Islamic Liberation Theology – Faith Against Imperialism

by Osama Mor

The way forward for Muslims in the US is not to assimilate into this or that state institution; not for a Muslim to become a cop, a soldier, or a Senator – for not only are the roots of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim violence not targeted this way, this approach disassociates our liberation from the liberation of the struggling people living here and around the world.

For a Muslim to be a cop means that they’ll carry out violence against people of color on behalf of the state, and for a Muslim to become a soldier means that they’ll export imperialism overseas and maintain it with brutal violence (against Muslims as well). To have this assimilation recognized and applauded by liberals – who simultaneously promote and spearhead capitalist imperialism in the Muslim world – is worth nothing.

The only straight path is to stand in solidarity and struggle alongside the marginalized and oppressed peoples of this colonized land. If Islam is for all, then we must commit ourselves to a political praxis which refuses to define religion solely in terms of individual struggle, but also in terms of collective liberation. We must practice liberation theology.

The core of Islamic liberation theology is the joint struggle and solidarity preached and practiced by Muslim revolutionaries and, in particular, the Muslim South African liberation movements under the apartheid regime. When the apartheid regime offered Muslims freedom of worship, it was in return for their complicity with the apartheid system. Muslim activists in South Africa preferred to organize against apartheid, sacrificing their right to free worship, and practiced solidarity with the native black South Africans. Do we Muslims in the US embrace such revolutionary fervor? How far are we willing to go to put our faith into practice?

We are Muslims first before we are imperial citizens.

“Do you know what the rights of neighbors are?” asked the noble Prophet. And he went on to give a list:
Help him if he asks for your help. Give him relief if he seeks your relief. Lend him if he needs a loan. Show him concern if he is distressed. Nurse him when he is ill. Attend his funeral when he dies. Congratulate him if he meets any good. Sympathize with him if any calamity befalls him. Do not block his air by raising your building high without his permission. Harass him not. Give him a share when you buy fruits, and if you do not give him, bring what you buy quietly and let not your children take them out to excite the jealousy of his children.” (Bukhari & Muslim)

“O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted.” (4:135)

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