By Margari Hill
To Muslim Organizations and Civil Liberties organizations
We await the grand jury decision on whether Darren Wilson, the police officer who fired on and killed unarmed Michael Brown, will be indicted on criminal charges. Our Noble Prophet ﷺ said, “By Allah, if you have killed one man, it is as if you have killed all the people” (Sunan Sa’id ibn Mansur 2776). While Michael Brown’s death is a deep tragedy in and of itself, the militarized response to the protests it sparked reflects racial disparities and long-standing injustices in our society. As Muslims, we should draw upon our strong tradition of standing with the most marginalized members of society. Allah tells us in the Qur’an:
O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah , even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted (Sahih International 4:135)
Mass incarceration, police brutality, and the frequency of extrajudicial killings of Black Americans in the United States, including that of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah and Amadou Diallo (One every 28 hours), are reflections of the structural racism in our society. The activation of the National Guard in Missouri this week is a stark reminder of the militarized response to non-violent protests. Our duty as Muslims is to stand with the victims of oppression for justice. On the authority of Abu Sa’eed al-Khudree (ra), who said: “I heard the Messenger of Allah ﷺ say, “Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith” (Muslim). We call on our brothers and sisters to stand, speak, and act.
We ask that Muslim organizations be part of the solution by taking proactive steps in responding to a growing crisis. As part of our mission to challenge racism, we invite you to address the grand jury decision and to prepare our communities to create a safe space for conversation and develop strategies to address inequity in our society. Regardless of the decision, the realities of structural racism affect the lives of Muslims and people of color nationwide. There are 75 Planned Actions for Darren Wilson Grand Jury Decision, which you can join and support. In addition, we offer the suggestions below, and we invite you to share your ideas as well:
This is not an exhaustive list, but we hope they prepare us for meaningful action. We urge all Muslims to engage in this situation in a way that can bring about sustained change.
If you have questions, comments, ideas, or suggestions, please contact one of us. As part of our commitment to fighting racism within the Muslim community and standing for justice, we must take action.1
Jazak Allah kheir,
Margari Hill, Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative Co-Founder and Programming Director
1 Adapted heavily from Rev. Dr. Keith Bolton and Rev. Deborah Blood Co-Chairs of the Sacred Conversations on Race Ministry Facebook Post retrieved November 19, 2014; Jazak Allah kheir to Kameelah Mu’min Rashad and Laura Poyneer for the suggestions and edits.
And do not insult one another and do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames. Wretched is the name of disobedience after [one’s] faith. Qur’an 49:11