An open letter about Palestine to Muslim leaders and scholars

The Dome of Rock in the Al Aqsa Mosque compound

Fahad Ansari says that our policy of appeasing the British state has failed, and issues an urgent appeal to British Muslim leaders to either start doing their Islamic duty to defend the Palestinians or step aside for someone else who will.

Respected ulema, brothers and sisters

السلام علیكم ورحمة الله وبركاتھ

I pray that this finds each of you in the highest state of emaan and coping in the wake of the calamities facing our Ummah at this moment in time.

As the nations of the world gather to execute nothing less than genocide on the Palestinians of Gaza, I request each of you to ask yourselves one question, the same question I have been asking myself every day this week: what has stopped us from bearing witness to the atrocities taking place and standing by the Palestinians without fear of censure?

For decades, we have followed your lead and example in compromising our faith, in artificially moderating our practices, in diluting the principles of our deen to demonstrate our loyalty to this country, and in moulding an Islam that is palatable to the Western psyche. Most devastatingly, we have sold our souls to prove our humanity.

We promoted democracy and capitalism, issuing fataawa for our community to vote at a time when the general British public is becoming increasingly disengaged and disillusioned with the “one party-two sides” political system.

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We celebrated the Queen’s Jubilee, we mourned her death, and we feted the new King, with our children even supplicating to Allah in our places of worship to protect the monarch.

We allowed our masaajid to become recruiting grounds for “our boys” while they engaged in illegal wars in Muslim lands.

We mastered the art of condemnation, denouncing our brothers and sisters struggling around the world, denigrating those who were incensed by attacks on our beloved Prophet (pbuh), and distancing ourselves from aspects of the Shari’ah of Allah. So determined were we to avoid the label of “extremism” that we condemned our own humanity in the process.

We trumpeted our successes by proudly boasting of having a Muslim mayor of London, a Muslim First Minister of Scotland, a Muslim Home Secretary, dozens of Muslim parliamentarians, Muslim professionals, Muslim celebrities, Muslim sports stars and Muslim entertainers.

We not only believed that we were full citizens of this country but we betrayed our intelligence by fooling ourselves that we held some sort of influence on policymakers. We assured ourselves that they now saw our humanity.

A bitter lesson about ‘Muslim influence’

This week however, we tasted the bitter lesson once again that despite all of the above efforts, there is a hierarchy of racism embedded in Western society in which Muslims are very close to the lowest rung of that ladder, if not cemented to the very bottom.

One would have thought that having politically, financially and militarily supported Ukraine in its resistance against the Russian invasion, the Palestinian struggle would have been regarded with more empathy and solidarity than in previous years. But true to form, the many tentacles of the entity that fathered the bastard state of Israel remained frustratingly blind to the glaring parallels between the two causes. The Ukrainians are humans; the Palestinians are “human animals.”

What happened to our influence? The Muslim Mayor of London who prides himself as a mayor of all London’s communities has devoted his time this week to expressing support and solidarity with the Jewish community.

He has also promoted Diwali, the Afghanistan earthquake, the Euro 2028 Championship, and the release of beavers into the wild. Not a single mention of his Palestinian constituency, let alone the wider Muslim populace who are grieving for their co-religionists being pulled out of the rubble in Gaza. Even animals were prioritised over the people of Gaza.

Keir Starmer. Editorial credit: ComposedPix /

The Muslim Scottish First Minister helplessly appealed to the Foreign Secretary to persuade the Israelis for his wife’s British parents to be assisted to leave Gaza. James Cleverly has not even responded to the plea but is arranging for flights to evacuate British Jews from Israel. We do not expect Cleverly to express concern about British citizens trapped in Gaza but is it too much to ask for him to simply acknowledge their existence?

The better of our Muslim MPs have been largely silent over the past week, an admirable stance when compared to those who have issued grovelling apologies and declarations of “Israel’s right to defend itself,” after being “caught” standing at a Palestine Solidarity Campaign stall at the Labour Party conference.

