Non-Desi like me

Part of me wants to apologize for the relative melodrama of this title. I concede, of course, that my own experiences pale in comparison to the racially-based oppression John Howard Griffin recorded in his famous account of segregation in the American South. That said, all we have to share is our own perspectives and individual tribulations, and I feel the banality of my own need not suppress their relevance. There is a tacit expectation that converting to a new religion necessitates an alteration of your own culture.

Arabs dress you up in thobes and want you to smoke hookah, while Desis assume you’ll love Bollywood movie nights and bhangra. Such things clearly have no relevance to one’s theological exploration, but they can work their way into a convert’s religious vernacular as though they are pillars themselves. It takes an uncannily strong effort to resist the assumption that having converted to Islam, you must now immerse yourself in this cultural language that is not your own.

And yet, you can never truly be a part of that culture to which you are expected to assimilate. The earliest anxieties I can remember about Islam were directly linked to a feeling of being out of place in Muslim communities, not because of bits of culture I felt encouraged to adopt, but because of the explicit racism that litters our community. “I would never marry a black man,” a phrase that would have won a girl in my elementary school severe detention, parent-teacher conferences and possible sensitivity mentoring, became an almost weekly refrain—someone mentions the desire to marry, another person asks what kind of person they are looking for and inevitably up pops that sordid phrase. “ I would never marry a black man.” “My parents just wouldn’t accept a non-Arab.” “I’ll only marry a Khaliji.” “I just want a nice Indian guy.” And so it goes.

Of the many variations of this recurrent theme, “I just don’t think I could marry a non-Desi” became the one I heard the most. It might have stung even more that it came up, not in conversations among people who were strangers to me or those I might have been interested in, but in flippant comments shared amongst my group of friends—my Muslim friends who were examples of Islam for a person aspiring to be something better by way of this religion. People whom I expected to be good role models were, with no shame, so meticulously fluent in the language of racial bias. I spent a year keeping Islam at an arm’s length because of this cutting narrative and have remained hesitant about my ability to belong to this community long after.

Do I realize that much of these sentiments come from parents and communities in which Muslims live? Absolutely. Still, the “I don’t care about race, but I just need to respect my parents’ wishes” line I’ve heard more times than “Let’s find a place to pray” is an offensive and quite frankly cowardly copout. Respect is not obedience and honor is not acquiescence. There is an irony that is sardonically amusing in converts being told over and over again they need to understand the difficulty in going against the ways of convention.

We need to pause and reconsider the gravity of this offense. Whether derived from our own preferences or those of our parents, there is the assumption that the vast majority of the Muslim community is not good enough for us—based exclusively on their race. Were I the only one, I’d say call me oversensitive and let’s get on to more significant issues, but I’m not. I am hard-pressed to find a Muslim convert who hasn’t been rejected by the opposite gender, had an engagement broken or felt compelled to leave their faith on the basis of being maligned due to their race. And what hurts the most is my peers know it, yet treat it with relative apathy.

When I sift through words I have written in moments of passionate frustration on this issue, the emotional turmoil that overt racial bias has caused in me is striking. I describe myself as someone who is ‘worthless and powerless’ and the Muslim community as an ‘albatross on my back that suppresses my love, my dreams, my emotions and my whole religious existence.’ ‘I don’t want to be a Muslim,’ I write. ‘I’d be crazy to want this. I’m stuck being a Muslim because I happen to believe in a religion. This isn’t a community, it isn’t a family, and I don’t want to be a part of it.’

These sentiments were written at times where I felt especially lonely, lost and turned away. They are not emblematic of my over-all experience with or sentiments towards Muslims. But they are a major part of it. I find myself blessed because I am at a point in my life now where the people I am closest with are, for the most part, beyond this paradigm, but then I think to myself how truly disheartening that is—that among the unique, endearing qualities of those I love, amidst the special characteristics that set them apart from the larger Muslim community is their ability to see me beyond my race. In which century am I living?

