Muslims constitute the largest number of the world’s refugee population. The cycle of war-terror-Islamophobia is hurting Muslim lives while they continue to struggle for freedom, justice and Islam.
Rohingyas and Uyghurs are facing genocide; Yemenis, Syrians, and Africans from different parts of the continent are looking for refuge; Palestinians and Kashmiris are striving for freedom, and a slow genocide of Muslims in India has begun.
Muslims are weak.
The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, was once weak. He turned this situation around with God’s blessings. How did he become one of the most successful leaders in the world?
The Crusaders who invaded the Muslim world, colonial powers which occupied the Muslim world, and the Christian missionaries they brought with them say that the Prophet became successful through conquests and wars. Islamophobes continue that narrative and unfortunately ISIS seems to buy into it as well.
The Prophet lived about 23,000 days.
The actual time he engaged in war to defend the peace sanctuary he established in Madinah was only six days. The total number of people who died from both sides were not more than 1,000.
Then the question remains what his success strategies were, if not war?
He had three paramount strategies to achieve a just and a peaceful society, a goal given by God to all of the Prophets (Quran 57:25).
We Muslims in the US, Canada, and other Western countries have a responsibility to empower ourselves to empower the Ummah and assist Muslim minorities struggling for justice, freedom, and Islam. We must do this by adopting the following three “Cs” that were the hallmarks of the Prophet Muhammad’s success. God’s peace and blessings be upon him:
1. Care of people and connection to God
2. Coalition-building, alliances, and networking
3. Communication: Adopting all means of the art and science of communication
1. Care And Connection With Humanity Through Service
Serving others makes us better human beings - something we sorely need in a world where genocide, oppression, and tyranny are rising.
In Surah Al-Maun (Quran, chapter 107), God mentions two sets of characteristics of the person who denies faith. The first is selfishness: s/he does not care for the hungry, turns away the orphan, and does not share what s/he has. The second is that s/he is lazy in his or her prayers. Taking care of God’s creation along with worshiping the Creator are, therefore, inextricably linked, and twin tests of one’s faith.
God expects us to care for others to please Him, without expecting a thank you or reward in return (Quran 76:9). The Prophet did so not only when he had power in Madinah, but also when he and the Muslims were weak and suffering in Makkah.
For example, a stranger approached him seeking help because Abu Jahl, the tormentor of Muslims, had taken his goods without payment. The Prophet could have turned away, given the desperate state of the Muslims at the time. But he did not. He approached Abu Jahl, who returned the money - despite his ongoing abuse of the Prophet.
Even the Prophet’s enemies, who would torture him and his Companions and starve them, trusted his character to be an honest, trustworthy person who is always helpful to others.
The Prophet was CEO of his wife, Khadija’s, trading empire. She owned half of the trade of Makkah. May Allah be pleased with her. Together, they generously assisted others.
Based on this beautiful Prophetic example, please include these Items in your plan for 2023:
- Can you double your Zakat giving for the poor?
- Can you spend your Zakat in your city versus overseas, as both Islamic Fiqh and the Khalifa Omar ibn al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, used to practice?
- How can you budget to consume less and give more?
- How can you volunteer to serve the hungry and needy in your area?
- Can you use your time and wealth to prevent the genocide of Muslim minorities and supportthe struggle for their freedom, justice, and human rights?
Collective Action Items:
- Does your Masjid have a social services committee?
- Does your civic engagement committee work to enhance your city and state’s provisions to take care of the homeless and the needy?
- Can Muslims in your city double the food pantries they operate at Masjids? That could mean every fifth Masjid will have a food pantry. You can work on this as a network of mosques, instead of just focusing on your own Masjid.
- Can Muslims start 100 new health centers next to Masjids, which offer free healthcare to the local community?
- Muslim social services are for all. Islam does not differentiate between Muslim and non-Muslim when it comes to the right of those in need.
2. Coalition-building, Alliances, and Networking
Building coalitions and alliances that crossed religious and tribal lines was essential to the Prophet’s success. He reached out to non-Muslim Mushriks (idol worshippers) for assistance, even as he sought help with Allah for his struggles.
The Prophet negotiated 12 treaties in Madinah that established the religious rights of Jews, Christians, and pagans in the city-state. These emphasized the importance of Muslims treating their non-Muslim co-citizens with liberty, justice, respect, religious freedom, and dignity.
The Prophet began developing alliances and coalitions even in Makkah, when, on his return from his trip from Taif, he was barred from the city by Abu Lahab. This would be like stripping him of citizenship from the land of his birth. He sought help. Only Mutam ibn Adi, a Mushrik who never accepted Islam, stepped forward. He was his sponsor who ensured that the Prophet returned to Makkah unharmed.
The Prophet recognized and praised Mutam, and the Muslims of Madinah honored him in the best way they could when he died: with Hassan bin Thabit, the poet of the Prophet, reciting poetry in his praise as he stood in the Prophet’s Masjid.
In 2023, we need to build similar coalitions and networks, not just to strengthen our own position in society, but to work together to build a better one for all.
