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UAE Forum Silencing Populations With Legitimate Grievances

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by Amir Aboguddah

The UAE’s Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies released its most recent statement urging Muslim populations to refrain from any call for democracy if they want to live in peace. As many can see, the statement is disappointing as it essentially tells Muslims to accept the tyranny of their autocrats (unless they want to live in chaos and bloodshed). Problematically, it places the onus of preserving peace on populations rather than governments (whose main job is to preserve peace) and gives oppressive governments a pass on all of their egregious and horrific violations while asking populations to waive their rights. Even more disturbing is the fact that this argument was given an Islamic garb. The religious justification for the claim that “a call for democracy is a call for war” must be addressed as it is – with all due respect- flawed and ignores the clear Islamic tradition which encourages non-violent opposition to tyranny. Islam cannot be used as a tool by which to silence populations with legitimate grievances.

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The Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslims Societies published its more recent document stating:

“In societies that are not ready, the call for democracy is essentially a call for war…Our Sharī‘ah goes to great lengths to avoid bloodshed and to maintain harmony and serenity, and our tradition teaches us that reform is preferable to revolution, as revolution brings destruction without offering solutions. History has taught us that damage to humans is very different from damage to structures. Reform is also more familiar to Arab and Islamic cultures.”[i]

Problematically, the statement equates the mere call for democracy with revolution and, consequently, suggests that it will inevitably cause bloodshed. One wonders: If a simple “call” for something is equal to revolution, then what does reform look like? Isn’t a “call” for change the practical definition of “reform” (which the Forum claims to prefer)? If a “call” for democracy is equal to revolution, thus removing that option off the table, what other options do Muslims have to exercise the power of “reform”? Nothing. The Forum has drawn a false image where there are only two options on the table, tyranny and bloodshed (with tyranny being the preferred choice).

With all due respect to the scholars that participated in the Forum and without questioning any intentions, the Forum’s statement does not seem consistent with the Islamic tradition which has clearly encouraged Muslims to hold their leaders accountable and demand change when it is needed. The Forum is correct in that the Sharia avoids bloodshed and that Muslims scholars, over the centuries, have shown an aversion to revolution due to the bloodshed and destruction it causes. However, those same scholars drew a clear distinction (which the Forum seems to ignore) between armed revolution and non-violent opposition to those in authority. A faithful reading of the Islamic tradition reveals not only that Muslims have the right to oppose those in power and hold them accountable, but that they have the duty to do so. Engaging in such action is not the same as engaging in armed rebellion.

Any Muslim with a rudimentary knowledge of his/her faith knows that every Muslim has a duty to perform ‘amr bil-maarouf (enjoining the good) and nahi ‘an al-munkar (forbidding the evil).[ii] A Muslim is commanded to change the munkar (evil) by either taking physical action, speaking up against it or, at least, rejecting it with one’s heart.[iii] It may occur to some that this duty only applies between individuals and that it doesn’t apply to the relationship between subjects and rulers, especially in light of the many hadiths that demand obedience to “those in authority”. However, the Prophet Muhammed ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)  —the same man who commanded Muslims to pay heed to those in authority— praised the one who stands up to a tyrannical leader by commanding him (i.e the ruler) to do good and forbidding him from doing evil. According to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), a person killed by a tyrant after commanding him to do good and forbidding him from doing evil is “the master of martyrs”, equating him with his martyred uncle (Hamza raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him)). Interestingly, the words used in this Hadith, ‘amr and nahi (i.e commanding (the good) and forbidding (the evil) respectively), are the same words used in the Quran to describe the duty of Muslims to enjoin the good and forbid the evil.

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) also declared:

The best Jihad is a word of justice in front of an oppressive ruler.[iv]

Our Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) clearly encouraged Muslims to change evil and to speak truth to power. The Prophet promises immense reward and a noble status to the one who opposes tyrannical rulers. How can the Islamic tradition encourage such behaviour while at the same time, according to the Forum, view a mere call for accountability and human dignity as a call for war? It is either that the Islamic tradition draws a clear line between revolution and non-violent demands by citizens, or that the Islamic tradition is internally inconsistent.

