ITMR does not necessarily agree or disagree with the author's standpoint. This article has been featured so we consider all points of view.
In my opinion, American Muslims must participate in American Politics. That question is settled. Islam does not advocate a separation of religion from public life, and staying away from politics on Islamic grounds creates a separation between religion and politics; therefore, it is not permissible in Islam.
However, as Muslims, we must be very careful about how we choose to participate. We cannot act as just another ethnic group with special interests, like Jewish or Cuban Americans - particularly when it comes to foreign policy. We must seek change, not only in how the U.S. deals with Muslims overseas, but also in the manner that American society is evolving. After all, we live here and our children are growing up here, so we must work as hard as possible to make it morally safe and materially satisfying for them.
Muslims should therefore enter politics as a normative segment of our society participating in order to enhance the good and forbid evil. We should take a moral high ground, avoid partisanship, and with our votes and our checkbooks, financially as well as politically support candidates for public offices and officeholders who are also seeking morally positive change - whether they be Democrats or Republicans.
We must become the conscience of America - its inner moral voice; only then can we protect our lives within the boundaries of Islam, and ensure an Islamic future for our children and their children.
Muslims can participate at several levels. I dream that Muslims will be nominated some day for the U.S. Presidency by all the parties, but until then we can make a difference - first, by educating ourselves. We should find out what issues are driving the elections. Do these issues affect Muslims here and overseas?
We can write letters to the candidates and call their local representatives to demand that Muslim issues be addressed in their manifestos. We should volunteer to campaign within and without our community for those candidates that best represent our perspective, values and issues.
We must become known. Let America know that we as Muslims are here and we care about our shared future. We should avoid wasting our time and resources to argue with those who call political activities "Kufar." Particularly, we should avoid the "Khilafa junkies." All they do is subvert the activities of Muslims who are trying to make a change.
We can write letters to the editors of our local newspapers and send e-mails to CNN, MSNBC, etc. to express Muslim concerns, and our opinions of candidates and their positions.
America politics is, at once, simple as well as very complex. The domination by the Democratic and Republican parties simplifies the ideological spectrum. If you are on the right, you go with the Grand Old Party (GOP), and if you are on the left, you go with the Democrats.
As Muslims, we can be on both sides of the spectrum. Remember Amir Muawiyyah (RAH) - he was very much on the right. And remember Abu Dharr (RAH) - he was very much on the left.
However, the freedom that politicians enjoy to vote their conscience, while making the matter interesting, brings complexity and unpredictability to the system. To navigate through this unpredictability, we must not only closely follow the issues; we must follow the records of politicians too.
The good news is that the deliberation over policy issues has become more and more publicized and inclusive. Candidates participate in literally hundreds of town meetings to present their views and hear from the public. We as Muslims must go to these meetings and participate. Let the candidates hear our concerns. Most importantly, we must let them know that we are there and that we are as powerful as any other American. We must exercise our political rights and demand that they accommodate our needs and interests.