The Racist Muslim Ummah? How can 1,000 be greater than 100,000 or 1,000,000?

More than one thousand Muslims have died in the Gaza strip. Muslim scholars, Muslim world leaders, Muslim activists, Muslim bloggers (including myself), Muslim governments and the rest of the entire Muslim ummah from Indonesia to Pakistan to Europe to America to around the entire world have been condemning the Israeli attacks. We have mobilized protests and began fund raising efforts for humanitarian aid. We have raised more than a million dollars for relief efforts in Palestine.  We have sent out thousands of emails. Our Facebook, MySpace or whatever social networking site you use is full of Pro-Palestinian messages.  We have or are in the process of organizing events to support the Palestinian cause.

Everything that we have done and that we are doing is good.  I support it 100%.  My issue is that why have we failed to recognize the suffering and plight of our brothers and sisters in Africa?  When Afghanistan is attacked, we have fundraisers and raise millions of dollars for them.  When Iraq is attacked we hit the streets in the thousands protesting the invasion.  When Palestine is bombed, we protest the occupation and raise millions of dollars.  When the earthquake hit Pakistan we raised millions of dollars for relief efforts. What about Africa?  I know many organizations like Islamic Relief have programs in Africa, but ask them how much they have raised for Palestine in this month of January 2009 and compare it to the money raised for Africa in the entire year of 2008.  Most likely the amount raised for Palestine will be greater than that raised for Africa (the entire continent).

Even the Muslim leaders and governments in the Muslim world fail to do anything or even recognize the situation in many African countries.  When have you heard any of Muslim country in the Middle East or Asia speak out against the atrocities, the poverty, the hunger, the malaria, etc. in Africa that is killing not hundreds, not thousands, but millions of Muslims.  In fact millions of children are being killed every year.  Why are we not raising millions for them?  Why don’t we send airplanes of food, water and shelter for them?  Why aren’t we purchasing nets to prevent the spread of malaria?  Why aren’t we funding the constructions of wells in Africa?

We all know the ayat in the Qur’an regarding brotherhood and sisterhood.  We all know the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) on wanting for your brother/sister what you want for yourself.  So why don’t we live up to it and stop hiding from it.

May Allah (swt) remove racism from our hearts and replace it for love of all Muslims no matter their ethnicity, color, country, etc.  Ameen!


Whatever we have donated for Gaza we should donate the same amount for Africa and inshaAllah it we only increase our real profits for the hereafter.

33 Replies to “The Racist Muslim Ummah? How can 1,000 be greater than 100,000 or 1,000,000?”

  1. Powerful post, and spot on. I ask you and anyone reading this, which Muslim mosque has gone and done fundraising, protesting, etc for Darfur? For the Ogaden? Hmm? The vast majority of the people I know don’t even know what the Ogaden is! They’ve never even heard of it! I think you raise a very valid point, Amir, and I’m very glad you’ve done so. Something needs to change, and fast.

  2. This is something I’d really like to see discussed more. It’s been raised on a minnesota muslim email list, but instead of any discussion, the person got beaten down for daring to question.

    I am hoping that inshaAllah after this current massive crisis is solved, this can be hashed through.

  3. @genieyclo – I don’t trust you man. Look at how you spell your name 😉 hahaha

    @aamer khan – Alhamdulillah bro. ;-D We need to hang out inshaAllah.

  4. Everyone is up when something hits palestinians, but what bout KAshmiries who have been dying for decades?

  5. It’s true…and it’s been raised before. But I think the reason Mid East is given so much attention is because the whole area could blow up overnight.

    This Gaza thing could involve (and already kinda has) Lebanon and Syria and then the big guys in Iran. And then according to one Israeli minister, the Arab countries told Israel to attack Hamas, and Saudi is standing by because they don’t wanna see Iran’s Shia power rise. Should Iran get involve, while then America is going to wage war too, no mistake about that. Do the math, and then you have about 8 countries involved, a potential nuclear war too. In other words, this is a conflict that could lead to 100’s of other conflicts.

    Africa is ignored because, frankly, we don’t have too many people in touch with Africa living in North America. It’s mainly Desis and Arabs, and Black Americans who have a history in America, but little to none in Africa. We also have Somalis coming now too, but if you know anything about them, then you know they are closer to Arabs than to Africans…and aren’t considered “real black”. Obviously, Somalia is still a concern, but point being, that these issues push Africa out of the picture– although it has one of the greatest traditions of Islamic scholarship.

    Just as much as we ignore Africa in it’s suffering, we also ignore Malaysia and Indonesia as a hope for the Ummah…they have more potential then most Muslim countries since they are in touch with the deen and yet “modern.”

