Gaza University Destroyed, Professor Rayyan & Family Murdered: Are Some Freedoms More Sacred Than Others?

*Link to complete coverage of Gaza Massacre on MM*  

Last year, a large majority of British academics raised the issue of potentially boycotting Israeli universities. This ‘tactic’ did not just appear out of the blue, but rather had been discussed for a number of years before this throughout British academic circles. The boycott would serve as their symbolic act of protest against what they viewed as clear apartheid-like policies that discriminated against Israeli-Arabs and Palestinians, not just in the academic arena, but in all walks of life.  Not surprisingly, American universities reacted quite harshly. Amidst accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’, over 450 presidents of various American Universities, and thousands upon thousands of professors, denounced their British counterparts and claimed that this was an assault on the very foundations of academic freedom.

gaza-university-destroyed.jpgFast forward to the present. In this last week, Israel viciously bombed the largest University in Gaza, in six SEPARATE raids, and destroyed a number of facilities, including the Ladies Building, where female students attended classes. Although the university is named the ‘Islamic University,’ it teaches both religious and secular sciences, serving over twenty-thousand students, most of whom are female. It has over ten departments, including engineering, medicine, science, art, and nursing. It was established over thirty years ago, has graduated tens of thousands of students, and is recognized as the largest and most accessible institute of higher learning in Gaza.

All of this meant little to the state of Israel.

Israel justified the attacks by claiming that the Gaza University was merely a front for a “… research and development center of Hamas weapons.” But leaving aside the veracity of this claim for a moment, is there any modern research facility in the world that does not do research on aspects that could be used for military purposes? And how many of our own American universities directly receive aid from the government, and from private corporations, and use their intellectual resources for the political and military benefit of the country. Institutions of higher learning are supposed to serve the needs of their countries and are also supposed to be a place where diverse views are debated. The indiscriminate bombing of this university simply cannot be justified.

As if bombing the university was not enough, yesterday Israel succeeded in assassinating a professor of the University, Dr. Nizar Rayyan. Dr. Nizar was a professor of Hadith Studies at the Islamic Faculty, and had studied in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Sudan. He had been a volunteer Imam and khatib at a major Masjid in Gaza since 1985, and had been imprisoned and tortured numerous times (for a total of almost four years of his life). He was targeted because he was a ‘senior figure in Hamas’.

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The Israelis were so terrified of this one man, who probably weighed around two hundred pounds, that they felt the need to drop a two thousand pound bomb on the apartment complex where he lived, killing him and eighteen other members of his family, including nine of his children. Men, women and children, murdered with unchecked savagery.

Dr. Nizar was clearly an advocate of military aggression against Israel, and also considered suicide bombings as a legitimate means of attack – a method that most other Muslim theologians and jurists (including myself) disapprove of. But regardless of what one thinks of the legitimacy of suicide attacks, such brutal violence against a professor and his entire family and innocent neighbors will undoubtedly generate more violence. International law does not allow extrajudicial assassinations, nor the permissibility of associated “collateral damage”. If the Israelis believed that Dr. Nizar was a terrorist, and that an assassination was justified, without trial, along with his innocent family and hapless neighbors, how then would they respond if someone asked them that is exactly the same logic with which Palestinian bombers view their own “innocent” targets?

The speed and enthusiasm with which certain American universities and academics jumped to attack the proposed British boycott of Israeli universities was a spectacle to witness. They claimed they were championing academic freedom.

I wonder where these same universities and academics are now, when an entire University is bombed, its facilities destroyed, and professors assassinated? The only reasonable answer seems to be that in the eyes of these academics, Palestinians don’t really deserve the same freedoms as Israelis do. In other words, some freedoms are just more sacred than others.

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26 responses to “Gaza University Destroyed, Professor Rayyan & Family Murdered: Are Some Freedoms More Sacred Than Others?”

  1. NahyaN says:

    jazakallahukhair sh.Yasir for the insightful article.

