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A Contrived Controversy: Know Your Rights Presentations Hurt the American Muslim Community?

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Currently, in Chattanooga Tennessee, many people in the Muslim community are going to be interviewed by FBI. In this or any environment, what should they do?

If the FBI wanted to talk to you, either unexpectedly or in connection with some sort of investigation, and you ask a lawyer what to do, this will likely be the easiest question he or she will ever answer: Give the FBI agent your lawyer’s number. Do not say a word beyond this.

This is not controversial at all, at least not for non-Muslims. One of the most distinguished lawyers in American history, Robert H. Jackson, while a Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court in wrote in Watts vs. Indiana , “any lawyer worth his salt will tell the suspect in no uncertain terms to make no statement to the police under any circumstances.”

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If you don’t think you are a “suspect”- remember it is the Federal Bureau of Investigation, not the Federal Bureau of Social Visits. Even if you feel you are sufficiently articulate or well-trained in the law, or told you are not the subject of an investigation an interview with the law enforcement can still be damaging. It has happened before. A Law Enforcement agent will claim a “suspect” made a statement the individual denied ever making. The Jury will usually believe law enforcement.

If anyone in law enforcement were to be interviewed, the advice would be identical. In fact, police unions put a provision for this in their contracts.

Strangely, this standard advice has become somewhat controversial. In my own local community, some leaders have suggested organizations that advocate talking to a lawyer first, which is typical advice given in “know your rights” presentations offered by organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) or the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), are simply engaging in fear mongering. Furthermore, they are damaging relationships with law enforcement by turning them into something that is needlessly “adversarial.”

The “know your rights” presentation has been a staple of community-based civic education for decades. Group such as the ACLU) and inside the Muslim community, CAIR, are known to provide education to students, immigrants, unions and various sorts of organizations, including law enforcement organizations, on the first, fourth, fifth and sixth amendments of the U.S. Constitution as well as on State and local laws.   The presentation would typically include some basic information on what to do when questioned by law enforcement, the rights of protesters (when appropriate) or other information necessary for people who wish to become engaged, active and less fearful citizens.

Why would anybody claim “know your rights” presentations are damaging? The most prominent place this type of sentiment is reduced to writing is from the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), and their “Safe Spaces Initiative.”   While it has been problematic for a variety of reasons, some of which have been previously addressed, it provides advice to Muslim leaders and communities on educational programing it finds troublesome.   It does this by citing a well-known Muslim lawyer.

“Rabia Chaudry, a board member of the Maryland Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and an expert in training law enforcement on Islamic religious practices, noted many communities’ need to move away from being interested in only receiving “Know Your Rights” trainings. Based on her extensive experience of engaging both communities and law enforcement, she said she felt that an adversarial relationship between both sides harms everyone, especially communities.”

I asked Chaudry about this, since the statement (where she is not directly quoted) made no sense. First of all, the notion that Muslim communities are “only” interested in “know your rights training” seems preposterous, perhaps less than artful phrasing. Muslim community leaders cover other subjects all the time. Secondly, the implications that such trainings, designed to develop civic and constitutional literacy among Americans create an adversarial relationship that is harmful to communities is such a remarkable pro-ignorance claim that I had trouble believing Chaudry would ever make it.

As it happens, Chaudry did not make either claim. She told me over email that she was “slightly misrepresented” in Safe Spaces. She is certainly pro-engagement with law enforcement, but her advice concerning individual interactions with law enforcement interviews does not depart meaningfully from what any competent licensed attorney would say. Indeed, her presentations to Muslim groups includes what should be a non-controversial stance that Muslims should know their rights. She does, however, advocate engagement with law enforcement that is both “smart and safe.”

Another claim made in Safe Spaces is that case law lends support to the notion that an adversarial relationship, which is created when citizens learn about their own rights, is damaging because of US Supreme Court Case law. This novel claim came from a law enforcement trainer:

If a law enforcement agency has an adversarial and mistrusting relationship with their local community, any tips (especially anonymous ones) they receive from it may be treated with extra caution and hesitation because they won’t be certain of its reliability and ability to withstand scrutiny in court.

