Home / Religion / Boycotting for Justice
boycotting_justice_syed

Boycotting for Justice

Unless we live under a rock, there are alternatives to everything that is boycotted. For example, drink Caribou Coffee instead of Starbucks, buy Walgreens-brand baby products instead of Johnson & Johnson, eat Hershey’s chocolate instead of Nestle, drink Ovaltine instead of Milo, buy an iPhone or LG instead of a Nokia or Motorola, and find a new make-up company other than Revlon, L’Oreal, and Estee Lauder.

Remember the time when joining hands in murdering innocent people seemed atrocious? The time when “To kill one soul is as though you have killed the whole of humanity” of the Holy Qur’an actually meant something to most of us? Just in case we haven’t already realized, the time when we actually cared for the lives of our fellow brothers and sisters in Islam and humanity seems like ancient history now.

Why? Because these days, cutting off the water and food supply of innocent civilians, bulldozing down their houses, bombing their hospitals and schools, shooting at them with machine guns, murdering entire families and directing perfectly-targeted bullets in the chests of innocent babies in Gaza (amongst numerous other places) is habitually supported by Muslims today, particularly those living in the West.

It has been decades since prominent Muslim scholars issued rulings on this matter, which once felt seemingly obvious. Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Sistani has ruled that “it is not permissible for a Muslim to buy products of the countries that are in a state of war with Islam and Muslims, for example, Israel.” (A Code of Practice for Muslims in the West) Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei also deems the purchase of “any item which helps strengthen Zionism” to be impermissible. (Practical Laws of Islam)

The war in Gaza last year resulted in the murder of over 1400 Palestinian citizens who just wanted to quietly get on with their lives, approximately 40 percent of them women and children. In contrast, fewer than 15 Israeli soldiers – not women or innocent children – lost their lives. If we do the math, that’s approximately 10,000 percent more Palestinians killed than involved Israeli soldiers. The justice? There is none.

Despite the knowledge of this horrifying reality reaching almost every individual in the world, we continue to support those nations which take pride in the unwarranted death of the people of Palestine by purchasing and selling their products. We financially support the genocide which is taking place in this day and age almost effortlessly. An example of how a “boycotted company purchase” has a ripple effect, leading to the oppression of innocent civilians and believers of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his progeny):

Ahmed purchases a take-away meal which comes with a Coca Cola company beverage. Part of Ahmed’s payment covers the cost of the Coca Cola. The cost of the beverage is taken from Ahmed and paid by the take-away to the Coca Cola Company. The Coca Cola Company uses part of Ahmed’s money to pay for the production of the Coca Cola, and the remainder is revenue. Part of that revenue is then donated as “charity” to Zionist organizations or Israeli settlements or military organizations. Therefore, when tracked, the Coca Cola-donated money is in fact used by the oppressive Zionist regime to further its destruction of the people of Palestine and claim what it believes is “rightfully and divinely” theirs. In effect, by buying the Coca Cola beverage, Ahmed has financially contributed to the barbaric Zionist movement in Israel and its killings.

But Ahmed is not the only one. Most of us knowingly support the destruction of Palestine. And we show absolutely no remorse. If that’s not enough to convince us to stop our un-Islamic and careless ways, perhaps viewing things from another perspective will help us improve and become better believers.

Based on a narration from Imam Ali al-Ridha (peace be upon him), Ayatollah Dastghaib Shirazi has listed “helping the oppressors and bending (leaning) towards them” as the 27th greater sin in his book Greater Sins. For those of us who resent the boycott, news flash! We are not only committing a great sin, we are also helping the oppressors! In regards to the helpers of oppressors, the Messenger of Allah has said “On the Night of Ascension (Mi’raj), I saw the following inscription on the doors of Hell: Do not be a helper of the oppressors.” While we must thank the doors of hell for warning people of the sins which will land us in the God-forsaken hot spot, what would be wiser is for us to actually act upon this narration of the Holy Prophet.

Furthermore in Nahjul Balagha, Imam Ali (peace be upon him) has said, “Nothing is more inducive of the reversal of Allah’s bounty or for hastening of His retribution than continuance in oppression, because Allah hears the prayer of the oppressed and is on the look-out for the oppressors.”

