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How the U.S. ought to Have Responded to the Palestinian Statehood Bid

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Although the United States has failed and will indeed continue to fail to conduct its foreign policy in a humane and morally consistent manner, the fact remains that America, with its tremendous wealth, power, and influence, is in a unique position to affect the lives of those whose livelihood has been undermined by legacies of the Colonial Era. Nevertheless, the United States will probably always favor the aggressor over the dispossessed. That is, the United States will, no matter what, remain involved in the Middle East in the following way: as long as the unprecedentedly strong US alliance with Israel stands, the US will continue to support Israel unconditionally. This is due to the ironic nature of the American liberal democratic system, which allows political coalitions with enough money and power (AIPAC[1] and the so-called “Armageddon Lobby”[2]) to considerably undermine both the liberality and the democracy of the system. Because this inordinate bias exists, policy experts and, indeed, ordinary voters should remain vigilant to ensure that the US at least does something for Palestine too.

Obama as a Leader

In a recent Foreign Policy article, Aaron David Miller argues that the Israel-Palestine issue is a “lose-lose” situation in which Obama is better off not getting involved. His position has the appearance of cogency; after all, isn’t the real aim of every president to get reelected? How can Obama be expected to desire anything else? “There’s no deal now that anyone can broker,” Miller remarks with resignation, “The president is right to protect his political flanks. This isn’t cheap or dirty politics: it’s smart.”[3] Cynically concluding that “Obama should veto [any proposed bid for Palestinian membership in the U.N.] and sleep well that night,” Miller aggressively— and inexplicably— supports the status quo of American politics as if it represented some value that is now under threat and must be protected. His whole argument devolves, predictably, upon this vanity when it is revealed that the reason for him taking this stance is his belief that “reelecting Obama next year [in order to avert a Republican victory]…should be the primary goal.” All the other reasons for supporting the veto — such as protection of “interests” or the ultimate inefficacy of the UN membership bid — are just platitudes. He gives no evidence that clearing the way for Palestine’s unilateral ambitions will harm US interests, and he seems not to recognize the fact that everyone is already aware that the US will veto the bid — Obama has promised it. The point of the Palestinian bid is to send a message, to oppose the status-quo.

Miller’s argument that the Palestinians are not fit to declare statehood because they lack unity around a single political party forces the Palestinians into a catch-22 scenario. They cannot declare statehood unless they are unified around a single political party, yet a (successful) declaration of statehood is the one thing that would truly bring Palestinians together. Miller’s assertion that “no Israeli government will be willing to make a deal with a partner thatdoesn’t control and silence all the guns of Palestine” reveals the degree to which the American consciousness is warped into thinking that Palestine is required to accept the partnership (read: overlordship) of Israel in navigating its path to statehood. Moreover, expecting a stateless people to be perfectly unified is unprecedented and unfair. Not only do the Palestinians occupy widely divergent geographical areas, but they also profess two different religions. Such is the ridiculous presumption of those who want either to prevent the State of Palestine from ever coming into existence or to prevent it from being anything more than a permanent ward of Israel and the West, only half real and devoid of dignity.

Miller is right to criticize Obama for inciting false hope in Palestinians, Israelis, and Americans alike. Much of Obama’s positions and rhetoric have proven to be as fragile and as empty as a balloon. This is precisely the reason why influential policy experts ought not to go as far as Miller would have them go to make sure Obama gets reelected. Even if Obama is the lesser of two evils in comparison to most of the potential Republican candidates, subordinating the Palestine question to partisan politics obscures the urgency of the real human tragedy taking place. Palestinians are trying to claim a right that was stolen from them sixty years ago, and all policy experts can talk about is “national interests,” which is, more often than not, just code for “Israeli [expansionist] interests.” But for those who are genuinely concerned about real, tangible US interests (to which maintaining a permanent alliance with Israel has absolutely nothing to offer[4]), a reversal of terms may provide a fitting admonishment: If the US were to aggressively pursue the creation of a Palestinian state, wouldn’t popular anti-Americanism in the Middle East all but disappear, thus easing relations with trade partners far more lucrative than Israel, a country deficient of oil? If the US loses an ally in Israel, won’t it gain one in Palestine?

The so-called “Do-Nothing Strategy” might be described with exactly the same wording Miller denies: cheap and dirty politics. Its cheapness lay in the fact that it prioritizes the exigencies of party politics over real human concerns. Whether or not Obama gets reelected next term should take a back seat to such a pressing humanitarian concern as reversing West Bank settlement and clearing the path toward Palestinian statehood. The office of the president no longer has independent significance anyway. The president frequently serves as a scapegoat for the country’s problems, but he has very little power or initiative to act independently to change the status-quo. There will never be another “great president” like those of the 18th and 19th centuries because each one, as soon as he enters office, is pressed with the necessity to conform to the demands of the most powerful lobbies. If Obama were a great president, he would be brave enough to act on the dictates of morality rather than in the interest of self-perpetuation. If he were a great president, he would, with his own hands, permanently ruin his chances of being reelected, and he would do so with zeal. George Washington, that first and greatest American president, established the honorable democratic tradition of term limits when he refused to run for a third reelection, despite the fact that his extraordinary level of popularity would have enabled him to crown himself king if he wished. He subordinated his own ambitions to a higher moral principle.

