The Holocaust was legal. Slavery was legal. Segregation was legal.
People who hid Jews in their homes were criminalized. People who freed slaves were criminalized. People who stood up for equality and justice were criminalized.
Legality is not a guide for morality!
— StanceGrounded (@_SJPeace_) August 22, 2018
If there is to be an argument for civic engagement it should be for the expression of Muslim values, not appeasement of the dominant system. The reason I say this is because there were a number of atrocities in our history, including modern history, which included:
- Slavery and Jim Crow;
- Prison industrial complex;
- Militarization of America;
- Vietnam War;
- Iraq War;
Laws are not made legal by their system (democracy, socialism, etc.) but by their practitioners.
يا عَمِّ ! و اللهِ لو وضَعُوا الشمسَ في يَمينِي ، و القَمَرَ في يَسارِي ، على أنْ أترُكَ هذا الأَمرَ حتى يُظهِرَهُ اللهُ أوْ أهلِكَ فيه ما تَركْتُهُ
“Uncle!, by God! if they (the Quraysh) had placed the sun in my right hand and the moon in the left so that I would give up the commandment (of spreading the message of Islam) – until I was successful or died trying!, I would not leave it.” — al-Silsalah al-Da’ifah, #3, 311
كُنتُم خَيرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخرِجَت لِلنّاسِ تَأمُرونَ بِالمَعروفِ وَتَنهَونَ عَنِ المُنكَرِ وَتُؤمِنونَ بِاللَّهِ ۗ وَلَو آمَنَ أَهلُ الكِتابِ لَكانَ خَيرًا لَهُم ۚ مِنهُمُ المُؤمِنونَ وَأَكثَرُهُمُ الفاسِقونَ
“You are the best nation ever to be produced before mankind. You enjoin the right, forbid the wrong and have iman in Allah. If the People of the Book were to have iman, it would be better for them. Some of them are believers but most of them are deviators.” — Qur’an 3: 110
Constructing An Islamic Moral Imperative For Civic Engagement
- You have to strive to live up to great expectations (كُنتُم خَيرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخرِجَت لِلنّاسِ): if you believe what others are saying who you are — and if what they say is garbage! — then you’ll sabotage yourself.
- Part of having a true morality is to express it publicly (تَأمُرونَ بِالمَعروفِ وَتَنهَونَ عَنِ المُنكَرِ): morality in Islam is not some archaic collection of personal maxims which you keep tucked away inside your closet. It’s an imperative to express the highest ideals and beliefs which comprise your character.
- All of this though can easily just turn to politics, compromising one’s soul unless it’s foundation is belief in God (وَتُؤمِنونَ بِاللَّهِ).
وَإِذا قيلَ لَهُم تَعالَوا إِلىٰ ما أَنزَلَ اللَّهُ وَإِلَى الرَّسولِ قالوا حَسبُنا ما وَجَدنا عَلَيهِ آباءَنا ۚ أَوَلَو كانَ آباؤُهُم لا يَعلَمونَ شَيئًا وَلا يَهتَدونَ
“When they are told, ‘Come to what Allah has sent down and to the Messenger,’ they say, ‘What we found our fathers doing is enough for us.’ What! Even if their fathers did not know anything and were not guided!” — Qur’an 5: 104