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Meet Joe Biden’s Muslim Outreach Coordinator: A Supporter Of Narendra Modi And His Islamophobic, Hindu Nationalist Agenda

Imagine a friend of the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan doing Black outreach. 

Hamzah Raza

Published

Joe Biden Modi

Once widely regarded as the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, Joe Biden now finds himself in a struggling campaign. Nevertheless, despite poor performances in early states, many see Saturday’s South Carolina primary as his chance to bounce back. To a large part of the Democratic establishment, Biden is still the man who can replace Donald Trump, a widely unpopular president who has been a part of a wave of far-right Islamophobic heads of state around the world, from Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, to China’s Xi Jinping, to India’s Narendra Modi. 

Despite presenting himself as a liberal counterweight to this virulent wave of Islamophobia, Joe Biden has hired as his Muslim outreach coordinator, Amit Jani, an avid supporter of Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist agenda. 

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In 2002, Modi, as Chief Minister of Gujarat, presided over a massacre of Muslims in the province, by inciting religious violence, which resulted in the death of nearly 2000 civilians, according to a report from Human Rights Watch. This was some of the most gruesome religious violence ever seen in an independent India. 

When asked if he regretted the violence, Modi compared it to feeling bad over accidentally running over a puppy. In 2005, Modi was subsequently banned from the United States based on his role in the Gujarat massacre, a ban that would persist for nearly a decade. It was only lifted in 2014 after Modi was elected Prime Minister of India. 

As Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and his political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) have continued these attacks on Muslims. On midnight of August 4th, 2019, Modi’s BJP-led government revoked Article 370 of the Indian constitution, which granted Indian-occupied Kashmir, a disputed territory that is majority-Muslim, special status and internal autonomy. By stripping Kashmir of such status, Modi has opened the door to a brutal military occupation of the Kashmiri people. This occupation has stripped Kashmir of its internet, landline, and cell phone access, implementing a blackout that has deprived Kashmir of communicating with the outside world. This has particularly distressed Kashmiris living abroad by preventing them from communicating with their families living inside the region. Many abroad are unsure of the safety of their family members living in Kashmir, given Modi’s government’s escalated militarization of the region. 

Modi has also passed a Citizenship Amendment Act seeking to fast track Indian citizenship for religious minorities from neighboring Muslim-majority countries, while setting forth a plan requiring India’s 200 million Muslim citizens to undergo a citizenship registry, mirroring not only Trump’s call for a Muslim registry but also Hitler’s Nuremberg Laws, which targeted German Jews in what would lead up to the Holocaust. In the state of Assam, which has a large Muslim population, this registry has already been implemented. Residents must either prove or lose their citizenship. Those who have been unable to prove their citizenship are already being sent to detention camps.

For the past four days, the Indian capital of Delhi has been burning, masajid, markets cemeteries destroyed.  A preplanned state-sanctioned attack on peaceful protesters has resulted in a death toll of 35 and rising.

In the midst of Modi’s decades of Islamophobia, Biden’s Muslim outreach director, Amit Jani, has heaped praise on him. On the night of Modi’s election, Jani was in India, and posted a photo of himself wearing a BJP shirt on Facebook with the caption: “Loved the energy and jubilation throughout the state on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s victory in the Indian national elections! Proud of Deepti Jani[Amit Jani’s mother] for all the work you did during the campaign.” 

Amit Jani’s name appeared on the flyer for an August 21st event celebrating the removal of Article 370, opening the door to Modi’s annexation and communications blackout of Kashmir. Jani was listed on the organizing committee for the event. The keynote speaker at this celebration was Kailash Vijayvargiya, the National Secretary-General of the BJP, Narendra Modi’s political party. Vijayvargiya once claimed that Shah Rukh Khan, a famous Indian Muslim Bollywood actor is an “anti-nationalist” who “lives in India, but his heart is in Pakistan,” after Khan remarked that India is going through a period of extreme intolerance for religious minorities. 

