Should Muslim minorities engage in coalition building with non-Muslim groups?
Let’s imagine two concrete scenarios: A coalition between Muslims and a Zionist group and an LGBT group.
Coalition building has to be done with a broad vision of what forming that coalition will cost in the near term and long term future.
There is no such thing as a free lunch. There needs to be an honest, sober cost-benefit analysis that takes into account both the material and the spiritual.
For example, partnering with Zionist groups may have plenty of benefits for American Muslims politically. But those partnerships could be portrayed as Muslim endorsement of or concession to Zionist policies that will harm Palestinians or the ummah at large. That is a major cost.
Or for example, some LGBT groups will support Muslims but only on the condition that Muslims reciprocate by supporting LGBT causes. Or, short of that, they expect that imams and leaders won’t be vocal about teaching their communities that same-sex acts or transgenderism are immoral. In other words, you can’t march with the LGBT coalition on Thursday and then give a khutbah on Qawm Lut on Friday. That’s the quid pro quo.
Again, that is a major cost.
This is not a deal we should accept because that means we are for all intents and purposes censoring our own religion and avoiding discussing important issues that are affecting the faith of the Muslim community today.
If there is any doubt that the Muslim community is confused on the question of sexuality and same-sex behavior, just look at the statistics on the percentage of Muslim youth engaging in these behaviors and how many think that there is nothing wrong with sexual behavior between “two consenting adults of whatever gender.” Look at the increasing number of college MSAs that are holding LGBT celebration and empowerment kinds of events. This is something we should all be deeply concerned about because when Islamic sexual ethics go out the window, that is a means of destruction for the iman of the community writ large and there are countless examples in the Quran, Sunnah, and history that attest to this.
Point being, this is by no means a cheap price to pay for such a coalition, and what is hoped to be gained by it is manifestly not worth that steep price.
Ultimately, coalitions are fine in principle even with groups that we strongly disagree with, as scholars past and present have explained. And we can point out how even the Prophet, peace be upon him, engaged in agreements and coalitions with the disbelievers (Hudaybiyyah, Hilf al-Fudul, etc.).
But let’s not forget that the Prophet was also, at the same time, speaking out against disbelief, preaching against it, fighting against it. In other words, working with disbelievers did not affect the message regarding disbelief. And the Sahaba were in no danger of being confused about disbelief.
With some (but not all) coalitions today, that is clearly not the case. The community is woefully confused and there is a great need for clarification. But again, it is hard to march on Thursday and give the clarifying khutbah on Friday. That’s the problem.
But if those two things can happen hand in hand, where marching with X group happens and is broadcast on Thursday and the clarifying khutbah happens on Friday and is *equally* broadcast, thus leaving the community with no doubts and confusions, then by all means, let’s collaborate. Short of that, people’s iman is at stake, whether we choose to accept that or not.
Without question, I cannot but love those seeking by these coalitions to protect their fellow Muslims and confront injustices across the board. I don’t question their sincerity; I admire it. That love is exactly why I plead with them to recognize this misstep, and that admiration is why I wish their standing in the front lines of many fights is not counterproductive. I ask Allah to guide and forgive us all.