Praise is to Allah and may the salutations of Allah the Almighty be upon His Prophet. The purpose of this ruling is to provide clarity for Muslims going out in the streets and peacefully protesting or demonstrating their angst or opposition against oppression of Black people in the United States. There have been a couple of rulings they have popped up, prohibiting American Muslims from participating and or supporting these demonstrations. Additionally, I myself have discounted in a past statement or two, the effectiveness of these protests which have now gone global. Some may have mis-interpreted my statement as a ruling. On a personal level I’ve never been a street protest kind of guy. I tend not to like big crowds and parking can be a nightmare. That’s me. Nevertheless, the ruling below may shed some light on the matter for inquiring minds. Wal Allahul Musta’aan.
Racism is a scourge upon the land. It is an abomination and anywhere it is found it is oppressive. At it’s very least it is oppressive to the soul because it supposes that one person is better than the other simply because of the color of his or her skin. Or it’s an expression or harbor thought of hatred or disdain for person simply because the color of his or her skin about which they have had no control. Skin color is determined by genetics, and by the decree of the almighty God be exalted and glorified. “It is he Who fashions you in the womb however He wishes”.
Racism at his school core is oppression of the soul, at it’s worse is expressed by oppression against people, violence and killing a person simply because of their color. In each case it is oppression. The Islamic ruling about oppression in general is that oppression is expressly prohibited. The Islamic ruling about racial oppression is that is it even more prohibited. Anyone who believes that one person is better or more beloved of God than the other person simply because of the color of their skin, or their race is considered to be a heretic after they have been given clear evidence from our scriptures (Quran and Sunnah).
The Islamic Ruling on peaceful demonstrations against racism:
Peacefully demonstrating, protesting and marching against racism and racial injustice is permissible according to the scriptural and moral laws of Islam. Such acts, based up the intention of the individual, constitute a righteous deed (amal saalih).
The proofs (daleel) for the ruling is that such protests fall into three categories:
The first category.
The first category: falls into their arena of enjoying good and forbidding evil (al-amr bil ma’roof wa nahy en al-munkar).
“Let there be amongst you a group (of people) calling to a good and enjoining the good and forbidding the evil”. [3:104 Quran]. Fair treatment of people is good because Allah commands it; “And when you judge between people, judge in fairness” [4:58, Quran]. And oppression against people is bad because Allah forbids it: in the hadith of Abu Tharr al-Ghaffaari, the Prophet (SAWS) said about Allah that He said; “Verily I have forbidden oppression upon myself, and I have made it amongst you prohibited” [Muslim].
The second category:
The second category falls into arena of making open testimony, or bearing witness (shahaadah); “And in this manner we have made you a righteous community so that she would bear witness over the people and so that the Messenger would be a bear of witness over you.” Demonstrations, rallies, and marches for a cause are considered public testimony and bearings of witness (mashaahid).
The third category:
The third category represents the supplication of the oppressed, about which there is no screen between it, and between Allah. The Prophet (SAWS) said in this matter; “Beware of the pleas of the oppressed, for verily there is no screen (hijab) between in, and between Allah. It also involves the seeking of rights (huqooq) that are justly and legitimately due. The seeking of rights that are legitimately due is permissible by consensus of Muslim scholar’s past and present. Hind, the wife of Abu Sufyan, came to the Prophet (SAWS) seeking her right of maintenance from her husband, and the Prophet (SAWS) obliged her.
Nonviolently demonstrating in the streets, protests, rallies, and marches for racial justice for Black Americans and against racial injustice, is permissible for a Muslim, and Allah knows best.
Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad
Imam Luqman Ahmad is an associate Imam and resident scholar at the Toledo Masjid al-Islam in Toledo Ohio. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org