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Muslims and The Holocaust

questionmark.jpg?x95968 A difficult time has come to me… a time which every Muslim child in the West will reach, an event which every Muslim child in the West will experience.

Studying the Holocaust.

That terrible, terrible series of events – the rise of Hitler and his government, the proliferation of racist policies, the stirring of hateful feelings against ‘the Others’, the xenophobia rising to such a level that it resulted in Kristallnacht (Crystal Night/The Night of Broken Glass)… and finally, the concentration camps: torture and brutal death, ending in mass graves of rotting bodies, not a single honourable funeral performed.

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I’d like to know how Muslim parents tell their children about the Holocaust, or if they do at all.

Mine never did… I found out about the Holocaust through independent reading of my own, and now, through school. The few times I’ve brought it up with my parents, they dismissed it… well, not dismissed it, exactly – rather, they said that the numbers were exaggerated, and while yes, it did happen, similar and perhaps even worse things are happening to Muslims around the world today and nobody pays as much attention to *them*.

(Please note that I’m not saying this to cast my parents in a negative light or anything; rather, I’m sharing my personal experience so that I may compare and contrast it to how others approach the issue.)

Now, I know that many readers here are Muslim parents, so I have a bunch of questions for you.

Depending on your children’s age, have you taught your children about the Holocaust yet? Do you consider the Holocaust a special issue deserving of special attention? Have your children asked questions about the Holocaust, or the Nazis; and if so, what were those questions and how did you answer them? When discussing the Holocaust, do you emphasize that the main targets were Jews (although the Roma, mentally and physically disabled, and homosexuals were also victims)? Do you draw parallels between the Holocaust and what is happening to Muslims around the world today?

For those of you who *aren’t* parents, what was your first knowledge/experience of the Holocaust, and how did you deal with it?

As I mentioned above, I’m now studying the Holocaust for school (grade 11). I also have to do an assignment – a project – related to this.
Three options are given: Create an original art exhibit (can be hand-drawn, two-dimensional art; collage; digital art; audio, video or Powerpoint file); Develop a tutorial or slide show that teaches students about the Holocaust; or Write a series of letters based on readings.

I’m leaning towards option #1 – creating a work of art that would be my personal response to the Holocaust. I’m just not sure what to make, though, and what to include. I was thinking of a poster, or collage… however, I don’t want to have the typical run-of-the-mill ‘the Holocaust was bad and we should remember the victims’ thing; I want something that’ll emphasize our duty to stand up and fight against the factors that resulted in the Holocaust – arrogance, fear, irrational hatred – so that no group of people would ever again suffer such a disgusting injustice. And in regards to this, I’m wondering whether or not to include Islam/Muslims in this project… after all, this is a *personal* response project, and I look at all of this through the eyes of a Muslim.

What do you think?

Comments, suggestions, answers to my questions will all be greatly appreciated; jazakAllahu khairan in advance!

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Zainab bint Younus is a Canadian Muslim woman who writes on Muslim women's issues, gender related injustice in the Muslim community, and Muslim women in Islamic history. She holds a diploma in Islamic Studies from Arees University, a diploma in History of Female Scholarship from Cambridge Islamic College, and has spent the last fifteen years involved in grassroots da'wah. She was also an original founder of MuslimMatters.org.

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              30 Khawaatir in 30 Days- A Parent’s Guide | Day 21: The Strong Believer

              Now that we have learnt about how we come to success, let’s now talk about the strong believer.

              Question: Who can tell me who was a strong believer during the time of the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)?

              Yes! There are so many of them, like Umar, Hamza, Khalid ibn Walid, az-Zubayr ibn Awwaam, Nusaibah, and Ali [may Allah be pleased with them all].

              Before Umar ibn al-Khattab raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) became Muslim, the Muslims would not pray publicly in front of the Ka’bah. They would be beaten and hurt if they attempted to do so. But, when Umar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) became Muslim, he went directly in front of the Ka’bah to pray. When the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) commanded the Muslims to perform the hijrah (migration from Mecca to Medina), many Muslims did so at night so as not to be seen by the Qurayshi tribes that wanted to keep them in Mecca. Umar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) on the other hand, declared his migration and threatened anyone that attempted to stop him. Abdallah ibn Mas’ud raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said: 

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              “Umar’s submission to Islam was a conquest, his migration was a victory, his khalifa (period of rule) was a blessing. I have seen when we were unable to pray at the Ka’bah until Umar submitted. When he submitted to Islam, he fought them (the pagans) until they left us alone and we prayed.”

              There is a phrase in the Qur’an where Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) commands Prophet Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) and Prophet Yahya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) to take the book with determination; فَخُذْهَا بِقُوَّةٍ  (fa khuth-ha bi quwwa) [take it with power] . 

              Question: What do you think it means to take the book with determination, or with power?

              While the Qur’an is definitely a book that is soothing for our souls, it is also supposed to empower us and strengthen us, so that we can then go forth and empower others by it as well. 

