بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ
Call for Justice: Joint Letter on American Muslim Solidarity Against Police Brutality
January 26, 2015
Assalaamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh
We are contacting you on behalf of the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC)(1) and Muslims for Ferguson(2) to ask for your solidarity in the struggle and call for justice concerning the tragic and unnecessary police and federal law enforcement killings of Black men, women, and children in the United States.
From the time of our Noble Prophet ﷺ, anti-Black and anti-African racism has plagued Muslim societies and communities. The first martyr in the early days of Islam was Sumayyah (RA), who had black skin and was a victim of violence at the hands of the governing authorities of Makkah. Other companions with black skin, such as Ammar bin Yassir (RA) and Bilal (RA), were also victims of ridicule and torture by the same authorities. State violence against marginalized communities is not a new development. History has proven time and again that Muslims are not immune to these forms of oppression.
Indeed, these oppressive behaviors and practices go against the messages that are at the heart of our Holy Qur’an and Prophetic traditions.
In his final sermon, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ relayed:
All humankind 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 black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a sister/brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one sisterhood/brotherhood.
Today, in the United States, anti-Black racism partly manifests in the form of systematic injustices such as police brutality, misconduct in shootings by law enforcement and vigilantes, and a lack of recourse in our courts of law.(3)
In the last few months, our nation has witnessed massive demonstrations regarding these issues. (4) While the United States has a centuries-long history of systemic racism,(5) the recent failures of multiple grand juries to indict officers who killed individuals of color like Michael Brown,(6) John Crawford II,(7) and Eric Garner,(8) among others, have especially invoked strong emotions.
The outpouring of anger, outrage, fear, sadness, and grief that has swept across our nation cannot be ignored. We ask to you recognize that our nation is going through tumultuous times, and that we as Muslims should always remember the Prophetic example and our adab, which is rooted in empathy. We must first and foremost acknowledge the grievances of our brothers and sisters who are most affected by these issues. Let us exercise compassion and mercy in our discourse on these issues. Let us increase trust and love between hearts and minds so that we may create an environment full of warmth and mercy regardless of our individual opinions.
Given that race is inextricably tied in with current events, we as Muslims unequivocally affirm that Islam is egalitarian, and that the Qur’an and Sunnah clearly condemn racism not just as an individual act, but also as a structural force that marginalizes people.
As imams, activists, and community leaders, we are figures of authority in our respective communities. Therefore, we are especially positioned to address these important topics and initiate dialogue about an issue that is often inadequately addressed. Let us take this opportunity to highlight our ethical responsibilities as Muslims to challenge stereotypes and tribalism.
State violence against Black Americans does not bypass American Muslim communities. The killings of Black American Muslim men Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah(9) and Amadou Diallo(10) weigh heavy on our hearts and minds. Let us join together as one in condemning acts of violence by state and federal law enforcement against unarmed civilians.
We have observed that while some Muslims in our communities decry the use of drones and armed warfare against civilians abroad, many still repeat language that blames Black individuals – men and women – for the violence that police commit against them here at home.
Our faith mandates that American Muslims advocate for justice in the killings of all innocent civilians irrespective of whether it is the popular stance to take. Let us align ourselves with the countless others who are demanding justice by declaring that this stops today.
Islam encourages a tradition of standing with marginalized members of society. Today, let us stand with those who state that Black Lives Matter. Let us practice what we preach with regards to community unity and participation. Let us have honest conversations, challenge our nafs, and examine where we may improve our adab and akhlaq when it comes to racist tendencies.
As Malcolm X noted in his Letter from Mecca after completing Hajj,
“America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem.”
(11) His life left a profound mark on American society and continues to inspire Muslims around the world. This year marks the 50th year that has passed after his tragic death. Muslims of all backgrounds note the role his words have had in calling them to Islam and/or strengthening their imaan.
Let us honor this man and the many other Muslim men and women that have come before him in the fight for justice. Let us honor our Prophet ﷺ in all the good that he ﷺ has done, by standing up for marginalized populations in a way that emulates his shining example of courage and dignity.
We humbly request that you endorse and share this letter so that we are better able to hold fast to the message of unity and brotherhood in Islam.
On the authority of Abu Saeed al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him), Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said:
“Whoever of you sees a wrong must then change it with his hand. If he is not able to do so, then [he must change it] with his tongue. And if he is not able to do so, then [he must change it] with his heart. And that is the slightest [effect of] faith.”
(Recorded in Muslim)
Let us work together to right the wrongs that have been done in recent history, and continue to be done today against Black individuals in America.
Please do not hesitate to contact MuslimARC and/or Muslims for Ferguson if you have any questions about this letter. We are also more than happy to provide you with resources on these topics.(12) We encourage you to begin these conversations in your communities by signing this letter, issuing statements, delivering khutbahs, and speaking on these subjects.
