Activist Islam — Part I

By Wageh Saad - 05.31.2010

One of the questions non-Muslims often ask that I address in the KMA Middle Eastern presentation is, what level of activism is inherent in the observance and practice of Islam.

As to what qualifies a person to be or become a Muslim,  it is sufficient for a person to declare his/her Islam (submission to the will of God and obedience to His law) and become Muslim just by pronouncing the statement that says: “I witness that there no god but one God and Muhammed is his slave and his messenger.”  This is the God of Adam and Abraham.

However, Muslims are also ranked in the eyes of God at different degree of faithfulness according to their level of activism.  Praying, fasting, pilgrimage, charity (Zakat), enjoining what is good and forbidding what is bad, and Jihad are the many forms of activism in Islam.  All of the above except for some forms of Jihad are peaceful activities that are welcome in the society – any society.

Relationships in the society and the world benefit from the Islamic views on coexistence, mutual respect among people of all races and nations, and the need to learn about each other and to treat each other with kindness.

As the Quran (Koran) itself says:

O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). Quran 49:13 (al-Hujrat, verse 13)

In Islam the concept of Jihad is more inclusive than the fighting aspect.  A Muslim will be doing Jihad if he/she teaches the message of the religion through informing others about the faith and the consequences of not adhering to its principles.  All of these consequences are left to the creator who has full knowledge of the actions, intentions, and any extenuating circumstances.

In Islam there is no mediator between the human being and God.  When questioned about his/her performance of prayer, fasting or other religious duties, a Muslim usually responds with a well known statement – Allahou A’alam – meaning God knows best.  This is to say that my performance is a private matter between me and my God.

Again, in some Muslim nations, the government enforces rules on the public that are within the religious requirements for example forbid the consumption of alcohol, expecting modest dress code etc..  This goes against the basic principle of “no coercion in the religion” which is a Muslim principle.  The justification is that of public safety and orderly society. Read more »