‘At the Intersection of Two Criminalized Identities’: Black and Non-Black Muslims Confront a Complicated Relationship With Policing and Anti-Blackness

Before Jacob Blake’s father spoke to media last month about how police gunned down his son in Kenosha, Wis., he took a moment to say a Muslim prayer.

“Our family is very diverse and we don’t represent just one thing, so if you all could give me one second please, this is for my son—Jacob Blake,” Jacob Blake Sr. said shortly before reciting a verse from the beginning of the Qur’an and proceeding to talk about how police shot his son “seven times, seven times, like he didn’t even matter.”

Blake Sr.’s recitation of the prayer moved Iesa Lewis, a Black Muslim graduate student at the University of Chicago and part-time community organizer, evoking for him “just how deeply embedded Islam is within the Black community.” But the moment also encapsulated the complicated relationship that the Black Muslim community has with non-Black Muslims. Lewis says that while many non-Black Muslims would likely embrace Blake Sr.’s decision to recite the Qur’an, many would also continue to perpetuate anti-Blackness in their own lives and communitieseverything from non-Black Muslims not returning greetings, to assuming ignorance about Islam, to not considering Black Muslims worthy of marrying their non-Black children.

The Black Lives Matter Movement is forcing the Muslim community to reckon with its own anti-Blackness and scrutinize its already tense relationship with law enforcement. The police shooting of Blake, as well as the murder of George Floyd—whom Minneapolis police killed after staff at a non-Black Muslim owned store called 911 over a suspected counterfeit $20 bill—has sparked introspection within the non-Black Muslim community about how they may contribute to overpolicing despite also being profiled by law enforcement.

FULL ARTICLE FROM TIME MAGAZINE

Michigan’s Muslims are thinking globally, but running and voting locally

By SARAH PARVINISTAFF WRITER SEP. 8, 2020 DEARBORN, Mich.  —  

The five young Muslim Americans huddled around a table inside the Yemeni coffee shop, pouring adeni chai into curved red and gold glasses. Voice by voice the discussion turned to why they must make their presence felt on Nov. 3, and the need to hold politicians’ feet to the fire on issues like immigration, racial justice and foreign policy.

“For a long time, Muslims have felt a lot of bigotry and racism, and just feeling like our contributions in society weren’t looked at or held like other communities’,” Adam Abusalah, 19, told the group from behind his mask.

That era is ending, Abusalah went on, because young Muslims like him are putting traditional career aspirations on hold in favor of getting politically active.

“Trump’s election, that was just the icing on the cake,” he told the gathering, whose members are of Lebanese, Palestinian, Iranian, Yemeni and Iraqi ancestry. “Muslims said, we’re not going to only be doctors and engineers, but journalists and policymakers.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE LA TIMES

To beat Trump, the ‘good Muslim, bad Muslim’ messaging has to end

(RNS) — I spoke this week at the 2020 Democratic National Convention’s Interfaith Council meeting. As refreshing as it was to hear voices encouraging change from the last four years, it felt like some things were still being missed.

Although Muslims were present at the DNC, it definitely seemed like we were being kept on the sidelines.

Anti-Muslim sentiment is unsurprisingly commonplace among Republican politicians in the United States. Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign promises of a “total and complete shutdown” of the country’s borders to Muslims were not a starting point, but just one of many Islamophobic public statements made by a Republican candidate for president that year. 

These days, it would be hard to find a Republican politician who hasn’t said something xenophobic about Muslims, and although the acknowledgment is not where it could be, there is still some acknowledgment of Republican Islamophobia nonetheless.

Yet, for some reason, the role Democrats play in deepening Islamophobia is hardly ever acknowledged or discussed. 

This week, Joe Biden tweeted a note of thanks to Ady Barkan, an Israeli American lawyer and progressive activist who spoke on the main stage of the DNC’s second night of programs: “Thank you, @AdyBarkan for your courage and for all that you do to ensure a more just, more equal America. #DemConvention.”

The day after, Barkan demonstrated this ethic in a tweet that supported Linda Sarsour in response to the Biden campaign’s disavowal of her.


RELATED: Joe Biden’s acceptance speech caps off an unusually faith-filled Democratic National Convention


Sarsour is a Palestinian Muslim woman well-known for her social justice work on behalf of marginalized communities of all backgrounds. She spoke at the DNC as well and, to no one’s surprise, her presence was immediately controversial.