On June 25th, 2017, Amit Jani also took a picture with Narendra Modi at a “community reception” in McLean, Virginia, the day before Trump’s “Howdy Modi” rally in Houston, which featured Donald Trump and Narendra Modi, before a crowd of 50,000 supporters. His mother, Deepti Jani, posted the photo of Jani and Modi with the caption: “Amit Jani with Respected Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” These are alongside other pictures on Amit Jani’s Facebook page heaping praise upon this Islamophobic leader.

In a Huffington Post article he wrote in 2014, Amit Jani spoke about the impact that Narendra Modi had on his family after he stayed at their Jersey City home when visiting the United States in 1993. He compared Modi to Barack Obama lamenting that “Modi and Obama have brought fresh voices and creative ideas to their governments, after many years of having increasingly unpopular and disconnected leaders in office.” One is led to question if Jani includes inciting hatred against religious minorities as part of these “fresh and creative ideas” of Modi.

Jani’s late father, Suresh Jani, founded the organization: Overseas Friends of the BJP in the United States. The organization sought to improve the image of Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist BJP party in the United States, after incidents such as Modi’s denial of a visa to enter the US because of his complicity in the 2002 massacre of Muslims in Gujrat.

The late Suresh Jani first met Narendra Modi at a gathering of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or RSS, an all-male, far-right paramilitary Hindu nationalist organization founded in 1925. Modi joined the organization when he was just 8 years old. It was banned in the first year of Indian Independence after an RSS member murdered Mahatma Gandhi because he believed that Gandhi was too favorable to India’s Muslims. 

The organization would be subsequently banned two times after that, from 1975 to 1977, and in the year 1992. The second leader of the RSS, M.S. Golwalkar was deeply inspired by Nazi Germany, which he said displayed “race pride at its highest” and was “a good lesson for use” in India. He even compared India’s Muslims to the Jews of pre-Nazi Germany. Golwalkar coined the term Hindutva and stated that India needed to become a Hindu Nationalist state. He said that India faced three “internal enemies” in reaching this goal: Muslims, Christians, and Communists. As Chief Minister of Gujarat, Modi also oversaw the distribution of textbooks that praised Hitler, describing him as a leader “who lent dignity and prestige to the German government.” 

Islamophobia has threatened the well-being and fundamental human rights of hundreds of millions of Muslims on a global scale. This can be seen through Trump’s Muslim ban, the brutal military occupations of Kashmir and Palestine, China’s rounding up of Ughyur Muslims into concentration camps, and the Modi’s government stripping Indian Muslims of their citizenship. For Biden to confront this global tide of Islamophobia is not just important for the safeguarding of the rights of Muslims, but also important for safeguarding the rights of so many marginalized minority groups that are threatened by this rise of fascism and illiberal democracy.

For Amit Jani to be Muslim outreach coordinator for the Biden campaign is beyond insulting to America’s millions of Muslim Americans. At a minimum, the coordinator of Biden’s Muslim outreach should not be a man who praises one of the world’s leading Islamophobes. Modi presided over a massacre of Muslims, and since becoming head of state, has attempted to strip 200 million Muslims–in a country with the second-largest number of Muslims in the world–of their citizenship.

The Biden campaign’s hiring of Amit Jani as Muslim outreach coordinator would be analogous to a friend and supporter of the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan doing Black outreach. 

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Hamzah Raza is a graduate student at Harvard University and an alumnus of Vanderbilt University. At Vanderbilt, he received highest honors for his thesis on the role that South African Muslims played in the anti-apartheid struggle. He has been previously been published at the Huffington Post, Alternet, the Grayzone Project, Raw Story, and the Tennessean. Follow him on Twitter @raza_hamzah

20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Aziz Gilani

    February 27, 2020 at 10:22 PM

    The fact set you present is really damning. Did you attempt to get a comment or reaction from Jani?

