What's Your Cause?

I was recently taken to account for not using my blogging presence to address human rights violations and killings of Muslims around the world. It touched a nerve. (And my nerves, mind you, aren’t hung on a clothesline for the world to mess with.)

What my friend was saying was: “As a Muslim, you cannot stay silent about injustice. You have to stop evil however you can.” What I was hearing was: “You’re insensitive and all you care about is yourself. The fact that you don’t write about these human rights violations means that you don’t care about them. You’re really, really lame. What are you going to do now, go and write about how this makes you feel?” Why, that is exactly what I am going to do!

In my response to my friend and thinking further about the situation, I found myself remembering a time when I was working on my LinkedIn profile, and came across the following section:

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Bloody hell, I thought. I care about all of these. And I’m supposed to just choose a few? 

There are also some problems of classification here. (In case you were wondering, these are the kinds of questions information studies scholars like to think about.) Don’t all of these things, on some level, have to do with human rights? Shouldn’t it be possible to care about two of these together: for example, education for children? Isn’t there a significant overlap between poverty alleviation and economic empowerment? Does caring about animal welfare mean that I sleep like a baby when a tragedy strikes and thousands are stranded without food or water? What do you mean by “other”? If someone is compelled to choose that option, shouldn’t they have to explain their choice, explain what quirky cause they have that is none of the above?

Anyway. I digress.

The point is, Allah has made us varied creatures with different sets of strengths: we’re not all meant to be scholars or warriors or doctors or labourers. In a similar fashion, the causes that we care about must be those that are most suited to our contexts and temperaments. Each person has a strength to write about and dedicate themselves to a certain cause.

Because I never keep things simple and brief, imma go on personal on this. I am, by nature, a deep, dark, brooding person. Positivity, laughter, and happiness are muscles I have had to work out to no end to be the who I am today. If I dealt with the stress of human rights violations and gendered violence the way some people do, I would shrivel up and die inside. I would not be a a reliable friend, a loving daughter and sister, or a contributing member to society. I would be paralyzed by grief, overwhelmed by all that is terrible about the world.

Thus, my cause takes on a different form. Generally, I am a pretty neutral and mellow person.  I’d be the last person to get into a religious or political debate. However, I am very passionate about disseminating and structuring content in a fair, engaging and creative way. I mean, look at me. I’ve worked at a TV station, interned at various publishing houses, and have even done brief stints in teaching, including computer literacy training. I now edit a webzine on Islam and gender, volunteer at an organization that is working on creating early warning systems for genocide prevention, review books that I feel deserve attention, and am professionally looking towards the field of user experience. By doing these things, I am being true to what I am best at: making content available, helping facilitating conversations that need to be taking place, and creating systems that help address humanitarian issues.  I am about things. I am very meta. Because that, I believe, is how I am made. 

I also believe in respecting and upholding tawhid. That is why it did not make sense for me to be asked why I don’t write about injustices against Muslims. The question came from the assumption that one cause must be chosen at the expense of others. In actuality, in terms of Truth, we may not have to make that choice, as long as we recognize and respect both our individual and collective strengths. 

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