Who would have thought buying a Nestle chocolate bar would be committing a major sin, and the negative du’as of the oppressed ones would be directed towards us, as aiders of oppressors? It’s shocking but it’s true.

Yet the sad reality is that when the boycotting activists in the community attempt to educate others and set out on their Amr Bil Maruf and Nahi Anil Munkar missions, the following baseless arguments are put forward by Muslims detailing why they do not support the boycott against oppression:

It’s all a conspiracy theory some bored Muslims came up with

The real theory: YOU are in denial! Visit the Boycott Israel website for detailed information on how each company supports the mass murder of innocent Palestinians. Just because we can’t come to terms with the fact that we’re going to finally have to give up McDonald’s, it doesn’t mean we need to throw tantrums and make up all sorts of nonsense about the boycott. Honestly, halal Burger King really isn’t that bad!

Business is business

To those dedicated business men and women in our communities who won’t stop buying and selling the boycotted products, because “business is business”, similarly, the equation also states: “hell is hell”. How hard is it to make the switch from serving Coca Cola to another brand of soft drink at your fully owned restaurant? Imam Ali has said: “No business should hinder you from being busy doing good for the coming world; hence, surely, the length of opportunity is a very short time.” Surely all logical business people care about the long-term success of their businesses. Likewise, let’s think about things in the long-run: our final destination when we reunite with Allah.

Why should I boycott if Muslim countries all over the world sell these products too?

It is unfortunate that most if not all Muslim nations don’t boycott, and this more or less has to do with the fact that there is no awareness that they are supporting the Israeli apartheid. However, the Holy Prophet said: “To prevent a Muslim from doing an unlawful action is equivalent with Allah to the performance of seventy accepted Hajj.” (A Bundle of Flowers) This can’t get any better! While boycotting we can earn ourselves dozens of Hajj rewards by informing our Muslim brother and sisters in other parts of the world about this obligatory boycott!

People will think I’m weird!

Islamic self-confidence, people! It’s time to stop worrying about what others think of us, and time to be concerned about what the Almighty thinks of us. Prophet Muhammad has said: “Do not look at the minuteness of the sin, but look at Whom you have sinned against.” If we realize that the One whom we are sinning against is the Lord of the heavens and the earth, we should be willing to do anything and everything which He has made obligatory upon us, even if it means being “embarrassed” in front of every other being in the world. The chances are that once we explain to Muslims and non-Muslims alike exactly why we are boycotting, most people are respectful towards our actions, and furthermore, most non-boycotters will most probably feel embarrassed for supporting the oppression of innocent people!

One person boycotting won’t make a difference

Every effort counts. Read on. When the tyrant Namrud tried to kill Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) by throwing him in a bonfire, the fire was so intense and widespread that even birds wouldn’t fly on top of it. Surprisingly, a tiny frog was seen carrying drops of water in its mouth trying to put out the fire. Naturally, other creatures made fun of the frog’s “petty” attempts to put out the fire. With his head high, the frog said, “On the Day of Judgment, Allah will count me among those who tried to save Ibrahim, not among those who tried to burn Ibrahim!” Honestly speaking, we can all learn a big lesson from this little frog and safely expect that on the Day of Judgment, Allah will count us among those who tried to prevent the atrocities taking place against the Palestinians, not among those who aided and abetted their murder!

I can’t find any alternatives

Unless we live under a rock, there are alternatives to everything that is boycotted. For example, drink Caribou Coffee instead of Starbucks, buy Walgreens-brand baby products instead of Johnson & Johnson, eat Hershey’s chocolate instead of Nestle, drink Ovaltine instead of Milo, buy an iPhone or LG instead of a Nokia or Motorola, and find a new make-up company other than Revlon, L’Oreal, and Estee Lauder. The list of alternatives seems infinite when compared to the list of companies to boycott. One of the advantages of living in this capitalist Western society is the countless purchase options we have available to us. Let’s make use of this advantage and make our purchases more Halal and oppression-free!

