Common Mistakes When Dealing With Crisis in the Ummah
And not equal are the blind and those who see, nor are (equal) those who believe and do noble deeds, and those who do evil. Little do you consider! [40:58]
What you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing; it also depends on what sort of person you are.
-C. S. Lewis
Philosophers and writers have often discussed the importance of perspective and contemplation when it comes to understanding any issue; to not impulsively form an opinion without careful and thoughtful consideration. For us as Muslims though, while we can appreciate and find common ground in such quotes, we have something far more insightful and full of wisdom – the Qur'an. The recent crisis in Gaza has afforded the Muslim world a host of lessons and reminders elaborately addressed in the Qur'an, if only we would stop to consider them. Gathering from much of what I have been blessed to learn from different scholars of this noble deen, I have noticed some common mistakes widespread in the Ummah when it comes to facing crisis.
- Having a Negative Opinion about Other Muslims based mainly on News from Dubious Sources
- Generalizing regarding an entire population based on the actions a small minority.
- Mistaking success for defeat due to a lack of perspective on life.
The sad reality about every single one of these mistakes though, is that each one is addressed in the Qur'an and was faced at one point or another by the Prophet (saas) and his companions. In this article, we will try to analyze each of these mistakes in detail specifically as they relate to the current crisis in the Muslim world and then understand how we can correct our perception, inshā'Allāh.
Not to Trust the Corrupt Without Inspection
I recently read a very powerful and eye-opening article written by Johann Hari, a non-Muslim columnist for the London Independent, titled, You Are Being Lied to About Pirates (here). Of course, the general trend in all media outlets regarding the whole Somali pirate issue over the past several months is that these pirates are nothing more than lawless bandits with no regard for international law or civility. No one ever questioned the rise of these so-called pirates and what was the motive behind their brazen attacks. It was assumed that extreme poverty and the lawless atmosphere of Somalia had driven these “terrorists” to seafaring robbery for their own corrupt gains and nothing else. But educated people should realize that nothing in the human psyche is ever that simple.
What Mr. Hari astutely discovered in the course of his research was the hidden truth of a shocking crime of outrageous magnitude. To quote from his article,
In 1991, the government of Somalia – in the Horn of Africa – collapsed. Its nine million people have been teetering on starvation ever since – and many of the ugliest forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the country's food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas.
Yes: nuclear waste. As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy to Somalia, tells me: “Somebody is dumping nuclear material here. There is also lead, and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury – you name it.” Much of it can be traced back to European hospitals and factories, who seem to be passing it on to the Italian mafia to “dispose” of cheaply. When I asked Ould-Abdallah what European governments were doing about it, he said with a sigh: “Nothing. There has been no clean-up, no compensation, and no prevention.”
At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia's seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish-stocks by over-exploitation – and now we have moved on to theirs. More than $300m worth of tuna, shrimp, lobster and other sea-life is being stolen every year by vast trawlers illegally sailing into Somalia's unprotected seas. The local fishermen have suddenly lost their livelihoods, and they are starving. Muḥammad Hussein, a fisherman in the town of Marka 100km south of Mogadishu, told Reuters: “If nothing is done, there soon won't be much fish left in our coastal waters.”
Personally, after reading this I was furious that such a crime could be happening to our already weary brothers and sisters in Somalia! I mean how low can these people get – stealing the only livelihood from one of the poorest nations on Earth right now while dumping their toxic waste in the source of that very livelihood? But that feeling of exasperation was quickly followed by shame; shame that I had been so gullible to believe the whole story that was being sold to us by the European nuclear crime cartel responsible for this scandal. I never questioned what was happening, I never gave those poor people any benefit of the doubt and I bought whole-sale the lies and deception about them. I had forgotten Allāh's words wherein He said (what means):
O you who believe! If a corrupt person comes to you with any news, verify it, lest you harm people unintentionally, and afterwards become full of remorse for what you have done. [49:6]
I had made the same mistake that some of the noble Companions had made when they heard the ifk – the lie about 'Aisha committing zina. I had assumed the worst about my fellow Muslim by not investigating the news brought to me by a corrupt source well-known for its brazen lying, deception and wanton distortion of the truth – the media.
