August 8, 2003

Politics and Muslims?A Concoction Yet Undiscovered

Politics. Simply reading the word can make you shudder. In fact, that?s
what most Muslims do?they shudder and turn away. Most of us don?t
want to even think about politics let alone being active in the political world.
It?s deemed unnecessary pointless arguing and tossed aside as an unimportant
frivolous part of society.

What most Muslims fail to understand, or even to acknowledge is that the core
of the world of politics is anything but frivolous. Politics, as the Canadian
Oxford Dictionary defines is, ?public life and affairs as involving authority
and government?. In other words, the world of politics as unwelcoming
as it may seem has anything and almost everything to do with the way we live
as a society, the way our world works, and the authority that controls the way
it works.

Knowing this, we as Muslims should be the most active players in the
political arena understanding that it is from within the political world that
we can most influence and empower positive change for all in society. Instead,
we deem politics as a difficult and exclusive cult and complaining becomes our
lone and ineffectual voice. When something goes awry in our world most of us
do one of three things: (1) shake our heads in disapproval (2) holler about
how the world is going to hell or most popular, (3) complain, think about action
then resign ourselves to defeat because the world is controlled by them and
we can?t do anything about it. All three of these reactions are weak-kneed,
pathetic, ineffectual lack of action responses that will do absolutely nothing
to promote change in the issues that we deem most important in our world. Perhaps
most infuriating is that most of us think it?s okay to react this way?that
it?s the only way we can react.

When we watch the nightly news and see images of Palestinians being shot and
killed, homes being razed, walls being put up in the well-known apartheid fashion?what
do most of us do? We (1) shake our heads in disapproval (2) holler about how
Israel should go to hell or most popular (3) think about how one day when we?re
rich we can help them but right now it?s impossible because Jews control
the U.S., and we can?t beat them. Weak-kneed. Pathetic. Ineffectual.

Sometimes with this lack of action comes a lack of regard. If the issue doesn?t
directly affect Muslims, we don?t care enough to even whisper a complaint.
Homeless people wandering the streets? It?s because they?re lazy.
Single mothers scraping together whatever they can to support their children?
It?s her own fault; she shouldn?t have gotten pregnant in the first
place. Drug addicts hooked on cocaine and heroine, their lives withering away?
Let them deal with it?it certainly doesn?t concern us. If it does
affect Muslims, we holler, shout and whine, but do nothing. Muslims being held
illegally in Guantanamo Bay? So sad, but there?s nothing we can do. Muslims
being arrested, detained and interrogated without the presence of a lawyer?no
charges laid? So sad, but there?s nothing we can do. Muslims being oppressed
and murdered in Chechnya, Palestine, India, Kashmir, Afghanistan, Iraq??
So, so, so sad, but there?s nothing we can do!!

And so here we are. Burdened with countless problems, ineffectual responses
and the world of politics. As much as we may hate it, those in authority control
what happens within and beyond our own societies and so, to put it simply, for
Muslims to rise to action and even think about igniting change in affairs within
society and the world, we must step into the world of politics. Rephrase. We
must step into the world of politics with knowledge, contemplation and the intent
to do what is right solely for the sake of Allah. There is a distinct difference
between doing this and simple prancing into politics with an outspoken overzealous
attitude.

Knowledge and contemplation are essential, essential and essential to working
within politics. One more time?essential! Far too often we Muslims are
swept off our feet, dazzled and beguiled by the sparkle and fast-talking ?suck-up?
nature of politicians. In other words, we?re gullible. We believe what
we see without contemplating and seriously weighing the words of that politician
with the white sparkly smile. No politician in their right mind will come to
an Islamic Conference or gathering and pass up the chance to carry a significant
number of votes back to Parliament or the City with them. So what do they do?
They suck up, and we reward them with our votes.

But, do we truly know what they stand for? What are their plans to improve
the social well being of Canadians? How will they help immigrants adjust to
Canadian society? Are they immigrant friendly? What are their plans for the
education system? Do they think disrespecting teachers is a form of ?tough
love?? What about the homeless problem? Child poverty in Canada? What
is their stance on foreign affairs issues? What are their views on the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict? How do they aim to help the suffering in Africa? How much money are
they allotting for peace keeping or aiding the poor in other countries? Do we
even stop to think for a mere second what a politicians answers to these questions
are?

Of course not. Instead, ringing in the ears of Muslims as they skip happily
to voting booths across Canada (if they bother to vote at all) are the words
some politician said at some Islamic Conference??We love Muslims!!?
What we should be saying in response is, ?So what.?

When we as Muslims take notice to the social ills around us?even when
they don?t directly affect Muslims?and take action by using the
power of our voices and our votes, our money and our limbs, it is then that
we can begin to promote and influence major changes in the political arena that
will directly affect the problems that Muslims and non-Muslims face within Canada
and beyond our borders.

What steps can you take to be more involved within Canadian politics? First,
be aware. Be aware of the issues and problems that people are facing. What needs
attention first, and fast? Be aware of the politicians that represent you and
utilize them. Members of Parliament are being paid way more than you and I to
represent the ?common folk? to those in Ottawa. Essentially, they
act as your voice. When an issue or problem comes up, refrain from whining at
home and call your M.P. Even with a global issue like the war on Iraq, people
can call their M.P?s simply to voice their opinions and question them
to see what action their respective party will take in Parliament. Be aware
of politicians in power and the politicians who want the power. Who is the Premier
of your province? Or the Governor of your state? What have they done during
their term to help or hinder your community and the community at large? If you?re
in Ontario you should be aware that a Provincial election is on the horizon!
Be aware of what party your politicians represent. If you read up on the mandate
of the party, you?ll have a pretty good idea of what that particular politician
will stand for. Be aware of sneaky language. For example, ?conservative?
is not always as good as it seems. The word itself may carry the values and
principles of us as Muslims but you need to know the context of the way the
word is being used. Weigh the pros and cons of what a politician stands for.
They may stand for ?conservative? family values, but what about
their ?conservative? views when it comes to the conflict in Israel,
or the war on Iraq?

Perhaps above all is to always aim to maintain the intention of acting only
for the sake of Allah and not for a particular political party either here at
home in Canada or in any other country. When we as Muslims focus only on working
for the cause of Allah, our actions will undoubtedly have a positive effect
all over the world.

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