  6. MR – in brief, without going into too much dialog [which we can certainly do if the conversation continues] is because Africa does not occupy the imagination of both many if not the majority of Muslims as well as the media. For a variety of reasons [and not all of them are about oil, though that does factor in and play a role], the Muslim Imagination is consumed with mostly Arab issues, with Afghanistan coming in somewhere around 2nd place, perhaps Pakistan 3rd, and from time to time, Chechnya, 4th. The Media is also obsessed with Arabs, despite them occupying one of the lower rungs of overall Muslim population. So we must ask ourselves the question, “Why are we so obsessed with the Arabs? Why is the media so obsessed with the Arabs?” Why are Muslims mostly blind/complacent to injustices that are right here in their own backyards in America?”. If we see abject poverty here in America but we don’t speak on it, we don’t invest any of our economic and human capital to fight against it, how can we really be enjoining the good and forbidding the evil? Instead, American Muslim, and I would even dare to say Global Muslim imaginations hover over the Middle East somewhere between an imagined history, an imagined legacy, and an imagined future.

    And to further the potential discussion, why are we not speaking out against ourselves? Muslims have become woefully absent in both their knowledge of their/our own histories and how we’re paying the prices for them today. Especially in the Middle East, where, at the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, which was helped along with the splitting fiefdoms of the various Arab sultanates [see the Gulf Area, Saudi, etc.], who wanted their own autonomy at the price of weakening the Ummah. These actions, these challenges, these hardships have not been born out of a vacuum but instead out of history. Both his-story and ours.

    And God knows best,

  7. a few problems with your analysis.

    1. your comparing deaths from military conflict to deaths from all causes. It doesn’t help your argument.

    2. “the holy land” factor.

    3.triage, usually your going to be trying to fix your neighborhood before trying to fix other places.

    4. A better question is about why no one cares about the suffering of the people in central asia(all the former soviet republics) or places in the balkans were there have been forced conversions by the govt of muslims to orthodox Christianity.

    5. awareness. Most people are familiar with Palestine and its actors but would be hard pressed to name all the actors in some intra and inter muslim conflicts in Africa. (dafur for example)

  8. @ Pepe. You are right, these are some reasons why people pay more attention to Falasteen. But they shouldn’t.

    a few problems with your analysis.
    1. your comparing deaths from military conflict to deaths from all causes. It doesn’t help your argument.
    2. “the holy land” factor.
    3.triage, usually your going to be trying to fix your neighborhood before trying to fix other places.
    4. A better question is about why no one cares about the suffering of the people in central asia(all the former soviet republics) or places in the balkans were there have been forced conversions by the govt of muslims to orthodox Christianity.
    5. awareness. Most people are familiar with Palestine and its actors but would be hard pressed to name all the actors in some intra and inter muslim conflicts in Africa. (dafur for example)

    1-Many deaths in Africa are caused by war. Darfur is a recent example.

    2-The blood of a Muslim in holier than any land, as Rasulullah (saw) mentioned in his final Khutbah.

    3-Muslims in America don’t live in Palestine, and it is relatively as far as Africa.

    4-Well, that is a good question, maybe not a “better” one.

    5-This is probably the worst problem, which is perpetuated by the four above it.

    I know you are not a proponent of the points you mentioned, just thought I would try to point out some “solutions” to them.

  9. Interesting post. I don’t know if I agree that racism is generally behind this – but I do agree that raising money for other causes is important.

    Essentially, I think its due to the reactionary nature of the ummah and the few limited institutions we have to deal with such issues.

    I addressed the need for proper institution building in a khutbah I gave at a local masjid today. It was interesting because an African brother was very upset that I didnt specifically mention Darfur in my khutbah, and asked why I mentioned Iraq and Palestine – only Arab people, implying that I was racist. I remember actually thinking about this while preparing for the khutbah – that I didnt want this impression to be given. However, my point during the khutbah was directly aimed at showing the prevalance of the American government in supporting such attrocities.

    I do feel we need many more institutions that are funded well, supported, have full time staff, etc. to deal with such issues. However, I am not completely convinced that these institutions can be successful if the people behind them aren’t grounded in proper Islamic principles. In other words – I think we have a phenomenon of reactionary activism, but no planning on a strategic, long-term level. We don’t invest in education, we don’t invest in sponsoring our youth to study fields like nonprofit mgt, etc so they can dedicate their careers to such causes.

    Also, while there is a place for international fundraising and its important that it is done – you RARELY see any fundraising going on for local social justice causes. One of my shaykhs said that while its important to raise money for general Muslim causes, the first thing we will be asked about on the Day of Judgement is what did we do for the people in where we live. People are quick to send their money overseas, even in things like Eid-ul-Adha udhiya, etc. but completely ignore the plight of those Muslims that live next door to them.

