This article was written in response to the following question: Why only Palestine?
Why Mainly Palestine?
This article was written in response to the following question:
Why only Palestine?
Please know that I mean no disrespect by this email, but I have sat silent long enough as I am appalled at our community for being so naive and quiet. I see so many postings about Palestine. (Don’t get me wrong. I know there are horrible things going on there and I am not disputing that.) I see rallies and fundraises and dua’a requests. However, what about our AFRICAN brothers and sisters in DARFUR and SOMALIA and OROMIA, etc? …
Alhamdu-li-llah wa as-Salatu wa as-Salamu ‘ala Rasool-il-llah,
All Praise be to Allah, and may His Blessings be on His Messenger.
In points, I will try to answer the question: Why Only Palestine?
1- Islam doesn’t distinguish between people based on their ethnic, racial or national background. The sister who asked the question seems to recognize this, so I will not attempt to establish any proof on it. After all, it is somewhat unwise to list proofs on the sun rising from the east.
2- Muslims are but people, who share the same ailments that afflict humanity, including different types of biases and partisanships.However, Islam has helped them move in the right direction. If some do not, that is not unexpected. Again, Islam requires of all Muslims to pray five times a day, but many don’t. Yet, the Muslim population, in general, is less biased than all other religious groups in this regard. (History proves this, while enemies and allies alike will admit to this point). The KKK phenomenon and the many similar phenomena that puzzle the human mind never took place in the lands of Islam.
I also, have to remind you here that the problem of slavery, which Islam helped resolve, was not limited, in the Islamic countries, when it existed, to any particular race. There were slaves from all racial backgrounds, including Persians and Romans and yes, Arabs who were enslaved before their conversion to Islam. Islam then forbade the enslavement (i.e. the further instigation) of any Muslim and allowed it to be done only to the non-Muslim captives of war, regardless of their race, for many good reasons that we may discuss, if you so desire. (Among the reasons were their own safety and future prospects, as well as equal treatment of the enemies, who customarily did the same.)
3- Now, before I mention the many reasons of “Why Palestine”, I have to stress the following:
a- I understand that the issue is different for someone who grew up here than from most of us, emigrants, who came from the lands of Islam. If we can transmit some or all of our thoughts, we may not be able to transmit all of our feelings. If someone who grew up here feels otherwise, that is great. I am sure some of you have the same feelings. This is just my observation about the majority, not an invitation to a long debate.
b- Palestine is not the only bleeding wound in our body, and when Afghanistan cried for help, tens of thousands of Muslims (Arabs and non-Arabs) poured into that dear country to sacrifice their lives for Allah’s cause; same with Chechnya, Bosnia and many others. Some Palestinians and Arabs may be only concerned about Palestine. That may be because they are not good practicing Muslims, and to them, it is a national cause. That doesn’t apply to the majority of them, at least after the Islamic Awakening.
4- Now, “Why Mainly Palestine”
a- Because of what this land means to us Muslims. It is the destination of the Prophet’s Night Journey (Isra’), and the beginning of his ascent to the heavens, (Mi’raaj), and it is the land which Allah called blessed in the Quran, and the one that has the third most sacred mosque to us. Sister, it is not about Arab and African; I am Egyptian. Sinai, which is part of Egypt that is three times bigger than Palestine, was occupied by the same enemy, and the case and issue for most of us, the people of Egypt (not the government) was, and continues to be Palestine, not Sinai. Also, Ceuta and Melilla are two Moroccan cities that are occupied by Spain. Have you ever heard about them from Arab friends?
They are Arab cities! The people of Morocco, themselves, are currently having large protests to condemn Israel for the massacres and atrocities it perpetrates against our people in Gaza, but they never have the same zeal against Spain! Iraq is another Arab country that is currently occupied, and you don’t hear about it as much as you hear about Palestine for several reasons you will come to know from the following points. If a bomb fell on my hometown of Alexandria, Egypt, I would be enraged and gravely concerned about my family and friends, but I will not be as outraged as I would if that city was Maccah or Madinah. An assault on them is an assault against the most obvious symbols of my deen. I am sure many share with me the same feelings whether they are Arabs, Africans, Sub-continental, Turkish, Indonesian or from somewhere else.
b- Because of the magnitude of the crime. This is not a simple occupation; this is a crime of replacing a people by others and erasing a nation off the map and denying a people their identity. The Jews of the whole world may go to live in the land they wrongfully seized from its people, and the people who hold the keys of their homes in Palestine may not go back. Four hundred-twenty villages were destroyed in 1948 and people were massacred to be terrorized into exile, and more than half the population were forced out of their land, so that the Jews from East Europe and other places can take their homes, farms, and lands. This makes it different from the cases you mentioned.
Yes, we have bleeding wounds in Somalia, about which I was always vocal (currently, paying some price for that). However, we don’t think that Ethiopia will be able to change Somalia into a different country or replace its Muslim population. The war before that was between Somali factions and that saddens us greatly, but doesn’t have the same effect on us like an attack from outside.
Darfur (the land of Muslim scholars and huffadh) is an internal problem between us Muslims. Like any other people, and as I said before, we get more agitated when the attack is from outside. Also, despite being a sad and painful problem befalling a great people with a great Islamic heritage and contributions, it has nothing to do with replacing a population. It is rooted in the poverty of the country, its bad administration, corruption of previous governments, and conflict over resources between the peasants and nomads, as well as some injustices committed by both sides. All exploited, fueled and exaggerated by outside forces that aim to tear up Sudan.