So, in the face of the latest crisis in Gaza, I was careful to not make the same mistake. The media desperately wanted to sell an idea so that we would believe that Israel was justified in its aggression against the civilian population of Gaza. They wanted us to believe that these were not human beings, but a society – 1.5 million people in fact – of hateful terrorists. They wanted us to believe that Israel had tried so hard to make peace, had been so patient, since 2006 when the people of Gaza democratically elected their leadership. It was those evil people in Gaza who couldn't abide by the treaties they signed. It was those terrorists to the South who were hell-bent on killing civilians with wanton disregard. They needed to be put in their place. Israel needed to show these people that they had voted for the wrong group and punish them for their “mistake”.
So, it was unfortunate to see a number of Muslims following this line of “opinion”. Had they looked a little deeper into reality, they would have discovered a number of disturbing facts. Firstly, even before officially being elected in 2006, Hamas had agreed to stop suicide bombings and had succeeded in doing so for a period of 18 months into late 2006. During that same period of time, Israel refused to ackowledge them as a political entity and continued a campaign of abductions and assasinations (here). June 2008 brought the latest cease-fire into play in which Hamas and Israel agreed to the following conditions: 1) Hamas was to stop rocket attacks on Israel, 2) Israel would open blockades of relief supplies into impoverished Gaza and 3) Israel would not attack territories in Gaza. Amazingly, Hamas didn't fire a single rocket for much of the duration of this cease-fire, but it was Israel that continued to keep most of the routes into Gaza blocked in effect continuing its strangle-hold upon the Gazan civilian population and violated the cease-fire on, of all days the US presidential election day, November 4th. It was on that day that Israel entered into Gaza where they killed six Hamas “militants” as reported by the Associated Press (AP).
AP stories November 5th and 6th discussed the possible collapse of the cease-fire based on these attacks, but they went largely unpublished in the US where media attention was focused almost entirely on the historic presidential election. Moreover, a Nexis search found no reference to the raid in the transcripts of any television news broadcast during the period. It is nothing short of amazing how deceptive the media can be in such circumstances, especially when partnered with an equally deceptive news-maker. Wallahu musta'aan.
The solution to this disease of the heart is two-fold:
- Maintaining benefit of the doubt and generally a positive idea regarding your fellow Muslim
- Careful inspection into any matter in which they are accused which must include getting the perspective of the Muslim
Indeed, Allāh has said what means:
The believers are nothing else than brothers. So make reconciliation between your brothers, and fear Allāh, that you may receive mercy. [49:10]
And among the many beneficial hadith on this matter which must cause us to reflect upon the rights that our oppressed brothers and sisters around the world have upon us are the following:
Ibn Umar (ra) reports that he heard the Messenger of Allāh (saas) say, “The Muslim is the brother of the Muslim; he should not oppress him nor forsake him (when he is oppressed).” (Bukhāri and Muslim)
Abu Huraira (ra) reported Allāh's Messenger (saas) as saying, “He who alleviates the suffering of a brother out of the sufferings of the world, Allāh would alleviate his suffering from the sufferings of the Day of Judgment, and he who finds relief for one who is in difficulty, Allāh would make things easy for him in the Hereafter, and he who conceals (the faults) of a Muslim, Allāh would conceal his faults in the world and in the Hereafter. Allāh is will support and help a servant so long as the servant supports and helps his brother ….” (Muslim)
So have we given our fellow Muslims in Gaza their rights? Have we been just to them by trying to understand their actions, by seeking the truth about what is really happening – or have we forsaken them and oppressed them by just accepting the “news” that is fed to us by a distorted media? How many a statement can we find right now from those claiming īmān wherein they seem so focused on the mistakes of their brethren that are microscopic when compared to the atrocities of their attackers? Have the people of Gaza committed sins? Yes they have – but then again, so have we all. Has their leadership possibly taken too much license in certain areas of Islamic law when it comes to the defense of thir own people? Yes they have, but when any other military force does the same thing, we have been far more forgiving of their excuses than we are for these people who are struggling to raise the banner of Islam and to promote the Sunnah in this blessed land.
