‘I Can’t Breathe’ – On George Floyd’s Death, Islam and Racism

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George Floyd’s heartbreaking cry—’I can’t breathe’—has echoed around the world.


Feeding the poor and needy is an act that draws us closer to Allah. We earn His forgiveness, mercies and blessings through this act of charity.

“Anyone who looks after and works for a widow and a poor person is like a warrior fighting for Allah?s cause, or like a person who fasts during the day and prays all night. (Bukhari)

He posed no threat and committed no crime. However, a white police officer kept his knee on George’s neck for over eight minutes. George was murdered.

With a history of similar incidents in the US, it is this racism and brutality that resulted in the death of Eric Garner in 2014, Ahmaud Arbery in 2020, and many other African Americans in the past.

???? Read Also: 5 Things Muslims Can Do In the Wake of George Floyd’s Killing

‘I Can’t Breathe’ - On George Floyd’s Death, Islam and Racism - About Islam

On Diversity

In the Qur’an, God refers to humanity as having different languages and different ethnicities.

“And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your languages and your colors. Indeed in that are signs for those of knowledge.”(30:22). 

One of the biggest challenges which faced Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was rampant racism: Arab vs non-Arab, rich and powerful tribe vs poorer and less influential tribe.

To counter this he said, “”There is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab, nor for a non-Arab over an Arab. Neither is the white superior over the black, nor is the black superior over the white — except by piety.”

And perhaps the most famous verse cited on diversity is where God says that “O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another.”  (49:13)

Despite these values, racism is still rampant throughout the Muslim world. Some Arabs look down at non-Arabs. Brown Muslims look down at Black Muslims, …etc. Racism is real.

Thankfully, not every Muslim holds such negative views but they are visible in cultural references in the modern era and they need to look at what the Qur’an and the Prophet (PBUH) actually say on the subject and correct themselves.

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