Believing that voting is power, Muslim leaders across Tennessee have been encouraging their community members to register for voting in upcoming November elections, aiming to give Muslims better representation and build bridges with lawmakers.
“We’re tired of being an ignored community. We feel our issues should be front and center,” Sabina Mohyuddin, executive director of the American Muslim Advisory Council, or AMAC, told The Tennessean.
According to estimates, there are 70,000-plus Muslims in the state. There are two who are in elected office: Berthena Nabaa-McKinney, Nashville Metro Public Schools board member, and Zulfat Suara, Nashville Metro Council at-large member.
Spearheaded by AMAC, candidate forums and Muslim Vote Day were some of the events hosted by mosques to show how important voting is.
“Seeing Muslims in elected positions, that makes a difference,” Mohyuddin said. “That makes it real.”
Muslims played a big role in Biden’s 2020 victory through their high turnout in the critical swing states of Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Michigan.
Overall, Muslim turnout was at least 84%, and 69% of those voted for Biden, based on an exit poll by CAIR.
Mohyuddin, however, pointed that part of Muslim hesitation towards elections was related to uncertainty about the effect they will have in a state dominated by a Republican Party which has a history with Islamophobia.
In addition, many of the Muslim community are new immigrants involved in politics back home or may not be US citizens and eligible to vote.
Therefore, the role of the mosques was important to counter those hesitations.
“If the mosques are supporting it, that brings more credibility,” Mohyuddin said. “For those whose faith is very central in how they think and see the world, that encouragement makes them more likely to get involved.”
This year only, there were at least seven candidate forums and similar events before the August primary and the upcoming Nov. 8 general election at Islamic community centers in Memphis, Knoxville, and Metro Nashville and Murfreesboro.
“Islamically, we’re encouraged to be part of society. It’s actually spiritually ordered that we have to establish justice on Earth,” said Imam Ala’a Ahmed, who leads the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro.
“We have a lot of spiritual encouragements that inspire us to be part of the society.”