Islamic Perspective on Protests and Demonstrations

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By Mufti Zubair Bayat

Question:

Is it permissible to join protest marches, burn effigies of opposition leaders, burn flags of other countries, hold rallies in support of oppressed people of Palestine, Kashmir, etc. At many of these rallies, there is music, intermingling, missing of Salāts, blocking of roads, thus inconveniencing people in their daily movement, vandalism, coercion, etc. From an Islamic perspective, is it permitted for Muslims to indulge in these or not? Kindly reply urgently. May Allah reward you.

Answer:

Expressing solidarity and support for oppressed people in any part of the world is a noble act, more so if the oppressed happen to be Muslims. Allah is Just and He has made oppression Harām for Himself, so how would He ever allow it for another?

Islam imbues Muslims with a keen sense of love for justice and hatred for injustice. The Muslim therefore instinctively identifies with the suffering of an oppressed people or nation. The Qur’an and Hadith [are] replete with injunctions on this subject.

In today’s world, the mode of expressing indignation and outrage against oppression assumes many forms. Among these is the practice of holding demonstrations, protest marches, rallies, vigils, and so forth. Some of the primary objectives of adopting these modes of protest [are]:

  • to convey to the oppressed people one’s solidarity with them;
  • to draw the attention of the world towards their suffering;
  • to embarrass the oppressor and to swing international public opinion against them.

In a world that keenly tracks news events, the international media gives extensive coverage to events of this nature and thus, maximum exposure is gained to the strategic advantage of the oppressed.

For a Muslim to express detestation for injustice and solidarity with the oppressed in the form of protest marches, etc. is allowed. Mawlana Ashraf Ali al-Thanawi (ra) has deemed these to be mubah (permissible) acts [refer to Hakimul-Ummat ke Siyasi Afkaar by Mufti Taqi Usmani, p.60]. In a recent ruling, the eminent scholar, Mufti Taqi Usmani has also intimated that if the demonstration was not for any impermissible cause then [the demonstration] is permissible.

However, all mubah (permissible) matters are governed by certain provisions or regulations of Shari’ah (Islamic Law). So long as these regulations are adhered to, there is no issue. If these regulations are ignored, then a mubah act will be rendered impermissible and may in fact itself become an act of transgression and sin, akin to oppression. A Muslim is always motivated by the desire to seek Allah’s pleasure in all that he does and will not transgress or violate His orders in the process of attempting to perform a mubah deed.

Among some of the matters that need to be considered by the organizers and participants of these activities [are] the following:

  • They shall not be accompanied by any Harām activity such as violence, disrupting the peace, vandalism, coercion of unwilling people to participate by threats …read moreSource: Ilmgate

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