Working together for a common cause is so important for humanity that Allah ordered Muslims to work with Mushriks who had just denied religious freedom to Muslims. Here is that order:
“And do not let the hatred of a people in shutting you out of the Sacred Mosque lead you to transgress. Still cooperate in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression. And fear God; indeed, God is severe in penalty” (Quran 5:2).
Items To Incorporate In Your Personal Plan:
Coalitions and networks can be open to participation by individuals, organizations, or both. So, consider being a part of one.
- Find out how to be a better networker.
- Survey what human rights networks and coalitions exist which you can be a part of. Then join one.
- Learn to be an organizer.
- I would love to see you start a local network for Justice For All, a Muslim-led human rights organization that I founded and volunteer for.
- Can you volunteer now for the political campaign of someone who is running in the 2024 election or beyond?
- Develop a personal relationship with an opinion maker or influencer.
- Join a labor, Black Lives Matter, anti-racism, anti-war or peace network in your city.
Considerations for a collective plan:
- Can you encourage your community to develop coalitions beyond the interfaith into other alliances that work for the good of all? Some examples include groups that work for police reform, anti-war activism, human rights, and civil rights coalitions, anti-genocide and anti-torture coalitions.
- Get your Masjid to allocate funds for the coalition they are members of. Devote 10 percent of your Masjid’s budget to build and empower civic coalitions and network with like-minded partners.
- Are your community members a part of different professional networks?
- Are your community members active in the Scout movement with others instead of forming their own Scout system?
The Prophet’s mission was to establish Qist: justice, fairness, and equity as God told him to (Quran 57:25). And his successful methodology involved using every means of communication available to him to achieve that mission.
Good communication benefits us collectively and individually. Expressing ourselves in a way that is sincere, truthful, and persuasive strengthens relationships; it opens up opportunities at work and school, as well as networking for the greater good.
In 2023, more of us need to learn how to produce, write, speak, sing, and draw. We need to be able to share our message, “tell our story” as many like to say, effectively. The story of how Muslims successfully live their Islam and contribute to our society remains unknown. What is known about us is primarily negative news. The New York Times portrayed Islam more negatively than alcohol, cancer, and cocaine. “Researchers from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism analyzed over 200 TV series that aired between 2018 and 2019, hoping to understand how Muslims were portrayed on popular shows.
They found that only 1% of speaking characters were Muslim – whereas 25% of the world’s population is Muslim.”
This, in turn, affects public policy. For example, President Joe Biden has not selected even one Muslim to be a health leader, despite the tremendous contributions of Muslim scientists and physicians during the pandemic.
Contrast this with Muslims in the U.K. Generally less educated, and less wealthy than American Muslims, about 20 years ago, they were a weak community. However, the advent of several Muslim television channels there changed the narrative.
By effectively telling the story of Muslim contributions to British life, the community developed power and influence: from only one British Muslim government representative, today there are about 40. Also, the mayor of London, one of the most powerful cities in the world, is Sadiq Khan, a British Muslim.
Seeing this, Sound Vision started Muslim Network Television earlier this year. We have successfully showcased Muslim stories ignored by the mainstream media. Alhamdu lillah. MNTV is free and you can subscribe to the channel on YouTube and TikTok.
Communication items to incorporate in your 2021 Plan:
- Sign up for writing classes. Writing is the core of good communication.
- Your smartphone today holds a TV studio worth of equipment. That is why everyone is producing something. Can you learn to produce?
- Look for free or low-cost classes and seminars to learn to produce.
- Write letters to the editor. Or comments below a news story. These are the most read parts of the newspapers. And yes, newspapers are not dead!
- If you are a student, no matter your major, take courses in writing, public speaking, journalism, audio/video, multimedia production, etc.
- Consider switching your major to journalism, broadcasting, creative writing or at least make these programs your minor.
- Develop overlapping media skills. A TV reporter today should be able to film and edit her report as well.
- Organize your family to write a book together.
- Have a monthly family circle in which writing is shared or a presentation is made.
- Have your Masjid start classes on interpersonal communication, writing, speech, and accent improvement.
- Can you write about any of the causes you care for?
- Can you adopt healthy and productive social media skills?
- Support Muslim media. Download the Adam’s World App.
- Subscribe for free to Muslim Network TV on Youtube.
Collective Action Items:
Muslims have no newspaper or radio outlet that reaches all of America. But we now have Muslim Network TV which reaches all of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico via Satellite, Apple TV, Amazon TV, and is on your phones through its app.
- What skills can you volunteer for Muslim Network TV?
- Can your Masjid donate to develop Muslim Network TV? Many are doing that right now.
- Can you donate to develop Muslim Network TV on a regular basis?
- Can you get your interfaith partners to link to Muslim Network TV to their website?
- Can you start a Toastmasters club at your Masjid? This will help participants develop public speaking skills.
One of the most certain things about life is its uncertainty.
We came into this world alone and we will leave it alone. Whatever we do, it is only for our benefit. In our graves what will count will not be how well off we were in this world. It will be our good deeds.
Your good deeds demand your time and your money. With your planning and budget, this world can be better while ensuring a good life in the Hereafter.
May He bless our plans and intentions.