Debate With bin Gregory on White Muslim Identity in America

I want to respond to a post disagreeing with my views on the roles of white Muslims in America by a white Muslim brother by the name of bin Gregory over at his blog. My response to him is not out of a spirit of hostility our animosity towards him; but rather in a spirit of trying to clear up any confusion with regards to my arguments.Below is the post of bin Gregory and my new commentary is in dark type and his words are in italic.

bin Gregory: Umar Lee, whose website is frequently enraging but always engaging, is presenting a series of ideas about what it means to be white and muslim, and they are at such odds with each other I don’t know how they stay on the same page.

First of all,

( quoting from Umar) One thing you cannot be and be white in my mind is Muslim.which he believes to be true across the board.

Second, about himself,

(quoting from Umar again) African-American brothers … are the Muslims I have always been the closest to and have been able to identity with the most.

Third, on his favorite punching bag, other white muslims,

( quoting Umar) I despise the patronizing and phoniness of guilty white liberals, but the Muslim community is full of them. These Muslims take shahadah and immediately begin a full imitation of some group, Arabs, Pakistanis, African-Americans, etc, and are subservient and un-critical of these cultures while being fiercely critical of any white culture…. I think that some of these Muslims, but not all, embrace Islam to stop being white…

Several commenters on his site have picked up on the inherent contradictions in these three opinions, the biggest one being, what exactly is the difference between Umar Lee gravitating to the black community, and other brothers gravitating to the Arab or the Pakistani or the black community? I’d sincerely like Umar to answer that, since he is so vicious in his anger at these other brothers. From where I’m standing, there’s no difference at all, except perhaps that Umar had some prior connection to the black community before becoming Muslim

Thank you for this question because this is equivalent to one of those ripe fast balls right down the middle of the plate thrown to Mark McGuire during his great home run chase with Sammy Sosa in 1998. I think gravitating was the wrong word for me to use. Before and after I took shahdah I lived in areas and went to schools and existed in a family that were heavily African-American. I did not see my kinship with the African-American Muslim brothers as a cultural breakthrough or something any different than I would have been doing if I was not Muslim. It is hard for me to see how given the upbringing and living the life I have led that I could be expected to have the same outlook on things and identity as those who had  amore traditional white upbringing.  I saw these brothers as basically coming from the same experience and set of circumstances I had though obviously there are differences due to the fact that we had different skin colors and despite what you may hear from your professors or from the ivory-tower thinkers race matters jus as much in America as it every did and it colors every issue in this society. If I would have thought that I had to gravitate to something foreign, like Arab or Pakistani culture, I would not have taken shahadah, so for the most part, shariah issues aside, I did not change the essential nature of who I was after becoming Muslim. I stopped eating pork but didn’t stop eating the food I liked in order to eat like an Arab or Desi and I wore the clothes I had always worn for the most part without feeling the need to wear a kufee most times or a thobe.

If that is the case, these other brothers are simply guilty of being less further along in the process of acculturation or assimilation into a “foreign” milieu. These brothers never really become arab or pakistani any more than Umar becomes black – they simply become more comfortable in, more knowledgeable of and more accepted by the community they have adopted. Alhamdulillah. Now, I would suggest that both people, Umar and the arabized or pakified brother, would be of most direct benefit to the society at large if they can use their position in between two ethnic communities to build bridges of understanding, rather than to simply retreat into these communities they have adopted. Middle class white America needs your sympathetic, compassionate dawah, Umar. Tease not the tofu. Look past the lattes.

Well, again, I am not trying to assimilate or anything of that nature, and I do not even think it is possible, but my lack of being able to wholly assimilate into another culture does not automatically give me a place in that I am supposed to belong to. On the second point I agree with the brother, people like me would be of most benefit to the greater society if we could be bridge-builders between white America and those other cultures we have some affinity with, but that is not as easily said as done. Since 9-11 I have tried to do this and have been instrumental in getting Muslims involved in issue-oriented coalitions, the anti-war movement, and meeting with elected officials. But there is one thing bin Gregory is forgetting; I have a very troubled relationship with white America. I wish this were not true, I wish that I could sit down at a table and feel at home in a group of white Americans, I wish that maybe we could converse and  be in the same chapter when we are not even in the same book, but that is not the case. The only white people I can really relate to are those like I grew up with, hard-working blue-collar guys, but this group also happens to be the most racist group in America, and while at one time I could relate to them, for the most part guys like this did not like me and I grew up fighting with them because they saw me as some kind of nigger loving race traitor even if they did not say it.

The most troublesome part of Umar’s racial construct is the idea that one cannot be white and muslim. If we uncritically accept this idea, then the pain and confusion that Umar and other commenters here feel is unavoidable – you’ve lost your community and so you must find another or be lost alone in the wilderness. But wait – who says you can’t be white and Muslim? There are some on the far right who might say you can’t be muslim and American, but who here would agree to that? We are Muslim Americans and proud of it, no? If you were born here and you grew up here then you are inalienably American no matter who you vote for or who you pray to. You can’t shake it off if you tried – not that some haven’t tried.

Let me separate the issue of whiteness and the issue of being an American. I am an American 100%. This is my country, I feel intimately connected to its history, and I am very American and am not ashamed of that.  I have often had Muslim immigrants tell me ” you are thinking like an American” as if it were something bad; but that would be a real issue if I as an American began seeing the world like someone who grew up in a culture vastly different than mine and most of those differences having nothing to do with Islam. Now, to the issue of whiteness again, I feel that becoming a Muslim, fully becoming a Muslim, violates your whiteness, and you can ask brothers like Ismail Royer and Seifullah Chapman about their white privilege after being a Muslim, and I believe that whiteness is based on what you are not and not what you are. Yes my skin remains white, other white Muslims skin remains white, but are they viewed as brethren in white America? If you think the answer to this is yes than I suggest there are some issues of racial naiveté going on. While I believe we stop being white, and that there is no overriding American identity divorced from race for the vast majority of people and the culture in general, I do not believe you can alter your racial identity and I believe that yes being a white Muslim in America for many people, myself included, means that you will be lonely and you will be a stranger, but we have to accept this isolation for the sake of Allah. We no longer have a racial or ethnic group to identity with, or that will accept us, so we must be involved in helping to create an American-Muslim identity and building strong families and that will cure the isolation and loneliness.

Being white isn’t all that much different. It’s about how you look and how you speak. If you have a native accent and white skin, congratulations, you are in-group, and you can’t leave if you wanted to. It’s true that at one time, your religion mattered. Jews and Catholics were non-white. But that is not race today. Not too many people out there really care what god you pray to, and it won’t stop them from serving you well at a restaurant or giving you a job. Cabbies will pick you up. Cops will let you go.

