I Am Muslim and I Am Black Lives Matter

Black lives don't matter. We need to own that as the current reality for millions of Black Americans. Every 28 hours a police officer, security guard, or Zimmerman-type vigilante kills a Black person, most of who are unarmed. Black children can be kicked out of pools and physically harassed by police while their white counterparts watch. Black women can be murdered, raped, beat with utter silence from the general public. Black communities across the country are most often deprived of basic housing standards, quality education and funding, and access to quality healthcare. Black communities suffer from high unemployment and mass incarceration for the same crimes whites commit. We then question #BlackLivesMatter and list all the reasons why #AllLivesMatter, missing the point entirely.

Black lives don't matter. A white supremacist can premeditate an act of terror, walk into the most historic Black church in America, engage in bible studies for an hour, and then murder nine innocent God-loving people. As a person of faith, this recent attack on a Black church in South Carolina moved me deep to my core. As the holy month of Ramadan comes to a close, a month full of reflection, self-sacrifice and refocus on strengthening one's relationship with God, the thought of someone walking into a religious institution, a sanctuary, a safe haven, God's house, and killing is unfathomable. Except it isn't.

Black communities know all too well bombings of Black churches, witnessed the burning of crosses on their front lawns and lynching of their brethren. But you would think we would move on as a nation, we would reflect and own the brutality and domestic terror that we have inflicted and stand up once and for all for the right for ALL people to live, work, and worship in peace. BUT no. Here we are in the 21st century where White supremacists can walk into gudwaras and kill innocent Sikhs, stage armed protests in front of Islamic centers, burn down entire mosques to ashes like in Joplin, Missouri, kill three innocent Muslim college students in Chapel Hill, NC and an Islamophobe can run over a Muslim teen in Kansas City, police killings of unarmed Black people almost on the daily, and a young white man can walk into a historical Black church on the 193rd anniversary of a slave rebellion and kill nine people.

Black lives don't matter. But they do in Islam. Since the founding of Islam, Black lives mattered. My faith informs my role and commitment to standing up against injustice and to work towards creating a world where Black life is valued as equally as any life. In Islam no one is afforded the right to claim any superiority over another based on race, ethnicity, language or economic status and this was crystal clear in the last sermon of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) where he said: "All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black, nor does a black have any superiority over a white except by piety and good action."

In Ramadan, we refrained from food, water, and suppressed our desires from dawn to sunset. We used this month to pray, reflect on our blessings and feel with those who are not as fortunate as us. Ramadan fueled me to work harder, bolder and clearer to empathize and engage in courageous action with Black sisters and brothers to create a society where Black lives truly matter. As a Muslim, my faith mandates that I stand up against injustice and that I should fear no one but God and I take this tenet of my faith very seriously. Existing as Black and/or Muslim in America is an act of courage. I have committed myself wholeheartedly to #BlackLivesMatter, because when Black lives matter all lives will matter, including Muslim lives.

See also I am Black, and Black Lives Matter, by The Rev. Jacqueline J. Lewis, Ph.D. ; and I Am Gay and I Am Black Lives Matter, by Bishop Gene Robinson; I am a White Christian and I am Black Lives Matter, By Rev. Dr. Peter Hetzel