5 Tips for Muslim Professionals in their Pro-Palestinian Advocacy | Blog
Published: November 16, 2023 • Updated: November 22, 2023
Author: Yaqeen Institute
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ
In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
Across the globe, we’re witnessing brazen double standards and extreme measures of censure for those who advocate for our brothers and sisters in Palestine. CEOs are blacklisting future employment candidates, professionals are facing disciplinary measures and termination, and students are being expelled from prestigious universities—all as a direct result of their pro-Palestinian advocacy.
So, as a Muslim professional working in the corporate world, what is the best way to manage our pro-Palestinian advocacy efforts? Every situation is unique and depends heavily on personal circumstances, but here are 5 tips for taking action in an effective and legally compliant manner.
1. Speak to HR and to your colleagues
It might be a good idea to let your HR department know you’re going through a period of significant grief and that the events that are taking place in Palestine are impacting your sleep, diet, focus, and thus your productivity. Not only will this invite compassion in the workplace, but it will preemptively set the expectations of your organization and allow them to view your performance, actions, and words in this broader context. That way, if there does happen to be an incident in which you deviate from your organization’s mandate, things are not taken out of perspective.
Moreover, don’t underestimate the power of storytelling. Speaking to colleagues about your personal experiences and how the conflict is affecting your life and emotions is a powerful form of advocacy. Remember, it’s likely your colleagues see you daily and have worked with you over a long period of time—what you say matters to them. So, by sharing your personal distress, that of your family, or the story of others, you have the power to change hearts and minds.
2. Know your company’s policies
Learn your employee handbook inside out. By knowing your company’s culture, values, mission, code of conduct policy, harassment and discrimination policy, DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) strategy, and social media policy, you’ll be equipping yourself to advocate in the most effective and legally compliant manner. Knowing these parameters will help you stay out of trouble, and it will also allow you to advocate for yourself should the time arise.
If you think that your rights have been violated or that you’re in an unsafe environment, then knowing your company’s policy and procedures as well as their escalation models puts you in a position to challenge what’s happening and seek appropriate legal counsel.
It’s also a good idea to document your company’s previous positions on political issues—what is the precedent your own corporation has taken in the past and how does that compare and contrast to now? This is a great tool to take to your HR department and highlight any bias and unfair treatment you’re experiencing.
3. Play the long game
Whilst much advocacy focuses on swift and immediate results, be confident to make changes within your company that are long lasting. DEI policies are a tool that we should leverage, and this all begins by working to identify our faith as Muslims as a primary dimension of diversity. Advocate for a Muslim ERG (Employee Resource Group) or push your company to organize webinars on Islamophobia and conduct listening sessions with groups of Muslim employees.
The companies with these infrastructures already in place are the ones making the most balanced statements on the Palestine issue because they recognize they have a Muslim employee group who have a voice. Remember, this is a marathon not a sprint—we need to be effective, productive, and long-lasting in our contributions.
4. Social media
There is no hard and fast rule for using social media. After familiarizing yourself with your company’s social media policy, make a sound cost-benefit analysis.
If you find your company’s social media policies are hard-line, limit your exposure and risk by sharing information from trusted sources without commenting. This way, you let someone else very eloquently articulate your grievances in a manner that is vetted without you being personally liable for specific comments you might say that are more susceptible to misinterpretation. For example, simply sharing Craig Mokhiber’s publicly available UN resignation letter calling Israel’s military actions in Gaza “textbook genocide” will be less likely to put you in a vulnerable position than making your own comments.
Also, make sure you pick the right platforms. Ask yourself, where does it make most sense to do this advocacy? X or Instagram might be better suited than LinkedIn!
5. Trust in the promise of Allah
Act thoughtfully, sincerely, and wisely, but don’t let your fear paralyze you. One of the first tests that the Muslim community felt in history was the test of wealth through crippling boycotts. Allah (swt) reminds us:
And He will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah—then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Allah has already set for everything a [decreed] extent. [Quran 65:3]
For those of us living in the west, we have a luxury that much of the world does not have: the ability to challenge powers and speak up. So, this is a chance for you to really increase your rank with Allah, by actively showing Him that not only are you striving to ward off injustice in whatever way you can, but that you believe in Allah’s promise and will not allow your fears to deter you.
Remember, you are an asset to your company and you bring human capital to your organization. If, after doing your due diligence, you simply cannot align with your company’s values this may be a good opportunity to move to a company that is better aligned and within which you can advocate freely. We all have an obligation to act but what we do depends on our context and resources.
Speak sincerely and wisely, and trust in Allah.