Bismillahir rahmanir raheem
Asalaamu alaikum readers,
This is the last installment of the ‘Black Is My Colour’ series and boy has it been a walk down memory lane for me!
So, at this point in the story I’m still black, no suprises there, and Muslim. Before reverting to Islam, I was never one to believe any of the misconceptions about Islam or it’s followers. As far as I could remember, I had never encountered a racist or even unpleasant Muslim alhamdulillah. I believe these experiences were a gift from Allah swt because it made it even easier for me to accept the deen without holding grudges towards it’s followers.
When I first reverted, I was a regular masjid goer, and I didn’t just stick to one. Any masjid that was there, I’d pray in, no questions asked like a masjid nomad. But I started to notice that the more masjids I visited, the more aware I was of my blackness. Again, just like primary school, I was the only black girl in the room. ‘Aunties’ would sit and stare at me before finally coming over to ask me if I was a revert or even giving me salams – it’s funny when I look back now. People would constantly be talking around me in Urdu while I sat there, totally unaware of what they were saying because no one could translate. I couldn’t participate on the ‘in jokes’ because I wasn’t ‘in’. The halaqahs I went to were no different. I still don’t see any black faces in the ones I attend which is a real shame. I can only imagine that madrassahs for children follow the same pattern, subhanAllah.
It was starting to become a struggle to meet new people outside of this bubble. I don’t know if other Black Muslims can relate to this but I’d like to know if you have/had similar experiences inshaAllah.
Holding onto my Black identity was becoming more difficult after I’d strived so hard to find it in the first place. It was my husband that hepled me through this stage by explaining to me that if Islam didn’t oppose your culture, then there was no harm in holding onto it, alhamdulillah for him. So I got stuck in. Telling people about pre- colonial Africa and sharing my knowledge of other religions which I noticed Muslim communities really lacked. It’s wrong for us to expect people to know about and respect Islam when we are ignorant of the beliefs of others. The Prophet (saw) was tolerant to all cultures and religions, that is why Islam spread so far, subhanAllahi wa bihamdihi!
Going through this experience has only made it more clear to me that when I have my own children, inshaAllah, I will teach them about the history of their people so they don’t feel lost and on the edge of their society. Learning about Pan-Africaism was the stepping stone to where I am today.
Black children need to be taught about their heritage, if we’re waiting for someone to do it for us we’ll be waiting a LONG time subhanAllah. Teaching young black children about their identities done in a proper structured wasy will not incite racial supremacy but it’ll give them a sense of self and belonging. Black history, along with the history of all ethnic minorities, should be weaved into the curriculum to give a true reflection of history, not the Euro-centric version they’re so used to having shoved down their throats which just alienates them further. I’m going to be truthful and say I switched off in history class because the people didn’t look like me and I couldn’t identify with them. It was the same rhetoric every time. This is something both me and my friends can all relate to.
So where am I on my journey now inshaAllah? Breaking the status quo. I may be the only Black Muslim girl in the halaqas, masjid hopping, but that’s who I am and I’m happy with that alhamdulillah, may Allah swt be pleased with it to, Ameen. With the permission of Allah swt I’ll be starting a 4 year Alima degree which will give me the knowledge to teach others. Then I can be the Black Muslim lady teaching the halaqas, educating children about Islam and showing that the line of Allah’s black worshippers did not end with the likes of Bilal (ra), Zaid ibn Harith (ra) and Umm Sulaym (ra). I want to get more young Black Muslim children going to halaqas and madrassahs and being able to feel comfortable there inshaAllah.
I am a black woman and I am Muslim, it took me a while to aclimatise to that. For my own sake and the sake of my children I must revive the sunnah of my own culture within the boundaries of Shari’ah so my children don’t go through the same identity crisis.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this series and inshaAllah, you’ll tune into the next one, “Things Muslims Say”, breaking down common phrases used by Muslims everyday and putting value back into them.