Khutbah Outline: Muslim Community and the American Political Process
By Parvez Ahmed
1. Every individual is responsible for himself/herself.
a. The Prophet, peace be upon himm said: Abdullah ibn ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, say, ‘You are all custodians, and you all will be questioned about the things under your custody. …. You are all custodians and you all shall be questioned about your custody. (Al-Bukhari, Hadith no. 844)
b. Just we are custodians of our families; we are also responsible for the affairs of our city, our state, our country and our world.
c. Just as every brick in a house is valuable, so is every member valuable and every person capable of
making a difference.
2. Should Muslims participate in the American electoral process?
a. During the 1996 election, the raging debate in the Muslim community was is voting Halal or Haram? The consensus opinion among scholars is that participation in the political process is an obligation. It means that we have to participate, not just choose to participate.
b. Thus, it becomes an individual responsibility not just a collective responsibility.
c. Regardless of whether you are a citizen or not you all have the right to participate, although only citizens can vote.
d. Political participation is more than voting. We need to mobilize the community. We need to educate each other on the issues. We need help others to go out and vote.
3. Why is it a Muslim obligation to participate and shape American politics?
a. Islam is a global religion, not restricted to any one ethnic group or geographical area.
b. The principle of “righteousness and equity” mentioned in the Holy Quran, is the greatest general principle by which to measure the relationship between Muslims and others. All other matters should concede to this principle.
c. The principles of justice included in American jurisprudence and the Constitution should be followed as they are in harmony with the core message of Islam, especially the last sermon of the Messenger to his followers at his Farewell Pilgrimage.
4. Some legitimately complain the American political process has not yielded benefits to Muslims.
a. The answer is not to withdraw but seek newer and better methods to engage.
b. The American Muslim community needs to transcend their disappointments and look to the future and take into account the seriousness of the issues at stake in this election: the rule of law, war and peace, economic justice, education and health care.
c. If we desire change, then we must listen to what Allah says in Surah Raad 13:11: “Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves (within their own souls).”
d. In Surah Baqarah verse 143 Allah says: “Thus we have made you an Ummah justly balanced that ye might be witness over mankind and the Apostle a witness over yourselves.”
e. Freedom of thought and belief is repeatedly emphasized in the Quran. We cannot be free and we cannot make others free if we do not work to uphold the freedoms that so many of us take for granted.
5. Islam offers a democratic ethic
a. The principle of shura, or consultative decision-making, is the source of democratic ethics in Islam.
b. In establishing the Charter of Medina, Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, demonstrated a commitment to a constitutional governance system and a spirit of federalism based on universal human rights, not unlike the American Bill of Rights.
c. Umar (RA) had opined that it is the duty of the common citizen to keep his power in check. He said where I do right support me, and when I do wrong stop me.
6. Working for the benefit of all
Listen to the advice Ali (RA) gave to Malik Ibn Ashtar as he was being dispatched as the governor of Egypt, “Know, O Malik, that I am sending you to a country which has been subjected before you to both just and unjust rulers, and so the people will judge you in the same way that you now stand in judgment of your predecessors. Therefore, let good works be your true assets. Discipline yourself, and covet not that which is not rightfully yours. b. Train your heart to feel compassion for the people, to love them and be kind to them. Do not behave like a ferocious beast toward them, snatching away their sustenance, for the people are of two categories: they are your brothers in religion and/or your fellow human beings.”
7. Today America is in the grips of a paralyzing fear.
The most recent Gallup Poll shows that four out of ten Americans admit to feeling prejudiced against Muslims. What should be the response of the Muslim community? Allah says in Surah Tawbah 9 Ayat 105: “And say: Work; so Allah will see your work and (so will) His Messenger and the believers; and you shall be brought back to the Knower of the unseen and the seen, then He will inform you of what you did.”
And Allah says in Surah Muminun 23 Ayat 51-52: “O Messengers! Enjoy (all) things good and pure, and work righteousness: for I am well acquainted with (all) that you do. And verily this Community of yours is a single Community. And I am your Lord and Cherisher: therefore be conscious of Me.”
In the preceding two ayats Allah emphasizes the need for us to act and act as a community, not just by ourselves. The characteristic of believer is that he or she does not engage in wishful thinking but is actually engaged in work, not just any kind of work but hard work - putting the utmost effort into things and continues to work irrespective of the results, irrespective of whether a few or many follow their call to righteous deeds.
8. When it comes to activism we must keep in mind the following principles of Islam:
a. Deeds must be righteous.
b. Righteous actions are not just acts of ibadah but also include moral actions, social actions, economic actions, political actions, judicial actions, etc.
c. Righteous actions are those that are good, and righteous actions are also those that remove evil, injustice and oppression.
d. The actions become righteous if they are conducted with knowledge, they take into account wisdom (i.e learning from the past mistakes), they take place after careful planning, and are conducted with persistence.
9. Living as a justly balanced Ummah
In Surah Baqarah verse 143 Allah (SWT) says: “Thus we have made you an Ummah justly balanced that ye might be witness over mankind and the Apostle a witness over yourselves.” To attain this objective in Surah Baqarah 2: Ayah 208 Allah (SWT) says: “O you who believe! Enter perfectly and completely into Islâm and follow not the footsteps of Shaitân (Satan). Verily! He is to you a plain enemy.” Udhkuhulu Fi Silmi Kaffatan – Enter into Islam Completely.
10. Witnessing to the Truth
Our Ummah is charged with the same mission as our beloved Prophet was. Our mission is the same as his - witnessing the Truth. If we as an Ummah properly fulfill our duty of witnessing the Truth, yet the people around us do not pay heed, we as an Ummah will be rewarded by Allah because we tried our utmost best. However, if we as an Ummah neglect our duties or give false witness, we will deserve to be punished more severely than others. We as an Ummah shall be accountable not only for our own misdeeds, but also for the misdeeds of those who went astray… because the testimony given to them by us was misleading or false.
11. The need for a social ethic
Religious consciousness is not possible without a social ethic. To be a person of faith requires that we be immersed to working for social justice and social good. Prophet Muhammad did not just immerse himself in “dhikr.” To the contrary he served Allah by serving his fellow human beings.
12. No justice without being just
The Prophet exemplified that one cannot practice justice and dispense equity if one is unable to respect the dignity of others. Not being able to stand up or not being willing to stand up to defend the rights of others when they are violated only brings danger to our survival. Listen to a poem written by a Christian pastor at the time of Nazi Germany: “First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up, because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speakup for me” (Pastor Niemoller).
13. The Prophet’s mission and ours: justice for all
The Prophet’s call was for the religious, social and political liberation for all people not just Muslims, not just people of his own tribe, not just for rich and powerful but for all people. The Prophet said, “The best among you is the best toward people.” When we remain silent in the face of justice, we are far removed from the one who is The Just (Al-Adl) – i.e. Allah.
14. Speaking out in political arena is example of speaking for justice
If we perceive that our faith, our way of life, our ability to worship freely or gather without any fear is under threat then we have the right, rather the obligation to raise our voices and explore peaceful means of overcoming this difficulty. If these problems are the result of government policies, then also we have the right, rather the obligation, to go out and engage ourselves in the process to address the situation.
Source: Sound Vision