As a result, Muslim jurists have often drawn a distinction between ‘amr bil-maarouf wal nahi ‘an al-munkar and al-khurouj bil-sayf (rebelling with the sword).[v] The former is encouraged while the latter is, according to many (but not all) scholars, prohibited. Muslims are not only free to speak up against the tyranny of those in authority, but they are also permitted to refuse to carry out their unjust policies and to physically undo their actions, as these forms of conduct do not constitute rebellion.[vi]

This is evident in how Muslim scholars dealt with the tyrannical rulers of their time. Imam Abu Hanifah رحمة الله was called upon by the Ummayads to endorse a clamp-down on an uprising. Abu Hanifah defied the demands of the Ummayad governor and declared, “If he ordered me to count for him the doors of the mosque I wouldn’t comply. So how can I comply when he wants me to endorse his command to strike the throat of a Muslim?!”. Abu Hanifah was consequently detained and beaten for days.[vii]

The Imam remained equally true to his principles after the Abbassids overthrew the Ummayads. As part of his effort to secure his rule, Al-Mansur, the Abbasid Caliph, made the people of Mosul pledge allegiance to him and that their blood would be “lawful” if they break their pledge; essentially, they had to pledge their lives as collateral. When the people of Mosul broke their pledge, Al-Mansur, moved to act on the “agreement”. Abu Hanifah defied the Caliph and told him: “They pledged to you that which they do not have [i.e the right to contract their life away] and you took from them a pledge which you cannot take.”[viii]

More importantly, not only did Imam Abu Hanifah رحمة الله  voice opposition to the rulers of his time and refuse to obey or endorse their commands, he also supported armed rebellion against them. The Imam financially supported the uprising of Zaid Ibn Ali against Ummayad rule and also encouraged people to stand with the uprising.[ix] Similarly, and after becoming disillusioned with the rule of the Abbassids, he voiced support for the uprising of Muhammed Al-Nafs Al- Zakiyyah against the Caliph Al-Mansur and instructed one of Al-Mansur’s military men to refrain from fighting Al-Nafs Al-Zakiyyah. As a result, Abu Hanifah was imprisoned and remained in prison until his death.[x] Although I do not aim to make an argument about the permissibility of armed rebellion, I make mention of this in order to show that if Abu Hanifa was willing to support armed rebellion, then, a fortiori, anything short of that is certainly more permissible.

This is also a good time to note that the debate on the permissibility of armed revolution is a nuanced and unsettled debate. Any claim that armed revolution is categorically impressible is simply false. However, that is an issue for another time.

Imam Malik ibn Anas رحمة الله was also detained and tortured during the reign of Al-Mansur for supporting the uprising of Al-Nafs Al-Zakiyyah. People came to the Imam asking him if they can pledge allegiance of Al-Nafs Al-Zakiyyah despite having already made a pledge to Al- Mansur. The Imam said: “You were compelled to pledge allegiance. And no compelled person can be held to a pledge.”[xi]

Imam Izzideen ibn Abdulsalam رحمة الله serves as another striking example. While in his hometown, Damascus, Ibn Abdulsalam learned that the King of Damascus, Al-Saleh Ismail, formed an alliance with the Crusaders. He had agreed to sell them weapons (to be used in their crusade against the Egyptians), and surrendered to them a number of Muslim citadels. This angered Ibn Abdulsalam who declared, “It is forbidden upon you to sell to them [weapons] as you are certain that they purchase [these weapons[ to wage war against your brothers!” The Imam denounced the King from the pulpit of the largest mosque in Damascus. He was detained and, upon his release, he went into self-exile.[xii]

