Another anti-war message, by Nass el Ghiwane.

Nass el Ghiwane was a legendary Moroccan roots-fusion band, nicknamed “The Rolling Stones of Africa”. They were very politicized and revolutionary, singing about the injustices under King Hassan 2 in Morocco, singing, for instance “The pan is hot, but the lid is pressed on top of it.” They also made a song in tribute of the victims of the Sabra and Shatila-massacre.

One of their band members, -supposedly- suddenly died from an ill stomach. It was whispered that the King had him killed by secret services.

True or not, after his death the other band members always performed with an extra microphone.

Nowadays, they are elderly men who barely have any money left because they spent it all on alcohol and narcotics, being reduced to gain extra income through commercials (!) But this is the way I like to remember them: Young, beautiful, brave, passionate and fiery.

My favorite song by them is and was “Ya bani alinsan”. Even before I spoke a word of Arabic, I felt the energy of the song. They sing “Ya bani alinsan, 3alash 3adiyan?” (O sons of humanity, why are we enemies?) Enjoy their performance. It is powerfull, to say the least.

Why white converts to Islam are (often) lauded.

1. Many non-black Muslims of colour consider light skin as the most beautiful, and dark or black skin as ugly.
2. Many non-black Muslims of colour consider whites as highest in their hierarchy and consider it a compliment if the “superior” white person converts to “their” religion. (This has to do with self-hate, colonialism, and racism that predated colonialism)
3. Many non-black Muslims of colour consider black people “lower class”.
4. Many non-black Muslims of colour are from communities that are rampantly racist, and engage in colorism and shadeism, especially Arabs, Turks, Persians and South Asians.

Disclaimer: This is in no way meant as a put-down of white convert brothers and sisters, or non-black Muslim POC, but as a means to expose & call out racism. If any reader reads this post and thinks such, he/she may ask him/herself why.

Some more about conversion, “passing” and racist non-black born Muslims.

“I feel so much temptation to pass for Indian. It’s a struggle for me to stay honest. It’s probably a “grass is greener” effect thinking that it would be easier if I were thought to be Indian. My skin is pale, but I dream sometimes about putting on tanning lotion!” (quote by Ambaa -http://www.patheos.com/blogs/whitehindu/)

I understand this and for years, I felt the same. I was immersed in the Moroccan community and thought my life would be so much easier if I would be Moroccan, or at least could pass as Moroccan. (Which I sometimes could, because I knew the foods, traditions and dances)

But where did this feeling come from? From the fact that many Moroccans MADE me feel uncomfortable, gave me subtle – and sometimes even overt & overtly racist- cues that I, somehow, didn’t fit in, and that I wasn’t “good enough” or a good enough Muslim because I refused to fully adopt Moroccan culture.

Now, in hindsight, I can see how insluting & degrading this was. As though there was anything wrong with my culture, mother tongue, the food I was raised with, the way we dance and party, our own traditional dress and so on. It also fosters self-hatred.

It really borders bullying and is a form of micro-agression: We will only really accept you if you fully assimilate. And then those very same persons would be insulted if white Dutch people wouldn’t accept or understand them, or even quietly and carefully asked if they could modify certain practices deemed “Muslim”, “Islamic” or “of our culture”.

The irony of the fact is, that now that I speak Arabic resaonably well, I always in the first 5 minutes of conversations with Arab make sure to make clear that yes, I am a practicing Muslim and I speak Arabic, but no, I am no Arab and have no desire whatsoever becoming or imitating one.

My reply was in reaction to this post: https://sobersecondlook.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/passing-and-convert-identity-some-thoughts/#more-426

On conversion and internalizing of anti-black/anti-Afro-Surinamese prejudice.

Yes, the pitfall of internalizing colorism, racism, prejudice and self-hatred………thank God I never really fell for that, even though I as an Afro-Carribean woman sometimes, subtily felt uncomfortable about my ethnicity and culture around many Arab Muslims, of whom the majority were downright racist about black people in general and prejudiced about Afro-Carribean culture in particular.

They had all the prejudices of white Dutch people and WORSE.

But anyhow, as soon as I figured out that being “accepted and welcomed” meant giving up the name my parents lovingly gave me, the ethnic heritage they and my grandparents and ancestors passed on to us, my background and upbringing and wasn’t supposed to pray for the souls of my deceased loved ones – I refused to do that, an returned to my own culture, WITH the interpretation of Islam that suits me best (Progressive Islam/Islamic feminism/liberation theology).

Actually, I realize now that this isn’t the whole truth. There was a time, for instance, I believed I had to take an Arabic name, which I did, but as a second name, because I just COULD NOT give up my birth name. Now, hardly anyone knows me by my Arabic name, which I’m in the end content with, because my birth name is perfectly Islamic – it’s Spanish and means “beautiful rose”.

There was also a time that I envied girls who were brought up as Muslims, because I believed that, then, my life as far as practicing Islam went, would have being easier. How wrong I was. My parents gave my many gifts, but the greatest gift they gave me was to learn to think for myself, independent of their beliefs and thoughts. They are/were totally supportive when I converted and even my mother, who had a hard time at first because she’s Christian, now supports me all the way. She was right by my side when I took my oficcial shahada, even though that is contrary to her beliefs. There are very, very few Muslim parents who would do that. And for that I love and respect them.

This post was written in response to this post by A Sober Second Look, one of the best Muslim bloggers around:https://sobersecondlook.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/o-maryam-we-never-knew-ye/  Please check her blogs, even though she hasn’t updated her blog in gears.