This is staggering in its naiveté. “Being white is not that much different”, is that a serious statement? The history of America and  Western Civilization has been one of if you are white you are on top and if you are not you feel the wrath and weight of white civilization and that exists today in a kinder and gentler form, it has not gone anywhere. Religion also matters.  The LAPD is not running around profiling and monitoring the Mormons or the Baptists, it is Muslims, and if you think that Jews are seen as anything other than an “alien” group be a large and diverse segment of American society then I suggest you go and read some studies.  It is true there is not the anti-Catholic bias there used to be and it is true that cabbies will pick you up if you are white no matter what, but that is a general statement . Another example I will give is that even in prison white prisoners are shown more respect by the authorities than black or Latino prisoners.  When you are white in America you are expected to act in a certain way and there is room for differences depending where you live and your economic status within that construct. If you fail to meet that vision you do not stop being white per se but you become a hated figure. I can tell you this as someone who was once chained to a chair and beaten at a police station as a teenager because I would not talk white (and I was trying…lol), and who was hated by people who had never met me because of my family and personal situation and there are many issues within my multi-racial family on this topic I could get into but I’m not trying to piss my family off if they read this.

Unless! Unless you have decorated yourself with enough flagrantly Islamic symbols that they question you, such as a stereotypical Muslim beard – long, untrimmed, with no mustache – or a big loud kufi. Then you might get some strange looks. Even then, as soon as you open your mouth and unaccented English emerges, *poof*, you’re back in. “Oh”, they think, “You’re actually just a white boy with a beard and a funny hat!” What Americans don’t like is foreigners, not eccentric white people. I say this as a white convert who has been wearing a full beard and a kufi every single day for very nearly fifteen years. I have never once been treated badly by an anonymous white person in public because I’m Muslim. Yes, I’ve been stared at; yes, I’ve been asked what my deal is exactly; but never once have I stopped receiving customary white privilege from my fellow white people. O my fellow white Muslim! If you think we all automatically stop being white by virtue of practicing Islam, you are gravely mistaken. Your family may disown you, your friends might stop speaking to you, but to the white man on the street, you are still white. Now, you can be ashamed of that, you can be proud of that, you can protest against that, but that is how things are in America in 2007. And the fact is, that is good for dawah, as Abdul Alim and others have pointed out. The fact that the average white person is not automatically suspicious or hostile of you as they may be with a black, Pakistani, or Arab Muslim means you have an extra advantage to introduce them to Islam, the religion of Allah, that is open to and perfect for all people, all races, for all time.

Well, I do not run around dressed like an Arab, but I do have a beard not because I want to fulfill some kind of a stereotype but because we are commanded to grow our beards by the Messenger of Allah ( s.a.s.), but that is another argument. I also think that if you feel all of white America will accept you try going Down South, to places like South Brooklyn in NYC, Deep South St. Louis, South Boston, any exurban area,  or any number of places, and you will see they will tell you openly what the latte drinkers think but will not say ( unless they think you are just playing a game by being Muslim and are not serious and then you may be cool).  To the second part of your argument I agree, to the average white person seeing you walking down the street you will not be threatening unless they know you, and maybe not even then, but once it is known that you are a Muslim and are serious then you are in a different category.  

[Disclaimer: All of the above may not apply to hijabi white women; I’m speaking to men here.]

I should add, O my fellow white muslims, in case it isn’t clear, that being white and being taken for white has nothing to do with what your politics are, which ethnic groups you have affinity for, how racist or colorblind you are, what European country your forefathers emigrated from, what neighborhood you grew up in, what race your best friends are, what food you prefer to eat, what clothes you prefer to wear, how high or low your tax bracket or education level is, how much you buy into or reject mainstream American culture, to what degree you fight the power or are a tool of the man, or how much you love or hate being white! All of those deep and complicated emotions you may be struggling with have nothing whatsoever to do with how you are treated at first glance by other white people, which does not change upon taking shahadah, so get over yourself.

This paragraph is redundant and I will say for most Americans this is true even if there are a lot of generalizations with regards to different ethnic groups and how they are viewed ( I do not think this brother has lived in the Northeast and if he did maybe it was around globos) , but not for Muslims, my message for white Muslims is this; if you are true to Islam you will become a stranger in your own land but, as I said before, find your companionships  in creating an American-Muslim identity, your Muslim family, and if you cannot do that may Allah reward you in jinnah.


49 thoughts on “Debate With bin Gregory on White Muslim Identity in America

  1. Interesting discussion…I find myself agreeing with Umar some of the time, Bin Gregory some of the time and neither of you a lot of the time. Actually while I think race issues are extremely important, conversations about them are to me usually boring, repetitive, filled with emotion, and usually lead nowhere. (Kinda like discussions of Israel-Palestine — except race discussions tend to be even more filled with the kind of talk filled with anecdotes and personal emotions which are things which can’t really even be debated).

    I am trying to collect my thoughts to weigh on this issue, but I will only do so if I can describe and defend my own views in a way that makes sense rather than just reacting to other people’s comments.

  2. “[Disclaimer: All of the above may not apply to hijabi white women; I’m speaking to men here.]”

    Thank you for that above disclaimer because I was just getting ready to cite about 45 examples of white on “hijabied” white discrimination that I have recieved over the past 11 years.

    White folks hate the “towel head” thing…they hate it to the CORE and when they see white girls who have adopted the “rag-head” look….whoaaa….nothing sets them off more than that!

  3. I agree that white Muslims abdicate their whiteness, to a certain degree, but you can’t really shake white privilege. It’s too ingrained.

    I find the class issues in this discussion (and this blog) more intriguing. I’m a generation removed from the blue-collar working class…and probably more of a “globo” than Umar would approve of. My father’s family immigrated from Ireland to Philadelphia during the depression. They owned stores, cleaned rich peoples’ houses, etc. But I have to say, even that generation had a sort of elitism with regards to the masses of white folk. They definitely weren’t going to get tricked into voting Republican, and my ninety-plus-year-old aunt still reports on those marrying into the family in terms of being “a good Democrat” or not. I probably always looked down on the white masses, partly through the lens of white liberalism, but maybe also as the result of class mobility, of my parents looking back at their old worlds with a bit of disgust. And this probably enabled me to accept Islam more easily. So I don’t really have a point, just that I have a hybrid identity, and sort of always have. I’ll drink a latte and watch football, at least as long as its the Packers and not the sorry Rams or Bears. And I can look back on any part of my family history (immigrant Irish, blue collar American, or 21st century “globo”) and find good and bad, things that fit with Islam and things that don’t. And there is really have no other choice for me or anyone else than to make it all fit together.

