Collective Statement from Somali Religious and Community Leaders
We seek refuge in Allah (swt) from the accursed shaytan.
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful.
We send peace and blessings upon our beloved Prophet (ﷺ).
Our rich Islamic tradition has taught us to strive towards that which is good and beneficial to the community. When a harm has touched us, it is our moral and Islamic duty to correct it. Abu Sa`eed al-Khudree (may Allah be pleased with him) said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say, “Whosoever of you sees a wrong, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.” (Muslim)
We cannot afford silence in the face of pain. An-Nu`man ibn Bashir, (may Allah be pleased with him), narrated that The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “The believers in their mutual kindness, compassion, and sympathy are like one body. When one of the limbs hurts, the whole body reacts with wakefulness and fever”. (Bukhari & Muslim)
We are hurting as a community due to recent comments made by Imam Said Rageah during a Friday Khutbah. We recognize the magnitude of the comments made and the pain caused is one that is not easily rectified. As Somali Religious and Community Leaders in North America, we join together in offering our deepest apology to our African American brothers and sisters, and to all who have been impacted by the inaccurate and hurtful comments made by the Imam. We hope this difficult and painful moment is one that leads to enlightenment, healing, and courageous conversations that moves us forward in harmony and understanding.
Islam has been in North America long before the formation of this nation by way of our African American brothers and sisters. The foundation of Islam in this country, as well as the foundation of civil rights is a byproduct of the struggle, leadership, sacrifice and commitment of the African American community.
As a Black refugee/immigrant community from Somalia, this history and reality cannot go unnoticed and this must be a part of our collective understanding of Islam in America. Anti-Blackness is global and we must be bold enough to call-in when we see it, and especially when we are internalizing this anti-Blackness in the form of using tropes meant to divide us. We condemn any and all racist narratives or tropes wielded against one another, from our leaders, and within our communities. Incidents such as these are never excusable, they can be teachable moments to transform, educate, and heal on a multitude of levels, as well cultivate stronger relationships amongst the Muslim African Diaspora.
Self-awareness and seeking knowledge are the first steps in addressing bias and anti-Blackness in our community. This specific incident has allowed our community to hold a mirror to itself and recognize the honest conversations and bold steps needed to uproot anti-Blackness from within. It allows us to begin seeking collective education on matters of race and bias. We will engage with our leaders to emphasize how powerful and harmful words can be, despite the intention, and how we can build community moving forward.
As people who are similarly impacted by various forms of anti-Blackness, it’s important for us to identify and address the many ways this surfaces in our communities — whether it’s the byproduct of racism or internalized oppression. In the spirit of the principle of umoja and pan-African/Black solidarity, we have an opportunity to heal through collective solidarity and action.
We are dedicated to working within our community to address these matters. While this statement is a first step, we are committed to: 1) A toolkit for Somali Khateebs and community leaders, that embodies a Prophetic model of anti-racism; 2) A day of action for Somali Khateebs to dedicate a sermon on matters of race, inclusion, and rooting out bias in our community; 3) Stronger, more tangible ties with African American Muslim communities through forthcoming initiatives.
We call upon our brothers and sisters of faith to join us in correcting harm with benefit— let us begin building towards better understanding, respect, and openness. Let us remember the story of Abu Darda and Bilal bin Rabah (may Allah be pleased with them) when racism reared its ugly head and both of these companions emerged stronger and dealt with the issue promptly and with the guidance of Allah (swt). We ask Allah (swt) to guide us, strengthen us, and allow us to grow stronger as a community.
“Iskaashato ma kufto”: If people support each other they do not fall.— Somali Proverb
In Sūrat Al-Hujurāt, Allah (swt) says, “O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is All-Knowing and All-Aware.” (49:13)
Join us in a commitment to this work: You can sign on if you agree with the statement, and/or choose to stay in the loop to follow, and support our efforts in addressing these matters.
The following signatories include Somali religious and community leaders from North America:
Somalis of North America (SONA)
Imam Mohamed Abdullahi, MCC
Mohamud Awil Mohamed; Chaplain, UMN MSA
Horseed Noah; Director of SICO (Somali Islamic Centers of Ohio)
Mohamud Awil Mohamed
Fatma Ismail: Youth Director/Community Organizer
Ramla Sahis; Executive Director
Community Changemakers CCM
Yasmin Yonis; Chaplain, Justice for Muslim Collective
Lucky Gelle; Case Manager
Ja’afar Dirie Academic Research; PhD Student, University of Toronto
Ruqia Abdi; Author & Speaker, Librarian
Safiyah Hersi-DhooyeJaylani Hussein
Hodan Ali; Office Administrator and Programs Support Ayan Dini
Abdirahman A. Yussuf; Civil Right Activist and Community Organizer
African/Black Diaspora Religious and Community Leaders in Solidarity
Azhar N. McNeal
Rashida James -Saadiya; Cultural Educator
Ibn Stanley; Khateeb of the indigenous Muslims of Canada
Abu Hafsa; Speaker Da’ee
Walida Mukhtar; Psychotherapist
Imam M. Deen Mohammed; Executive Director
Imam Khidhr bin Muhammad Amin
Nia Malika Dixon