WASHINGTON – American Muslims across the country were united this Friday in “My Muslim Vote Khutba Day,” in the first national initiative intended to deliver “a message about the importance of voting in this election—and making the story of our political power heard loud and clear.”
“The idea behind the #MyMuslimVote Khutba Day was to promote a message of civic engagement in this space,” MPower Change campaign manager, Mohammad Khan, told The Huffington Post in an email.
“For us, promotion of the #MyMuslimVote campaign through the minbar (pulpit) continues the rich tradition of Muslim spiritual and community leaders advocating for justice.”
The #MyMuslimVote campaign is led by the activist group MPower Change and the national Muslim Students Association.
Although the campaign doesn’t endorse a specific candidate, leaders hope that Muslim voters will be inspired to register to vote before state deadlines “so that we have an unprecedented national Muslim voter turnout on November 8th, God willing.”
Last Friday, about 50 mosques or Islamic community centers participated in the event.
According to the Pew Research Center, Muslims represent just 1 to 2 percent of the country’s population.
However, the majority of the 3.3 million community lives in strategic places, or swing states, like Florida, Ohio and Virginia.
When the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Washington-based rights organization, launched its 2016 Muslims Vote campaign, the goal was to lead 1 million Muslim constituents to the voting booths.
A surge in Muslim electoral participation could have consequences beyond the presidential race, helping Democrats in down-ballot races and perhaps creating a more cohesive voting bloc in future presidential contests.
CAIR said it has already detected a surge in Muslim voter registration.
A June analysis of a private national database found about 824,000 voters whose names matched a list of traditionally Muslim names the group developed.
A similar list from 2012 contained about 500,000 Muslim names, the group reported.
The mosque sermons campaign focused on the rise of Islamophobia in recent years, and the fact that candidates like the Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump have repeatedly blasted anti-Muslim rhetoric.
“As citizens of this country and this state, who pay taxes and contribute in other ways to the country and community we live in, it is imperative that we make use of a right that others have given their lives for, both here and around the world,” My Muslim Vote campaign pointed out.
“The upcoming election is critical for Muslims in America, given that Islamophobia and other forms of racism and prejudice have been a central focus for many candidates and has served to mobilize those who support such views.”
The campaign also connected the idea of voting to the spiritual principles in Islam, such as the “prophetic responsibility of amr bil ma’rouf wal naahee ‘an al munkar (the obligation to enjoin the good and forbid the evil.)”
In a sample sermon, Munes Tomeh, professor of Islamic law at California’s Zaytuna College, spoke about voting as a spiritual imperative, a way to encourage good in the world.
“It is not sufficient for us as a community to simply pray, fast, perform hajj, and to concern ourselves with ourselves and our worship, while ignoring that which is around us,” Tomeh said in the sermon.
“We have to be engaged, discussing issues of common concern, ‘calling to the good.’”