brothers, love, mosque, personal, segregation, stories

Black + Muslim + Woman

“It’s because you’re black.”

He repositioned himself in the chair, then looked down at his cup of coffee and grabbed the handle. I could tell this conversation made him uncomfortable.

He was from the subcontinent but had the swag of a black brotha. He said he was having a hard time find a sister from his background because he couldn’t relate to them.

“I’m sorry, it’s just my family wouldn’t be happy…” He said this apologetically while taking a small sip from his drink.

I looked at him from across the table before proceeding to give him a piece of my mind. But then I stopped myself.

Why was I shocked?

I thought about how this would have played out totally differently if I was a white girl, and laughed under my breath. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand my white sisters have their own set of problems when it comes to marriage. With that being said, I firmly believe that Black women get the shorter end of the stick. Bottom line.

Muslims like to boast about how Islam is such an accepting religion. We refer to the Prophet’s (pbuh) Black companions, such as Bilal, all the time. The stark reality is that many Muslim communities across the U.S. are blatantly prejudiced, insular and unwelcoming to Black folks. The rhetoric we hear in Friday sermons – being brothers to one another and one united family – is often absolutely hypocritical.

As a result, many Black Muslim women remain unmarried and chronically single.

I know many of these sistas.

I am one of them.

In many communities, Black Muslim women are viewed as the most undesirable women as far as marriage prospects. Black people are plagued with stereotypes and generalizations, and these attitudes have seeped into the fabric of our communities. Growing up in a predominantly Arab community, I understood racism at a very young age. As a girl, I was told that Muslims should marry from their “own people.” I realized early that I would not find a husband in that community but thankfully was able to disassociate my negative experiences with my understanding of Islam.

But the question still remains: who is accountable for the horror stories involved with being a Black Muslim in certain communities?

I hold the leaders responsible. Muslims are notorious for sweeping serious issues under the carpet, turning a blind eye, and pretending as though problems such as racism do not exist. We would rather focus on interfaith dialogue than address intrafaith issues or admit that we are the source of some of our problems.

Community leaders need to properly address race relations specifically when it comes to marriage. The Islamic concept of equality needs to not only be spoken of but actually implemented through the support and encouragement of interracial marriage. Leaders need to take a hard look at the demographics of their mosques and address diversity gaps and segregation. Open dialogue and constructive criticism is the key when it comes to addressing this crucial issue.

Like the brother I met over coffee, I know there are many Muslim men out there who prefer chocolate sistas but refrain from venturing further with those prospects due to family and cultural expectations. It is ok to have preferences when it comes to potential spouses but at the same time one must be open to new possibilities.  If your preferences are solely based on race, that’s a huge problem. Remember that Allah might send you what you need rather than what you want.

Don’t block love. An open mind and receiving heart will never lead you astray.

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15 thoughts on “Black + Muslim + Woman

  1. Pingback: Black + Muslim + Woman | KeepItDeen

  2. gazelledusahara says:

    Reblogged this on Elucidated Perspectives and commented:
    This woman’s entry hits the nail on the head. I’m not sure what the answer to the problem is. I’ve posted before about this in the American, Arab and European contexts. I will admit though, it is hard to believe in your awesomeness when you know that “it” is indeed happening because you are black and therefore inferior/less desirable/whatever negative epithet you want to put here.

    But what is interesting in this post is that the man told her so… he admitted it to her face! Some may not agree, but at least he let her know beyond a doubt, that the problem lay with him and his family’s prejudice.

  3. Musa says:

    This is complicated. When you say black Muslim women I am pretty sure you mean black American. From what I see African sisters such as Somali, Eritrean and Nigerian sisters generally do not have this issue. And I know personally of many black American Muslim men who would bend over backwards and pay a treasure in dowry for an African sister and especially an East African one but are completely closed to marrying a African American sister. I respect that you avoided bashing black American men in this article like so many black women who discuss interracial marriage or lack of married black women do. But I think both black American men and women have to repair their image and character before talking about interracial marriage. The stereotypes of us as much as we hate them are not completely undeserved.

    I’m certainly not accusing you personally of being a stereotype but when there are a heap of single black women( not just Muslim) the should begin to ask themselves what is it THEY ARE DOING or portraying that causes men to overlook them. I strongly believe that colorism is not the major factor as to why so many black women are not married. Men generally like women who are described by Allah and his Holy Apostle as the best women, namely:
    Pious, obedient(submissive), loving and loyal and one characteristic that many of them reject is obedience which can manifest itself through respect , loyalty and cooperation. And many black women unfortunately openly and BOLDLY profess how they are strong and independent and how they don’t take no sh**.

    I think these kind of sayings and behaviors which black women repeat and act out daily plays a major role in this. Because again, I dont think it’s because black women are black. These same men, African American, Asian and white who say they won’t marry a black woman will go out and marry an African woman with the same skin color. It’s more about behavior and character than anything else.

