Stand Firmly for Justice

By A. Helwa

Black lives matter.  Yes, and for everyone who responds, “All lives matter,” please understand that statement is obvious and an uneducated response to this movement.  We say black lives matter because in the US and the world historically, black people’s lives have not mattered and black people have been abused, killed, and enslaved for no other reason than the melanin in their skin.  The world has shown us that black lives have not mattered equally to other lives and we need to stand up and make it clear that we are all equal.  If one house is on fire, you wouldn’t call the Fire Department and request every house to be hosed down, because all houses matter.  You would want the one that is burned to be watered down!  Black Americans and black people worldwide are on fire today, burning in pain and discrimination. 

For the people who say, “In Islam, all lives matter,” you really need to educate yourself on this issue and realize how offensive this is to the movement. Of course every life matters.  And if you study Islam you see places where Allah makes an emphasis on orphans and their rights in the Qur’an.  No one would yell at these holy verses “All children’s rights matter!” because we understand that orphans are the most vulnerable in society, and this is why Allah places an emphasis on protecting their rights. 

This is the same with “Black Lives Matter.” Our black brothers and sisters are the most vulnerable and we need to use our privilege and resources to stand up for them, to raise our voices for them, and above all to listen and learn from their experiences how to be better allies.  I am praying and looking for ways to engage in the dialogue, causes and programs that are making a difference.  Please help me by finding and sharing ways we as Muslims and fellow human beings can be supportive. 

One of the hardest parts of living in America is witnessing the hundreds of school shootings every year, institutionalized slavery (prison system) and the insane amounts of racism both publicly and privately.  I will never understand what it means to be black in America, nor what it feels like to have your skin color be so much of a threat that cops shoot you on sight.  I cannot say I know how you feel, but I can say that every day I will try to be better, to be more observant, to be more protective and to always stand up against oppression.  I vow to be vulnerable enough to say,  “I don’t know,” and listen to every black person’s experience and find ways to correct the culture, colonization, and societal influences in my own experience. And I vow to be an ally to the absolute best of my ability.

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