So to think we have achieved a level of “agency” is delusional as it simply played into a larger narrative that has ultimately led to leaders that are less afraid of Allah than they are of political opinion.

Yet, come the next election, you will continue to advise us to go out and vote for the Labour Party even where its leaders openly support Israeli apartheid and war crimes against a defenceless civilian population. With what conscience can any Muslim approach the ballot box in this country to elect people to sit in a building that was lit up in the flag of the apartheid state while it cut off electricity, gas and water from two million Muslims and bombed them from the air with no means of escaping?

Keir Starmer publicly defended and justified this war crime.

And one of the most recognisable Muslim faces in cricket, England vice-captain Moeen Ali deleted a social media post because it featured the Palestinian flag. Other Muslim footballers and celebrities have remained silent on social media seemingly out of fear of backlash from their clubs and supporters. As with professionals on Linkedin, why have we not been able to empower them sufficiently to be able to withstand such pressure? As in the 9/11 years, we have been given an ultimatum, that unless we confirm our allegiance to the colonial settler apartheid state, it will be assumed that we are with the “terrorists.”

‘This is not the time for cowardice’

My beloved brothers and sisters, we must understand that when it comes to Palestine, no resistance is permitted. All Palestinian militant groups, of whatever ideology, are considered terrorist organisations.

Israel has also designated six Palestinian civil society organisations dealing with the rights of prisoners, women, children and agriculture, as terrorist organisations, a move that has not resulted in any sanction from the UK or EU.

Two years ago, hundreds of Muslim school children were penalised for expressing solidarity with Palestine, with some being referred to Prevent. The government is currently limiting the right to protest and legislating to criminalise BDS. It has now threatened to make it a criminal offence to even fly the Palestinian flag.

It is because of our cowardly positions over the past two decades, eviscerating the subject of defensive jihad as a means of liberating Palestine from the discussion, that we are now in the dystopian position where it is becoming an act of resistance to simply fly a Palestinian flag in this country.

A child killed in Gaza. Pic: AA

The right of the Palestinian people to resist military colonial occupation and an apartheid regime, including the right to armed struggle, is one that is recognised by international law. Yet the moral compass is so utterly warped that the supporters and enablers of apartheid and war crimes proudly boast of British citizens flying out to Israel to join the IDF and then have the audacity to lecture us about humanity.

We are at a critical juncture where it is incumbent upon you all to fulfil the amaanah that has been given to you as our leaders and push back and regain the ground that we have steadily lost over the years in our attempts to project our humanity. This is not the time for cowardice, for caution or for compromise.

Regardless of the loss of innocent life in Israel, neither it nor its supporters and enablers are in any position to claim the moral high ground and we must have the confidence to demonstrate the resilience and fortitude that we have come to greatly admire in the Palestinians.

There will inevitably be adverse consequences such as media scrutiny, Charity Commission investigations, possible arrests, but these sacrifices are insignificant when compared to those being made by our brothers and sisters at this very moment in Gaza. You are our leaders and you need to make those sacrifices for others to emulate. This is the path of the prophets and the companions and if you are not being tested, then you need to ask yourself whether you are doing enough.

Any other community at this juncture would be calling for a general strike whereby Muslims walk from their jobs for one day and march on the streets to bring the country to a standstill. And despite a ban on pro-Palestinian protests in France, where Muslims are facing severe levels of persecution, the community there has defied the law to fearlessly take to the streets to bear witness.

It is in that spirit that I respectfully request that if you do not feel you have the courage to openly defend the Palestinians right to resist, then kindly step down and allow others who can to take your place. Allah has placed you in positions of leadership which He will ask you about. This is not about you and your service to date but about the future of Muslims in Britain. If we are to learn a lesson from history, it is that if we do not show fortitude towards the unifying issue of Palestinian resistance today, our children will tomorrow be discussing whether it is permissible to even make dua for their victory and liberation.

May Allah SWT forgive us all for our shortcomings and unite us in support of the Palestinian right to resist.

Your brother in Islam Fahad Ansari

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