The Holy Qur’an says, “And do not help one another in sin and oppression; and be careful of (your duty to) Allah; surely Allah is severe in requiting evil.” (5:2)

And Prophet Muhammad has said: “On the Day of Resurrection, a caller will announce: ‘Where are the oppressors and their assistants and those who prepared an inkwell for them or fastened a bag for them or supplied the ink of a pen (for them)? Then, gather these (people) with them!'” (Thawab al-Amaal)

May the Almighty grant us the ability and strength to prefer justice and the lives of fellow human beings over a bottle of Coca-Cola and other Zionist products. Amen.

About Arsalan Rizvi

Check Also

6a010534b2c34a970c01b8d08fe307970c

The Etiquette of Debate, Part I

This is the first of a two-part series. As technological industries expand and the domain …

12 comments

  1. Excellent article, may Allah reward you. A much needed reminder…a shame so many people take no responsibility for their action!

    This really does need to be spread to the masses.

    I find it sad how in Muharrem, when mourning the death of the one who stood up against oppression, there is always Coca Cola served with the meals…when will we learn the true message of our Imam?

  2. Great Article.

    However, I feel as though this is the age old message that has been circulated endlessly. I’m not arguing with the fact that industries exist that do support Israel. Nor am I arguing that Israel, as a government, has conducted actions against innocent civilians. My question is what about every other company that, may not support Israel, but they exploit workers abroad. For example: what about the hundreds of Nigerian Shias dieing due to Shell Oil’s drilling near the Niger Delta. That is not only affecting how our brothers and sisters lives are, but many people in the area are suffering and dying. We can’t just choose to boycott for one cause, when we feel like it.

    http://www.protectthehuman.com/shell

    Justice is more than just the death of Palestinians. (Which sadly much of community fails to see) And Israel is not the only unjust government out their, so if we are boycotting governments that are against the livelihood of Muslims, why not start with China. Need I remind anyone about the deaths and continuous persecution of Uighurs Muslims by the Chinese government. Let’s start off with a boycott of all things made in China. (If that could be effectively done, that would not only crush the already dying economy but also show the unity and force of the Muslims as a whole)

    Just because its easy to blame Israel, it’s not the only one to blame for violence against Muslims.

  3. Salaam,

    Thanks so much for this wonderful piece. It’s definitely needed!

    As for Sis. Zehra’s comments, I agree. People need to be fully aware of the various companies abusing human rights especially in the capitalist and corporate world we live in. There are a lot of resources on this and we need to be fully aware of that as well.

    However, I think we need to be careful when we discuss other issues and try not to delegitmize the fact we also need to be boycotting Israeli products (which have specific rulings for them). I am not saying you did this sister, but it is a trend that I have seen in others. That we will say “we need to focus on other people too” in an attempt to change the subject and excuse us from not boycotting Israel. There are grave injustices being perpetrated by Israel, America, and other countries, and we can [b]never[/b] do enough to combat these injustices. So (a) we are not paying enough attention to Israel and (b) we are also not paying enough attention to other countries. While we do need to pay more attention to other countries and their crimes, this does not mean we should be paying less attention to the plight of the Palestinains. I hope this makes sense Inshallah 🙂

    A few other great resources in regards to the boycott (including specific boycott campaigns) includes:

    http://www.bdsmovement.net
    http://www.whoprofits.org

    There’s alot of momentum gaining about the boycott (especially with a few universities passing divestment bills). It’s a shame that despite the fact it is wajib on us, we are the ones resisting the cause as opposed to leading it.

    Eltemase Dua,

    F

  4. One other small point I would like to add in regards to people saying it won’t make a difference is that, it is not really our concern. We are responsible for our own actions, the effects are not up to us. This is something we should keep in mind for all of our wajibaat, not just in regards to the boycott. We need to be concerned about our actions, not the effects it will have on others. On the Day of Judgement, Allah SWT will ask us if we fulfilled our responsiblities in action, not whether other people did and if that led to making a difference.

