My Rahma (compassion) does not extend to white supremacists

By Isra Ibrahim

Writer’s Note: Ummah is the Arabic word for community. It describes the worldwide Muslim community across all borders. Rahma is the Arabic word for compassion. It delineates the Islamic concept of merciful compassion for others to overcome the personal self.

Remember this.

It is Rahma.

This past month, William Coley, a white Muslim convert, launched a fundraiser to cover the health costs for Frank Morganthaler, an Islamophobic, white supremacist organizer and FDNY lieutenant who suffered a heart attack on June 10th, 2017.

This is their Rahma.

Whether this fundraiser was launched in good will or not is irrelevant. The ways structural racism kills Black and Brown people daily is more important than white people’s intentions.

Our priority is to acknowledge, assess, resist, and ultimately break the material reality of white supremacy and its derivatives. So why should Brown and Black Muslims learn to practice Rahma from a white Muslim who cannot experience racialized oppression?

This fundraiser (and the white male intentions behind it) have sparked debate across social media. Hordes of loyal white men have manipulatively attacked Black Muslim womxn dissenters due to Coley’s “discomfort” and subsequent rampage. Misogynoiristic violence from white Muslim men and their Brown and Black proxies against Black Muslim womxn soon followed as Coley gaslighted them for expressing their criticisms.

***

“We are all Muslims. Therefore we are all victim to Islamophobia” is a faulty and untrue premise.

Islamophobia is structural racialized violence against a racialized Muslim person. Islamophobia relies on the construction of the dangerous “Muslim stereotype” to justify and normalize institutional violence in the form of the “War on Terror,” TSA checks, and countering violent extremism (CVE) programs.

Morganthaler’s victims are not white bearded men. They are people who fit the racialized images of Brown and Black people that we’ve come to believe as dangerous.They are Sikh people. They are Arab. They are Muhannad Tairab. They are Razan Abu-Salah. They are Nabra Hassanen.

They are those who are definitively non-white. This is the Muslim image who is victim to Islamophobia.

This is our Rahma.

***

There is an impossible goodness that only white people can achieve. A “goodness” that demands a superficial unity that exists in the ever-stubborn realm of white denial. Because this “goodness” perpetually demands Brown and Black people to compromise their lives and sanity, it is a “goodness” that only permits white people to fit its definition.

What occurs to the state of the Black Muslim when a white Muslim leader defines the borders of their “goodness?” What happens to the Black Muslim when they are given divine evidence constructed in whiteness?

What happens to the Black Muslim when their faith is weaponized to deny the white supremacist danger they endure, and resistance from those Black Muslims is derided as “anti-white racism?”

White Muslims and their colored proxies have hijacked Rahma so that taking care of the health of a blatant Islamophobic white supremacist organizer is more proximal to divine goodness than addressing the concerns and lives of Black Muslims. This is the backwardness of whiteness. It seeks to punish and clean up the spillage it creates when utilizing divinity as its witness.

Did we expect the white Muslim to be unique? To be better equipped with a more comprehensive understanding of racial politics? Of Blackness? To be more compassionate than their non-Muslim counterparts? To have more Rahma?

***

Black and Brown people tell each other to “Be Unapologetic!” But all I’ve seen is whiteness be Unapologetic while our anger is tampered and we’re forced to forgive.

Where is the white collective conscious that brings together hordes of white people to analyze and empathize with the victims of white terror? Where is the plethora of white think pieces that seek to constantly fight, analyze, and denounce whiteness and its subsequent violence? Do white people come together and urge each other to “forgive” non-white assailants?

These conversations do not exist because whiteness is never threatened. Therefore, whiteness will not have a reason to fight against itself. Why do we expect its beneficiaries to have an equally invested interest in its destruction for collective liberation? Why do we, as Black Muslims, expect the white Muslim to behave any differently when they assert otherwise?

If the perimeters of your community begin with your privileges and missteps but stop with the oppressions and grievances of others, then what are you calling an Ummah?

If your vision of Islam asserts that it must have more Rahma for a white supremacist than your very own Brown and Black Muslim family in faith, then your vision is violent. If your vision of Islam asserts that it must punish and clean up the spillage of Black Muslim anger for a violent compassion that can only hurt us, your Islam is violent.  It is violence upon violence upon violence. And I want no part of it.

This is our Rahma.


Neighborhood Black Muslim Girl. Lover of shrimp. Tea fanatic. Pre-med student. Radical Muslim, the whimsical, stuffed with shrimp kind obviously. Aspiring to be vehicle for Black minds, creatives, and visionaries.  

Isra has written for RaceBaitR before. Read her previous work here.

At RaceBaitR, we pay all our writers, which is impossible without donors like you!

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  1. H Fareed Abdulghani July 1, 2017 — 12:23 pm

    There is nothing in Islam that requires the Believer to embrace or love their enemies. Diplomacy, dialogue, conflict resolution are all highly recommended and based on Islamic principles — when trying to communicate with others who may not agree with your faith, views, philosophies. We all have to live together. But those who want to cause us harm in any way are not reasonable people. In the case of Morganthaler, I am certain he will be well cared for and financially supported by his employer and perhaps other Islamophobes. My question is to William Coley. Are you possibly trying too hard? To be a Good Muslim? Have a chat with any African American man over 50 about being a Good Colored Boy. Your efforts have strong parallels.

