Racial fetishism

Nov 6, 2021 | Miscellaneous


Salam Aleykoum,

My question is the following : What’s the position of our religion concerning racial fetishism ?

My question is not related to the position of islam on « classic » racism (of course haram) but is on what it is called « racial fetishism », « ethnic fetishism » or « inverted racism »).

Then again, this question does not concern the subject of fornication (haram) or race mixing/interbreeding (halal) because, as we all know, those questions have already been treated in a way that is clear and well known by our Ummah.

In order to clarify the subject, I will define what is « racial fetishism » according to Sociology :

« Racial fetishism implies having a specific preference toward a specific ethnic group » (Plummer 2007) […] « This preference is often based on ethnic stereotypes or « ethnosexuals » stereotypes ; ethnosexuals stereotypes refer to the fact of giving some sexual characteristics according to the ethnic group of an individual » (Plummer 2007, Wilson 2009).

A second definition : According to Homi Bhabha’s “The Other Question: The Stereotype and Colonial Discourse,” racial fetishization can be defined as “fetishizing a person or culture belonging to a race or ethnic group.”

I am entirely at your service for further information.


Racism is prohibited because it falls under the ruling of kibr (pride). Kibr involves believing oneself to be better than another based on their religiosity, wealth, lineage, colour, ethnicity, occupation etc. If one manifests their prejudices in the way they deal with individuals they view as lesser than them, it is called takabbur. Kibr and takabbur are both unlawful (haram) and racism falls under its remit. This is a form of ignorance as one views the worth of themselves and others through meaningless metrics. To Allah, piety and God-consciousness is the only metric through which people are distinguished.

On the matter of racial fetishism, there needs to be some clarity on exactly what is being asked. The common sociological understanding of racial fetishism refers to desiring sexual partners from certain races and ethnicities due to the stereotypes associated with them. Thus, an individual may objectify a certain race, desiring sexual partners of that race because it is commonly understood that they are promiscuous or subservient. It appears that much of the online discussion and literature surrounding racial fetishism relates to pre-marital dating. As the question itself alludes, there is no need to explicate a ruling for this.

However, what if an individual’s choice of spouse is based on racialised stereotypes. For example, one may object to marrying women from a certain race because they are known to be high maintenance. Unless one believes themselves to be better than this other race, this does not fall under the definition of kibr or takabbur. In fact, the entire marital process is discriminatory as people differentiate between potential spouses based on various important and superficial details. From height, occupation, family background to even sense of humour. This does not necessarily suggest that a rejecting suitor or suitress believes that they are better than the rejected. Marriage is built on compatibility and attraction and if one believes a certain stratification of people – be that an occupational class, ethnicity, lineage, beauty – is not compatible for them, then this is valid.

In the end, we are all products of the environments we are brought up in, and our heritage, level of religiosity, and historical experiences shape who we become. If without prejudice or pride, one favours a certain race for his choice of potential spouse, there is nothing wrong with this. To explicate this fully, consider the following example. A Muslim man is attracted to Asian women, despite being of European heritage. He pursues only Asian Muslim women in marriage as he believes that his chastity will be safeguarded in such a union. There is nothing wrong with this. Consider another Muslim man who is attracted to Asian women, but his attraction to Asian women is based on his aversion towards one race and the romanticisation of Asian women. This is kibr and ignorance, and thus these sentiments are unlawful.

I hope this clarifies the matter.

