The Washtenaw Jewish News March 2011 issue has an article entitled “Imam: Synagogue protest ‘un-Islamic’: Yet local Muslim teacher has been at the fore,” which I stated at an interfaith program that protesting against houses of worship for political reasons is wrong.
I discussed how Muslims in several areas have received hostile protests at mosques to the point that some zealous persons even yelled intimidating language at Muslim children. Likewise, I mentioned that it is wrong to meet worshipers at any house of worship with such hostility and that if Muslims engaged in such, it would be counter to the Prophet Muhammad’s example and “un-Islamic.”
Persons from various ethnic and religious groups have been protesting a Jewish temple in Ann Arbor for approximately eight years in reaction to the illegal occupation of Arab lands by the Israeli regime. Those individuals under the 1st Amendment have the constitutional right to assemble and voice their views regarding illegal occupation, and I affirm their legal rights. However, I reiterate with complete confidence that protesting outside of a Jewish temple at an ordained time for prayer and worship is not correct according to the teachings of Prophet Muhammad.
Before going into the teachings of the Prophet, let me voice my position on Israeli occupation of Arab lands. I affirm United Nations’ resolutions that Israel is illegally occupying Arab lands. Moreover, the Palestinian people have been subjected to human rights violations at the hands of the Israeli government. This is without question. These violations should be protested and articulated, be it protests in front of the Israeli Embassy or in front of the White House, in the media or academic writings. In front of a Jewish temple (sacred space) on the holy day/Sabbath of Jews is not the appropriate location for such protests. The same holds true for comparing the Star of David to a Nazi symbol.
Some leftists proposed to me that protesting in front of a synagogue is appropriate because those praying inside endorse what Israel does. One Muslim even proposed to me that just because the Prophet didn’t protest in front of a synagogue is not sufficient proof that we cannot. To my leftist brothers and sisters in humanity, I say that what has been Divinely revealed is the compass of how Muslims are to suppose to act or not act publicly and privately. Since that is not their belief, then that is not their compass; it cannot be ours. To Muslims in general, the shari’ah has objectives (maqaasid) and a spirit resides within it. If it is a tactic not articulated or demonstrated by the Prophet and it causes harm, then it is to be avoided.
Prophet Muhammad called for respecting holy days of Jews and Christians.
The Qur’an (Surah Al-Hajj: 40) states:
…if Allah had not driven some people back by means of others, monasteries, churches, synagogues and mosques, where Allah‘s name is mentioned much, would have been pulled down and destroyed. Allah will certainly help those who help Him—Allah is All-Strong, Almighty.
Based upon the Prophet’s teachings, many scholars state that fasting specifically on the Saturday (Sabbath) except for during Ramadan is despicable (makruh). He further taught, “Do not be people without minds of your own, saying that if others treat you well you will treat them well, and that if they do wrong you will do wrong to them. Instead, accustom yourselves to do good if people do good and not to do wrong (even) if they do evil.” (Sunan At-Tirmidhi
He also said, “Surely Allah is tender (rifq), He loves tenderness, and He gives to the tender what He does not give to the harsh (`unf).” (Sunan Abi Dawud
Protesting in front of a Jewish temple on Sabbath will not change the minds of the people worshiping inside; it will only harden them against the protesters. And it will not do anything to help Palestinians. It is actually bad PR. When I asked one of the protesters about how many new people have joined them in their protests in the past eight years to which the answer was virtually none, I stated that she just proved my point.
My conclusion is thus. First, I’m for protesting within the guidelines of what is spiritually sound. Second, activists need to rethink what they are doing and actually implement strategies that actually bring change and do good instead of doing acts that change nothing and only make them feel good like their actually doing constructive.