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Why I Won’t Be at the Gaza Protest March: Rep. Keith Ellison on Gaza

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ellisonI wrote this last year, but with today’s events surrounding the storming of the flotilla, I thought it timely for a refresh:

Growing up, I was a serious news junkie and always felt a sympathy for the Palestinians as an underdog and just out of an innate sense of justice. After the collapse of President Clinton’s last ditch peace initiative, the Ariel Sharon years, President George W. Bush’s ineffectual policy of the last eight years, and incessant coverage and outrage from the Muslim community on the issue to the exclusion of other issues, I had become disillusioned with the Israel/Palestine issue.

So it was with some Gaza-fatigue trepidation that I ventured out to watch a short film shot by Rep. Ellison and his colleague Rep. Brian Baird on their last trip in February to Gaza  at the Capitol  building in Washington DC. There are links to the film on Ellison’s website and some extended interviews.

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Rep. Keith Ellison began his opening remarks with a couple of St. Patrick’s Day remarks and references and then quickly moved to the topic of Gaza by saying three times, “Open up the Crossings!” Ellison also remarked that having the crossings closed and the ensuing humanitarian crisis was not the will of the American people and that it undermined both American and Israel’s own security.  He also emphatically stated that settlement expansion must halt immediately. He mentioned that while he and Rep. Baird were processed through the Erez Crossing very quickly he noticed German relief workers waiting at the crossing in the morning and when the Congressmen returned in the afternoon, the relief workers were still waiting to get through the crossing.

Ellison mentioned that while the Palestinians are not starving, severe restrictions have been placed to limit which goods are allowed to enter the Gaza Strip. Cooking oil and rice are allowed while macaroni and lentils are on the banned list. He asked a senior Israeli official about the restrictions and the official said he did not know specifically about the macaroni and lentils restriction but that he would look into it and that the policy of the Israeli government was to put the Palestinians in Gaza “on a diet”.

cropped-cartVehicle fuel is also excluded so that both Reps. saw a lot of animal-pulled carts on the streets. Ellison and Baird also visited Sderot, an Israeli settlement, which is less than mile from Gaza, and bears the brunt of rocket fire from Gaza. Ellison mentioned that we should not “pooh pooh or try to minimize the terrifying existence” and fear of rocket fire that is experienced by the people of Sderot nor of Gaza. And that the fighting and rocket fire is having a huge psychological impact on the children on both sides of the conflict.

The Q&A portion yielded some interesting comments:

Ellison emphasized that while there are well-funded constituencies to stand up for rights of either the Israelis or for the Palestinians that there is a great need for a middle way, a constituency to stand up for a “just peace” so that the politicians in Congress feel they are able to advocate their conscience more freely and to help reduce the influence of powerful interest groups.

Ellison, then prefaced his next comments by saying, “Please don’t shout me down” and mentioned that he had never been shouted down by Christians nor by Jews but only by his own Muslim brethren. He said, that “if your sympathies lie with with the Palestinians, [which seemed to be the majority of the diverse audience] try to put yourself in the shoes of a Jewish person.”

Rep. Baird said that he believed in exchange for peace and land that the Arab nations should be willing to extend more than just a bare minimum of diplomatic recognition.

Mauri Saalakhan of the Peace and Justice Foundation referenced Washington’s Farewell Address where he warned of the evils that could result from having an alliance like the one the United States presently has with the state of Israel and asked what the response had been from the Ellison and Baird’s colleagues in Congress to their trip to Gaza.

ellison-baird-11Ellison said that there have been many positive and fruitful discussions, that many in Congress are aware of the situation and the concerns at stake and that if there was a more vocal and active grassroots movement and constituency advocating for a just peace and resolution to the Palestinian/Israeli issue that more politicians and lawmakers would speak their minds and vote in a way that doesn’t just appease the status quo.

He referenced two examples. The first, in response to a question about why Congress doesn’t make Israeli military aid contingent upon the Israelis not using the money and weaponry against the Palestinians. Ellison mentioned that a vote in favor of this condition would be politically dangerous and a form of political suicide from those outside very liberal districts. All politicians want to be re-elected so in the absence of a middle constituency between the extremes such a bill would not get far in Congress.

And second, Ellison mentioned the vote initiated by Rep. Howard Berman, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the middle of the most recent conflict in Gaza to affirm Israel’s right to defend itself. Both Baird and Ellison voted present “not as a duck but as a matter of principle.” Ellison said the bill came in on Thursday and the ink was hardly dry and no one had time to read it before the vote came up on Friday.

Ellison said that the timing was poor as this was in the midst of the latest conflagration, that these bills are simply ideological and do nothing to help further the cause of either side. He said, his “main thing is to build some good will and open minds” and that many in Congress are curious about the conflict and not to assume that because someone may have voted this way or that way or comes from a particular background that you know his or her conscience.

