To begin, I want to highlight a few points brought-out in Professor Daniel Tutt’s 2015 article,
Islamophobia activism has done more to unite American Muslim activism under a common umbrella than perhaps any other social issue. Other activist issues, from immigration, to U.S. foreign policy, to Palestine have paled in comparison to what the threat of Islamophobia has been able to achieve. The cause of combating Islamophobia
One of the ways Islamophobia activism is able to serve as a wide umbrella uniting otherwise disconnected Muslim communities is based on the universal nature of the problem. Fear of Islam and Muslims affects anyone that looks Muslim. Therefore, Islamophobia is not an Arab problem or an Iranian problem, but a Muslim problem.
American Muslim advocates were externally-oriented, and as a result, the number of engaged and empowered activists from the 1960s on through the 1990s was relatively small and limited to early institutions such as the Muslim Students Association and the Islamic Society of North America
Today, under the banner of combating Islamophobia, American Muslim activism has grown considerably, but this growth has also faced an increasing saturation of its core strategy. The concept of saturation in social science research is a point where nothing new can occur or be discovered in the data set you are interpreting or analyzing. In the more practical realm of Islamophobia activism, the cause of Islamophobia itself has become saturated because it has, perhaps paradoxically, largely achieved much of its intended mission and agenda.
As a Convert who embraced Islam in 1987, I have had decades to ponder the lack of activism and the confusing moral positions of Muslims in America. Although I do understand the human tendency to prefer the peaceful life of non-politics, and I also appreciate the drive immigrants feel to get “settled”, the fact is that most Muslims in the West have waited until a threat was knocking on their door before making a determination to get engaged. Even with the growing threats of Islamophobia and rising fascism, it is still a tiny minority of Muslims that have joined any moral cause at all.
Due to the absence of Muslim activism in my own community of 20,000 Muslims, all spending their lives dazedly dogging themselves on the destructive treadmill of capitalism, my time has been spent learning, and engaging with Western activist movements. By breaking myself away from all of the local “masajid”, out of the culture of do-nothingness, I have learned to appreciate the moral stances being taken by Leftist movements. From my current viewpoint, many of America’s “Islamists” have fallen into the same trap as Republican voters over the last 40 years. Ensnared by the rhetoric of right-wing moralism, both Muslims and Republicans are more concerned with issues like sexuality and abortion than taking a moral stand on the very real issues of our time.
Law is not morality. Law is an institution intended to regulate individuals and organizations by defining limits of behavior. The application of Law is often immoral. Only the individual who understands the intent and moral principles behind Law has true moral judgement. In Islam, there are instances in which the application of a Ruling would be an immoral act. In such instances the Ruling must be suspended, and moral judgement takes precedence.
So I posit that many Muslims lack the understanding of Islam’s Principles that would enable them to take a moral stand on issues confronting us, where we live outside any “Islamic system”, and without intelligent leadership on major issues. Most of our “imams” and “scholars” are extremely limited in their education and understanding. While they are perfectly suited to lead a community masjid in a Muslim-majority country, they are mostly lacking in knowledge that would apply in our current environment.
So, what is the Left? Here are some parameters. Typically, Western Leftists are:
In summary, Western Leftists follow an intellectual, moral, and critical tradition that is currently on the right side of history. Leftists are actively engaged in making the world a better place by fighting its corruption. Today, that means Leftists are seeking to save human civilization from imminent annihilation. You would think a Muslim should be similarly engaged in the affairs of humanity.
Warnings from Leftists that Every Muslim Should Heed
- “Crisis after crisis is being caused by a failed ideology(neoliberalism). But it cannot be stopped without a coherent alternative.” George Monbiot www.theguardian.com/books/2016/apr/15/neoliberalism-ideology-problem-george-monbiot
- “I have the dread sense of the dark clouds of fascism gathering” here at home.” Noam Chomsky in 2010 www.progressive.org/wx041210.html
- “The scientific community is telling us if we do not address the global crisis of climate change, transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to sustainable energy, the planet that we’re going to be leaving our kids and our grandchildren may well not be habitable. That is a major crisis.” Senator Bernie Sanders www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/bernie-sanders-climate-change_us_561db3bbe4b0c5a1ce610f4c
- “Politics hates a vacuum. If it isn’t filled with hope, someone will fill it with fear.” and “our economy is at war with many forms of life on earth, including human life. What the climate needs to avoid collapse is a contraction in humanity’s use of resources; what our economic model demands to avoid collapse is unfettered expansion. Only one of these sets of rules can be changed, and it’s not the laws of nature.”
