It was Eid-al Adha, one of the two primary Islamic holidays. I was at a butcher shop along with several others waiting to slaughter a goat, following the tradition of the Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him). “You’re the first white Muslim I’ve seen,” a surly slaughterhouse employee remarked.
I smiled and nodded my head, battling my inner rage. I’m used to these sort of comments. At this point I’m numb to them. Unbeknownst to the slaughterhouse employee and others like him, there are millions of white Muslims worldwide. Albania, Bosnia and Kosovo all have a Muslim majority, and they’re also white Europeans.
In the North Caucasus region of Eurasia, where the people are literally Caucasian, the inhabitants also adhere to Islam. Islam is not a race. You don’t need to be dark-skinned to pray five times a day or make the pilgrimage to Mecca. This same rhetoric was used during the Civil Rights movement when Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam were labeled “Black Muslims.” Half of Africa is Muslim. A majority of Asia is Muslim. Islam is a world religion.
The idea that people can’t subscribe to a certain religion because of their race aims to keep them marginalized. Converts are shamed for rejecting the role and identity society assigned to them. They’re told to stay in their place and not question institutional norms.
When I wear a skullcap or give an outward expression of my faith, I get dirty looks. People think I’ve abandoned my white, protestant Anglo-Saxon roots for a desert fable. How does someone going to church on Sunday or Jumah Prayer on Friday reflect their ethnicity?
With the United States becoming more and more diverse, it’s ignorant for people to make statements saying that one part of someone’s identity contradicts the other. I’m a white Muslim and so are millions of people around the world. I’m proud of who I am and the identity I’ve created for myself, and I’m not looking for anyone’s approval except God’s.