In this year of global social strife, “Black Lives Matter (BLM)” has become more than just a slogan or mere chant especially for minorities in the United States of America. Whether it was the singular video murder of George Floyd, or the combination of police brutality against what is referred to as black and brown bodies, or the ceaseless violent incidents of aggression towards particular groups, BLM has become a movement that has transcended race and color lines in America. What ignited the fire is perhaps not as important as the fire itself. A fire that continues to rage across the world and burns whoever is in its path, if they have not already been set ablaze by the racism and indifference to human life.
“Black Lives Matter” is chanted by those who seek to see equality, justice, and the end to physical violence and aggression towards the African American community specifically. But what does “Black Lives Matter” truly stand for? Is it as simple as so many Americans and members of the global community at large believe? That is, a desire to fight against organizations and institutions that systematically degrade and snuff out “Black Lives”.
The organization “Black Lives Matter” was founded by three African American women, Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, and Patrisse Cullors. The phrase was originally used after the killer of 17 years old Trayvon Martin was acquitted. The anger and dismay over the injustice of George Zimmerman walking free after shooting an unarmed and innocent African American high school student walking home from the convenience store with candy invoked unspeakable anger and intolerance of a racist system too long in existence. Hearing the chant “Black Lives Matter” came at the right time for many.
Unfortunately, the “Black Lives Matter” movement has written codes and principles that are not simply about preserving and respecting Black Life. In fact, their agenda deters from this simple request. In order to contextualize who the founders of Black Lives Matter are, it is important to know how they define themselves. They describe themselves as trained Marxists. They are people who believe in Karl Marx’s ideas of organizing society politically and economically where the workers own the means of production. From a religious standpoint, Garza identifies as Jewish. Cullor’s, who states, “she wouldn’t be able to do this work without spiritual practice,” incorporates the Nigerian religious tradition of Ifa in her life. For Muslims and other people of faith, the question becomes, “Is Black Lives Matter, as an organization, antithesis to my beliefs?” The answer is a resounding “yes.”
Various churches and Christian affiliated groups have proclaimed their opposition to Black Lives Matter for political, social and religious reasons. However, as Muslims it is necessary that we utilize Holy Quran, Hadith and the teachings of the Last Messenger of the Almighty Lord, Muhammad (peace be upon him). His directive to believers regarding race is clear, and has been translated into English as follows:
All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over a white except by piety and good action.
Islam is a religion and way of life which, at its core, is built on the eradication of racism. Irrespective of whether people adhere to this code or not, Islam’s principle is undisputed. Black Lives Matter in Islam. Muslims must stand up for the oppressed and ill-treated. The controversy surrounding America’s BLM movement’s stated agenda is its inclusivity of alternative lifestyles. For Muslims and other people of faith, family is the crux of community and society. The value of any movement is rooted in the people, past and present, and their adherence to the Creator’s laws of following the Ten Commandments, which are paramount to religious, spiritual and physical success in this life and the next. Therefore, any blueprint for racial justice must coincide with the Divine plan, and any additions or contradictions to it is vehemently rejected by the believers.
It is the obligation of people of faith to know the difference between the principle and the movement of Black Lives Matter, and to enlighten the believers in this regard. Adherence in the strictest regard to Allah’s design and following His Guidance to protect His creation is essential. When this occurs, undoubtedly Black Lives will really Matter.