Merriam-Webster defines oppression as:
- unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power
- something that oppresses especially in being an unjust or excessive exercise of power
There is a fundamental problem with this definition. Consider the following verses from Quran:
[20:5] The Most Gracious; He has assumed all authority.
[2:165] Yet, some people set up idols to rival GOD, and love them as if they are GOD. Those who believe love GOD the most. If only the transgressors could see themselves when they see the retribution! They will realize then that all power belongs to GOD alone, and that GOD's retribution is awesome.
The exercise of authority or power by any human being over another human being is at the very outset an attempt to usurp the authority and power of God. God advocates justice and charity. Whenever humans attempt to assume God’s authority, oppression is almost always the result. In God’s system, the human being is sovereign:
[24:55] GOD promises those among you who believe and lead a righteous life, that He will make them sovereigns on earth, as He did for those before them, and will establish for them the religion He has chosen for them, and will substitute peace and security for them in place of fear. All this because they worship Me alone; they never set up any idols beside Me. Those who disbelieve after this are the truly wicked.
Whereas some might confuse sovereign to mean a ruler as in king or queen, consider the additional meanings of the word sovereign, also from Merriam-Webster;
- obsolete : supreme excellence or an example of it
- supreme power especially over a body politic- freedom from external control : autonomy- controlling influence
- one that is sovereign; especially : an autonomous state
If we accept the definition of sovereign to be a supreme power then we have to ignore verse 2:165, which tells us all power belongs to God alone. The additional definitions of sovereign which are in bold above refer to a state of autonomy, a state of independence from outside controlling influences. This is also necessarily the absence of oppression.
God tells us to fight oppression.
[2:191] You may kill those who wage war against you, and you may evict them whence they evicted you. Oppression is worse than murder. Do not fight them at the Sacred Masjid, unless they attack you therein. If they attack you, you may kill them. This is the just retribution for those disbelievers.
The logic of the above verse is that God considers waging war against people and evicting people as forms of oppression. It is not only religious oppression God is telling us to fight.. In fact, the logic of verse 2:191 is telling us the oppressors are disbelievers. Whatever form of oppression they may be imposing is coming from a position of disbelief, so their motives may be completely apart from any religion.
The following paragraphs are excerpted (and edited with minor spelling and grammar corrections) from “Fighting in the Cause of God” by Fatimah T. Sakr . The article may be found in its entirety at:
“…(4) Fighting in the cause of God;
[4:75] Why should you not fight in the cause of GOD when weak men, women, and children are imploring: "Our Lord, deliver us from this community whose people are oppressive, and be You our Lord and Master."
Those who believe fight in the cause of God. What that means is that they fight according to God’s commandments. God’s commandments forbid aggression, call for peace but allow self defense. God’s commandments tells us that there shall be no compulsion in religion, His commandments tells us that we should offer maximum freedom and equal rights to all people, regardless of their belief or lifestyle. Those who disbelieve on the other hand, they fight in the cause of Tyranny: oppression, dictatorship, domination, autocracy, despotism, absolutism, cruelty, totalitarianism.
[4:76] Those who believe are fighting for the cause of GOD, while those who disbelieve are fighting for the cause of tyranny. Therefore, you shall fight the devil's allies; the devil's power is nil.
(5) Non military Fighting in the cause of God; In principle, the believers want to have guaranteed freedom, freedom of worship for them and for all those who live with them, freedom of expression, freedom of trade, and more. The freedom to be treated equally in the land with no discrimination as a result of color, age, gender or beliefs.
Fighting in the cause of God therefore does not have to be a military fighting but the student of the Quran will strongly realize that such military fighting should be the exception. A very important teaching in the Quran is to strive to be strong, not to be an aggressor , but to prevent others from aggressing against you.”
There are many forms of oppression. Consider this description of economic oppression from Wikipedia:
“The term economic oppression, sometimes misunderstood in the sense of economic sanction, embargo or economic boycott, has a different meaning and significance, and its meaning as well as its significance has been changing over a period of time, and its contextual application. A form of economic oppression is mentioned in a verse of the Hebrew Bible : "And if thou sell ought unto thy neighbour, or buyest ought of thy neighbour's hand, ye shall not oppress one another." On the other hand, in today’s context, economic oppression may take several forms, including the practice of bonded labour in some parts of India; serfdom; forced labour; low wages; denial of equal opportunity; practicing employment discrimination; and economic discrimination based on sex, nationality, race, and religion. ]”
Forced labor is practiced in the American prison system, and this has become a lucrative practice for those in a position to profit from it. Consider the following article: “Judges allegedly took $2.6 million in payoffs to put juveniles in lockups” found at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29142654/. Low wages are a form of economic oppression, and the political disagreement over what minimum wage should be in the US is only a symptom. God has commanded us in all scripture to be fair and just in commerce.