    Eltemase Dua,

    F 🙂

  5. Salam Sister,
    I agree. I was by no means trying to delegitimatize the cause of the Palestinians. However, I just wanted to shed light on other issues which the Muslim community tends to overlook. You will see tons of people advocating for the cause of the Palestinians and then be totally oblivious to all other Muslim struggles. We are living in an unjust world, thus its important to know what these injustices are and how we ourselves must have sincere niyyat in whatever action we take. I’m not saying to shift our focus, but we should always at least have a bifocal lens we look through.

  6. Salaam Alaikum Sister,

    Thanks for the thoughtful article. I’d like to make one point that is parallel to the story of the frog and Prophet Ibraheem, as well as address one more argument that many well-meaning believers have to not participate in a boycott.

    First and foremost, participating in a boycott of companies that support slaughter and oppression is for our own benefit. Most people usually think of how boycotting might or might not affect the Palestinians or Israelis, companies being targeted, local Muslim businesses being affected, etc. This all misses the point. The point of boycotting these companies is to benefit ourselves — the ones participating in the boycott.

    Just think, you go to the Inminds website (or others who’ve done research) and you read up on the guilty companies. You then print out a list of the guilty companies and post it on the fridge. Now everytime you walk by the fridge, you’ve got a small reminder of what our brothers and sisters are going through. Everytime we go to the grocery store or to a restaurant, we remember that there are certain products or chains to avoid. When you and family or friends are gathering and consuming something, you can remember or remind each other about making wise choices.

    The result of this is that we’ve EDUCATED ourselves about the boycott in general and these guilty companies in particular. We have a DAILY and INTIMATE (in your own kitchen) REMINDER about what our brothers and sisters are going through. We are CONSCIOUS and THOUGHTFUL CONSUMERS because we’ve learned some background about some of the thousands of various products and company choices we’re faced with each day. So the main point is that by participating in the boycott, inshallah we’re uplifting and raising our own mental and spiritual status. The material effects of the boycott are secondary, although they do exist and have profound impact.

    Second, I’d like to add one more argument that is used to forgo participating in a boycott of Zionist-supporting companies. This argument is that, if you use the Inminds website as a resource, there are just too many companies to boycott. Its impossible to remember 500 different products to avoid when at the store. This is an argument that I’ve heard voiced many times by solidly committed believers. I myself subscribe to this argument too. BUT, with a slight adjustment, this argument becomes without merit.

    How about using the Inminds resources not as an all-encompassing list of companies to avoid, but rather as a resource for us to tailor for our own use. Mashallah, the brothers and sisters that did all that research and created all those resources for us have done a lot. It seems to me that the purpose of all that work is to make our job of educating ourselves and becoming more conscious consumers easier.

    An example of tailoring their work to fit a specific need: Some brothers/sisters here in the US (Inminds website is based in the UK) chose several of the major US-based companies on the boycott list and put them on a printable flyer. It narrows the boycott list down to just 3 companies (although they have dozens of products/brands) and they’re based in the US and we come across them on a daily basis, as opposed to products mainly found in the UK. Also it identifies companies/products that all of us likely would have to choose from, as opposed to Playtex, Maybelline, Bath and Bodyworks (just a few examples), which no men would think about purchasing or supporting in the first place. So we can use Inminds as a resource to create our own list of companies/brands to boycott.

    Check it out here: http://alqudsday.org/Magnet.pdf

    Also, we should remember that a consumer boycott is just one small aspect of fulfilling our obligation to support the oppressed and reject the oppressor.

    Once again, thank you sister for this article and to the editor/publisher.

  7. @Zehra: It really doesnt matter whether they are Nigerian Shias or Sunnis, oppression of muslims in general should be condemned, in fact I would go further and say that any human being of any religion, hindu , christian, or even atheist should not be oppressed. We should be aware of companies that oppress any human being. and take action.

    I agree with the quotes and references to Quran , Sunnah and Ahlul Bayt made in the article. However there is also the fact that in the pre Islamic era, the Arab tribes out of enmity, used to boycott each other. The Prophet SAWW forbade this and said that trade should not be stopped even with the enemy. So how do we address this?

    Also I agree to a certain extent with boycotting. It weakens Israels ability to commit oppression. At the same time we should look for other ways to diminish Israels influence in the region. The only way is to pressurize governments around the world to stop supporting Israel. We should involve ourselves in protests. The only reason Israel survives is due to American aid, once that is removed then Israel will become very weak.