  2. Jo says:

    This article should be submitted to this new website:

  3. Ibn Jafaar says:

    And who says there are no righteous ulema!

  4. Organica says:

    Ina lilah we ina ilyhe raj3oon ;(

  5. Miako says:

    Boycotting the universities? how absurd!

    Would you then leave the people to dwell in darkness? Nay! believe taht there is light, and that where there is light, it will grow and prosper.

    One building for teaching over ten thousand students? Must be an awful large building!

  6. Jazzak Allahu Khayr Shaykh Yasir for this post. It should also be noted that the bomb that killed Dr. Rayyan and his family was Made in the USA.

  7. intellect1430 says:

    Inalillahi Wa Inaillayhi Rajioon,

    Jazakalahi Khair Shayk Yasir for informing us about this tragedy. I heard about it briefly on the news, and the way they portrayed the victim was so inhumane (the usual – he was a Hamas leader), they didn’t even mention his life story. Inshallah, victory is near for the Muslims.

  8. Solomon2 says:

    Islamic U. of Gaza is not an “ordinary” university; according to the CIA, Hamas has considered it an institution under their control for over fifteen years. One of the degrees it offers, for example, is how to make terror rockets to attack civilians.

    There is another complication here, in that it is funded largely by a wealthy outcast from the Saudi royal family. Are battles over the U. therefore to be considered a sort of proxy battle between branches of the Saudi royals? There are subtleties here we just don’t see, and some things we think we do know we really don’t.

  9. Ibn Insaan says:

    Hi Solomon,

    I have to say that both points raised, at least in the manner presented above – would have very little worth in the the eyes of most with even a vaguely basicv awareness of the realities and subtleties of today.

    You may be right that it is not an ordinary Uni – but that has really yet to be proven in reality.

    As fo the islamic U. being – according to the CIA – involved with Hamas, then please, since when – in recent times, has American ‘intelligence’ or British intelligence ‘held any water’. The war in Iraq over WMD (weapons of Mass Destruction) was only one example among others, of their ‘good quality’ intelligence!

    As for the Saudi link – then I think us Americans are quite good friends with the Saudi’, honestly just ask the current administration.

    And even if, for the sake of argument it ( the university)waslinked to Hamas in some form or the other – surprise, surprise – they are the democratically elected governement…!!


  10. fajr says:

    Salam Brother Yasir,

    What do we know to avenge the deaths of our brother and sisters.

  11. iMuslim says:

    Why don’t Israel burn some books while they’re at it? The irony is incredibly sad.

    Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un.

  12. Hidaya says:

    When I saw this clip on Geo news, I couldnt help but cry…SubhanAllah, the darkness of tyranny & oppression has extended for too long, but inshaAllah its end is near, because such is the Sunnah of Allah swt.

  13. Siraaj says:

    The only reasonable answer seems to be that in the eyes of these academics, Palestinians don’t really deserve the same freedoms as Israelis do. In other words, some freedoms are just more sacred than others.

    To paraphrase Orwell’s Animal Farm, “We’re all equal, but some of us are more equal than others.”


  14. B says:

    Someone who supports (in words and actions) suicide bombing should be a respected Islamic scholar now?

    Now wonder people think negatively of muslims and islam.

  15. Siraaj says:

    Someone who supports (in words and actions) suicide bombing should be a respected Islamic scholar now?

    Now wonder people think negatively of muslims and islam.

    I suppose one of the main sticking points in this article is that if you don’t like suicide bombing (i.e. bombing without care for civilian casualties in order to reach some greater goal), why is it ok if Israel does it? Or America (not suicide bombing, but bombing without regard for civilians)? How are you different from your critics in this regard?


  16. Here is a moving and thoughtful article here about Dr. Nizar Rayyan and the situation in Gaza by American journalist Chris Hedges, who knew Dr. Rayyan.