She’s Palestinian.

She’s Muslim.

She speaks out against anti-Blackness, mistreatment of women and so much more.

FULL ARTICLE FROM RELIGION NEWS

Can Muslim college students heal divisions in the US?

Amid rising Islamophobia, Muslim students show greater tendencies towards interfaith goodwill, a recent survey suggests.

by Saba Aziz

Musbah Shaheen left war-torn Syria in 2013 to attend college in the United States.

As the then-19-year-old from Homs settled into student life at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, he was often asked about the conflict and life in Syria.

More:

The conversations in hallways, classrooms and cafeteria with professors and fellow classmates also turned into more personal questions about his faith, he said.

“The biggest challenge for me in college was navigating the assumptions that people made about my religion,” Shaheen told Al Jazeera.

Some were surprised that he did not have a beard, others that his sister did not wear a veil or that he ate meat. He felt like an outsider – misunderstood and stereotyped.

US college pluralism story

Musbah Shaheen is currently doing a PhD at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio [Photo courtesy: Musbah Shaheen] 

“I don’t want anyone to feel this way, so I engaged in interfaith dialogue as a student leader, and that shaped my entire work life after college,” the now-26-year-old said.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA

‘We gotta call out racism’: Milwaukee Muslim students lead march against police violence

Last spring, Milwaukee teenagers Dana Sharqawi and Sumaya Abdi organized protests after mass shootings at mosques in New Zealand. 

On Wednesday, they brought people together again at the Islamic Society of Milwaukee — this time to remember George Floyd and to protest police violence. They said they were guided by their Muslim faith. 

“Our religion tells us that if one part of your body’s in pain, then the whole body’s in pain,” said Abdi, now 19 and a student at UW-Madison. “So if our black brothers and sisters are in pain, we’re in pain, too.”

They drew over 300 supporters young and old, including several who said it was their first experience at a protest.

FULL ARTICLE FROM MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL

Trump impeachment: Here’s what Arab and Muslim Americans say about it

By 
Umar A Farooq, , Ali Harb

impeach_afpCandidate Donald Trump vowed to ban Muslims from coming into the United States. President Trump imposed a travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries within a week of taking the oath of office.

He has also implemented several policies that caused suffering and outrage across Arab and Muslim communities in the United States. Over the past three years, the US president has drastically reduced the number of refugees admitted into the country, recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and signed an executive order that may threaten the right to Palestinian activism on American college campuses.

Still, Arab- and Muslim-American activists do not seem overly enthused about the impeachment proceedings in Congress against the 45th president of the United States.

With Trump’s Republican Party standing firmly behind him, the chances of removing the president from office are close to zero.

The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives succeeded in impeaching Trump on Wednesday, making him the third president to ever be impeached. But impeachment, which the US Constitution grants solely to the House, is only half the process. Cutting a president’s term short requires a conviction – by two-thirds of the votes – after a trial in the Senate.

As things stand, more than half of the senators in the Republican-controlled chamber vehemently reject the charges against Trump.

In fact, it’s not even clear if Senate Republicans will allow witnesses to testify against the president.

House Democrats started the impeachment inquiry against Trump in September, following reports that he pressured Ukraine to investigate the son of his prospective 2020 rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. The administration had held up the aid to Ukraine, Democrats say, to get the Eastern European country’s leaders to deliver a political favour to Trump.

FULL ARTICLE FROM MIDDLE EAST EYE

What ‘Hala’ gets right and wrong about growing up Muslim in America

c5709340-98b6-4391-ac0c-d04c21af442e-Hala_Unit_Photo_06Disclaimer: I don’t speak for all Muslim-Americans, but I can say that at least a good amount of us are tired of seeing the stereotypical Muslim girl portrayed over and over again.

And that’s exactly what “Hala” does.

Minhal Baig’s new film (in theaters Friday in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Columbus, Ohio, and Louisville, Kentucky; streaming Dec. 6 on Apple TV+) focuses on a first-generation, 17-year-old Pakistani-American girl of the same name (played by Geraldine Viswanathan) whose conservative parents expect her to marry a nice Muslim boy. Her parents had an arranged marriage, don’t want her hanging out with boys because reputation, her mom practically forces her to pray, but Hala is a “rebel.” She falls for the white boy in her class, goes out at all hours of the night with him and eats non-halal meat (halal meat is prepared according to Islamic law, kind of like kosher).