There are two different parts to this claim, which, interestingly enough, was provided anonymously but adopted by MPAC.   The first is “any tips” received from a source that law enforcement does not have a good relationship with is now suspect because the source of this tip has been educated about his or her rights under the Constitution. This is completely baseless. There is no Supreme Court case law anywhere that could support such a notion.

You can certainly be educated about your rights and provide a reliable tip to law enforcement. Law enforcement will not ignore it merely for that reason and courts will not exclude evidence that came from you.

The second parenthetical claim is true as far as it goes, an anonymous tip will be regarded as less valid in search and seizure cases. The reason for this has nothing to do with a citizen’s relationship with law enforcement and whether or not citizens have been educated about their rights. The cases cited by MPAC, Ohio v. Roberts, 448 U.S. 56 (1980) and Alabama v. White, 496 U.S. 325 (1990) involve questionable police practices based on “anonymous tips.” An anonymous tip is not the same as a tip from somebody who has an adversarial relationship with law enforcement. It actually may be quite the opposite. The anonymous tip may be an illegal search or illegal surveillance re-branded by the police to make bad conduct more palatable to courts. Courts know this, and require additional police work beyond an anonymous tip for a search for illegal weapons or contraband to withstand scrutiny. If their police work does not withstand scrutiny, Evidence may not be used against the defendant in court. This kind of rule exists to not reward the police for bad behavior. It does not exist to keep citizens ignorant.

Plainly, the notion that it is damaging for citizens to be educated about their constitutional rights because that creates an “adversarial relationship” with law enforcement that weakens their ability to provide tips is nonsense.

Unfortunately, whenever there is a call for vigilance in the community when the FBI wants to interview people, some Muslim leaders who should know better will claim this and other “know your rights” advice fosters an adversarial relationship or that we have nothing to hide. Don’t buy it. If you are questioned by law enforcement, follow the advice of Justice Jackson and every other competent lawyer in the country. Know your rights. Be safe. Be smart. Get a lawyer.

Ahmed Shaikh is an Estate Planning Attorney in Orange County, California. He is also on the Board of the ACLU of Southern California. Follow him on Twitter @bornshaikh

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Peter Hall

    July 28, 2015 at 11:20 PM

    Such a very sad situation for ANYBODY to need a lawyer if the Police or anybody else wants to interview you. No Police force or law enforcement body if perfect, but has it really come to this that no one in the USA can trust the Police or Law enforcement enough to co-operate without fear?

    As an Australian, I know are Police are not perfect either, but my first reaction if I got a call from the Police asking me to assist would be, how can I and when?

    The sad fact is in the USA many minorities, through imagined, perceived and or very real fears, not able to trust co operating with the authorities without fear of personal consequences.

    The result of this is, that the very co-operation the Law enforcement agencies rely upon, is no longer forthcoming due to the way they deal with members of the public.

    As I said this is very sad for everybody.

  2. Avatar

    Three Letter Agency

    July 29, 2015 at 12:36 AM

    I’ll take my chances with MPAC over CAIR any day of the week.

    • Avatar

      T-man

      July 29, 2015 at 1:11 AM

      That’s the weirdest and most unexpected comment on an article like this lol. What a douche. The article is telling you to know your rights, that MPAC has misquoted Rabia, that it misquoted (and perhaps even fabricated) case law about adversarial relationships with law enforcement… And all you got is “I’ll take MPAC over CAIR? screw them both… who cares! Just know your damn rights and stop being an idiot. Sheesh!

  3. Avatar

    GregAbdul

    July 29, 2015 at 12:11 PM

    The vast majority of Muslims are not interviewed by the FBI. The FBI is not sitting outside our mosques with pad and pencil, asking every Muslim in America questions meant to entrap us. My problem is with the focus of our American Muslim organizations. It’s like we don’t understand America. The FBI is not stalking us. Looking too hard for sleeper Muslim terrorists? Maybe. The fact is, the one in a million of us who happen to go rouge are used to stereotype and damage our faith. The ten or so American Muslims, sick and stupid enough to try to join ISIS from US soil, are our enemies and I want the FBI to get them and I want them to know that I will assist the FBI in getting them. I am an American. I see common ground with Islam and America. Islam forbids me from fighting with guns and knives without being under a military command.