  17. bismillah. [abu abdAllah]

    this excerpt from a New York Times article, January 1:

    Ms. Livni, speaking from Paris, again rejected the idea proposed this week by Mr. Kouchner for a 48-hour lull in the fighting for humanitarian purposes. “There is no humanitarian crisis” in Gaza, she said, “and therefore there is no need for a humanitarian truce.”

    shaykh Yasir, to her and to zionists who strive with her in their hatred and violence, it is not just that some freedoms are more sacred, but that the lives of their victims have no sacred value whatsoever.

    how else can one interpret her words in a week where 420 Gazans, most if not all of them Muslim, have been SLAUGHTERED by Israel, while the Zionists hold up their 4 dead — one soldier and three non-soldiers — as justification. not as an excuse, not as a partial explanation, but as full justification for the massacre of Gaza, a bombardment that has continued unabated for a full week, where ground troops and tanks wait only until enough Gazans have been killed to crush effective resistance, where policemen have been classified by the Israelis as combatants (in contradiction of such laws as govern war) in order to demonize Israeli targets, and where even if the Israeli classification were reasonable the body count of Gazan children alone would be many times the loss of life in Israel from Gazan rockets.

    there is no remorse. no humanity at all in such zionist statements. may Allah deliver the people of Gaza and of all Palestine from under the bombs of Zionist tyranny and bigotry.

  18. […] Gaza University Destroyed, Professor Rayyan & Family Murdered: Are Some Freedoms More Sacred Tha… […]

  19. Abdur Rahman says:

    Assalamu alaikum,

    This is a time for us to be decisive in our support for those who refuse to accept the dictates of tyranny and to understand fully what is afoot in the world. We should not be afraid of certain concepts which exist in our Deen and we should be firm in acknowledging the entire of the shariah of Allah (swt). Unfortunately our Muslim leaders here in the West are often wishy-washy when it comes to contentious issues while at the same time are very zealous in talking about the ‘freedoms’ of the US, being ‘American’ and participating in the political process. We cannot continue this paradigm, and only Allah (swt) knows where it will lead.

    So long as we remain indecisive and selective in our defense of Islamic causes (where was the out-cry over the invasion of Somalia?) we will never achieve anything lasting here.

  20. […] Gaza University Destroyed, Professor Rayyan & Family Murdered: Are Some Freedoms More Sacred Tha… […]

  21. […] Gaza University Destroyed, Professor Rayyan & Family Murdered: Are Some Freedoms More Sacred Tha… […]

  22. […] Gaza University Destroyed, Professor Rayyan & Family Murdered: Are Some Freedoms More Sacred Tha… […]

  23. […] read these articles by Sh. Yaser Birjas (who is Palestinian by the way) and Sh. Yasir Qadhi regarding the situation in […]

  24. Asmaa says:

    I’m a grad student at a university which responded to these boycotts by creating a student exchange program with the University of Haifa in Israel. I suppose this was done as a protest to the boycott.

    Something interesting to note about Israel in the academic sphere is its “sacredness.” Think about it, nothing at an academic university level is sacred; everything is fair game to be criticized and ripped up. For example, religion is often perceived as man-made and irrelevant to studies, and professors and administration will make that their mantra. Also, the politics of every country in the world are dissected and heavily scrutinized and criticized.

    However, Israel is seen as “sacred” in that, even at the academic level, it’s very difficult to criticize the country’s politics or stances without being practically ostracized from the faculty that I’m a part of. It’s extremely frustrating for me as a Muslim and as an academic to be restricted in this way, especially with a faculty that’s very Israel-friendly.

    I wish that every Palestinian had the opportunity to study at the level that many Muslims in North America have the advantage of studying. May Alllah (swt) give them patience and a firm sense of perseverance. InshaAllah, I have faith that we will see peace in the future.

  25. Liba H. says:

    personal msg to sh. Yaser, as i did not find any other contact >>>
    Salamu aleikum,
    Iam muslim from Europe (Czech Rep.) … im representative of non profit islamic association in czech rep.
    i like ur lessons about Prophet (saws) … i would like to translate it in czech lang and print out … could u contact me on our email address … BarakAllahuFeek
    Libuse (Liba) H.

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