Surprise.

FULL ARTICLE FROM USA TODAY 

Most U.S. Muslims are patriots. Asking them to choose between faith and nation has a pernicious consequence.

August 23

5CR4WBV3ZAI6TDUDJZTIP2MYCQDuring his campaign and presidency, Donald Trump has frequently targeted the Muslim community, both within and outside the United States. In 2015, Trump famously indicated he might support a “database” of Muslims living in the United States. In 2017, he succeeded in imposing restrictions on travelers to the United States from certain Muslim-majority countries.

More recently, Trump has targeted two Muslim members of Congress, Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). They were among four Democratic members who he said in July should “go back” to their home countries, although all but Omar were born in the United States. Then just last week, he attacked them again and seemingly persuaded Israel not to allow them entry as part of a congressional delegation.

Implicit in Trump’s comments, and in much of the criticism of Tlaib and Omar, is that they are not fully “American.” This is a problematic implication for two reasons. First, surveys show that, in fact, Muslim Americans are highly patriotic and mirror non-Muslims socioeconomically. Second, new research shows that even implicitly framing Muslim and American identities as separate may reduce Muslim Americans’ willingness to engage in politics.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST 

Enslaved African Muslims Helped Build America

8cd605f0-814b-4ca7-92ba-d6f9fd9b5856_cx0_cy19_cw0_w1023_r1_sIn the year 1807, a wealthy scholar was captured in West Africa, brought to the United States and sold into slavery. His name was Omar Ibn Said. He was 37 years old at the time, and he spent the rest of his life enslaved.

Said was one of many enslaved Muslims in early U.S. history. Up to 40 percent of Africans captured and brought to the U.S. were from mostly Muslim countries in West Africa.

Said’s story might have been forgotten, but he wrote about it in a book called The Life of Omar Ibn Said. The U.S. Library of Congress recently received the book, which was written in Arabic.

The book is one of only a few personal stories written by a slave in America. It is also one of the first intimate reports of the early history of Muslims in the United States.

The book challenges the idea that the U.S. is a Christian nation, says Zaheer Ali. He is a historian at the Brooklyn Historical Society in New York. Ali adds: the book “opens us up to the understanding” that people who were not Christian helped build the United States.

What records did enslaved Muslims leave?

Most enslaved African Muslims did not leave written records. But we can learn about their lives from public evidence and the memories of their families.

How long Muslim slaves practiced their faith is unknown. Some became Christians. Others acted as if they did to better deal with their captors.

But there is evidence that some remained Muslim.

FULL ARTICLE FROM VOA 

Christian Leaders Welcome Muslim-American Women to Congress

constituentsBy Anna Sutterer 

A delegation of Christian leaders delivered a welcome message to the first Muslim-American Congresswomen, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), today at Longworth House Office Building.

Led by an online Christian organizing group called Faithful America, this message was signed by 7,400 Christians nationwide, and given to the congresswomen’s staffs after their swearing in this afternoon.

Faithful America as well as other organizations and individuals that signed the letter saw it as a necessary action because of the Islamophobic rhetoric exhibited by some far right Christians, including far-right pastors like E.W. Jackson, who was recorded saying that, “the floor of Congress is now going to look like an Islamic republic. We are a Judeo-Christian country. We are a nation rooted and grounded in Christianity and that’s that. … Don’t try to change our country into some sort of Islamic republic or try to base our country on Sharia law,” on his radio program last month.

“The assumption should be that Christian Americans, along with Americans of all faiths and backgrounds, would of course welcome new members of Congress regardless of their religious affiliations,” said Dr. Catherine Orsborn, campaign director at Shoulder to Shoulder, an interfaith organization working to end anti-Muslim sentiment. She helped deliver the welcome message to Omar and Tlaib.

“By being themselves and doing their best in their elected capacities, these incredible women will live out what it means to be American and Muslim without any contradiction,” Orsborn said.

FULL ARTICLE FROM SOJOURNERS MAGAZINE