“I’ve had people say you’re a good guy, perfect for my sister but you’re black. And I feel like … woah.”
For Kha’llum Shabbaz, his race caused problems with dating as a Muslim in the UK.
“On the one hand, when it comes to religion, you are Muslim but black. But on the other hand, when it comes to culture, you are black or you are Muslim. So where do you win?” the 28-year-old tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.
October is Black History Month and believes black Muslims can be forgotten in events and celebrations.
Kha’llum, of Birmingham, England, feels the tension when it’s time to meet a family member of someone he likes.
And his experiences mean he’s starting to guess if he should be looking for someone outside his race.
“It also left me a bit stuck, that maybe I shouldn’t get married yet.”
And it is not alone.
A survey of over 400 users by Muzmatch, one of the largest Muslim dating apps in the world, found that 74% of its black members believe race influenced the matches they got.
Issues such as fetishism, discrimination, and colorism were outlined, with some black members feeling they were not represented in the online dating space.
Per Kaya, 31, relates to these issues as a black Muslim woman in the dating world.
“It’s not always done intentionally, but I’ve found that there are a lot of men who say things like ‘you look very exotic’ and that they’d love to have a black wife and brown kids.”
“It becomes tokenism and in reality it is not a compliment to anyone”.
He feels there are some cultures that discriminate against black Muslims.
“Someone once told me that his preference was to go out with his race and he never talked to me anymore. Everyone is entitled to their preferences, but it hurts.”
“Performing as a Muslim”
The experiences Kha’llum and Kaya have had in dating mirror how things can be in the wider society for black Muslims.
Kha’llum, who was born a Muslim, says people “tend to look at me differently,” and is often asked when he converted to Islam.
Zainab Hassan, a makeup influencer, feels that “you have to perform to prove you are Muslim” as a black person, which is not the case for others.
“Your environment makes a big difference because when I’m in Nigeria, being black and Muslim is just what everyone is. I feel like since I started wearing my hijab, I’m visibly Muslim,” the 27-year-old from Manchester says.
Zainab says there is “an anti-blackness” within some Muslim communities.
“If you do something wrong, it’s like ‘obviously she’s just a black Muslim’, that’s expected.”
Kaya converted to Islam and it is sad that such discrimination exists, saying that her devotion to Islam is no less than that of those born in the faith.
“There are problems that come from a different culture. There are certain expectations that individuals and families have that are not Islamic, but cultural.”
She says her ex-husband’s family caused problems because “they weren’t happy that he married a black woman, but I couldn’t hide that I was black.”
Since the Black Lives Matter protests after George Floyd’s death, Zainab believes there has been a slight change.
“I think the whole movement, even the timing, being at home with the parents seated made a difference.”
“It is too early to say that everything has changed, but from the conversations I have seen, even from the pages I follow, I feel that there is now more inclusion of black Muslims.”
For proper change, Kha’llum believes black Muslim-only spaces are really important.
“Everyone needs to feel comfortable, and it’s nice to feel like you’re not alone in that bubble,” he adds.
Kaya thinks more representation is needed to make Muslim spaces more inclusive for black Muslims.
“You don’t see many black Muslims leading the classes as imams.”
“If you don’t see someone who looks like you and looks like you, you will always feel marginalized by society and you will never feel included”.
“We can all exist together”
Zainab believes that Muslim organizations could do more, but it is also the responsibility of the people in society.
And he thinks that having spaces for black Muslims only shouldn’t create division.
“When you feel that space has been denied you before, it is important that it be created.”
“We can all exist together without divesting ourselves of our identity. Our black identity must not disappear, nor must being Muslim,” he adds.
Listen to Newsbeat inhabit 12:45 pm and 5:45 pm on weekdays – or listen again here.
- Black lives matter
- George Floyd’s death
- Race and ethnicity
“Muslims don’t date, we get married”
- March 25, 2019
‘I am a Muslim artist inspired by the female body’
- 24 October 2019
Talking about sex with my Punjabi mom
- 22 August 2018
Read More about World News here.
This Article is Sourced from BBC News. You can check the original article here: Source