the Muslim world nor does the current situation
of Africans being sold as slaves in Libya

I hope that even one person who comes across this humble article will take time to reflect but the probability is that as always this lamentation will be ignored, or I the author will be called a racist myself for speaking an uncomfortable truth and then a greenlight will be given for character assassination and a witch hunt or of course the infamous cop out will be used stating that articles like this are causing division. To this I say, in an ummah where two million people who look like me can die and my own brothers don’t care but when five hundred of their own do it is a tragedy, it is very clear that those divisions predate and are more severe than any article. May Allah grant justice
to all the oppressed, Amin.

 

Nabil Abdulrashid while primarily known for his stand up comedy, is also a public speaker and activist regularly invited to universities to speak on issues of diversity and anti racism. He also works diligently in the charity sector as a consultant for organisations with particular interest  young offender rehabilitation, child safeguarding and female empowerment.

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