Feb 28 2014
A new Muslim group co-founded by metro Detroiters is launching a social media campaign urging Arabs not to use Arabic racial slurs against African Americans.
(In my humble opinion, this is like putting lipstick on a pig. You can shame Arab Muslims into not using the “A” word, but you can’t erase the fact that Arab Muslims have been and are still complicit in producing and maintaining structures that dehumanize, abuse, exploit, and devalue Black people. See links at bottom)
Detroit Free Press via TROP Called “Drop the A-Word,” the campaign asks Arab-Americans to stop using the words “abed” and “abeed,” Arabic words that they sometimes use as slurs against black people in the way some might use the N-word. The group asks participants to use the hashtag — which allows Twitter users to read responses — #DropTheAWord.
“Abed” and its plural form “Abeed” mean a “slave” or “servant” in the Arabic language. In and of themselves, the words are not necessarily slurs; in fact, some Arabs have the name “Abed,” which can mean a person who’s a servant of God.
But the words are also often used as slurs to label black people, said Arab-American and civil rights advocates. “We should stop using ‘abeed’ to describe or reference people of African descent,” said Majed Moughni, a Dearborn attorney who’s not involved with the new group but supports its efforts. “It’s being used in a racial sense, and that’s derogatory.”
Given that Detroit has a large black population and Dearborn has the highest concentration of Arab Americans in the U.S., the effort has struck a chord locally.
In recent months, the director of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Dawud Walid, who is African American, has highlighted the use of the slur on Twitter by Arabs against black people.
Maybe Dawud should worry about his own racism against Jews:
On social media and in a September op-ed for the Arab American News in Dearborn titled “Fellow humans are not abeed,” Walid asked Arab Americans to stop using the slur. Two weeks ago, Walid noted on Twitter that a person of Lebanese descent in Dearborn used the term “abeed” while he was in earshot.
To deal with such racism, Muslim Americans formed the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative earlier this year. Several of its core group include Namira Islam, a Novi attorney, Diala Khalife, an Arab-American advocate in Ann Arbor, and Azra Ali, principal of a Muslim school in Franklin. It includes Arab-American, African-American and Bangladeshi-American members.
“We are building and collecting the tools needed to creatively address and effectively challenge anti-blackness and racism in Muslim communities,” the group says.
“Drop the A-Word” effort is the latest Twitter conversation the new group has held this year on African-American Muslims during Black History Month. The others were #BeingBlackAndMuslim, #BlackMuslimFuture and #UmmahAntiBlackness. “Ummah” refers to the Muslim community.
In addition, the new group wrote an open letter asking imams to talk about Malcolm X during their sermon on Feb. 21, which was the anniversary of his shooting death in 1965.
Muslim slave trade in Africa has lasted 14 centuries and continues to this day in places like Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan.
Over 17 million slaves (mostly black women and children) were transported out of Africa by Islamic traders. Another 85 million are believed to have died en route.
The Prophet Muhammad practiced and approved of slavery, and directed his men to do the same.
The Qur’an devotes more verses to informing Muslim men of their right to keep women as sex slaves, than it does to telling them to pray five times a day.
The Arabic word for “black” (Abid) is synonymous with the word for “slave”.
Muhammad’s father-in-law, Umar declared that Arabs could not be taken as slaves, and freed all Arab slaves. This led to the wide Islamic campaign to capture slaves in Africa, Europe and Asia.
Western slave trade exploited Africans primarily for agricultural labor. The Arab slave trade on the other hand, has more often used men for military service, and women for sex and for their wombs – to produce children who will be Muslims.
Many Muslim leaders since Muhammad have had harems of hundreds (or even thousands) of non-Muslim young girls and women to service their desires.
Converting to Islam does not automatically grant a slave his freedom, although this is said to increase the slave master’s heavenly reward.
According to Islamic courts, slave masters may treat their slaves however they choose without fear of penalty.