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Defending Gaza in Washington D.C. — a Visual Essay.

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Aamer Khan is a photographer based out of the Washington D.C. area.  He was able to make it to the demonstration in downtown D.C. on January 10, 2009.  Below are some of the photographs he took at the event.

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The brothers in the few photographs above braved the 5 hour drive from New Jersey to march in Washington D.C. They had at least 50 signs, all made by hand with highly saturated inks.

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My friend, Uzair, really got into it. At one point during the march he grabbed someone’s megaphone and lead a small group of his own!

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The participants were of all ages. A lot of children were present, showing their support, and expressing their outrage. I asked one of them why she was there, and she replied, “Because children in Gaza who are also in second grade, like me, are suffering.”

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This man was talking animatedly to anyone who would listen; he was claiming to have been involved in an altercation “with a zionist” that morning on his way into the city.

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Demonstrators gettin’ their salah on, both before and during the rally. Both of these shots I took right after making the tasleem for my own salah.

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It is amazing that a small gesture — a hand raised to the heavens — conveys so much meaning, spirit, and passion.  It is a universal symbol, understood by all.

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It was the leadership of Mahdi Bray and other volunteers that helped keep the demonstration peaceful, yet powerful.

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Passing in front of the offices of The Washington Post, the demonstrators began chanting, “Shame shame Washington Post! Do you get it NOW?!”

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There were a lot of different ways people showed their support, and some really stood out.

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In addition to the signs and the face-painting, there were a lot of symbolic elements the demonstrators used to express their outrage and sadness.

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There was a lot of work being done in the city to prepare for the Inauguration of President Barack Obama. These youth scaled some of the scaffoldings that lined the city streets and lead the crowd in a series of Arabic chants and slogans.

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Of course, there were a lot of creative signs and posters. Many of them were elaborate and metaphorical, while others were clear, succinct, and precise.  The “Stop the Kiling” one is now hanging in my room.

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The rain kept coming down, and I knew I had to eventually put my camera away before I ruined it. At that moment I decided to look for a sign that really hit home how many Americans, both Muslim and non-Muslim, felt about the the conflict. I wanted to sum up the demonstration in one frame, and this is what i got.

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31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. Organica

    January 15, 2009 at 6:13 AM

    Thank you for the beautiful album!

    **

    Hey Olmert you cant hide, We charge you with genocide

    Hey Bush you cant hide, We charge you with genocide

    Free free Palestine!

    Long Live palestine.

    Gaza Gaza Dont you cry, Palestine will never die.

    Money for Education not Occupation

    Books not Bombs

    End the Siege on Gaza NOW!

    **

    يامبارك يامبارك ياجبان
    ياعميل الامريكان

    خيبر خيبر يايهود
    جيش محمد سيعود

    انا غزاوووووووووووووووووووووووووووووي

  2. Anisa

    January 15, 2009 at 12:29 PM

    BarakAllahu Feek!

  3. iMuslim

    January 15, 2009 at 1:14 PM

    Masha’Allah, beautiful photographs… the beauty lies in the love that these people have for their brothers and sisters, and their hate for the ugliness of their oppression. May Allah fill our hearts with love for Him, His deen, His Prophet, sallalahu ‘alayhi wa salam, and the believers, ameen.

  4. ShaamPeace

    January 15, 2009 at 1:29 PM

    MashAllah! Great job. Thank you for posting these pics. I recognized some of these brothers at the beginning. I wish I was there expressing my feeling. InshAllah next time.

  5. Bintashraf

    January 15, 2009 at 2:41 PM

    Those are some really great pics, thanks for sharing.

  6. Yus from the Nati

    January 15, 2009 at 3:29 PM

    I haven’t kept up with the media…

    But from what I’ve heard there was no news about this?

    RALPH NADER and CYNTHIA MCKINNEY came to speak…and I did’nt hear nothing from NOBODY. We filled the streets. Subhan’Allah.

    Allahualam,
    Yusuf

  7. Abd- Allah

    January 15, 2009 at 5:23 PM

    “Demonstrators gettin’ their salah on”

    Both brothers that are praying in those 2 pictures above need a sutrah in front of them while praying. This is what I mean when I say that Muslims need to go back to their deen.

