Three Political Stances of a Muslim

Updated: Oct 14, 2019

There are three political stances a Muslim can take on a given issue.


1) Quietism, avoid political matters altogether. That's fine when it's actually merely political matters, power, control, etc. But it begins to fail when politics intersects with oppression. At that point, it becomes a religious matter and requires some form of response, with the heart, tongue, or hand. That is up for dicussion. Merely hating something with the heart is sufficient. One does not always have to talk.


2) Decreasing Harm, which is the idea that if you can't stop something bad from happening, but you can soften the blow, you're obligated to do so. How to go about this is also up for discussion, especially since one often appears to be accepting of the oppression or even endorsing that ruler, but the appearance is not necessarily the reality. The condition would be to advise while not encouraging or endorsing anything haram.


3) Open Opposition. When you see someone, or a nation doing zulm, you openly declare your baraa' or distance or opposition to that action, policy, the person who did it, and everyone aiding and abetting. Openly and publicly. You do not rebel. You do not foment revolution, you just openly state your opposition and then be distant from them, never praising them or appearing to accept them. This is listed at the end of the Tahawiyya. And in the book, Prohibitions of the Tongue, one of the first sins listed is a comment that appears to praise or accept a tyrant.


We have in the Companions examples of this diversity. Sayyidna Anas was known to be in and out of the Umayyad palaces advising. Ibn 'Umar did not take a political stance, and Sayyidna al-Husayn was Open Opposition with the tongue first, then the hand.

Any group that only possesses one or two of these platforms will not be balanced and will foment frustration from within. Tasawwuf-oriented groups need to develop this third platform, because we lack it, and we are suffering from an imbalance, agitation, and very often Sufism is dismissed as a politically passive movement, where in fact, these political stances are debates of fiqh, not tasawwuf.


Further, it would be nice that just as people declare their madhhab in fiqh, declare your political platform. Defend it. Reveal its roots and basis. Discuss its pro's con's and limitations. Each of the three above stances have limitations. But it should be out there discussed and stated so that people know what to expect and therefore know how to interact.



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