So what then should our response be when we see some things from oppressed Muslim communities that appear to be contrary to the teachings of Islam? Let us again refer back to the hadith:
Narrated Anas (ra) that Allāh's Messenger (saas) said, “Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or if he is an oppressed one.” People asked, “O Allāh's Messenger! We can understand how to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor?” The Prophet (saas) said, “By preventing him from oppressing others.” (Bukhāri)
And the great scholar of hadith Abdullah ibnal-Mubaarak also says, “The believer is he who gives his brothers an excuse, and the hypocrite is he who seeks their slips.”
Does this mean that we should excuse them even in the face of indefensible actions? Absolutely not! Remember the justice with which Allāh commands us in the Qurʾān where he says what means,
O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allāh and be just witnesses and let not the enmity and hatred of others make you act without justice. Be just: that is nearer to taqwa, and fear Allāh. Verily, Allāh is Well-Acquainted with what you do. [5: 8]
So our understanding is that our position must be one of justice first, while at the same time seeking to find an excuse for the sincere Muslim who's action may not be outwardly understood. If in fact no excuse can be found and it is clear that this Muslim has indeed transgressed the bounds set by Allāh, should we then forsake him? No! What would you wish for yourself if you were in an impossibly difficult situation and your desperation led you to disobey Allāh? No doubt, you would wish for His forgiveness. But are we asking Allāh to forgive the trespasses of our brothers and sisters in Gaza? Are we asking Him to guide them and guide others through them? Are we asking that Allāh cause their leaders to be just and upright? The last reminder I wish to give myself and the reader before moving on to the next point is to remember the beautiful statement of the Prophet (saas):
Abdullah ibnu 'Amr ibnul-'Aas (ra) reports that the Prophet (saas) said, “Those who have mercy will receive the mercy of the Most Merciful. Have mercy on those who are on earth, the One in the Heavens will have mercy on you.” (Tirmidhi ).
Generalizing About an Entire Population
As often as it happens to us as Muslims today, you would think that generalization would be the last mistake that we would ever make. But we have been slow to heed the warning of the Prophet (saas) wherein he said:
Abu Sa'Īd al-Khudri (ra) reported that Allāh's Messenger (saas) said, “You will indeed tread the same path as was trodden by those before you, inch by inch and step by step, so much so that if they were to enter into the hole of the lizard, you would follow them in this also“. We said: O' Messenger of Allāh, do you mean the Jews and Christians (by your words)” those before you”? He said: “Who else (than those two religious groups)?” (Bukhāri and Muslim)
He (saas) warned us that we will indeed follow their behaviors, even ones that make no sense whatsoever (think of those Muslims who had “rat-tail” hairstyles, hang their pants so low that their underwear is on full display like “gangstas”, and other assorted absurdities) which is among the meanings of following them into a lizard's hole. So it is no real surprise to see us following them also in the practice of generalizing about entire populations of people. How do we do this?
