Article Op-Ed

I am a Muslim, and No, I am Not Signing Your Petition

I am a Muslim, and No, I am Not Signing Your Petition

Author Shahrukh Arif by

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A couple days ago, I, like most of you, was glued to my computer looking at news and I was trying to figure out what was going on with the Palestinian\Israeli situation. Like many of you, my first response was anger. And then I made the giant mistake of going on Facebook, which did nothing but increase my anger. I got angry because of all the Muslims who get angry only when it's the popular thing to do. Do they think protesting is actually going to help? Do really believe that signing an online petition is going to help? And then I started wondering to myself, will they be angry in a year, or 6 months, or even a week? Sadly, I already knew the answer to this question because we've watched this happen time and time again in our communities. The answer is No. No, they will not be angry in 6 months. No, they will not think about the greater picture. And more importantly, no they will not think about how the Muslim world is, at the minimum, partially responsible for the Palestinian situation.

Last week I went to a seminar on product management for work. One of the rules they taught us was, "Your opinion, although interesting, is irrelevant." That's what most Muslims need to realize. No one cares if you're protesting because you don't even know the names of the policy makers, the people supposedly meant to represent you. You don't donate to campaigns of people who have your best interest in mind. You are not in an influential position in society. All you did was vote for Obama, read an article, and now you think people should care about what you think. And then when you're done protesting, signing your petitions, and posting your Facebook statuses, you'll just go back to your normal everyday life. You won't realize how easy it would be for Allah to make you one of the people in Palestine, Pakistan, Burma, Somalia, Syria or the many other places in the world where Muslims are dying. You won't use this as motivation to be the best that you can be so that you can excel in society and have some real influence. You'll just go back to your life and stop caring again until the next big thing happens so that you can go angry again and pretend to care.

Well, I refuse to do that. By the will of Allah, I will excel. I will succeed and I will use my influence and money (inshallah) to make a positive impact. Because Allah put me here, in this position, for a reason. Because I would be dishonoring those dying around the world if I didn't use their death as motivation. Because I am tired of constantly being angry and feeling helpless. Because I am tired of crying while watching the news and watching my brothers and sisters being carted off in body bags, wondering why they were the ones to suffer while I live my cozy life. Because no one will care about my opinion until I give them a reason to care. So, I won't join you in your protest and I won't sign your petitions. Instead, I will go to work. I will get that promotion. I will volunteer my time to better the community as a whole. I will hire Muslims and I will become a leader. I will show people what Muslims are capable of. I will join a rotary club and other influential organizations where I can meet politicians and policy makers. I will do my best to show them a different perspective so that they can understand where I'm coming from and garner relationships so that I can start making a positive impact. So no, I won't join you in your protest or your petitioning. I will be busy at work, doing the best job that I can.

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