    Umar, if someone likes to hang out at Whole Foods, drinking lattes and eating organic salads, handing out flyers about Nike sweatshops, is that a really a liability for them in Islam, as long as they give up the wine tasting, and skip the domestic partner benefits rally? Is it any different than the dilemma that any convert faces, who has to rebalance their tastes and preferences in line with Islam? Is a convert who works in construction, and is fond of boxing, superior to that person in terms of his Islam?

    And just to bring it back to race, given the way that black identity is defined and policed in America, is it possible to truly Muslim and black? Isn’t this the issue that tripped up the Wallacites and others for so long?

  4. I’ve been a way and I’m back, and I know you missed me.

    Race discussions maybe needed, but Bin Gregory and Umar provided different views as if, in the end, a green man was speaking to a blue man about his experiences of being ‘green’.

    What this interesting debate revealed is that ‘whitness’ on an ‘ontological’ level is lived differnetly. Its beingness is the problem. Heidegger says: ” idle talk and the most ingenious curiosity keep ‘things moving’, where, in an everyday manner, everything (and at bottom nothing) is happening.”

    I recognise Bin Gregory’s Shaikh as Shaikh Kabbani. I have heard the sincerity of this man and know, within the sufi tradition, this concern for ‘whiteness’ and for ‘blackness’ is a ‘veil’. It is a Naqshabandi tradition of teaching, one that people who appear black, white, or yellow, find the solution to world problems.

    And brother Umar is not coming from this tradition of Islam and this is the reason why green men (the colour of Islam) are speaking to blue men (the colours of the Medieval patch-frocked Sufis). In that distinction there is wisdom and peace for the believer.

  5. The Peace of G_d be upon you,

    I dont either side of the conversation are saying anthing conflicting in the meat of their stance which is that if vibrant organic daw’ah is to be made to our fellow European Americans it has to be a “me to” conversation, where a person from any point in the “white” spectrum can see Al-Islam as relevent to their vantage point in society. Our way is very broad in its boundaries of expression, we should leave no excuse to why Al-Islam is not the medicine for “me to”. Check the wisdom @

  6. LOL.

    “Sorry Rams and Bears”… for SURE!!!

    Favre is taking the Pack to the “Bowl” this year, no doubt!

    We break out the Laziza fake beer from Lebanon and the taco dip EVERY Sunday for the ball game…a little hold over from my blue collar, white upbringing. Muslim Packer parties are the best!

  7. As Salamu Alaikum

    Excellent post;

    A variety of topics are being discussed race, religion, ethnicity, conservatism, liberalism, social status, and experiences. With that said why do we try to stereotype and put everyone in the same group, as if, if you’re white, you have to think like every white person.

    My mother has had the strongest influence in my life, raised me, taught me and instilled me with many of the values I have, at the same time we have totally different preferences in many area. Is her preference some how more valid than mine or visa versa ?

    This debate might as well boil down to this.

    Umar said “My favorite color is red because ……………… !”

    Bin Gregory replies “That’s not valid my favorite color is blue because ……………!”

    If our Ummah runs the whole spectrum of colors, ethnicities, languages, intelligence, heights, weights, does it stand to reason that our experiences and preferences would be no different.

    I do submit that this is very interesting as I think we hear very little from the white-muslim community, but I would rather hear about your family’s responses to your conversions and if they notice a change in you now that you are muslim.

  8. as salaamu alaykum,

    Thank you Umar for putting it out there. If there is one thing many people of color know, it’s that part of white privilege is the “privilege” of not having to really listen to people of color. As a white person who has more of an inside view of what race matters really are in America, other Whites are more likely to listen to you than to someone of color on these issues.

    I also want to note that “whiteness” is not just about skin color, or eating certain foods or talking a certain way. When Umar talks about not being able to be both “white” and Muslim he is really talking about whiteness as a social construct which is all about the superiority of whites to all other groups. So no, you can’t hold on to that and Islam.

    I agree with W.African in Philly though. It’s impossible to abandon white privilege even for hijabi white women. Not only is white privilege present in the American Muslim community (as in white Muslims being treated with more dignity than other converts or even Black folks who aren’t converts), white privilege is historical. We don’t abandon our histories and how they shape our perception of ourselves when we declare shahada. That is also an important part of white privilege. It’s such a huge hijab over the hearts of people, it usually takes a major experience amongst people of color to really get how pervasive it is. Even that isn’t always enough.

  9. Assalamu alaikum wa rahamtullahi wa barakatuh

    Hey Umar,

    Have you here the latest Pew report on how there seems the be a growing disparities between African-Americans along class lines. This report also said that there seems to be a breaking down of barriers and homogenizing of culture across the board amongst all racial gruops in the US. Another point I would like to you to explore, perhaps in this post or a new one, is the issue Arabs being classified as “white” since the mid-1960. How are we supposed to view the Arabs? I mean the historical American view of Arabs has been that they are not white, but times change and can they be considered as white in your opinion? If so how does this relate to them assimilating in White America and accepting similiar value and worldview that are dominate amongst the mainstream of White America.

    Khalil Al-Puerto Rikani

  10. Let me give this a shot, in-sha’ Allah.

    Umar Lee is obviously not claiming that Islam is a race exclusive religion. What he is referring to is when a white man becomes Muslim, he loses much of his white privilege. Unlike AA (African-Americans), who, as one writer said, are the only people that when they embrace Islam, it is not seen as a form of “cultural apostasy.” To the contrary, even many non-Muslim AA’s see it as a good thing for someone to embrace Islam. When an AA embraces Islam, it is seen as he is getting in touch with his preslavery roots. Furthermore, think of the heroes in the African-American pantheon. A considerable number of them are Muslim–or at least identify themselves as such (even if they are not in reality).

    Now, let us name one white American who calls himself a Muslim that is seen as a hero in mainstream (white) America. Good luck. When a white man–the upholder and defender of Western civilization–embraces Islam, it is seen (by whites) as if he has snubbed his entire heritage. A large part of the Western identity/mentality–the “white mentality” that Malcolm talked about in his “Letter From Hajj”–is defined by its OPPOSITION TO ISLAM. Even the fact that Europe is considered to be other than what it is (i.e., a “continent,” as opposed to merely the western end of Asia”) is part of “white heritage.”

    Furthermore, consider the intellectual heroes of Western civilization. The Ancient Greeks? Their doctrines were ripped apart by the Muslims. The Church? We know the Muslims dismantled its beliefs. The later various materialistic/atheistic ideas of the modern philosophers/thinkers have carry no weight in comparison what the Muslim scholars have said.

    Regarding Muslims of Eastern Europe (who have any Religious training–and not those poor lost souls who’ve been consumed by either the legacy of communism or materialism), they are not part of the Western (i.e., “white”) milieu. Are Muslims from Albania or western Turkey “Athens/Roman Centric” or are they “Mecca/Medinah Centric.” Who do the Eastern European Muslims (of Religious training) see as the good guys in history? Is it Umar, Tariq ibn Ziyyad, Salahud-Deen, Muhammad al-Fatih, and Sulayman the Magnificent? Or is it the creeps who raised the banner of kufr?