When was the last time the imām in your local masjid prayed against the Jews? Did the Prophet (saas) ever make du‘ā’ against an entire people like this? How often do we hear some Muslims generalizing about how Jews are this and that of one bad attribute or another? Can such accusations be found in the Qurʾān and Sunnah? Let us briefly review some of the many ayaat just in surat Aali-'Imraan in the Qur'an that deal with the People of the Book to see indeed how they are described by Allāh, the Most Just. He says what means (emphasis is mine):
A party of the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) wish to lead you astray. But they shall not lead astray anyone except themselves, and they perceive not. [3:69]
Among the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) is he who, if entrusted with a great amount of wealth, will readily pay it back;and among themthere is he who, if entrusted with a single silver coin, will not repay it unless you constantly stand demanding, because they say: “There is no blame on us to betray and take the properties of the illiterates (Arabs).” But they tell a lie against Allâh while they know it. [3:75]
You [the generation of the Prophet (saas) and all who follow their way in general] are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind; you enjoin all good and forbid all evil, and you believe in Allāh. And had the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) believed, it would have been better for them; among them are some who have faith, but most of them are disobedient and rebellious against Allāh's Command. [3:110]
Not all of them are alike; a party of the People of the Book stand for the right, they recite the Verses of Allâh during the hours of the night, prostrating themselves in prayer. [3:113]
And there are, certainly, among the People of the Book (Jews and Christians), those who believe in Allāh and in that which has been revealed to you, and in that which has been revealed to them, humbling themselves before Allāh. They do not sell the Verses of Allāh for a little price, for them is a reward with their Lord. Surely, Allāh is Swift in account. [3:199]
But don't be fooled into thinking that this pattern exists only in this noble and grand surah, for indeed it is found throughout the Qur'an:
Verily, those who disbelieve from among the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) and the pagans will abide forever in the Fire of Hell. They are the worst of creatures. [98:6]
Thus, Allāh in His infinite Justice differentiates between those among the People of the Book who are righteous and trustworthy and those who are disbelievers and treacherous in their dealings. He does not generalize regarding them.
In the Sunnah of the Prophet we see this in practice where the Prophet (saas) would deal with some of the Jewish tribes harshly after their betrayals, but among others he was kind, generous and forgiving. How many a Jewish person accepted Islam simply due to the kindness and excellent character of the Prophet (saas), and how many a Jewish person even till today has accepted Islam for similar reasons. The behavior and attitude of a number of Muslims today is a sad departure from the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet and the righteous Companions who also displayed care and concern for the non-Muslims under their governorship.
We should be just in the realization that even in Israel there are those who are very distressed by what is happening not only now, but on a daily basis. There are entire organizations devoted to helping the Palestinian people live a better and safer life, people who stand at checkpoints and yell at their own soldiers for the mistreatment of Palestinians, people who bravely go on the record voicing their opposition of the discriminatory and oppressive practices of the Israeli occupation. These people have displayed one of the greatest acts in Islam, to speak the word of truth before an oppressive ruler and as such they are people who may very well be open to the message of Islam if they could see it in practice first.
The reason that the People of the Book have a distinguished status among the general category of disbelivers in the message of Islam is because they are the closest people to this belief. Our articles of faith are nearly identical and as such it doesn't require much of a change for them to adopt Islam. For the Christian people, particularly in the West, we have been very accomodating in our dawaah, but ever since the Israeli occupation, our da‘wah to Jewish people has been lacking. It is wrong that due to the oppressive actions of a group of them that we deprive others of hearing the good of Islam and deprive ourselves of the natural cooperation in goodness that is allowed to us in Islam.
There is no doubt that Israeli policies are such that it is clear that they generalize against all Muslims. We are all equally bad in their myopic vision, but let us not stray from the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet by behaving the same way against them. This can only happen when we give every Jewish person that we meet the benefit of the doubt in regards to their character as did the Prophet. There is no contradiction between having caution when dealing with someone and also being open to the good that they might have. This is what the Prophet (saas) demonstrated and what the Companions acted upon. Another aspect of this justice is to specify in our du‘ā’ that Allāh aid the believers against those People of the Book who have disbelieved and spread corruption on the Earth as opposed to making du‘ā’ against all of them, wallahu a'lam.