    This is to address the Israeli oppression against Palestinians. When it comes to world oppression by governments, MNC’s and all other forms of oppresssion, there is only one way.

    Revolution! The entire world, especially muslims should unite and overthrow the current zionist freemasonist financial system, the illuminati controlled media, the education system , and the whole capitalist imperlialist system entirely! We must bring back the system of Allah and justice introduced by Prophet Muhammed SAWW and practiced by Hadhrat Ali (A.S) during his reign. We dont want democracy, or dictatorship, or monarchy , or capitalism , or communism ,or any ism. We want Islamic system and a system of justice.For non muslims , they can have thier own system as long as it is based on equity and morality and humanity.

    I know we are talking about boycotting, I went slightly off topic, but I just wanted to give an important message!

  8. Walaikum Assalam Brothers and Sisters,

    JazakAllah for this very important discussion. I agree with Br. Mustafa that we should in theory be boycotting ALL those companies and organisations which support oppression against any humans. Sister Zehra Musawi, I completely agree with you that there are MANY more atrocities happening against Muslims all around the world, and indeed, it is an “age old message that has been circulated endlessly”, as you finely put it.

    However, the reason why the Israeli-Palestinian issue has always been, and should continue to be, stressed is because the majority of Muslims in our lovely communities are still at the stage where they struggle to avoid Coca Cola, even though there are half a dozen other alternatives on the shelf. Johnson & Johnson baby products will still be purchased for our youngest of believers simply because we think it’s “the best on the market”. We’ll still buy a Nokia as we “only purchase it once every few years”. And apparently, because halal meat is used at some McDonald’s, it automatically means we don’t need to boycott it because “if Jewish people were running it, they’d sell kosher, not halal.”

    You mentioned “Justice is more than just the death of Palestinians. (Which sadly much of community fails to see)”

    The reality is that more than 95% of our fairly large Muslim communities don’t boycott, even though the fatwas have been specifically issued for Israel and the list of boycotting companies provided to everyone. This isn’t a reason to not create awareness about other oppressive situations around the world (iA we can have an article on this topic on II soon), but rather this just gives us 100 more reasons to persist with educating the average Muslims in today’s world that the bare minimum they can do is START boycotting the companies which support possibly the largest form of oppression against Muslims in this day and era. On the other hand, for those of us who have managed to welcome the boycott with open arms, perhaps boycotting all the other organisations and companies who support oppression in China, Nigeria, etc. should be the next level for us.

    Br. Ahmad, jazak’Allah for the link. The youth group here recently gifted 60 odd kids from the Islamic centre an A5 sized laminated list of the boycotted companies and asked them to stick it on their fridges! These magnets are great, insha’Allah we’ll be distributing these in our communities! A project we’re working on at the moment is to create a new poster with all the companies to boycott on one side, and all the alternative companies to buy from on the other side. We like to call it the “halal-haram balanced boycotting list”. iA it works much better with those who resent the boycott for unknown reasons! Perhaps the brothers and sisters in the US/UK/CA can do the same, insha’Allah?

  9. This article is great…I find it simply devastating when I see Shia not only consuming these products but also bring some of them as Niyaz/Tabarruk at the Imam Bargah…do they have no shame or respect…and if anyone would want to tell me they did not know Coca Cola etc needs to by boycotted…then I would question their faith…because ignorance is no excuse to escape hell…

  10. Point is that there are tons of strategies easier than boycotting to weaken israel and address the israeli-palestinian issue. Boycotting should be done but in no way should it be our only strategy. Especially since there are easier and more effective strategies to do so. Like becoming involved in political movements to change foriegn policy of US and movements to unite the Ummah. If you think about it, not much effort is required to solve the worlds problems, all it needs is a lil sacrifice.

  11. Hidden Soldier

    Just because those strategies may be considered “easier” than boycotting the companies which support zionism, doesn’t mean it’s not WAJIB to boycott. In other words it is still haram if we do not boycott! There’s no point in taking party of a political rally infront of government offices if we purchase Fanta or Sprite when we get thirsty…

Leave a Reply