    Anyway, just some things to think about.

  10. I was thinking about the same thing the whole week, truthfully this is the first time I’ve gotten involved publicly about the crisis in Gaza. It all started when back to school, one of my Profs who works for amnesty International made us read this article he wrote for ”le devoir”, about “how the situation in Gaza is monopolizing the whole media” and “what about the thousands of people that are dying in other parts of the world (i.e. Somalia, Congo…)”. Although, I did disagree with some of his views he did have a point. But now I fell like such a hypocrite, where was I during Darfur and Somalia. I even had the chance to speak once to a Congolese guy who went trough atrocities back home. Subhanallah , what he went trough was… , I did shed a few tears for him and then no second though. I don’t want Palestine to be the cause of the month.

  11. perhaps the ‘style’ of the atrocities committed have something to say about our relative response to those situations. Afterall, we are NOT seeing an arrogant-self-righteous-militarily and technologically advanced ‘foreign’ occupying force ((oh right, JEWS–> New York, Russians, etc.. have a “historic” right to the conflicted area, yeah yeah…oy vhat hovrror!)) terrorizing a native populace in Africa with such dramatic affect. I suppose that having native violence is not justifiable either but certainly it does not begin to compare with the unbalanced warfare (“proportioned approach, eh- poor Jews?) that is taking place there while the aggressors will have us all believe that they are the victims! … WTF???!!!

    There is decay and then there is gore. Lets face it man, we’d rather see horror images of something dieing a violent death, something with trauma, rather then say, watching a child die gradually. Both are wrong, but one is boring to our sentiments to even care or to even get an arousal. Harsh and definately cynical comparisons, but I definately do not believe it has anything to do with race in such matters. Simply, “their” issues are not “sexy” enough 4 us, why else has the WORLD-not just the muslims (for how many years now?), looked the other way? Maybe, this will happen eventually with Filistine too? Afterall, is it really an “ISSUE” if there is no audience?

    I remember way back when fundraising for Chechnya with Muslims and non-Muslims and what immediately caught me was how the images of gore drew people so passionately. We had setup a dinner fundraiser and specifically chose to show what really transpired there while people were actually eating, drinking; to feel the sick, to feel the vileness, to feel the disgust-specifically to avoid the sortof Almaghribi- Zaytuni approach. We have somewhere down the line lost that for Africa. We cannot throw up in this case because we’re are not watching and I think this has something to do with this “save the children” approach that I believe we may be guilty of.

    IzZRaEl will never get a their second holocaust and this is their way of announcing it to the world people. Afterall, they are chosen…by Good ol’ U.S of A.

  12. ameer

    My point is that its not racism.

    But i guess one good thing that can come from it, is that people might look at themselves in the mirror and think about their intentions when they are protesting. (inshallah) 🙂

  13. AA- Amir,

    While I agree with the premise of your post, I wouldn’t go so far as to call it outright racism. That’s a very loaded accusation.

    Some of the comments above have provided solid reasons for the disproportionate attention given to Gaza – media coverage, Palestine being the home of the 3rd holiest masjid in Islam, greater number of Arabs active in American Muslim communities as opposed to Africans, etc.

    Racism is definitely a serious problem in our communities. But are you sure that is the reason why the problems in Somalia, Darfur, Congo, and so on are not receiving the attention they should?

  14. I think there is a grain of truth in what you are saying in the post. I cannot speak for most but fellow Pakistanis have often reacted to the conflicts in Iraq and Palestine vehemently, and the deaths in Africa go unnoticed.

    As somebody pointed out there is a difference between military and non-military death toll, furthermore, non-military death toll often means monetary support, and in military conflicts at times, at least from the point of view of the common people, America bashing and Jew bashing, is enough. These cases become salient in popular imagination because the response is easy – showing anger at the ‘enemy forces’.

    Also, it is sad to see that so much of Muslim emotion depends on what the News channels are covering. The medium is soo much the message. From my experience mainstream news channels give less important to Africa, a kind of global racism which means less awareness.

  15. Sneak some Jews into any aid that is sent there.

    Once that happens and you guys find out there are Jews running around left and right, you’ll be on it like flies on road kill. 😉

  16. @Naeem – Darfur is all over the media and news. Somalia is all over the news and media (as of up to yesterday). The Arab news don’t cover as much as the non-Arab news covers in Africa. I’m sure you can see it while living in Saudi.

  17. What often happens is that Iraq and Afghanistan are things that are covered in the media perhaps more than anything else. The events in Gaza are covered so much more than anything going on in Africa that our minds automatically forgets the suffering of the millions of people in Africa. I am not saying it is right, that’s just the way it is.