    • Sarah says:

      I totally agree that a lot of brothers do prefer East African sisters, I am an East African sister and have spoken with brothers from all backgrounds. My sisters have married Caucasian, Arab and east African brothers and we’ve never had to face any racist tendencies from them or their families. This is not to say that Muslims aren’t racist towards one another but the level of racism is not restricted to just blacks.

      • Hi,
        I’m curious as to why you think East African women don’t have the same problem as African American? I’m east African myself, but I never distinguished my problems from other Africans because I thought we (more or less) went through the same issues re marriage and racism. Can you elaborate please?

    • abdul wahid says:

      From what I gather, the mention of “Black women” is African American too. In regards to African Sisters not having this “issue”, I disagree. The topic is marrying outside of race/ethnicity. I’m sure most of African women in the West marry within their race/ethnicity and have less difficulties.

      We have many independent Muslim communities… Arab, Asian, African, etc. All of which typically stand independent of one another. Marriage for many is based on race, ethnicity, and even tribalism. An “Us vs Them” ideology.

      “But I think both black American men and women have to repair their image and character before talking about interracial marriage” – As much as I agree with the necessity of “rebuilding” our character, I disagree with Muslims (Black American) bearing the weight of the mass. We (Muslims) as well as many other Blacks should not fall under a blanket of stereotypes. I also agree that those among us are validating much of how the world views us. We are among the most hated, despised, yet copied people on the earth.

      I don’t think it’s what some women are doing “wrong”. Many are simply judged by stereotypes. Color is definitely a factor. Whether its whats associated wrongfully with our color (stereotypes) or just non-Blacks not being attracted to Blacks, its definitely a color issue, right or wrong.

  4. Abdul says:

    Right on Sista! Been waiting, hoping for this conversation to be out in the open.

    We. Have. A. Problem.

    Muslims should inculcate truth in their way of life, if you’re going to preach brotherhood/sisterhood then act it. Now, don’t get me wrong, i’m not compelling anyone to marry those they may not have preference for simply to show you’re a good muslim, I’m hoping that guys stop having issues with race as an issue in marriage.

    The reason I somewhat have a passion for this is because I see it everyday. I live in a highly cosmopolitan city with people of different races living practically next door to one another, mostly muslim, so naturally one would think Islamic teachings would prevail over racial biases but neigh!

    The brother Musa reveals another very interesting angle here. However I wouldn’t think that the entire African American female populace can be categorised in that boxed ‘ghetto-fabulous-finger-snappin’ stereotype. I’ll be honest though, I don’t have personal experience interacting with an African American sista (though my cousin married a black-canadian sista, qualifies? no? ok).

    Oh well, I pray that we keep engaging and breaking down this tired wall of thought.

  5. Sadie says:

    I have similar experiences within the Ummah but on top of this I’m a black convert in a Desi Muslim population in rural area. Do you mind talking about situations converts find ourselves in? Because I’m about ready to throw my hands up with the Ummah, most days it feels like nobody really cares despite the lip service people pay in the mosque.

  6. Khadija says:

    Salams, I am enjoying your blog sister. Anyway, this is why I tend to refrain from speaking with non-black brothers. I mean even black brothers seem to want to marry anything, but black women so what do we expect non-black brothers to do? Most of the world believes only fair is beautiful (not everyone, but majority), so it makes it harder to find a spouse even among black men if you are not born with less melanin. I personally don’t waste my time worrying about brothers who are hung up on skin color. They use the family as an excuse. Many desi families do not want their men marrying white women, but they do it anyway, but when it comes to black women they want to use the family excuse. If a man wants to marry you, he will stand up for you can marry you anyway. Unlike women, men don’t need permission from their family or a “wali” to get married. Don’t worry about the brothers who don’t want you. You don’t want to be around somebody with that kind of mindset anyway. Plus, it would be stressful anyway marrying into a racist family. Just focus on the men who are interested in you and make a selection from them. You just need one husband. But the problem is that ONE is hard to find, especially when brothers are being choosy on race and skin color, which are traits people are born with and can’t change. For men, most women want a provider, you can work hard and get a good job. That is a situation you can change. However, you cannot change your race. I don’t believe the “preference” excuse a lot of brothers like to use. What shapes those “preferences”? Where do those so-called preferences come from? A lot of the time is comes from racism and inferiority complex and people just use the preference excuse to mask it. You would see arab and desi men marry a non-muslim white woman, but not a muslim black woman. Why do you think that is?

  7. I’m not muslim but I am AA and I wish black women would not post things like this over the internet. This is a permanent record and I do believe that the more ideas like this are complained about by AA women, the more people will adopt the views that are complained about it. We AA women think it helps but it only makes matters worse. Humans are animals, and if higher status people think one way 98% percent of others will mimic the behaviors, thinking, etc of the higher status groups.