    White America (general American society) fights Islam by a thousand little cuts. When the woman wears hijab, she is shunned and denied opportunity. Muslim is the new black. If you wear the beard, the kufi, the thobe, or take or have a Muslim name they can recognize, the hateful American is not going to call the FBI to interview you. They deny us jobs. They deny us business. They deny us decent pay and it is not only us.

    We have common cause with America’s progressive movement. Our conflict is the gay support in the Western progressive movement, which many Muslims cite when they talk about the evils of America. CAIR should be a civil right’s organization, but it’s not. The Muslim Legal Fund of America should be a civil right’s organization but it’s not. Instead, when the FBI finds a hot trail to the few among us, this is what “our organizations” have decided to focus on. The FBI goes public that they have evidence that someone is living here, under a written agreement with the US government and plotting against the government (violating basic rules of Islam) and CAIR and MLFA are rushing to fight for those people and they too often ignore the rampant prejudice against Muslims in America…because they fell that would too much in acting like and joining the historical fight of blacks in America. The immigrants don’t want to be tied to the black Americans, so we get this, “when the FBI comes” talk.

    In the name of Allah: Muslim men: grow a beard. Put on a Kufi. Be proud of your Muslim names….and please….

    Join the real fight.

  4. Avatar

    Za Desi White Woman

    July 29, 2015 at 12:32 PM

    Robert H. Jackson, while a Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court in wrote in Watts vs. Indiana , “any lawyer worth his salt will tell the suspect in no uncertain terms to make no statement to the police under any circumstances.”

    This ↑

  5. Avatar

    Maheen

    July 29, 2015 at 7:25 PM

    Strange that you are asking us to co-operate with the same law enforcement that placed an FBI informant in a mosque in your area, Orange County, Craig Monteilh. He was so extreme that members of the same mosque he was spying on reported him to the FBI for his extremism. After Cointelpro, and post-9/11 fishing expeditions, any Muslim that talks to these people without a lawyer is asking for trouble, to put it mildly. I encourage every Muslim in Chattanooga to watch Muslim Advocates’ excellent video “Got Rights” on how to handle an FBI visit. And yes, know your rights, because God knows, in this country, when you aren’t white and rich, nobody else cares about them, especially law enforcement.

    Here’s the video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiC4iMOBLuY

    • Avatar

      Ahmed Shaikh

      July 29, 2015 at 8:20 PM

      Maheen, I am not sure how you came to your conclusion. I am well aware of Monteilh, that is my local Islamic Center. Yes, the FBI in our area has a hostile and unprofessional disposition towards the Muslim community and is unfortunately poorly run. Many of us know this well. I do hope this changes, but the FBI has made no efforts to fix it’s problems. Thank you for the video.

  6. Avatar

    MLFA

    July 30, 2015 at 3:24 PM

    If you or someone you know has been approached by federal law enforcement agents (FBI, DHS, etc.), call Muslim Legal Fund of America at 972-331-9021 and dial extension 118 (leave a message if you call while the case manager is out of the office). Never talk with law enforcement without an attorney.

  7. Avatar

    Naushk

    July 31, 2015 at 3:38 AM

    Assalaamu alaikum. While that is good advice for US citizens and residents, it doesn’t seem to work too well for non citizens such as international students and H1 visa folks. I used to be on the board of a masjid in a university town for many years and our standard advice was what is mentioned in the article. However, in the hindsight, everyone of the internationals following this advice were eventually removed from the US in unexplainable visa renewal denials or reentry denials to the US. In contrast, those internationals that did soak to the FBI a few times were mostly okay and moved on with their plans to finish degrees, get jobs, and green cards, etc.

