Saturday, February 19, 2005

Islam - Racism in the Mosque

From Women Living Under Muslim Laws.

The knee-jerk reaction to being reminded of our internalized racism is predictable: complete denial. Racism governs our behavior, yet we are oblivious to our own prejudices and tribalism. With noted exceptions, I saw this in action on Sunday. I heard repeatedly from Arabs in the audience that Amina Wadud does not understand Arabic. Instead of debating the merits of her argument, many invoked and sought refuge in their ethnic and linguistic superiority.

Then there is the predictable reaction towards converts. If the converts are white, all of us, Arabs and South Asians, simply go complete gaga, but if we run into Black converts, we treat them at best in a condescending manner with barely concealed disrespect, as demonstrated Sunday night in Toronto.

Abbas Syed, an Indo-Canadian who witnessed the entire episode summed it best. "When a white person converts to Islam, we try to make him the Imam of the mosque. But when a Black woman converts to Islam, we expect her to run the mosque day care for children during Jum'a prayers. Amina should have worn the Hijab; people would have mistaken her for a dark Pakistani."


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