Absolute Justice remains elusive in our modern American democracy. Even as we memorialize this Black History Month, systemic injustice is hard at work. Attempts are being made to circumvent the voting rights of Black, brown, poor, and minority Americans. Since the 2020 election, Republican-led state legislators have passed more than 400 laws to constrain early voting and suppress ballot access of those whom they deem “unfit” to vote. This is alarming on many levels. Regardless of political persuasion, we must all agree that the hallmark of a democracy is the preservation of the voting franchise.
As we strive to move the US from a racialized country and towards “a more perfect Union,” Muslims, like other minorities, must engage in the struggle for social justice. Our Qur’anic principles enjoin our civic engagement and require that we participate in voting and the protection of voting rights. Allah enjoins us to assign the trust to those who are entitled (4:59) and to “judge with justice” (4:59).
At the close of the American Civil War, just months before the assassination of President Lincoln, the American hero Frederick Douglass gives a speech to an audience of abolitionists in Boston. Douglass frames the address with the affirmation, “What the Black Man Wants.” In his typically moving and fiery oratory, Douglass lays out a moving and compelling case for the right of Black Americans to vote. A centerpiece of his argument was that Blacks fought in the US Civil War primarily to change their status and end slavery. To that end, Black people had earned the right to vote. In Douglass’ view, Black people stood by the nation in its “time of trouble” and as such had earned full rights of citizenship.
It is a tragedy that in 2022 we too are still struggling in the cause for which Douglass was so heavily invested. As in 1865, the events of 2020 clearly demonstrated the power of Black voters at the polls. In the State of Georgia, Black and minority voters were the deciding factor in the outcome of two US senate races among other elections.
Our work this Black History Month should not be just talk and discussion. Muslims should prioritize their civic engagement for the protection of voting rights. We must register to vote and encourage others to do so. Absolute Justice depends on our actions.
This article was originally published on February 1, 2022 at muslimsunrise.com.
Last modified: February 2022