Today marks the beginning of Black History Month [in the UK] and there are so many awesome events taking place all over the country, with a variety of focus points. I thought I would dig deep into my archive and share with you a campaign I lead whilst at university. Through a variety of projects and conversations I have had over the years (from my experience), I noticed a lack of Muslim institutions in the UK taking part in Black History Month. Since so many aspects of Black History were being covered throughout the country, I thought I could also contribute, by raising awareness and celebrating the legacy of great past and present Black Muslims who have played their part in changing the world.
Many would argue why I'm doing this, and I had a fair share of criticism before.I don't have a core reason, but for years, I have been disappointed by the way Black Muslims are spoken about by people within our own communities (believe it or not). It's one of the unspoken problems which faces some Muslims, often in the context institutional leadership and finding a spouse for marriage (but not limited to).
This month, I will be sharing posters of great Black Muslims and continue to raise awareness of the awesome work they are doing (or have done), accompanied with a poem I wrote about them (except this first one). By sharing this, it will not combat racism/prejudices that exists in Muslim communities, but it'll certainly wake up and remind the ignorant to realise the language and treatment towards Black Muslims is completely forbidden in the faith, giving us the confidence to not keep these issues under the carpet, and talk about them openly.
I'll start you off with a famous Black Muslim that everyone should know about. Whilst this hero is used as a token for people who claim to not have racial prejudices towards Black Muslims (yet treat them disrespectfully), Bilal Ibn Rabah (RA) left Muslims all over the world with a legacy celebrated 5 times everyday when we call people to prayer, for the last 1400 years. He was not only a beloved companion to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), but he was also the first 'Muezzin' (the one who 'calls to prayer'). The photo is a depiction below by the artist Siyer-i Nebi from 16th Turkey. #MuslimsandBlackHistory