4. Against injustice, for justice
The battle against injustice does not automatically achieve the promotion of justice. There is a long road between the intellectual, spiritual and emotional nature of the former and the requirements of the latter.
In all societies, in Africa, in America, in Asia or in Europe, we see Muslim citizens mobilizing, with their fellow citizens, against injustice, oppression, racism, Islamophobia, exploitation, destruction of the planet, etc. They make themselves heard, create alliances, take to the streets … they shout out loud their refusal, their exasperation, their anger. They are not alone in the opposition: Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Christians, atheists, environmentalists, feminists, anti-racist organizations, LGBT movements are also present and share certain demands, whether general or particular. Struggles “against” make collaborations easier, more immediately obvious: we feel “united”, strong … in motion.
However, the battle against injustice (the necessary reaction) must be integrated into a – constructed, thought out, elaborated and clear – conception of the objectives of engagement as well as the action’s higher ends. Otherwise, the agitated reaction is in fact nothing but an illusion with regards to the action’s supposed outcome, and the capacity to really change things. We believe we are strong by opposing/denouncing, while we are very weak in proposing.
Let us remember. When the message of Islam unfolded in history, according to revelations, it was a call of conscience, the deepening of a faith, the development of a conception for mankind and the world. The path to reform oneself and societies is clear and bright, and the five pillars of Islam (the foundations, which make solid and balanced whoever follows the path, the Way) are nourished by the commitment “for”, not the reaction “against”. One attests to the truth of the One/Unique and his Messenger, his conscience and his heart; we pray for God and the call; we give zakat for the sake of God and for the poor; we fast for God, to empathise with the most vulnerable; we make the pilgrimage for God and to experience the egalitarian union of believers.
Along the path, there will inevitably be obstacles: our ego, forgetfulness, arrogance, injustice, rejection, racism, Islamophobia, etc. These pitfalls, these oppositions, have three functions: to know evil in order to identify it and not to get lost in it; to resist human deviations and to reform societies; renew our faith and our intentions according to our daily commitment. The worst would be to end up taking this resistance against obstacles as representing the objective of our commitment, to confuse reaction and action, means and ends, opposition and proposition. Spiritually, this confusion is close to “shirk”, associationism: forgetting the ultimate end which is God, His love, peace, equality between all human beings and their non-negotiable freedom, and getting lost in adulating oppositions and the cult of the means. Like someone who ends up worshiping knowledge and prayer when worship is due only to the One, in the quest for useful knowledge and sincere prayer (as means).
Let us remember again. When he arrived in Medina, and at the very moment when he was welcomed into this new society, the Prophet (PBUH) reminded everyone to: “Spread peace, establish family ties, give food to the poor, pray during the night, you will enter paradise in peace.” The ultimate objective is drawn (peace in the light of Peace which is God), and the means are clear (prayer for conscience and the heart, fraternity and solidarity between oneself and fellow humans). The path is outlined. So he reformed the rules of the unfair trade which prevailed in the markets of Medina; he resisted tribalism and racism by establishing the pact of the brotherhood of believers; he integrated all communities (Jewish, Christian, etc.) into the plural and egalitarian ummah of the city. And so forth. The consciousness and belief in the objectives always dictate the means. Never the other way around.
His strength was not the noisy agitation of his opposition and resistance, but the serene, confident and courageous consciousness of his objectives. The strength of the Message and the Prophet (PBUH) was in the creative proposition, not in the demanding/protesting opposition.
Beyond our resistance, beyond our noisy mobilizations or simplistic responses which invite us to simplify life and the world, or to flee them, with the “satisfaction of the chosen”, but without the courage of faith nor the humility of conscience … “beyond…”, therefore, what do we have to propose, to offer, to give, to share? A Way, a project, a hope, rather than complaints, condamnations and dismissals?