Muslims For Ferguson
Letter updated 1/29/15
(1) Founded in early 2014, the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC) incorporates wisdom from the Islamic sciences, grassroots activism, human rights law, the arts, and instructional design, to offer collaborative work that is fresh, unique, and can be put to use on the ground challenging racism in American Muslim communities.
(2) Muslims For Ferguson are a community of Muslims Americans committed to seeking justice for Michael Brown and supporting relevant important campaigns in Ferguson.
(3) See, for example, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement “Report on the Extrajudicial Killing of 120 Black People” at https://mxgm.org/report-on-the-extrajudicial-killings-of-120-black-people/.
Also see “Fourteen Examples of Racism in Criminal Justice System” at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-quigley/fourteen-examples-of-raci_b_658947.html.
(4) See, for example, “‘We Will Have Justice’: Tens of Thousands March in Day of Resistance” at http://www.commondreams.org/news/2014/12/13/we-will-have-justice-tens-thousands-march-day-resistance.
(5) See “History of Racism and Immigration Time Line: Key Events in the Struggle for Racial Equality in the United States” at http://www.racialequitytools.org/resourcefiles/racismimmigration-timeline.pdf.
(6) See “The Killing of Michael Brown: Missouri Police Shooting of Unarmed Black Teen Sparks Days of Protests” at http://www.democracynow.org/2014/8/12/the_killing_of_michael_brown_missouri.
(7) See “John Crawford Shooting: Ohio Man Shot Dead By Police While Holding Toy Rifle In Walmart” at http://www.ibtimes.com/john-crawford-shooting-ohio-man-shot-dead-police-while-holding-toy-rifle-walmart-1655416 or “The Brief Life And Baffling Death Of John Crawford III” at http://www.buzzfeed.com/mikehayes/the-life-and-death-of-john-crawford#.re0LMG8WA.
(8) See “‘I Can’t Breathe”: NYC March over Chokehold Death of Eric Garner Protests Police Violence Nationwide” at http://www.democracynow.org/2014/8/25/i_can_t_breathe_nyc_march.
(9) See “YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF IMAM LUQMAN SHOOTING TODAY” at https://dawudwalid.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/year-anniversary-of-imam-luqman-shooting/.
(10) See “How the legacy of Amadou Diallo lives on in New York’s immigrant community” at http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-02-05/how-legacy-amadou-diallo-lives-new-yorks-immigrant-community.
(11) You can read the Letter from Mecca, delivered on April 1964, here: http://www.malcolm-x.org/docs/let_mecca.htm.
(12) You can access our #BlackLivesMatter toolkit for resources and suggestions at www.muslimarc.org/blacklivesmatter/. Follow Muslims Make It Plain to see the toolkit in action, and more, at http://muslimsmakeitplain.com/.
Endorse this letter by completing the Call for Justice Endorsement Form at docs.google.com/forms/d/1ZA8o2fFBA1IFWTSZKqJQZvIop4CCFS-AQXHfujfJ3ts/viewform.
Your name will be added below within 1-2 days.
List of Signatories
- Al-Karim – Albuquerque, NM
- Al-Madina Institute – Maryland
- American Muslim Advisory Council – Tennessee
- CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations) – Washington, D.C.
- CAIR-California – California
- CAIR-Chicago – Chicago, IL
- CAIR-Michigan – Southfield, MI
- Center for New Community – Chicago, IL
- Community Mosque of Winston-Salem – Winston-Salem, NC
- Dawah Core – New York, NY
- DePaul University UMMA (United Muslims Moving Ahead) – Chicago, IL
- El-Tawhid Juma Circle – International
- Felicity Foundation, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, MI
- FloodPlains – Chicago, IL
- Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) – Chicago, IL
- Islamic Alliance for Justice, Cornell University – Ithaca, NY
- MANA (Muslim Alliance in North America) – Lexington, KY
- MASGD (Muslim Alliance for Sexual & Gender Diversity) – California
- MPAC (Muslim Public Affairs Council) – Washington, D.C. & Los Angeles, CA
- MuslimARC (Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative) – USA
- MuslimGirl.net – Washington, D.C.
- Muslim Community Link – Worcester, MA
- Muslim Community Network – New York City, NY
- Muslims For Ferguson – USA
- Muslims For Progressive Values – International
- Muslim Voice For Peace And Justice – Worcester, MA
- Muslim Wellness Foundation – Philadelphia, PA
- Quba Institute – Philadelphia, PA
- Queer Muslims of Boston – Greater Boston Area
- Prophetic Legacy – Madinah, Saudi Arabia
- Safa Center for Research and Education – California
Listed in alphabetical order. Note: endorsing organizations are listed above. Organizations listed below are for identification purposes only.