This is a sincere appeal. I want to beg Muslims to not just take a long look in the mirror, but to make actionable change. I am asking Muslims to purge these stock phrases from our lexicon, to consider the feelings of exclusion they cause to Muslims who don’t belong to the larger ethnic group in a community, to flout the blatantly racist sentiments and conventions we know to be wrong, but we, ourselves, have been party to perpetuating for so long. As benign as it seems, simple phrases like “I’m just looking for a nice Pakistani man” are so painfully disheartening, loaded and paint a loathing self-image. When you are non-Arab, you aren’t good enough. When you are non-Afghani, you are worth significantly less. When you are non-Khaliji, you can never truly prove your own self-worth. When you are non-Desi, you are left wondering how much easier life would be if you were no longer Muslim and never had to worry about being non-Desi—non-Desi like me.

Photo Credit: Jano De Cesare

 

Adam Sitte is a writer based in Washington, DC working on civilian empowerment in Israel and the Palestinian Territories. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

29 Comments

  • Michael Elwood says:

    You’re much more diplimatic about this than I am/have been, Adam. Racism in immigrant “muslims” is a pet peeve of mine. After many of them made such a show of denouncing the racism of the Nation of Islam as un-Islamic, and pissed ‘n’ moaned about percieved racism against their people, for them to espouse equally racist beliefs is unacceptable.

  • aakhtar says:

    Adam, this is a very humbling and moving piece.  I wholeheartedly share your sentiment and feel the frustration in your voice – and I know Riz does too (so for that, you are in good company!).  It’s worse here in the midwest and despite the increasing rates of divorce within same-culture families, people just don’t get it.  It is not a match made in heaven simply because both h+ w eat biryani and tandoori chicken as children in their respective homes.  Thank you for writing this.- Ayesha

  • abedzbhuyan says:

    “There is an irony that is sardonically amusing in converts being told over and over again they need to understand the difficulty in going against the ways of convention.”

    brilliantly and courageously written.  thank you Adam.

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  • OmarG says:

    Allah bless you big-time Adam for articulating what so many of us have to endure just to be a part of this religion we love. Only salaat/namaaz/prayer and reading the Quran remind me why I even bother to put up with the distasteful cultural suicide I often have to pretend to commit just to fit in. “My name is Michael, not Omar, or is it, or not, I don’t know anymore.”

  • MsMashAllah says:

    “I don???t want to be a Muslim,??? I write. ???I???d be crazy to want this. I???m stuck being a Muslim because I happen to believe in a religion. This isn???t a community, it isn???t a family, and I don???t want to be a part of it.”…I couldn’t have said it better myself. Al hamdulilah that you are still optimistic, I am not. I love this deen and continue to struggle with my family for acceptance after over a decade- only to turn to a people whom I have come to accept see nothing wrong or worth changing in themselves. Aside from the issue of marriage, it is often a matter of being taken seriously as a human being, or being “let in” the brotherhood of Islam. They will never befriend us and care about us the way that we are so willing to do for them. I learned very early on that for the most part, if you are a convert nobody cares if they see you or not from one end of the year to the next. To me, that is the biggest problem, and it is exhausting and frustrating trying to convey that sentiment in a way that “non-converts” can even begin to understand (of all races). It seems as though “non-converts” are so insular in so many ways, there’s no way that “inter-marriage” could even be fathomable when they refuse to even consider us equals in all respects.

  • FatimaM says:

    Very well written! I just read this out loud to my husband, who is a convert and has had to deal with a distrustful community at large. Alhumdolillah, I’ve been blessed to be raised in not only a mixed household (Italian/Bangladeshi) but with a beautifully mixed extended family. I think that’s what made it easy for my husband (Puerto Rican/Irish) to come in to my family.

