Our reading curriculum, Muslim School books, has intentionally used numerous stories that reflect the diversity of races within our ummah as well as the notable contributions of black and brown people within our ummah. The intention in writing these particular stories was to subtly help our Muslim youth to disassociate black and brown people with the undesirable associations that we are all so often exposed to through media and literature. We wanted to introduce a new narrative for our youth in kindergarten through 6th grade (formative years) that skin color, hair texture, and other attributes of many black and brown people are positive characteristics—as Allah says in Quran The Fig 95:4: “We have created the human being in the best form.”
· In our phonics books, you will find images of not only the Kaba, masjids and hijabs, but also a natural pick, which is a distinctive hair comb that is used for many people of African descent who have tight curly textured hair.
· You will find characters described as having an afro, or copper skin.
· You will find the story of a famous author, Rukhsana Khan, and the racism she experienced while growing up, due to her rich brown color and Pakistani ethnic background.
· You will find stories about Malcolm X’s wife--Betty Shabazz, Muhammad Ali, Ahmed Muhammad (Clock Boy), Mahmoud Abdul Rauf (basketball player and civil rights leader), and more.
· You will find a story about Mustapha Akkad, the producer of The Message and Lion of the Dessert. We highlight his attempt at presenting a just racial society through both his movies and his personal actions on the movie set.
· You will find the contributions of Muslims in Africa during the Islamic Golden Era with stories about the Mali Empire, Timbuktu, and Mansa Musa.
All of these stories were strategically written to allow our Muslim children to grow up with a set of Islamic reading texts that celebrate the contributions of notable Muslims with diverse backgrounds from the present and past. Within this dynamic, the hope is that our youth will develop the true understanding of our Prophet’s (saw) words during his last sermon:
. . . Every Muslim is the brother of another Muslim. All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over a white – except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood.
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