*An essay from Imam Zaid Shakir’s book “Where I’m Coming From”.
“The uprising of righteous souls will not be that of frenzied mobs descending into the streets. It will be the rising up of committed believers from the sweetness of sleep in the privacy of their homes, to stand before their Lord in deep devotion. That uprising will not begin during the day, nor will it be played out before flashing lights and cameras. It will begin during the night before the watchful gaze of God.
The feet of its soldiers will not be clad in boots smashing against pavement. Their feet will be bare, caressing carpets, straw mats or clammy cement, supporting hearts tearfully beseeching their Lord, evoking His Grace, seeking His Succor, acknowledging their faults and limitations and seeking their strength through Him.
When they emerge into the light of day they themselves will be the light that a dark world is seeking. They will be teachers not preachers. Their message will be ancient for it will be a rearticulating of the prophetic teachings– as reiterated in the Qur’an:
- Do not join partners with God in worship for doing so is an unforgiveable sin (4:48)
- Make God the ultimate object of your love, for doing so is a sign of true faith (2:165, 9:24)
- Do not commit murder or take innocent lives, for doing so is a crime that has unfathomable implications (25:68, 17:33)
- Uphold the dignity of all humans, for it is a gift from God (17:70)
- Work against corrupt, unethical business practices for they are condemned by God (26:181-183, 83:1-3)
- Feed the hungry for it wards off Hell and is a manifestation of lofty religiousness (74:44, 90:14-16)
- Assist the needy, for they have a right in our wealth (51:19, 70:24-25)
- Be loving and merciful to your spouse for it is a Sign of God (30:21)
- Do not oppress anyone, for God hates oppressors (3:57, 3:140, 42:40)
- Do not fornicate for it is a grave abomination and a source of a severe otherworldly punishment (25:68)
- Do not corrupt the earth and disrupt the natural balance governing worldly ecosystems for doing so brings about devastating consequences (33:41, 55:6-15)
- In all things follow the example of the Noble Prophet for ir is a key to salvation (33:21)
- If tested with warfare do not violate the rules of engagement established by God, for victory only comes from God, not from lowly, treacherous tactics. (2:177, 3:126)
These forces will bring life to morally and spiritually dead societies for they themselves have been revivified by the life-giving message of Islam: “O Believers! Respond to God and the Messenger when they invite you to what gives life” (8:24). Their existence will be defined by purpose as they strive to embody the message of faith translated in lives of devotion. The lives and souls of others they touch will be quickened with those same realities.
This is the basis of the good life and the foundation of a community of virtue and service. This is the foundation of meaningful and lasting social reform. It is on this basis that we can hope for the emergence of a community of truth whose light cannot be hidden or diminished by any amount of distortion and defamation. Let each and every one of us commit ourselves to being part of that community. God is calling us and history is echoing His call. Who among us is ready to respond?”