- Abdul-Alim Mubarak-Rowe, Journalist – Maplewood, NJ
- Abdul-Malik Merchant, Student – Washington, D.C.
- Abdullah bin Hamid Ali – California
- AbdulMalik Easley Bey – Saint Louis, MO
- Abdul Nasir Jangda – Dallas, TX
- Abid Husain – Baltimore, MD
- Abu Noor Abdul-Malik Ryan – Chicago, IL
- Ahmad Abuznaid, Legal/Policy Director, Dream Defenders – Miami, FL
- Ahmed Yousef – Macon, GA
- Al-Sharif Nassef, Activist – Cincinnati, OH & Cairo, Egypt
- Ala Salameh – Chicago, IL
- Alahyo Amira Young, Social Researcher – Lansdowne, PA
- Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, Founding Editor-in-Chief, MuslimGirl.net – Washington, D.C.
- Ammar Ali – Texas
- Annisa Rochadiat, Graduate Student – Detroit, MI
- Arshad Hasan Qureshi, Chairman, Board of Trustees, The Muslim Community Center, Inc. – Silver Spring, MD
- Ashiq Rahiman – Brooklyn, NY
- Asmaa Ahmeti – Kingston, PA
- Awa Sanneh, Student – Gaithersburg, MD
- Ayesha Mohyuddin, Artist – Tullahoma, TN
- Bilal Nasir, PhD Student – Chicago, IL
- Catriena Thomas – St. Louis, MO
- Chaumtoli Huq – New York
- Coniqua Abdul-Malik – New Jersey
- Conor Hatch – Minneapolis, MN
- Cyrus McGoldrick, Youth Director, Youth Coalition of South Florida – Miami, FL
- Damiyr Leonard – Corpus Christi, TX
- Darakshan Raja, Program Manager – Washington, D.C.
- Darlene R. May, Associate Professor of Arabic – Winston-Salem, NC
- Dawud Walid – Detroit, MI
- Debbie De Palma – Illinois
- Drost Kokoye – Knoxville, TN
- Elaine Younes – California
- Eman Aboelnaga – New Jersey
- Eric Dykes – Philadelphia, PA
- Erik Hedemalm – Sweden
- Eyad Alkurabi, The Hampton Institute – Albany, NY
- Fahd Ahmed – Jackson Heights, NY
- Faisal Siddiqi – Chandler, AZ
- Faiza N. Ali – Brooklyn, NY
- Farhaj Hassan, Soldier – Bristol, PA
- Faryal M. Khatri – Indianapolis, IN
- Fatimah Jackson-Best, Lecturer – Barbados
- Gulnaz Saiyed – Chicago, IL
- Hala A. – Doha & San Francisco, CA
- Hasib Noor, Founder, Prophetic Legacy – Madinah, Saudi Arabia
- Dr. Hatem Bazian, Co-Founder, Zaytuna College & American Muslims for Palestine – Berkeley, CA
- Heather Bukhari – Des Plaines, IL
- Hena Zuberi – Washington, D.C.
- Hind Makki – Chicago, IL
- Hussam Ayloush – Los Angeles, CA
- Imrana Soofi, Director, Muslim Community Link – Worcester, MA
- Inaam Avant, Student and Activist – Arlington, TX
- Isadora Moustata – California
- Jamaal Diwan, Imam – Los Angeles, CA
- Jamiah Adams – Washington, D.C.
- Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow – Philadelphia, PA
- Jammelah – Cleveland, OH
- Jerry Hionis, Assistant Professor of Economics – Chester, PA
- Jihad F. Saleh – Washington, D.C.
- Jilan Armstrong – Nevada
- Joe Bradford – Texas
- Johnny Roberts – St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
- Josh Shahryar, Journalist – USA
- Joyce Tesar – Buffalo, NY
- Juan Almanza – Bosie, ID
- Kalia Abiade – Chicago, IL
- Kamal Fizazi – New York, NY
- Kameelah Mu’Min Rashad – Philadelphia, PA
- Kamilah A. Pickett, MPH, JD – Atlanta, GA
- Katharine Kauthar Ahmed, Student – Toronto, Canada
- Kathryn M. Logan – Kingston, NY
- Keren Salim – Winston-Salem, NC
- Keshia Friday – New Jersey
- Khadizah Saavedra – Albuquerque, NM
- Khaled A. Beydoun, Law Professor – Florida
- Khalid Griggs, Imam, Community Mosque of Winston-Salem – Winston-Salem, NC
- Khalis Rashaad, Imam, Ibrahim Islamic Center – Houston, TX
- Khari A. Hubbard – Chicago, IL
- Kia Philpot – Philadelphia, PA
- Lasania Wahid, Student – Chicago, IL
- Linda Sarsour, Co-Founder, Muslims for Ferguson & Civil Rights Activist – Brooklyn, NY
- Imam Mahdi Bray – Washington, D.C.