― Naomi Klein,
- “A rough calculation of current rates of soil degradation suggests we have about 60 years of topsoil left. Some 40% of soil used for agriculture around the world is classed as either degraded or seriously degraded – the latter means that 70% of the topsoil, the layer allowing plants to grow, is gone.” Professor John Crawford world.time.com/2012/12/14/what-if-the-worlds-soil-runs-out/
- Arctic Expert on Sea Ice: We Could “Reach Zero” Within Two Years, and Scientific Study Warns of “Catastrophic Declines” in Earth’s Wilderness. Dahr Jamail www.truth-out.org/component/search/?searchword=dahr%20jamail&searchphrase=all&Itemid=302
America Is Never (Ever, Ever) Ending the War on Terror – nationalinterest.org/feature/america-never-ever-ever-ending-the-war-terror-12744
Large Swaths Of The Pacific Ocean May Actually Suffocate In Just 15 Years – www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/climate-change-oxygen-loss-oceans_us_57226e80e4b0f309baf0499e
- “ based on overwhelming global evidence, atmospheric, geologic, hydrologic, biospheric and other earth system processes are now altered by humans” – from Welcome to the Anthropocene – www.anthropocene.info/
How Neoliberalism’s Moral Order Feeds Fraud and Corruption – www.counterpunch.org/author/jorg-wiegratz/
“Democratic ideas cannot exist without the public spheres that make them possible.”
― Henry A. Giroux,
- “For the ancient Greeks, the ultimate test of the educational system was the moral and political quality of the students that it produced” ― Henry A. Giroux,
- “The impoverished families of the long-term unemployed strained to the point of dysfunction, communities deprived of viable economies, interrupted educations, lost skills: these and many more results of capitalism’s crisis will put difficult demands on governments for years. On the one hand, they will aggravate social problems that impose costs on governments.” ― Richard D. Wolff,
“Citizens of the democratic societies should undertake a course of intellectual self-defense to protect themselves from manipulation and control, and to lay the basis for meaningful democracy.” – Noam Chomsky, Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies
Let me state again: You would think a Muslim should be similarly engaged in the affairs of humanity.
It should be obvious that, like the Leftist, the Muslim is also anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, anti-war, anti-racism, anti-fascist, anti-bigotry, anti-nationalism, internationalist, pro-social, pluralist, and pro-environmental. Muslims can only be mobilized when they overcome their cultural hang-ups. To break Muslims out of the Republican/Torie mentality, they must develop an understanding of Islam’s Principles and our responsibility to take action.
Indeed, humanity is in loss, Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds, and exhorted each other to truth, and exhorted each other to patience. The Book of Allah
In this verse, “done righteous deeds” is a very rough translation of ‘amilu as-salihaat. The Arabic root ‘amal means to work, extend effort, produce, and build. As-salihaat is plural: it includes everything that is correct, moral, proper, just, and beneficial. Regarding Surat al-Asr, Imam as-Shafi’ stated: ““If this was the only chapter sent to humanity, it would suffice them.”
Shaykh Musa Furber has offered an extremely beneficial understanding of how Islam’s principles apply to the current environment, in his seminal work Obligations to Future Generations. I finish my article with a quote from him, followed by a link to his book.
Actions of an earlier generation affect whether later generations will exist at all as well as the quality and type of life they will have. Discussions concerning the obligations earlier generations owe later generations have proven to be useful when thinking about the environment, economics, sustainability, and other issues. Western thinking about obligations to future generations has become very sophisticated since the 1970s. Western ethicists consider it a litmus test for evaluating ethical theories, and expect it to be a main recurring theme in the new century. The Shari‘ah already provides the fundamentals for thinking about obligations to future generations. These basic fundamentals are not developed enough to shed light on these issues within the Muslim Community, let alone compete in the open market of ideas. Shari‘ah experts will need to develop these fundamentals before a Shari‘ah-informed conception of obligations to future generations can be offered.