INVOLVEMENT IN THE AMERICAN POLITICAL PROCESS
intelligently beginning a discussion of the "political process" we
would be well served by defining that process. Put succinctly, the political
process is the process by which public policy is made. By public policy we
mean decisions emanating from governmental institutions, or the individual
representatives of those institutions, which affect most members of the
society under the control of that government, either directly or indirectly.
Many institutions, groups and individuals are involved in this process. The
relationships between these actors unfold on many different levels. Even the
most untrained observer will readily note that the political process,
especially here in the United States, is extremely complex and involved.
to the complexity of the American political process, it would be extremely
difficult for an alert Muslim to issue either a blanket condemnation or
approval of a Muslim involving himself in that process. Any given aspect of
that process would have to be analyzed individually in order to ascertain with
any degree of accuracy its compatibility with Islamic principles and
practices. Despite this fact, many Muslims engage in a headlong rush to either
uncritically involve themselves in politics, oftentimes priding themselves in
their political maturity and sophistication; while others rush with equal
enthusiasm to condemn such involvement, usually basing their decision on
overly simplistic arguments.
purpose of this paper is to avoid either of these two extremes. While not
outright condemning involvement in the political process in this country, we
urge extreme caution and consideration before Muslims engage themselves in it.
Our caution emanates from the considerations which are listed below. Some of
our arguments are rational ('aqlii) while others are religious (deenii).
and Absolutist Political Agendas
of the definitive features of the American political system is its
factionalized nature. Countless groups, each articulating its distinct
interest, exist in the American polity. One of the virtues of the American
political system, and the constitution which lies at its heart, has been its
ability to simultaneously encourage and control these factions. As outlined by
James Madison in his brilliant essay which has become famous as the tenth
Federalist Paper, the principle way of controlling these
factions is through encouraging the proliferation of their number, a step
achieved by extending the size of the polity 1
while at the same time severely limiting the size of the national legislature.
This was accomplished by the establishment of a single national legislature to
take the place of the original thirteen.
countless groups have to push for the creation of public policy through a
small number of representatives, the likelihood of any one group completely
controlling any one representative, or a bloc of representatives, is rare.
They have to share him/her with numerous other groups. Even when a faction's
control over a particular representative is more total, any policy this
representative proposes has to be approved by other representatives controlled
to greater or lesser degrees by other groups.
of the greatest results of this scheme has been the elimination of the
possibility that an extreme or absolutist political policy or agenda could be
imposed on the entire Union. The advocates of extremist positions have to
engage in a series of compromises if they are to become part of a large enough
coalition to have their issues and interests addressed by the system. After
these compromises, their position on a particular issue would no longer be
considered extreme. This scheme has had a tremendous impact on both the nature
of American politics and the American political culture.
in America has been characterized, more so than in any other polity, by
compromise and coalition building. This fact is vividly illustrated during
presidential elections as each party constructs its platform. The party's
platform is merely a statement which attempts to attract the support of as
many factions or interest groups as possible. Any group supporting the
platform knows that it cannot possibly have all items of its agenda accepted
by the party, as it inevitably would alienate other potential supporters of that party, hence it compromises in
order to have a part of its
reality has significantly affected the political culture of America. Extremist
ideas and absolutist political agendas have been distanced from the political
process as their adherents realize the likelihood of these agendas or ideas
being enacted into policy is virtually nonexistent. Systemically acceptable
ideas and agendas are pushed to the center, and the parameters of political
debate become narrowed to such an extent that the ideological space between
contending policies becomes virtually nonexistent in most instances. Because
ideas or agendas which differ from those located at the political center have
virtually no appeal to the overwhelming majority of the electorate, nor to
their political representatives, their adherents are pushed to further
compromise or to drop out of the process altogether. As many groups come to
see that the choice between Democrats and Republicans is really a non-choice,
as each party sharpens its appeal to the center, they are choosing the latter
option dropping out.
relevant point for Muslims is that Islam presents an absolutist political
agenda, or one which doesn't lend itself to compromise, nor to coalition
building. The Islamic world view presents the world as a place where there is
a struggle between forces which are diametrically opposed to each other. The
befriended of Allah oppose the dupes of Satan. Truth opposes falsehood. Allah's
true din challenges the false
beliefs and systems innovated by man. The Qur'an gives no indication that a
compromise is possible between these forces. 2 One should
consider the nature of the following verses:
who believe fight in the way of Allah;
those who disbelieve fight in the way of false dieties (At Taaghuut).
fight you altogether the dupes of Satan, verily the scheme of Satan is weak.
