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.
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.