    However, to this day not only do the snide comments fall easily in his presence (and not just from friends, but the “aunties” and “uncles” a well) but his legitimacy as a Muslim is constantly questioned! As soon as he introduces himself as Chris, the immediate follow up question is “What’s your Muslim name.. no, really.. You didn’t change your name? How long have you been Muslim?” And then they proceed to try to “educate” my husband who has been a Muslim for almost 10 years.

    How are we, as an ummah, supposed to help others understand the beauty of Islam if the community constantly turns it back on Muslims who have had to go through the hardship of embracing an identity that won’t acknowledge them??

  • MA says:

    With all due respect, please excuse me if I don’t dry you a river Mr. Sitte. This comedic article reminds me more of Glenn Beck and his recent rally honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. While I agree, we as Muslims have been given a special message of tolerance that we must proselytize the world over in this regard, I believe you can’t understand what it feels to be of South Asian decent and the pressures that are associated with it. While criticizing the immigrant communities is all the rage in Muslim American circles, we must not forget there are countless positive things that have also been bestowed upon us by these immigrants. One thing I can think of is respect. We are taught to respect our parents, regardless of their faults or the stereotypes that have been ingrained in them by the West. That’s right Adam, by your ancestors. Let me be clear, I think it would be wrong to put them through the traumatic experience of having to deal with something so foreign to them as a son or daughter in law that they simply can not relate or talk to. Do what you will with your own children, but to force your parents to have to cope with that is brutal. You wouldn’t understand that Adam, with your higher-than though values. What sacrifices have you had to make as a Muslim anyway, after your conversion? You’re not brown? You don’t have a “Muslim” name; no one judges you the way they judge us “brownies”. Try getting a job with a Muslim name. So do not lecture us on what it is to be a Muslim. We wear our religion on our face and can’t pretend to be some eastern-religion-practicing-hippies. I have told my children that they can marry anyone outside our culture, as long as they don’t marry anyone that thinks down on them or makes them lose their identity.

  • taliba says:

    jazakallah khair thank you so much for writing this. it made me cry. i’m a desi woman trying to marry a white revert whom I love, but my parents will not say yes on the grounds of culture (a lot of it learned from hindus). i’m trying to be patient and obedient but this racism makes me so so angry sometimes.  i just wanted you to know that there are some of us on the OTHER side just as much of a victim as you’ve been. barakAllahu feek.

  • zeik says:

    Thanks for the article Adam.
    This is the second time in a week that I’ve heard about a convert or close to being convert having a negative experience with the Muslim community.
    Thank you for speaking out so the rest of us are aware of the issue. Incidentally, most of the converts I know are married to “born” Muslims so I would never have thought there was an issue.
    But with regards to desi folks, yes we all hear this from our parents. I’m lucky that at least one parent does not care except if they’re, you guessed it, black..
    Obviously, I don’t care either way.
    As you say, respect is not obedience.
    In short, I’m sorry you’ve had such a negative experience.
    I will say, however, that in some cases it might not be racism.
    For example, think about this.
    I don’t care about colour but sometimes, I do think that sharing a common language would be important. Some of my favourite humorous books that I would like to share with a good friend or spouse are in Urdu and humour is one thing that does not translate well.

  • taliba says:

    wow at the comment above mine by MA. ironic how you speak of South Asians being respectful yet your comment hasn’t even an ounce of respect. your disrespect is so uncalled for too.. when br. Adam has been as tactful and eloquent as possible despite the treatment (and he’s definitely not the only one treated this way.. all i hear from my convert friends are these kind of complaints. in fact i complain about ‘our people’ just as much as they do.) we are all one ummah and you know what else.. we have to learn to look at our own faults, look at ourself in the mirror. look at you “MA”, you jump on the attack before considering the truth of the statement. read the Last Khutbah of the Prophet SAW over sometime.. Racism is such a grave problem. you can’t put blame on Adam for being of European descent. we have to BLAME OURSELVES first. we’re given the light upon light of guidance from God. we are better than this.
    “What sacrifices have you had to make as a Muslim anyway, after your conversion?” are you serious?? really? have you ever even talked to a convert before? do you have any idea what its like to have to What sacrifices have you had to make as a Muslim anyway, after your conversion?consciously choose your faith?  you seem really bitter because you couldn’t get a job, and you want to blame it on your muslim name?? sister/brother ALLAH is the Provider. we all have our jihads. who are you to belittle Adam’s jihad?? (and for that matter ALL people that converted from their forefather’s faith to al-ISLAM)?
    do you hear yourself..? so self-righteous we are subhanAllah.

