We Are a Vulnerable Minority. Here’s How We Succeed.
Amid a renewed surge of attacks and threats against the Muslim community in Canada, Muslim families are on high alert.
After the devastating attack on the Afzal family in London, to the many attacks on Muslims across various provinces, we are faced with the sad reality of having to explain this situation to our children, and our sisters – especially those in hijab – who not only do stand out but may be targets for assault as well.
The physical threats against us are only compounded by attacks against our deen from the media and the political class. We witness attacks on Islam’s values regarding gender, marriage, and family in places such as schools. Moreover, our Ummah in the Muslim lands faces an onslaught of violence and oppression by the colonialist powers and their tools and agents, such as Palestine and Kashmir, to name a few.
It is obvious that us Muslims must reflect on the root causes of this unacceptable situation so that we can determine the way out of it.
Why Are We Vulnerable?
For many years, the Canadian government engaged in an intentional policy which fueled anti-Muslim sentiments in the general population.
When the Canadian government decided to send troops to Afghanistan to support the US agenda, the political class, with the support of the media, engaged in a campaign to exaggerate the so-called ‘extremist’ or ‘radical’ threat among the Muslim youth.
In parallel, the media painted the Muslim lands as backwards and oppressive to justify the troop presence and occupation of Afghanistan. The political class also used the excuse of the ‘extremist threat’ to justify its policy of shuttling Muslims for torture in Muslim lands ruled by tyrannical regimes. The Canadian government then joined the US campaign to bomb Iraq and Syria, again on the pretense of fighting “radical Islam” which stoked even more suspicion against the Muslim community.
In 2015, we witnessed a peak of anti-Muslim rhetoric when former Prime Minister Stephen Harper tried peddling anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim narratives to get certain voter groups to support the Conservative Party at the time. The effects of these policies culminated when a gunman slaughtered six of our brothers in the Quebec City Masjid in 2017.
In fact, with Quebec, we should remember that the anti-Islam and ani-Muslim policies at the federal level are compounded with brazen provincial legislation – such as the Niqab ban or the socalled “Charter of Values” – designed to scapegoat the Muslim community.
The attacks and the pressure our community faces in Canada are ripple effects of government policies and the media and political narratives that underpinned them.
We also must ask, “Why are we here?”
The truth is that the agents of the colonialist powers, which are littered across the Muslim lands, ruined our original homelands.
They battered our economies with corruption and mismanagement and compelled us or our parents to immigrate to other lands to seek a better life. Those who benefit the most from the destruction of our lands are the Western countries who acquire both skilled labour and the vast wealth stolen by the rulers.
As a result, we live as minorities in the West and live under systems that fundamentally reject Islam’s viewpoint on how to organize society. It is no wonder that we will always be on the defensive.
Yesterday, we had to deal with attacks against the wearing of the Niqab and the Hijab. Today, we must educate our youth about the correct perspective on gender relationships because the social and education systems are designed to misguide them into using “freedoms” as their reference point, instead of Allah (swt). If we fail, the results will be catastrophic for the future of the community.
However, this constant struggle against any system is unnatural. We should not be living in a constant struggle to justify our very existence and maintain our identity. Rather, we should be living under a system that is in harmony with our beliefs because we are Muslim. We should be living in a land whose laws, institutions, systems, and policies emanate from the Islamic aqueedah, and absolutely nothing else.
How Do We Resist Pressure?
We Seek Refuge in Allah (swt)
As Muslims, our starting point for any thought or action is to refer back to Allah (swt). We exist in this world solely to obey Allah (swt) in every single matter, with no exceptions.
In the Qur’an, Allah (swt) said:
“I did not create the jinns and the human beings except for the purpose that they should worship Me.” [TMQ: 51:56].
When it comes to harm against the Ummah, Rasul’Allah (saw) said:
“Know that if the whole world were to gather together in order to help you, they would not be able to help you except if Allah had written so. And if the whole world were to gather together in order to harm you, they would not harm you except if Allah had written so.” [Al-Tirmidhi]
Both the harm that we may face and the support we may get happens by the permission of Allah (swt). Based on this fact, our goal should not be to acquire support for its own sake, but rather to call upon the support of Allah (swt). If we have Allah (swt)’s support, we will have victory.
How do we secure Allah (swt)’s support?
We do so by obeying Him (swt).
The Qur’an and Sunnah are both the source of the rules we must live by, and the guide by which we get closer to Allah (swt).
Practically, this means we do not run towards compromising our message to fit society’s tastes.
