33 Tips to launch your personal Jihad
against Racism and Nationalism
By Abdul Malik Mujahid
Alhamdu lillah, all Masjids in the world are open
to all people. Muslims pray shoulder to shoulder with no regard to any national, ethnic, or color differences. Islamic egalitarianism
still gains converts from the untouchables of India to Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali in America. However, this dominant reality is sometimes marred by individual behavior, which is contrary
to the ideals of Islam.
Some Muslims fall for the age-old trick of Shaitan
(Satan) and start playing the silly inferiority superiority game. Some stereotype others and tolerate prejudice against other
human beings, despite the fact that all human beings are equal, from the same man and woman. (Quran 49:13)
How should we save ourselves from falling into
this trap? How should we help others stay above the killing fields of racism and nationalism? What can we do now to become
a better human being? Here are some tips on how we can launch our personal Jihad against this disease.
The Prophet said: If one of you sees something
evil he should change it with his hand. If he cannot, he should speak out against it, and if he cannot do even that he should
at least detest it in his heart, this being the weakest form of faith (Muslim).
1. Knowledge is power
Do we know what the Quran and Sunnah say about
racism The Quran established individual character
as the criteria of success, not color, tribal or economic status of a person. The Prophet preached and established these ideals
in the Islamic society which he developed.
Let our parents, children, Islamic schools, and
Imams learn and teach the ideals of Islam.
2. Ask the only One who can really help
We can get rid of racial and prejudicial attitudes
within ourselves with the help of Allah.
Make sincere and focused Dua for those people
and groups who remain oppressed, subject to humiliation, subject to difficult behavior. After all, Dua increases love between
Also make Dua for yourself and other Muslims to
gain an appreciation of others. Pray together with your family for those friends in the Masjid or at your job who are from
other groups. And remember that dua without actions is nothing.
3. Hate the hatred
The Prophet never hated anyone. He neither hated
Makkah nor the Makkans who tortured him, starved him and his people and killed his companions, may Allah be pleased with them.
He continued to pray even for his worst enemies like Abu Jahl.
4. Make sincere Tawbah (repentance to Allah)
If we have hurt someone through our tongue or
attitude, we need to seek Allah's forgiveness. There has to be a personal acknowledgement of wrongdoing and a commitment to
change. This is done by turning to Allah and seeking His Forgiveness for looking down on other beings due to a false belief
in someone's inferiority.
5. Watching Our Tongue
The Prophet said: Whoever can give me a guarantee
for what is between his two jaws and between his two legs, I can assure him Paradise (Bukhari).
Keeping this in mind, effort should be made to
curb useless talk, which can lead to worse things like backbiting and slander of individuals and groups of people.
Defining backbiting, the Prophet said that backbiting
is anything that you say about someone in his absence that may displease him. When he was asked by one of the Companions,
‘even if he is as I describe him?' he responded by saying, If he is as you describe him then you are guilty of backbiting,
otherwise you are guilty of slander (which is worse than backbiting) (Muslim).
To add emphasis to how awful slander is, consider
that the Prophet said it is worse than adultery because if a person commits adultery, Allah can forgive him if he repents.
But a slanderer will not be forgiven until the person he had been speaking about forgives him (Baihaqi).
6. No ethnic jokes please
Ethnic jokes are not innocent humor. They carry
the virus of bigotry most of the time. Think about how hurt we feel when some comedians depict Muslims as terrorist.
Consider this verse of the Quran: "O you who believe!
Let not a group scoff at another group, it may be that the latter are better than the former; nor let (some) women scoff at
other women, it may be that the latter are better than the former, nor defame one another, nor insult one another by nicknames.
How bad is it, to insult one's brother after having Faith. And whosoever does not repent, then such are indeed wrong doers"
Such silly and hurtful jest clearly goes against
the type of manners Allah and His Prophet expect from us. It's a sin in Islam to ridicule or laugh at any beings, and if they
are a group, the sin is stronger.
7. Don't call people, Kalla, Chapta, Abd or
Muslims disliked being called Moslems. We insist
that since we write our name Muslims that's how everyone should spell our name. So let's call other people with the names
they like for themselves. Fair enough?
