“We were made from dust and dust we will all become”
When a post catches the eyes, whilst scrolling through social media about the negative experiences of individuals due to race, it is deflating to realise the extent to which certain
groups of people within the Muslim community feel isolated. This isolation is felt more so, when facing racial and cultural barriers whilst looking for marriage. It may be argued that the lack of mixed marriages is an un-natural phenomenon amongst some Muslim communities, especially since the man, whom we regard to be one of the greatest examples for us, married women from different races and tribes. More importantly, this man, the Prophet (peace be upon him), was sent with a message unique in its ability to bond those unrelated by blood, to unite those beyond borders, language, race and tribe. He was Muhammad (pbuh). He came with a way of life that history has witnessed to be the most just in its values and one that brought people together as one, despite their differences.
So often when individuals enter into this beautiful ‘Deen’ (religion), hop- ing to be a part of this unique bond, hoping to be part of a kind of jus- tice and fairness that they have not tasted prior to Islam, then are left sourly disappointed, just because many within the Muslim community still carry thoughts that are contradictory to the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). One can only imagine the hurt that some brothers’ and sisters’ experience due to this incorrect thinking. Furthermore, Al- lah has revealed an ‘Ayah’ (verse) regarding this issue: “O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes that you may know one another. Verily, the most honourable of you with Allah is that (Believer who has Taqwa (i.e. is one of the Muttaqeen – the pious). Verily Allah is All-knowing, All- Aware”. [Qur’an, Surah Al-Hujurat: The Rooms, 49:13]
By Islam Channel Presenter Shahina Khatun and a graduate of Journalism. She is passionate about having the Muslim woman’s voice heard on issues ranging from race, religion and politics. She is also an up-and-coming poet and believes poetry to be a beautiful and powerful medium to connect with people.
Follow Shahina on Twitter: @shahina_media and visit her blog www.lyricallyspeakingsite.wordpress.com
Despite such a beautiful revelation, an important question arises; what causes
hesitancy in many parents’ when their children wish to marry outside of their
own race and culture?
There is no denying that racism exists within the Muslim community and clearly it is not acceptable. However, it would be easy to say that simply racism is at play here, but the answer to this is not always black and white. There are numerous rea- sons why this is the case.
Being scared of the unknown
is one of those reasons. It may seem like a strange reason, but it is a reason nonetheless. For parents’ who have migrated to Britain, despite raising their children here, are mainly used to family and friends marrying within the same community and background. Their children considering marriage outside of the community is a new reality and one that is outside of the norm. This lack of familiarity creates a fear of not knowing or under- standing the differences in culture.
Every so often, in the minds of many parents, it becomes a case of ensuring that they know
what their children are stepping into. There is a sense of security in being married into a family with whom one shares similar cultural values and more so, if there were to be difficulties with- in the marriage, there is hope that the shared values would come into play in order to solve those problems.
Although, one can appreciate this sense of security or in fact a false sense of security, as knowing what your child is getting into i.e., a culture that one is familiar with, does not lead to security and tranquillity within the marriage. At the end of the day, how many majorly effective differences can there possibly be, between Muslims? If there are cultural clashes between Muslims, we have a common solution and that is ultimately Is- lam.
Then there’s the complex is- sue of racism stemming from colonialism, especially during the modern period. One
cannot deny that there is an element of racism within some communities, which stem from seeds planted by imperialists for colonial ambitions. By using differences, amongst Muslims, on the basis of language or race to make a particular group of people feel superior than others creates a superiority complex, which can be detrimental to society as shown in history.
Unfortunately, the roots of racism are so deep that often the elements that make a person racist, is not even realised. More often than never, with elders, it is a fear of what the rest of the community will say. With the elders, the onus is on “us” who understand that it is forbid- den in Islam to hold any form of racism within us. The onus is on “us”; the younger generation should remove racism from our own minds first and teach it to our elders with good etiquette and manners without patronising them. Sometimes we forget that they too are victims of colonial brainwashing.
It is also worth asking ourselves; is it really befitting to intentionally look for marriage purely out of rebellion where one’s parent may not approve? Should it also be a case of ‘only’ looking outside of the community? If a proposal comes from a per- son who meets ones criteria for marriage and is from within the same community, is it befitting to decline purely because the person is from the ‘same’ race, out of spite towards one’s own parents? We too should check our intentions.
The burden of responsibility lies heavily on the shoulders of our community leaders, lo- cal Imams; whom our elders respect and look up to. It is our leaders who carry the knowledge of Islam and hence, need to be much more forthcoming on these issues. Silence on matters that severely affect Muslims is not an option. It needs to be tackled with honesty and with-
out fear as it is their obligation to do so, rather than to shy away from it. The issue of “what the community will say?” would not exist if our leaders came together to propagate the stance of Islam on this matter and informed elders of the dangers of the attitude that is quite common amongst them.
The consequence of turning down a marriage proposal from a person who has good character and Taqwa is not minor. There are so many people not married and becoming older or falling into sin purely because elders have been unwilling to accept a proposal from those of different race, caste or tribe. It does not help when most of our local Imams and people of influence have remained silent, even though families have been destroyed because of this attitude.
It is encouraged in Islam for Muslims to strengthen the bond of unity and love between ourselves. By discouraging each other from entering into mixed marriages strains that bond by causing hurt and disunity. When Allah, The Most High, tells us in the Qur’an: “…We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes that you may know one another”. [Qur’an, Surah Al-Hujurat: The Rooms, 49:13] We are encouraged to know one another and one of the best ways of knowing others is through the bonds of marriage.
It is worth noting that things are changing. There is hope and we should be positive as there is a rising awareness and a better understanding of Islam growing amongst our elders and our young people. As a result of this, there are many mixed marriages taking place and numbers are rising with time. Let’s look to speeding up those
numbers and removing the thoughts that act as barriers. We, as a community, need to question whether we really want to define and divide ourselves by lines drawn on the map. We need to grow in our Islamic thinking and embrace those who enter Islam with the warmth that they deserve, so that they may and we may taste the beauty of Islam that brought us into the Deen in the first place.
Allah, The Most High, tells us in His Book about what we were created with: “It is He who created you from dust, then from a sperm-drop, then from a cling- ing clot; then He brings you out as a child; then (He develops you) that you reach your (time of) maturity, then (further) that you become elders. And among you is he who is taken in death before (that), so that you reach a specified term; and perhaps you will use reason”. [Qur’an, Surah Ghafir: The Forgiver, 40:67]
We were made from dust and dust we will all become. Thus, from where do we derive the right to this claim of superiority over others? Was it not ‘Shaytan’ (Devil) who refused to obey Allah, The Most High, purely because he felt superior due to being made of re, whereas Prophet Adam (pbuh) was made of dust? There is certainly a lesson in this for us to learn.
Our elders must realise that when a proposal for his daughter is from a man of Deen and good character, do not turn him away due to his difference in race, for surely this goodness is far better and a cause of happi- ness for one’s daughter, as he may be the goodness that leads her into ‘Jannah’ (Paradise). Moreover, we know Jannah does not discriminate against any race, caste or tribe…and neither does ‘Jahannam’ (Hell- Fire).
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