"(Al Qur'an, 4:76)
"Say, truth has come and falsehood
perishes, verily falsehood is bound to perish!" (Al Qur'an, 17:81)
is He who sent His Messenger with guidance and the Religion of Truth that it
may show itself superior to all religion , even though the idolators hate
it." (Al Qur'an, 61:9)
is the supporting friend of those who believe, He brings them forth
from darkness into light. As for those who disbelieve, their patrons are the
false gods, they lead them from light into darkness. These are the companions
of the Hellfire, they will dwell therein forever. "(Al Qur'an, 2:257)
are the blind equal with the seeing? Or is darkness equal with light? Or have
they made partners unto Allah
who have created as He has created and then these creations appear the
same to them (causing them confusion)? Say, it is Allah who has created everything and He is the the One, the
Compelling." (Al Qur'an, 13:16)
world view encouraged by these verses was clearly demonstrated in the life of
Prophet Muhammad. When presented by the Quraish with a political compromise
which would have accepted a watered down version of Islam and a ruling
coalition between the Prophet and the non Muslims, he uttered his famous
you were to place the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left, I won't
turn back in this affair until Allah makes it triumph or I die in its
path"' (Seerah Ibm Hishaam)
is well known, the Prophet and His companions were to suffer tremendous
hardship because of this uncompromising stand. They suffered persecution,
exile, social and economic boycotts and numerous other hardships. All of these
things are consistent with what was endured by the Messengers of Allah
and their followers in every epoch. Still they patiently endured these
things rather than involve themselves in the ungodly systems they were
opposing. Steadfastness in enduring these hardships is also one of the crucial
features of the Islamic personality. Allah says in His noble book:
will surely test you with something of fear, and hunger, and loss of wealth,
and lives, and the fruits of our labor. Therefore, give glad tidings to those
who patiently persevere." (Al-Qur'an, 2:155)
avoidance of these difficulties is one of the principal motivations pushing
Muslims in this country to involve themselves in the political process, a
process whose primary raison d'etre is to maximize the material benefits
attained by groups contending over scarce resources. This raises very critical
issues for Muslims.
vs. Principled Idealism
If the principal raison
d’etre of the secular political system is to resolve conflicts between
groups competing for scarce resources, then the participation of those groups
in most instances will take place in a climate dominated by a utilitarian
philosophical outlook. Every group is trying to maximize its
"happiness" and minimize its “suffering.” Involvement in
politics is justified if it maximizes the benefits (the greatest happiness
principle in classical utilitarian formulation) attainable by a particular
simple costs/benefits analysis will serve to judge the feasibility of a
particular policy, or the feasibility of a group pursuing its adoption.
Morality and ideological principles become irrelevant in such a scheme.
Muslims may think that Islam can insulate them from the negative effects
accruing from involvement in a process dominated by such an orientation.
However, the political history of America a history which has seen
politics stripped of any moral or ideological pretenses doesn't augur well for
politically active Muslims. This is because the raison
d'etre of the Muslim community is the uncompromising advancement of a
moral and ethical ideal. The central concept at the heart of this ideal, Tawheed
(Unity and Uniqueness), epitomizes its uncompromising nature. Any secular
political system, especially a highly bureaucratized one, works to eliminate
morality and ideological principles from the agenda of any group trying to
achieve its goals through that system.
doubts the efficacy of this conclusion, consider the fate of the Soviet Union.