    The prophet Muhammad peace be upon him said:
    “Do not perform Salaah except that there is a Sutrah in front of you”. (Muslim)
    “Do not pray except towards a sutrah, and do not let anyone pass in front of you, but if someone continues (to try to pass) then fight him, for he has a companion (i.e. a shaytaan) with him.”
    “When one of you prays towards a sutrah, he should get close to it so that Shaytaan cannot break his prayer.”

    Taking a Sutrah in front of you while you are praying is obligatory where ever you are, even in a masjid or at home or outside or anywhere, unless you are praying in congregation behind an Imam, so the Imam’s Sutrah is sufficient for him and everyone praying behind him as well. Anything can be taken as a Sutrah, a tree, a wall, a pole, or anything that has the height of one forearm above the ground.

    Let us go back to the Quran and authentic Sunnah and the way the companions used to practice Islam, because that is the ONLY way for the Muslim Ummah to gain victory!

    Allah knows best.

  8. Chai Walla

    January 15, 2009 at 6:38 PM

    what do we want, JUSTICE
    when do we want it, NOW!

  9. abulhassan

    January 15, 2009 at 7:25 PM

    AmaZing Job!!! mASHAaLLAH!!!

  10. mulsimah

    January 15, 2009 at 9:14 PM

    the protests are barely on the news!!!!!!!!!!!!!:( gr8 pics!

  11. Amad

    January 15, 2009 at 9:53 PM

    Abd-Allah

    Both brothers that are praying in those 2 pictures above need a sutrah in front of them while praying. This is what I mean when I say that Muslims need to go back to their deen.

    wow, is that the only thing you picked up in this essay??

  12. sincethestorm

    January 15, 2009 at 10:16 PM

    lol to the above comment….the pictures speak for themselves.

  13. Neutral

    January 15, 2009 at 10:16 PM

    Amad
    seriously that is exactly what I was thinking. Actually when I saw the picture I thought to myself what a great thing to do is pray when prayer time has come. Also he probably is ignorant to the fact that one does need to put something in front of you when praying. Just ignorance.

    • Amad

      January 16, 2009 at 12:03 AM

      Actually, I am not contesting the sutrah issue, as one should use a sutrah… just how people can become nit-picky and ignore the main focus of the issue or post.

  14. Saimah

    January 15, 2009 at 11:44 PM

    JazakAllah Khair for the nice pics. Alhumdulilla, I was also at the demonstration that day in DC and got some shots of my own. Wrote a short post with my pics about it on my blog:

    http://blessedwithbrothers.wordpress.com/2009/01/11/free-free-palestine/

  15. Muhammad

    January 16, 2009 at 12:08 AM

    The most beautiful moment of the demonstration was just before the march, when all the brothers got together and said their Zuhr and then Asr (those who were traveling) in congregation. It had just started to rain and our hands were freezing from the chilly conditions, our socks soaked, yet everyone prostrated in unison on the muddy grounds of the park where the rally began.

  16. Abd- Allah

    January 16, 2009 at 12:45 AM

    @ brother Amad,
    “wow, is that the only thing you picked up in this essay??”
    “just how people can become nit-picky and ignore the main focus of the issue”

    This IS the main focus of the issue, that we are far away from practicing Islam like we are supposed to, to the extent that we don’t even use a sutrah when we pray, which is supposed to be something simple. You had trouble understanding what “going back to our deen” meant, and you thought it meant to pack your bag and make hijra, so I was trying to give you an example of what it meant.

    If we still haven’t perfected the basic practices of our deen such as prayer, then do you really expect the muslim Ummah to be victorious any time soon? Really answer my question, do you think that the muslims can defend themselves and win over their enemies with their current status with regards to practicing their deen?
    Now I hope you’re not the type of person who is going to pretend that everything is fine and that there is nothing wrong with the way muslims are practicing Islam these days.

    BTW, I don’t know why, but I do feel the hate you have for me brother Amad, I can even feel it through the internet. Please now, don’t try to deny it as that only adds insult to injury. The best thing you can do is to try and change those feelings in your heart towards me, because it is not good to have feelings of hate in your heart towards your muslim brothers.

    Now, please don’t forget to answer my question brother Amad, do you really believe that the Muslim Ummah can achieve victory and honor in this world right now with their current way of practicing Islam??

