کور / سياسي / R A C I S M


Dr. Farouq Azam

Favouritism based on race, kin and clan is somehow everywhere. Everyone loves their family, tribe and nation. But considering oneself superior based on race, ethnicity, and colour is wrong, immoral, and unacceptable. I do not know where racism has come from. A wise man told me, a long time ago, that this idea came to us from ancient Greece and that, since the white Romans conquered the world, the idea that white is superior has become popular. He suggested that the idea was reinforced when the west took the lead in industrial development.

When I was a child, I was taught to be scared of the black dog and black cat at night. I was never taught to be scared of a white dog or a white cat. When I grew up, I heard the story of the Black Wizard, who was considered very dangerous and had to be avoided. The White Wizard was assumed to be good, a helpful friend in every story.

I heard stories that a white falcon was used to select a King in the past. The United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and brought to power infamous thugs, warlords, human rights abusers and drug businessmen that no one could have imagined. People were saying: “Bush’s falcon has sat on these people.” 

The Afghan flag is in three colours (black, red, green). Black represents the dark period of external aggression.

When I was a university student, elders would stop me from commenting on the government’s actions and warned me what happened to the ‘Awake Youth Movement – ويښ زلمیان’. That its members spent years in the black prison cells for criticising government policies. Whenever a criminal person was taken to prison, the police would tie his hands with a black handcuff and his feet with black shackles. 

In 1965, I was sitting at a tailoring shop in Kabul when a stylish girl came with a black cloth and told the tailor that her grandma was critically ill in hospital. She needed a black suit urgently to use at her grandma’s funeral. She insisted that the clothes must be ready by tomorrow as she was afraid her grandma would die, and she did not have a funeral dress. The tailor told her to come the day after tomorrow. “Today I am busy making a white wedding dress” the tailor said. In the west a happy wedding dress is white, and an angry funeral dress is black.

The Afghans call the Saqawi, the 1929 chaos and the Communist era (1978-92) when massacres and mass uprooting took place, followed by the rule of the warlords, the dark periods. When a person hears terrible news and is badly affected, people say that he has suffered a black fate. In our society black means misery. A black crow sitting on the roof of someone’s house is considered to be a bad sign. But a white pigeon is the sign of good news.

The white flag is a symbol of peace and tranquillity. The Taliban called Burhanuddin Rabbani’s government (1992-96), which was marked by bloody civil war, a dark period. So, the Taliban raised the white flag to bring peace and impose law and order in the country. Raising a white flag or flying a white pigeon in the battleground signifies demanding peace.

The government puts people who are dangerous on a blacklist and those who are forgiven are removed from the blacklist and turned white. In 2001, when the Americans invaded Afghanistan, they blacklisted many Taliban leaders. They were to be captured or killed wherever they were found.

White skin prestigious in the Indian subcontinent since British rule there. Wealthy people do not do physical work under the sun, and therefore their skins are light. Thus, fair skin is a sign of comfort. In India, those who have fair skin can find a job more quickly than those with darker skin. Since the British Raj, face whitening creams have become popular and have a good market in India. Most of the cinema stars, TV presenters and trade advertisers are those who have light skin. 

Until the late 1960s, black people in the US were not allowed to work with whites in one place or use shared facilities (bus, cinema, school, etc.). A prominent black priest, Martin Luther King, was assassinated (1968) because he had a dream that a day was coming when a black child would shake the hand of a white child.

The people of Afghanistan are, in the main, one race. Consequently, racial discrimination there is not severe. However, in the Western world, racism is rampant, black versus white is a perilous political conflict and several elements of society deliberately pursue it. In the West, Jesus is painted white with golden hair and blue eyes. Most pretty girls and celebrities are white such as Miss England, Miss America, Miss Beauty, Miss Universe, Miss World, etc. The British Prime Minister’s office in London is called the White Hall, and the US President’s office in Washington DC is the White House.

But, on the other hand, virtually all over the world, people clean themselves in the toilets with white paper.

The weather in northern Europe is usually cold, with little sunshine.  Those who can afford to, go abroad for holidays to places where the sun is in abundance. Upon return, their skins are changed to brown. Brown skin is a symbol of comfort and a luxurious life. Even children returning to school are conscious of whose skin is brown, showing that they have had a joyful holiday. Poor children regret that their skin is not brown.

The covering cloth of Kaaba in Makkah is dark, and millions of Muslims worldwide bow towards it in respect five times a day. 

The stone in Kaaba (Hajar al-Aswad) that is kissed as a sign of respect by thousands of Muslims every day is black. 

The banner of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was black, and its flag was white. His clothes were primarily white, and his turban was black. His Muezzin (the person calling for prayer and congregation) was a black man, Bilal, and the first martyr for Islam was a black woman, Sumayyah. 

The Prophet forbade racial discrimination. In Islam, black and white, male and female, are equal, and both complement each other. We all need to go on this path. We need to be united in condemning racism and loving each other.