Monthly Archives: January 2017

Racial Profiling

Racial Profiling ist ein allgegenwärtiges Problem für People of Colour in Deutschland und generell im Westen und dass nicht erst seit Silvester.

Einmal wurde ich in Kassel am Bahnhof kontrolliert, ich war in Eile und aus offensichtlichen Gründen genervt. Also habe ich den Polizisten eben gefragt: ‘Warum ausgerechnet ich?’ Ihm war das dann sehr unangenehm und er entschuldigte sich mit den Worten: ‘Naja, Sie passen halt ins Raster.’ Ich glaube zwar nicht, dass es allen so unangenehm ist wie diesem Beamten, aber es gibt offenbar ein Bewusstsein darüber, dass diese Praxis diskriminierend ist und welche Demütigung sie den Menschen damit zufügen. Denn das ist Racial Profiling vor allem: demütigend. Entwürdigend.

Temye Tesfu 

 

 

Videos? Love em’! XXXV

Peace!

I absolutely missed posting about my favourite videos every week. So I’d like to give it a go again, but this time in a slightly different fashion, which hopefully explains a bit more why these are the videos that I picked out of the slew of other videos I’ve consumed and what they mean to me.

Knowledge is Power.

The first thing, that I identify myself with is my being Muslim. It shapes me, who I am and my actions more than anything else. Being a Muslim however is highly racialized, people assume that only Arabs are and can be Muslims. That a third of all Muslims live in Africa or that the most Muslim populated country is Indonesia is often forgotten. Not only am I a Muslim, but also black. Black in a society, which sees whiteness as normality and blackness as an oddity. Growing up in Germany as a Muslim and a child of parents of Nigerian roots, this video, part of the strolling series, reflects pretty well some of the experiences and frustrations that I have had too.

While I have had brush ins with racist individuals and discrimination before, it is only since coming to University that I really saw and learned of racism as an institution. Decolonise our institutions and our education!

Being a non-Arab Muslim however also brings with it a slight barrier to my interaction with the religion and that is language. While I grew up in a household that valued knowledge and knowledge of Islam, none of us are fluent Arabic speakers and so understanding the sources of our religion came through the use of secondary sources, translations. Translations, which are already infused with the understanding and biases of the person translating the text. An understanding of the Arabic language is therefore something that I am striving for because it is important to know these things.

But what is a Muslim? Is anyone who calls him or herself a “Muslim”, a Muslim or are there certain criteria that you have to meet to be considered a Muslim and who defines those?

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, ”

Islam is that you should testify that there is no deity except Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger, that you should perform salah, pay the Zakah, fast during Ramadan, and perform Hajj to the House, if you are able to do so.”

That and the 6 tenets of faith, are what it means to be a Muslim at the most basic. Yes, there are things that take you out of the religion, but the majority of scholars agree that sins, small or big do not take you outside of the fold of Islam. To rule someone excommunicated is not up to us, but to God alone as set in the Quran and the Sunnah.

I hate when Muslims call themselves or others bad Muslims because they commit sins, we all commit sins and paradise will be full of sinners. Sinners who repented and the door for repentance is open until we breathe our last, so don’t judge people. We are all on a journey to come closer to God, and on that way we will stumble, we will hit roadblocks and delays. That is something I have had to remind myself of constantly with the BBC Documentary: Muslims Like us. Which I have had, as most did, a mixed reaction to. While definitely not among my favourite videos, the documentary gave me a lot to think about. It created conversations within and outside of the Muslim Community in Britain and so find it important enough to include it anyway.

Muslims are tuly diverse there is no question about that, and no video I have recently seen showed that as much and as best as A-Z of Beni. Shot in the style of the A-Z videos on i-D, Beni.space catalogues the diversity of Muslims.

One of my particular interests has been sidelined quite a bit in my life due to various reasons, I do however want to get back into it, so what way better than the way I first got into it. By watching videos of it being practiced.

Well, that was fun!

Knowledge is power and that is what makes us comfortable with how and where we are and to constantly strive for excellence, the ideal of a Muslim is in the Prophet (saw.) we constantly strive to be like him.

Hope you liked this format of my listing my favourite videos in recent months.

videolovin’

Abdur-Rahman

The moderate Muslim

Peace,

the word Muslim is heavily politicised and racialized. Calling yourself a Muslim in a post 9/11 world, makes life difficult to say the least. Academics, Governments, Institutions, Think Tanks as well as the general non-Muslim public all give the label a meaning, which serves their particular interests.

Such as the terms “moderate Muslim”, “good Muslim” or “modern Muslim”, describing those who fit a certain profile, everyone who then doesn’t conform is a “bad Muslim” or a “puritanical extremist”.  This phraseology is colonial in nature  it has been used by orientalist scholars to describe those who collaborated with colonial rule, it’s been used in describing Dr. Martin Luther King as the good, peaceful black activist and Malcolm X as the bad, radical black activist.

This classical form of divide and conquer is used to play us off against each other. Muslims that engage in that narrative of good vs. bad should remember that people who hate you don’t care about what you call yourself, in the words of Pamela Geller: “What’s the difference? Today’s moderate is tomorrow’s mass murderer.

Part of that same good vs. bad narrative is also that the solution to extremism is following a certain branch of Islam. The UK government plays on this with its PREVENT Agenda funding those Muslim organisations that fits their profile to further their idea of what a good Muslim looks like and who one is and who isn’t. The moniker “moderate Muslim” also carries the implication that the moderate Muslim isn’t a real Muslim that those who read the scriptures and really believe in all of what it says are necessarily radical extremists. We don’t talk about moderate Christians, moderate Hindus or Buddhists for example in our day to day conversations.