    Unfortunately the sad reality is that there is nothing black women can do about this phenomenon but accept it as reality. It is virtually impossible for women to change their status in the human pecking order, especially once it has been smeared. For men, it is possible because they can get money, and if they have decent looks, which gives them a boost, people accept them more. It’s not the same for women. If you are not of a certain race and don’t have the look, forget it…add a bad reputation in there and, you’re toast.

    The best thing black women can do is be quiet about it. Even if you know you’re facing discrimination, don’t tell anyone or complain. Just deal with it in your own way. Let it push you to be better individuals, to fight against views, and just be quality women over all. One thing I know is that Karma is fair in this life and it has no favorites. I think it’s important to remember keep in mind that a determining factor that truly makes a woman is how she handles herself when facing adversity. Doing more with constructive action instead of words is key.

  8. R says:

    Though I’m not a Muslim, it’s still upsetting to read about racism like this.

    I was thinking about the young man you discussed on your blog. I wonder have he found his dream woman yet? I wouldn’t be surprised if the following has happened to him 1) He’s still single because he haven’t found his dream woman he could relate to 2) He’s divorced 3) He’s married but miserable or 4) He surprised himself and married a Black woman after all?

    Would the same ” rules” apply to the White Muslim women ? Though you may never know ..you saved yourself from heartache. To me.and will agree with one of the posters on here ..that it’s really him that who is really racist. Sure, his folks could be pro( insert his race/culture) or anti-Black, but real men would fight for their potential wives honor and tell their parents ” This isn’t right ” and that I plan on being with my wife..whether you like her or not.

    Another good thing about him passing you up is that you wont have to worry about being married to a man like him is that you probably wouldn’t have to deal with his weakness. Supposedly, if this man has made up his man telling you ” I know that my parents won’t like you” without even giving you chance, I could imagine him not being man enough to stand up for your honor in other non-race related situations. My sister divorced her husband after 12 years of marriage and I couldn’t blame her. He put his family in EVERYTHING! and just observing him from my own eyes HE MADE ME SICK! He could not man up for anything. My sister gave him two times to change but he couldn’t find a balance between her in laws and his own family, She got tired of his tricks and called it quits. He begged to come back home but no can do. Just like that Twisted Sister song ” We’re not going to take it anymore”.. she couldn’t take his family domination of their their marriage..anymore.

    Don’t get me wrong, I would love the idea of both families coming as one as I believe in maintaining healthy families and would love to have blessing from both parties. Whether American or non Americans, you do marry the family when you marry a spouse but doing that doesn’t/shouldn’t mean that they should dictate every part of my life…my god.

    I’m sorry for any woman to be rejected over something petty like race. For all that guy knows, you could have made him one of the best wives he ever had. I will agree with you, too many people miss out on the goodness of other because of who they are. What happened to character, being supportive, a well rounded provider? Common sense seemed to go out of the door with people like the guy you discussed.

    It’s his loss , but if you haven’t already been selected to marry..hopefully God will send you a man who is honorable, have a backbone and will love you for you..not your racial background.

  9. Jay says:

    Assalaamu alaiki wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu! I thank you so very much for this. Before I read this, I felt so alone because many Black American sisters look at this as being bitter & are brainwashed as well as buy into the mindset that we should marry the Black American brother who is considered a “good brother” eventhough she has to give up her rights or has some inkling she won’t get them because Black American brothers have a reputation of pimping us sisters and he has children by many kafir women whom are under the age of 5 (and he has been muslim for at least 10 years… yeh! you do the math). And I must say sister I don’t feel valued in society as a Black Woman & even more devalued as a Black Muslim Woman. Sigh. And trust me, I almost left the deen because I was so hurt, angry, felt discouraged & was depressed. But if it were not for Allah, I would have.

    JazakAllah khayr for this article.

  10. Jay says:

    Assalaamu alaiki wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuhu! I thank you for this article. For the longest time, I felt so alone. Many Black American sisters in my community look at conversations like this as being bitter. In addition, they buy into the brainwashing that we need to marry the Black American brother who the other Black American brothers deem as a “good brother” even though they know that he has multiple children under the age of 5 by different kafir women (and he has been muslim for at least 10 years) & she will have to give up her rights OR knows that is a strong possibility she won’t get her rights because many Black American brothers have a reputation of pimping Black sisters, because after all, it is well known that we don’t have many options outside of them for marriage. smh.

    I already felt not valued by the Black American community staring in my own household. And now as a Black Muslim woman, I feel even more devalued and in some ways like the lowest of the totem pole in the Islamic community. Sigh. If it wasn’t for Allah, I would have left Islam.

    JazakAllah khayr for this article.

    P.S. Isn’t ironic that we are both RNs. 🙂

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