CAIR Asks Imams to Devote Sermons to Racial Equality in Response to Missouri Police Shooting

Ferguson-article(WASHINGTON, D.C., 8/11/14) — CAIR today called on imams (prayer leaders) nationwide to devote at least a portion of their khutbas (sermons) for tomorrow’s weekly congregational prayers (jummah) to the issues of racial equality and social justice.

That request comes in the wake of racial turmoil resulting from the fatal police shooting on Saturday of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Missouri. Police claim the unarmed Brown had struggled for an officer’s gun in a patrol car before he was killed, but witnesses said Brown, who is African-American, had his hands up when he was shot. Brown’s death triggered angry demonstrations, as well as vandalism and looting.

CAIR’s St. Louis chapter joined calls for a federal investigation into the shooting.

“Despite progress in race relations over the past decades, our nation still has a long way to go to live up to the true American values of equality and justice for all,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. “We need a serious and deep national conversation about how to heal these wounds, starting with all of us as individuals, family members and community leaders.”

CAIR is asking imams to remind worshipers that:

  • Law enforcement authorities have the highest standard to preserve human life and the dignity of those they “protect and serve.”  
  • Muslims have the responsibility to stand for those who are marginalized or suffer injustice.  
  • American Muslims should get more involved in broad social justice issues and present Islam’s progressive position for civil rights and against racism.
  • Damaging of private property and businesses is not a productive response to this or any other incident involving allegations of police brutality.  

CAIR suggested Islamic and other source materials promoting equality and justice that may be used by imams for their sermons.

In one of his most famous statements, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Dr. King’s words are reflected in those of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who said in his last sermon:

“All humankind is from Adam and Eve. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab. Also, a white person has no superiority over a black person, nor does someone who is black have any superiority over someone who is white — except by piety and good action.”

The foundation of social justice in Islam is found in the Quran (Islam’s revealed text) and in hadith (Islamic traditions):

The Quran states:

  • “O humankind! We created you from a single pair of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes so that you might get to know one another. Surely the noblest of you in the sight of God is he who is the most righteous.” (49:13)
  • “O believers! Stand firm for justice and bear true witness for the sake of God, even though it be against yourselves, your parents or your relatives. It does not matter whether the party is rich or poor – God is well wisher of both. So let not your selfish desires swerve you from justice.” (4:135)
  • “If every person that has done injustice possessed all that the earth contains, he would be willing to offer it all in ransom to redeem himself if he could.” (10:54)
  • “Do justice; that is nearer to piety.” (5:8)
  • “Show forgiveness, speak for justice and avoid the ignorant.” (7:199)
  • “The Word of thy Lord finds its fulfillment in truth and in justice.” (6:115)
  • “God will never change the condition of a people until they change it themselves (with their own souls).” (13:11)

A number of hadith (traditions of the Prophet Muhammad ) promote justice and equality. For example, the Prophet said:

  • “None of you will have faith until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.”
  • “People are as equal as the teeth of the comb.”
  • “If only one day of this (world) remained, God would raise up a man from my family who would fill the earth with equity and justice as it has been filled with oppression.”
  • “The best (jihad) in the path of God is (to speak) a word of justice to an oppressive ruler.”
  • “For every day the sun rises, there is a (reward) for the one who establishes justice among people.”
  • “He who has been a ruler over (even) ten people will be brought shackled on the Day of Resurrection until justice loosens his chains or tyranny brings him to destruction.”
  • “To administer justice between two people is (a form of) charity.”
  • “The dispensers of justice will be seated (in Paradise) on pulpits of light beside God.”

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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CONTACT: CAIR-St. Louis Executive Director Faizan Syed, 636-207-8882, 314-330-2946,; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726,