CC ISSUE: APR 2012 Last updated: Apr 5, 2012
Illinois Muslim Action Day: A Reminder for Service
Ashraf M. Elessawy
The concept of civil “society” is the realm where citizens associate together on a voluntary basis in order to serve their common interests, ethical values, ideals and opinions, whatever these may be. The concept of society serving in Islam was presented in a few words from Prophet Muhammad, when he said, “The best among people is the most beneficial to them”—in other words, serve them.
Social service motivations and ideals are rooted in religious traditions and in the notion that serving the people is serving God. Here is an example of a companion of the Prophet who left the mosque and his worship to assist and help a person, remembering that the Prophet said, “It is better to assist a person than to stay in my mosque for a long period of time.” This only not emphasizes the importance of social and civic duties, but it clarifies an essential aspect of our religion apart from praying and fasting.
For years, Muslims in the U.S. have been serving and promoting social interests; however, some of these efforts were focused on charity and social development. Muslims now need to aim to influence legislation and policy, especially in areas such as human rights, gender equality, education, the environment, and a whole list of areas their religious faith promotes and supports (No, I am not talking about Shariah laws).
I was part of Illinois Muslim Action Day (IMAD) last year, an eye-opening experience; I hope that every Muslim in Illinois gets to go through a similar experience. We showed politicians that we “got numbers.” We showed the world that we work with partners from other faiths for the common good of our community. We met with lawmakers and expressed our requests and agenda. Young adults served as senate pages for the day (what a way to get them educated and involved in the process), and finally, before we left, we promised them that we will come back next year (insha’Allah).
It is time for us to participate more and more in education reform, in addressing issues in healthcare, unemployment, drugs, crimes, and Islamophobia. It is time for us to play a role in the decision-making process rather than be on the receiving end of it.
The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago is facilitating this through an amazing opportunity to do all the above. April 17 is the day that Springfield will witness a consistent effort to paint a beautiful picture of people who care, not only about their religious ideology, but about the society in which they live. So please join us in IMAD 2012. For more information, please visit www.ciogc.org.