              When we practice what is in the Qur’an, it allows us to remain upright, and builds our spiritual muscles as well. Just like you have to train to grow your physical muscles, you have to keep training for spiritual muscles too. 

              Question: What are some ways we can train our spiritual muscles?

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              30 Khawaatir in 30 Days- A Parent’s Guide | Day 20: Come to Success

              Now that we have learnt about how Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) Mercy encompasses all things, let’s now talk about coming to success.

              Whenever we hear the adhan (call to prayer), there is a part where the mu’adhin (person calling the athan) calls out: “حي على الصلاة” hay ‘ala as-salaah (come to prayer). Then he says: “حي على الفلاح”- hay ‘ala al-falaah.” 

              Question: Does anyone know what hay ‘ala al-falaah means?

              It means ‘come to prayer, come to success.’ Is that how we usually think of success?

              Question: What is your definition of success?

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              Yes, sometimes we think that having a good job, a nice house, and a loving family are the measurements of our success. There may be some truth to that  for this world, but how does Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) measure our success?

              Do you know that there is a surah in the Qur’an called “The Believers” (Al- Mu’minun), and that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) promises that the believers will be successful? He says:

              قَدْ أَفْلَحَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ 

              “Indeed, the believers have attained success” [23; 1]

              Let’s dig a little deeper into the Arabic word for success: فلاح (falaah). Do you know that a derivative of that word فَلَّاح (fallaah) means a farmer? 

              Question: What are some of the things that a farmer needs to do everyday?

              Farmers need to fertilize their soil, plant seeds, pull out weeds, protect their plants from predators, and water their crops. Do you think that’s a lot of work? Do you think it’s easy to be a farmer? I want you to imagine a time when farmers couldn’t turn on a hose to water their plants. They completely relied on rain to irrigate their crops. So, they could do all of this hard work, but if there was a drought, their crops wouldn’t be able to survive. To be a farmer requires a deep sense of تَوَكُّل, tawakkul (reliance on Allah)

              So, part of success is hard work, and a big part is also knowing that nothing happens without the will of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). That’s why when the muadhin tells us to come to salaah (prayer) and to come to success, we respond by saying: 

              لَا حَوْلَ وَلَا قُوَّةَ إِلَّا بِٱللَّٰهِ‎

              “There is no power nor strength except by Allah.”

              We can only come to prayer and we can only achieve success if Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) wills it. The only thing in our control is the amount of effort we exert in the process. 

              So, let’s be farmers; let us try our best to plant good seeds, water them, nourish them, and pray that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), places baraka (blessings) in all of our efforts! 

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              30 Khawaatir in 30 Days- A Parent’s Guide | Day 19: My Mercy Encompasses All Things

              Now that we have learnt about when the angels surround us, let’s now talk about how Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mercy encompasses all things.

              We say بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ  (bismillah Ar-Rahman ar-Raheem) a lot, right? It means ‘in the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate.’ 

              We say it when we pray, before we eat, and we’re encouraged to say it before we begin any new task. But do we really understand what rahma (mercy) means? 

              Question: What do you think rahma means?

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              Do you know that the word rahma comes from the root word, رحم (rahim), which means womb? 

              Question: Who can tell me what a womb is?

              That’s right. A baby is usually in their mommy’s womb for 40 weeks. The baby gets all the nourishment it requires; the temperature in the womb is perfect, the nutrients are always administered, it is safe and warm. All the baby has to do is grow, and alhamdulillah all its needs are being met. 

              Question: How do you think the womb relates to Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mercy?

              Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mercy is constantly surrounding us like a safety net. That doesn’t mean that we’ll never experience any pain, but Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is constantly showing us mercy with every breath we take. Even blinking is a mercy from Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) that we don’t even have to think about. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) even has more mercy for us than a mother has for her own child! 

              One day the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was walking with a group of his companions, and they passed by a woman who was frantically looking for her child. She would take any child to her breast and try to feed him/her. Then the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said to the companions: “Do you think that this lady can throw her son in the fire?” We replied, “No, if she has the power not to throw it (in the fire).” The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) then said, “Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is more merciful to His slaves than this lady to her son.”

              And guess what? There’s even more mercy in the hereafter than we’re experiencing right now. 

              Salman al-Farisi reported: The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “Verily, on the day Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) created the heavens and earth, He created one hundred parts of mercy. Each part can fill what is between heaven and earth. He made one part of mercy for the earth, from it a mother has compassion for her child, animals and birds have compassion for each other. On the Day of Resurrection, He will perfect this mercy.” [Sahih Muslim]

              99 parts of mercy on the Day of Judgment! That is one reason why it’s so important to have a good opinion of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)! Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) even tells us in Surat Al-A’raaf:

              وَرَحْمَتِي وَسِعَتْ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ ۚ

              “My mercy encompasses all things” (Surat Al-A’raaf; 156]

              And you all, my dears, are all encompassed by Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mercy, alhamdulillah. 

               

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              The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

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