The Soviet Union ceased to be a communist state because ideology ceased to be
a political consideration. During the Gorbachev years policy was increasingly
based on utilitarian considerations. If a policy worked, it was endorsed
whether or not it was consistent with communist ideological formulations. In
most instances communism was merely reinterpreted to account for the divergent
Principled ideological considerations had become
a hindrance to political and economic advancement. This reality made the
collapse of communism in the Soviet Union inevitable. At the opportune time it was totally discarded. Perceptive
analysts such as Daniel Bell predicted this demise as early as the 1950s. In
the clash between communism and the bureaucratic state both individual
communists (Stalins, Trotskys and Lenins gave way to Gorbachevs and Yeltsins)
and the communist system itself were transformed. An identical ideological
transformation has been occurring in the Muslim world as Muslims try to
advance the Islamic ideal in the social political context of the modern nation
remains to be seen if there can be a merger or successful interaction between
the absolutist, moral and principled agenda of Islam and the amoral political
system of the western secular state. However, if developments in the Muslim
world, where the interaction between Islam and the nation-state has led to the
virtual destruction of Islam, are an accurate indication of things to come
here in America, may Allah help us all.
of Political Involvement for Muslims in America
Muslim involvement in the political system of this country wouldn't be without
a price. Effective functioning in the political system requires tremendous
financial and human resources. Effectively marshalling these resources would
inevitably affect the ability of Muslims to engage in other projects.
Community building would be seriously affected by the drain of fiscal
resources, and by the energy diverted away from community building and related
activities. The nature of political work is such that the best organizers and
most intellectually dynamic individuals would be lost to the community. The
sheer magnitude of an effort to become effectively involved in the political
process would completely overwhelm other aspects of the Muslims' agenda.
all processes the political process serves as an agent of socialization. The
deeper the Muslim involvement in that process, the greater the likelihood of
the western bureaucratic personality type superceding the development of a
true Islamic personality. Rationality would inevitably overwhelm revelation.
When confronted with a situation which required the adoption of an irrational
decision for the sake of upholding divine injunctions, the Muslim would find
himself at a loss. Furthermore, the anthropological uniqueness of the Muslims
would surely be lost as they plummeted deeper into a system where their very
success depends on their ability to think, look and act like their fellow
in politics would also severely limit the ability of the Muslims to engage in
radical extrasystemic political action. Once a commitment is made to advance
one's cause by working within the system, it would be virtually impossible to
subsequently rebel against that system, or to even challenge its legitimacy.
The elimination of an extrasystemic option would be disastrous to Muslims if
we consider that every major Muslim political gain in modern history has been
achieved through extrasystemic political action. To reinforce this point we
will mention a few examples.
Massive demonstrations and a civil disobedience campaign led by the Islamic
Renaissance Party led to the end of hardline communist rule in TaJikstan:
Possibility of Islamic rule in Afghanistan has been made possible by a more
than twelve‑year long armed struggle: 1980 -1992.
The fledgling Islamic regime in the Sudan came to power as the result of a
The Islamic Republic of Iran was established in the aftermath of a major
revolution: 1977 -1979.
The defense of Masjid Al Aqsa has been the result of an unending series of
strikes, demonstrations and vigils carried out primarily by the Palestinians
living in the Old City in Jerusalem: 1967 - Present.
The Liberation of Algeria from French control was achieved through an armed
insurrection motivated primarily by Islam: 1954 -1962.
The Pathan areas of the Peshawar valley in what was to become Pakistan pined
their autonomy from the British as the result of a massive civil disobedience
campaign: 1930 -1933.
The end of the British Protectorate in Egypt came about as the result of an
extended campaign of strikes and civil disobedience led by Saad Zaghlul and
the Wafd: 1919 -1922.
to these successes, Islamic involvement in the political process in the Muslim
world has been a frustrating and unfulfilling experience. Again we will site a
few examples to illustrate the depth of that futility.
Islamist participation in the Algerian political process was suspended by a
veiled coup: 1992.