    Our minds have become so numb to the suffering of people in Africa and other places in the world, that we don’t even realize what is going on. In the Congo over 45,000 people are killed every month, that’s 1,500 everyday, that’s 1 EVERY MINUTE. It is sad to see that something so violent and so terrible goes on and yet nothing is being done to stop it.

    Yes I agree that we need to focus more attention on the other areas of the world that are also in ruins and we need to help the people that need to be helped. We should be organizing protests and fundraisers for that as well. It is just that people are more easily able to relate to what’s going on in the Arab world / Asia and are so fixed on only helping that part of the world that we often forget that there is a rest of the world.

    – Muslim in America

  18. I think the point that people here have not gotten is that we cannot simply blame the Media for the reasons why we place our emphases on certain topics and on certain people. But rather, we are the culpable ones. There are very concrete psycho-historical reasons why Muslims prefer to place this emphasis on some peoples and not on others. To fall victim to this ideology is not only simply untrue but dereliction of duty as to what’s really behind this. Everything else is either lip service or self-made brainwashing.

  19. I agree and I think its off putting to lots of people. I think the next step though is to pick a cause, any cause and do something consistently for people in need. I think people should wed themselves to causes like they do spouses, you cant marry everyone, likewise you can’t do much for every cause. If everyone fixed one thing, the planet could be in better shape by tuesday.

  20. SubhanAllah we were just having this discussion at our masjid. I concluded that there are 2 reasons why I think people focus on the Palestine issue more than issues like those in Africa. 1) It is dealing with Arabs, and 2) It is dealing with Jews.

    It needs to be an issue because it deals with Muslims and Oppressors and I can’t make a blanket statement that everyone is emphasizing it because of the former intention, but we see masajid doing Qunoot an-Nazilah for Ghazza when they did not do so for other regions of the world going through hardships, military or otherwise.


  21. AA- MR,

    My contention is not that the media is the sole (or even primary) reason for our collective negligence of our African brothers. I’m simply stating we are an emotional people easily egged-on by whatever is thrown in front of our faces and thus the heavy media coverage is one of the many reasons we have been drawn to Gaza.

    Iboo made another valid point that the ‘Yahud’ make a very convenient villain in the Muslim community.

    If racism in the Muslim community is the prime motivator for all the attention given to Gaza and the scant attention to Africa, what explains our silence on the plight of Chinese Muslims or the oppression of Muslims in Thailand or the suffering of Sri Lankans as their civil war rages on?

    “The Arab news don’t cover as much as the non-Arab news covers in Africa.”

    Not true based on my limited experience. Al-Jazeera English does so many more stories covering the ‘South’ (Africa, South America, Southeast Asia) than western media outlets.

    Bro, if you’re trying to prove that Arabs (especially the Gulf variety) are racists, I’ll be first in line to admit that. I’ve been on the receiving end of such abhorrent behavior many times here in Saudi. Additionally, many Indo-Pakistanis are similarly racist.

    However, to extrapolate that reality into every socio-political analysis forces us into a corner where we become blind to other equally tenable explanations.

  22. It is really sickening that people only care about innocents dying when it happens to their own group, religious or otherwise. Where is your outrage at the fact that 40,000 people around the world die of starvation every day? Why do you only care when it is “your brothers and sisters?”

    In my view, we are ALL brothers and sisters. Put aside your divisive religious perspective for a moment, and see this truth.

  23. I think we Black africa muslim have just forgot ourselves, I do not c any point in depending on other nation within islam to solves african problems, it its up to us to start sorting our selves out by taking our own initiatives, it is true that some of our fore father has sold our deen in exchange for food pasel but not this 21st century muslims.

    These kind of racisim has been going on for decades and it is about time our leaders particularly in back desadvantage communitity stop depends on other peple to solve their problems and sustain them.

    We might not be readly to do that but wa ALLAHI the next generation of muslim ” our children ” will be able to rise back the flag of islam in africa and restore african pride wich has been lost along the way because of the bluring and racisim that happened in the name of islam.

  24. Christians and Jews are feeding black Muslims in Africa. One Musli man was crying because he was fed by Jews and was taught to hate them all of his life. I use to send money to Darfur but found out how they were taught to hate non-muslims. How unreaL,, wE USED TO SEND OUR SCHOOL money to feed the children of Darfur only to find out the Arab Muslims stole it and called the black children gorillas and raped them and cut off the breast of black mothers who were not able to feed babies. The Arab said it was Allah’s will that black Muslims usffer as Allah created Blacks to be slaves to white fols and then die and go to hell fire. Young black escaped and are telling Americans about it and it is like the KKK and NAZI felt about Blacks.

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