- Dr. Malik Raheem, Assistant Professor – Fresno, CA
- Marc Manley, Imam/Religious Director – Rancho Cucamonga, CA
- Margari Hill, Programming Director, MuslimARC – Rancho Cucamonga, CA
- Mariam Gomaa, M.D. Candidate, Wake Forest University School of Medicine – North Carolina
- Marissa Diaz – Oakland, CA
- Mary Iqbal, Student – Gaithersburg, MD
- Maryam Amirebrahimi – California
- Maysa Elsheikh – Baltimore, MD
- Maytha Alhassen – Los Angeles, CA
- Mohamed Hussein, Imam – Manassas, VA
- Mohammad Ali Naquvi – Princeton, NJ
- Mohammed Tayssir Safi, Chaplain – Ann Arbor, MI
- Monica Ennaciri, Homemaker – Maryland
- Moutasem Atiya, President, Al-Madina Institute – Maryland
- Muhammad Bello Umar, Senior State Counsel – Kaduna, Nigeria
- Muhammed Malik, Muslims For Ferguson – Miami, FL
- Munir ul-Haq Raza, Chairman & Managing Director at RYFC – Toronto, Canada
- Munirah Quadri – Jackson Heights, NY
- Muslema Purmul, Scholar in Residence, Safa Center – California
- Mustafa Abdullah, Co-Founder, Muslims For Ferguson – St. Louis, MO
- Namira Islam, Executive Director, MuslimARC – Flint, MI
- Nashiha Alam, SJP Loyola – Chicago, IL
- Ola Mohamed – New York, NY
- Omar Suleiman, Resident Scholar – Dallas, TX
- Patrick Cates – Dearborn, MI
- Philip Early – Painted Post, NY
- Quaiser Abdullah – Philadelphia, PA
- R. David Coolidge, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Public Service, New York Univ. – New York, NY
- Raadia K., Student – Maryland
- Ramah Kudaimi – Arlington, VA
- Rami Nashashibi, Executive Director, IMAN – Chicago, IL
- Ramon Mejia, Social Studies Teacher – Dallas, TX
- Riham Osman, Communications Coordinator, MPAC – Washington, D.C.
- Rimsha Ganatra, Student – Northwestern University
- Ruqayya Toorawa, Student – Stanford, CA
- Saba Bazzi – Michigan
- Sabina Khan-Ibarra – Fremont, CA
- Sabiha Mohyuddin – Knoxville, TN
- Sabina Mohyuddin, Board Member, American Muslim Advisory Council – Tullahoma, TN
- Imam Dr. Salahuddin M. Muhammadd – Raleigh, NC
- Samana Siddiqui – Chicago, IL
- Sana M. Uddin – New York, NY
- Sarah Khan, Student – Dayton, OH
- Shabana Mir, Assistant Professor, American Islamic College – Chicago, IL
- Shabana Shaheen, Student – Richmond, VA
- Shahid Buttar, Executive Director, Bill of Rights Defense Committee – Washington D.C.
- Shireen Hamza – New Jersey
- Sonia I. Manriquez – Detroit, MI
- Stephen Jamal Leeper, Educator – SF Bay Area, CA
- Sufyan Sohel, Deputy Director, CAIR-Chicago – Chicago, IL
- Suhad Khatib – St. Louis, MO
- Sumbel Aurangzeb – Dallas, TX
- Syed Kazmi – Long Island, NY
- Taher Herzallah – California
- Taheerah Hendricks – Spring, TX
- Tanzila “Taz” Ahmed, Artist & Activist – Los Angeles, CA
- Tareq Abdul Azeem, Software QA Engineer – Campbell, CA
- Tasnim Elboute, Student – New Haven, CT
- Tesay Yusuf – Stanford University
- Umar Hakim, Consultant – Compton, CA
- Waheedah Muhammad, Director of Operations, Muslim Alliance in North America – Lexington, KY
- Wardeh C. – Detroit, MI
- Yao Lawrence Cunningham – New York
- Yasmin Ahmed, Co-Coordinator, Muslim Alliance for Sexual & Gender Diversity (MASGD) – California
- Yasmina L. – Washington, D.C.
- Youssef El Ashmawi –Las Cruces, NM
- Zahra Billoo – Santa Clara, CA
- Zainab Chaudry, Maryland Outreach Manager, CAIR; Board Member, Interfaith Action for Human Rights – Elkridge, MD
- Zakee Yah – Mauritius
- Zareena Grewal, Associate Professor – New Haven, CT
- Zeena Aljawad – Southern California