2) Islamist involvement in the Jordanian government failed to prevent Jordan's entry into direct negotiations with Israel, leading to the end of that involvement: 1991 -1992.
Islamist involvement in the 1983 Sudanese government was summarily ended by
4) Varying degrees of Muslim Brotherhood involvement in the government of Egypt throughout the 1970's was ended by Sadat: 1981.
The involvement of the Islamist Milli Selamet Party in successive Turkish
governments throughout the 1970s was ended by a coup: 1980.
The involvement of Jamaati Islami in the Pakistani government throughout the
1980s led to a major change in the revolutionary character of that
organization, and came to an end with the electoral victory of Benazir Bhutto:
7) Muslim Brotherhood involvement in the Free Officers Egyptian government was crushed by Naasir- 1954.
and similar events all have to be examined critically in order to accurately
understand their full implications. However one thing is clear. The hopes,
ambitious and sacrifices of the Muslims involved in these efforts went
unfulfilled. In some instances years of work was undone in a single day. As
long as any political system is controlled by unIslamic forces similar events
are bound to occur, even here in the United States, should Muslims become more
politically active. The obvious question is: "Could the resources, both
human and material, utilized in such efforts have been better spent?"
This is a question which we should endeavor to answer a priori.
Rules (Judges) by Other than What Allah has Revealed They are
of the consequences of the secularization of western society has been the
rejection of the role of religion in politics, economics, law, or any aspect
of government. Muslims know that such secularization is unacceptable in
Islamic society. However, we should be aware that Allah
has also made this secularization forbidden among the Jews and Christians!
He says in His Noble Book:
have sent down the Torah, in it is guidance and light. By it judged the
through the Prophets who submitted in Islam, the Rabbis, and the Jurists:
they were entrusted with the preservation of Allah's Book, and they were witnesses unto it. Therefore do not fear men, rather fear Me, and don't sell my signs for an insignificant price.
doesn't judge by what Allah has revealed,
verily they are nonbelievers." (Al Qur'an, 5:44)
the people of the Gospel rule (judge) by what Allah has revealed in it.
Whoever doesn't rule on the basis of what Allah has
revealed they are rebellious transgressors." (Al Qur'an, 5:47)
Mas'uud and Al Hasan say
concerning Allah's saying "Whoever doesn't rule (judge) on the basis of what Allah has revealed they are nonbelievers... oppressors.. rebellious
transgressors", "that it is general and concerns anyone who doesn't
rule (judge) by what Allah
has revealed: be they Muslims, Jews, or Nonbelievers." As the
Christians and Jews of this country have rejected the divine law and created
their own secular system of rule, the legal and political system of America is
sinful and constitutes open rebellion against Allah.
For a Muslim to join with the Jews and Christians in this system is to join them in their rebellion against Allah. Allah explicitly orders against this:
"Cooperate in righteousness and piety, and don't cooperate in sin and transgression." (Al-Qur'an, 5:2)
Katheer says concerning this verse: "Allah orders His servants,
the believers, with cooperation in doing what is right, this is righteousness;
and leaving that which is wrong, this is piety. He forbids them from helping
each other in falsehood, and cooperating in sin and forbidden matters." (Tafseer
should consider well their actions as we attempt to implement Islam in this
country. Jews and Christians, have rejected both the guidance of
Allah and His admonitions to them that they return to the path of divine
guidance. Are we to be the Muslims who fulfill the Prophet's a prediction that
we would follow them in their ways step by step? We should ask ourselves,
"Are our actions guided by the Book
of Allah and the Sunnah
of His Prophet, or are we following our own inclinations, implementing our
own shortsighted agendas?"
argument presented above is cautionary and not definitive as a logical
question would be: "What if Muslims use an unIslamic system to obtain an
Islamically acceptable ruling or policy?" This issue is dealt with in
detail in the context of the following discussion.
