Policy proposals

Policy Proposal For Restructuring of UK Islamic Societies

Issue Statement

According to research conducted by Black Muslim Forum between June and December 2019 whereby 100 Black British Muslims responded to our survey exploring the racialized mistreatment they had undergone, 84% of respondents felt that overall they did not belong to their university’s Islamic society. Whilst 100 participants is a small sample size making it difficult to generalize trends for the entire UK Black British Muslim population, this statistic is nonetheless alarming and requires immediate attention and intervention.

Anecdotal reports over time to Black Muslim Forum have included Black British Muslim individuals feeling marginalized within their Islamic society, ignored and undermined. More specifically, from our research, the ways in which Black British Muslims are racially mistreated are as a result of Arab and Asian cultures superimposing colourist ideals onto Black Muslims; additionally, the subversion of African Caribbean cultures as being “impermissible”; mistreatment in mosques and especially Islamic schools and finally difficulties within the institution of Marriage. Of all statistics gathered in our research (we measured sense of belonging within the mosque, general Muslim community, secular society & family unit) the highest is the problem of marginalization within the Isoc suggesting that much work needs to be done in order to undo this trend.

Proposed Solutions

Proposed solutions from our survey centered around two themes: education and awareness.

Our solutions are fivefold:

1) Running mandatory anti-racism trainings before or during the start of term for Isoc leadership highlighting the extent of the issue, and what it takes to be actively anti-racist. Anti-racism trainings offer an opportunity for Isoc leadership to be educated on how contemporary racism manifests especially within the Muslim context, to be better equipped to root it out within their own leadership and within the congregation. This training can then be taught to the congregation and events can be centered around equity and inclusion. Anti-racism trainings and a consultation service can be arranged with Black Muslim Forum. The Dabiri Group also offer a consultation service.

2) Establish a welfare position within the Isoc leadership[1] where complaints can be submitted. It would be effective to appoint a Black Muslim to the welfare position or a Muslim that has received sufficient training on the issues Black Muslims face.

  • This welfare position would include responsibilities that include other issues on campus such as sexism and harassment.
  • A complaints procedure must be established that ensures the safety and confidentiality of the complainant. This can be through an online form.
  • This procedure must lead to direct action.
  • For more information on developing a welfare position please contact BMF

3) Appoint Black Muslim representatives within the Isoc leadership. Doing so will allow for events and programming throughout the year to include topics on Black Muslims and Islam in Africa. Note that Black Muslims should not solely be appointed to the welfare role but also to other major roles within the Isoc.

4)  Have a Zero-tolerance policy to anti-black racism. Individuals will not transgress and will behave correctly if they are aware that the Isoc has a zero tolerance policy and will take strict action against racist abuse. Action can include immediate reporting to the school and student union for a hate crime, and intervention meetings with the offender to come to an agreeable means of apology and resolution. It is imperative that Black Muslims are believed when reporting abuse and the welfare officer should swiftly aid with support and conflict resolution.

5) Celebrate Black History Month in October but also throughout the year. Speakers should regularly be invited to educate and inspire the ummah on campus about Black Muslims/ Islam in Africa and undo the ignorance that has been taught. Speakers to invite include Hafsah Dabiri, Mustafa Briggs, Momodou Taal, Ismael Lea South, Saraiyah Bah, Habeeb Akande, Rakin Fetuga, Khadijah Kuku, Dr Azeezat Johnson, Mohammed Mohammed, Nafisas Pearlz and Rashidat Hassan amongst others. Black Muslim creatives to include in events are Pearls of Islam, Rakaya Fetuga, Funmi Abari, Muneera Pilgrim, Sukina Pilgrim, Amaal Said & Ahmad Ikhlas.

Major Obstacles to Implementation

Challenges to implementation include a lack of incentive on the part of Isoc leadership to take action. If this is not a problem that affects the majority of the congregation, why tackle this? The answer is that if one part of the collective is suffering it is the religious obligation of the leadership to address it. Incentive also stems from the fact that the Prophet (pbuh) mentioned the issue of race in his last sermon, that racial arrogance is a satanic sin which it is imperative the ummah be cured of and that the Muslim congregation should be encouraged to exchange good words. Lastly incentive comes from the fact that according to our research Black Muslims were worst affected and most undermined within the sphere of the Isoc.

References:

Black Muslim Forum’s 2020 report: “They had the audacity to ask me if I was Muslim, when they saw me – a black woman in niqab”- Report on the experiences of Black British Muslims https://blackmuslimforum.org/2020/04/05/they-had-the-audacity-to-ask-me-if-i-was-muslim-when-they-saw-me-a-black-woman-in-niqab-experiences-of-black-british-muslims/

Appendix:

ISOC Welfare officer Job description

Role

The role of the Welfare officer within the Islamic society, is to serve as an advocate for the grievances of students within the Isoc, to provide help and to create a resolution for issues that are brought up to the best of your ability and capacity. The welfare officer is responsible for hearing and addressing complaints in relation to mistreatment within the Isoc. This can include issues such as harassment, stalking, sexism, racism, physical assault, emotional abuse and all other forms of abuse within the Isoc on campus. The role of the officer is be a compassionate figure that the student congregation can turn to in order to air grievances and be offered pastoral support and means to a resolution of their problems.

Responsibilities:

  • To develop a means to be easily accessed by Muslim students on campus including those who may wish to remain anonymous. This can be through an online anonymous contact form etc
  • To develop in liason with the school and student union, the realistic help that can be offered to Muslim students that may be experiencing problems within the Isoc as well as the services they can be signposted to.
  • To develop in liason with the school and student union, the procedure through which complaints will be addressed and perpetrators will be held accountable for their actions
  • To develop a directory of services students can be signposted to who voice issues that are beyond the scope and capacity of the Isoc welfare officer.

Suggestions:

It would be beneficial for this position to be held by someone who has knowledge of the different types of abuse faced by demographics within the Isoc such as women and Black Muslims. Appointing a woman or a Black Muslim woman/ man would help to encourage individuals from these demographics to step forward and air their grievances.


[1] See appendix

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