Spotlight On: MuslimARC
The Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC) is breaking into unspoken ground and stirring up a lot of debate on social media. Learn how this organization was built and where they plan on going from it.
Pray, Say & Slay talked to the founders of MuslimARC, 40 year old, Margari “Aziza” Hill and 28 year old, Namira Islam. The founders reminisced on how the collaborative originally started, Hill told us,
"In 2013, I began developing lesson plans to address racial bullying in Islamic schools and train speakers who could go out and organize assemblies. A bunch of activists and scholars online were addressing the prevalence of Anti-Black racism on social media. Namira Islam reached out to me and there was so much synergy.”
Islam then said,
“I had been absorbing some of the discourse on the topic for a little while and reached out to brainstorm ideas to address the erasure of Black Muslim voices on social media. From there, a core group of individuals solidified and began drafting plans for a long-term effort. This coalesced into MuslimARC.”
However, their passion for justice and civility didn’t start just there. Islam said,
“I’m one of three sisters and was raised to be opinionated and independent. I also understand how this work can mean juggling and multi-tasking and that can lead to getting involved in specific ways. I was born and raised Muslim, loosely following the Hanafi madhhab. I grew up attending Sunday School and going to a tajweed teacher, and have taken some courses in Islamic law. Religion gives me a framework to begin to understand and explore concepts of justice, oppression, and character that I haven’t found elsewhere.”
“I began studying civil rights movements, history, political psychology, and legislation in college, when I was 18 years old. I really got into the field of human rights education and training during my last year of law school. I grew up listening to stories of revolution surrounding the 1971 Liberation War through which Bangladesh (formerly known as East Pakistan) gained its independence from (West) Pakistan. I experienced tension at the mosque as a child and began thinking about how intra-ethnic dynamics operate in Muslim spaces in the United States.”
Hill informed us of her beginnings too,
“I’ve been studying race, identity and Muslims since I was an undergraduate in the 90s. I’m a historian by training, and I researched Islam in Europe and racial passing in the US. I do this work because I want my Muslim spaces to be safe spaces for my daughter. I worry about the development of her religious identity in Islamic schools and mosques where racial discrimination is rife.”
Despite their history and passion to make the world a better place, they still have to deal with challenges being women in their field,
“ I think being a Black woman makes it harder. I think networking is harder with male Muslim leaders is a challenge.” Hill said.
“I routinely come up against cultural barriers and/or expectations for women in Muslim spaces that can mean I have to work harder to get the same results. In non-Muslim spaces, I’m having to fight against stereotypes of being oppressed, brainwashed, etc.” Islam told us.
But as powerful women do, they continue to look forward in the endeavors through implementing their goal in 3 simple steps.
“(Our goal) Advancing racial justice to educate for liberation. First, raising awareness about the issues on social media, Two, developing education resources and training's, Three, promoting our education resources and training's online. Providing spaces for conflict resolution and bringing communities together and giving our community the tools to advance racial justice so that we can all live dignified lives.” Hill informed us.
Islam then said,
“I want to forge a path that allows people to come together in a more meaningful way, and then show others how it was done so they can replicate this model in other places.”
So far they have done a lot to create and inspire new dialogue with movements such as #BlackInMSA:
They also lead workshops and continue to create a space to talk about these topics for all Muslims
We can't wait to see what other dialogues spark from this great collaborations. For more information or, to sign up for a workshop, check out their website and follow them on Twitter @muslimarc