Alhamdu lillah most Muslims don't do this. But
once in a while we hear names, which we need to challenge. The Urdu term "Kalla" is used by some for African-Americans. While
it literally means "black", literally, the way it is used most of the time is demeaning. The same is true for the Urdu term
Chapta or Peela, which refers to the color, and features of South East Asian people. Gora in Urdu for Caucasians falls in
the same category although it also just means a white person.
Similarly some Arabs use the term Abd to describe
black people, despite the fact the Prophet prohibited use of this term. Another term Zingy is used for the same people in
the demeaning way. Some Arabs use the term Rafeeq (literally comrade) for Pakistanis in demeaning way similar to how the "N
word" is used in the west. Ibn al Khinzeeer (son of a pig), a reference to whoever you are angry with amongst some Arabs is
not only unworthy of the followers of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) it is a direct violation of his command
not to insult one another's parents (Bukhari and Muslim).
Even the Islamic term Kafir has to be use with
care. Not every non-Muslim is a Kafir. This Quranic term, regarding those who rejected Allah's guidance after recognizing
it to be the truth, should not become a term of hate.
8. Challenge the offensive, names, jokes and
If someone uses a hurtful name in our presence,
we might simply say, "Don't call him/her that. Call him/her by his/her name." If you are the victim, simply say "That
kind of joke offends me," or say "You don't like to be called bad names and neither do I".
We should feel comfortable in pointing out unfairness.
It is very rewarding in the eyes of Allah, since by challenging this we are following three of Allah's commands:
- Stand up against injustice
- Discourage the evil
- Don't call people with bad nicknames
It's part of a Muslim's duty to enjoin the good
and forbid the evil. Let's do it with wisdom and patience. Be polite but firm.
9. Do not generalize
If you observe something wrong in some persons'
behavior, don't generalize it to their ethnic group. Attribute it to those persons not their group. For example, I have heard
several times that Arabs in Chicago run liquor stores. While it is true that there may be 100 or 200 Arabs who have this type
of Haram business, they are a small minority among hundreds and thousands of Arabs living in Chicago. Without condoning what
they are doing, we must see that there are Muslims of other nationalities who are also involved in Haram businesses."
10. Defend the abused group
Note unique and special qualities in other people.
Show the positive points of an ethnic group that is being made fun of. Whether it's the hospitality of the Arabs, the respect
for elders in Indo-Pakistani culture, the resilience of African-Americans, for instance, point out the positive to those who
don't want to see the other side of the coin.
If you're still tongue-tied, consider this Hadith:
the Prophet said: If a man's Muslim brother is slandered in his presence, and he is capable of defending him, and does so,
Allah will defend him in this world and in the next. But if he fails to defend him, Allah will destroy him in this world and
in the next.
11. Speak everyone's language
What do you do when there are say, three people,
one of whom speaks your native language and the other doesn't?
Too often, many of us do the wrong thing.
It creates suspicion and discomfort if you speak
a language in front of others who may not understand it. Use a common language understandable to all. So if Br. Muneer and
you both understand Arabic, but Sr. Yasmeen doesn't, speak in English instead, so she doesn't feel left out. If you observe
this behavior tell them it's unfair. If you are the one who is doing the wrong thing, then don't defend it by saying, "you
should learn our language".
The Prophet said: When three people are together,
two should not talk secretly, leaving the third alone since this may grieve him. (Bukhari & Muslim).
12. Read about others
Read about people to gain positive insights into
other cultures. Read what they have written about themselves. Read about, for instance, what African-Americans have contributed
to America. Even better, read an autobiography like that of Malcolm X, which recounts the personal experience and struggles
of one Muslim African-American. Much of what he has to say is also a reflection of the experience of other African-Americans.
13. Share your joy
Have you invited people other than your cultural
group at an occasion of happiness in your family?
Whether it's Eid, a wedding or the Aqiqa of a
newborn baby, expand your next guest list to include those of different backgrounds. Sharing joy is a great way for people
of all ethno-cultural groups to bond.
