Thursday, August 31, 2006

Message for Friday - Muslim Merchants Must be Ethical

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُونُوا قَوَّامِينَ بِالْقِسْطِ شُهَدَاءَ لِلَّهِ وَلَوْ عَلَى أَنْفُسِكُمْ أَوِ الْوَالِدَيْنِ وَالْأَقْرَبِينَ
القراان 4.135

Oh you who believe! Be upright, firm establishers of justice, witnesses for G’d even if it is against yourselves or your parents and close relationships.

With the current socio-political environment in America being hostile towards Muslims and Islam, it is important for the American Muslim community to not be in a perpetual reactionary mode. Indeed at times, being proactive is extremely difficult when being faced with an onslaught of harassment, negative media portrayals and irresponsible speech from the higher echelon of government.

Just as in all communities, there are a small percentage of criminals and people with mental disorders in the Muslim community. Denouncing criminality activity including terrorism has not been a problem for the Muslim community; criminality and terrorism is continuously condemned including the most recent kidnapping of two FOX journalists in Gaza.

The more difficult situation, however, comes when Muslims are obeying the laws of America, yet violating the ethics of Islam. This particular problem, which has been barely addressed or addressed in a lackluster manner by community leaders, relates to Muslim merchants that engage in the commerce of pornography, alcohol, gambling and pork products, which are forbidden to purchase, consume or sell in Islam.

In major metropolitan areas such as Chicago, New York and Oakland, a large percentage of the liquor stores are owned by Muslim merchants. In the case of Detroit, Muslims run the majority of gas stations in which items such as lottery tickets can be purchased. Muslim merchants engaged in such practices not only are doing a disservice to their own spiritual selves, but they also are doing a disservice to the neighborhoods in which they operate.

اعْدِلُوا هُوَ أَقْرَبُ لِلتَّقْوَى
القران 5.8

Be just! It is what is more close to piety.

The Muslim community has an obligation to speak out against such practices and to dissuade Muslim merchants in being involved in such commerce. To not address this situation yet be extremely eager to complain about the transgressions of others upon the community only furthers the arguments of critics that Muslims are only concerned when they are being oppressed, but are not vocal about the problems and disenfranchisement of others.
عدل ساعة خير من عبادة سنة
و رواه السرخسي في المبسوط
Justice in one hour (moment) is better than a year of ritualistic worship.

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