By Mohamed Ibrahim
In this day and age, Muslims in the West are gearing up to defend themselves in the face of bigotry, hatred, and Islamophobia. Alhamdulilah that some action is being taken; however, we need to caution ourselves lest we fall into the trap that our Non-Muslim social justice activists have fallen into. That is to forget good ethics and manners in the pursuit of justice.
Lately, you may have come across some from the social justice community that does not behave in accordance with what is being preached. Various instances across the globe, we have begun to see this bad behaviour become apparent with social justice activists.
Let me state this as clearly as I can, I believe that, this is only the small minority of social justice activists that do not act with good character. However, to not warn you to not follow their footsteps would be a mistake. If you want to bring change to the world, it must begin with yourselves and those in your camp.
In Islam, good manners are one of the most important things to have as a Muslim. You know that the Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) was sent to “perfect good character.”[i] The Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said, “There is no wisdom like reflection and no honour like good manners.”[ii] Everything that the Muslim does, it is to be done with the best of character: including social activism.
Moreover, when you are engaged in social activism, no doubt you will encounter moments where people will be asking you questions about Islam or whatever the topic may be. Chances are that in some of those encounters, you may be asked a question that comes off as ignorant. How should you react? Allah SWT has given us the answer:
وَعِبَادُ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلَّذِينَ يَمۡشُونَ عَلَى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ هَوۡنً۬ا وَإِذَا خَاطَبَهُمُ ٱلۡجَـٰهِلُونَ قَالُواْ سَلَـٰمً۬ا [iii]
The (faithful) slaves of the Beneficent are they who walk upon the earth modestly, and when the foolish ones address them answer: Peace;
From this Ayah, we learn that the method to approach these situations is one of maintaining peace. One should not see to rock the boat further, rather calm the boat. In the face of ignorance, you should remain calm and not get flustered by the perception you may have of the questioner. Maintain the peaceful atmosphere and address the question in a proper manner.
You might be thinking, “This does not apply to me.” Be that as it may, you may come across someone who does this. When you do, you should stand and take action in those moments. Approach the person not exhibiting respect or good manners and kindly remind them to do so. It will be of benefit to them.
[i] Muwatta Imam Malik
[ii] Sunan Ibn Majah
[iii] Surat al-Furqan. Verse 63