The Imam moved to Egypt where his bold opposition to rulers made an appearance. Ibn Abdulsalam became known as the “auctioneer of kings” because he demanded that the princes and generals of Egypt (the Mamluks) be auctioned off in the public market as slaves in order to establish their freedom (this raises a lot of questions, but that is another topic for another time).[xiii] He refused to give any legal effect to their decrees until the Mamluks complied with his demand. The Mamluks refused, prompting the Imam to pack his belongings and depart to the outskirts of the city. However, and after having attracted a large base of followers and supporters, the entire population followed him to the outskirts of the city in solidarity with their beloved Imam.[xiv] Fearing that their state would collapse, the princes and generals invited Ibn Abdulsalam back and complied with his order. The Imam was such a strong check against the power of kings and generals that upon his death, the ruling Sultan, Baybars, said in relief “Only now is my reign secure.”[xv]

All the above indicates that Muslims have the right — if not the duty— to serve as a check against the power of rulers, especially the tyrannical ones. They should be free to demand better forms of government. The words of the Prophet Muhammed ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) make clear that a Muslim is rewarded for his/her opposition to tyranny. This is further supported by the actions of prominent Islamic scholars who applied that teaching in their lives. Even if we are to accept the prohibition on armed rebellion (and that is certainly a reasonable conclusion), this does not force us to adopt the opposite extreme, which is acceptance and passiveness in the face of tyrannical governments. Non-violent defiance and opposition to tyrannical rulers cannot be equated with revolution. When Muslim populations call on their governments to free political prisoners, respect fundamental rights and freedoms, and allow for the public accountability of public officials, they are enjoining the good and forbidding the evil, as per the Prophet’s instructions.

The bloodshed is not caused by those who use their voices as the Prophet commanded. It is caused by those who respond to those voices with bombs and bullets.

Allah knows best.

Amir Aboguddah is a JD Candidate at the University of Toronto.

[i] https://drive.google.com/file/d/1TOts39QzfEg-QQGZ-I0WD731KlSy_nL7/view

[ii] See: Quran [Al-Imraan: 104,110]

[iii] Sahih Muslim, Kitab Al-Iman, Hadith no. 73.

[iv] Sunan Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith no.. 2174

[v] See: Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali, Jami’ Al-‘Uloom Walhikam, p. 954

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] Al-Muwaffaq Al-Makki, Manaqib Abi Hanifa, p. 23 – 24.

[viii] Muhammed Abu Zahra, Tareekh Almathahib AlIslamiyyah p. 348-353.

[ix] Ibid.

[x] Ibid.

[xi] Ibid.

[xii] Tajuddin Abu Nasr Al-Subki, Tabaqat Al-Shafiyyah Al-Kubra, p, 243, vol 8.

[xiii] Muhammed Al-Zuhayli, Al-Izz Ibn Abdulsalam: Sultan Al-Ulamaa wa Ba’ii Al-Mulouk p. 179-183

[xiv] Ibid.

[xv] Ibid.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Abu Musa

    December 26, 2018 at 7:55 AM

    An excellent piece – Jazakumullahu Khairan. Clarifies the misrepresentation of our Islamic tradition and even three misrepresention of facts and reality.

  2. Avatar

    khan

    January 1, 2019 at 1:00 PM

    All the rulers and systems in muslims world are remanence of colonial era and continue serve their interest in the region. Why these leaders keep telling if you change the current status-co in muslim world result will be ISIS ? Why can’t they see the return of Islam and work for it …

  3. Avatar

    DI

    January 2, 2019 at 10:37 PM

    Salam Amir,

    A couple of things.

    Abu Hanifa and Imam Malik were supporting viable alternatives from the Family of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) to the existing leadership. It is not injustice they were fighting alone, but assisting those from the Prophetic Household which is a very serious albeit neglected duty. If we had individuals such as Muhammad al-Nafs al-Zakiyya or Zaid Ibn Ali around today…then the discussion might be different…

    It is naive to imagine Islamic scholars having the same success as Imam Izz-ud-Din. I don’t think Muslims follow their scholars that loyally in our time. Most scholars who would act thus, in our day, would disappear overnight. Case in point: Shaykh Salman al-Oudah. Where is he now? Now, imagine that happening to all the ulema present at the UAE Peace forum.

    I feel much of what is being written on MM is doing a disservice and harm to Islamic scholarship (including scholars who write on this website) than any harm done by the UAE Peace forum.

    Anyways, I blogged a number of other references from Islamic history worth reading.

    di.

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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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