Peace and Blessings Be Upon You
With the recent events in Charlottesville, this question has crossed the minds of millions of Muslims in America.
There is a difference of opinion among learned scholars regarding the permissibility of attending protests.
One opinion is that protesting a leader is haraam (forbidden), that we Muslims must remain patient, allow leaders their due rights (ie: authority over us), and remain simply steadfast in our faith.
We should make dua (supplication) that our rights will be given to us and that we will be rewarded for our sabr (patience).
The other opinion, which seems to be more common, is that protesting injustice is not only permissible – at times it is encouraged.
Protest Against Oppression
The Prophet Muhammad (saw) said:
A person should help his brother, whether he is an oppressor or is being oppressed. If he is the oppressor, he should prevent him from continuing his oppression, for that is helping him. If he is being oppressed, he should be helped to stop the oppression against him.
Oppression, as a word, feels heavy, and we American Muslims might sometimes compare our situations to Muslims in Gaza, for example, and believe that that is the only form oppression takes, and that we have it good in America.
This is not untrue. Muslims in America are quite fortunate, alhamdulillah.
But the suffering of others does not negate one’s own suffering. The oppression of others does not negate one’s own oppression.
As long as Muslims are the victims of hate crimes (which are on the rise) we, too, face a form of oppression, and we must stand against it.
Speak Out Against Injustice
But that is not where the conversation ends. As Muslims, we should speak out against injustice wherever we see it.
The Prophet Muhammad (saw) said:
Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart – and that is the weakest of faith.
This Hadith speaks not only of injustice towards Muslims, but of evil in general. It suggests that we must do what we can to stop evil actions against anyone.
In America, we are witness daily to the struggles of the black community, immigrant communities, Native communities, and many more.
It seems to be more and more acceptable for those in places of privilege to voice their hatred for those they deem “less than.”
It is important, as well, to remember that members of other marginalized communities lent their voices to us over the “Muslim ban,” and continue to condemn hatred towards Muslims. Should we not lend our voices to them as well?
Whether any individual attends a protest is his or her own prerogative. We might not all be able to physically attend a protest.
But there are many ways to demonstrate that we are not okay with the marginalization of minority groups in America.
Supporting minority-owned business is one way to do so, or simply becoming educated about the struggles others face in our society.
The Hadith of the Prophet (saw) suggests that any action is better than no action at all, but one should at least know in his or her heart that something is wrong.
Ways To Effect Change
How, then, should Muslims in America respond to Donald Trump?
If nothing else, even those who subscribe to the opinion that protesting one’s leader is wrong are able to explain to their own children the gravity of the situation in America.
We have a duty, at least, to educate those closest to us. Even if we do not protest, we should help our brothers and sisters – in faith and in humanity – who are in need of support.
Reach out in your local community and see if there are any organizations that need volunteers or donations.
Do not limit yourself to your mosque. Muslims should be known for our charity, not just amongst ourselves, but towards everyone.
Remember: for those of us that do attend protests, it should be noted that it is widely considered impermissible to cause destruction of property, and that looting is forbidden.
Even in times of war, the Prophet (saw) forbade cutting trees and killing animals unless it was absolutely necessary.
These times are difficult for Muslims in America. Though there are differing opinions regarding whether protest itself if permissible, we should all be able to agree that speaking out against evil is the right thing to do.
Prophet Muhammad said,
Verily, among the greatest jihād is a word of justice in front of a tyrannical ruler. (Sunan al-Tirmidhī)
As Muslims and as Americans, we should do so.