Managing Gray Areas in Activism

Omar Suleiman

Channel: Omar Suleiman

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Episode Transcript

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Shahar, I'm going to ask you a question that's honestly like I faced a situation where I've been

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asked to get involved in certain causes

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that in that are in opposition to my faith.

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And I'm not very comfortable with it. And I keep thinking of the Hadith where the processor Lim says hello by Ian Hara mobian, you know that, that the halaal is very clear. And haraam is very clear. And in between is the gray areas. And whoever falls into the gray areas falls into her.

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So I get that there are like we need to be on the frontlines of fighting injustice, but living in western contexts on the frontlines of injustice.

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I'm being told a certain things that are against my faith. And it's, for example, the the LGBT issue and I want to get into that, but in general,

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where do I draw the line? Like how do I interact with causes that I feel are not in

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alignment with my faith? Yeah, yeah, exactly. So you know, I think, by the way, the first advice when someone asked me What's your first advice to activists,

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I say to them that the Haram can never become valid. You cannot make the Haram Hello.

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Because what is haram by the Quran by the Sunnah of the Prophet slice and I'm or with the map or with the consensus of the scholars is head on period. And so you cannot make the Haram Halla you cannot champion the Haram you cannot support how there is absolutely no way that we should allow the shavon to fool us into thinking that it ever becomes okay to advocate for or to champion what is in opposition to the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet slicin them or the consensus of our our scholars over time. So that's one thing that's very important. And I think that's why the word activism becomes such a loaded term, because when people think activism, they immediately take on,

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you know, a host of issues, and they think that they are, you know, all inextricable, they think that none of them can be can be separated from one another. So they're all the same. And the reality is, is that as Muslims, we should be very clear about what we are advocating for. And so if I'm at an anti war protest,

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and you know, I'll tell you that,

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for me, the anti militarism spaces are the strangest spaces, because who usually is the most consistent when it comes to the anti war stuff. I don't know if it's the same thing in Australia, but it's people that are just straight up hippies, right like, and don't say that in a derogatory form form, but it's people that that will that will be involved in, you know, the anti war throughout Democratic and Republican establishments. They're just always there. And sometimes they advocate for all sorts of things. But you know what, right now we're here because we're against the war in Iraq, classical example.

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You know, large protests, some of the largest protests in the world happens. When the war of Iraq started, unfortunately, the word doc still happened. And, you know, many innocent people were killed and the devastation still there, but the largest protests in the world that came after the war on Iraq, to try to stop the war on Iraq. So when you go to anti war protests, you know, it's like, okay, all of these different people are here. And it's this huge coalition and this huge group of people, and there are all sorts of things. But right now, look, we're here because we're opposed to the war on Iraq. We're here for Palestinian rights. That's why everybody's here right now. Right?

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The same thing could be true. You know, when it comes to the migrant issue here, somehow there was a time when family separation first started happening in the United States. Treatment of migrants at the border has been horrible. under Obama, under Trump and still under Biden, but there's family separation where, you know, in punitive measures, they were taking the parents away from the children. We actually had situations here in Dallas, where children were on the plane and they are writing notes to other passengers. Please help me find my mom. It was heartbreaking, right? Like the separation of children from their parents. And that was my first time going to the border over and

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over and over again. I went to, you know, the border from from Texas, McAllen. latas, San Diego Tijuana, we went to send the San Diego border, right after there was tear gassing of the people on the other side. And it's like border protest the border protests because of the treatment of people at the border. And some of the protests were definitely strange. There were all sorts of things that were coming about sort of in real time. And I think for us, it's important to keep reminding ourselves like look, we have to advocate for righteous causes and righteous causes only and

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We have to be very careful to not let the righteous causes veer into starting to advocate for things that are not righteous causes that are not found in the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet slice of them. Anytime there's the killing of an innocent person, you know, which happens often, you know, maybe at the hands of police, for example, anti police brutality, protests, things of that sort, it gets great very quick, because protests, the whole protest scene is very fluid. And, you know, things just just happened right? on the spot that's very hard to organize that.

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But as Muslims, it's important for us to keep on getting back to Okay, what are we here for? And we don't take on causes that are not from our Deen not from our tradition, we have to constantly sort of insist upon that, that we're here for these particular issues. And this is what we advocate for, and we never advocate for haraam in the process, and we make that clear that we don't advocate for harm. And that, you know, while other partners have different motivations, for example, while they're at some of these different issues, maybe they're driven to the table for different reasons. And they also are at other tables, and maybe even on opposite opposite ends of us on certain issues.

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Right. Right now we're here for this issue. And that's the issue we're all going to work on. But we might be on opposite sides on other issues. And that's okay. I should not be expected to advocate for something that is against my principles against my conscience. And that should not be a litmus test for me to be productive in society or serve the poor and serve the marginalized and the oppressed. No, like we can do that. And we can be true to our Islam, in fact, act out of our Islam. And I think it's important for us to keep on insisting upon that and to not to not lose ourselves in that