Islam, July - Sept 2002

Is your god black?

By Juan Alvarado

There is no doubt about it. As Muslims, we sometimes get the oddest comments and/or questions. Some are meant to be insulting. Others are earnest attempts at finding out the truth of Islam. I’d like to set the record straight with some of the more outrageous things I’ve heard only because it is a shame that people would believe such things. There are many other examples than the ones I’ve provided.

A few years back, an older gentleman, an acquaintance of mine asked, “Do you worship a black god?” Looking back, it seems like a funny question but when it was posed to me I was shocked. I responded calmly, though. I said that he has me confused with the Nation of Islam. I said, “They believe that god is a black man. The real Muslims believe God is the Creator. No one knows what God looks like.” I continued saying, “We believe in Jesus and Moses, too.” And with that, the gentleman walked away.

A repairman who is a close friend came over one day to do some work in my home. I had just reverted a couple of months earlier. While he was installing a ceiling fan he blurted out, “Do you have a Sabbath?” I told him that our special day of prayer is Friday but that we also pray five times daily. I continued telling him that Muslims can work on Fridays, however. Maybe this is an unremarkable example but it is one I thought had some bearing since lots of people seem to think that our religion is like Judaism.

I once visited the home of a personal friend of mine who is not a Muslim. He is of mixed background. His mom is white, and his dad is Puerto Rican. I guess because she felt I might inject some loony belief into her son’s head, my friend’s mother asked me with stoic seriousness, “Do you believe white people are devils?” I told her that this is the misconstrued belief of the Nation of Islam and that they get this belief from a misunderstood verse from the Qur’an (see ayah 20:102). Similarly, I’ve heard others say that whites cannot be Muslims because Islam is a black man’s religion or a religion for colored people. I responded to my friend’s mom, which also answers the others’ comments saying, “There are millions of white Muslims in the world. The Muslims of Kosovo, Bosnia, Turkey, and Chechnya fall into that racial category.”

I had a correspondence through email recently about an article that was listed on a website by an Islam “expert.” The “expert” turned out to be Dr. Robert Morey. I told the webmaster that this “expert” was no expert at all. He is the originator of the falsehood that Muslims worship a moon-god — that Allah is a moon-god. Astaghfirullah! He said that if I could prove what I said, he would take the article off his site. That presented no problem at all. I just emailed him several articles where either he or his clones mention the despicable lie. It would almost be funny if it weren’t so wrong. What Dr. Morey fails to see is that the pre-Islamic moon-deity was called Hubal and not Allah. Furthermore, the Qur’an itself says in ayah 10:5 (in part), “It is He who made the sun a shining thing and the moon.” This of course ruins his argument.

Since the infamous September day, I’ve read some articles in different publications stating that so-called extremists believe that their actions will garner a paradise for them with 72-virgins. I cannot speak for other people but having been a Muslim now for some time, I know that this is not an Islamic belief. There is no doubt that the Qur’an promises the Believers mates in paradise. They are called Houris (houriyaat). A quick glance into any Qur’an will prove otherwise. Just look in the glossary under houri and take a look at each verse — there is no mention of 72-virgins. All I can gather is that this is just more anti-Islamic propaganda so readers beware.

Recently, a reporter asked me why I had rejected Catholicism. Although the answer is multifaceted, one of my qualms is belief in the saints. She asked me what is the matter with the saints. I told her that bowing down to a piece of rock or wood fashioned in a human form is a sin — it is even in the Bible. The reporter then said, “But what about the black stone in Mecca? You bow down to it when you pray.” Despite the apparent similarities, I told her there is a world of difference. I think this question matters, because I’ve heard it before as well. I told her that stone was broken and placed in different sections of the Kaaba. The Kaaba itself had been destroyed and rebuilt several times throughout Islamic history. At one point, a rival Islamic sect stole the stones only to be returned years later.

All of this did not affect the worship of the Muslims. The Kaaba, not the stones, is merely the qiblah or direction of prayer for the Muslims. It is a place where Muslims focus their concentration during prayer. Even the Jews and original Christians had a qiblah — theirs is Jerusalem. The stones mean absolutely nothing in Islamic worship. To worship anything but God takes you out of Islam. We should continue to reflect on the first pillar of Islam, and all that it means. There is nothing worthy of worship but God, and Muhammad is His messenger.