Beyond simply generalizing against the Jewish people in du‘ā’, there is a far more dangerous habit that occurs not only among Muslims, but in all human societies – extremism. Shortly after the atrocities against the people of Gaza began, a Dutch of Arab lineage was arrested after he wounded two Israelis in a shopping mall in Holland with a hand-gun. Around the same time, a relatively unknown (I found a total of nine lectures by this imām online whereas “popular” Shuyūkh have over 500) and elderly imām in one of the Muslim countries issued a “fatwa” wherein he encouraged Muslims to attack Israelis and Israeli interests all over the world “in defense of Gaza”. Any rational person can see that these two individuals, amidst the hundreds of millions of Muslims world-wide, acted out of rage and unchecked emotion. Their actions are not representative of Islam or Muslims, but they represent a dangerous trend of the human personality which can be seen globally in different expressions (“road rage” killings, “crimes of passion”, “going postal” work place killings, etc.). Some people, be they Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Atheist or any other “ism”, do not control their anger and instead act upon it in terrifying ways.
The Islamic teaching on this matter is clear though as can first be demonstrated from the Qur'an:
And race towards the way (which leads to) forgiveness from your Lord, and for a Paradise as wide as are the heavens and the earth, prepared for the pious. Those who spend (for the sake of Allāh) in prosperity and in adversity, who repress anger, and who pardon men; verily, Allāh loves those who excel in doing good. [3:133-134]
Ibn Kathir states in regard to the latter portion of these ayaat,
“for when they are angry, they control their anger and do act upon it. Rather, they even forgive those who hurt them. Imām Ahmad recorded that Abu Hurayrah (ra) said that the Prophet said, “The strong person is not he who is able to physically dominate people. The strong person is he who overcomes his rage when he is angry.” [Also Bukhāri]
Also from guidance of the Prophet (saas) is the following hadith:
Abu Hurairah (ra) reports that a man said to the Prophet (saas), “Advise me.” “The Prophet (saas) said, “Avoid rage (sometimes translated as “Don't get angry“)” The man asked (the same question) again and again, and the Prophet said in each case, “Avoid rage.” (Bukhāri)
Furthermore, when it comes to doing any deed for the sake of Allāh we must remember that our sole motivation must be only the pleasure of Allāh and in accordance with His limits. Emotion must always be removed from the equation lest it over-ride our primary intention of pleasing Allāh and submiting to Him. An example of this concern and control is well illustrated in the story of when Ali ibn Abi Taalib (ra) was in a battle and was about to kill his opponent when the other man spat in his face. Immediately after this happened, Ali pulled away from him and walked away from him. The man, surprised, asked him why he didn't kill him although he had the chance. Ali replied, “I have nothing personal against you. I was fighting you solely for the sake of Allāh. If I had killed you after you spat on my face, then it would have become my personal revenge which I do not wish to take.” So as Muslims, we need to always remember that our actions are for the purpose of justice and good for mankind in submission to Allāh and that we do not act on anger, revenge or any other emotion.
Mistaking Success for Defeat
This pervasive mistake in our Ummah today is most representative of our collective disregard for the Qur'an; Allāh grants victory and we somehow see defeat. How so? One of the reasons is what I call “romantic comedy syndrome”.
The Romantic Comedy Syndrome is very typical in younger generations although with the general collapse in morality throughout the world today, it can be found in people in their 40′s and 50′s as well. The source of the problem is watching romantic comedy movies where the typical storyline is that of two star-struck “soul-mates” find their perfect match in one another in hopelessly romantic settings and events. I'm not saying that its completely impossible that a wealthy entepreneur couldn't find his long lost soul-mate in a street prostitute with a “heart of gold”, but I don't recommend that as a way of meeting promising marriage prospects for even non-Muslims. The end result is that we have this vaulted idea of love – or any other ideal – that is based entirely upon fantasy, which prevents us from having a normal relationship. For many young people seeking marriage, this leads them on a mythical quest for “the one” which most often results in finally “settling” for a distant second choice in their late twenties or early thirties because their “perfect” match was never found. For others, they are so deep in their fantasy world that they believe they indeed have found “the one” or their “soul-mate” and when that magical romance dies 1-2 months into their marriage then they seek divorce or resolve to an unhappy marriage.
