INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The conversation around equality and tearing down racism continues in WISH-TV’s series “We Stand Together.”
For some, ethnicity isn’t the only battle they are facing but in some cases, religion. Injustice is what thousands are protesting and marching to end. But outside of that, some are using education to help break down barriers.
Ibrahim Alghani with the Muslim Alliance of Indiana says the organization is doing that but they’re also pushing for justice because it’s what God requires.
ALGHANI: There’s quite a bit of things that have taken place in the last several months in America. What I think is that they are all tied together. For example, as a Black American, I’ve known growing up in a society that has been constant and pervasive inequality and discrimination in jobs, education, housing, criminal justice and health. A lot of my non-Black colleagues were not aware of that. Or they claim to have not been aware of it. But now with the pandemic, instances of police brutality, the low value placed on Black lives, it’s harder for people to feign ignorance. It’s harder for people to act like they don’t know. So we have this pandemic and then you have Black Americans dying doing routine things. We have Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, who was killed while sleeping. Routine things. You have Ahmaud Arbery being killed while jogging. Then you have also the weaponization of race. Then you have Amy Cooper and Christian Cooper in a New York City park. On the same day, of the tipping point, you have the George Floyd situation where an individual, a creation of God, a human being’s life was taken away from him in such a fashion. When someone stood on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. So now people have been galvanized. And it’s not just Black America. It’s people from all different backgrounds and they want to address racial inequality and the Muslim community and MAI is no different.
WINFREY: What’s the challenge for you because as a Black person, you have a list of things that you’re facing but also, as a Muslim, there is a whole other set. What’s your life like when you combine both of those parts of yourself?
ALGHANI: Characteristics of being a Muslim and an African American have made my life more difficult being in America. And they both have given me a unique perspective. In fact, many of my non-Black Muslims really had no idea what Black folks went through until 9/11 happened. And they saw that just having a name like Muhammad, Kadija or Ibrahim made you much less likely to get an interview for a job to get a call back — to get opportunities that other people with more common names in America would receive. Being a Black Muslim, being a Black American, I know that things will not be easy for me. But I count both as blessings.
WINFREY: For you all, I’ve seen a lot of agencies show their support and back these movements. Are there any specific things the Muslim Alliance of Indiana is doing to continue that push for justice?
ALGHANI: Like I indicated earlier, racial equality, racial justice is aligned with our mission. So what we have done, first of all, we put out a statement along with other Muslim organizations and community leaders saying that we were unequivocally and unabashedly in support of racial justice and on board with racial equality. Secondly, we have begun hosting webinars and we continue to host the webinars in which we educate the Muslim community about the African American narrative in the African American experience, the African American Muslim experience. We have racism in our community, so these webinars really have three purposes: to share the experiences of African Americans, to educate our communities about racism and to galvanize and try to organize Muslims to take action to address racial inequality and racial injustice in America. In fact, it is part of our faith. We cannot be spectators as Muslims on this particular topic. In the Quran, chapter 4, it says, Oh you who believe stand out firmly for justice. Be custodians of justice. We have teachings which say it is forbidden to be an oppressor and we should side with the oppressed.
WINFREY: And finally do you suggest anyone else take action? Even if they are not part of a specific organization, to just kind of do it on their own?
ALGHANI: The benefits of taking action at this time is if you want to see a better America. If you want to see a more just America, this is an opportunity to contribute to that, and I think that here, our purpose here in life as Muslims, we believe our purpose here is to worship God. To praise God and to do actions that are pleasing to God. And I can’t think of a better way to worship God and do things that are pleasing to God and praise God than standing up for justice and fight against oppression.