Walaa' (Befriending for Support) Wal Baraa' (Disavowal)
discussed above one of the definitive features of the American political
system is its encouragement of factionalization. Because of the existence of
numerous crosscutting factions, it is impossible for any one group, acting
alone, to obtain from governmental institutions an absolute policy, or one
which reflects their total desires on any particular issue. This is especially
true if the issue to be resolved, or the interest to be attained, violates the
general societal consensus as to the acceptable limits of political demands
and rewards. For these reasons it is essential for any group or political
faction to engage in both compromise and coalition building if it is to even
begin to attain its political interests.
coalitional imperative is augmented by the fact that nationally Muslims have
virtually no direct or Muslim representation in the governmental institutions
most intricately involved in the creation of public policy, namely the
Congress, the White House and high level executive ministries, and the Supreme
Court. Therefore, the focus of Muslim political action will inevitably involve
seeking the aid of others in order to achieve policies which bring some
benefit to Muslims. Those others are inevitably Jews, Christians or
nonbelievers. This situation is replicated at both the state and local levels.
This being the case, Muslims engaging in the political process have to inevitably consider the Islamic concepts of Al Walaa' (befriending to seek support) and Al Baraa' (disavowal). The implication of these ideas is that in most circumstances, it is forbidden to seek the aid of nonbelievers to achieve an Islamic objective. Furthermore, it is an Islamic obligation to not only reject the aid of certain parties, but to consciously distance one self from those parties. The evidences from Qur'an and Sunnah on these issues are extremely numerous. However, we will limit ourselves to the ones most relevant to our position here in America. Allah the Most High says in His Glorious Book: "Oh! You who believe, don't befriend the Jews and the Christians seeking their support, they are supporting friends of one another. Whoever from among you turns to them for friendship and support, he is of them; and Allah doesn't guide wrongdoing, oppressive people. You seek those in whose hearts is a disease (hypocrisy and doubt), rushing to them (for support), saying we fear some calamity might befall us. Perhaps Allah will bring about the victory, or a command from Himself, and they (those who doubted) will become repentent of the desire (for help and assistance) which they held in their souls. Those who believe will say,
these the ones who swore their strongest oaths to Allah that they were with you." Their deeds will be lost and they
will become great losers. Oh! you who believe, if any from among you turns
back on His deen then Allah
will bring a people whom He will love
and they will love Him. They will be humble before the believers, mighty
against the nonbelievers. They will fight in the Way of Allah
and they won't fear the criticism of those who criticize. This is the
grace of Allah which He bestows
on whoever He pleases. And Allah
is most expansive in His bounties, All Knowing. Rather your supporting
friends are Allah, His Messenger,
and the believers those who establish regular prayer, pay the Zakah and bow
down humbly in worship. And whoever turns to Allah, His Messengers
and the believers for support, verily they are the Party of Allah. They will be victorious!" (Al
Qur'an, 5:51 56)
verses contain critical lessons for Muslims in America at this juncture of our
communal development, as they were revealed when the first community of
believers was at a very critical stage. In those early days of Islam, in the
unfolding struggle between Islam and its enemies, those hypocrites of dubious
faith, led by Abdullah bin Ubey, were anxious to seek the aid of the Jews,
fearing that the Muslims would lose the battle between Islam and kufr,
thereby exposing themselves to loss. At this juncture, Allah
warned the Muslims against seeking the aid of the Jews and the Christians.
Furthermore, He warned that whoever sought support from these groups was in
lesson is critical for Muslims as many of us believe that Muslims are so weak
that we will never (or at least not in the near future) on our own accord be
able to either vanquish our enemies or bring benefit to ourselves. Allah reminded those early Muslims, and He reminds us, that the victory
and help comes from Him, and not those we seek help from. He says,
will bring about the victory, or a command from Himself." This makes
it clear to us that even if we are deprived of some benefit by not seeking the
help of the Jews and Christians, it is best to do without that thing until Allah
chooses to bestow it upon us. Their path and ours is sincere patience, sabr
jameel. This latter lesson is crucial especially when many Muslims who are
eager to engage in the political process justify their action on the grounds
that by so doing they can bring tangible, benefits to the Muslim community.