  2. Coley’s fundraiser was launched in the spirit of a well known story in which Muhammad gave medical attention to an enemy who had repeatedly thrown refuse on him. The intention was not merely “good will” but to unbalance the bigotry of the target with empirical counter experience. So, Coley has the same objective you do, to combat bigotry, he’s just calling upon a prophetic example to do it.

    From Coley’s radio show I can tell you “discomfort” was not his reaction. “Delight” would be more accurate, as Coley is the type to thrive on conflict, which you probably have in common. Like anyone engaged in a personal struggle, a bold opposition gives him resolve.

    I’m curious what you mean by “misogynistic violence.” Did someone in Coley’s corner assault someone? I’ve only read death threats the other direction, but haven’t seen any violence.

    There is certainly a racial component to anti Muslim bigotry, but that doesn’t mean white Muslims do not experience it. They just experience it slightly differently. As a white muslim I’ve been called a “race traitor” by white supremacists. I’ve seen concerted campaigns to defame me as a stealth jihadist in unrelated professional spaces. I’ve definitely been profiled by the TSA. And most seriously, I was once slandered in an article by polemicist Pam Geller, which resulted in months of harassment and threats by her readers. Bigotry is a wide net, not a laser pointer. It’s clumsy and imprecise and catches all manor of collateral damage. Sometimes an anti-Muslim bigot is motivated by racism. But often their polemics are more sophisticated. Pam Geller in particular, like Robert Spencer, Ann Coulter and others are the first to say in interviews and articles that Islam is not a race, and it is Islam they are against, including white Muslims. John Walker Lindh comes to mind as a victim of the War On Terror. It’s certainly a smaller slice of the pie, especially since white converts are a smaller slice of the Ummah. And Muslims of color certainly experience an intersection of islamophobia and racism, just as a black woman experiences an intersection of racism and sexism. But to claim that white Muslims don’t experience islamophobia because they’re white is as absurd as claiming a white women doesn’t experience sexism because she’s white. It’s an incomplete critical analysis.

    I’m confused by your statements about “impossible goodness.” I need more information. I probably just don’t have the background knowledge you’re calling upon. I don’t know what this goodness is, or who’s demanding it, or how it threatens your lives and sanity. And what’s this divine evidence? I’m a white person, and I have no idea whether I fit it’s definition, or even should. Can’t you just reject other people’s definitions of goodness that you don’t agree with? I do.

    Why wouldn’t you expect a white Muslim to be unique. Islam is unique. And transformative. From it’s earliest generations to the present it has cured racism and nurtured compassion in the hearts of all sincere adherents. Granted, a white Muslim can still only comprehend “blackness” by proxy, but they certainly have a powerful motivation to abandon racial supremacy of any kind if they value the prophet’s example.

    You asked where is the white collective conscious that empathizes with the victims of white terror, and while I don’t believe a pan-white collective exists, just as a pan-black collective doesn’t exist, an aggregate of individual white efforts does exist. The answer to your question is white conversion and fascination with Islam. Some white people are engaged in terror, in the form of military campaigns, hate crimes, orientalist propaganda, etc. And some white people oppose those injustices. It’s a well documented sociological phenomenon that when a population believes their government is engaged in an injustice, a segment of that population seeks actionable strategies to join the government’s victims. Fighting Japan, Korea and Vietnam spurred a huge surge of interest in Buddhism and eastern philosophy among anti-war whites. The Cold War spurred interest in Communism. The War on Terror is currently spurring interest in Islam. This phenomenon combats the prevailing war propaganda of the elites, fosters comradery among the civilian populations across hostile borders, and ultimately builds empathy in the base population, which resists conquest. People like Coley are the whites you’re looking for, and fundraisers like his are how they change the hearts of the base population. You say they don’t exist because whiteness is never threatened, but in reality these efforts do threaten their ideas of whiteness. Frank Morganthaler must now contend with his preconceptions of a racialized radicalized islam, and a pure white American goodness, in the face of a white muslim who contradicts those preconceptions.

    Coley’s Rahma for Morgathaler is only the explicit effort. The implicit effort is to move the hearts of whites in supremacist camp toward the empathetic white camp, which is Rahma for the victims of every future oppression that they must second guess because of this experience, and those victims are disproportionately people of color.

    I don’t see how you can be forced to forgive, but you can certainly be asked for forgiveness. Maybe I’ve completely misread you, but it certainly seems from where I’m sitting like you’ve got some grievance against me on account of my skin. I don’t know of anything I’ve personally done to harm you, but if you’ve got any animosity toward me, I can certainly ask for your forgiveness, can’t I?

    • Why are you making this all about you as an individual? Seems like you only read this with the intent to find as many counterpoints as you possibly could instead of empathizing.

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