Ellison then said, “If someone is not bold and brave enough for you, remember that moving this ship of state takes care and caution” and that we should look to “build a constituency and not just tear down. Muslims denounced me, but your angry denunciations won’t help feed one Gazan child.” Ellison believes in building broad-based support, “to work with people, to find a way forward” to make progress on the issues that are important to him and does not see it as his job to denounce and tear down people and institutions.

To emphasize this point, Ellison mentioned that the blueberry muffin is the state muffin of Minnesota. The blueberry farmers of Minnesota advocated and lobbied their state representatives to win a vote to make the blueberry muffin the state muffin and they were successful, so who is willing to build a coalition to move past the status quo toward a just peace?

Dr Nasser, the Director of the Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem also spoke at the event. Dr. Nasser mentioned that although medical workers have passes, which enable them to move around, many patients still face severe restrictions and that it is “nearly impossible for patients to cross into East Jerusalem.” Before a patient can seek treatment in East Jerusalem they must obtain a permit from an Israeli office and that the quickest permits take a minimum of 10 days to obtain. Dr. Nasser said that there were no EMS services and no first-responders due to the restrictions on movement.

Dr. Nasser wanted to stress that “this is not a humanitarian issue, this is an issue of the right of a people to a land” and that we should not just ask our lawmakers to do something but that we should organize and build a constituency to provide space for the new administration and Congress to advocate a policy in the region “based on rights and dignity.”

One Anglican woman in the audience also mentioned that Palestinian Christians are also affected by the movement restrictions and that last year some churches were not able to hold Easter services because the priests were not allowed through the crossings. Highlighting the difficulties Palestinian Christians also face may be one way to build bridges to form a larger constituency in this country to provide the space and support necessary for our elected officials to advocate for a more just resolution of the conflict.

One often overlooked issue in this border conflict is that the Egyptians also have closed the Rafah crossing although they did allow doctors through during the latest conflagration. So that it is not just the Israelis isolating and enforcing restrictions on the Palestinians, it is also the Egyptians.

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Ify Okoye is a Muslim woman, a convert, born and raised in the U.S. She is from New York and her parents are from Nigeria. Despite the petty hassles of work and school, Ify finds time to travel usually for AlMaghrib Institute seminars and to visit beautiful places. Pronunciation primer for her name, say it like this: E-fee O-coy-yeah!

42 Comments

42 Comments

  1. Omar

    May 31, 2010 at 4:13 PM

    As an Egyptian, I am disgusted with my government and so are practically 90% of the people. But once a people are used to oppression and being passive in face of tyranny, they just complain and do nothing.

    • Ify Okoye

      June 1, 2010 at 4:30 PM

      It’s strange to me how little attention is paid to the role of the Egyptians and other neighboring countries in aiding or harming the Palestinian issue. But I would agree many of us are good at complaining but few are those who take positive action to change or improve a situation.

  2. Abd- Allah

    May 31, 2010 at 10:26 PM

    While I understand where brother Keith Ellison is coming from and what he thinks is the way to go, but I don’t think that this way is what we as Muslims should take, nor do I think that this way will “help feed one Gazan child” either, but I guess that is the best available option for a politician to take and he doesn’t really have any choice, as it was mentioned that all politicians want to be re-elected and certain actions are considered politically dangerous to take. The reason why some Muslims are harsh on Ellison and some of the stances which he took is because they are all treating him like a Muslim and expect him to act and make decisions fully as a Muslim, where as he makes his decisions as an American politician who also happens to be Muslim. So his decisions are coming from an American politician, and they are slightly influenced by the fact that he is also a Muslim. But when some Muslims expect him to make his decisions as a Muslim only and not as an American politician, then they are disappointed by him because he is not doing what the expect him to do. I appreciate his noble intention and sincere efforts to try and find a solution to this conflict and achieve peace, but I don’t really think that the way he is taking is the right way for all of us as Muslims to take. Protests aren’t really a better alternative in my opinion, but I guess some see that they do bring about some benefit. Lastly, I think it is naive to really just look at that the Egyptians are also closing off their borders as being something completely independent from everything else that is happening and the entire situation as a whole. Sure it would be good if the Egyptian border is opened up, but what are the reasons for it being closed and what is really causing it? Do we really think that foreign influence from other countries has no say in this issue?

    • Ify Okoye

      June 1, 2010 at 4:32 PM

      What way do you think Muslims should take?

      • Abd- Allah

        June 1, 2010 at 10:30 PM

        I believe that the whole situation is described in the following statement of the Prophet peace be upon, which includes a description of our condition and the symptoms, the reason which caused us to be in that condition or the “disease”, and the solution for our problems or the cure for that disease.

        The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: If you engage in ‘eenah transactions, and are content with farming and hold on to the tails of cattle, and you forsake jihad for the sake of Allah, Allah will cause you to be humiliated and will not relieve you of that until you return to your religion.” (Narrated by Abu Dawood, 3462; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah, 11).

        Note: ‘eenah is a specific type of transaction which is prohibited because it involves one of the many forms of riba or usury.