In these verses Allah declares that it is a disease in the heart which pushes one to seek the support of the non believers: "You see those in whose hearts is a disease rushing to them seeking support..." Elsewhere in His Book He challenges their very faith as He says:
only they believed in Allah and the Prophet, and that which has been revealed unto him, they
wouldn't take them (the unbelievers) as their supporting friends" (Al
Qur'an, 5:8 1 ).
idea of seeking the help of the kuffar, Jews
and Christians, negating one's iman (belief),
is reinforced by the subsequent verses from Suratul
Maaidah (5:54‑55). In
verse 54 Allah
says:, "Oh! you who believe, whoever amongst you turns back on his
deen (becomes a murtadd) Allah will bring a people whom He will love, and they will love
Him..." He then goes on to say in Verse 55: "Rather your supporting
friends are Allah, His Messenger and the believers...", rebuking those
who turned to the Jews and Christians for support. He subsequently declares
that these are the ones who will succeed: "...they are the Party of Allah. They will be victorious."
Having reminded the believers that their supporting friends are Allah, His Messenger and the believers, He mentions that these are the true sources of their strength when He says:
"Strength and dignity belong to Allah, His Messenger and the believers. However, the hypocrites realize it not" (Al Qur'an, 63:8).
As for those who are deluded into seeking strength from the nonbelievers, Allah reminds them:
'Those who take the nonbelievers as their supporting friends other than the believers, do they seek strength and power from them? Rather unto Allah is all strength and power" (Al Qur'an, 4:139).
Elsewhere in His Noble Book He reminds those who seek support from their idols: "Those whom you call on other than Him (Allah), they are unable to help you, nor can they help themselves." (Al Qur'an, 7:197)
we consider this issue from another angle, most if not all of the non Muslims
occupying positions of power and influence in the American political system
are avowed secularists deeply committed lo their kafir system. Furthermore, no one can argue that they have all
implicitly or explicitly rejected Islam as a viable political alternative.
This fact again has tremendous bearing on our relationship with them. Allah instructs us:
you who believe, don't take your fathers and brothers as your supporting
friends if they
love kufr over iman. Whoever turns to them for support from amongst you verily
they are wrong
doing oppressors." (Al Qur'an, 9:23)
love kufr over iman. Whoever turns to them for support from amongst you verily
they are wrong
doing oppressors." (Al Qur'an, 9:23)
doing oppressors." (Al Qur'an, 9:23)
point to note here is that those whose support is being rejected in this verse
are the closest of
blood relatives to the believers, namely their fathers and brothers. In the
first years of Islam, there was a time immediately after the Hijra when
the Prophet and those with him were forbidden from either seeking or providing
political and strategic support to a group of their fellow believers! Allah
says in Sura Anfaal .
blood relatives to the believers, namely their fathers and brothers. In the first years of Islam, there was a time immediately after the Hijra when the Prophet and those with him were forbidden from either seeking or providing political and strategic support to a group of their fellow believers! Allah says in Sura Anfaal .
As for those who had believed and migrated Allah says:
"Verily those who have believed, migrated, and fought with their wealth and lives in the way of Allah; as well as those who have sheltered and helped them, they are supporting friends of each other" (Al Qur'an, 8:72).
In the following verse Allah summarizes the importance of Al Walaa' for the ummah. Here the Most High declares:
non-believers are each others supporting friends. Unless you do it (support
one another, and disavow help from the non-believers) there will be tremendous
tumult, oppression and corruption in the earth." (Al Qur'an, 8:73)
verse makes clear that the safety and well being of the Muslims is directly
proportionate to their help and support for one another, and their disavowal
of the nonbelievers. This is because our failure to support our fellow Muslims
weakens Islam, and our seeking support from the non‑Muslims strengthens
them by lending our forces to augment theirs, and by giving our tacit
endorsement to their ungodly system. If we consider the state of Islam and
Muslims today, we see many sincere and growing efforts to maximize the
Muslims' ability to lobby, petition and otherwise seek the support of
non‑Muslims. When we compare these efforts with the virtually
nonexistent organized efforts of Muslims to systematically overcome the
divisions and enmity existing in our ummah,
we can understand why the threat mentioned by Allah has been fulfilled
against us, "...Unless you do it, there will be tremendous tumult,
oppression and corruption in the Earth!"
