Protest against Oppression Is Religious Duty Too

Protest against Oppression Is Religious Duty Too

Sitting idle at home or to be a mute spectator at the distressing situation of the country is to put oneself in approaching trouble.


Mufti Muhammad Rashid Qasmi

Action on time and acquaintance with the situation is essential for a human being to live a normal and harmonious life. A variety of problems encircle one's life if his actions are opposed to what the time requires.

A beautiful instruction of balancing activities has been given by Islamic Shariah in this regard. Hence, one is commanded to establish salah, paying zakah, keeping fast and performing hajj if their times arrive. Similarly, one is also commanded not to be busy all times with the mentioned religious activities, so that they can discharge other duties of life such as helping the poverty-stricken people and consoling those who are downtrodden.

One must understand that Shariah has set a boundary for every action we do in our daily lives. Shariah strictly prohibits the one who offers salah continuously, the one who keep nonstop fast and the one who is involved in social work all the time ignoring his other responsibilities that lie on his shoulders. 

A beautiful teaching given by Shariah that how one should carry out his work if at the moment he is addressed by the Shariah command and how he should restart his work after he has fulfilled the religious responsibilities.  Allah Almighty says in the glorious Qur'an:

“O you, who have believed, when [the adhan] is called for the prayer on the day of Jumu'ah [Friday], then proceed to the remembrance of Allah and leave trade. That is better for you, if you only knew. But when they saw a transaction or a diversion, [O Muhammad], they rushed to it and left you standing. Say, ‘What is with Allah is better than diversion and than a transaction, and Allah is the best of providers.’” (Surah Jumah verse 9 and 10)

This ayah refers that one should not be involved in his work ignoring salah. Similarly, one should not offer salah all the time if all his other works remained incomplete. This ayah instructs us to adopt balanced steps to have a contented and exemplary life.

The current situation of the country has seen a rising tide of prejudice and injustice. The entire country is echoing with nonstop slogans and protests raised against CAA, NRC and NPR. When we look at the gatherings of the countrymen doing protests side by side with Muslim, it reminds us of the peaceful co-existence. This made us very much optimistic that in the coming times, a positive outcome is surely about to emerge on the horizon of the country and once again this will establish the multicultural and communal harmony that has been the hallmark of the country, especially during the freedom movement--if Allah wills.

The well-informed and far-sighted personalities are revealing the problems and difficulties lie down behind the black act—the CAA—for both Muslims and other minorities from the very first day. The timely appeal by commoners and notables of every stripe urge every individual's presence to be a part of the nationwide dissent and to strengthen it just for the protection of secularism and the spirit of the constitution. 

Sitting idle at home, or to be a mute spectator at the distressing situation of the country is to put oneself in more trouble. This has been clearly revealed that the CAA will trouble the poor and depressed classes, especially the tribals and other ethnic groups, who are unable to provide birth certificates and other documents that legally prove that they are indeed citizens of India.

Is this not a repetition of the futile exercise of demonetization that left the poor high and dry as they could not exchange their old notes in time?

This law is not only a flagrant violation of the constitution, but according to Shariah this law is totally tyrannous because it discriminates against communities on the grounds of religion. While upholding democratic values is the bounden right of every citizen; according to Islam, it is also the responsibility of Muslims to stop by peaceful means those rules that are steeped in injustice.

The religion of Islam neither permits its followers to do injustice with anyone nor to keep silent against tyranny. Keeping silence on cruelty always leads the entire human race to trouble.

The prophet (saws) said: "Help your brother whether he is an oppressor or an oppressed," A man said, "O Allah's Messenger (saws)! I will help him if he is oppressed, but if he is an oppressor, how shall I help him?" The Prophet (saws) said, "By preventing him from oppressing (others), for that is how to help him." (Bukhari)

The great Islamic scholar Shah Wali Ullah Muhaddis Dehlvi (rh) says: “To prevent the people from cruelty and to make plans against it is one of the greatest purposes with which all the prophets and messengers have been sent in this universe. The entire system of life will be destroyed if the cruelty will not get an end.” 

When doing protest we must keep one hadith is mind. The prophet (saws) says: “Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart - and that is the weakest of faith.” (Muslim)

We apparently do not have much power to implement first option mentioned in the hadith to repeal CAA but we are capable to apply the second option. We must participate in protests and articulate our voices against this discriminatory act.

According to the need of the situation, every individual should try his best to sacrifice his wealth and time to be on the side of justice, rather than siding with the oppressors.

One the other hand, we could not appreciate the frame of minds of those who discourage all activities other than joining protests. This is not a praiseworthy thought that one should involve in doing protests leaving all the other activities. Similarly it is needed to change the frame of mind of those who totally keep aloof from the protest.

Muslims should be very much cautious when taking any step as it is need of time. They should avoid reciting such poems that present the country's situation in an aggressive manner leading to provocations. Protests should be peaceful without provocative slogans, poems and incendiary speeches that inflame the passions of the common people, leading them to take unwarranted and aggressive actions.

Consequently, they may suffer problems that may extirpate the lives of the family members and of the entire community.

Furthermore, protests should not wean away Muslims from their primary duties such as offering salah in time and all other day-to-day activities. All situations—good and bad—are from Almighty Allah. So the primary duty of all is to beg Almighty Allah for forgiveness and do not relent in doing those commendable acts that can lessen or erase Allah's (swt) wrath on all the people.

In a nutshell, emotions need to be channeled with restraint. The current matter should be tackled with sane reasonableness. Practical considerations and political expediency should also be borne in mind while charting out short term and long term plans to present the misuse of law by the government.

The writer is teacher at MMERC, Mumbai