    White American Muslim men have to completely change the psychological orientation they were raised upon–and was reinforced into the deepest regions of the white man’s psyche by the society. When they supplant that Western heritage with the beauty of Islam, the person, in the sense i think Umar is speaking of, ceases being a “white” man. He becomes something new. And as a result, he is seen as a renegade who has embraced the nemesis of “white” civilization. This is (in the minds of such people) seen as the ultimate in “cultural apostasy.”

  11. As Salaamu Alaikum Brother Umar:

    You said this:

    “… I believe that yes being a white Muslim in America for many people, myself included, means that you will be lonely and you will be a stranger, but we have to accept this isolation for the sake of Allah. We no longer have a racial or ethnic group to identity with, or that will accept us, so we must be involved in helping to create an American-Muslim identity and building strong families and that will cure the isolation and loneliness. ”

    I agree with this, Brother Umar. Being a white Muslim American can be lonely for many of us. Converting to Islam for many can mean that you lose your “white privilege”. You are seen as a Muslim first, then a white person. Like a traitor. Always under suspicion.

    I was Jewish before I converted to Islam. Same thing. Seen as Jewish first, then white.

    I live in an average-sized Muslim community. Most times when I go to the masjid, I am one of a few white American Muslims. Sometimes I am the only one.

    If a white Muslim American doesn’t speak Arabic or Urdu, we can often find ourselves sitting in the masjid like a piece of the furniture.

    Then there is the racism of Muslims to contend with. When the Muslims from overseas find out that my husband is black, then I am really out. Then some of the black sisters shun me because they are angry that I am married to a black brother. Believe me, the pool of white Muslim brothers to choose from is not large. But Alhamdulillah, I wanted a practicing Muslim brother. I didn’t care what color he was.

    I’m glad that I wasn’t aware of this when I converted to Islam. I thought this BS was unique to being Jewish and white in America.

    Some say that white convert sisters are prized for marriage. While this may be true, I have also known numerous white convert sisters that have been used for green cards. Many end up divorced, even though they may have children, after the brother obtains his green card. Then he brings someone from “back home” here to marry. Or the white convert sisters finds herself a co-wife.

    Many of the white convert sisters only came to Islam AFTER they married a brother from overseas. Some of the brothers were dating these women and then married them. I used to attend a large masjid in an urban area where the Arabic classes were full of these sisters.

    Allah forgive us that we have these issues in our deen. Islam is for all people and for all time.

    Please forgive me if I offended anyone.

  12. It should be noted that Muslims in the Caucasus, and other people from Muslim regions, are referred to by northern Russians, who call themselves “white” as “blacks”.


    Very good points sister. Another thing, for the sisters who came to Islam because of men, I am not trying to put you down and masha’Allah you are Muslim, I am just putting things into context in my mind.

    Always the Moor,

    ( I will just repeat his words because I cannot say it better)

    Muslims of Eastern Europe (who have any Religious training–and not those poor lost souls who’ve been consumed by either the legacy of communism or materialism), they are not part of the Western (i.e., “white”) milieu. Are Muslims from Albania or western Turkey “Athens/Roman Centric” or are they “Mecca/Medinah Centric.” Who do the Eastern European Muslims (of Religious training) see as the good guys in history? Is it Umar, Tariq ibn Ziyyad, Salahud-Deen, Muhammad al-Fatih, and Sulayman the Magnificent? Or is it the creeps who raised the banner of kufr?

    White American Muslim men have to completely change the psychological orientation they were raised upon–and was reinforced into the deepest regions of the white man’s psyche by the society. When they supplant that Western heritage with the beauty of Islam, the person, in the sense i think Umar is speaking of, ceases being a “white” man. He becomes something new. And as a result, he is seen as a renegade who has embraced the nemesis of “white” civilization. This is (in the minds of such people) seen as the ultimate in “cultural apostasy.”


    Interesting comments I may follow up with a post on those questions

  13. Good conversations here.


    I am not a football fan, but I will support the Packers this year just because I look enough like Favre to be his twin. I even had a police officer tell me this once.

  14. I think gravitating was the wrong word for me to use.

    Use whatever word you like. Umar, you are an authentic product of your experiences and deserve to feel proud and secure in who you are. My question is not how black or white you feel. That’s your business. My question is what is the difference between a white boy who grows up in a non-white milieu from birth, a white boy who arrives there at the age of ten with his mother, or one who arrives there of his own free will at age 20? Give any of those people 20 years and basic social skills and you will find them to be nearly as comfortable, knowledgeable and accepted in their adopted community as you are in yours. (It just gets a bit harder with age.) So why are you hating on these newcomers? I still fail to see any difference between you and them except time. You may not have tried to acculturate, but that is what it is called.

    The only white people I can really relate to are those like I grew up with, hard-working blue-collar guys.

    This is hardly surprising or unique to you. The white people I relate to the best are the white people I grew up with too. That’s because they and I belong to the same socio-economic class, speak the same dialect and explored the same geography as kids.

    …white Muslims skin remains white, but are they viewed as brethren in white America? …. We no longer have a racial or ethnic group to identity with…

    Well, Umar, I’m not sure what to say. I never felt like I had “brethren in white America” *before* I became muslim. That’s because there is nothing more to being white than having white skin. To put it another way, there is nothing more to being white than not being discriminated against by white people. I would have zero in common with some random white man that you pluck off the streets of Arizona or some such place, other than we are both Americans, and that we have both never experienced discrimination based on our skin color. But beyond that… white racial identity? The only people I know of who talk about white racial identity are wh!te power lunatics. For the rest of us, I thought, white is not a meaningful racial designation. I wrote on this over at my blog in response to Abu Noor and I’m just going to paste that exchange here if you don’t mind:

    Abu Noor: that doesnt’ mean that you have to accept how other people see you as being the way you see yourself
    Agreed, absolutely. The next point I’ll be heading off to make at Umar’s is that “white” is not a defining characteristic of most white people’s identity, except for the few sorry bastards who fill out the ranks of the kl@n and the like. I don’t feel white because I have no blessed idea what feeling white means. White doesn’t explain anything about me, and I have no doubt that it doesn’t explain anything about you or any other white person. If I were to ask you to write down all the important things about you that make you who you are, you may write: muslim, father, lawyer, husband, Chicagoan, etc. Would “white” make the list? Would you even think to put it down? No, because the color of your skin is a meaningless signifier, if you are white. That is the greatest privilege of being white in American society, that I do not need to be defined by my skin color, that I am accepted as I am, that people see me and see a man, not a black man, not an Ayrab or anything else. The tragedy is that it doesn’t apply to everyone else.