  17. Ibn Syed

    January 16, 2009 at 1:45 AM

    Abd-Allah,

    Great example of the straw man argument.

  18. Umm Reem

    January 16, 2009 at 9:49 AM

    the reality is that the majority of the Muslim ummah is NOT even praying five daily prayers…let alone pray with the sutrah…so “going back to the deen” SHOULD be to at the least start praying…which makes sutrah a very trivial issue, wAllahu ta’ala ‘alam…

  19. ilmsummitee

    January 16, 2009 at 12:31 PM

    Thanks alot akhi for the pics, we took pictures of our own but of course they’re not pro…………… mashallah, and Organica you reminded me of the chants….i especially liked “Resistance is justified when people are occupied”.

    SubhanAllah, it took our bus like ~17hrs or so to drive down, but it was worth every minute, especially when we got there and saw Muslims and non-Muslims united for a just, humanitarian cause for our own brothers/sisters….Labaiky ya Gaza! was our theme :)

    Allahu Akbar!!!!

  20. sajda

    January 16, 2009 at 1:18 PM

    ^ you have a point ukti umm reem that we need to have our priorities set straight but also no issue in islam is trivial because then we can say if you don’t pray 5 times a day then wearing hijab or having a beard is trivial and then we go down the slippery slope. you are right that we need to go back to the deen by starting to pray.

  21. Algebra

    January 16, 2009 at 1:19 PM

    Aslamu-alaikum:
    UMM REEM I so agree with what you said. and
    also Amad that we don’t need to be nit-pickey because at least the guy did pray i think it was just ignorance that he didn’t know that sutrah is important.

  22. Neutral

    January 16, 2009 at 1:23 PM

    Ukhti Sajda
    I don’t think anyone is trivializing the need for sutrah but identifying that maybe, just maybe, he does’t know about sutrah and making a positive statement that he is at least praying.
    Positive reinforcement is a better motivator to get things done rather than negative feedback.
    Even correction of behavior can be done with positive reinforcement……..
    something to think about in giving dawah to someone.

  23. Abd- Allah

    January 16, 2009 at 4:25 PM

    @ sisters Umm Reem & Neutral,
    Although I do agree that some issues are more important than others, but I do not think that there is any issue in Islam that is trivial. I know that it is a step by step process, and we are not going to be perfect over night. Now, going back to the deen means to start praying for those muslims that do not pray, and for the muslims that already pray then going back to the deen means to perfect their prayer by praying towards a sutrah and with khushu’… So for every muslim it is different depending on their level of practicing Islam. We can not say that just because a lot of muslims do not pray, then we ALL have to wait for ALL muslims to start praying five times a day before we can say OK now lets put a sutrah. However, the sutrah here was just an example, and I know that we have bigger issues to deal with as an Ummah. If I saw these brothers praying in real life without a sutrah, I wouldn’t have told them anything about it, but I was just trying to give a simple example here to brother Amad about what I meant when I said that we need to go back to our deen, as he misunderstood it and thought it meant to make hijra and leave this land. Believe me, I am ALL for good dawah and being gentle when giving other people advice, and I gave the sutrah here as an example so that brother Amad can understand what I mean. But SubhanAllah, every time I try to explain to someone what I mean, someone else misunderstands me and so I have to explain to clear up that issue as well. Maybe I should just leave things where they are.
    Allah knows best.
    Wassalamu Alaikum Warahmatullah.

  24. Ayesha Fatima

    January 16, 2009 at 5:14 PM

    Asak wr wb,

    Mashaallah!! Excellent pictures!! It`s sad that Washington Post doesn`t `even reported this rally in it`s newspaper…Allah swt is sufficient for us ..Allah swt always looks at the intention of the heart…So don`t `judge anyone…Always guide our lost brothers and sisters but don`t Judge …

    Salaam.

  25. aamer khan

    January 16, 2009 at 6:13 PM

    Jazakallahu Khairan everyone for the kind words regarding my photographs. Please remember me in your duas and prayers.

