Racism is very much alive. We see it all around us every day. We may get outraged at blatant displays of hate, but we ignore the subtle acts that contribute to such ignorance. We overlook the seeds being planted until they manifest into violence and crime. Any by disregarding the different forms of bullying in our communities, by being silent or laughing when someone is spoken at derogatorily or being treated unfairly, we are merely feeding the monster that is bigotry. Racism – or pejorative ignorance – is the root of extremism.
Racism is extremism. This word is often associated with self-styled religious crusaders but there are countless forms of fanaticism all over the world. Extremism is when a police officer who has sworn to protect and serve the citizens of his country strangles a man to death as he’s begging for mercy. Extremism is when tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees are trapped at sea because no country will take them. Extremism is when politicians and soldiers alike are ordered to de-humanize humans. Extremism is when a child is taught to look down upon a group of people because of their skin colour or nationality, and that child grows up to become one of the mass murderers we see today. “Extremist” is a world so entrenched in consumerism and selfish desires that some sell their identities and intrinsic goodness to fit in with the corrupt masses to be “normal.”
Normalcy isn’t even organic – it’s man-made. By whose standards should we define normal? Who decides which group of people are superior to others? Why are we allowing these regulations to blueprint our way of thinking and outlook on life? Humanity is so beautifully diverse, so wonderfully varied, that ranking each other by nationality or physical and monetary traits is like choosing which book is your favourite by the cover alone.
Hussain ibn Ali did everything in his power to slow the wheels of extremism in their tracks. He and his father Ali were the ones fighting against the currents of corruption in order to help those whom they could. In his lifetime, Ali would drop food and clothing to the houses of orphans in the dead of the night, setting the example to give charity both publicly and privately. In fact, no-one knew that Ali was really the one who provided for those orphans until after he died and they were left without a benefactor.
In his lifetime, Hussain dared to defy the regime that threatened his life – even for the sake of people that didn’t even offer him loyalty in return. He set out to the city of Kufa, in modern day Iraq, after receiving many letters of complaint because people were suffering from oppression. The Ummayad’s unjust tyranny led the city to corruption, while hordes of people starved and were executed for unjust causes. He refused to tolerate such injustice in a ruler. He took a stand and held it till death, because living a life where he allowed people to suffer in front of him was out of the question.
“The blind, the deaf, and the chronically ill are left without help in the cities. You neither behave mercifully nor do you use your positions justly. You do not aid those who assume such deeds and you achieve safety from the wrongdoers by means of flattery and cajolery.”
-Hussain ibn Ali
We may not be as brave as Hussain and Ali, or as righteous, but as residents of this vast earth we have a responsibility to look after each other. What hurts others should hurt us, even though they may live halfway across the world. We are an intricate network; connected to each other like a web. In order to save ourselves from being overtaken by such extremism, we must unite together. One person feeding one orphan is a wonderful act of charity, but two people feeding two orphans is doubly so. Multiplied, more people in need receive help while more and more hard hearts soften at the act of giving.
Charity does not even have to be with money, food, or clothing. Charity can be a good word, a friendly smile, a heart-to-heart conversation of genuine compassion. Charity can even be in educating and enlightening someone on the ways of pristine conduct like Hussain’s. We can fight extremism in all forms by standing in solidarity against hate and pejorative ignorance. It is, after all, in our hands.