    • Avatar

      Ahmed Shaikh

      July 31, 2015 at 7:52 PM

      Knowing your rights is good for everyone, regardless of citizenship.

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#Society

Politics In Islam: On Muslims Partaking In Political Engagement In Non-Muslim Countries

Imam Asad Zaman, Guest Contributor

Published

Some Muslims are convinced that participation in the elections is forbidden. Some even worry that engaging in politics might cause someone to become a kāfir, because it is a matter of walāʾ. Their argument is that participation necessitates approval of and allegiance to unbelief, and thus this makes participants unbelievers. The main verse cited to reach such a position is that Allah, the Exalted, says: “Let not the believers take the disbelievers as awliyāʾ against other believers.” The claim that this verse prohibits Muslims from partaking in political engagement in non-Muslim countries is immensely consequential to our communities, and so we should take care to understand this ayah in detail.

We must first consider the meaning of the word ‘awliyāʾ. It is the plural of the Arabic word waliy. Many English translations of the Qur’an translate this word as “friend,” causing us to understand the ayah above as prohibiting us from taking the disbelievers as friends. But this meaning would directly contradict multiple verses of the Quran and the well-established practice of our noble Messenger .

Clearly we need to examine this verse more carefully. Most dictionaries variously translate the Arabic word waliy to mean custodian, protector, helper, or authority. Typically a waliy is someone who has responsibility, allegiance, or authority over somebody else. For example, in Islamic law, a father is titled the waliy of his children. The word wāli, which is a derivative of the same root, is also used as an administrative title such as governor or magistrate of a place or region.

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My preferred English word for the Arabic word waliy is “ally.” The word is used in English to describe two separate individuals or parties who participate in favor of each other. This word best fits the Quranic context for the word waliy.

According to the Quran, Allah is the waliy of the believers, and the believers are the waliy of Allah. Allah being the waliy of the believers is consistent with the meanings of “custodian,” “protector,” “helper,” or “authority.” Because clearly Allah is all these things to the believers. But these meanings are not consistent with us, the believers, in our relationship with Allah, the Exalted and Mighty.

But the word “ally” can apply to both the superior party and the inferior. Consider two countries who are allies in defense and military matters. While one might be stronger, more powerful, and even dictate its demands to the other, they are still allies with one another. And Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is far greater than any such comparison.

So when Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) describes Himself as the waliy of the believers, it means that we seek His continual guidance, help, and protection. Our role and responsibility in this alliance is not the same, as nothing we do can ever benefit or harm Allah. Allah makes it clear that He is not in need of our protection or assistance, as He is All-Powerful and free from any weakness. We express our allegiance to him through our worship, obedience, reverence, and love. The awliyāʿ of Allah are those who dedicate themselves to perfecting these duties.

Clearly the alliance the believers have with Allah is completely unequal since there is no similarity between the Creator and the creation. While we take Allah as our ally out of our incompetence and dependence, He chooses us as allies purely out of mercy and kindness. And we desperately beg Allah to remain our ally, and to permit us to be allies of Him.

With this understanding of the word waliy, we can now better analyze the verse in question. Notice how the verse’s prohibition against taking unbelievers as allies is not unqualified; it specifies that we must not do so against other believers. We understand from this that it is permitted to make a treaty with unbelievers as long as it does not harm our fellow believers. Our beloved Messenger himself did this when he entered Madinah and made a treaty with the two major tribes of Aws and Khazraj, and with more than a dozen minor tribes pagan and Jewish tribes. The Muslims were expecting major attacks from the idolaters of Quraysh, and so their alliance with neighboring tribes was in the interest of the Muslim community as a whole.

This immediately forces us to question the validity of the military alliance between Israel and Egypt that deprives the people of Gaza of basic necessities. It is this sort of arrangement that the verse seems to warn so starkly against. Let those who partook take heed, as the verse ends with a stark threat: “And Allah warns you of Himself.”

