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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

On the subject of "Passing"

Brother Tariq Nelson ("Reality Broker" extraordinaire) touches on the idea of "passing", particularly in the Muslim world. As an African American female, I have some strong opinions about this concept. My thoughts are to share and not to offend. I wrote this pretty quickly so please excuse all errors. If I have not expressed my thoughts fully, my apologies. I am interested in what readers think about this. You opinions(dissenting or concurring) are appreciated.

I think that marrying for the purpose of whitening up the family, is the opposite of intelligent. I think that doing such a thing does nothing but perpetuate the abuse and discrimination against those of darker skin, who may not have such an option.

In my opinion, to marry for such a purpose would be a slap in the face to those who survived the Middle Passage. I think it would be a sign of impatience, ignorance, and self-hatred. It would undoubtedly be a sign of weakness. I am sorry, but I don't even want to go to "Muslim" countries due to their innate racist ways, and I don't see a reason why African Americans should go backwards, rather than forward.

Several Muslim countries were/are negatively affected by European influences . Many of those who endure such influences exhibit signs of the colonial mentality , equating beauty and worth with whatever the Europeans considered to be beautiful and worthy. This means that it is not really the beauty of the natives, but the beauty of the European which is admired. I can't possibly see why such an idea would benefit anyone but those who are European. This is not to slight those of European ancestry either. I could cite several Europeans who I find attractive, but they really don't need my reinforcement! One could argue that Europeans already have a confident view of themselves as a whole. Why do all other groups, not deserve the same? What does it mean to submit to the idea that a race of humans is inferior, when we all are supposed to submit to this:

"O Mankind, We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other. Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God is he who is the most righteous of you" (Quran 49:13)

I know that this has been cited by various Muslims , but it is the word of Allah. It does not matter how people are treating you, as a Muslim you have to put Allah first. Were it not for my skin, I might not have the sympathy for those who are oppressed around the world. My skin is a blessing to me, and it affords me perspective that many others lack. To rob my progeny of such perspective would be to put them in an Islamic disadvantage. To release my children among those who think superiority is within the melanin content of the skin, would be faulty. My family has done well against all odds, without blending or passing. Allah is with the believers, and does not prefer one hue over the other. The proof lies within Islamic History as well as today, whether we acknowledge it or not.

Another thing my skin affords me, is something the hijab(and other Islamic dress) affords me, weeding out. My dark hue is something that some people don't particularly like. If they have racist ways or bigoted tendencies, please tell me why I should ignore it, and invite them into my life? This is the same for hijab. If people don't accept me as a Muslim woman, they can go to Hell. Why do I want to be associated with such people?

Also, who is to say that those who attempt to white-out the family won't have a child or grandchild with features which aren't exactly "acceptable"? I have seen two very dark people produce a child with hazel eyes and sandy blond hair. My child is particularly light considering the complexion of his parents. I have seen a dark-skinned man and a light-skinned woman produce a beautiful Crayola-Brown child.

It is my belief that attempting to create a "passing" family, does little in the way of Islam. Furthermore, even outside of Islam, the harm of it outweighs the benefit. How could one maintain the belief that all people are equal, when they are demonstrating the exact opposite? Such actions only adds fuel to the fire of oppression and color-based superiority.

I think it is cool that people want to mix it up and see beyond race, but marrying solely to make your children lighter is a practice which is and always will be flawed.


  1. as-salaam alaykum,

    While colonialism certainly has had an effect on beauty standards, we can't - in my estimation - lay the blame for this entirely on it.

    Please read my thoughts here

  2. As salaamu alaikum,

    Thanks for your comments.

    I actually read the post and I saw the video as well.

    I can't just accept that I am "ugly" just because some group of idiots think so. There are others who would beg to differ.

    I agree with you, we can't blame racism entirely on colonialism. Colonialism is not the inventor of stupidty.

  3. Assalaamu alaikum....

    Here in Egypt a dark man rarely takes a dark woman for a fact....I know of a family whose whitish son took a dark woman for a bride.....and one in the family really likes her. It's sad.......

  4. Salaam sis,

    I recently wrote an article concerning African-Americans and Islam in America. The subject is in two parts entitled, The Unknown Islam in America [1] and [2].



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