Obscurantism and cynicism are what allow the Israel-Palestine land dispute to continue — Obscurantism that diverts focus away from the Palestinian tragedy by focusing on nebulous phrases like “national interests” and “helping our allies.” The resignation inherent in the “Do Nothing Strategy” resembles the attitude taken by David Ben-Gurion, a Zionist ideologue and one of Israel’s founders:

Everybody sees the problem in the relations between the Jews and the [Palestinian] Arabs. But not everybody sees that there’s no solution to it. There is no solution! . . . The conflict between the interests of the Jews and the interests of the [Palestinian] Arabs in Palestine cannot be resolved by sophisms. I don’t know any Arabs who would agree to Palestine being ours—even if we learn Arabic . . .and I have no need to learn Arabic. On the other hand, I don’t see why ‘Mustafa’ should learn Hebrew. . . . There’s a national question here. We want the country to be ours. The Arabs want the country to be theirs.[5]

Resignation to the interminability of the dilemma of Israel and Palestine only buys time for the further expansion of settlements, and thus further diminishes the likelihood that the problem will ever be solved. Palestine deserves the right to make a unilateral bid for statehood. Israel hadn’t obtained bilateral agreement when it seized Palestinian land in 1948, so Israel is groundless in trying to make the Palestinians do so, especially considering that the Palestinians are just trying to take back what is rightfully theirs.


[1] Thus, in John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, “The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy,” London Review of Books 28 (2006):45, “AIPAC’s success is due to its ability to reward legislators and congressional candidates who support its agenda, and to punish those who challenge it. … AIPAC makes sure that its friends get strong financial support from the myriad pro-Israel PACs. Those seen as hostile to Israel, on the other hand, can be sure that AIPAC will direct campaign contributions to their political opponents. … The bottom line is that AIPAC, which is a de facto agent for a foreign government, has a stranglehold on the US Congress. Open debate about US policy towards Israel does not occur there, even though that policy has important consequences for the entire world.”

[2] See Rammy M. Haija, “The Armageddon Lobby: Dispensationalist Christian Zionism and the Shaping of US Policy Towards Israel-Palestine,” Holy Land Studies 5.1 (2006): 75-95. Haija briefly narrates the history of Christian Zionism and measures the impact of this movement on US policy relating to Israel-Palestine. He finds that despite the Armageddon Lobby’s success as a pro-Israel lobby, its influence is actually detrimental to the long-term peace and security of Israel  because of its “policy of deterring the procession of negotiations” (75).

[3] Aaron David Miller, “The Do-Nothing Strategy,” ForeignPolicy.com, last modified September 22, 2011, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/09/22/the_do_nothing_strategy.

[4] John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, “The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy,” 6.

[5] Tom Segev, One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate (New York: Picador Press, 2001), 116.

16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Hassan

    November 1, 2011 at 9:57 AM

    UNESCO has admitted Palestine as a state, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama administration has stopped UNESCO funding.

    • Avatar

      Tareq

      November 2, 2011 at 2:31 AM

      Assalamu ‘alaikum,
      brother i’m copying it….

    • Avatar

      Brother

      November 3, 2011 at 8:07 PM

      Seems like Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize prematurely, but I may be wrong. Does anyone know any place where he helped establish peace?

  2. Avatar

    Mansoor Ansari

    November 1, 2011 at 10:06 AM

    Those amongst the countries that voted NO should be held accountable especially those who talk spreading about democracy & human rights around the world and are waging war to do so.

    Aka : USA, Australia, Canada, Germany, Netherlands and Sweden.

    There were 14 “no” votes, 52 abstentions and 107 “yes” votes (there were also 20 Member States absent):

    No: Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Israel, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Palau, Panama, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Sweden, United States of America, Vanuatu.

    Abstentions: Albania, Andorra, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Colombia, Cook Islands, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Fiji, Georgia, Haiti, Hungary, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kiribati, Latvia, Liberia, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Nauru, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Switzerland, Thailand, Macedonia, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Zambia.

    Yes: Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Chad, Chile, China, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Honduras, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Sant Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

    Absent: Antigua and Barbuda, Central African Republic, Comoros, Dominica, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Madagascar, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Confederated States of Micronesia, Mongolia, Niue, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Turkmenistan.

