Answered by S’ad ‘Atiyah al-Azhari (Scholar from al-Azhar) | Translated and Abridged by Suhaib Webb
Question: What is the ruling for participating in protests, and if they are permissible, what is the proof?
Answer: Protests are a means by which the Muslim community makes its voice heard regarding a specific issue, to those in authority so they can act accordingly or respond to their concerns. In the modern age, this has become the main objective behind protests: informing governments about the concerns of the governed.
Islam as a faith welcomes protests according to the definition provided above, because they serve the Muslim community to make its positions known on issues. Especially if that issues pertains to a general benefit that affects Muslims or Muslim countries such as Palestine, in general, and Gaza, in particular.
Under such circumstances, it is obligatory upon the Muslim community (Fard Kifaya) to protest and seek (legal) means to clarify their positions, encouraging leadership to implement their hopes and to send a message to those who oppose them, as well as those who oppress the innocent, that the Muslim community is not negligent of their plight or the plight of other Muslims.
In fact, such protests are a form of struggle in God’s cause as support for the oppressed, and serve as a reminder to their enemies that the Muslim community is still ready to stand up for the plight of the oppressed.
However, all of this must be kept in mind, observing an important condition: one must not turn such protests into riots by destroying shops, property or harming others or engage in any other un-Islamic acts… If that happens, then such protests move from being religiously sanctioned to religiously prohibited and are termed as illegal and corrupted. The Prophet ﷺ said, “There is no harm, nor reciprocation of harm.” (Related by Mālik)
And Allah knows best.