Maria Akbar details what practical steps that Muslims in the West, who live privileged lives, can take to help our oppressed brothers and sisters in Palestine.
“And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to the patient ones. Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: “Truly! To Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.”
Condolences to the Muslim Ummah for the genocide that we are witnessing before our eyes. It is deeply saddening and infuriating to see; not only because our Ummah is bleeding, but even on a basic humanitarian level. The Palestinians are being treated as sub-humans, as they have been for the past 75 years or so, whilst the world watches on.
I know I am not alone in the despair and impotence that I feel seeing updates of my brothers and sisters being massacred, whilst I sit here in complete safety. Palestine is being obliterated by Israel but as Muslims we cannot be bystanders and must do what is within our means.
We are driven by the pain we share for our Palestinian brothers and sisters; they are part of our Ummah and the Ummah is one body, and when any one part is hurting, we are all hurting. As well as this, as Muslims, we must do what is within our means when facing evil and oppression.
According to a Saheeh hadeeth narrated in Muslim, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever among you sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand, by taking action; if he cannot, then with his tongue, by speaking out; and if he cannot, then with his heart, by at least hating it and believing that it is wrong, and that is the weakest of faith.”
We know that al Quds is significant in Islam. It is described as a blessed land in the Quran; it was the first Qibla for Muslims; it is the blessed land to which the Prophet (pbuh) went on Al Isra wa’l Miraj when the five daily prayers were established.
And it is mentioned that if a Muslim is to undertake a journey to visit any mosque, then let it be the three – Al Masjid Al Haram, Al Masjid An Nabawi or Masjid Al Aqsa.
It is also said that there is not a single inch of Al Quds where a prophet has not prayed or an angel has not stood. In addition to this, Prophet Suleiman made the dua that whoever undertakes a journey to al Quds, that he would return free of sin. For these reasons, it is considered near and dear to the entire Ummah.
Yet the plight of the Palestinians in this holy land has been a difficult one to say the least. They have faced persecution and lived under oppression for many years. But they have stood firm despite the oppression and humiliation they have lived under and shown an unparalleled amount of strength.
And the result of years of persecution and injustice was what the whole world woke up to on Saturday morning – Operation Al-Aqsa Flood. The days that have followed have been disturbing to say the least and full of atrocities. What’s more, the general public seem to be naive regarding the history of the situation, and mainstream media outlets are portraying the oppressed as the oppressors, as well as spreading misinformation and fake news.
Muslims must speak out
It is important that Muslims, especially in the West, correct and challenge the blatant one-sided narrative being pushed out by the media. This involves educating friends, colleagues and those in our wider circles about the decades-long oppression of the Palestinians by the Israelis.
Aside from this, we must educate our children to also speak up and push back if any ideas are pushed onto them in schools. We must utilise the advice from organisations such as CAGE on how to deal with this. In recent days CAGE has published a document of our rights and how to deal with Palestine activism in our schools and I encourage all parents to take heed of it.
We have also seen scare-mongering tactics to prevent those who support the Palestinian cause from doing so. Most recently, we heard Home Secretary Suella Braverman state that waving the Palestinian flag “may not be legitimate” as it may be seen as “a show of support of terrorism.” Also chanting phrases like “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” could be seen, she has suggested, as an expression of “a violent desire to see Israel erased from the world.”
Meanwhile, the likes of Keir Starmer have come out with barbaric statements like Israel has a right to cut off the electricity and water supplies to Gaza. And no one bats an eyelid. I mean what sort of drugs are these people smoking to get to such a delusional state? Seriously?
The only tool that the West, and even Israel for that matter, has is their scare-mongering tactics, through intimidation and threats. This is something that is across the board for many issues that Muslims experience, such as speaking against the LGBTQ lobby, or what we teach about Islam in schools. But we must not waiver. They can scare us, intimidate us, but they cannot remove the faith and strength from our hearts.
In addition, we must correct any slander, lies and misinformation that is spread to the best of our ability through using tools such as social media. Social media is powerful in accessing many people all over the world and should be used to our advantage.
However, it has been disappointing to see many social media personalities continue to exhibit their vanity as if nothing is happening. And these are the same people who would speak out on any other issue such as the Ukraine-Russia war, Black Lives Matter, Charlie Hebdo attacks etc. But for some reason, they have lost their voices now.
I just don’t understand how are we are continuing as normal in our day-to-day lives whilst the Ummah is in mourning.
The strength of Palestinians and our weakness
The Palestinian people have incredible strength and unwavering faith in Allah SWT that we cannot even begin to comprehend. Here in the West we come from a place of privilege. We have access to all the necessities of life, we live in comfortable homes, have no constant threat or fear. We can make choices and always have aspirations and hope for the future.
The Palestinians, however, have lived for generations with complete reliance upon Allah, living at the mercy of their oppressors, not knowing if they are going to survive the next day.
I vividly recall during my travels to Jerusalem a few years ago a conversation I had with a 20 year old Palestinian female. She told me that she lived around 15 minutes drive from the old city of Jerusalem al Quds but this was the first time that she had been allowed into the city.
I couldn’t comprehend not being allowed to drive 15 minutes away from my home to enter a town. I asked her “What’s it like being Palestinian?” apprehensively, as at the time it was Ramadan and there was conflict going on.
I asked her: “You must live in a lot of hardship?” She looked at me and smiled. She replied: “Alhamdulililah, being Palestinian is special. We know that Allah has chosen a life for us that he has not chosen for anyone else and that makes us so happy.”
And this conversation that I had was just one of many. Every encounter I had revealed to me an unparalleled strength in these people. One that people like me in the West could not even dream of. Their lives literally are for the sake of Allah SWT. They live every day as it comes; they do not know if they will live until tomorrow. Unlike us in the West, they have no real hope for tomorrow or the future. All they have is now.
Perhaps, therefore, there are those in the Ummah who are saying the Palestinians should have continued making dua and having trust in Allah, as opposed to fighting. Well, that is because they do not possess that same level of strength, courage or iman in their hearts, which is what guides the affairs of the Palestinians.
What can we do?
In terms of practical steps we can take, we need to give sadaqah towards causes to aid the Palestinian people. This includes charities that can get aid to Gaza and supporting media outlets that can help raise awareness. Also in the upcoming months and years, we should have every intention to continue supporting the people of Palestine financially as they will definitely need it.
Moreover, we must call upon Allah to protect and save the Palestinians, and to help them against their enemy. There is nothing that happens without His knowledge; not a leaf falls except that He knows it. He has the ability to do all things through simply saying “Be.” He surely can change the state of affairs for the Palestinian people. It is also Sunnah to perfom Qunoot at the time of calamity and this can be done with all prayers.
Lastly, we must not forget that it is the media that controls the minds of the people. Currently the conflict is fresh and so is being reported constantly. But as the days go by the reporting may reduce, and therefore it may seem like less of a priority and slip to the back of people’s minds. However know that the Palestinians will continue to need the assistance of the Ummah for years to come.
I urge all Muslims to speak up, to educate, to protest. We are unable to rely on the so-called leaders of the Ummah who have taken a back seat, watching on as our brothers and sisters are massacred. Therefore, the least we can do is to raise our voices. Just know that if you live for nothing, you will die for nothing.
May Allah SWT rectify our affairs and give victory to the believers. Ameen.