By Elyse Pham, July 30, 2020
Across the Sacramento area, there are four new billboards seeking to demonstrate how the fights against systemic racism and the coronavirus pandemic are foundational to Islamic beliefs.
As part of a five-week campaign by the Sacramento chapter of the Islamic Circle of North America, one billboard reads “We the people can’t breathe. Stop racist killings.” Another says, “Saving one life equals saving entire mankind (Quran 5:32). Thank you healthcare workers!”
At the bottom of each billboard is the website whyislam.org, as well as the group’s phone number, because, according to ICNA Sacramento president Ijaz Arif, racial justice is one of the religion’s “cornerstones.”
“I’m talking to you at the very same time when Prophet Muhammad delivered his sermon 1,400 years ago,” said Arif, referencing the fact that this year, the Hajj — the annual Islamic pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca — began on July 28 and will end August 2.
During the first Hajj, Muhammad preached that, “Nobody is superior based on race, language, or color,” said Arif. Rather, people can only be differentiated by their varying degrees of “piety and righteousness.” The millions of worshippers gathering in Mecca each year all wear the same white clothing, Arif explained, which denotes Islam’s core value of equality.
In addition to anti-racism, Muhammad also “taught the basic methods of dealing with a pandemic event: personal hygiene and containment,” said ICNA Sacramento in a news release. “These are the very same rules that WHO and government offices around the world are asking people to abide by.”
Arif emphasized the billboard campaign isn’t limited to Sacramento — ICNA chapters nationwide are doing the same.
The nonprofit grassroots organization decided to take action in light of recent instances of police brutality; not only has it erected the billboards, but it’s also galvanizing projects spearheaded by Black Muslim leaders. Moreover, Arif has noticed that members of the Muslim community have stopped calling the police.
“Like any other community, we have our own internal issues,” said Arif. “But at ICNA, we are committed to the principles of equality and justice for all.”
Article Courtesy: Sacramento Bee