14. Share your sorrow
Have you visited a sick colleague, class fellow
or a neighbor of another ethnic group? Have you been to the funeral of other people?
Relationships are not only built on the good times,
but on the hard ones as well. Visit the sick, attend funerals, and console those who need it, and don't reserve your sympathy
to those of the same skin color or country.
15. The way to a man's heart is through his
Have you learned to cook the food of other cultures?
Have you shared your food with them?
I know people who have become Muslim because of
the hospitality of Muslims. Food is a great way to bring people together, and to get to know others. Share food with neighbors.
Food is power. Use it!
16. Smiling is a charity
Who do you smile at? Do you limit your grins to
groups you know, especially your ethno-cultural group?
Smiling is charity (Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi), not
just for your people. Expand your smile "directory" to include all. Smile opens close hearts.
17. Salam is for everyone
After Juma do you say Salam and meet only those
people you know or do you initiate a Salam to those from another ethnic group?
Consider this Hadith: The Prophet said: Those
who are nearest to Allah are those who are the first to give a greeting (Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi).
Saying Salam is also a great way to increase your
love for a fellow Muslim, no matter where they are from. Consider this Hadith: the Prophet said: You will not enter Heaven
until you believe, and you will not believe until you love each other. Let me guide you to something which will cause you
to love each other: spreading the greetings of peace (Assalamu alaikum) (Muslim).
18. Hug someone today
Have you ever experienced a hug by a Muslim you
never knew? What a feeling. This one just for the sake of Allah. Try it on a Muslim in your masjid and then introduce yourself
to him. He is your brother. Isn't he?
19. Beyond Salam
Alhamdu lillah, we see a lot of faces of different
ethnic groups in masjids, but have we gone beyond Salam with them?
Have we invited this brother or sister to our
home this year? Let's take the initiative to go beyond the Salam and invite a fellow human being of a different background
over to our place. Don't wait for a specific occasion. Just invite them over for dinner, lunch, or a game of basketball.
20. A Masjid tour of other neighborhoods
While in a number of cities in America and South
Africa, Masjids tend to become ethnically homogeneous due to the population patterns of the city; we can try to overcome this
Let's visit other neighborhoods and pray in a
Masjid there. So if you're an Urdu speaking person, visit the predominantly Arab mosque. If you're an Arab visit the mostly
African-American mosque. If you're Turkish, visit the mostly Bengali mosque.
Let's defy the neighborhood divisions which we
did not create. Let's take our Sunday school children on field trips to different neighborhoods and Masjids. Providing opportunities
for interaction with people of diverse groups instills understanding.
Studies show that children playing and working
together toward common goals develop positive attitudes about one another.
21. Do your duty, but a little differently
Who do you usually give your Zakat to?
Is it just to your ethnic group or do you use
it as one of the categories-to win over hearts? Plan to give your next Zakat to a community or individuals who are not of
your ethno-cultural background. This will be a practical way to give of yourself to those who are your brothers and sisters,
and those who are in need.
22. Strangers should find an open Masjid door
How are you at welcoming strangers in your Masjid?
Do you move forward in welcoming, guiding and
introducing them to others or do you allow a stranger to remain a stranger while you busily chat with your own cultural group?
Open your heart and arms to the new brother or sister who may have come to the Masjid with great difficulty. Welcome their
choice and don't let them regret visiting your mosque.
The security staff at Masjids need to have sensivity training
23. Watch those expressions and attitudes
Did you see that twist of the mouth, or the raise
of that eyebrow?
Sometimes, it's not just words, but facial expressions
that also indicate ethno-racial degradation and intolerance. It's not enough for us to just avoid verbal jabs. Language is
not just about words; it's about body language too.
24. Defend yourself
If you are the target of ethno-racial humor, slurs
or attacks defend yourself.
First seek refuge in Allah from Shaitan. Following
the Prophet's advice, if you are angry, remain silent, sit down, move away or make wudu.
If you feel your security is being threatened
seek any help available.
If you are attacked defend yourself if you are
capable of it.
