My second article in the Crescent Times – it was so hard to condense my thoughts in to so few words! But I got there in the end…
Of Oppressors and Oppressed
By Eugenia Flynn
Slave is the memoir of Mende Nazer narrating the circumstances of her life before, during and after her enslavement as a black Nuba (a tribe in Sudan) by Arab Muslims. I read this memoir a few weeks ago and was struck by Nazer’s sense of humanity. I never once felt that Nazer moved toward racism or Islamophobia despite her enslavement by Arab Muslims. Always in the memoir, Nazer dealt with the humanity, or lack thereof, of the individuals in her life – she never saw them as just their race or religion. Therefore, Nazer never saw her oppressors’ actions as a result of their Arabness or Islamic faith. Contrastingly, her enslavers were more than happy to consign Nazer to her race and perceived lack of Islam (even though she actually was a Muslim).
Talking with a friend I was reminded that this kind of slavery and oppression at its core is purely and simply shirk – forcing the oppressed to worship other than Allah; that is to worship, in either a literal or less tangible sense, the oppressor. And whilst not exactly the same circumstances, I am drawn to the similarities between Indigenous Australians and the native Sudanese people like Nazer and her tribe the Nuba.
Funnily enough, when you look hard at the world you see that these similarities are everywhere.
Like at the Eighth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. I attended this Session just after reading Nazer’s life story and was constantly reminded that Muslims continue to be involved in the ongoing oppression and even slavery of Muslim and non-Muslim Indigenous Peoples right around the world. Indigenes from Niger and Algeria spoke of the oppression they faced from Muslim oppressors and I felt and continue to feel a sense of obligation to these people. I do so as a Muslim who wishes to see the Oneness of Allah recognised around the world and refuses to allow oppression and slavery to perpetuate shirk. I do so in recognition that every other Muslim should also fight against oppression and slavery.
Join me in the fray?