  • Michael Elwood says:

    “This comedic article reminds me more of Glenn Beck and his recent rally honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”

    Speaking of “comedic” articles, the ones below by Saira Khan are typical of the racists sentiment in some parts of the immigrant Muslim community:

    ???My family were among the first people in the Kashmiri community to get married to white people, which was a massive thing.

    ???Mum would get ???How can you let your daughter marry an Englishman, it???s not Islamic????

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/celebs/news/2009/10/16/apprentice-star-saira-khan-on-racism-headscarves-and-the-new-man-in-her-life-115875-21752561/

    See that? Getting married to “white people” is a “massive thing” to Saira Khan and other immigrant Muslims. Getting married to “black people” isn’t, and should preferably be avoided at all costs. Also, notice how she equates being English with being “white”, but is offended when someone called her Paki and doesn’t see her as truly English. In another article, Khan wrote:

    “I’m delighted that, following my lead, three other British Muslim women I know have felt confident enough to marry white men without fear of reprisals from their own community.”

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-494356/As-British-Muslim-I-virginity-repairs-NHS-dangerous-demeaning—-utterly-indefensible.html

    See that? Saira is delighted that her friends got married. And not to just any ol’ men, but WHITE MEN! I wonder what the Saira Khans of the world would make of Jermaine Jackson and his lovely Afghan wife Halima Rashid. Would he receive such a warm (almost giddy) welcome from the community? Or would they have to find it outside the community like the couple below?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQuqZ-1bhOU

    “While criticizing the immigrant communities is all the rage in Muslim American circles, we must not forget there are countless positive things that have also been bestowed upon us by these immigrants.”

    That criticism is well deserved. When American Muslims held racist beliefs, immigrant Muslims justifiably criticized them. When immigrant Muslims hold racists beliefs like the ones in the link below, American Muslims justifiably criticize them:

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/0,1518,683966,00.html

    “Let me be clear, I think it would be wrong to put them through the traumatic experience of having to deal with something so foreign to them as a son or daughter in law that they simply can not relate or talk to. Do what you will with your own children, but to force your parents to have to cope with that is brutal.”

    Could you imagine an American Muslim saying this to an immigrant Muslim? Most immigrant Muslims fancy themselves to be all mainstream ‘n’ stuff. Could you imagine the hue and cry if some American Muslim called them “foreign”?

    “You???re not brown? You don???t have a ???Muslim??? name; no one judges you the way they judge us ???brownies???. Try getting a job with a Muslim name. So do not lecture us on what it is to be a Muslim.”

    The categories black, white, and brown are meaningless. In America, a Pew survey found that 15% of American Muslims identified as “other”. It includes contemporary Muslims like me, Keith Ellison, Andre Carson, Fire Marshal Kevin James, Ryan Harris, and Muhammad Ali (whose ancestor, Abe Grady, was an Irishman, and is claimed by many Irish as one of their own). It includes historical Muslims like Anthony Jansen Van Salee (one of the earliest Europeans to settle what later became New York City), and Malcolm X (whose grandfather was a Scotsman, and is listed in Wiki’s entry on famous Scottish Americans). If American Muslims were honest with themselves, that percentage would be even higher.

    In South Africa, the number of “mixed” Muslims is large. It includes the former Premier of Cape Town Ebrahim Rasool, Imam Farid Esack, Imam Muhsin Hendricks, and the late Dr. Abdullah Abdurahman and Achmat Davids.