So how does this apply to crisis in the Muslim world? We have an unrealistic and vaulted idea about what victory means. For many people, victory would mean that the Gazans would overcome surmountable odds and defeat Israel whereby the Jewish people would be once again living under a Muslim rule. This of course would happen simultaneously with the return of the khilaafah and money falling from the heavens. The time expectation for these events would be next week at the latest. These ideas are clearly the result of complete ignorance of Qur'anic ayaat and historical precedent. To better understand how the help of Allāh comes and why, let us return to the Qur'an first:
Those of you who turned back on the day the two hosts met (at Uhud), it was Satan who caused them to backslide (run away from the battlefield) because of some (sins) they had earned. But Allāh, indeed, has forgiven them. Surely, Allāh is Oft-Forgiving, Most Forbearing.
O you who believe! Be not like those who disbelieve (hypocrites) and who say to their brethren when they travel through the earth or go out to fight: “If only they had stayed with us, they would not have died or been killed,” so that Allāh may make it a cause of regret in their hearts. It is only Allāh that gives life and causes death. And Allāh is All-Seer of what you do.
And if you are killed or die in the Way of Allāh, forgiveness and mercy from Allāh are far better than all that they amass (of worldly wealths, etc.).
And whether you die, or are killed, verily, unto Allāh you shall be gathered.
And by the Mercy of Allāh, you dealt with them gently. And had you been severe and harshhearted, they would have broken away from about you; so pass over (their faults), and ask (Allāh's) Forgiveness for them; and consult them in the affairs. And when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allāh, for certainly Allāh loves those who put their trust in Him.
If Allāh helps you, none can overcome you; and if He forsakes you, who is there after Him that can help you? And in Allāh (Alone) let believers put their trust. [3:155-160]
Ibn Kathir explains these very important ayaat by reporting:
(Those of you who turned back on the day the two hosts met, Shaytan only caused them to err because of some of what they had earned) [3:155], because of some of their previous errors. Indeed, some of the Salaf said, “The reward of the good deed includes being directed to another good deed that follows it, while the retribution of sin includes committing another sin that follows it.” Allāh then said, (but Allāh, indeed, has forgiven them), their giving flight …
As for Allāh's statement, (And if you are killed or die in the way of Allāh, forgiveness and mercy from Allāh are far better than all that they amass.) [3:157], indicating that death and martyrdom in Allāh's cause are a means of earning Allāh's mercy, forgiveness and pleasure. This, indeed, is better than remaining in this life with its short lived delights. Furthermore, both the one who dies and the one who is killed will each return to Allāh in any case, and He will reward him if he has done good deeds, or will punish him for his evil deeds …
Allāh then addresses His Messenger and reminds him and the believers of the favor that He has made his heart and words soft for his Ummah, those who follow his command and refrain from what he prohibits. (And by the mercy of Allāh, you dealt with them gently) means, “With Allāh's mercy you became this kind.” Al-Hasan Al-Basri said that this, indeed, is the description of the behavior that Allāh sent Muḥammad with …
(And had you been severe and harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you;) The severe person is he who utters harsh words, and, (harsh-hearted) is the person whose heart is hard. Had this been the Prophet's behavior, “They would have scattered from around you. However, Allāh gathered them and made you kind and soft with them, so that their hearts congregate around you.” `Abdullah bin `Amr said that he read the description of the Messenger of Allāh in previous Books, “He is not severe, harsh, obscene in the marketplace or dealing evil for evil. Rather, he forgives and pardons” …
As for Allāh's statement, (Then when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allāh,) means, if you conduct the required consultation and you then make a decision, trust in Allāh over your decision.