Muslims can be friends with non-Muslims. Muslims can ally with non-Muslims. But a Muslim may never harm another Muslim. “It is enough of an evil for a person to belittle his Muslim brother. The entirety of one Muslim is sacred to another—his blood, his wealth, and his honor.”

And to Allah belongs all good.

Politics In Islam: Muslims Are Called To Pursue Justice

 


Quran 3:28ْ وَِريَنأَكافُِْمْؤِمنُوَنالِْخِذالَنتَتَّقُواِمْنُهْمتُقََّاليَتََّّالأَِسِمَنََّّللاِفِيَشْيٍءإْيِلَكفَلَْٰلذَُمْؤِمنِيَنَۖوَمنيَفْعََْمِليَاِصيُرَءِمندُوِنالْلَىََّّللاِالَِوإَسهُُِۗرُكُمََّّللاُنَفَْويَُحذاةًۗ

Let not believers take disbelievers as allies rather than believers. And whoever does that has nothing withAllah, except when taking precaution against them in prudence. And Allah warns you of Himself, and to Allah is the destination.

Quran 2: 25  7ِماِتإُُّظلْخِرُجُهمِمَنالَمنُوايُِذيَنآَُّّيالََّّللاُئَِكَوِلٰولََُماِتۗأُُّظللَىالُِهمِمَنالنُّوِرإْخِرُجونََّطاُغوُتيُْوِليَاُؤُهُمالَُرواأِذيَنَكفَََّهلاَىالنُّوِرَۖوالِرُۖهْمِفيْصَحاُبالنَّاَأَخاِلدُوَنAllah is the ally of those who believe. He brings them out from darknesses into thelight. And those who disbelieve-their allies are Taghut. They take them out of the light into darknesses. Those are the companions of the Fire; they will abide eternally therein.10Quran 10:62-64َوَالُهْمَيْحَزنُوَنِهْمْيَالَخْوٌفَعلََءََّّللاِْوِليَاََّنأَِالإأ-وَنََوَكانُوايَتَّقَُمنُواِذيَنآْوُزَّال-فَِْلَكُهَوالَٰماِتََّّللاِۚذَْْلِخَرةَِۚالتَْبِديَلِلَكِلَوفِياَحيَاةِالدُّْنيَاْبُْشَرٰىفِيالُْهُماللَُمعَِظيال-ْ

Unquestionably, [for] the allies of Allah there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve. Those who believed and were fearing Allah. For them are good tidings in the worldly life and in the Hereafter. No change is there in the words of Allah. That is what is the great attainment

Quran 17:111ٌّيِمَوِلهَُُّكنلْميَِكَولَُْملْهَُشِريٌكفِيالَُّكنلْميََولََولَدًاِخذْْميَتَِّذيلََِّالَحْمدُِلِلَِّْلالَوقُِيًراِْرهُتَْكبلَِۖوَكبَنالذُّAnd say, “Praise to Allah, who hasnot taken a son and has had no partner in [His] dominion and has no [needof a] protector out of weakness; and glorify Him with [great] glorification.”12Forty Hadith, Imam al-Nawawi, #35َ،ُكُمْسِلمَْخاهُالََرأْنيَْحِقََِحْسِباْمِرٍئِمْنالَّشِرأٌمبِمَحَراُمْسِلِْمَعلَىالُمْسِلَْوِعْرُضُّلال:

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#Current Affairs

Politics In Islam: Muslims Are Called To Pursue Justice

Imam Asad Zaman, Guest Contributor

Published

The pursuit of justice is a core Islamic value. One of the important roles Allah, the Exalted, assigned to His messengers is the task of establishing justice among the people. Allah, the Almighty, emphasized the importance of justice when He prohibited Himself from oppression and declared it forbidden among us humans. Allah is the Lord of all justice and fairness. In His fairness, He commands us to not allow our anger or hatred towards any group lead us to injustice against them. “Be just,” He commands, “it is closer to righteousness.”

Allah, the Most High, commands us to be witnesses for justice, even against ourselves. The concept of “even against ourselves,” is an open call to all people of faith to rise to the occasion, especially where we see systemic or structural oppression. In most such cases, the oppression is carried out in our name, usually by our elected government.

