In this series, Shaykh Walead Mosaad speaks about defining social justice in the Islamic paradigm. Here, he and Ustadh Nazim Baksh discuss contextualising justice in the Muslim communities.
When the Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, began his mission in Mecca, the society was rift with tribalism, racism, and economic inequality. As he taught his people, he did so with a deep understanding of how they operated. This serves as an example for us, since we cannot have social change without deeply understanding the people that we aim to affect. Otherwise, what will follow will be a series of Band-Aid solutions which do not have a lasting impact.
The current paradigm is very much based on identity politics. In the long term, we may wish to upend the paradigm, because sincere Muslims do not fit into any of these boxes. Similarly, we cannot put others into boxes, because we lose the opportunity to engage with them.
In addition, we should take steps to realise and cement our identity, and be cautious about how our own principals may be warped and used against us. For example, in traditional Islamic teachings, the hijab was not termed as such. Guidelines on how to cover properly would be found in the fiqh books, in chapters with titles such as “covering one’s nakedness,” in the context of both men and women’s dress. It was not politicised or used as a spiritual status symbol. Nowadays, the rhetoric of hijab goes two ways: it is politicised in the Western world, and in the Islamic world, it is seen as something that only women of very high spiritual stations may wear.
About the Series
Social justice has been the focus in recent times of Muslim activists and communities. More often than not, the methods and objectives employed in Muslim social justice work has drawn from practices of other communities and traditions not necessarily rooted in Islamic principles. Does the Islamic tradition contain relevant principles that can be drawn upon to inform social justice work?