Cautionary Note: In cases where the Muslims fear the wickedness of the kuffaar, or they fear some grave harm from them, it is permissible to befriend them to seek their support. Allah says in His Glorious Book:
"Let not the Believers take the non Muslims as their supporting friends *instead of the Believers. Whosoever does that has disassociated Himself from Allah; unless you are guarding yourselves against them .. (Al Qur'an, 3:28)."
Hence, it is not proper for Muslims to accuse their brothers and sisters in
Bosnia, whose situation is extremely desperate and grave, of violating Islamic
principles by seeking help from the United States and Europe. As this verse
makes clear, the prohibition doesn't apply in such desperate cases.
We must also caution that the above verses should not be used by Muslims to justify harsh, or disrespectful treatment of nonantagonistic nonMuslims in our everyday interpersonal relations. Allah clearly instructs us:
"Allah forbids you not concerning those who have not fought you nor driven you from your homes that you deal with them with righteousness and justice. Verily Allah loves those who are just (Al-Qur'an, 60:8)."
should reiterate, however, that this verse deals strictly with interpersonal
relations, and not political and strategic matters.
Disavowal of His People
the above discussion in our time when Muslims are far removed from an Islamic
sociopolitical consciousness, one may conclude that these words embody a
fanatical, narrowminded stance. For those who would argue thus we present the
story of Ibraheem's disavowal of his people. Allah relates this monumental
event in Suratul
Mumtahanah. It reads thus:
Verily there is for you an excellent example in lbraheern and those with him when they said to their people:
"We disassociate ourselves from you, and from that which you worship other than Allah: we have rejected you, and there has appeared between us and you enmity and hatred forever until you believe in Allah alone' " (Al Qur'an, 60:4)
These are not the words of a hard hearted fanatic, nor of a bitter and frustrated malcontent. These are the words of a noble Messenger of Allah who The Most High describes in the following telling words:
"Verily Ibraheem was most tenderhearted, most forbearing" (Al Qur'an, 9:114).
these characteristics, when his struggle with his people came down to
cooperating with them in their rebellion, or disavowing them, he chose the
latter course. Allah gives this course of action the ultimate endorsement by
declaring it to be "a most excellent example" for all believers
until the day the Qur'an is lifted from the pages of the mushaf.
The Arabic word WaIii is usually translated "protecting friend." The
associated noun Walaa' is usually
rendered "'friendship and protection." I have chosen to use the word
"support" in my translation of these terms. This latter word is more
consistent with the full implications ofthe original Arabic terms, according
to the meanings eluciated by the relevant Tafseer literature. The term
"protection" is too narrow as it excludes a wide range of actions
which are associated with the original terms. These include providing
political, strategic and material help. The term support can accommodate all
of these actions as well as protection.
action is not limited to those methods which are traditionally employed within
the governmental system to affect the policy formation process voting,
lobbying, petitioning, bribing, litigation, etc. Under the right circumstances
extrasystermic action, ranging from noncooperation tactics to guerrilla
war can bring about favorable policies from a governmental system, or
even lead to the eradication of that system. The challenge for us as Muslims
in America is to examine the entire range of our political options and then
collectively construct a political strategy most consistent with the Qur'an,
the Sunnah, the Seerah, our human and material resources, and the unique political
environment of this country.
constructing such a strategy our goals must be clearly defined. This is a
simple matter as the goal which the ummah
has been commissioned to pursue has already been defined by Allah the establishment of the deen
of Allah on earth. Allah
tells us in unambiguous terms:
fight them on until there is no more.Shirk (fitnah), and Religion is for Allah (alone)." (Al Qur'an, 2:193)
is He who has sent His Messenger with Guidance and the Religion of Truth that
it may triumph over all other religions and Allah is sufficient as a Witness." (Al Qur'an, 48:28)
desire to extinguish the light of Allah (His deen) with their mouths, Allah
will complete His light (make it victorious), even though. the
non-believers; hate it." (Al Qur'an, 60:8)
achievement of this goal comes about ultimately through divine intervention.
