I consider that my responsibility and my religious duty. There is no point in being part of a community if one does not regularly critically appraise the state of health and future trajectory of that community. And if things are not to your liking, do something about it.
This is not just an activist's stance. It is actually the creed of Muslim as succinctly verbalized in the Quran. God describes the nation or community ( Arabic, أُمَّةٍ) that he blesses with the Prophet Muhammad, and the Revelation of the Quran, as
(كُنتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ تَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَتَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللّهِ)
Looking at the order in which this verse is structured yields a profound insight into the significance of the qualities listed: the activist stance came before describing the community as 'believing in God'. Prophet Muhammad pbuh has also stressed that numerous time. especially in one of the most recited quotations of the prophet:
Interestingly, most Muslims in Muslim majority countries as well as in local American Muslim communities, are totally passive when it comes to running their mosques. You can hardly talk to anyone in any mosque-going community that is remotely happy with the state of affairs in their mosque. Social private events for Muslims end up frequently being a rant about how much change is needed at mosques, and how ineffective community leadership is.
"If you see a wrong-doing change it with your hand.
If you cannot, then with your tongue.
If you cannot, then wish in your heart that it would change, but that is the weakest exercise of faith."
And regardless of whether those claims are legitimate of not, the most likely scenario is that the rant stops their. Most of these 'ranting' people attend Friday prayers because God told them to so so. One would imagine that obedience to God should also expand to include other commandments such as the one mentioned above endorsing activism and in verses 7:157, 9:71, 9:112 as well as in explicit commandment form in verse 3:103.
Why would not then they speak up in the mosques against all the flaws and faults they find with how the community is run. Why would not they send letters to those in charge, demand to speak in public gatherings and start their own websites, blogs and public campaigns against what they think is wrong?
The several but few incidents when such public criticism was made strongly enough, it resulted in positive change. The more outspoken the opposition to wrong policies is, the better the outcome - hence the praise from God to communities that adopts that as a common practice.
Yet again, many of us Muslims, would rather whine in private, fail to constructively criticize in public, and are content with just going to the Friday prayer.
I am not saying it is easy to face your community with criticism. And there is public and peer pressure to avoid doing that under the fake interest in community unity, and for fear of 'causing Fitna' - that is Arabic for major communal confusion that can lead to societal break down and war - a threat that shuts people up very quickly.
Most of them do not realize that democracy, self criticism, and critical appraisal of the performance of leadership is NOT fitna. It is what God wants. And the more they ignore the need to do that, the farther they are from being good Muslims.
The prophet's companions did not hold their tongues when he did something they thought was not in the practical interest of the community. After the Prophet's death, they continued to live by the same principles that God and his Prophet taught them. And the stories fill our memory with public objection and criticism by early Muslims against things that the Prophet did in his capacity as a civil and military leader. Similar stories also exist during the rein of the early civil successors to the Prophet.
Objections and protests were not counted as Fitna those day. Why, in God's name, do we count it as Fitna today in tiny places like our cities or our mosques?
In fact, that passive existence in a community is abandonment of the community in an intellectual way, especially at times when we know that things are not working very well. It is more damaging to the community than physical and financial abandonment which put more pressure on the faulty community to wake up and smarten up.
Silence when the ship is sinking is as bad as drilling the hole in the ship yourself.