Aaisha’s Ramadaan diaries, Day 7: on bigotry

Day 7

The Quranic verse 17:37,

وَلَا تَمْشِ فِي الْأَرْضِ مَرَحًا ۖ إِنَّكَ لَن تَخْرِقَ الْأَرْضَ وَلَن تَبْلُغَ الْجِبَالَ طُولًا

roughly translates to, “Do not walk proudly on the earth; your feet cannot tear apart the earth nor are you as tall as the mountains.”

This is a verse I think of often. It’s a reminder I have to use to keep myself in check first, always, and it’s something I need to remind others of.

Because a lot of us – Muslims, I mean – are very bigoted in our nature. And OF COURSE, I am generalising. But I feel like this is something I need to say. We’re Muslims yes, but we have our deep elements of “problematicness”, which sometimes makes us hypocritical more than anything else. And I’m really tired of it. I think it’s a really necessary and relevant part of Ramadan to be confronting it and thinking about ways to overcome it – and I’m talking to and about myself first.

I was shocked to hear about the Orlando killings. The killing of innocent people is not acceptable under any circumstances. The fact that the shooter was Muslim in name is irrelevant – he never proclaimed that the shooting was in the name of Islam, and it’s wrong for other people to make the assumption that that was his intention. To the people saying he was a non-practising Muslim so can’t even call himself one – while this all may be true, only God can judge his “Muslimness”.

But that aside, I am really annoyed at how just generally intolerant some Muslims can be – especially in my own community. I had such a beautiful experience on Sunday, where I joined in with a few friends running a feeding scheme to provide meals for those who are less fortunate. And just after, I heard about people I know who make sure they make a few spaces look occupied at the mosque so that Malawian (BLACK) Muslims also praying there won’t sit next to them.

It’s no good if you’re performing perfunctory actions – praying, fasting – without having proper intention, or really meaning what you’re doing (and this is a reminder to myself first, always). If you’re nasty to people, or a racist, or sexist, then you’re complicit in injustice.

We need to confront these things. We need to check our egos and our pride, and be mindful of how they’re affecting our day-to-day lives. We’ve got plenty of soul-searching to do. But that’s what Ramadan is for – to put these things into perspective. And to better ourselves. And I hope I’ll improve my own condition – and I wish you all the best in you improving yours.

PS: As much as I can reflect on bigotry, I want to reiterate: my space is not a space to fight anyone else’s bigotry. Please keep in mind that these are my own views and thoughts. Thank you.

This is a special Ramadaan series by our fave Muslim reporter, Aaisha Dadi Patel. To catch up on Day 6’s musings, click here.