    In England, the break down of “mixed” Muslims is as follows:

    White & Black Caribbean 1,385/ 0.6/ 0.1
      White & Black African 10,523/ 13.3/ 0.7

    People from the civil rights era probably couldn’t have imagined there would be a time that relationships between “black” and “white” people would be less controversial than ones between “black” and “brown”. “Black/white” couples like Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Cheryl Pistono, Ahmad Jamal and Laura Hess-Hay, and Isaiah Mustafa and his wife, seem drama free. Would the same be true if they had married immigrant Muslim women?

  • OmarG says:

    >>I believe you can???t understand what it feels to be of South Asian decent and the pressures that are associated with it.

    Its not my problem and I didn’t agree to care about it when I chose Islam as my religion. My shahada was to God, not to your ethnic community’s issues.

    Do you get that? No, I said do you get that? If you don’t, then you haven’t a date-stone’s worth of Islam in your whole body.

  • kompasso12 says:

    What does racism have to do with endogamy? Should endogamy be practiced in North America? I don’t think so. Just because it’s not a tribalistic society. But it could be praiseworthy in other societies. In a lot of countries ???where tribes are the bedrock of their respective social structures??? every tribe has its own distinct customs, dialects and so ( I mean c’mon would you yourself marry someone who speaks a different language than you that you do not understand?) sometimes even totally different languages. All these cultural gaps are embraced by Islam and can preserve languages and beliefs. My contention is that these customs, throughout history, have helped the youth find direction and preserve their distinguished virtues of generosity, bravery, honor, chastity, and nobility and pass it on to following generations. Values which are called in the Islamic tradition ?????????? -ma’rouf- its literal meaning means something known but its meaning in the Shari’a means recognized virtues, values that everybody regardless of their languages, religions, backgrounds are familiar with.

    Islam did not come to obliterate cultures. Intermarrying is allowed in Islam, from your own group or from a different group because Islam is universal and accommodates all forms of societies. This does not mean that practicing endogamy is not praiseworthy or could not be. Or, that intermarrying is not the solution in some given circumstances.

    In North America we are witnessing the shaping of a Muslim community with its own distinct values and virtues. What our friend Adam needs to understand is that Islam is fairly new to North America and those migrating families, more often than not, come from deep-rooted cultures who have practices well-established for centuries and sometimes millenniums. This is not making things easy for the youth to get married in Canada or the US. Sooner or later, their parents will come to realize it willingly or unwillingly. I have lately attended a wedding, the groom was of Lebanese background and the bride was of Palestinian descent and we really enjoyed our Somali food. This type of setting, in all those three countries is practically unheard of…

  • Zumar says:

    Here is an observation of mine. First, I have been blessed to have been born into Islam and cannot even begin to understand the courage it must take to study and embrace a faith that was not handed to you on a silver platter. I must confess that I do not think I would have to strong will and independent streak to make such an intrepid leap.

    Speaking from the point of view of an Muslim born to South Asian parents who migrated to the U.S 20 some years ago, I have noticed (in the past five or six years) that quite a few of the young men and women in our community have chosen to marry converts. Of course, the parents gave their blessing hesitantly and after much persuasion on the part of the son/daughter, but their reluctance is understandable…it is human to avoid what is new or different and prefer to remain within your comfort zone.

    There is a catch though, in these unions I have observed. Most of the men or women took the oath of conversion on the day of the marriage vows. Now, Allah knows best, but the timing would lead one to wonder about the sincerity of their shahada. As a result, the few men or women who had come into the fold of Islam long before they even met the Muslim they fell in love with, have been regarded with equal hesitation by the parents/elders in the community. No doubt, the judgment is hasty and unfair, but so it goes.

    I am happy to report though that the marriages to converts who embraced the faith independently and without the influence and pressure of their loved one’s family, are thriving. In my limited experience watching and hearing the stories of friends and extended family, the other marriages (the ones where the act of conversion and the wedding vows went hand in hand) tend to become rocky after the honeymoon glow fades.

