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 Participation in the Society and Voting for Muslims in America

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PostSubject: Participation in the Society and Voting for Muslims in America   Thu Jan 08, 2009 1:49 am

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُونُواْ قَوَّامِينَ بِالْقِسْطِ شُهَدَاء لِلّهِ وَلَوْ عَلَى أَنفُسِكُمْ أَوِ الْوَالِدَيْنِ وَالأَقْرَبِينَ إِن يَكُنْ غَنِيًّا أَوْ فَقَيرًا فَاللّهُ أَوْلَى بِهِمَا فَلاَ تَتَّبِعُواْ الْهَوَى أَن تَعْدِلُواْ وَإِن تَلْوُواْ أَوْ تُعْرِضُواْ فَإِنَّ اللّهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرًا {النساء 135}

O you who believe, uphold justice and bear witness to Allah, even if it is against yourselves, your parents, or your close relatives. Whether the person is rich or poor, Allah can best take care of both. Refrain from following your own desire, so that you can act justly – if you distort or neglect justice, Allah is fully aware of what you do. (Al-Nisa’ 4:135)



وَقُلِ اعْمَلُواْ فَسَيَرَى اللّهُ عَمَلَكُمْ وَرَسُولُهُ وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَسَتُرَدُّونَ إِلَى عَالِمِ الْغَيْبِ وَالشَّهَادَةِ فَيُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ {التوبة 105}

Say, ‘Take action! Allah will see your action – as will His Messenger and the believers – and then you will be returned to Him who knows what is seen and what is unseen, and He will tell you what you have been doing. (Al-Tawbah 9:105)

Wherever Muslims live they have to act, act in a just manner, without any partiality and favoritism. Muslims must work for the good of all people and should keep in mind that Allah is watching everyone and everything and the final return is to Allah. Allah shall take the account of every person. In the end everyone shall see the result of his/her actions.

Islam puts a great responsibility on the shoulder of every adult and sane person, whether male or female, young or old, rich or poor, white or black, Arab or non-Arab. The Prophet – peace be upon him – said,

‏عن ‏ ‏عبد الله ‏ ‏رضي الله عنه ‏ أن رسول الله ‏ ‏صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ ‏قال:... ألا فكلكم راع وكلكم مسئول عن رعيته (البخارى 2368)

Behold, all of you are responsible and every one of you will be questioned about his/her responsibility. (Al-Bukhari, 2368)

Just as we are responsible for our families, our businesses, our mosques, our own Muslim communities; we are also responsible for our neighborhoods, towns, cities and countries where we live. Whether we are citizens, permanent or even temporary residents, it is our duty to see that wherever we live we contribute to the goodness and well being of that society. It is unjust and unethical from the Islamic point of view to live in some place, earn money, enjoy the food and comfort and not contribute anything good to that place. We should not only participate by giving taxes, because we have to give them any way; we should participate as a matter of our honor and goodness. We must participate to make the society peaceful, just, caring, safe, secure and prosperous.

Participation is not just voting at the election time; it is participation in all civic affairs as long as they do not contradict the ethical and moral principles of Islam. Voting is an important way to express one’s will and position; but it is only for the citizens. However, participation means more than voting. It means understanding the issues, considering the circumstances and doing whatever one can to shape the society for the good of all its inhabitants. As Muslims it also means ‘commanding what is right and forbidding what is wrong’ but it must be done with wisdom, good preaching and fine reasoning (as mentioned in Surah al-Nahl 16:125). In a pluralistic society it would also mean recognizing the religious and cultural diversity and respecting the rights of others.

There are now millions of American Muslim citizens. Some came as immigrants during the last few decades and have become naturalized citizens; and some are natives whose ancestors have been living here for centuries and Allah guided them to Islam. America is our home. We are raising our children and our grandchildren here. It is true that America today in the grip of Islamophobia and distrust of Islam and Muslims. In the recent electoral politics we saw that Muslim became almost a slur and a bad word. Many politicians tried to avoid coming to mosques, meeting with Muslims and even having them in photographs standing in the background. We see the difficulties and pain of the people of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine. We see the detention of the innocents and the curtailment of many civil rights and civil liberties. All these things make us alienated and depressed. But this is not the whole story. This is still the country of laws and rules. Bill of Rights still exists and one can pursue many civil rights and can openly criticize and demand them. There are many good neighbors and good citizens who understand and who are ready to help. We are very thankful to them. We do have freedom of worship, freedom to have our mosques, schools and our Islamic institutions. We do have freedom of movement, freedom of business, freedom of speech and many other blessings. We must appreciate the good and change the wrongs. We can do that with the help of Allah through our participation and persistence. Things change in America when you complain and talk about them. In many countries people cannot speak or end up in jail if they open their mouths.

Now is the time to vote on coming Tuesday, November 4. Our vote is a trust (amanah) and it should go only to those who deserve it. Our principles should be the following:

Muslims must fully understand the position of the candidates on all critical issues.
The objective clearly must be to bring benefit to the American society in general and to Muslims in particular.
Muslims can be flexible in the matters of details without compromising on the moral and ethical principles of Islam.
One of the rules of the Shari’ah is that when the choice is between two good things then take the better of the two; but if the choice is only between two evils then take the lesser of the two evils.
Voting should not be based on personal interests or desires.
The candidates should be well qualified for the position that they are seeking.
The candidates should not be known for deception or animosity to Islam and Muslims.
Although the political process in America, unfortunately, is becoming very divisive and polarizing; this is still an exciting moment in American history and it could be very positive for America and the world. Let us hope and pray that when Americans go to polls next Tuesday they exercise their will with calm and care. Let us pray that we all make the right choice and whosoever is elected helps the people transcend their differences and help this great country to do what is just, fair and honorable for its citizens and for humanity at large. Ameen.
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