    See Gary Kamiya’s excellent article on race for more of what I’m getting at here.

    there is no overriding American identity divorced from race for the vast majority of people and the culture in general

    Really? McDonalds is white food? Rugged individualism is a white ethic? Democratic process is a white institution? Jeans, t-shirt and a baseball cap are a white costume? There is nothing more that you could surmise about who or what a person is from the word “white” than you could from the word “American”, except that you would know he had never suffered discrimination from other white people.

    “Being white is not that much different [from being American]”, is that a serious statement?

    Yes. What I meant is that “white” is largely unshakeable. You can’t get rid of it. Clearly you disagree, but I’m not sure why yet.

    … If you think that Jews are seen as anything other than an “alien” group be a large and diverse segment of American society then I suggest you go and read some studies.

    Well, I am Jewish on my mother’s side, which qualifies me to claim Israeli citizenship. That’s pretty Jewish. And yet, I’ve never been treated badly, because nobody has any idea, because I’m *white*! See what I’m getting at here?

    … When you are white in America you are expected to act in a certain way and there is room for differences depending where you live and your economic status within that construct. If you fail to meet that vision you do not stop being white per se but you become a hated figure.

    So again, white or not white? I’m not understanding the distinctions you’re trying to make here. What is this way that *white* Americans are expected to act? Is this expectation any different from the way all Americans are expected to act? And who is making these expectations exactly? There seems to be this idea in your mind of a monolithic white culture, but I’m just not seeing it. This country is unimaginably vast, and the ways people live in it are unimaginably different. Bohemian gays in San Francisco? Blue Dog democrats in Detroit? Bible thumping baptists in the South? Are any or all of those “white” ways of being? Because there are blacks, hispanics and who knows who else in all of those demographics. What makes you white is how you are treated based on the color of your skin. Everything else is class, geography, education, religion, taste in music, where the Old Country is, etc.

    I also think that if you feel all of white America will accept you try going … to places like…

    Umar, I’m not trying to say *all* of America will accept me. There are ugly people here in our country that will hate others for all manner of reasons. I once saw a car in Detroit with a bumper-sticker saying “Speak English or go home!” Much to my surprise, the driver was black. This is a big country, Umar. There are now a number of people who are in fact Islamophobes and may hate on me if they can figure out that I’m muslim. These generally are the people that you seem to enjoy butting heads with on this blog and in real life. But they are at the moment just a tiny part of our great nation, and it is up to us to educate our countrymen with compassion and good sense so that things don’t get out of hand.

    if you are true to Islam you will become a stranger in your own land

    If you are true to Islam, you will live in this world like a stranger, for our true abode is the hereafter.

  15. Sometimes the beauty of the West and Islam come together perfectly. The best example would be JW Goethe, the polymath who is one of the best known figures and thinkers in European history. He would probably rank amoungst the ten most intelligent men who ever lived.

    Some claim he actually converted to Islam. I dont know about that, but his respect, even love for Islam and it’s Prophet, is well known.

    He made it well known in his writings that he rejected the Christian notion of Jesus.

    “Jesus felt pure and calmly thought
    Only the One God;
    Who made himself to be a god
    Offends His holy will.
    And thus the right(ness) has to shine
    What Mahomet also achieved;
    Only by the term of the One
    He mastered the whole world”

    “Already the so-called mahometan rosary [prayer-beeds] by which the name Allah is glorified with ninety-nine qualities is such a praise litany. Affirming and negating qualities indicate the inconceivable Being [Wesen]; the worshipper is amazed, submits and calms down.” (WA I, 7, 59)

    Goethe intended “to celebrate respectfully that night when the Prophet was given the Koran completely from above” He also wrote: “No one may wonder about the great efficiency of the Book. That is why it has been declared as uncreated by real admirers” and added to it: “This book will eternally remain highly efficacious/effective” (WA I, 7, 35/36)

    “Whether the Koran is of eternity?
    I don’t question that!…
    That it is the book of books
    I believe out of the muslim’s duty.”

    “Stupid that everyone in his case
    Is praising his particular opinion!
    If Islam means submission to God,
    We all live and die in Islam.”

  16. Abu Sinan,

    Then don’t EVER come to Wisconsin!

    You’ll immediately be pounced on by a huge mob, carried away, and deified.

    No joke.

    Might be fun for an intstant ego boost though, heh heh.

  17. Being white is about so much more than skin color. There is an established white American identity that is defined in opposition to others and it tends to dictate, aside from class, where you live and how you live.. I was probably about 4 or 5 when I figured that one out. . Malcolm X said this well when he said that white Muslims he met in Mecca would say they were white to describe themselves but when white Americans say they are white they mean “I am boss” and that is still true today no matter how you slice it. The white liberal may not burn a cross or have a bumper sticker like you describe, but can use the power of their position to dominate some aspects of the society to the exclusion of others and only allow those non-whites in who see the world like they do.

    Also, if you believe that Islamophobes are a “tiny fraction of this great nation” you are just wrong. Don’t take my word for it read the Pew Research Study and other reports show this and common sense tell us that. Someone like Michael Savage is not a fringe figure he is listened to by millions everyday and he has influences on the way people think and believe. Rudy Giuliani , the leading GOP contender, who has tens of millions of fans is running a campaign based on Islamophobia with Daniel Pipes and Peter King and other people on his team who may believe, as one man once said “over 80% of mosques in America are controlled by radical Muslims”.

  18. Fairuza,

    I wonder if there is any money in it? Some people do Michael Jackson inpersonation, why not Favre impersonations?

    I can call myself “Favre the Fake”.


  19. Abu,

    Without doing any research, I could almost guarantee that you would book a thousand gigs right off the bat.

    You could do “Fake’n Favre” for kids birthday parties.

    Ooooh, that would be HYSTERICAL!

    That just may be your million dollar meal ticket, Brother.

  20. I just cannot get too skinny. My wife and sister in law say when I am skinny is when I look like him most. Around 220, at 6’2′, I look most like him.

    BTW, he was born on October 10 and has two girls. I was born on October 3rd and have two boys.