[17:35] You shall give full measure when you trade, and weigh equitably. This is better and more righteous.
[26:181] "You shall give full measure when you trade; do not cheat.
Denial of equal opportunity and economic discrimination are forms of systematic oppression. Consider the following descriptions of systematic oppression:
Anarchists and other forms of libertarian, at either end of the political spectrum, argue that police and law themselves are oppression. The term oppression is primarily used in such instances to refer to the subordination of a given group or social category by unjust use of force, authority, or societal norms in order to achieve the effects noted above. When institutionalized, formally or informally, it may achieve the dimension of systematic oppression. Oppression is customarily experienced as a consequence of, and expressed in, the form of a prevailing, if unconscious, assumption that the given target is in some way inferior. By comparison, in sociology, these prejudices are often studied as being institutionalized systems of oppression in some societies. In sociology, the tools of oppression include a progression of denigration, dehumanization, and demonization; which often generate scapegoating, which is used to justify aggression against targeted groups and individuals. When oppression is systematized through coercion, threats of violence, or violence by government agencies or non-governmental paramilitaries with a political motive, it is often called Political repression.
Transnational systems of oppression include colonialism, imperialism, and totalitarianism, and can generate a resistance movement to challenge the oppressive status quo.
Internalized oppression - In sociology and psychology, internalized oppression is the manner in which an oppressed group comes to use against itself the methods of the oppressor. For example, sometimes members of marginalized groups hold an oppressive view toward their own group, or start to believe in negative stereotypes of themselves.
For example, internalized racism is when members of Group A believe that the stereotypes of Group A are true and may believe that they are less intelligent or academically inferior to other groups of people.
Any social group can internalize prejudice.
Indirect oppression - Indirect oppression is oppression that is effected by psychological attack, situational constraints or other indirect means. It has been a popular tactic practiced in single power, power monopoly or other authoritarian or totalitarian regimes.
Capitalism today has become a form of systematic oppression. A brief history of the origin of wage labor is pasted herein as background from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia;
Wage slavery refers to a situation where a person is dependent for a livelihood on the wages earned, especially if the dependency is total and immediate. The term is used to draw an analogy between slavery and wage labor. Some uses of the term may refer only to an "[un]equal bargaining situation between labor and capital,"[ particularly where workers are paid unreasonably low wages (e.g. sweatshops). More controversially, others equate it with a lack of workers' self-management or point to similarities between owning and employing a person, and extend the term to cover a wide range of employment relationships in a hierarchical social environment with limited job-related choices (e.g. working for a wage under threat of starvation, poverty or social stigma. Similarities between wage labor and slavery were noted at least as early as Cicero and Aristotle With the advent of the industrial revolution, thinkers such as Proudhon and Marx elaborated these comparisons in the context of a critique of property not intended for active use. Before the American Civil War, Southern defenders of African American slavery also invoked the concept of wage slavery to favorably compare the condition of their slaves to workers in the North. The introduction of wage labor in 18th century Britain was met with resistance – giving rise to the principles of syndicalism. The use of the term wage slave by labor organizations may originate from the labor protests of the Lowell Mill Girls in 1836. The imagery of wage slavery was widely used by labor organizations during the mid-19th century to object to the lack of workers' self-management. However, it was gradually replaced by the more pragmatic term "wage work" towards the end of the 19th century, as labor organizations shifted their focus to raising wages. - Wikipedia
All forms of oppression are satanic, including slavery. Satan knows this life is temporary, and his true objective is to lead us astray from God and redemption. Therefore at its root, oppression in all forms is intended to divert us from the truth of God and His path, i.e. from God’s true religion. In God’s true religion, we are all sovereign, independent of outside control (by any entity other than God). The following verse points out the connection between oppression and religion:
[2:217] They ask you about the Sacred Months and fighting therein: say, "Fighting therein is a sacrilege. However, repelling from the path of GOD and disbelieving in Him and in the sanctity of the Sacred Masjid, and evicting its people, are greater sacrileges in the sight of GOD. Oppression is worse than murder." They will always fight you to revert you from your religion, if they can. Those among you who revert from their religion, and die as disbelievers, have nullified their works in this life and the Hereafter. These are the dwellers of Hell, wherein they abide forever.
The connection between oppression and religion is found in the motives of our enemy, satan. It should not be surmised that “religious oppression” is the only form of oppression God authorizes us to fight against. All forms of oppression have in truth the same objective (whether the human oppressors are aware or not), which is to divert us from the path of God. The path of God includes individual sovereignty, which means freedom from ALL forms of oppression. Fighting oppression in all of its forms is fighting in the cause of God, since oppression does not come from God but from our most ardent enemy and his followers.
[90:10] Did we not show him the two paths?
[90:11] He should choose the difficult path.
[90:12] Which one is the difficult path?
[90:13] The freeing of slaves.
Peaceful Friday, salaam and God bless.