By Jamal Rahman

“Be just; this is closest to being God-Conscious.”   (Qur’an 5:8)

“When an orphan cries, the throne of God shakes.”   ~ Hadith of Prophet Mohammad

Justice is a central theme in the Qur’an. As vice-regents of God we asked to “stand firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be against rich or poor…” (4:135). It’s a tall order!

As I write, we are witnessing the historic movement of “Black Lives Matter” having a global impact. Everywhere there is growing awareness of discrimination against black and colored people. We can no longer gloss over these injustices. The demand for reforms and legislative action is loud and clear. The time is now; the place is here.

As a South Asian brown Muslim man I have joined the chorus of protests and the urgent need for action in the U.S. But how sincere is my loud voice and how clean are my hands demanding immediate action? This is an important question for spiritual seekers.

In my own South Asian culture, we openly discriminate between shades of darkness in skin color. Beauty is defined by one’s skin pigmentation. In my language, the word for dark skin translates as “unclean.” This warps our thinking and behavior. Have I protested and demanded changes?

As Muslims we engage in “spiritual racism” by discriminating against others, metaphorically speaking, on the basis of the “color “of one’s religious beliefs. For example, in many Muslim countries, the Ahmadiyyah sect is outlawed and oppressed by the government as not being Muslim because of their belief that there was a subsequent prophet after the Prophet Muhammad. I know that this malady of exclusion affects all religions in various forms, but does this excuse or diminish the pain we inflict on others?

I could go on about the terrible and unjust treatment of the poor, cruelty of patriarchy and agony of those with a different sexual orientation in South Asia. My intention is not to arouse guilt or be self-deprecating, but to build compassionate self-awareness. If I am unjust in my own house, my cries for justice from the oppression of others ring hollow. When I acknowledge and heal my own biases and prejudices, my voice of protest and call for action has greater meaning and authenticity. My honesty and inner work resonates in those heavenly realms and invites the blessings of God.

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