by Dawud Walid
As American Muslims, we need to be clear that we have a Divine mandate upon us to make our country more just towards all of its citizens and residents. Moreover, as we have a spiritual connection with our Ummah that transcends boundaries of nation states, we also have a responsible towards all humans to ensure that they are treated justly, even if Muslims are perpetrating injustices against people of other faiths in America.
Most certainly We sent Our messengers with clear proofs, and We sent down with them the scripture and the scale that people may establish justice. [Al-Qur'an 57:25]
According to ibn Abbas (RA), the scale that Allah (SWT) sent down was justice, meaning it is Allah (SWT) who put everything in its proper place. Thus, whenever people take things out of their proper places which Allah (SWT) intended for them to be, this is injustice or oppression. Within this context, we should see that every issue in our society is a “Muslim issue,” for in following the messengers, we are obligated to restore all socio-political aspects of people back to their natural positions. There’s no such thing as human rights endowed by The Creator for some in this land to the neglect of others.
In the Makki period, Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) not only preached about monotheism but also social justice for all. He (SAWS) advocated against female babies being buried alive by their polytheist parents, he (SAWS) preached about taking care of the needs of orphans and the poor irrespective of their circumstances, and he (SAWS) and his companions liberated people from slavery. Thus, we can easily see that the prophetic paradigm was justice for all and never meant that justice is just us, that we only seek to change structures of injustice only for our tribal and/or religious affiliations.
This should invoke the questions of where are we at in relationship to this prophetic paradigm. Are we organizing around the issues of mass incarceration and the prison industrial complex? Broken orphan and foster care systems in our states? Women who are being paid unequal wages for performing identical jobs as men? Organized community efforts with an Islamic discourse centering these and other issues?
It is my hope that each of us can begin or reinvigorate these conversations among our circles of influence to see what types of measures we can further to make the United States of America a more just land. I’m confident that as we increase our effort in addressing institutional inequalities in America, the better our position will be as Muslims both from a da’wah perspective as well as safeguarding our own rights.