Sunday, July 14, 2013

Fasting and Trayvon Martin

Yesterday George Zimmerman was found not-guilty for the murder of Trayvon Martin.
Regardless of the outcome of the case, do you think what happened to Trayvon would've happened if he weren't black?

Here's something to think about:

Even the young black actor is shocked and stunned (5:42) by the results of this experiment.  Those people did not think they were being racist.  They did not believe they would've behaved differently were the thief not a young black man.  But the experiment shows otherwise, to a shocking degree.

Sayyid Khumayni about the month of Ramadan said,

نكرديد يا معرفت شما زيادتر نشد، بدانيد در ضيافة اللّه درست وارد نشديد و حق ضيافت را به جا نياورديد...

“In this noble month, in which you have been invited to the divine banquet, if you do not gain insight (ma’rifah) about God the Almighty nor insight into yourself, it means that you have not properly participated in the feast of Allāh and failed to observe the etiquette of the feast..."
            Jihād-e-Akbar, pg. 45.

This month is a special opportunity to transform our characters.  One part of this could be the admission of our prejudices rather than denying them - and the realization/acknowledgement of privileges afforded to us or denied because of our color, gender, income, nationality, etc.  Yes, many of us are minorities and minorities within minorities.  The fact that we ourselves face prejudice and oppression, however, does not make us immune from prejudice and committing oppression ourselves.  It is only by opening our eyes to our own prejudices that we can begin to remove them and stop oppressing others.  Self-deception is no excuse to continue a moment longer in committing a wrong or allowing wrong to be done.  Muslims are not less racist or less ridden with numerous other prejudices merely by being born to Islam or choosing it as a faith.  Removing prejudice is a personal jihad - it won't just happen because you believe in God and try to be a nice person.

So perhaps this month we could "fast" from our prejudices  - struggle to actively remove them, refrain from our quick judgments of others, become more aware of our false assumptions, free ourselves from seeing the world in stereotypes, becoming aware of unjust privileges we receive, aware of our fears rooted in prejudice (like the lady gripping her purse tighter when a black man gets on the elevator with her), and transforming the way we see the world and the way we act in it.

I am not an expert on this topic nor am I free of prejudice, nor am I probably the best person to speak on this topic, but for some reason I was assigned this topic at a Revert Muslim Association conference several years ago.  I am sure the talk is fault-ridden, but hopefully it can give a decent overview of the Islamic concept of prejudice/'Asabiyyah in spite of that:

May God grant us Mercy - not only Mercy for ourselves on the Day of Judgment, but may He make our own hearts Merciful to all of humanity, all of life, all of God's Creation.  

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