For over three decades, Muslims worldwide have suffered from increasing incidents of lethal terrorist assaults by individuals and various agencies of states. Nations that were once economically thriving and militarily potent Muslim majority lands like Iraq, Libya, and Syria, have seemingly been reduced to either failed states or dependent wards of colonizing forces. India has the largest Muslim population, approximately 175 million, of any non-Muslim majority country in the world. Despite being nearly 15 percent of the Indian population, Indian Muslims are experiencing brutal physical assaults, murders, rapes, illegal confiscation of property and other atrocities perpetrated by ultra-Hindu nationalists operating with virtual impunity. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party, BJP, has as its ideological underpinning the fascist-like philosophy of Hindutva, a form of ethnic and Hindu absolutism that is very much to the detriment of Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, and other non-Hindus. Muslims in the Central African Republic, Palestine, Myanmar, Kashmir, and China are similarly being victimized by political doctrines and rulers who have created untenable living conditions for Muslims in their home countries. Despite mass demonstrations worldwide decrying the ethnic cleansing of millions of Muslims, appeals to executive and legislative bodies to intervene on behalf of oppressed Muslims, declarations from the United Nations and human rights bodies that acts of genocide are being committed against helpless Muslim men, women, and children, the carnage against the Ummah (global community) of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) continues unabated.
In the United States, Muslims populate this country’s prisons and jails at alarming rates. Muslims constitute less that 1.2 percent of the total population nationally but are between an alarming 10-12 percent of those incarcerated. As the fastest growing Muslim community in the United States, incarcerated Muslims suffer from the compounded discriminatory verbal and physical assaults of racists, anti-Islam religious bigots, and anti-immigration prison administrations and guards.
Imams and lecturers frequently and justifiably decry the current phenomenon of the apparent devaluation of human life resulting in an unprecedented number of indiscriminate killings as evidence that the Day of Judgment is close, but its precise timing is known only to Allah. The Qur’an and Hadith (Prophetic traditions of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him) are emphatic in espousing the fact that history is not neutral in respect to the power relationships between nations and communities.
“Allah is on the side of those who fear Him and do good.” Qur’an 16:127
The fear mentioned in the above ayat (verse) is not the fear of His person but of the law of divine retribution which governs the process of history.
Similarly, in authentic narrations attributed to the Prophet of Islam, we find the following, “Be careful how you treat the oppressed because there is no barrier between the prayers of the oppressed and Allah.” Additionally, in another Hadith (narration), Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said that Allah said, “I have made oppression unlawful for Me, so do not oppress.” The Qur’an and Prophetic sayings are replete with stories and exhortations intended to underscore the preeminence of safeguarding justice in the individual and collective lives of the Believers. Hatred of injustice and oppression alone is an insufficient mechanism to rid a society of exploitation. For example, Prophet Musa (peace be upon him), a man of courage and strength, was vehemently opposed to the tyrannical regime of Pharaoh, a man who insisted that his subjects revere him as their god. But Pharaoh’s demise and the destruction of his oppressive reign was only realized after Prophet Musa (pbuh) had been trained by Allah to worship Him exclusively and to put total dependence and reliance on Him in all circumstances in life. The successful social revolution brought about under the leadership of Prophet Musa (pbuh) against what ostensibly appeared to be insurmountable odds was the product of total submission to divine guidance not the execution of ingenious man-made plans. Similar is the case of the total transformation of Arabian society and the establishment of the Islamic state in Madinah under the leadership of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), an occurrence that amazingly came to fruition in a mere 13 years.
The destruction of Muslim societies by nations coveting their physical resources and strategic locations has sadly become so commonplace that even some Muslims have become desensitized to their precarious situations. For far too many Muslims, 24-hour news cycles and internet information outlets provide inexhaustible topics to pontificate and debate at social gatherings rather than serving as cautionary tales for the need for spiritual self-improvement and action and prayers on behalf of the oppressed. Muslim populations are increasingly becoming killing fields fueled by the Islamophobic rhetoric of xenophobic political and religious leaders around the world. The Divine Sunnah (methodology) remains unchanged regarding the trials encountered by the believers,
“They were touched by poverty and hardship and were shaken until even their messenger and those with him said, ‘When will the help of Allah come?’ Unquestionably, the Help of Allah is always near.” Qur’an 2:214
The soil of countries around the world is currently being moistened by the blood of martyrs from the Ummah of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). When Muslims fail to speak out against injustice and oppression, the impression is given to others that Islam promotes and encourages passivity and cowardice at a time that demands action and courage. Making dua (supplication) should not be the last resort in seeking Allah’s help for the oppressed. Neither is it the course of least resistance in the face of conditions that we are unable to directly affect. When used expeditiously, duas and corrective actions done within the boundaries of Qur’an and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) are the greatest weapons in the arsenal of the Believer.