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March 23, 2011

Friday: The day Muslims call for democracy, liberality and social justice

Dr. Mohamed Elmasry

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Islam demands from its adherents to work hard for the cause of justice and considers that work a life-long religious duty and a moral virtue. The Qur'an reiterates that principle hundreds of times and the Prophet's tradition and practice both have volumes of examples.

Muslims trying to live according to the teaching of Islam consider advancing the cause of justice, including saying no to tyrants and yes to democracy, liberty, and social justice, to be a duty of the first order.

The Prophet says, “There are seven categories of people whom God will shelter under His shade on the Day when there will be no shade except His.  [One is] a just leader.”

The recent peoples’ revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt are success stories when Muslims led the way to achieve justice as a holistic value. That included the call for democracy, liberty and social justice.

Related to the call for democracy was the call to establish a modern secular state modeled on the example of Turkey. Free elections and the freedom to form political parties were called for as two prerequisites. The call was also for a state which advances the cause of social justice and has zero tolerance to corruption. A state which respects human rights and upholds the law of the land where every accused has the right to be judged fairly in a court of law.

The Qur’an states that one of the main jobs of God’s messengers was to teach that believers must work to establish justice as a universal value: “We sent Our Messengers with clear evidence, and sent with them the Book and the Balance so that people would establish justice…” (Quran 57:25).

And the Qur’an teaches that being a God-like is to work for justice: “…Be just, for it is closest to God-consciousness…” (Quran 5:8) and “God commands justice” (Quran 16:90).

The Qur’an also calls on believers to be just even if that hurts their loved ones or even themselves:

“O you who believe!  Stand up firmly for justice and be witnesses for God, even if it is against yourselves, your parents, and your relatives, or whether it is against the rich or the poor...” (Quran 4:135).

According to another Quranic passage: “Let not the hatred of a people swerves you away from justice.  Be just, for this is closest to righteousness…” (Quran 5:8).

Friday was the day chosen by revolutionaries in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen to call for millions to go to the streets to say no to tyrants and yes to justice.

The choice of Friday was not religiously based but was selected as it is a day off. Moreover, the time and the place were both practically chosen: the time was after the Friday congregational prayers and the place was at a mosque near you.

It is also interesting to note that both the tyrants of Tunisia and Egypt were both forced by the popular revolutions to leave their posts on a Friday; Tunisia’s Zine El Abidine on Friday January 14, 2011 and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak on Friday February 11, 2011.

And we may soon witness on a coming Friday the departure of Muammar Gaddafi of Libya and Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen. Say Amen!

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