        So from that hadith we get the diagnosis, the causes, and the cure for that problem:

        Disease: The Muslims are in a condition of humiliation, suffering, and oppression.

        Causes: Dealing with forbidden transactions that include riba, and in general committing that which Allah has prohibited. Being satisfied with the worldly matters and caring for materialistic things while ignoring the matters of our religion and the hereafter (which are mentioned as leaving jihad and being content with “farming and cattle” which symbolize materialistic things).

        Solution: Returning to our religion which means going back to the true teachings of Islam and practicing it properly as it was understood and practiced during the early generations of Islam.

        Imam Malik ibn Anas (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “The later generations of this ummah will not be reformed by anything except that by which the first generation was reformed.”

        Meaning nothing will correct and rectify the condition of the Muslims today except that which rectified the first generation of Muslims, and that is the proper understanding and practice of the true teachings of Islam as it was revealed to the Prophet peace be upon him.

        So if we seek justice and victory over those who oppress us from anyone besides Allah, then we will be humiliated, and if we seek it through any other means besides the true teachings of Islam then we will not be able to achieve it. As Umar may Allah be pleased with him said: “We are a people whom Allah has honored with Islam, and no matter how much we try to seek honor through anything other than it, Allah will cause us to be humiliated.”

        And the truth of the matter is that a large number of the Muslims today have strayed away and deviated from the true teachings of Islam and from that original message which was revealed to the Prophet peace be upon, the way it was understood and practiced by the companions may Allah be pleased with them all. This might sound irrelevant to some because they don’t really see a problem with the condition of Muslims and what they are actually practicing, but reality speaks otherwise and shows that we as Muslims haven’t even perfected the basics of Islam such as Tawhid, and you have thousands and millions of Muslims who are openly committing things that are clearly major acts of shirk or acts of worship performed for other than Allah, like the pilgrimages to certain graves and circumambulate around them and call upon the dead person of that grave, and the numerous other forms of shirk, from the obvious ones to the more subtle and hidden ones. So if we, as an ummah, don’t even have a proper understanding of the basics of Islam nor a strong implementation of Tawhid in our lives, then what does makes us any different from those non-muslims who are associating partners with Allah besides the fact that we call ourselves Muslims.

        One might say this talk is great and all but how does this translate into practical steps that will bring us closer to achieving honor and victory through Islam, and in reality what we need to do is simple. I am not saying it will be easy nor that things will happen over night, but what we need to do is simple. We need to start learning the true teachings of Islam and educating ourselves with the proper understanding of the Quran and authentic sunnah and implementing it into our lives, and we should also actively spread what we are learning in our communities and among the people, which should be done with wisdom and gentleness of course. Ignorance of the true teachings of our deen is really the basis of all our problems, and there is no other solution for our problems than to educate ourselves and also educate everyone else around us and in our communities.

        One might say we already have seminars which we attend and we already have an educational system set up to seek knowledge about our deen, and although I do agree that such seminars are good and are a positive step, yet they are by no means sufficient nor comprehensive enough, and their effect is limited to those who choose to attend them, where as the change we are looking for needs to be more comprehensive and encompass the ummah and our entire community, so therefore the education and spread of knowledge also needs to be across the ummah and within our communities whereby it reaches everyone, and everyone starts implementing that knowledge in their lives and in the practice of Islam. It is not enough for one of us to attend a seminar and learn what he needs to know about his deen without implementing it and spreading it and teaching it to the rest of the community, and it is not enough for the shuyukh and du’aat to wait for those who want to learn to teach them but they also have to reach out and educate the entire community about the true teachings of Islam and the proper beliefs that every Muslim should have, and as I said it won’t be easy but it requires patience and continuously trying to spread the knowledge and educate the people with wisdom and gentleness, just like what the Prophet peace be upon him and his companions went through when trying to spread Islam and educate the people about its true teachings.

