I am writing this article in late August 2021. This year alone, we have globally witnessed: farmers’ strike in India, forcible evacuation of Palestinians from their own homes, the kidnapping of thousands of children in Nigeria, and the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. How many horrendous events have not reached this list? By the time this article has been edited, free of grammar errors and improper sentence structure, and ready to send to the printer, chances are, an editor or two will have reached out to me to update the aforementioned atrocity list. Grim, is it not?

          How are we to balance it all? How are we to think locally and act globally? How are we to balance mental and emotional well-being, personal goals and dreams, and obligations to self and others, all on top of social activism? Each day, news bulletins alert us of some new emergency, genocide, or civil uprising in another part of the world. It is difficult to enjoy our day-to-day lives with crimes against humanity taking place in the background. Not to mention the guilt of having ease while others have hardship, along with the guilt of not being able to do enough, or anything at all. So, this begs the question: do we need to deactivate activism?

          We often hear of the old adage, “all things in moderation.” Can this be said for social activism? May we enjoy our day-to-day routines without the pressure of attending rallies, signing petitions, and/or boycotting each and every product that supports war-funding corporations?

          Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) said, “Whosoever of you sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand; if he is not able to do so, then with his tongue; if he is not able to do so, then with his heart, and that is the weakest of faith.”[1] Muslims are social activists by doctrine. Allah[2] SWT[3] commands standing up in the face of evil and wrongdoing, being the voice of the voiceless, and the maintenance of a just and equitable society. Muslims must help everyone in need, irrespective of faith, class, gender, and more.

          What do we do when we turn on our televisions and see thousands of displaced people, demolished homes, and destroyed livelihoods and dreams? By the time we address one calamity, it seems a half dozen others arise. It is natural, and in fact, normal, to feel helpless. But, one must not be hopeless. Allah says in Surah At-Tawbah,[4] “The believers, men and women, are protectors, one of another: They enjoin what is just, forbid what is evil, observe regular prayers, practise regular charity, and obey Allah and His Messenger. On them, will Allah pour His Mercy: For Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise.”[5] From this beautiful ayah,[6] we may deduce other forms of social activism. Social activism includes prayer and charity. Being blessed with safety, we can send our prayers and donations to the oppressed locally and globally.

          I know the state of world affairs is distressing. I know you feel guilty, despondent, and helpless. I understand you may even feel afraid or ashamed about feeling these sentiments without being the one directly afflicted. Fear not. At the end of the day, as Muslims, we must remember Allah SWT tests us as He wills. So, while He is testing an individual with exile and hunger; perhaps, Allah wants you and I to show gratitude for our ease and do our parts by engaging in civic leadership and acts that will ease the plight of others on a local level. So, go easy on yourself and remember, it is okay to deactivate activism every now and then.

[1] Sahih Muslim, 49

[2] Allah: God.

[3] SWT: Subhanu Wa Tala / Glory be to Him.

[4] Surah At-Tawbah: ninth chapter (sūrah) of the Qur’an, titled ‘The Repentance.’

[5] The Qur’an 9:71

[6] Ayah: verse in the Qur’an.