    My wife say this picture the other day and was like “OMG…… have a long last twin brother”

  21. The Peace of G_d be upon you,

    Prophet Muhammed never asked any group of people who he shared this new view on life (Al-Islam) with to abandon the traditions or Stories in their cultures that didnt contradict the powerfull tawheedic principles of this message. Every group is allowed to keep alive, celebrate, pass on and find wisdom in their journey forward from the past in to the future, but those who ALLAH allows to stay alive, vital and signifigant are those who respect the unity of all of humanity, and value, dignity, and potential in all groups to grow organicaly into functional, unique, self providing, self thinking contributors to the spice, smell, and color of the human table. MY CONTRIBUTING MESSAGE IS “WHITENESS” IS THE CREATED, CONCIOUSLY AND UNCONCIOUSLY PASSED ON MINDSET THAT BLOCKS THIS PROCESS OR ALLOWS AS AN ILLUSION FOR IT TO EXIST TO PROMOTE LONG TERM SURVIVAL OF THIS MINDSET. LET GO OF “WHITENESS” EMBRACE YOUR ADAMIC/KHALIFIC IDENTITY WHICH CHAMPIONS THE WORK ETHIC, MORALS, COMRADERY, PRIDE, INGENUITY, AND INTEGRITY OF THE BEST OF OUR FORE-FATHERS IN THIS COUNTRY. CHECK THE WISDOM @ http://WWW.NEWAFRICARADIO.COM

  22. The real problem facing a muslim packers fan – trying to find halal brats for the tailgate that taste like Johnsonville. Can’t have a packers party without the brats.

  23. I feel the need to jump in here and try to moderate a little bit. I believe that Umar is making generalizations culled from years of experience and observation and is not talking the particular (exceptional) individual cases.

    Again, what Umar (i believe) is talking about is the “white mentality” that Malcolm said was not in the minds of the white Hajis. We are not talking about a skin color–but a mind set. For sure, “whiteness” is more than just a person happening to have a fair complexion. We are talking about an entire culture that is built upon white supremacy–and the need to preserve “whiteness” at all cost. (Simply put: there is a difference between a Muslim who happens to be white and a “white” man.)

    Virtually all white Americans are racists–and it would be extremely hard for them not to be. Of course, i am not talking about racist, like in a Klansman sense, but how can a white person–adopting the prevailing standards of the society–not feel a sense of superiority? They, afterall, own and run virtually everything, and their power has never been challenged (meaning challenged to the extent that whiteness might be overthrown–not merely resisted in isolated pockets in isolated pockets of history). White people ARE SUPERIOR, afterall, by the standards they established–and he expects and demands others to live up to his standards. That is, in itself, white/Western supremacy.

    Being white is taken for granted by white people. I remember how a good white friend demonstrated his latent racism in how he used language, for example, with the word, “people.” When he said “people,” he meant WHITE people. However, when he spoke of African-Americans, he would be careful to say BLACK people. So a group of whites is merely a congregation of “people.” But when it is a group of African-Americans, it has to be prefaced by BLACK people.

    It’s like this: a (devout) white Muslim is first and foremost a Muslim in his encounters with people of other races and religions. With the “white man,” he is not first and foremost a Christian, agnostic, or atheist in his dealings with non-whites; he is first and foremost a “white man.” This is a subtle but significant psychological difference.

    Much of the Western/white identity is based upon race, but it is also intimately related to Islam. As i said the concept of Europe is not so much a geographical construct, but it is a religious one. Likewise, the “West” is not a geographical construct but a religious and racial one. Afterall, Tunis is further “west” than Rome and Timbuktu is further “west” than Paris; yet, Tunis and Timbuktu are never called “Western” countries.

    Recently, i saw a program on Muslim Spain, and the narrator said something to the effect: “Muslim Spain was far moor advanced than Europe in the Middle Ages.” Well, you can’t get much further “west” in Europe than Spain, but yet, Spain was not considered part of Europe at the time. The only reason was because it was governed by Muslims.

    In the mind of the “white man,” Islam is seen as alien and threatening and a threat to his cultural hegemony. Also, in the “white man’s” mind, Islam consists of an amalgamation of brown, black, and various “mulatto” races. The white-looking people among the Muslims (e.g., Albanians, Bosnians, Turks, Lebanese) are also not considered to be “part of the club” of whiteness. In part, perhaps, because those white-looking Muslims are not nearly as willing to maintain the bulwark of white racial preservation as the Western European “white man.” That is, historically, white Muslims have been far more willing to intermarry than the “white man.” So not only are these white-Muslims considered traitorous on a religious level, they are also racially traitorous.

    Simply reflect on the issue of Latino immigration. Part of it, of course, is economic, but much of what is motivating the immigration hysteria is straight up racism. Regardless of how Hispanics are classified on the census, we all know that (most) Mexicans ain’t white folk. Similarly, much of what fuels Islamophobia is not just religion–but race. In the mind of the “white man,” Islam is a religion of non-whites and white race traitors.

    A white American convert–especially, one who has grown up amongst whites–cannot help but inherit this sense of racist egocentricity. And it soon becomes clear that a white convert is almost immediately taken out of his comfort zone. Islam simply isn’t about the [so-called] “glories of the white race/ Western civilization.” To the contrary, the white convert finds that his (former) culture and civilization keeps turning upon the wrong side of history. However, with Islam, he finally has the means to liberate his mind from the white man’s burden and become a full-fledged member of humanity.

  24. Ahhhh Rahma,

    I sense that you are a true “Sconi”…not too many know about Johnsonville brats!

    Anyways, I HATE brats and all other German food with a passion. My wonderful German Dad force- fed me kraut and knockwurst when I was a kid and I grew up vowing to never touch the stuff.

    The closest I get to eating a bratwurst is a Hebrew National hotdog every now and then, and with great trepidation. Other than that, forget it!

  25. Salaam ‘Alaikum

    //However, with Islam, he finally has the means to liberate his mind from the white man’s burden and become a full-fledged member of humanity.//

    Gee, here I thought the embrace of Islam was freeing oneself from the kufr mindset. I didn’t know White people got an extra set of benefits. Man, they get everything.

    You’ve got to show me where in the Qur’an that bit about White people becoming full humans is.

  26. Bin Gregory has sweetly and simply shown the term ‘White’ as a slippery attribute . Its really meaningless and as useful as ‘Blackness’ or ‘darkness’ or ‘lightness’.

    Context is relevant. In certain places, terms are mistaken for things, but it is clear ‘whiteness’ has a recent history, traced to a particular historical trajectory, and thrives under certain social and political conditions.

    It has not the same relevance in Britain today as it appears to have in the US. A new set of tensions, generating its own new semantics, thrives in Europe, with much the same urgency which moved the Pre-Renaissance Europe regarding Al Andalous.

    Whiteness means more to blacks than many ‘Whites’.
    I’m not convinced by assertions of casting the Platonic dialogues, Renaissance and Enlightenment intellectual trends within the framework of the ante-bellum South. It is a bit ludicrous to do so. Bin Gregory, like many, did not find anything in ‘Whiteness’. Where he lived it did not make sense. Blackness and Whiteness were problems for Umar because of his own peculiar social situation. Americanising race-relations ends with the confusions over Albanian and Caucasion identities and is as helpful as history as a debate over the rights of the Jebusites to Jerusalem. What Goethe saw in Islam was coloured by his reading of the Persian Sufi poets and Schopenhauer, who had contempt for Islam, shared a deep love of the classical Vedanta philosophy. Whiteness to such men meant little and the latter, an ardent opponent of slavery, viewed it as a ‘vulgar’ and ‘distinctly’ American expression of cruelty.