Document and pursue the case with local police,
the department of human resources and anti-hate groups.
Allah allows a person who is being wronged to
respond: The recompense for an evil is an evil like thereof, but whoever forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is
due from Allah. Verily, He likes not the Zalimun (oppressors) (Quran 42:40).
An ex-Marine member of the white supremacist movement
the Ku Klux Klan became Muslim due partly to the polite and confident response of a Muslim doctor to his racist remarks calling
him a "dog eater".
This is an example of following Allah's instructions
that ask us to respond to evil with something which is better.
25. Stand up for justice
Take an active stand against injustices like profiling
and discrimination in the workplace or at schools. Speak out against someone or a group being paid less because of their national
"O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice,
as witnesses to Allah, even though it is against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, be he rich or poor, Allah is a
better Protector to both (than you) are. So follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you may avoid justice, and if you
distort your witness or refuse to give it, verily, Allah is Ever Well-Acquainted with what you do" (Quran 4:135).
26. Work with other anti-racism groups
Volunteer time to organizations and groups which
are working for an anti-racism agenda or for social justice. All the prophets were sent to help people take a stand for establishing
justice (Quran 57:25). Working for a common cause brings people closer. Islam encourages cooperation with non Muslims in good
things (Quran 5:2).
27. Multi-ethnic Marriages
Some Fiqh books that dislike and discourage multi-ethnic
marriages amongst Muslims are wrong because they conflict with the Sunnah of the Prophet and with the Quranic principle of
all people being one.
For instance, the Fiqh manual Reliance of the
Traveler, in a chapter on Kafa'a (compatibility), while recognizing that there should be no consideration of skin color in
marriage, does mention that a match between a non-Arab man and an Arab woman is unsuitable (page 523).
I am not advising anyone to offer him or herself
for a social experiment. But we must accept our children's choice with an open heart instead of resistance based on the false
interpretation of compatibility (Kafa'a) offered by some Fiqh books.
28. Jihad with your taxes
Your personal jihad against racism must also include
a collective effort against racism and nationalism. Your taxes are used to institute policies, some of which you may agree
with and others that you may completely oppose. You can use your tax money to fight against racism by supporting policies
or institutions that encourage respect for differences. We should support subsidies to human rights organizations dedicated
to fighting racism, specifically.
29. Vote against racism
Support candidates who oppose racism and nationalism
both within America and without. For example, United States president Bill Clinton strongly campaigned against the use of
tobacco in America but ironically he also helped the US tobacco companies to achieve record profits by helping them sell and
promote tobacco in the Third World. If tobacco is wrong for America, it is wrong for every other human being as well. Let's
not tolerate "Cancer for other people."
30. Vote for multi-ethnicity in your Masjid
Make sure your Masjid in North America has a multi
ethnic board and leadership. Follow the Prophet in engineering social change. He paired each Ansar and Muhajir as brothers
as he started building the Islamic society of Madina.
31. Put money where your mouth is
There are a number of organizations dedicated
to fighting racism in America at various levels. Support them by your donation. If you don't want to donate, establish your
own organization against bigotry.
32. Raising race free children
Islam does not recognize race, but the society
we live in does. Bridging this gap is the challenge of Muslim parenting.
Choose to live in a multi ethnic community.
Children with multi ethnic interaction grow up to be better human beings.
Participate in your PTA with an anti racist
Help your children feel good about them selves.
Children who feel good about themselves are less likely to be prejudiced.
Welcome children of all background in your home.
Debrief them if they come home with a racial
slur from the school.
33. Let's have an straight niyyah to please
Let's make our intentions (niyyah) that we will
strive to build human society based on the equality of all human beings as Allah has asked us to do. Insha Allah, He will
reward us for each step we take to get ourselves, our community, and our society rid of racism and nationalism. These twin
evils have killed more people in last one hundred years than probably all the wars in last one thousand years including crusades
and massacres of the infamous Genghis Khan.
that has probably killed moso many millions in
the last century that it is a record in the known history of humankind.
May Allah help us all in our personal Jihad against
racism. Allahu Akbar.