Allah’s emphasis on justice leads many Muslims to worry that if they vote for a president who transgresses against another country, the fault falls on everyone who voted for him. This fear paralyzes Muslim engagement in the American political system. Let us examine the circumstances of responsibility in such cases.

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To be clear, the present governments of almost all countries on Earth, including the so-called Muslim countries operate with corruption and oppression. Taking Egypt as an example, the government’s domestic policies have led to the unjust death and imprisonment of thousands of Egyptian citizens, and their foreign policy enables the perpetuation of Gaza’s destruction. This, however, does not require the average Egyptian Muslim citizen to reject all relationship to the nation of Egypt. The question then arises: how responsible is the Muslim for the actions of his government? Likewise, when the American government acts with injustice at home and abroad, how responsible is the American Muslim for the actions of his government? When the average citizen is not consulted before the execution of military operations, to what degree are we held responsible?

Allah’s Messenger provided for us a balanced approach to engaging with the injustice around us. Abu Saʿīd al-Khudri narrates that he heard the Prophet say,

“Whoever sees evil should change it with his hand; and if he is unable to do so, then he should change it with his tongue; and if he is unable to do so, then he should hate it with his heart—that is the least of faith.”

Let us take a practical example:

In 2001, President George W. Bush decided to invade Iraq. To justify his action, he invented a series of lies that Iraq possessed nuclear capabilities. It took him more than a year to align the power brokers in America and Europe to enable this evil action to occur. Neither the opinions nor the interests of the American population were taken into consideration.

Before the invasion, the public had two concerns: that the justification presented for the war was speculative and unfounded, and the war would result in countless unnecessary deaths. These worries quickly materialized into realities as time proved them to be true. However before the war, various politicians, pundits and opinion makers helped sell this unjust action to the people in order to gain their consent. They are undoubtedly guilty of murder and should be remembered as peddlers of death.

But what was the duty of an average American Muslim? The hadith mentioned above lists three levels of engagement:

Level One:

Someone who was part of the military or legislative authority had a duty in front of Allah to attempt to stop the invasion with action. If he was a congressman, he had a moral duty to vote against the war. If he was a member of the military, any intelligence agency, or government policy group, he had a moral duty to challenge the claims of the war’s proponent’s and provide information to the public so that they can know the truth. This duty applied to the person despite the likelihood that such a course of action would have probably jeopardized their career or their life.

Level Two:

Most Americans were not in the position described in level one. In their case, their duty was to speak out against this act of injustice. They could have written letters to their legislators, participated in protest rallies, held events in congress, and even spoken to their neighbors, classmates and colleagues about how wrong this action was. Any American Muslim who was not under threat of arrest for speaking out, but chose to remain silent still, failed to fulfill his duty to protest the evil.

Level Three:

There is little likelihood that the approach of silence would be justified for most American Muslims. There are countries (such as Saudi Arabia), where people can be arrested, tortured, even murdered if they speak out against the government. A Muslim living in one of these societies has a duty to at least engage with the injustices around them on an internal level, detesting the action from the core of their heart. As for the Muslim who does not detest that millions of innocent people are killed, they should check their heart; they would be missing what the Allah’s Messenger described as, “the least of faith.”

What faith is left in the heart of the Muslim who is not bothered by the death of more than a million Muslims?! Even if his mind is polluted with patriotism, tribalism, nationalism, or an inclination towards military culture, there is no excuse for the lack of humanity that is required for this level of apathy.

Considering the hadith above, our minimum duty is to stand and speak against the use of our tax dollars for such acts of injustice. There were indeed many Muslim and non-Muslim voices of dissent that protested the American invasion of Iraq. In addition to the spiritual duty of speaking out against injustice, it was clear to many what was later proven to be true: the invasion was not good for America. The financial and human loss incurred by this war has not made neither America, nor the world safer.

