See video of my recent appearance on CrossTalk North – The Boundaries of Belief, Part 1 on UpNorth Media in Traverse City, Michigan.
Since the shocking tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT, there has been much discussion about the need for stricter gun control laws, and I believe that American Muslims should be supporters of those who call for sanity pertaining to our gun laws.
The 2nd Amendment is an important part of the U.S. Constitution, which I uphold. The absolute right to bear all types of arms is not sacred; however, the protection of human life is a sacred responsibility.
I’m down with citizens owning handguns to protect their domiciles and businesses. I’m also cool with folks owning shotguns and rifles for the purposes of hunting dove, quail, deer, etc. Assault rifles be they Bushmasters/AR-15’s and AK-47’s that can be outfitted with 75 round drums to Calico M960’s with 100 round drums are not suited for home protection nor for hunting wild game. In our towns and cities, they continue to be used for hunting people.
America is one of the most armed nations on earth, which also has the most violent crime of any Western nation. We have a culture of violence here, and the easy accessibility of assault weapons is nothing but a tool to perpetuate violence with mass casualties.
Yes, I know that people kill, not guns, blah blah blah. If violence is like a car and a violent person is the driver, I don’t want him with an assault rifle, which is like a set of full new tires. While we address the systemic nature of violence in American culture and mental health issues, I’d prefer that the car of violence to have flat or at least bald tires driven by the violent person.
From a religious perspective, the Islamic shari’ah (path towards faithfulness) holds as its number objective the preservation of life. All other objectives such as the preservation of religion, preservation of intellect, preservation of wealth and preservation of posterity are secondary if one cannot live in safety and security. In fact, there is no preservation of the others without the ability to live. Thus, I believe that it is incumbent upon me according to the shari’ah to try to thwart the usage of or limit the accessibility to weapons that have the capacity of inflicting mass casualties. This principle just doesn’t apply to ending the use of White Phosphorous in Gaza or drone strikes that kill children in Afghanistan and Pakistan; this principle also applies to the easily availability for troubled people to obtain assault weapons, which kill innocent people be they in the Southside of Chicago, the Westside of Detroit or in Newtown.
I’m for bringing back the ban on assault weapons in America. I hope that you are as well.
Today’s khutbah was given at Masjid As-Salam in Detroit, Michigan.
Speech given today at Al-Ikhlas Training Academy in Detroit.
Prophet Muhammad (prayers and peace be upon him and his family) was extremely clear on Islam’s position against racism and tribalism. The more that I study his life, the more examples that I see of when he swiftly corrected his companions and contemporaries when they committed actions and/or speech with racist implications.
عَنْ أَنَسِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ ، قَالَ : كَانَ لِرَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَ آلِهِ وَ سَلَّمَ مَوْلَيَانِ حَبَشِيٌّ وَقِبْطِيٌّ ، فَاسْتَبَّا يَوْمًا ، فَقَالَ أَحَدُهُمَا : يَا حَبَشِيُّ ، وَ قَالَ الآخَرُ : يَا قِبْطِيُّ ، فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَ آلِهِ وَ سَلَّمَ : ” لا تَقُولُوا هَكَذَا ، إِنَّمَا أَنْتُمَا رَجُلانِ مِنْ آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ وَسَلَّمَ
One such story above narrated in a hadeeth hasan in Mu’jam As-Sagheer by At-Tabarani states that a man called two (ex)slaves who were Ethiopian and Coptic saying, “Oh Ethiopian…Oh Coptic.” Prophet Muhammad replied, “Do not say so.” Then he spoke to the Ethiopian and Coptic men saying, “You two men are but from the People of Muhammad!”
How beautiful that he who was from the most respected tribe of the Arabs and was the political leader in Al-Madinah made such a statement on behalf of two non-Arab men, who were (ex)slaves.
No doubt that there is racism shown against darker skinned people in the segments of the Arab world. Moreover, some Arab countries are dominated by tribal patronage in which Arabs of lesser tribes have limited social mobility, not to mention South Asian migrant workers who are exploited in the Gulf States. However, what Bougie Black Girl’s blog puts forward are some sweeping generalizations and over simplifications as well as ignoring the unfortunate tendencies of tribalism and racism that exist in one form or another in all societies from America to Africa to Asian.
The Arab world is far from monolithic to begin with, and being Arab as an identity has nothing to do with skin color. Pre-dating modern times, the social revolution in the Arabian Peninsula led by Prophet Muhammad ibn Abdillah (prayers & peace be upon him and his family) addressed the disease of Arab tribal superiority and honored Black people. It’s narrated that Prophet Muhammad stated, “Whoever speaks Arabic is an Arab,” and in fact there were dark skinned Arabs such as his adopted son Zayd bin Harithah, who was a “Black Arab” leader among the Muslims. Prophet Muhammad referred to a Black woman who helped raised him named Umm Ayman as “My mother,” he appointed Bilal the Ethiopian as the treasurer of the Muslim nation and he arranged several inter-racial marriages between Black men and lighter skinned Arab women. More of this is explained by Al-Jahiz’s work “Glory of the Blacks Over the Whites.”
Broad generalizations about any group of people are invalid according to the rules of logic. To paint the entire Arab world as being completely racist against Blacks is no more valid than saying that Sub-Saharan Africa has a whole is concretized by tribalism and illiteracy. It is somewhat disturbing to read a Blackamerican put forth such a notion about Arabs in general given how many White folks have done the same with Blacks. Furthermore, as Africa is a land of many languages and cultures that are not hegemonic, the Arab world is not either. To compare human trafficking that continues against the law in Mauritania to the plight of Palestinians, who don’t own slaves and barely can scratch out a living under illegal occupation, as Bougie Black Girl asserts in her piece is frankly irresponsible. Human trafficking continues to go on in the good ole’ U.S.A. as well, but the American society as a whole does not sanction this.
Speaking out against oppression of Palestinians should be done because it is the moral thing to do. Injustice against one group should not be turned a blind eye to just because others with a relationship to that group have committed some injustices. This, however, requires the spiritual quality of empathy and an accurate moral compass. Moreover given the activism that Blackamericans undertook in aiding Black South Africans under the Apartheid system, it is hypocritical to be indifferent about what Israel has been committing to Arabs (Christians and Muslims, most White skinned and some Black skinned) when seeing similar circumstances as was in South Africa.
It is true that Arabs should take more active steps in speaking out against racism and tribalism among themselves as Arab-American activists like Khaled Beydoun do. It is also true that in order to address the worldwide disease of racism and to build coalitions to combat it, we cannot paint people with broad-brushes despite the pain that we feel from particular injustices.