  27. Ok, so to sum up, inshallah, borrowing heavily from Always the Moor’s careful insights above:

    Whiteness as understood by Umar means being treated better by whites and also treating non-whites worse. Giving and receiving this preferential treatment is the defining characteristic of whiteness as put forward by Umar. Since this whiteness is a behavior, not a phenotype, let’s follow Umar’s suggestion and call this cultural whiteness.

    Upon becoming muslim, one stops treating non-whites worse and therefor relinquishes one half of cultural whiteness. But to some degree, the white-skinned muslim is still sometimes treated better by cultural whites and therefor doesn’t fully stop benefiting from cultural whiteness. Did I get that right? Because if I did, then we agree. Alhamdulillah.

    Still, I would still prefer to call this phenomenon racism. It seems more straightforward to me to say a true muslim stops being racist but may or may not benefit from racism, depending on the degree to which the racist person that he encounters hates muslims. But aside from that slight semantic quibble, and our differences of opinion on the pervasiveness of islamophobia, I think we’re more or less on the same page.

    Thanks for the discussion, O Umar. wa salaamu alaykum.

  28. Abu Sinan – Goethe was amazing, and that period of German history produced a lineage of truly original thinkers. Along with Goethe, his contemporary Samuel Hahnemann and his intellectual descendants Rudolf Steiner and Hermann Hesse have all been very influential in my life.

  29. As Salaamu Alaikum:

    Bin Gregory said this:

    Well, I am Jewish on my mother’s side, which qualifies me to claim Israeli citizenship. That’s pretty Jewish. And yet, I’ve never been treated badly, because nobody has any idea, because I’m *white*! See what I’m getting at here?

    Bin Gregory, my family was treated badly as Jews by those who knew us because of our name “Levine”. That’s how they “knew” we were Jewish. Plus we did look different from “them” due to our semitic features. Bin Gregory, perhaps you are younger and do not remember how Jewish people were treated in America. I am almost 60 years old and have a different experience. For example, remember when Bess Myerson won Miss America, she couldn’t honor her commitments for appearances because, like black people, Jews were not permitted entrance to many places in America where whites were allowed.

    Even in the masjid, Arabs who don’t know me try to speak Arabic to me. I have had Pakistanis tell me that they thought I was an Arab just by looking at me. It’s the semitic features. I’m not perceived as being white American by the Arabs and Pakis who don’t know me! I have always felt different and separate from whites in America because I was Jewish.

    I grew up in New York City in the 1950s. White people then didn’t look at each other as “white” people but rather from what group they were from. i.e., Italians, Polish, Irish, etc. The conflict back then was calling each other “spic” “wop” “dumb polack” “hunky” etc. So the “privilege” wasn’t about being white, but rather what group thought themselves to be superior.

  30. Dear sister Safiyyah (can I say auntie?) –

    My mother, who is only slightly younger than you, claims she has a jew-dar whereby she can identify jews on sight. A generation later, I have lost this ability. And I don’t think goyim in general are any better at this than me. You might say I’m mixed-race I suppose, since my father is polish catholic, but to me, the term is meaningless. In my parents’ day, their marriage was unusual and fraught with racial tension. Now, it’s so common it’s not worth mentioning. The only time I ever was asked if I was Jewish was when I was wearing a too-small kufi one day, already a muslim. So tell me, when he asked me if I was Jewish, what should I have said? It’s true there are Jews who stand out by their appearance, but I think it’s fair to say that on the whole, Jews are blending into white America easier than ever. I do appreciate that that wasn’t so for your generation. But race is very fluid – these things change. Some of the most interesting topics in race are those raised by Tariq Nelson about how things are shifting from white and non-white to black and non-black – in other words, asians are going to be let into the club. Whether this plays out or not is anybody’s guess.

    Also, not to be too irreverent or anything about such a leaden topic, but this news item bears reading: I Can Instantly Tell Whether Someone Is African-American With My Amazing ‘Blackdar’

  31. Umm Zaid,

    Let’s be fair here, i have repeatedly said that “whiteness”–in the context it is being used here–is referring to the racist mindset that has predominated in Western, and particular American (US) society, for the past few hundred years. The Prophet was a “white man”–as in he was described as being fair skinned. So i DEFINTELY don’t have anything against fair skinned people.

    I am talking about a mindset of white supremacy that is predicated on the suppression or destruction of non-white people, and that is largely because a “colored” person represents, in the least, a genetic threat to “whiteness.” A white man can only keep “whiteness” alive to the degree that he can keep “colored” men away from his women.

    The opposition to Islam in America is not only a matter of `Aqidah–many Americans don’t have a clue about Islamic`Aqidah–it is a matter of “race.” You have until today plenty of whites in America still asking if white people can become Muslim. This obviously indicates that they don’t consider folks who look like Saddam Hussein or President Bashar of Syria as “fellow whites,” although they are as “white” looking as many Greeks and Italians. To the contrary, those white looking Arabs are actually called sand n!ggers. Racism/white supremacy is intimately wrapped up in Islamophobia.

    When i used the statement about “becoming human,” i was alluding to Malcolm X’s statement when he was on Hajj that it was the first time he felt fully human. He felt fully human for the first time for very different reasons than a white Muslim may, but what Islam does (when one is obedient) is afford all Americans (or all people) to feel a sense of completeness because one becomes perfectly clear that the ultimate distinction between human beings is a matter of Creed and deeds–and not complexion or color.

  32. This is a quote from Malcolm’s Letter From Mecca,” which helps explain what is meant by the difference between being “white” in complexion and being “white/racist” in mentality:

    During the past eleven days here in the Muslim world, I have eaten from the same plate, drunk from the same glass, and slept in the same bed (or on the same rug)–while praying to the same God–with fellow Muslims, whose eyes were the bluest of blue, whose hair was the blondest of blond, and whose skin was the whitest of white. And in the words and in the actions in the deeds of the ‘white’ Muslims, I felt the same sincerity that I felt among the black African Muslims of Nigeria, Sudan, and Ghana.

    We were truly all the same (brothers)–because their belief in one God had removed the white from their minds, the white from their behavior, and the white from their attitude.

    I could see from this, that perhaps if white Americans could accept the Oneness of God, then perhaps, too, they could accept in reality the Oneness of Man–and cease to measure, and hinder, and harm others in terms of their ‘differences’ in color.

    With racism plaguing America like an incurable cancer, the so-called ‘Christian’ white American heart should be more receptive to a proven solution to such a destructive problem.