        By the way, what I am mentioning here isn’t something that I’m coming up with from my own mind or ideas, but rather this is what all of our big scholars are calling for and have been calling for as the solution to our condition ever since the Muslims started being humiliated and oppressed through out the world. During our recent times, one of the main callers to this method or way of bringing back honor and victory to the Muslims was the great scholar Muhammad Nasiruddin al-Albani (may Allah have mercy on him) who was the greatest muhaddith of this era, about whom another great scholar of recent times, shaykh Bin Baaz (may Allah have mercy on him) have said: “I have not seen under the surface of the sky a person knowledgeable of the Hadith in our current time than the like of the great scholar, Muhammad Nasiruddin Al-Albani.” Through out the many years which shaykh al-Albani spent giving dawah and calling the people to the true message of Islam and Tawhid and following the authentic sunnah, he was calling to what he called “At-Tasfiyyah wa’t-Tarbiyya” (Purification/correction and Nurturing/education). This solution which the shaykh was calling for, among many others of our scholars who said the same thing, entails purifying our hearts, minds, books, knowledge, and practices from all that which has been introduced into them with time but which wasn’t really a part of Islam during the early generations of Islam and at the time of the Prophet peace be upon him, and once we have purified our deen from all the falsehood and incorrect beliefs and practices which has clinged to it and has been introduced into it over time, we also need to educate the Muslim masses and teach them these pure ideas and nurture them within these proper beliefs and practices in order for us to have an ummah which understands and practices Islam the same way the early generations of Islam did. Just as shirk (by the work of shaytan) slowly creeped its way in among the Muslims in the form of practices which many Muslims do today as part of Islam, we need to purify our creed as Muslims and our practices and beliefs from all that none sense and falsehood which isn’t part of Islam but has made its way into it and into our practices and understanding of Islam, and after purifying our knowledge, practices and beliefs we also need to educate the Muslim ummah and spread that proper knowledge and true teachings among them of how to understand and practice Islam properly according to the true sunnah and in the same way that Islam was understood and practiced during the early generations of Islam. That is the true solution to our condition and to all our problems which we are facing as an ummah, and to the humiliation and lack of honor which is upon us and the oppression and injustices which are happening around the world. And while those who participate in protests or take part in the political process might hope to bring about some benefit or a solution to the problems which we are facing as an ummah, but these type of solutions won’t work, mainly because they are ways in which we are seeking victory and honor from people (such as the president, congress, other countries) instead of seeking it from Allah and through Islam, in addition to the fact that these solutions don’t aim to bring about any change to our condition as Muslims and as an ummah, so it ignores the disease instead of treating it while using some medication for the symptoms instead, and Allah will never change our situation and condition so long as we are satisfied with what we are and we don’t even attempt to bring forth a change to our condition and to better ourselves as Muslims.

        So the only way for us to solve our problems and change our condition as an ummah is to go back to the true teachings of our deen, and the way to achieve that is by purifying our beleifs, minds, hearts, knowledge, books, and practices from all that which isn’t part of Islam and shouldn’t be in there to begin with, and to educate ourselves and nurture our upcoming generations with the correct knowledge and pure teachings of Islam so that in the future we can bring about some positive change to our condition as an ummah and to the world as a whole. The Prophet peace be upon him spent 23 years teaching, educating, and instilling the proper beliefs and practices in the companions, and it was only after these long years of nurturing and educating the companions with these pure beliefs and proper practices when that generation of Muslims was able to spread the teachings of Islam through vast lands and achieved honor and were respected by the entire world.

        Not only does this solution bring about strength and honor for us in this world, but it is also the cause of our salvation in the hereafter and gaining eternal paradise. I’ll leave you all with what Imam Malik ibn Anas (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “The later generations of this ummah will not be reformed by anything except that by which the first generation was reformed.”

        • Ify Okoye

          June 1, 2010 at 11:01 PM

          Br. Abd-Allah, you’ve written a post and much to reflect on, which deserves better than the comments section, jazak’Allah khayr. Our religion is beautiful and comprehensive, may Allah azza wa jal make us amongst those who follow it properly in rectifying ourselves and our communities.

  3. abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

    June 1, 2010 at 3:14 PM

    As salamu alaykum. A few reflections on the article:

    1) “…would be politically dangerous and a form of political suicide…”

    When the magicians of Pharoah were assembled before him, they asked what would be their reward for defeating Musa alayhis salam. Pharoah’s answer was to be near him (how much he thought of himself as the rabb of his people! For is not Allah close to the believer?). And Pharoah had a hard-earned reputation as a tyrant before that, so who would cross him?

    The same magicians would. The moment that they saw the truth of Musa alayhis salam’s prophethood. When they realized that to attempt to fulfill their bargain with Pharoah would be to damn themselves for all time, they threw themselves in prostration to Allah and proclaimed their submission aloud. When Pharoah passed judgment on them, more than mere suicide. Dismemberment followed by crucifixion, and it was worth it to them. “O our Lord [Allah], pour down upon us steadfastness, and cause us to die as Muslims.”

    The children of Israel are led today by men and women as arrogant as Pharoah. To cowtow to these despots is to make a bargain like the magicians did, politically advantageous. But the truth is that the Israelis are transgressing against the Philistini with a brutality that evokes the brutality of Pharoah. And if there is a difference in degree, then so to is the degree of what is being risked: a political life compared to life on this earth.

    The questions that arise when apparently-good men and women fail to act or even to speak out on behalf of the suffering: is that political life so dear? Is the remorseless tyranny against the Philistini not true suffering? Or is the righteousness of opposition to that tyranny not convincing? It is easier for me to choose because the despots have no use for me, and nothing to offer me that would buy me off. But in my opinion, to heel when these despots call is to choose the oppressor over the oppressed, to choose Pharoah over Musa.

    More reflections to follow, bi’idhnillah.

    • Ify Okoye

      June 1, 2010 at 4:37 PM

      Wa salaam alaykum,

      At times when I listen to politicians, I admire when they speak up for the truth even if it’s not politically expedient, yet I also recognize not so much in this situation but in other ones, when we hear them backing up in order to play the game and get elected, it’s a tough business, not one I’d want or even have the stomach for to swallow my convictions and beliefs for the sake of getting into and remaining in office.

      • Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

        June 1, 2010 at 10:11 PM

        You are absolutely right Ify, and these are the reasons that we should not, in general, teach our children that they should long to grow up to be politicians and that these are the people that we respect or look up to.

        Allaahu Musta’an.

        • Ify Okoye

          June 1, 2010 at 10:57 PM

          But Abu Noor, it seems problematic, no? If more people of good conscious and morality do not get involved politically, are we not abandoning our political leadership to the lowest common denominator?

          • Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

            June 2, 2010 at 9:16 AM

            Ify,

            The question comes down to what you think explains the fact that politics is the way it is. Do you think that somehow uniquely bad people tend to enter politics and if we just had “good” people enter, they would behave better?

            There is one factor that the type of person who seeks to be in positions of power and influence has a spiritual disease. Point blank. The Prophet (saw) advised us not to give power or position to the person who seeks it. People who have goodness in them will naturally be turned off by the electoral process. We cannot avoid this reality.

            But above and beyond that aspect, most of the problem is not that the people are somehow uniquely bad, it is the process or the system that forces them to act that way. This is why, to me, it is in fact much more sad and disturbing when highly talented people in our community are being pushed in this direction or told that this is somehow what they should aspire to and then their own characters are either destroyed or wasted in this demeaning and degrading process. And to see our communities, including people of deen and knowledge pushing them in this direction or encouraging their own inclinations in this direction rather than checking them just breaks my heart.

            The real leaders of our communities are not politicians. I believe we should reject the notion that they are, loudly and clearly, and support and encourage the best and the brightest amongst our youth to go into areas more deserving of their talents. If we create a better Muslim community and a better society overall, the politics will take care of itself. I’m not saying we have to abandon it completely, although that would probably be my short term preference, but we should not be concentrating on it as the first step or the most important thing, as too many of us seem to be doing now.

            Allah Know Best.

          • Fam

            June 2, 2010 at 1:03 PM

            I agree with Ify and Abu Noor: political involvement is a necessity for any Muslim citizen, but there’s spiritual tension when the intention is for the dunya.

            I think Abu brings up a very interesting and important advice by the Prophet (saw), of not giving “power or position to the person who seeks it.” But you have to acknowledge that the Prophet (saw) himself was in a position of power- although we all know that the Prophet (saw) had no spiritual diseases. The political process in this country requires initiative on behalf of individuals – unless power is passed dynastically down families, people typically don’t stumble on to power. So, the issue is that people who seek power in this country – given the dislike of seeking power by the people without that spiritual disease – produces a significant and serious failure of leadership, or the lowest common denominator as Ify states.

            And, while you correctly abhor the denigrating aspects of the “system” and lament the destruction of character as a result of it, you end up with an unworkable conclusion. There are many leaders in our communities – spiritual, political, economical – and the Prophet (saw) was all of the above. We can’t abandon one aspect – in the short or long run – without affecting the other parts.

            But, in the end, you’re right: it’s vital for us to focus on the essential more than the peripheral, but it’s a crowded and noisy world, so sometimes it’s hard to focus.

          • Sayf

            June 2, 2010 at 2:43 PM

            I think Abu Noor hit the nail on the head.

  4. Ibrahim

    June 1, 2010 at 6:23 PM

    Sister, you should fear Allah….saying that you got tired of the Palestinian issue for blah, blah reasons. Fear the day when you might be in a similar position and would never, ever want anybody to forget or become tired of highlightening your plight. May Allah not test me and you and all of us with what He has tested the Palestinians with, ameen.

    Shameful post.

    • AssalamAlaikum

      June 1, 2010 at 6:54 PM

      Brother, we all need to all fear Allah. There’s a distinction between getting tired of the Palestinian issue (and the way it is discussed and handled by politicians, leaders, and everyday generic Muslims and non-Muslims) and getting tired of the plight of the Palestinians themselves.
      I appreciate your energy and enthusiasm for protecting the dignity of the Palestinian people,but in that effort I believe you’ve partly mis-characterized the work of the author.

      While I’m the first to admit that my devotion to the cause of Muslim oppressed, not just in Palestine but in Kashmir, Checnya, Uighur, and beyond is lacking seriously. But the author brings up a number of important points:
      1) “Growing up, I was a serious news junkie”
      I am a news junkie as well, but I don’t think it’s really been conducive to increasing iman. Maybe its because of the sources, or maybe it’s just me getting angry about bias all the time, but is reading news getting me closer to Allah? Where and how much is appropriate – not just as a Muslim, but as an average college student. This would be an interesting topic to explore in an article: what are the obligations of our deen in a contemporary society to know whats going on around us: news and beyond…
      2) “disillusioned with the Israel/Palestine issue.”
      This is an important acknowledgment – because it’s honesty about a painful situation – but it must be put in context. There are many details before that statement and the bulk of the article after that makes an effort towards progressing towards a real solution for the Palestinian people. Simple-mindedness has both advantages and disadvantages, and I hope all of this outpouring of concern for the Palestinian people translates into something, what that something is, should be another post be an articulate Muslim leader.

