Boycotting for Justice

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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.

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