I have seen so many Muslim-Americans over the last 20 years fall into the trap of pursuing self-interests and narrow goals instead of looking after the prosperity of their society from an Islamic perspective. And sadly, I see this happening again this election season as we debate which candidate or issue to vote for.
Republicans are fighting to keep their turf in Georgia, while Democrats are trying to use popular discontent with the Republicans to get new seats. Muslims should not be reactionary. Historically, Muslims in any society have been only influential when they are engaged and positively contributing members of society.
I believe Georgia-Muslims must be laser-focused as a community on issues like justice-for-all, equality, reducing violence, employment, and true representation of our community in the public sphere. This community-based work lies in two primary areas. First, lobbying candidates and seated politicians to educate and exert influence in order to bring awareness to the significance of the issues mentioned earlier. Second, grooming and mentoring young Muslims from within our communities to be as successful politicians as they can, serving their faith as well as their society.
The current social and political environments created by President Donald Trump undermines the very institutions that have protected immigrants and minorities that make up most Muslim-Americans today. His recent policies have created divisions, incited violence and arguably contaminated the public debates with lies. So, I believe we must exercise our votes to ‘forbid what is wrong’ and be less concerned with self-serving short-term benefits and narrow goals.
Every Muslim-American needs civic education training, which today is full of gaps. Muslim citizens have to understand it is an integral part of their personal and collective development if they want to remain faithful to their principles and also become successful actors in their societies. I will take this idea further. Without civic education, a culture of debate and practical involvement, any individual – especially the young - may be drawn into ‘fashionable’ ideas or groups that lobby for or defend narrow special interests rather than putting forward policies based on our faith.
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