How do these ayaat relate to the current crisis some might ask? Let us take each āyah into closer consideration as it relates to our time.
The first āyah gives us a very clear understanding of one of the major obstacles to success and progress when Allāh says what means (it was Satan who caused them to backslide because of some sins they had earned). Our adherence to Allāh's boundaries is a very real ingredient to success, and our disobedience of His commandments is a direct pathway to failure both in this life and the Hereafter. This matters very much today in our community globally because of the widespread lack of concern for obedience to Allāh. I personally found it very shocking when I was recently in Egypt to be standing outside praying Isha' on a reed mat extension of one of the smaller musallas as people walked by the rows chatting to one another as if nothing was the matter. They expressed absolutely no shame for not being among those who pray, and there were many who had no problem playing music loudly or shouting to their friends while the prayer was in session. This is unfortunately not limited to Egypt. In Ramadan, people may actually abstain from food and drink during the day, but they erase any good they may have attained from their action in the day by sinning all night in “Ramadan parties” where they eat and drink until about 1-2 hours before fajr and then go home to sleep until the mid-afternoon. Are they the people whom the Prophet (saas) described as getting nothing more from their fasting than thirst and hunger? Yes, there is to a degree some “awakening” among our youth, but there is an entire other subset of youth who are ten times more astray and more sinful than the last generation. All of this contributes to our collective failure as an Ummah in so many endeavors.
The second āyah describes another scene ripped directly from many bloglines and comments today, where Allāh says what means (Be not like those who disbelieve [hypocrites] and who say to their brethren when they travel through the earth or go out to fight: “If only they had stayed with us, they would not have died or been killed,“). Today, there are a number of people who make statements like, “Had not Hamas launched rockets then these people would not have died. If only they would stop then these people's lives would be saved!” These people have unknowingly made two great mistakes. Firstly, it is Allāh who gives life and death and when Allāh decrees for a soul to die then it shall die no matter where it is or what the circumstances are. The people who have died in Gaza have met their decree – were they not killed by Israel, they would have died another way. Secondly, it should be very clear to those who closely analyze the news reports that the recent actions of Hamas have little bearing on today's situation. It has been confirmed in numerous news reports that Israel had been planning this ground invasion into Gaza for close to six months now. Certainly, it feels that it has more of an “excuse” now, but had things been different there is little doubt that another reason would have been manufactured. Why?
The current invasion and relentless bombing campaign have the removal of Hamas as their ultimate goal. This has been stated in black and white terms. Why does Israel wish to remove this government democratically elected by the Palestinian people and replace it with another? It is simply because this government has not submitted to them like every other regional government. They have submitted to Allāh and attempts to buy them off have failed. They have declared their loyalty to Islam and to the Sunnah and they have made great efforts to stick to this creed. This is of great concern to Israel because of its implications both to Israel and to the surrounding nations whose populations grow more and more fed up with dictatorships whose loyalty is to everything else but their own people's interests. If Hamas can succeed then this may cause significant ripples in the pond of Middle East nations. For this reason, they must be demonized in every way possible. They must be dehumanized in the media until no one cares if they are killed or not. They must be stopped at all costs and this is what we see now.
The third āyah brings us to the issue of perspective, where Allāh says what means (And if you are killed or die in the Way of Allāh, forgiveness and mercy from Allāh are far better than all that they amass of worldly wealth). There is a difference between what we see and what many of the people of Gaza see, a difference between our understanding and theirs. We see people dying needlessly in a horrifying attack that respects no standard of human decency or international law. They see people dying in the cause of Allāh and attaining the greatest status with Allāh.
