Advocacy: What is it and why is it important?

We often wonder if we can generate enough of an impact to stop the injustice people face. How can we advocate most effectively, and why should we aim to do so? 

What is Advocacy? 

Advocacy is the process by which a social movement impacts policy. It can include (1) Amplifying the voices of a certain group of people (2) providing support for a policy and (3) exercising power to influence policy.

Specific tactics to achieve these goals include:

  • Public education 
  • Lobbying
  • Media announcements 
  • Criminal prosecutions
  • Engaging UN human rights mechanisms
  • Engaging regional human rights mechanisms
  • Protesting 
  • Divestment 
  • Other strategies to promote or support a group of people, such as direct financial assistance, housing, etc.  

The process of advocating for a cause is complicated and often involves a multifaceted approach. The first step is to define the target of the advocacy campaign. This includes knowing what needs to change to remedy the human rights violations, and then identify who has the power to remedy the issue and what prevents them from doing so now. Next is to understand the goals to be achieved through advocacy. Finally, the advocates should determine objectively if these goals have been achieved, and how to respond to the results of this analysis.

Victims of human rights violations will remain victims until policies change or the oppressors face the law. The oppressed cannot achieve this without the free members of humanity utilising their voices and public influence. 

Can a Muslim Be an Advocate? 

As Muslims, every action is taken from the Quran and the way of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), including the notion of advocacy. Advocacy is based on the Islamic position of the sacredness of all humans and therefore the preservation of their rights. 

The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, “Whoever witnesses something evil, let him change it with his hand, and if he is unable then with his tongue, and if he is unable then with his heart, but that is the weakest form of faith.” (Sahih Muslim, no.45)

Therefore, it is incumbent upon humanity to rise and challenge all forms of oppression, enjoin in good and forbid evil (Quran 31:16). This can manifest in attending protests, donating to advocacy organisations, writing to leaders, withholding votes, and other powerful moves all which ensure the honouring of our noble creed. 

Finally, it is imperative to remember that God judges a person based on their intentions and the actions which follow. This is opposed to God’s judgement of the outcome. The result of our intentions and actions is not entirely within our control, but our reward for them will be great. 


Human Rights Tools for a Changing World: A step-by-step guide to human rights fact-finding, documentation, and advocacy [Internet]. The Advocates for Human Rights . 2015 Jan [cited 2024 Jun 1] p. 97–100. Available from:

Khan N. Divine Duty: Islam and Social Justice [Internet]. Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research. 2023 [cited 2024 Jun 4]. Available from:

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