Monday, August 28, 2006

Civic Engagment

My dear brothers and sisters, this American Muslim community of ours is a historical community livening in historic times. We are a community that is the wealthiest of all Muslim communities per capita, and the most educated and literate Muslim community per capita. And we live in undoubtedly the most powerful and influential country in the world today, and the world’s only remaining superpower. As such, we American Muslims have a special opportunity, a special duty and obligation, to see to it that this nation of ours, whether we are residents or citizens of it, is steered in the right direction—a direction that appeals to the highest ethical and moral conscience, and not the highest paying lobbyist. A direction that appeals to this country’s founding principles of “justice and liberty for all”, and not the corrupt principle of “might makes right.”

However, we cannot fulfill this special duty and obligation by sitting idly in our homes and complaining about the direction of this country, or by sitting around and offering one conspiracy theory after another, or by making lofty speeches about peace and justice in Islam.

Rather, the only way we can fulfill our special duty and responsibility as servants of Allah is to actively participate in what is good, and forbidding what is evil. Allah (swt) says in surat-al-Imran, "Let there be a community among you who call to the good, and enjoin the right, and forbid the wrong. For they are the ones who have success." And the Prophet Muhammad said, 'Whoever of you sees something wrong should change it with his hand; if he cannot, then with his tongue; if he cannot, then with his heart, and that is the weakest form of belief.”

So what the Qur’an and Sunnah teach us is that we must actively participate in civic engagement, and work, and strive for the divinely enjoined objectives of justice, fairness, equality, and peace in this world. And, therefore as an American Muslim community we must make social justice and human rights the corner stone of our community, and a part and parcel of our very identity. In order to do this, we must rise above our current level or discourse that is whinny and conspiratorial in nature, to a more sophisticated and enlightened discourse that appeals to the morally conscious soul and to the intellectually gifted mind.

And in order to do this, we must, as a community, learn how to write, how to speak, how to influence policy makers in local and national politics, and how to build coalitions so that we may be more effective in enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong. This requires not only a study of the Islamic sciences, but also a study of history, politics, sociology, and all other sciences that influence the decision making of this country. For example, if we want to appeal to policymakers in this country on behalf of our oppressed brothers and sisters in Palestine, we must remind them of this country’s founding principles on foreign relations, which was articulated by the United States first president, George Washington in his farewell address of 1796, in which he said:

“Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and morality enjoin this conduct. And can it be that good policy does not equally enjoin it?”

“… A passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others, which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill will, and a disposition to retaliate in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld.”

“Verily, Allah will never change the condition of a people until they change what is within themselves.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Right on brother! I totally agree.