Question 10. What are IONA’s views about Muslim political activism in North America? Does IONA believe that Muslims participation in the electoral process is an exercise in futility?
Politics is an important arena in which North American Muslims can play a positive role. To be politically informed and active is both their right and duty as citizens of a democratic state. It is also a matter of their communal well-being. There is no doubt that Muslims in North America need to empower themselves. If Muslims are to survive and prosper in this part of the world, they need to have their voices heard in the echelons of power so that decisions affecting them are not made without their support and approval. This is particularly important in view of the prevalence of negative stereotypes of Muslims and the rapid erosion of their civil liberties in recent years. Similarly, if North American Muslims are concerned about the plight of their brothers and sisters in other parts of the world and are interested in influencing the foreign policies of their own countries in a positive way, they must actively participate in politics.
Having acknowledged the importance of a well-informed and politically active Muslim community in North America, we wish to point out that this is not one of the goals that IONA wishes to pursue itself. While IONA does not oppose Muslim participation in North American electoral politics, it has chosen not to take this route itself. This decision stems from the very nature of IONA's comprehensive methodology. The latter aims at the revival and renaissance of the Islamic civilization by facilitating the fulfillment of our divinely ordained obligations in accordance with the approach taken by the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), as discussed in more detail elsewhere in this website.
While IONA does not believe that participation in the electoral process will necessarily serve the cause of Islam, in reference to its own vision of what that cause entails, this stance does not indicate that IONA is indifferent to political matters. Indeed, the Qur’an has made it incumbent upon Muslims to “command what is good and forbid what is evil.” Muslims are required by their faith to stand up for justice as witnesses for Allah (SWT), regardless of who they have to criticize in order to fulfill this obligation. A community that aspires to stand up for justice cannot ignore the realm where the worst injustices take place, and where the tools for establishing justice are also found. However, IONA believes that, in the unique social context of North America, political participation in the conventional sense is not the best way of influencing the affairs of the world in accordance with Islamic ideals and values. Instead, IONA's long-term strategy is to educate and organize at the level of civil society.