Friday, October 8, 2010

Stand up. Speak out.

In response to the several suicides in recent weeks by young gay teenagers, I feel compelled to remind the Muslim community of our responsibilities as Muslims and as human beings. While Islam's position on the impermissibility of homosexual acts is quite clear, this does not mean that we should turn a blind eye to those individuals who are being oppressed. These young men who took their lives did so at least partially because of the ongoing bullying, harassment, and violence they faced at school.

"You should kill yourself."
"You should go away."
"Who cares about you?"

I cannot even fathom the level of emotional and psychological abuse that these young men were forced to experience. No one was there to stand up for them.

As Muslims, we are obligated to speak out against all forms oppression and do everything we can to prevent tragic events like this from happening. Prophet Muhammad (saws) is reported to have said:

A person should help his brother, whether he is an oppressor or is being oppressed. If he is the oppressor, he should prevent him from continuing his oppression, for that is helping him. If he is being oppressed, he should be helped to stop the oppression against him. [Bukhari, Muslim]

This hadith implies that regardless of whether we are coming to the aid of the oppressed or the oppressor, we are putting an end to oppression. We have to. Many people think that by doing nothing and remaining neutral they are avoiding the consequences of taking any actions. But the truth is that Allah has made it mandatory for us to do something. When we are called upon on the Day of Judgment and Allah asks us what we did when our brother or sister was being ridiculed, harassed, or physical abused right in front of our faces, how will we respond? Will our answer be to our benefit or to our detriment?

Those of us who have been blessed with the ability to speak out must do so for the people who do not have a voice. Let us be there to support those individuals who truly need our help and stop judging others when it is truly Allah who is the sole Judge. Let us be those people in our communities to whom oppressed individuals can turn because they know that we will defend their rights. And, if nothing else, let us be friends and companions for those who face difficult situations to remind them that there is at least one person who cares about them.

This world needs more people who stand up for the rights of others. We have to be these people.

May Allah make us better Muslims by giving us the courage to raise our voices against oppression on behalf of the people who cannot do so.