    It is important to remember that we should all use our skills and access to different media in defense of our brothers and sisters. That is why I entitled my essay “Defending Gaza in Washington D.C.” Allah has given each and every one of us a skill or bounty (it may not be money). I used a gift and skill that Allah (swt) gave me to make a difference. And I was overjoyed to see the video made by iMuslim, and the articles and poetry written by various MM staff.

    Changing the munkar with our hands includes clicking shutters of cameras, typing up articles and poetry, and stretching out our hands to drop money in donation boxes.

    The effort may be futile, but Allah does not judge us on the futility of the effort. He judges us on its performance and sincerity.

    And Allah knows best!

  26. Amad

    January 16, 2009 at 9:46 PM

    Br. Aamer, these were some great photographs, mashallah. Keep up the good work.

    Br. Abd-Allah:

    BTW, I don’t know why, but I do feel the hate you have for me brother Amad, I can even feel it through the internet. Please now, don’t try to deny it as that only adds insult to injury. The best thing you can do is to try and change those feelings in your heart towards me, because it is not good to have feelings of hate in your heart towards your muslim brothers.

    I don’t know where to start. You “feel” that I hate you, and then it becomes such a concrete position, that I cannot deny it, because that will only make things worse. Well, let that be then, because I have absolutely no hatred for you. If I started hating people with whom I disagree with, then I won’t be able to sleep at night with the huge list of people to hate! I do think that you are short-sighted in some of your views, and that you are not looking at the big picture, but that doesn’t mean I hate you. It just means I disagree with you.

    On this subject, let me explain. Suppose you go into a city where all the buildings are completely dilapidated. You know for a fact that the city ordinances and laws, if followed, would never have allowed that to happen. Then you go into a building where someone is trying to fix a door-knob or some other small improvement, and as soon as you enter the building, you start bemoaning, “just go back to the code”, “just go back to the ordinances”. The guys fixing up tell you that they don’t disagree with you, but they have to make their little small change, their little small improvement. They remind you that just by pointing out the condition of the building and the need to go back to the ordinances won’t change anything. That is apriori. It is known. What is required is to do what you can. And while you are there seeing them fix this door-knob, you tell them that the door-knob is just not the right color. And they look at you in amazement… are you serious? At least they are doing something, appreciate that, and then when next time you are with them at the market to buy door-knobs, you could tell them to buy the right color, but what is the point at this time?

    I hope you see what I am getting at. We all recognize the need to go back to the deen, but that’s a hollow statement because it doesn’t imply a specific course of action or change. Rather, we work up the ladder, the big, fat juicy issues first, and then the less important things later. If you try to jump to the top of the ladder too fast, skipping all the rungs at the bottom, you are setting yourself for a big fall.

    I don’t want to argue with you on this. So, if this doesn’t make sense, let’s just agree to disagree and move on. May Allah forgive us all for our shortcomings.

  27. Gaza-Support

    January 18, 2009 at 9:58 AM

    salam,

    these are really nice pics, the argument between Abd- Allah and Amad is really funny. LOL. the point is pretty clear but the sutrah part, well that’s also clear!

  28. Arif

    February 11, 2009 at 6:40 PM

    Masha’Allah Ya Aamer,

    Beautiful as always. (Psst, now i know where the Muslim Link front page cover image came from) :)

  29. AbdelBaasit K.

    March 2, 2009 at 9:05 PM

    Ma sha Allah! Beautiful may Allah reward you brother Aamer :) These were awesome pics that really captured for us some of the spirit of that demonstration.

    And by the way, for this argument between the 2 brothers (Amad and Abdullah) – the answer to all this is very simple. Timing. And actually, in his last comment, Br. Amad pointed out this vital aspect. By the way, this is something that the Ahlul-‘Ilm have discussed and many Muslims [even those who ‘claim’ to be righteous, practicing and knowledgable] are ignorant of! Yes, the Deen has many parts. But there is a time for everything. You have to talk about issues are their proper place. This is definitely not the place to talk about sutrah. Please understand this.

    * But anyway, this was a very awesome set of pics. Thank you again, and may Allah give relief to our brothers/sisters in Gaza. Ameen! Ameen! Ameen! And may He destroy the Zhalimeen [oppressors, tyrants] and those who hurt them.

  30. Arabic

    June 18, 2009 at 6:19 AM

    I rarely do not comment on blogs but yours I had to stop and say Great article!!

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