The general presentation in part I, together with the social message of Islam provides the framework and direction that should inspire the commitment of Muslim citizens in the West. Here we shall put forward five points that should take priority in our consideration so that the way can be opened up for relevant and coherent thinking and action on the social level: the idea of moral responsibility, defense of rights, solidarity, partnerships, and, finally, common projects.
Muslims who want to remain faithful to their Islamic terms of reference and who, as members of Western societies, are set completely apart, are called to develop civic awareness founded on their sense of moral responsibility. The “way of faithfulnes,” in the sense we have given to the concept of Sharia, clearly establishes ideals that must be aimed at and that are universal, as we have just seen in the presentation of the social message of Islam. Social commitment is a moral commandment, and reform is an obligation of conscience that, in the mind of the Muslim citizen, determines a “moral responsibility.” It is important to state here that, when we refer to the “social” we begin not by formulating a list of rights but by describing a state of mind formed by a sense of responsibility. As we have said, the whole of Islamic teaching is based on this order of priorities: an awareness of responsibility by each person is the only way to protect the rights of all.
So, the first stone in the edifice of social action is laid at the individual level. The way one lives, consumes, spends, treats one’s neighbors, votes or not, and serves one’s fellows is within the order of social action. Many citizens are surprised to see the energy put into Islamic associations by their members, and their concern to commit themselves, to serve, to “promote what is good” and “reform what is bad” and to labor for justice and solidarity. They are particularly surprised to see them encouraging their coreligionists to vote because it is a “duty,” which is something that has appeared in print in leaflets and brochures produced by Muslim associations in Britain, France, and the United States. Some see this as a disguised form of proselytism, others as an unfortunate confusion between religion and politics, and yet others as the promotion of an ethnic approach to politics. Even if some association, or some of its members, may actually show signs of these dangerous attitudes, the reasons for this movement should be perceived differently and at a deeper level: Muslim morality is entirely based on awareness of one’s responsibility before the Creator and among humankind. To be with the One is to serve one’s fellows. In the Muslim mind, this is the root of the idea that Muslims have a mission of social reform to accomplish, wherever they are, in their society, with their fellow-citizens. There is a great difference between social mission and missionary activity that seeks to make converts: the first is a human obligation, but the second (converting people) is the province of God, who alone holds the key to people’s hearts.