    • Avatar

      Sksd in carlsbad

      March 6, 2020 at 2:22 PM

      Every one should have right to speak, at the same time willingness to listen. One without the other is just noise and should be ignored.

      Thanks.

  2. Avatar

    Adams

    February 28, 2020 at 10:22 AM

    Quick correction.
    First…He is not a Muslim outreach coordinator. There has been no position like this in Biden’s campaign.

    Second…It may not be as intentional as it may seem like it. This is a general problem with Indian community as they tend to have connection back home through temples and others. Joe may have overlooked this.

    Third and lastly…Joe is not Tulsi Gabbard or others in Bernie camp, who have not condemned the action of Assad or others. Nor has he praised dictators. Washington’s Center-Left democrats have been crucial in votes for banning people like Modi, pressuring Burma over Rohingya, etc. They never sold out Muslims, but these Tankies did.

  3. Avatar

    GregAbdul

    February 28, 2020 at 3:59 PM

    Often, I sort of go at the Brothers and Sister who write here and I sort of dismiss you as off the deep end. However this one is serious. Joe Biden is seeking to be President and today we have a racist man who was in India cheering as Muslims were beaten and killed. Clearly India today is being run by racist nationalist. If what you say here is true, it means we must as Muslims ALL stand against Biden his candidacy until he cleanses his staff and explains why Modi supporters are on his payroll. The internet is full of violent pic and videos of Muslims being beaten for no reason other than them being Muslim. This guy losing his position on this campaign is peanuts compared to what is happening to Muslims in India. Insha Allah we all stand up and at least demand being tossed to bone of this guy not having a path to work in and be tied to a Biden White house. Oh! I went to a Biden facebook page and asked….and the only answer I got was to tell me I am a hateful Muslim and obviously your website is lying and unreliable. Sounds like a future white bigot gathering to me!

  4. Avatar

    Aziz Gilani

    March 1, 2020 at 9:00 AM

    • Avatar

      Know The Truth

      March 4, 2020 at 6:37 PM

      I have noble intention of bringing out the truth, every coin has two sides, I wanted to bring the other side of story which this article lacks as it is collections of all skewed articles and paid writes news items in the west media as part of propaganda. I do not want my Muslims brothers to be angered by biased news and propaganda of west media. Both Hindus and Muslims died in almost equal numbers in Delhi riots. I love all including my Muslim brothers and want to reduce anxiety and hate being generated by west media.

  5. Avatar

    Muhamed Borogovac

    March 2, 2020 at 8:18 AM

    Biden was so friendly to Bosnia, when Bosnian Muslims needed help. He was the only one who mentioned during debates the horrible things that are happening in Myanmar, China etc. However, this is so bad, I do not know for who to vote any more.

  6. Avatar

    Muhammad Khan

    March 3, 2020 at 2:04 PM

    How can this guy be the Muslim Outreach coordinator? He himself is not a Muslim has Biden lost it or is this just fake news

  7. Avatar

    Sarwar Hussain

    March 3, 2020 at 7:42 PM

    This kind message doesn’t help Muslim agenda. Please stop this kind
    of negativity, which only helps Non Muslim agents and their purpose.

  8. Avatar

    MuslimsAreHuman2

    March 4, 2020 at 7:43 PM

    Troll alert!!! No facts, no figures.

    Article 370 and asking 200 million Indian Muslims to prove their citizenship alone shows the “program”. Don’t even get me started on Amit Shah. Only prejudice is BJP. Try better next time….

    • Avatar

      Friend of Humanity

      March 4, 2020 at 10:09 PM

      Sure brother Muslims are Human and deserve to be treated as such. It is easy to push aside any well meaning message as a troll. No political party is ideal, do you think Imran Khan is good to our Muslim brothers in Pakistan. Are people happy with him? Has he fulfilled all tall promises he made for his election?

