Islam has a rich tradition on how to build a just society, but for many it may be a tradition that has gone unexplored.
Khalil Houri, a member of the Northwest Islamic Community Center in Plymouth, believes Islam is linkage of faith and action. “In the Quran, when faith is mentioned, doing good deeds is also mentioned,” he said. “This means that there is a strong link between faith and action.”
It is that linkage that pushes him to see the situation where there are people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota as unjust. “It is unconscionable for me as a Muslim to see homeless people and not take action to do what I can to help,” he said. “In a wealthy society such as we have in Minnesota, we should not accept that anyone be homeless.”
Houri also believes his faith holds him accountable as to how he spends his money and time, especially when it comes to helping a fellow sister or brother. “The saying goes that God will be asking us why we did not visit him when he was sick or we didn’t give him shelter when he was homeless,” Houri said. “God will say, ‘My servant was homeless and you did not help him. If you would have you would have seen me (God) there.’ It is in helping the sick and the homeless that one experiences God.”
The concept of justice is integral to Islam; in fact, care for others is one of the five pillars of Islam. Zakat is a form of obligatory alms-giving, spending money to support those in need. Houri says that beyond this kind of compulsory giving, Muslims are also encouraged to engage in sadaqah, voluntary giving. “Both as an obligation and as a voluntary charity we are encouraged to spend from that which God has blessed us within supporting those who are less fortunate,” Houri said.
Following a recent informational session at Northwest Islamic, Houri got up and started asking people to join a congregational Beacon team. Dialogue was over, he implied - it was time to get busy. “As communities of faith it is not enough for us to only have dialogue. We should work together on matters of social justice that are consistent with principles we have in common,” Houri said, reinforcing once more the strong link between faith and action within his faith.