  • Bored says:

    I’m an Arab girl who would love to marry a convert. My family wouldn’t care—so long as he was a good, practising Muslim. Many Arab families share the same sentiments; however, many other Arab families will not only never accept a person from a non *insert any Arab country here*, background but even if they’re from the same country, it would still be a problem if they weren’t from the same village. It’s even worse when Country A holds a grude against Country B (even though some of these countries are neighbours and share similar cultures).

    Thanks God some parents know their religion and haven’t let culture warp their beliefs.

  • Bored says:

    Good job on the article btw. Excuse the typos in my previous post.

  • Adam Sitte says:

    First of all, thank you all so much for the encouraging and thought provoking responses!

    @Minneapolitan – “Part of the reason is that it is believed that Whiteness is a non-culture and can be subsumed/overtaken by whatever culture is brought to mix with it through marriage.”

    This is such an important point, not just because of the truth of it but because this assumption, I believe, drives much of the unwillingness to allow these conversations to go forward. I’m a ‘white’ American, so naturally I don’t understand concepts like culture, respect, the importance of the family, etc.

    I’m a ‘white’ American, yes – one who has descended from farmers and laborers, one whose ancestors have had no hard exposure or active role to play in colonial structures or the American racial paradigm, one whose family has not married outside of the same county in Northern Wisconsin for the last five generations. A ‘white’ American whose culture is distinct, strong and distinguishable from those within my home state, in neighboring states and across America.

    I get growing up in a homogeneous culture that holds sway over much of your sense of identity. I suppose I can never truly understand the plight of South Asians, M.A., but I don’t think that is the point. Respect is hardly an invention of South Asia, whether that means respect for one’s parents or respect for one’s children. And I refuse to accept that respect in this context means a passive commitment to do as one is told because the brutal trauma of having to defend the worth of a fellow Muslim from any other racial background is just too inhumane. That isn’t mutual respect, it’s familial despotism.

  • delder says:

    Everyone’s honesty has really helped me, jazakallah khairan. This heart-felt article and each passionate comment has given me encouragement in my situation: solitary Islam in a western state of the US (Montana): nearest mosque or masjid is a couple hours’ drive.  Each year new Muslim students are here temporarily from a few different countries. If I am ever blessed to relocate near a group of Muslims, I will not forget these posts.

  • Michael Elwood says:

    Nice quote, blushblush. Here are some more quotes. As Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was revealed, I want all my “white” and “Aryan” Muslim friends, who fancy themselves such paragons of Islamic learning and values, to pay close attention to the Quranic verses.

    35:27-28 Do you not see that God sends down water from the sky, thus We produce with it fruits of various colors? Of the mountains are peaks that are white, red, or raven black. Among the people, and the animals, and the livestock, are various colors. As such, only the knowledgeable among God’s servants reverence Him. God is Noble, Forgiving.

    30:22 From His signs are the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the difference of your languages and your colors. In that are signs for the world.

    49:13 O people, We created you from a male and female, and We made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Surely, the most honorable among you in the sight of God is the most righteous. God is Knowledgeable, Ever-aware.

    “I believe in recognizing every human being as a human being—neither white, black, brown, or red; and when you are dealing with humanity as a family there’s no question of integration or intermarriage. It’s just one human being marrying another human being or one human being living around and with another human being.”

    “I believe in the brotherhood of man, all men, but I don’t believe in brotherhood with anybody who doesn’t want brotherhood with me. I believe in treating people right, but I’m not going to waste my time trying to treat somebody right who doesn’t know how to return the treatment.”

    “I believe in human rights for everyone, and none of us is qualified to judge each other and that none of us should therefore have that authority.”

    “I am not a racist. I am against every form of racism and segregation, every form of discrimination. I believe in human beings, and that all human beings should be respected as such, regardless of their color.”

    “I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.”

