Time for Action – What Can We Do?

Question: What is a person who is fed up with America’s murder of innocent Muslims all over the world supposed to do?

Answer: This is a valid and important question. I will make a few recommendations here.

1. Realize that you did not create the confusion, weakness and political incompetence that prevails in the Muslim world and that you are not responsible for or capable of fixing it. Oftentimes, we become stressed out over things beyond our control. Our Prophet, peace and blessings upon him, informed us, “From a person’s Islam being good is his leaving what does not concern him.” What we cannot control is not our concern. On the other hand there is much we are capable of doing here yet we oftentimes neglect those things. We will even run from what we can effectively influence to become caught up in events that we have no ability to influence at all. This is a formula for frustration and ineffective action.

2. Take advantage of the educational opportunities you have and train yourself to do something meaningful for the Muslims and humanity at large. Most people in the average Muslim society have no opportunity for higher education. Here in western societies we do have such opportunities. Instead of brooding about the situation of Muslims in various parts of the world, we should be educating ourselves to able to do something meaningful with our lives that can make a difference in theirs. It has been proven that knowledge indeed translates into power. We should be about the business of empowering ourselves.
3. Contribute in a meaningful way to the discourse that is shaping how Americans will view Islam. We should not assume that everyone in this country is inherently anti-Muslim. However, if we do not begin educating our fellow citizens about our religion, our community and the struggles of our people, an ever greater percentage of Americans will be prejudiced against Islam and we will have an extremely difficult time changing their attitudes. You can research to help provide refutations of the slanderous and defamatory ideas that are being passed off as Muslim principles and beliefs. You can write or blog. You can teach people about Islam in both formal and informal settings. You can arrange for classes and seminars in public places such as libraries, community centres and similarly places. You can give private presentations in the homes of friends, neighbours and relatives. You can organize book clubs to read and discuss books that portray Islam accurately.

4. Learn a skill that is needed in the Muslim world and spend part of your time serving people in other countries. Such skills may include medicine, nursing, computer science, sanitation engineering, environmental science, psychology (as the basis for therapeutic counselling), auto mechanics, etc. By serving in these areas you can contribute to the stability of Muslim societies that are being rendered damaged and dysfunctional by decades of unrelenting violence.

5. Help to serve the incarcerated, recent immigrants, poor, elderly and other populations whose lives are being ravaged by the corporate state. Building bridges with these populations will be a key to creating the kinds of coalitions that can push back in an effective way against the hegemonic socio-political machine that is attempting to actualize its control over all aspects of our lives. As the fiscal crisis of the capitalist state deepens there will be more and more people in need of various services. Muslims must step up to do our part in meeting those needs. This is one of the greatest things we can do to counter the vociferous anti-Muslim propaganda.
6. Join the work of those organizations whose political vision aims to bring people together and to overcome the divisions and rifts that have separated them. Such work can take place within the context of the electoral political system and in the context of grassroots political education and organization. There are also many Muslim advocacy groups that are springing up. Get involved with those groups and help to strengthen them both financially and in terms of their human resources.

7. Join the movement to humanize Muslims to the mainstream society with Muslim art and culture. This movement is powerful and is gaining momentum. The realms of effective communications in this regard include film, art, acceptable genres of music, poetry and many other vistas.

8. Get involved in the antiwar movement. Grassroots antiwar activism was instrumental in ending the Viet Nam war and it is the only thing that will end the so-called war on terror. There are many organizations and online initiatives that need help to enhance their efficacy. Muslims should be involved with such groups in great numbers if we are sincere in our desire to end a so-called war, which is leading to the deaths of thousands of innocent Muslims and the destruction of many Muslim societies.

These are just a few suggestions. There are many others. No young Muslim has an excuse to sitting around suffering from boredom waiting to be lured into a reactionary scheme that will only be used to set back Muslims both in this country and abroad.

From Imam Zaid Shakir’s Answers to “Would-be Mujahids”