Being Muslim While White Privileged

For Brooke’s White Privilege and the Ummah carnival.

Oh, where to start, because this is a very thorny issue indeed.
Firstly, an acknowledgment. Appearing visibly Muslim (wearing hijab, Sunnah beard, thobe, e.t.c) will indeed open you up to anti-Muslim prejudice even if you are white.

However,

The majority of white converts are aware that all we need to do is take off the aforementioned accoutrements and we will blend right back into whiteness again.

Muslims of colour, whether convert or born, do not have that option. They never have access to White privilege.

Privilege is not just about appearance, although it does play a key part.

Carrying our invisible knapsacks has other effects too. The concept that White is the standard, the norm and that white majority countries are the ones to aspire to can be deeply ingrained.

When a white Muslim communicates with a Muslim of colour, this may be the first communication they have had with any person of colour, where the white person is not communicating as a member of the numerically dominant group, for while white people may be the majority in Western countries, in Islam, they are very much the minority.

Such demographics may lead the white Muslim to feel at a disadvantage, one they have not been socialised with and this leads to many white converts furiously attacking the born Muslims, usually for their lack of “Good Muslimness”, when the real issue is the white convert’s lack of power, compared to that they enjoy being part of a majority in mainstream society.

But wait. Aren’t white Muslims, the prized pets, the conversion stories everyone wants to hear, the ones who get far more marriage proposals and attention then their convert brethren of colour?

Yes, but there are two factors for this.

The first is that White is seen to equal Western in a way that a person of colour rarely is, especially by those living outside the West. This is supported by the White dominated media exported by the West, which usually transmits tropes of White privilege both openly and subliminally.

As the West asserts itself as being superior economically, educationally, socially, so white people are viewed as being superior and therefore better to have in the religion as converts. Why else does the urban myth about Bill Gates converting to Islam surface so frequently?

For various reasons, political and otherwise, Muslims feel themselves at a disadvantage, hence the idea that the best way of getting more power for the Muslims, is to get people viewed as having more power to convert. Then, once those powerful people convert, ensure they are front and centre whenever possible to attract more of the same.

It is often mentioned that the area where whites are most privileged in the Muslim community is that of marriage, especially white Muslimahs.

This is linked to the issues of perceived superiority, as I described above. However it usually manifests itself as colourism, namely the view that appearing white, especially white skinned, is desirable.

Note that while the white skin may be desirable, white culture in a spouse, usually isn’t. White people may be viewed as being promiscuous, not interested in supporting their in laws, not good house keepers, selfish, cold and generally likely to go back to their pre conversion ways.

This explains why, in cultures like the Arab or Desi cultures, where the husband is often viewed as the dominant personality, white women are viewed as acceptable marriage partners, but not white men.
If you marry a white women you get the perceived benefits of white skin and lighter offspring, without the risk of losing your culture.

A convert of colour is not viewed as having any of these benefits, which explains why they may find it very difficult to find a Muslim spouse.

The concept of White superiority is alien to Islam, in fact it’s haraam and so it is one that White Muslims must work very hard to shed, without seeking any reward, head patting or cookies for doing so.

The first step in unpacking your invisible knapsack, is to recognise that you are wearing one.

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