Kashmir is another case in point that also is very dear to us Muslims, and we see our just cause in it with complete certainty, and feel the pain of our people there who were subject to enormous injustices. There are 180 million Muslims in India, and there were always Muslim scholars from that part of the world who have felt that all Muslims of that region should have stayed as part of the subcontinent. I don’t agree, but you get my point.
c- Because of the type of enemy. The Zionist movement is strong enough to make the challenge in Palestine greater. They are also backed by superpowers, who never failed to support their injustices and massacres of our peoples and condemn the victims. They are trying to create a new set of rules, previously unknown to humanity, which is that the people whose lands were occupied and their families massacred and their properties seized and demolished should do nothing except peacefully protest in the streets of London, amongst other capitals. They may also write letters to the UN, which will be thrown in the trash before or after a comic meeting to discuss the issue.
The resolutions to be passed should come from the General Assembly, like no. 194, which means that they are practically – even if not morally – meaningless. Whenever the Security Council decides to pass a resolution, like no. 242 or 338, it has to be under chapter XI, not XII, which means ‘non-enforceable’! (Chapter XII is reserved for us and other similarly weak nations).
The starvation of Gazans to death committed by Israel and tacitly approved by the “humane” international community for 2 years now, and ironically and painfully aided by my own government (Egypt) and even some Palestinians, is another reason why we are in pain. Do you know what this means to us? It means our impotence and powerlessness, which adds a completely different dimension to our frustration.
d- Because of the duration of the tragedy. Again, this started long before 1947, when Israel declared independence. It started with an influx of European Jews in the late 1800s to replace the indigenous population and escalated with the Balfour Declaration, in which the then prime minister of “Great”
Britain promised the land of Palestine to the Jews. As if we and our land are a British property! Throughout the period of their emigration to Palestine, which spiked with WWII, Jews were , generally, being backed by Britain, who was the occupier of Palestine. The Palestinians were massacred whenever they showed discontentment with the gradual demise of their nation and loss of their lands. Jack Straw, the former British foreign secretary, himself, admitted the shameful role of Britain in this crime.
e- Because of the rapid progress of the case. The time factor is important here. Israel continues to build settlements despite the hypocritical calls from the international community. This means the cancer is spreading in the weak body, and if the immune system is not activated now, the complications will be devastating. In the Partition Plan, we were given 45% of the land (which is all ours) despite being, at that time, twice the number of the Jews. In 1967, Israel captured 77% of the land, and left us with 23%. That is what we are trying to get now! (At least our governments). Yet, George Bush has just painfully reminded us recently that conditions on the ground must be taken into consideration. This means that we should not be hopeful to even get that 23% of our land, amongst many other things we will not get and many limitations to be forced on us (the victim).
f- The conspiracy against Palestine is one against the ummah. If you study the case and see the number of players who took part in this plot, you will realize that. The interruption of the land continuity of this ummah is a main gain to its enemies, and that can only happen by overtaking Palestine. To have an enemy within the heart of the ummah with easy access to many vital regions, including the sacred precincts is not trivial either.
Finally, it is not about talking and protesting, though necessary, but the cause of Palestine will be served by actions, and here is my suggested action plan:
In the short term:
1) Do not do anything hasty and irresponsible, for that will not serve the cause or the legacy of our living people and martyrs in Palestine. (A general advice, not that I think any of you is irresponsible.)
2) Visit the masjids and be around your brethren if you feel too frustrated and distressed. Listen to the news in moderation to stay in touch, but don’t allow yourself to get overwhelmed.
3) Do not despair. Put your trust in Allah and have good thoughts about Him. Our martyrs ascend to the heavens the moment their bodies fall to the ground. Allah is most capable, but He tests and tries His people to select some of them for the highest rankings of His jannaat. Prophet Musa was harmed by Pharaoh and his people were tormented by him and his predecessors for generations; and many Prophets were massacred by their people. Prophet Yahya (John) was killed and his head was given as a gift to a prostitute. Allah lets all of this happen for wisdom He only encompasses, but we can see glimpses of it.
4) Supplicate, but repent first to make your supplication more worthy, and seekwaseelah (means) to Allah through prayers, fasting and charity.
5) Donate generously. Many people fear harm, and harm will not touch you inshallah if you donate through the legal channels. But, if it did, then let it be. We will not let ourselves become too intimidated to do the least and use legal channels and legitimate relief organizations to have them carry our help to our people to relieve part of the humanitarian crisis.
6) Protest and be vocal, but please, learn the facts and commit the most important of them to memory, so that you can communicate an intelligible argument, on behalf of your brothers and sisters under fire, to the people of conscience, here and around the world, regardless of their religious affiliations.
(That is for us, Muslims in the West; for our counterparts in the Muslim land like, Egypt, Jordan, KSA, Lebanon and Syria, they may have a longer list.)
In the long term:
We must feel angry at ourselves without acquitting the victimizers of their crimes. It is our collective weakness and apathy. It is our collective sin and departure from the way of Allah that brought us to this level of humility, and encouraged every predator to attack us.
Isn’t it time for us to remember Allah? Isn’t it time to close our ranks and work for the best of the ummah? Isn’t it time to come to the masajid and repent to Allah for having abandoned His houses? The people in Gaza pray under fire in huge numbers in the masajid. More than eleven were bombed, many times while praying and it has not deterred them. Isn’t it time to stop injustice between ourselves?
I think it is overdue for all of us to realign ourselves with the will of Allah, learn what He asks of us, purify our hearts and work righteousness, and help theummah recuperate from its current ailment. Our ummah is not dead, and will not die. That is His promise to us. It is we, who die when we fail to honor our obligations towards it.
I am sorry I couldn’t be briefer, but I hope some of those who may have the same question may find some answer in my reply, at least from the perspective of some of your fellow Muslims.
Allah knows best.