      • Ify Okoye

        June 1, 2010 at 9:41 PM

        Wa salaam alaykum wa rahmatullah,

        The lead up to the Iraq war turned me off the 24-hour news cycle (although I still keep myself informed of important happenings around the world) coupled with an increase in working to build my iman and preparing and focusing on that which would be of benefit to me in the hereafter.

    • Ify Okoye

      June 1, 2010 at 9:37 PM

      Ibrahim, fear Allah yourself. Are you crying, making dua, raising funds, attending protests, writing in support of our African or insert any non-Palestinian brothers and sisters? People get all worked up (sometimes in quite outrageous ways) over the Palestinians mostly to exclusion of anyone else, I can and do make dua for many but save my energies for issues where I believe I can effect actual change. Unless you show the same level of commitment and dedication to every single issue affecting the ummah, which of course no one can as it is simply not realistic or humanely possible, get off your high horse and condemnations, and spend more time working to rectify the issues at hand or at the very least start by working on yourself, our world would be a better place, if you did that.

      • Ibrahim

        June 1, 2010 at 10:35 PM

        Your reply did no favors to your position. Your reply says a lot about you as a person. I’ve heard “fear Allah yourself” in response to telling somebody to fear Allah.

        Do you understand what Palestine means for a Muslim? It’s about masjid al-aqsa, the third holiest site in Islam….can you now understand why people feel more for it than other places? I come from Pakistan and there are people, not all, but many people who would rather see masjid al-aqsa get liberated first than Kashmir, a cause closer to the hearts of many Pakistanis. Religious parties mark a day in remembrance of Palestine known as “yawm-e-al-quds”; there is Palestine Foundation, etc, etc. in Pakistan but no such major effort for another cause other than of course Kashmir. You should ask yourself why is that?

        One of the leaders for the movement of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Johar, died before the creation of Pakistan and instead of being buried in an occupied land he desired to be buried in baty al-maqdis of all places. You should ask yourself why? Until you can understand why people would prefer Palestine’s cause over their own, you should stop writing about it and especially stop complaining about too much Palestine amongst Muslim communities. There are many people who might feel for their own cause more than Palestine, but they don’t go out complaining about too much Palestine.

        If you feel more for another cause or you think your energies are better served somewhere else, then so be it. But, stop narrating your dislike for too much Palestine-politics. And, yes, there are many people who hold a special place for bayt al-maqdis but they also cry for another places. If you can’t imagine people doing so, then it is your problem.

        • Ify Okoye

          June 1, 2010 at 10:54 PM

          Favors from who? You? Come off it, you’re not that important, certainly I don’t need to take cues on what I should write from you. And I’m sure you have heard the “fear Allah yourself” reply before because it appears lacking from the injustice of your own words here, perhaps you should spend time reflecting over that before commenting.

          Do you know what Palestine means to me as a Muslim? Or how apparent the tone of anti-semitism is in far too much of the discourse surrounding the issues between the Palestinians and Israelis? The issues are not only Al-Aqsa, Muslims and non-Muslims identify with the plight of Palestinians for many reasons including simple morality, justice, and human dignity.

        • Siraaj

          June 1, 2010 at 11:28 PM

          Ibrahim, what are your thoughts on this hadeeth:

          “The Blood of a Muslim is worth more than the Ka’aba.” (Sunan Ibn Majah; Silsilah El Saheehah: hadith #3420; Saheeh at Targheeb watTarheeb: hadith #2441)

          Siraaj

          • Ibrahim

            June 1, 2010 at 11:52 PM

            My last comment was removed! Very typical of MM. For this reason I rarely comment here.

            @Siraaj: How do I contradict this hadith? Did I say that if it’s able to end the suffering of Muslims in a place other than bayt al-maqdis then don’t do it until you first end the sufferings of people of Palestine? Where did I say that it is more important to save a masjid than other people in other parts of the Muslim world?

            I’m objecting to the sister’s characterization of Palestine politics…that’s all. And, pointing to the fact that people feel more for bayt al-maqdis vs. Israel than other places, and I gave a few reasons for such sentiments. I’ve never heard Indonesians protesting for Kashmir, etc. but they do come out for Palestine. Do the Indonesians, Pakistanis, other non-Palestine/non-Arab people going against this hadith when they feel more for a holy site like bayt al-maqdis?

