The Prophet said, "The example of the person abiding by Allah's order and restrictions in comparison to those who violate them is like the example of those persons who drew lots for their seats in a boat. Some of them got seats in the upper part, and the others in the lower. When the latter needed water, they had to go up to bring water (and that troubled the others), so they said, 'Let us make a hole in our share of the ship (and get water) saving those who are above us from troubling them.' So, if the people in the upper part left the others do what they had suggested, all the people of the ship would be destroyed, but if they prevented them, both parties would be safe." Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith Hadith 3.673 Narrated by An Numan bin Bashir.
Allah says in the Chapter 4 verse 75 of the holy Qur'an: And what is wrong with you that you fight not in the cause of Allah, and for those weak, ill-treated and oppressed among men, women, and children, whose cry is: Our Lord! Rescue us from this town whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from You one who will protect, and raise for us from you one who will help.
So, I ask you too, what is wrong with you? Will you sit down and watch your community crumbling in decadence and injustice? It's nature or nurture. You either care naturally, or you're forced to so that the communal ship doesn't sink! Lots of things happen around you everyday that need to be rectified and some things need to happen that are not happening. It's one of two things, in a world where more and more people are being bitten by the me, my family and my dog bug. You either jump on the who cares, everyman for himself bandwagon or you jump on the hey, it's not fair, let's do it right bandwagon. How longer can we enjoy the luxury of apathy?
Advocate for Muslim Issues
At the global level, the Muslim community is faced with different challenges. We have done little or nothing to educate ourselves and propagate the message of Islam, nor have we advanced our knowledge, our economies and applied our faith to our lives and governance. The wealth of oil, a blessing from God, is being squandered by the few for their selfish existence, power, and pleasure. We are stagnant while the world around us is moving rapidly. We've adopted the negatives of the western culture but not its work ethic, knowledge, economic competitiveness, administrative and organizational skills. Yet, on a daily basis we bury our dead and seek relief from the very nations that attack us rather than from ALLAH and our faith, our only real source of comfort and assurance of victory.
At home, we face faith-related discrimination, stereotyping, oppression and injustice. Discrimination in schools and at workplaces (and that's even if you manage to be employed with a hijab or a beard!), denial of 10 minutes required to say your salat (when nobody blinks if you spent 4 times the time in the toilet or gossiping with your fellow workers). A friend of mine just finished from law school and before the mandatory law dinner, the Muslim students went to the student affairs office to ask for concession so that they'd be allowed to use the hijab. The official politely told them that, the Muslim benchers gave them instructions not to allow the use of the hijab because it's not compulsory in Islam! It's sad to note that, that is the state we find ourselves in today, the Muslim youth trying to fight for their rights, and the Muslim elite at the helms of affairs doing their best to thwart these efforts.
These problems won't be solved by wishful thinking, and neither will they be solved by non-Muslims. You're the one that knows where the shoe pinches so, you need to get up, speak out and get active.
How to be a voice
So, what can you do? True, you may not be at the helms of affairs and you may not know anybody that is but, insha Allah your sincere intentions will be enough to get the job done. That brings us to the first point on how to be a voice.
a) Passion: To effectively be a voice, you must believe in and have passion for the subject e.g. to be a voice for issues concerning children, you must be passionate about children. To be a voice on issues concerning Muslims, you must be passionate about Islam. It's the passion that will see you through even when your strength fails you.
b) Knowledge: You must know and understand the subject at hand. Source for and acquire information on your chosen area of issues that affect Muslims whether in your community, within the country or within the global Muslim community.
c) Lobby elected officials and policy makers for stronger hate crimes legislation and the promotion of victim rights at the state and federal levels. Community leaders willing to take a stand against bigotry also play a critical role in advancing this end. Whether the police chief, school officials, corporate CEO, in fact every key leader has the capability to transform an act of hate into a positive community experience.
d) Use whatever legal (and Islamically sanctioned) means at your disposal to get the job done. E.g. Join political parties, seek election to public offices, write articles, hold enlightenment seminars, press releases, discussions even debates where applicable. If it's a community issue, organize and host community meetings etc.
e) Be Positive: It's very important to be positive at all times. If you have to criticize, make it positive. If it's a request or a protest, don't go rioting. If it's a violation of rights, make it public to mount pressure and take it up legally if necessary.
May Allah bless your efforts and grant you success as you become a voice today.
Be a Voice for Positive Change