Instead, we must pay attention to what Allah (swt) instructed us when facing vulnerability and pressure as minorities. If we fail this step, we are not obeying Allah (swt) or striving for His support. We must derive our next steps from evidence in the Qur’an and the Sunnah.
We Study the Life of Rasul’Allah (saw)
We are not the first community to be a minority in an unwelcoming environment. Rather, Rasul’Allah (saw) and the Sahaba (ra) were the first group of Muslims to be in a similar situation. Moreover, they were also the first ones to permanently solve this problem. Our focus should be on studying their method of dealing with the problem.
If our solutions do not emanate from the Qur’an, and the Sunnah of Rasul’Allah (saw) or the practice of the Sahaba (ra), then we are on the wrong track. Our first reaction might be to try the strategies adopted by other activists and social justice movements, but this is not how we should think.
Rather, we should think in terms of, “what does Islam instruct me to do?”
We must identify the solutions that Allah (swt) made available.
Allah (swt) said:
“And we revealed it (the Qur’an) to you as a clarification for every issue, and a guidance and mercy and good news for those who submit.” [TMQ: 16:89]
Think Outside the Box
In some cases, Islam may allow us to use existing strategies such as speaking to the wider society about Islam to counter media narratives or misconceptions. But in other scenarios, we need to think outside the box because some actions, such as voting or joining parliament, are not permitted in Islam.
One example to think about is that of Ja’far (ra) and the Sahaba (ra) in Abyssinia.
When summoned to the court of Abyssinia’s king, Najashi, and asked to explain why they sought refuge, the Sahaba (ra) were forthcoming. Ja’afar (ra) did not hide how Islam differed from Christianity.
The envoys of Quraysh tried to trap the Sahaba (ra) into revealing how Islam views Isa (as) as a Messenger and a servant of Allah (swt). Quraysh hoped that the Christians would feel insulted by how Islam does not ascribe divinity to Isa (as). The Sahaba (ra) responded by, again, revealing the entire truth without hiding or misconstruing anything. Ja’afar (ra) affirmed that Isa (as) was a Messenger and a servant of Allah (swt), nothing more. Najashi’s ministers and senior officials were shocked and disturbed by the response, but Najashi himself did not object and vowed to allow the Sahaba (ra) to stay in Abyssinia.
This case is an example of how the support truly comes from Allah (swt). No human being or system can supersede Allah’s (swt) support.
We cannot make Islam “fit” the tastes and preferences of society. Ja’far (ra) rejected the Christian view of Isa (as) at the highest levels of Abyssinia’s government. Based on this, for example, if we are asked to endorse the LGBTQ (et.al) message, we must reject it. It does not matter if our refusal costs us the support of some groups, we need the support of Allah (swt).
We Avoid Traps
We must also avoid stances or actions that contradict our deen.
The actions of Rasul’Allah (saw) and the Sahaba (ra) show that Muslims cannot compromise on Islam. Compromising will gravely harm us, in the dunya, and certainly in the aakhirah.
How to Get Permanent Safety
We Cannot Remain as “Minorities”
When we study the Seerah or Life of Rasul’Allah (saw), we find that there is no permanent security or safety in being a minority.
Even in Abyssinia, the Sahaba (ra) were at the edge of being in harm’s way because of the internal strife between Najashi and his opponents. In Makkah, once the protection of Abu Talib was
removed due to his death, Rasul’Allah (saw) and the Sahaba (ra) were exposed to more danger.
Rasul’Allah (saw) eliminated the insecurity of being a vulnerable minority by establishing the first Islamic state in Madina. By ruling Madina, the Sahaba (ra) went from struggling against the system to the ones who built and implemented the correct system; one emanating from the Islamic aqueedah and nothing else.
This change is what gave the Muslims permanent security and, in time, victory against the great powers of Persia and Byzantine Rome.
Our Destiny is in the Muslim Lands Ruled by Islam
While living in the West, we must tightly link our actions to the goal of restoring the Khilafah Rashidah in the Muslim lands. We cannot call a land where our families could get murdered in the
open because they are Muslim, ‘a home.’ Likewise, a land that legislates laws against our deen (e.g., the Niqab ban in Quebec) is not ‘our home.’
While we are forced to operate in this environment, we must resist the pressure to assimilate and find permissible ways to lessen the pressure against us. However, most importantly, we must keep the correct end-goal in mind.
The correct end-goal is not to stay as a minority forever, but to forge our own homeland in the Muslim lands.