        • Abd- Allah

          June 2, 2010 at 12:12 AM

          Brother Ibrahim, yes masjid al-Aqsa and the land around it is holy and blessed and has a religious significance in Islam, however the life of a Muslim anywhere is more important, as the Prophet peace be upon him was once doing tawaaf around the ka’bah and said: “How wonderful you are (meaning the ka’bah) and how wonderful is your scent, how grand you are and how grand is your sacredness. By the One in whose Hand Muhammad’s life is, the sacredness of a believer is even grander than yours.” (Sunan Ibn Majah)

          The unjust killing of a believer is greater in the sight of Allah than this entire dunyah, and the true message of Islam is more important than any land as the Prophet peace be upon him left Makkah which is the best place on earth and went to Medinah in order to be able to call the people to Tawhid and to worship Allah alone, so although Jerusalem is important to us, but we should keep our priorities straight.

          As for being buried in Jerusalem, then it doesn’t have any additional significance in Islam than being buried elsewhere, and if it is because of the sacredness of the land then Mekkah is more sacred than Jerusalem, and yet you don’t see any of the great scholars who truly understand the teachings of Islam asking to be buried in Mekkah (nor in Medina nor Jerusalem).

    • Farhan

      June 2, 2010 at 12:06 AM

      I would not begin a post with ‘Fear Allah’. It has a very condescending tone…

      • Abd- Allah

        June 2, 2010 at 12:19 AM

        I would not begin a post with ‘Fear Allah’. It has a very condescending tone…

        Brother Farhan, I’m not saying that it is applicable here, but why is it condescending for a Muslim to remind his brother/sister to fear Allah if he/she truly was doing something wrong? Perhaps the problem is with us that we consider someone telling us to fear Allah as being condescending. I know this doesn’t apply here because his overall tone was inappropriate, but my point is that why did our mind set change so that we take such statements as insults?

        • Amad

          June 2, 2010 at 3:13 PM

          Context and perception matters, and when you start with “Fear Allah”, you already put the other person on defensive. You could END with fear Allah, and more appropriately something like this, “may we all fear Allah as He deserves to”.

          The online world without body language and facial expressions requires a great focus on the written language and what variants people can read into it. Trust me, I am still learning after 3 years blogging!

          • Abd- Allah

            June 2, 2010 at 8:25 PM

            I know brother Amad, but I was talking in more general terms how we have come to consider statements like “fear Allah” or “may Allah forgive you” as insults, and they are used as insults some times even. These beautiful phrases which are supposed to be as advice or making du’a for a person are now used, and received, as insults by many.

      • abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

        June 2, 2010 at 4:32 PM

        Actually, suggesting to someone who fears Allah that he should fear Allah is not new, and as for whether there is good or harm in it, that would depend on other factors.

        How famous is the example of the sahabah? Reproved to fear Allah, the response: “O Allah make me from the muttaqeen (from those who have fear/consciousness of Allah).”

        There could be many reasons, good, bad, snide, and more, for telling someone to fear Allah, especially when that call is made in public, in a manner not likely to encourage humility so much as “self-defense.”

        But there is always good in the person who was challenged to seek refuge with Allah, and to make the dua that the sahabah made. And Allah Knows better.

        • Abd- Allah

          June 2, 2010 at 8:40 PM

          How famous is the example of the sahabah? Reproved to fear Allah, the response: “O Allah make me from the muttaqeen (from those who have fear/consciousness of Allah).”

          Brother Tariq, do you have a reference for that statement ? Which companion said it?

  5. AssalamAlaikum

    June 1, 2010 at 6:27 PM

    Politics in this country is as messy as any other nation-state, but, there’s one theme true across borders: pick the lesser of two evils. Ellison is not, nor does he claim to be, perfect when it comes to voting “Islamically” (if that’s truly possible). But, he is significantly better than a Republican alternative (all Muslims = terrorists) or another Democrat (who wouldn’t use the Qur’an to swear in as a rep). And, while I’m all for vigorously debating the nuances of American politics from an Islamic perspective, it’s inappropriate to yell at someone (can’t recall that being part of the Sunnah) or character assassinate in a public forum (isn’t backbiting a no-no too?). Islam is a religion that emphasizes adab, when it comes to discussing with anyone about anything.

    Wasalam

  6. Muslim Brother

    June 2, 2010 at 12:20 AM

    Assalamualaikum

    Some very thought-provoking and interesting comments brothers.
    I would like to say though, that the ummah and our leaders have a long way ahead of us before reformation.

    With regards to the Palestinian cause, Rep. Keith Ellison seems to support the idea of a 2 state solution, where Israel and the current Palestinian state should exist side by side. While I agree, that at least for years or decades to come the status quo will not change, (so Palestinians will have to deal with Israel by their side) and ideologically speaking peaceful coexistence with people of other faiths is necessary, and is hand in hand with Islamic teachings, is he really saying that the lands conquered by the Jews 2-3 generations ago should belong to them?

    Truthfully speaking, many Muslim politicians, scholars and ordinary people may not say it, but in the long term, I feel, and I’m sure many of my Muslim brothers and sisters feel if they honestly reflect on the issue, that the lands conquered by Israel RIGHTFULLY belongs to the Palestinian Arabs. There is no side-stepping this issue; there will be, in the course of time, a great military clash for the land.