    —Malcolm X

  • OmarG says:

    @Michael: what part of blushblush’s quote made you think it was discriminatory? And what’s up with the “Aryan” thing?

    Blind brotherhood is a concept abused by many Muslims to try to get us to fight their ethnic wars for them when we in this country want to have nothing to do with it, especially since they usually can’t be bothered to give us the time of day let alone their children as spouses.

    Often times, we all will find ourselves in opposition to Muslim cultures and politics when we actually follow the Quran. I think that was the point of the article in the first place, yes? Indeed, Islam is a religion, not a tribal identity.

  • blushblush says:

    “I did not join a tribe, I joined what I believe is a religion of Truth, and wherever that religion tells me to stand, I will stand with it, whether with the Muslims or against them.”

  • Michael Elwood says:

    “what part of blushblush???s quote made you think it was discriminatory?”

    No part of blushblush’s quote made me think it was discriminatory. When I said “nice quote”, I meant what I wrote and wrote what I meant. I know I can be sarcastic sometimes, but not all the time! 🙂

    “And what???s up with the ‘Aryan’ thing?”

    I’m referring to people from the Indian subcontinent and Iran who call themselves that (see the fourth link in my previous post).

    “Blind brotherhood is a concept abused by many Muslims to try to get us to fight their ethnic wars for them when we in this country want to have nothing to do with it, especially since they usually can???t be bothered to give us the time of day let alone their children as spouses.

    “Often times, we all will find ourselves in opposition to Muslim cultures and politics when we actually follow the Quran. I think that was the point of the article in the first place, yes? Indeed, Islam is a religion, not a tribal identity.”

    I agree.

  • OmarG says:

    Oh, sorry. I mashed it all together and thought you were responding to the quote. A friend told me its from Hamza Yusuf.

  • Sameera says:

    That was a great article Adam, hit the nail right on the head. What you asked of the muslim community is exactly what I think Allah(SWT) and his Prophet asked of us.

    This actually is a part of a bigger problem affecting the muslim community. Majority of the muslims are more interested in trivial issues and they fail to see the bigger picture. I think thats because most of us really dont even know what the bigger picture is.

    We love to boast that Islam is a universal religion but its really hard to find muslims actually live up to what they say about their religion.

    On a lighter note you could always marry me. My family will never call you ‘that english white guy’. 🙂 Only a little problem I think I’m just a little young for you 🙂

    Peace

  • MuslimAct says:

    Thank you Adam for bringing this issue to the fore. So many are unwilling to recognize that *often* (not always) behind what we term personal or family “preference” is in fact prejudice. Your article also shows that the casual way in which people say these things (for example, as you mentioned, “I would never marry a black person”) and the acceptance of this sort of speech as the norm, shows how *deeply embedded* the problem of racism is in our community.

  • sofilove123 says:

    Adam your article blew me away. I feel like everyone in this wonderful religion should marry fellow brothers or sisters in Islam regardless of race. We have so much diversity mashallah and these negative ideals of marrying within the same culture and nothing else isn’t right. I believe that a person’s deen and character should be what parents see when their children get married but like people are saying immigrant families are cautious and may not know the ideals of this country

    Converts should be accepted for who they are because I feel that they study and know more than “born into” muslims (I’m not trying to offend anyone but that’s my opinion ) I hope that the muslim ummah can look away from this divide and accept fellow brothers and sisters for who they are

  • fsharmeen says:

    Thank you for your forthrightness. It hits home, as my parents are unequivocal about the consequences of marrying outside traditional racial, cultural, and socioeconomic guidelines: disappointment, dishonor, and a dereliction of duty. It is a non-debate, a silent contestation of wills, which bursts forth sporadically in belligerent words thrown at each other. “It is not that you cannot, it is that you will not,” they respond, when I broach the topic.

    I apologize on behalf of my community. I am glad you have found your niche. Beautifully written. Racial prejudice and/or oppression maintains its relevance beyond its relative severity of expression.
    -F.

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