American, Muslim, Voter
I must admit, I am getting weary of the election season. I am tired of the constant barrage of television ads, intrusive and unwanted telephone calls, and the endless stream of political mailers and flyers. Although I am anxious over the outcome of Tuesday's election, I cannot deny that I will be glad when it is all over. That said, the weariness I have over politics -- one that, I am sure, is shared by many -- did not tamp my enthusiasm to participate in the political process.
With my six-year-old daughter in tow, I voted early in this year's election, on November 1. It was an honor for me to do so, and I wanted to share that honor with my daughter, to help encourage her to do the same when she is old enough. Yet, for me, voting is more than just an honor: It is a sacred, religious duty.
As an American Muslim, it is my duty to enjoin good and forbid evil, to work as much as I can towards the common good. The Quran states that: "You are indeed the best community that has ever been brought forth for [the good of] humanity: you enjoin the doing of what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong, and you believe in God." (3:110). In the same vein, the Prophet Muhammad told us that, if we see something wrong, we should try to change it ourselves.
One of the most important ways to affect change as an American citizen is to get involved politically, and that means -- at the very least -- voting in every election. Not everyone is able or willing to muster a political campaign; not everyone is able or willing to endure a life in politics; not everyone is able or willing to dedicate their life to public service and take all the difficulties that may entail. Yet, theoretically, everyone is able to vote and make their voices heard at the ballot box.
And I believe, as an American Muslim, my faith demands so of me. Yet, more than just affecting change, the right to vote was not always take for granted as it is now by most Americans. At the founding of our great nation, not everyone was given the right to vote or even counted as a full human being -- such as women and African slaves, respectively.
Those rights -- of women to make their voices heard politically; of African Americans to vote and live free of discrimination -- had to be fought for, and many died in this effort. Our very political system is being protected -- right now as I write this -- by fellow Americans who have put their lives and families on the line to serve in the military. They sacrifice so much -- and are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice -- so that my daughter and I can vote freely at a polling place in the local mall, that I can live and worship in freedom and safety.
As a Muslim who loves his God, as an American who loves his country, there is no way I can be ungrateful to those sacrifices and not vote. As a Muslim and an American, there is no way I can be truly grateful to my Lord if I sit an election out and not participate. My faith demands that I be a faithful servant of God; my faith demands that I be an active citizen. Therefore I vote. There can be no other way. Hesham A. Hassaballa is a Chicago-based doctor and writer. His latest book is Noble Brother: The Story of the Last Prophet in Poetry (Faithful Word Press). Copyright © 2012 Hesham A. Hassaballa -- distributed by Agence Global