By Samira Nahshal, Guest Writer
When a companion of Prophet Muhammad said to Bilal, a black man, that he is the son of a black woman, meaning for it to be a racial put down, the Prophet was quick to reply that this companion has traits of “jahiliyya” or ignorance in him. The Prophet had no tolerance against those who treated others unjustly.
Dawud Walid, an expert speaker on racism, told this story to a student group, Students for Islamic Awareness, on Jan.29 at CASL at UM-Dearborn. Walid has delivered many lectures about racism throughout the United States, in mosques and college campuses including but not limited to the University of Michigan and Harvard. He has been mentioned in the New York Times, LA Times, Detroit Free Press, CNN, Al-Jazeera network, and more.
Walid began his speech with the recitation of a verse from the Quran: O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things) (49:13).
Walid explained the difference between racism and prejudice. Racism is a combination of prejudice and power from a tribe or ethnic group who use their bigotry at the disadvantage of the minority. Prejudice, on the other hand, is when a person or ethnic group has bigotry feelings against another ethnic group, but have no power over them. This is precisely why Walid believes there is no such term as “reverse racism”. For reverse racism, an exchange of power must be present, but this, of course, is not the case.
Walid spoke about the term “Arab” as a race and mentioned that long ago, “Arab” had no monolithic race, culture, or color. There was no monolithic look of Arabs except having a darker skin color. But today, generalizing Arabs as having a “brown” skin color isn’t very accurate. Many Arabs from Syria, Palestine, and Lebanon are white-skinned.
While racism and prejudice are prevalent today, this gives individuals even a stronger incentive to educate others about the history of racism and prejudice and its effects on the present day.