Many propose that Muslims should react to the injustices in their countries by leaving them. But this evasive approach fails to actually address the injustice. There is a greater, though more challenging, expectation of addressing the injustices from within, especially in a country like America where criticisms are tolerated and protest can lead to policy that is felt around the world. A large amount of the pain, and suffering that is happening to the Muslims today can be stopped from inside America. Our brothers and sisters in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Syria, Jordan, Somalia, Kenya, Yemen, Iraq, and Sudan are hoping that we will do something from our positions that will alleviate their suffering. They need our help.

Exonerating ourselves because our government acts without our consent may appease our consciences, but is of no benefit to our global Muslim community.

Such an approach is contradictory to the teaching of the Prophet as made clear by the hadith above. We have the opportunity and ability to speak out against evil, so passive dissent is not an option.

Allah tells us the story of Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) and al-Khadir 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him)  in Surah al-Kahf (peace be upon them both). When they boarded a ship of some men who agreed to give them a ride to their destination, Khadir pierced the boat’s basin, damaging their source of livelihood. Confused, Musa criticized this action, as it seemed like an injustice towards people who readily did a favor for them. What Musa didn’t know was that the men would encounter a tyrant king who had sent his men to seize all boats that were sound and intact. And as these men had helped Musa and al-Khadir, he wished to help them evade this king’s oppressive policy; the minor damage saved them from losing their boat!

The king was an oppressive tyrant. Musa and al-Khadir (peace be upon both of them) did not possess the power to remove the king or prevent the king from his evil action, and so they took action according to their ability. They knew that though they could not save everyone from the injustice, it was still their duty to act within their capacity to reduce the king’s injustice.

The Story of The Secret Believer

Allah also tells us the beautiful story of the secret believer in the Quran, who worked in the unjust government of the Pharaoh at the time of Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him). We know he had a fairly high status in the government because he was part of their most confidential meetings. This secret believer did not exit the government after he saw the many evil deeds of the Pharaoh’s government. During the discussion in the Pharaoh’s cabinet where they decided that Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was to be killed, this believer rose up and voiced his objections to the injustice, citing historical, logical, and emotional appeals. The meeting, however, concluded with the decision to execute Musa. Having been unable to stop this royal decree, he still made the effort to warn Musa so as to give him the chance to flee.

Allah tells us the beautiful story of the secret believer in the Quran, who worked in the unjust government of the Pharaoh at the time of Musa Click To Tweet

Instead of condemning him for participating in a government founded upon unbelief, Allah exalts his mention in His glorious book. He is our example of speaking truth to power, and the reason for Musa’s 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him)safety from Pharaoh’s plot. This man used his position to obstruct oppression, not perpetuate it.

As Muslim Americans, we live in a non-Muslim country. The decisions and actions of our government impacts all of us living in this country. Disengagement will allow selfish people to make decisions that will result in harm to our communities.

Participation will allow us to follow the examples of proactive engagement so as to prevent harm and ultimately change corrupt systems from within. An all-or-nothing approach will almost always lead to nothing.

Allah, the Exalted, provides these examples so that we can understand the practical role of Muslim in an overwhelmingly hostile society. Even though our environments have not reached that degree, we can still relate to the feelings of being oppressed and ostracized for our faith. Allah’s lesson to us in these stories is that our faith shouldn’t prevent us from trying to change these circumstances.

And to Allah is the end of all matters.

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#Current Affairs

Podcast: Muslims and The Fenty Fitnah | With Omar Usman and Khaled Nurhssein

Zeba Khan

Published

American Pop Star Rihanna, who owns luxury fashion line Fenty, featured a song with the voice of Mishary Rashid Al Afasi reciting a hadith from the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) about the end of times at recent lingerie fashion show.

Many are offended, but what’s the best way to respond to the situation?

Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Join Zeba Khan as she discusses this with Omar Usman, executive director of MuslimMatters, and Khaled Nurhssein, a community organizer, a local khateeb, and an intermittent student of knowledge.

Many Muslims are offended by pop-star Rihanna's use of a hadith in the music for a lingerie fashion show. What is the right way to respond?Click To Tweet

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

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