      Coming to your question on Article 370; it only benefited two political families (Muftis and Abdullas) as they scammed all the money leaving common people poor. For past many of decades violence and exploitation of Kashmiris have left many dead. Even though removal of 370 seems suffocating due to internet blockage; I see that has been relaxed and now interenet and social media is restored in Kashmir.

      https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/social-media-ban-removed-in-kashmir-broadband-services-to-be-restored-2189956

      More over there are no death due to bomb exploitation that earlier use to be common and killed common people on street. Reports show situation is far safe now compared to what was before removal of 370.

      Below is news link of envoys from 25 countries visiting Kashmir on 15 Feb 2020. See the video in the news link and hear Afghanistan and Uganda envoys statements saying normalcy has returned to Kashmir.

      https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/normalcy-is-almost-back-say-envoys-after-jk-trip/articleshow/74126177.cms

    • Avatar

      Friend of Humanity

      March 4, 2020 at 10:12 PM

      Sure brother Muslims are Human and deserve to be treated as such. It is easy to push aside any well meaning message as a troll. No political party is ideal, do you think Imran Khan is good to our Muslim brothers in Pakistan. Are people happy with him? Has he fulfilled all tall promises he made for his election?

      Coming to your question on Article 370; it only benefited two political families (Muftis and Abdullas) as they scammed all the money leaving common people poor. For past many of decades violence and exploitation of Kashmiris have left many dead. Even though removal of 370 seems suffocating due to internet blockage; I see that has been relaxed and now interenet and social media is restored in Kashmir.

      More over there are no death due to bomb exploitation that earlier use to be common and killed common people on street. Reports show situation is far safe now compared to what was before removal of 370.

      Envoys from 25 countries visited Kashmir on 15 Feb 2020. They gave statements saying normalcy has returned to Kashmir.

      • Avatar

        Sawanti

        March 5, 2020 at 1:51 AM

        Friend of humanity. It’s a clear prove on BBC that police was helping the radical Hindus to beat Muslims they were beaten so so brutally, they smashed their skulls crushed their internal organs , those Muslims did nothing to harm Hindus . India has become a terorist nation , killing poor Muslims for no reason .

        • Avatar

          Friend Of Humanity

          March 5, 2020 at 10:03 AM

          Please don’t believe everything west media shows. I also watch Indian news channels and media where Muslims equally participate in debates on issues freely and openly. You should follow Delhi riot reports. To see other side of coin to see complete truth, check out opindia.com and also youtube videos related to Delhi riots videos and news. Dont just rely on west media which is not always fair, we know about this from experience. Search google for Tahir Hussain Delhi riots, you would get better picture. Just for your information, both Hindus and Muslims died in almost equal numbers in Delhi Riots. Violence and hate should never be accepted in any civilized society. Muslims deserve full respect and love.

  9. Avatar

    Inaya

    March 4, 2020 at 9:02 PM

    In other words, “world is not such a bad place if we just ignore the BKP and RSS?”

    You have got to be freaking kidding me. ??

  10. Avatar

    Abdullah

    March 8, 2020 at 3:53 PM

    We are missing the point and the goal – there is no place for Terrorists and Indians who support Nazi ideology in American politics. It does not matter that this Indian is posing as a Muslim Outreach Coordinator or not; what matters is that he is part of the Biden campaign — his racist ideology and background should disqualify him from being part of ANY party that claims to represent the American people

  11. Avatar

    Mohan

    April 6, 2020 at 2:06 AM

    tch…. tch.., always portraying Muslims as victims and hiding their sins. why don’t you ask yourself why riots in Gujarat happened in the first place? How Islamic terrorists burned alive Hindu priests, women and children. why do you try to hide that gore?. where are your condemning articles when scores of Hindu and Sikh women are kidnapped, forcibly converted to Islam and married to Muslim men with out consent in neighboring countries of India? where are sympathies when Hindus of Kashmir are harassed and pogroms are carried out against them by Islamic fundamentalists? and that slogans like “Hindu women should left for Muslim men” were announced from loud speakers in mosques.
    where is your outrage then?

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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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