In the Name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy
As-Salāmu ‘Alaykum / Peace be upon you!
With hearts filled with sadness, and a voice that still echoes in each of our minds, “I can't breathe,” the killing of George Floyd adds yet another soul to the already long list of victims of racism and hatred. The past few days and weeks have laid bare the injustices woven into the fabric of America. The murders of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor and the harassment of Christian Cooper and so very many more are not single, unique instances, but rather examples of the long-standing, pervasive, ongoing, systemic injustice and oppression that infects our culture, government, and systems of power.
In America today, if you are a Black person, you encounter the potentially deadly effects of bias at every stage of your life. From schools that perpetuate the school to prison pipeline, to the community, where harassment and over-policing directed at Black people is the norm, to biases in the health care systems that contribute to health inequities, institutionalization in poorly performing nursing homes, and even early death. Therefore, we are seeing shockingly high rates of deaths from COVID-19 among Black people. We are witnessing communities of color losing people of all ages at an alarming rate.
And in America today, if you are a Black person, you cannot safely leave your home without putting your life in danger. And even inside your home, you may be gunned down for no reason. If you protest these injustices peacefully, you are criticized. If you protest loudly, you are criticized and often met with violence. It is racism that causes many observers to focus on the violence that sometimes accompanies protests, rather than the injustice at the root of the protests. Racial discrimination is a virus that infects the whole of our society. The xenophobic hatred aimed at Asian Americans, the high numbers of COVID-19 infections among Pacific Islanders and Latinx people, many of whom who are doing the essential work of care-giving and food service, the skyrocketing deaths in Native American communities – all of these are part of the unfairness that is embedded into American life.
Ithna-asheri Muslim Association of the Northwest stands in solidarity with all those fighting the devastating effects of prevailing injustices. We acknowledge that we are all part of this system that bestows unearned privilege on many, and leaves others behind. We say all lives matter, yet we continue to witness prejudices against Black people more so than others. We must affirm that like all lives, Black Lives Matter. Every life is sacred! To fight racism, we must be explicitly anti-racist. We reaffirm our commitment to do everything individually and collectively that we can to break down these systems of oppression so all of us, at all ages, can have the freedom and justice we deserve as humans.
We all have a responsibility to stand up against all forms of injustice whether it be fueled by racism or any other evil through peaceful and constructive means. There are many organizations around the country, including here in Greater Seattle, working towards bringing about much needed change. We urge everyone to reach out to our neighbors, friends, colleagues to learn more about the work being done and how we can be part of and support these efforts.
We ask God Almighty to bring solace and patience to the families of all the victims and to enlighten us to work together to bring forth the change that earns His pleasure and mercy.
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَىٰ وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا ۚ إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ
People, We created you all from a single man and a single woman, and made you into races and tribes so that you should recognize one another. In God’s eyes, the most honored of you are the ones most mindful of Him: God is all knowing, all aware. (Qur’an 49:13)