Black Muslims are almost invisible in Britain, but now we’re carving out a space | Na’ima B Robert

Ask most individuals to visualise a Muslim and they’re going to seemingly image somebody of Asian or Arab descent, with a beard, maybe, or some type of head protecting. Certainly, that is sometimes the picture that’s portrayed throughout our social media feeds, entrance pages and TV screens.

While there have been distinguished Black Muslim figures corresponding to Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali, Black Muslims as a entire are hardly ever featured. In a approach that’s not stunning: in accordance with a Muslim Council of Britain study, the overwhelming majority of British Muslims are of south-east Asian heritage, whereas Africans, African-Caribbean and “other” Black folks on make up about 10%.

But what does it imply to be a minority inside a minority? The analysis factors to emotions of disappointment, frustration, and alienation from the bigger Muslim neighborhood.

Islam doesn’t educate or justify racist concepts, but the actual fact stays that, attributable to a mixture of ignorance, cultural conditioning and the legacy of colonialism, many south Asians do maintain various levels of prejudice in the direction of Black folks. A survey carried out by Muslim Census amongst younger Muslims discovered that 82% had witnessed anti-Black racism from their very own household and buddies.

And in a study performed by the Black Muslim Forum, 63% of contributors stated they didn’t really feel like they belonged to the UK Muslim neighborhood. In addition, 49% had confronted anti-Black discrimination inside a UK mosque or non secular setting.

Over the previous few years, steps have been taken to deal with these points. The Muslim Council of Britain held the primary ever Proudly Muslim and Black symposium in 2019, which introduced collectively teachers, students and senior neighborhood figures to debate the way in which Black Muslims are perceived and handled – and paved the way in which for an initiative to enhance the illustration of Black Muslims. There has additionally been the creation of assorted platforms for Black Muslims on specialist channels and on-line.

However, aside from the strides made by organisations corresponding to MCB, many of those efforts have been met with hostility and resistance by non-Black Muslims. Black Muslims have been accused of racism, ignorance and inflicting division inside the neighborhood. Many have even branded these actions “unIslamic”.

But this summer time modified every thing. The homicide of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests led to necessary neighborhood conversations about anti-Blackness, on a scale not seen earlier than. Across social media, Black Muslims began talking extra brazenly than ever about their ache and trauma, and different Muslims truly began listening.

These conversations resulted in quite a few occasions in which Black Muslims “spoke their truth”. And the discussions have prolonged past racism in the Muslim neighborhood to questioning the erasure of Blackness from Islamic historical past itself. Scholars corresponding to Abdullah Hakim Quick, Habeeb Akande and Michael Mumisa have all been instrumental in highlighting the presence and affect of Black Muslims all through historical past – in Africa, Arabia, Europe and the Americas, and from Islam’s earliest days to the trendy age.

Today, we now have Black Muslims making historical past, impacting society and provoking folks of all faiths and races. People such because the Olympic medallists Mo Farah and Ibtihaj Muhammad, US Representative Ilhan Omar – to not point out comic Nabil AbdulRashid, a present Britain’s Got Talent finalist who’s making hundreds of thousands of British folks giggle at fashionable misperceptions of Muslims.

Some of those game-changers shall be talking on the ongoing Black Muslim festival – a celebration of our heritage, tradition and legacy that includes students, activists and influencers talking on non secular and psychological well being, relationships, sexuality, and lots of different matters. It’s working all through Black History Month.

With extra mainstream establishments taking discover, and with Black Muslims making stronger hyperlinks with one another, we are now turning into extra seen, extra vocal and extra assured in our intersectional id. There is a true Black Muslim renaissance happening – and this may solely be a good factor for the Muslim neighborhood, and for British society as a entire.

Na’ima B Robert is a kids’s writer and founding father of Muslimah Writers. The Black Muslim festival runs till 25 October

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