بريقة محمودية في شرح طريقة محمدية وشريعة نبوية في سيرة أحمدية» (2/ 185): (وَإِظْهَارُ الْكِبْرِ) مُبْتَدَأٌ خَبَرُهُ قَوْلُهُ تَكَبُّرٌ قِيلَ الْكِبْرُ إنْ فِي الظَّاهِرِ فَيُسَمَّى تَكَبُّرًا وَإِنْ فِي الْبَاطِنِ فَيُسَمَّى كِبْرًا وَهُوَ أَصْلُ التَّكَبُّرِ (مَوْجُودًا) بِأَنْ وُجِدَ فِي قَلْبِهِ عِنْدَ الْإِظْهَارِ يَعْنِي يُوجَدُ فِي الْقَلْبِ فَيُظْهِرُهُ مِنْهُ (أَوْ مَعْدُومًا) بِأَنْ لَا يُوجَدَ فِي النَّفْسِ وَلَكِنَّهُ أَظْهَرَهُ مِنْهَا، وَسَوَاءٌ كَانَ ذَلِكَ الْكِبْرُ (حَقًّا) كَالتَّكَبُّرِ عَلَى الْمُتَكَبِّرِ وَيَدْخُلُ فِيهِ مَا هُوَ مِنْ اللَّهِ تَعَالَى (أَوْ بَاطِلًا) بِأَنْ يَكُونَ بِخِلَافِهِ سَوَاءٌ كَانَ (بِقَوْلٍ) وَلَوْ إشَارَةً أَوْ دَلَالَةً (أَوْ فِعْلٍ) كَأَنْ يَتَقَدَّمَ عَلَى الْغَيْرِ فِي الْمَشْيِ وَالْمَجْلِسِ (تَكَبَّرَ) تَفَعَّلَ وَمَعْنَاهُ تَكَلَّفَ الْكِبْرَ، وَفِي اللَّهِ تَعَالَى الِاتِّصَافُ بِهِ مِنْ الْأَزَلِ فَيُوجَدُ فِي الْحَقِّ وَالْبَاطِلِ (وَالِاسْتِكْبَارُ يَخْتَصُّ بِالْبَاطِلِ) وَالنِّسْبَةُ بَيْنَ الْكِبْرِ وَالتَّكَبُّرِ وَكَذَا بَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَ الِاسْتِكْبَارِ عُمُومٌ وَخُصُوصٌ مِنْ وَجْهٍ، وَأَمَّا بَيْنَ التَّكَبُّرِ وَالِاسْتِكْبَارِ فَمُطْلَقٌ، كَذَا قِيلَ (فَلِذَا) لِاخْتِصَاصِهِ بِالْبَاطِلِ (لَا يُوصَفُ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى بِهِ بِخِلَافِ التَّكَبُّرِ) كَمَا قَالَ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى فِي وَصْفِ ذَاتِهِ الْمُتَكَبِّرُ فَإِنَّ الْمُتَكَبِّرَ مَنْ يَرَى الْكُلَّ حَقِيرًا بِالْإِضَافَةِ إلَى ذَاتِهِ وَلَا يَرَى الْكِبْرِيَاءَ إلَّا لِنَفْسِهِ، فَإِنْ كَانَتْ الرُّؤْيَةُ صَادِقَةً كَمَا فِي اللَّهِ كَانَ حَقًّا وَلَا يُتَصَوَّرُ ذَلِكَ عَلَى الْإِطْلَاقِ لِغَيْرِ اللَّهِ تَعَالَى وَإِنْ كَاذِبَةً فَبَاطِلًا فَهُوَ الْمَذْمُومُ (وَالتَّكَبُّرُ حَرَامٌ) عَلَى كُلِّ أَحَدٍ؛ لِأَنَّهُ عَظِيمُ الْآفَاتِ وَمَنْبَعُ أَكْثَرِ الْبَلِيَّاتِ وَمُوجِبُ سُرْعَةِ عُقُوبَةِ اللَّهِ تَعَالَى؛ لِأَنَّهُ لَا يَحِقُّ إلَّا لَهُ تَعَالَى فَإِذَا فَعَلَ الْعَبْدُ مَا يَخْتَصُّ بِالْمَوْلَى اشْتَدَّ غَضَبُ الْمَوْلَى (إلَّا عَلَى الْمُتَكَبِّرِ) مِنْ النَّاسِ فَالتَّوَاضُعُ عَلَى الْمُتَكَبِّرِ لَيْسَ بِجَائِزٍ

Answered by:
Maulana Ikramul Hoque Miah

Checked & Approved by:
Mufti Abdul Rahman Mangera
Mufti Zubair Patel