How often do you find yourselves watching the news or scrolling through your newsfeed, thinking ‘what is happening to the world?’ as nothing but images of bloodshed dominate all of your social media outlets. You may feel a certain type of weakness within you as your we ask yourself ‘is there anything I can even do?’ It is at this point where we underestimate our potential, power, and magnanimity.
Living in the 21st century where social media dominates most of our lives, we have the ability to raise awareness to hundreds, if not thousands of people about issues that are not given enough emphasis in the mainstream media. Yet unfortunately, many of us often get distracted by other current events. An example of this is the case of Sheikh Al-Nimr, a Shi’a scholar in Saudi Arabia who was sentenced to execution in October 2014, having already spent over 700 days in solitary confinement, for simply demanding basic human rights for minorities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Yet the news that was trending all over social media was regarding Khloe Kardashian and French Montana’s relationship; it is a sad reality that news of celebrity break-ups and pregnancies are given more attention than individuals yearning for basic human rights in our society. We allow ourselves to get distracted, dwell into the superficial lives of celebrities, and be apathetic to things that impact us and the world we live in.
One of the greatest obstacles we face in our lives today is worldly attachment; it is through the attachment of materialism that we fail to recognise our duties, especially living in the West. It is because of our worldly attachments that our self-purification is hindered. We inflict this injustice upon ourselves as our foundation of spiritual perfection begins to disintegrate in the sense that we are no longer fully able to distinguish between right and wrong. However, the beauty of our religion is that everything has been outlined beautifully, Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an: “And whosoever keepeth his duty to God, He will appoint a way out for him, and will provide for him (a quarter) whence he hath no expectation” [65:2-3]. By fulfilling our responsibilities- in this case being the voices for the voiceless, we will be blessed abundantly by our Creator.
Furthermore, we also have our easily accessible social media platforms to express ourselves, raise awareness, and discuss key issues that we’re witnessing in our society. As a community, we need to collectively recognise our responsibilities, as our brothers and sisters are being mercilessly killed and persecuted in Burma, Pakistan, Iraq, Bahrain etc. Now more than ever, we need to break the silence of ignorance and be the voice for our powerless brethren.
It is also important to address the common misconception in some cultures that women should not participate in public demonstrations or protests. It is critical to realise that the voice of a female is indeed powerful, for it was the cries of the mothers in Quetta (Pakistan) in 2012 that shook the world globally, as the stance they took by refusing to bury their families is what started the vigils globally. It was Malala Yousafzai who stood for female education, despite death threats and being shot with a bullet to her head by a Taliban gunman in 2012. When it comes to speaking for the oppressed, we have lessons from our Holy Prophet [pbuh] and his progeny. The eloquent granddaughter of Prophet Mohammed [pbuh], Zainab, spoke to the tyrant of her time, Yazid, addressing him powerfully, and asserting authority through the power of her voice – and her valour is something we should all look up to. It is through Lady Zainab’s sermon that we understand how significant our role in today’s society is.
We need to re-evaluate our priorities in order to make a difference. How many more innocent lives need to be stolen? How many more mothers do we need to see bury their children? What will it take for us to realise that our silence is consent? Most importantly we shouldn’t feel that we have to be a political analyst or specialize in the field of politics to be able to make a comment. Each and every one of us has the ability to make a difference, and the sooner we understand this the better off society will be.
by Afreen Rizvi