  7. Abu Ayesha Al Emarati

    June 2, 2010 at 2:39 PM

    Sheikh Al Albaani was of the opinion that the Palestinians should do themselves a favour and stop throwing rocks and go back into their houses and learn their Deen.

    Then, the Day of Victory would come…

    Wise words, deep words….

    • Fam

      June 2, 2010 at 5:23 PM

      The only problem with that is that Palestinian homes are being demolished by Israeli bulldozers and destroyed by bombs. Too many Palestinians don’t have the privilege of having shelter- not to mention other necessities like education and food- that provide the foundation to learn the deen.

      But, I can’t disagree with you, learning our Deen is essential.

      • Abd- Allah

        June 2, 2010 at 8:21 PM

        Why not make hijrah to another Muslim country where they are able to work, have a home, food, and the chance to learn the deen?

        • Fam

          June 3, 2010 at 9:59 PM

          Because, like another brother mentioned, Jersualem and the Masjid Al-Aqsa are the third most holiest place in Islam. That’s why the Palestinian struggle is the Muslim struggle, they’re just suffering because Muslims aren’t united, politically, spiritually, etc.

          • Abd- Allah

            June 3, 2010 at 10:08 PM

            Well the place being holy didn’t stop the Prophet peace be upon him and his companions from making hijrah from the holiest of places on earth, Makkah, and they made hijrah to Medina in order to be able to practice their deen without being oppressed and for them to be able to spread the teachings of Islam. Jerusalem is a blessed place, but there are certain things which are more important like fulfilling our main purpose in life and the reason why we were created. That should be our first priority.

          • Fam

            June 3, 2010 at 10:15 PM

            Yes, but the Prophet (saw) returned to Makkah. Hijrah, in that case, was temporary – the Prophet (saw) fully intended to return and remove idolatry from the Kaba – and that was among his first actions when he reclaimed the city.
            If 1 of 4 people are Muslims, collectively we have enough political, military, and economic capital to defend whats Islamically valued- the problem, as much of this thread has noted, is the lack of spiritual solidarity and understanding.
            In any case, the majority of Palestinians did make hijrah, or died on their land, and only a fraction of what was remains.

  8. Abd- Allah

    June 3, 2010 at 12:23 AM

    SubhanAllah, if you watch the videos of the protests that were held, you realize that they have nothing in them related to Islam besides the fact that there are Muslims there. Some of them even had an uncovered woman addressing the people there and making a speech. Now seriously, is this the way that we really hope to bring about any real progress on this issue? This makes my conviction stronger of what several scholars have said that protests aren’t Islamic and don’t have any substantial benefit. All I really saw is people yelling and screaming (it seemed more like a celebration if you look at it without knowing what is really going on) and I haven’t really seen anything come out of these protests (aside from the free mixing between men and women, music/noise, bad language, burning flags while jumping around them and filming it, and some women who aren’t properly covered). You can yell “free free Palestine” until your mouth goes dry, but do you really think anyone is listening or actually cares to do something about it? It seems to me that such protests don’t really aim to achieve anything aside from giving those people who attend it a sense that they actually did something which they can use to put their guilty conscience to sleep when they go back to their “normal” lives the next day. I know I will get many comments attacking me and criticizing me for what I have said, and I expect the typical excuses for protests such as “they are standing up for the truth” or “raising awareness about the issue” and “at least they did something, what did you do?” or “we are showing solidarity with the people of Palestine”… to the rest of the excuses that people use to support that they should hold protests. I don’t know… Why can’t people see that this way doesn’t bring about any real concrete results?

    • Fam

      June 3, 2010 at 10:09 PM

      You said “several scholars have said that protests aren’t Islamic”

      Can you provide the evidence and context (scholars/publications/etc) for that statement?

      • Abd- Allah

        June 5, 2010 at 2:52 AM

        Here is a fatwa by Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan about this issue from the shaykh’s website.

        There are several other scholars who hold a similar opinion on this matter, you can find them by running a search on google but most of their statements are in Arabic, and you can also find a video on youtube of Shaykh Huwaini talking about this issue but it is in Arabic as well.

  9. Kashif H

    June 3, 2010 at 10:21 AM

    ahh yes, sister keith ellison, the great promoter of gay marriage and lesbian ‘Muslim’ activists is also fearlessly on the case for the Palestinians, all the more reason why voting for a ‘Muslim’ representative who swore on Thomas Jefferson’s Quran has had such benefits for Muslims.

    • Fam

      June 3, 2010 at 10:04 PM

      even if you disagree with him – and have valid points to share – calling him “sister” keith ellison is rude and un-Islamic. When the Prophet (saw) was disrespected he did not not defame his opponents. Adab is essential to being Islam and being Muslim.

  10. Ify Okoye

    June 6, 2010 at 8:00 AM

    Abu Noor and Fam, I’m with you, excellent points, I do think the system is broken and that by working at the organic grassroots level we can rectify many of society’s ills, which in then can have a less corrupting effect on those elected to represent us, insha Allah.

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