Moderation however is indeed an important factor in the religion, but we need to get rid of the moderate/extreme Muslim binary in our language to categorise people who seemingly fit a certain profile. I have met people of all kinds of sects, religions and people of no religion who display arrogance and close mindedness and we see, hear and read of mankind as a whole committing violence and atrocities. We see violence everywhere and from everyone, sometimes for seemingly good reasons, sometimes for bad, sometimes for banal reasons and sometimes for very complex reasons that are often just glossed over in the mainstream media.

Life is a crucible. I do believe that people are inherently good, that we are born on the Fitrah, the God given natural inclination to do and be good. It is our environment, our experiences and trials in life, that changes the way we act. We do however have the capacity as humans to choose what we do. As Muslims we believe that this life is a test, a test of how we respond to the trials and tribulations we are faced with and what choices we take and that is where moderation comes into play.

#bemore

Be more moderate

Peace,

without tooting my own horn it seems to come easy to me to at least come across as relatively moderate, maybe I am really just good at censoring the extreme dark side of my being which may or may not exist, God knows. Moderation is an ambiguous word, what does it actually mean?

According to the merriam-webster dictionary it is:

  1. avoiding extremes of behavior or expression
  2. tending toward the mean or average amount or dimension
  3. professing or characterized by political or social beliefs that are not extreme
  4. limited in scope or effect
  5. not expensive
  6. of a color :  of medium lightness and medium chroma

Moderation is a word which, as can be derived from its definition, is dependent on the existing of two extremes, a scope or scale from which one can deduce what the mean, average or moderate is. Still it often lies in the eye of the beholder to judge what the extremes are and where the mid point lies.

Islam, as a way of life, places a lot of importance on moderation, in the Quran Allah (swt.) describes us as the nation of the middle.

“Thus, We have made you a justly balanced community that you will be witnesses over the people and the Messenger will be a witness over you.” [Quran 2:143]

Moderation in all things and balance is something we have striven towards for centuries, it is innate. Over 17 times a day we as Muslims ask God to guide us to the straight path, the path from which the Prophet (saw.) informed us devils in whatever form would try to swerve us from calling us to their paths left and right.

Ibn Mas’ud reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, drew a line with his hand and he said, “This is the straight path of Allah.” Then the Prophet drew lines to the right and left and he said, “These are other paths and there are no other paths but that a devil is upon it calling to its way.” Then the Prophet recited the verse, “Verily, this is the straight path, so follow it and do not follow other paths.” (6:153)

The Arabic language holds a number of words which can be translated to mean moderation or balance one in particular is Al-wasitiyyah. The Arabic dictionary, Lisan al Arab by Ibn Manzur defines it such that:

Every praiseworthy characteristic has two blameworthy poles. Generosity is the middle between miserliness and extravagance. Courage is the middle between cowardice and recklessness. Humanity has been commanded to avoid every such blameworthy trait.[Lisan al-Arab 15/209]

‘Adl is often also translated as moderation, but has the primary meaning of justice. Literally meaning to divide in exactly two equal parts so that there is no disparity between them, thereby creating balance between the rights of two parties for example.

“And the heaven He raised and imposed the balance. That you not transgress within the balance. And establish weight in justice and do not make deficient the balance.”
[Quran 55:7-9]

The ayah above shows how justice is tied in with balance, just as Allah (swt.) created balance in the world, He demands from us to establish balance and justice in our interactions with the world.

Like all things however that is difficult, it is easier to seek revenge than justice. It is easier to eat junk food, than to eat a balanced diet. It is easier to seclude ourselves than to intermingle and deal with society. That balance in life. That work, social, spiritual life balance is what we all seek and what I still constantly fight with despite my outward appearance of moderation and the companions of the Prophet (saw.) also had to learn that.

 “You have a duty to your Lord, you have a duty to your body, and you have a duty to your family, so you should give each one its rights.” [Bukhari: Sahih]

Therefore let’s try to be more moderate and balanced and just in everything we do. May Allah (swt.) make it easy for us.

#bemore

Entry XII : 365 Project

Peace!

Time is relative, in hindsight however it passes relatively quickly. Another year has passed, and while that is the case here and in most of the world, taking the Hijri calendar into account we’re already a third into the year. While not celebrating the new year as such, it does serve me well in taking account of myself, to make Muhasaba, to re-evaluate where I am heading and make slight adjustments here and there.

That is what my 365project is going to be about. There are a whole slew of things that I want to accomplish this year, but most overall it is to be productive and to constantly improve and regularly take account of where I am and what I need to do to arrive at where I want to be at the end  of the year. Change however rarely happens overnight. I am under no illusion that I won’t fail, failing is a given. I’ve already tried this a couple of months ago. I am human, we fail at things, we make mistakes, what we do afterwards however is what counts, we try to learn and progress from them.

So within the online space this year I just want to produce blogs, essays, poems, videos and posters whether good or bad I’ll post them, trying to keep myself productive and to improve. Yes, there will be days, where I just can’t be bothered or where life becomes extra tough, but I will try my absolute best to produce something creative every single day of this year.

Rather than starting from scratch, I will start again where I left off. Meaning that while I will post on this blog everyday of this year from today as part of postaday 2017 and my vlogging will continue as normal, the project in its totality will start on the 13th of this month. So follow me on this blog, on my instagram and my YouTube Channel to see how I am getting on! Thank you 🙂

Abdur-Rahman