In other words Muslims must struggle ceaselessly for its attainment, and at a
certain point in time, according to His wisdom, Allah
gives us the victory. As Muslims we must never lose sight of the, ultimate
goal. Defining and working to implement
process goals or "activities which must be accomplished in order to have
a reasonable chance of success (in reaching one's ultimate goals)" 5
must be the priority for Muslims wishing to see the victory of Islam in this
of focusing their energies on process goals consistent with the ultimate goal
of establishing Allah's
deen in this country, many
Muslims are entering the political process to work for the attainment of
lesser goals. These goals include everything from opposite side of the street
parking to official Muslim holidays. While these things may be laudable, if
they are not clearly linked as process-goals to the attainment of the ultimate
goal, or if an ultimate goal is never defined, they amount to substitutes for
that higher goal, and an indirect admission by their advocates that the
ultimate goal is unattainable. This process is known as goal displacement. 6
on clearly. defined process goals can help to avoid the dangers of preemption,
where "a group's demands are adopted into the program of those in power
without the legitimacy of the group itself being accepted;"7
and cooptation, where a group's leaders are brought into the existing system
without the system changing to accommodate the group's ultimate goals.
Attaining process‑goals, which should be the priority of Muslims in this
country, would include among other things, engaging in political education
campaigns based on Qur'an and Sunnah; development of a core group committed to the ultimate goal
‑the establishment of Islam and Shariah
in America; deciding a priori what
are the tactics which will be utilized in the effort to attain that goal;
building an appropriate organization to push for the attainment of the
of the greatest defects of uncritical Muslim involvement in the political
process is that political involvement, the means, is transformed into the end.
Success in registering to vote, lobbying a government official, or waging a
successful petition campaign becomes confused with or takes the place of
success in implementing Islam in this country. Much work has to be done in
educating, unifying, and organizing Muslims before
we can reasonably expect to successfully engage in any political project
‑systemic or nonsystemic. Furthermore, national and local political
strategies have to be developed. In some areas Muslims of all backgrounds are
encouraged to register to vote and to get involved in politics, of times with
no idea or instruction as to the strategic objective of this involvement. In
many instances no strategic planning has even taken place in advance of the
call to mobilize. Off charge the Muslims in the words of a Russian poet,
"swashbuckling with a flimsy sword."
a series of immediate and intermediate achievement goals can help to bring
about the changes which are necessary for the attainment of the ultimate goal.
Distinguishing between varying types of goals helps to prevent a confusion
between ends and means. The ultimate goal must always remain the end and the
process and intermediate goals the means to achieve that end.
Madison was arguing for the abandonment of the Confederacy and replacing it
with a much larger federated union which included all of the original thirteen
independent states, each with its own legislature. The new union would have a
single national legislature.
from advancing a dualistic world view the central concept in Islam is the idea
of Tawheed, the oneness and uniqueness of Allah. The world didn't originate
from two opposing forces whose struggle is the central theme in history,
rather it originates from the singular decree and command of Allah.
The idea of Tawheed is the dominant force in Allah's creation, as
this creation is a unified whole, where varying, oft times opposing, forces
run their course according to the term which Allah has fixed for them. This assigning to all created things an
individual fixed term negates the possibility of a Manicheanistic dualism
being the motivating force in creation.
E. Crow et al., Arab Nonviolent
Political Struggle in the Middle East (Boulder, Co.: Lynne Rienner
Publishers, 1990) pp. 116‑117.
7 Crow, p. 117.