Disclaimer: This is in no way, an attempt to police language in the name of political correctness. Consider this a way to reach out to the largest defendants against critics of Islam: radical left wing activists through their own rhetoric. Enjoy.
Photo Credits: https://alliess.wordpress.com/
Traditionally, the terms light and white have been meant to signify pure, savior, clean, etc. The terms black and darkness have been attributed to evil and had grim connotations. In contemporary times, there have been many activists and writers that spoke about this. Try these articles for example:
- On Language; Dark Words of Disapproval (1990)
- The light and dark of language (2009)
- Black and White Symbolism: A Look into the Trope (2015)
- Light and Dark (2007)
- On Good White, Evil Black, metaphor, and racism (2009)
- Color Lines (2001)
These articles are all social deconstructions of the use of the terms “dark and light.” They highlight implications the usage of these words play towards the favorite villain of the far left activists these days: “white privilege.”
I often criticize radical left wing activists, or social justice warriors as some would call them; for defining their political involvement through the obsessive and exclusive demonization of “institutionalized white privilege”. However, I do understand why this usage of terms can have deep implications for societal perception of “blackness” versus “whiteness.”
Does this subconsciously make us racist? I don’t think so. There is no evidence to prove so. But our friends in Black Lives Matter, and other radical activist groups will certainly say it does.
Skin Lightening and Beauty Standards
In the Indian subcontinent and other parts of the world, lighter skin is associated with beauty and success in life; whereas darker skin is associated with ugliness and limited opportunities. There are even skin lightening creams in India raging success. Try watching any of these Fair and Lovely commercials:
The commercials go like this:
- Dark skinned person has limited opportunities
- He/She takes Fair and Lovely (Skin whitening cream)
- Doors open for this new beautiful and fair skinned person
These commercials reflect a demand for light skin in India due to its unhealthy obsession over white skin color.
In Hadith and Quran, there are a few quotes that toy with these terms.
On the Day [some] faces will turn white and [some] faces will turn black. As for those whose faces turn black, [to them it will be said], “Did you disbelieve after your belief? Then taste the punishment for what you used to reject.”
And on the Day of Resurrection you will see those who lied about Allah [with] their faces blackened. Is there not in Hell a residence for the arrogant?
Indeed, the righteous will be in a secure place; Within gardens and springs, Wearing [garments of] fine silk and brocade, facing each other. Thus. And We will marry them to fair women with large, [beautiful] eyes. They will call therein for every [kind of] fruit – safe and secure.
Abu Dharr reported: The Messenger of ‘Allah (may peace be upon him) said: When any one of you stands for prayer and there is a thing before him equal to the back of the saddle that covers him and in case there is not before him (a thing) equal to the back of the saddle, his prayer would be cut off by (passing of an) ass, woman, and black Dog. I said: O Abu Dharr, what feature is there in a black dog which distinguish it from the red dog and the yellow dog? He said: O, son of my brother, I asked the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) as you are asking me, and he said: The black dog is a devil.
In the Quranic verses, you will see that those who are impure going to Hell have their faces blackened.
In the verse on paradise, it says that successful believers that make it to heaven will be married to fair women. There is no mention of dark skinned women’s beauty in the Quran. It’s almost as if fair-skinned women are the only ones who can possibly be desirable.
Even in the Hadith on the Prophet Muhammad’s prayer being disrupted, he specifically distinguished the black dog from the red and yellow dog as the devilish one. Can you believe it? The Prophet Muhammad condemned black dogs as a devils because the only distinct feature that made them evil was the color of their fur.
In all these verses, we can notice a pattern of stigmatizing the concept of darkness and blackness.
These concepts reinforce many of the claims made earlier on social connotations towards darkness and blackness versus lightness and whiteness.
The same people who challenge “white privilege” through radical leftist activism are the ones who over compensate in their solidarity with Muslims through defending Islam as well. In their worldview “Islam is wrongfully demonized as a way of white privileged imperialists to colonize the minds, bodies and lands of people of color: Muslims. Therefore scrutiny of Islam is inherently oppressive and white supremacist.”
To the radical activist: do these verses I highlighted have racial implication against blackness? Are there dark skinned brides mentioned in Islamic heaven? Is the black dog really that bad just for being black? These are questions you should ask your Muslim friends whose “oppressed and misunderstood” religion you stand in solidarity with against critics like myself.