  33. Umar Lee sees “whiteness” as a bad thing. I see “whiteness” as an enitirely neutral thing, as well as a consequence of genetics. Umar Lee is a self-hating racist. I’m not.

  34. Bin Gregory,

    Let me speak for myself now. Certainly this “whiteness” i am speaking of is a form of racism. But it is not the same as the anti-black racsim of Arabs, for example. I’ve lived in the Mid-East and encountered the racial bigotry of the Arabs (which is also associated with class and national origin) , and it is different from the “white guy” racism.

    Let me also be clear that i am talking more in a historical context. Not that there isn’t plenty of white racism going on today, it is not what it was. And also, white manhood is under attack by this socially engineered and artificial system of multi-culturalism and so-called “Political Correctness.” Consequently, many whites are not allowed to express their racism and racial frustration in polite society. Nonetheless it’s there.

    Traditional Arab racism (not that which was inheritted from the Euro-colonizers) was perhaps based as much upon a sense of cultural superiority (by way of actual accomplishments) as it was based upon the color of people’s skin. In spite of that, being an Arab was never an “exclusive club.” I mean by that, that an Arab man could go anywhere in the world and have Arab children. Consequently, we find people from Mauratenia to Maylaysia calling themselves “Arabs,” because Arabs intermarried with various ethnicities. These “multi-cultural” Arabs have been for the most part, i believe, considered “real Arabs.” They weren’t mere pretenders–or “wannabes.” And even “wannabes” who didn’t even have a drop of Arab blodd in them could get away with being Arab, if they adopted various cultural habits.

    In the case of “whiteness”–i.e., Western white racism–if you weren’t “white,” i.e., Western European, you weren’t in the club. A white man could not have a child with a non-white woman and expect that his child could be part of the “white club”–regardless of how “white” that child would be in taste and mannerism. Simply consider all the Mexican-mestizos. Could they get on a plane and go to Madrid, Spain, and declare their “Spanishness?” How accepted would such a person be amongst the European Spaniards (again, prior to this recent chapter of multi-cultural Europe). Nonetheless, a clearly black looking man can leave Khartoum and go to any (other) Arab country and declare that he is an Arab, and the locals would say: “Well, what else could you possibly be?!?”

    Lastly, i think that a serious and devout white Muslim may face a greater wrath from white racists and Islamophobes (and on Islamophobia, i don’t agree with you–but we’ll save that for later) than a black Muslim. We all know that black folk are pretty much out of the loop. We (African-Americans) will never be a part of mainstream America–without America changing radically from what it is and its values (and i don’t mean it becoming more PC). White folks didn’t trust us in the first place, so in becoming Muslim, we are not seen as betraying anyone. Just the fact we are black, always makes us suspect–or potential–Muslims in the eyes of white America.

    A white Muslim, however, is seen as traitorous by white America, and traitors must be dealt with accordingly. White America feels that it must stamp out Islam–especially among its own kind–for if more and more whites become Muslim, the “real” white folks won’t know who to trust. People’s daughters might become Muslim. White men in positions of political influence might become Muslim, and if that happens in significant numbers (of course it happens now, but in relatively isolated cases), you are looking at a very serious threat to the American cultural system (at least in the minds of the racists/Islamophobes). So, in summary, i’d agree that a “sell out” white Muslim will have it easier than an African-American Muslim, but a devout white Muslim who takes a stand for his Deen is likely to face more persecution than a black Muslim.

  35. (This is still “Always the Moor”–i am just trying to redirect folks to my new and up and coming blog here at Word Press. I am new to this blogging thing, but it seems to be a good venue to discuss issues. If someone wants to bounce over to my spot and rap about race or other matters, feel free to do so. I will try to provide some material on Islam in Spanish (i have one thing up already)


    I don’t think Umar is guilty of self-hatred. I don’t think he looks in the mirror and can’t stand the fact he is fair skinned. I think he is trying to develop a candid discussion on race and identity. MANY white people are uncomfortable with that, for they have always taken being white for granted and assumed “whiteness” is the norm. However, when a white person becomes Muslim, they are immediately thrust not only into the numerical minority, but also the “frame of reference” minority.

    For instance, when whites deal with blacks (among the non-Muslims), the white person can be assured the upper hand, because the discussion is ultimately framed within the context of white/Western culture (i.e., black American thinkers are still relegated to Western thinkers and modes of thought). If a black person attempts to engage in an intellectual discussion but he isn’t familiar with the “heavy hitters of Western thought, he is seen as educationally inadequate.

    On the other hand, in the case of Islam, we all see white converts struggle making the cultural adjustment. Also, Islam is not about Western culture/thinkers. The heroes of Western thought are largely irrelevant to the Muslims. We have own system of values, jurisprudence, government, theology, and spirituality that does not use the West as a frame of reference. Often making this adjustment is difficult on white converts, for like i said, they have always had the luxury to assume that everything was “about them.” In Islam, white people become the minority, and that can be challenging.

  36. This obsession with race has got to be unhealthy – and what is seen as constituting “black” and “white” is constantly taken from an over-simplified American perspective. Communities living side by side all over the world have differences based on culture and language, and, yes, history which is so often unjust. All societies have their respective histories which may or may not have parallels with that of the United States. Maybe it’s just my own thinking, but over the years I’ve come to see these issues (of people characterising one another on the basis of the “group” they are in – with all the friction it causes) in a different light.
    In the “old” world – it gets called tribalism – and in the “new” world – possibly because of the simplification caused by the juxtaposition of Norther Europeans and Sub-Saharan Africans – it gets called racism. That it may in reality be an extended and particular form of tribalism does not get considered. Tribalism always seeks to preserve privilege – look at ruling elites just about everywhere. Isn’t that just what white racism in the USA sets about to achieve?

    I’m sorry to say, close observation of groups of people who appear on the face of it to a Westerner to be racist, but are in reality intensely tribalistic, has forced me to review all the assumptions that I have made in the past about this issue. Without going into all the ugly manifestations of this, maybe it will suffice to say that when cousin marriages are the only way considered by the “tribe” as an acceptable way of perpetuating itself, then how can members of this group consider themselves to be part of a global ummah / community, in any way?

    By turning all this into black and white, people are just imposing a grossly simplified, “new world”, view on Africa, Europe and beyond. Do they all really need to re-examine their issues with “our” particular take on a universal problem, and our weird, hung up and dysfunctional way of dealing with it?

  37. sorry to be the one to break the news but….. Umar Lee is not white. Never been white and really can’t weigh in properly on this discussion.

  38. This may sound cultist but why dont all white muslims choose a city and migrate there so we can have a cultural center that way we dont have to deal with kafir whites or non white friendly muslims. that might also help with keeping white converts in the religion inshallah

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