The people of Gaza are a people, who in their own words, have chosen to stay in this land even though they know it will be difficult for them. They could leave, but they have chosen to raise their children in this land even though they know that they may lose them due to the aggression of the occupiers. They could leave, but they have stayed in this land remembering that it was this same land upon which thirty thousand of the Prophet's companions were martyred in their quest for Jerusalem. To live in this land requires the heart of a lion and a will of iron. But life in this land also affords the ultimate status with Allāh. It is ribaat – the guarding of the frontiers and its immense reward – and it is more. They have chosen to face the inhumanity of those who have mercilessly occupied them and slaughtered them so that they can be the standard bearers of Islam upon this blessed land. They stand strong in the face of their enemy shouting with their presence that you can take away our homes, our lands, our crops and even our lives but you can never take away our faith and the honor of maintaining the Islamic presence upon this hallowed ground. They want what is with Allāh and they prove it daily with their lives.
The fifth āyah is also very descriptive of these noble people. Their leaders come from among them, and every time Israel kills or abducts them, they are replaced from the same pool of believers. They consult with their people by virtue of the fact that they are their people. And as a nation, they have made their decision to face Israel and have put their collective trust in Allāh. They have been cut off from the whole world through the blockade placed on them. Their reliance upon Allāh only increased when this happened as they realized that no one would help them except Allāh. The governments of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, for all their strength would do nothing – not even to open their borders to allow in much needed food or other humanitarian aid. No, it was Allāh who allowed them to be cut off from the world so that thier trust and reliance upon Him would be pure and complete.
Through this they came to the ultimate realization, (If Allāh helps you, none can overcome you; and if He forsakes you, who is there after Him that can help you? And in Allāh (Alone) let believers put their trust.). They know the history of this embattled area and they know that it takes time for ultimate victory to come. The Prophet (saas) left Mecca after thirteen years of persecution and returned eight years later in victory. He was not victorious overnight even though he was the Messenger of Allāh and even though he was aided by the very Angels. It took Saluhuddin twelve years to unite many of the Muslim lands (Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia and Palestine), and tens of thousands of lives, before succeeding in overcoming the Crusaders to take back Jerusalem after it had been in their hands for 88 years. As such, Jerusalem will not return to Muslim governance in a few weeks or months. It will not happen without lives lost and without difficulties. The people of Palestine have understood this well – they understand that they may be blessed with either one of two victories; to take back Jerusalem or to die for the sake of Allāh in the effort. To this end they have put their trust in Allāh and their hope in His mercy, His help and His reward. In this there are a great many lessons for us to learn in our individual struggles and should cause us to increase our love for these noble people of Honor ('Izzah). And Allāh knows best.
Disclaimer: As a citizen and resident of the United States, I am bound to respect the rules established by this government. At the time of this writing, the United States continues to maintain Hamas on their list of terrorist organizations despite the fact that they were democratically elected by their people in free elections. This thus prohibits any American citizen from knowingly providing material support or resources to Hamas, or any other organization listed.
The State Department website states: “The term “material support or resources” is defined in 18 U.S.C. § 2339A(b)(1) as “any property, tangible or intangible, or service, including currency or monetary instruments or financial securities, financial services, lodging, training, expert advice or assistance, safehouses, false documentation or identification, communications equipment, facilities, weapons, lethal substances, explosives, personnel (1 or more individuals who maybe or include oneself), and transportation, except medicine or religious materials.” 18 U.S.C. § 2339A(b)(2) provides that for these purposes “the term 'training' means instruction or teaching designed to impart a specific skill, as opposed to general knowledge.” 18 U.S.C. § 2339A(b)(3) further provides that for these purposes the term 'expert advice or assistance' means advice or assistance derived from scientific, technical or other specialized knowledge.” To further explore this matter please see the State Department website here.
Thus, I wish to clarify that the purpose of this article has been specifically aimed at religious education and that although Hamas has been mentioned, at no point in time (presently or in the past) have I encouraged or recommended any material support or resources to be directed to them until such time as they are removed from this list. I believe that adherence to the law of the land is a confirmed part of Islam and as such I have made all efforts to make this clear in my writing and speaking. Their mention in this article or elsewhere in my writings has been solely for educational purposes.