African Americans and Muslim Americans


Originally published in Patheos

As a Muslim-American, I am attracted to both Islam and America because of the idea inherent in both that all people are created equal. Both Islam and America have been stained by people who subvert them for their own political agendas and in America’s case, it was subverted right from the beginning. America became what it is at the expense of African Americans who built this great nation as slaves and ever since America’s inception, African Americans have been at the bottom of the social hierarchy that Americans set up even though African Americans worked the hardest and sacrificed the most for sake of the country. Now, more than ever, this subjugation is concealed. It is concealed under the incorrect premise that if President Obama is black then there must be no racism. It is concealed under the lies that the right wing sells to upper class America that wants to hear that they are where they are in life solely because of their own effort and no one else’s.

Although, I was born Muslim, I never recognized what that meant in the context of being American until Donald Trump began attacking my religion. I realized soon after he began his campaign that not only is the real America that the founding fathers stood for compatible with Islam but that Islam has the answer to some of the biggest challenges of our time. The biggest of which is racism.

The Prophet Muhammad, may God’s blessings be upon him, instructed that we should not judge people based on how they looked or dressed. He said that we should only expect to see the good in people. This is indeed the same message that the prophet Jesus, may Allah bless him came with. While I have great respect for the difficult task that police officer have, historically, police officers have too often tended to not share this way of thinking. They racially profile black people and at this point in time, one in three African American men will go to prison once in their life. On average, they are given a longer prison sentence than a white person for the same crime. They are often killed without any consequences. This was proven right here in Cleveland with Tamir Rice.

The story does not end there. African Americans represent the largest ethnic group of Muslims in America. And Muslim-Americans are the most diverse religious group in America. When Trump attacks Muslims in America, I think about how while Sunday remains the most segregated day of the week, Friday represents a united America that we hope for-Friday being the holiest day of the week for Muslims. People of all backgrounds unite and pray together. When Trump begins to close the mosques, this is what I will miss the most.

For Muslims, this will not be the first time that America will steal our religious liberties. This began when Africans were enslaved and forced to convert to Christianity. According to some estimates, thirty percent of the Africans that were brought to America were Muslim.

Terrorism done by so called Muslims is what dominates our media and the soundbites that we see everyday. It has been like this ever since I was a child when barbaric terrorists who hailed from our so called ally, Saudi Arabia blew up and killed 3,000 innocent civilians. We must never forget what happened that day but we must never also forget the countless slaves who were forced to come to America but weren’t even able to make the journey. We must remember the thousands of African-Americans that were lynched at the hands of men who thought that they knew better than God. We must remember that when Trump attacks Muslims, he is launching an attack on a three-hundred year old community that still has old scars that still need healing.


About the author

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Zohaib Zafar

Zohaib Zafar is currently a third year student at Davidson College in North Carolina. He is from the Cleveland area and is majoring in Economics and minoring in Arab Studies.

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