  3. Avatar

    Shahzad

    November 1, 2011 at 10:13 PM

    It’s a do-nothing strategy while Israel continues to build settlements in the West Bank. How can a viable Palestinian state be formed from a patch work swiss cheese array of lands?

  4. Avatar

    Raja Touseef

    November 2, 2011 at 2:19 AM

    Israel and hence the US Govt. is offended cos there is a possibility that now questions will be raised more often than not about the settlements. The settlements are in itself a spider web capturing Palestinians and the spider eats its prey as soon as its hungry or nobody is watching. I hope UN acknowledges Palestine next. Now they have disowned UNESCO, what are they going to do with the countries which voted for Palestine. Clearly they contradict with US methodology!

  5. Pingback: The Palestinian refugees: The real victims of Arab politics – Jerusalem Post | Live Newsline

  6. Avatar

    Cartoon Muslim

    November 4, 2011 at 1:00 PM

    I Almost forgot about that. How sad.

  7. Avatar

    Carlos

    November 4, 2011 at 11:22 PM

    Why won’t everyone just agree to return to the 1967 borders? The Palestinian Authority is already a state, so why keep pretending that it is not? If the Palestinian Authority has been undermined, it is primarily because the Gazans have thrown their support to Hamas, a group that will not accept peace with Israel.

  8. Avatar

    Dave the Christian

    November 27, 2011 at 9:20 PM

    “United States will probably always favor the aggressor over the dispossessed”.

    Oh really? Interesting perspective. Before Israel was a state, the Jews were dispossessed. They lived in Kibbutzes and were under attack by hostil neighbors. The LOYAL American people remember the day of 9/11 and who stood by us versus doing the “LaLaLaLa” thing in the streets and dancing. A picture is worth a thousand words.

    Radical Islamists love to hide behind the Israel/Palestinian issue. If Israel simply vanished, the radicals would still wage war against the U.S. because it is not an Islamic state. So, why should the U.S. abandon a friend to people who would commit another holocaust and then continue to wage was against it?

    The muslims should purge the radicals from their midst to gain credibility. Until then, they cannot be trusted.

    • Avatar

      Andrew Howie

      November 28, 2011 at 9:52 PM

      Do note that both sides (Israeli and Palestinian) have used “terrorist” tactics against civilians (for an Israeli example, cf. Baruch Goldstein and the 1994 mosque shooting) as well as “state-sponsored” violence against civilians (however you delineate these two concepts is up to you; the differences between the two are superficial–in any event, both are worthy of condemnation).

      If you would like to check out the balance of aggression, I recommend you take a look at this website:
      http://www.ifamericansknew.org/

      The Palestinian community in the Levant before the creation of the state of Israel welcomed the immigration of Jews from Europe–that is, until they saw how the world powers were working to undermine Palestinian rights by supporting a massive influx of European Jews that would displace the local population, while providing no guarantee that the Palestinians would be protected, and to allow the creation of a Jewish state on land that Arabs had called home for more than a millennium.

      “If Israel simply vanished, the radicals would still wage war against the U.S. because it is not an Islamic state.”

      If you read the writings and view the public pronouncements of radical Islamists, you will find that that this isn’t the case. No Islamist of any stripe has ever talked about turning the U.S. into an Islamic state. What they drag up time and time again is the U.S.’s foreign policy in places like Palestine, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. They want to stop villages from being bombed and children from being starved by UN sanctions, and stirred up by anger and passion they incorrectly reckon that violent activity against civilians is the right way forward. Their methods are what the mainstream Muslim community disagrees with. Hence, all properly educated scholars of Islam have condemned the 9/11 attack (and all other instances of the killing of innocent civilians).
      There’s actually a published edition of the pronouncements of Osama bin Laden called Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama bin Laden translated by Bruce Lawrence. The Muslim world

  9. Avatar

    Dave the Christian

    November 28, 2011 at 12:48 PM

    Muslim Censor,

    You are a coward for removing my remarks. I should not be suprised – I see this pattern on other Muslim sites where I post to offer a counterpoint to typical anti-Western and anti-Christian dogma. You and your radical friends have fun in your Dark-ages fantasyland. Maybe, someday, a reformation will hit Islam and you will be brought into the 21st century…

    • Avatar

      Andrew Howie

      November 28, 2011 at 9:13 PM

      Dear Dave,
      Welcome to the Muslim Matters blog.
      All comments go through an approval process before they are posted. No one had gotten around to approving your comments yet–they were not deleted. There’s no reason to get so upset. Also, the MM rules prohibit name-calling, so kindly refrain from it in the future. Thank you!

  10. Avatar

    Carlos

    December 26, 2012 at 10:59 PM

    Dear Andrew:

    I just wanted to let you know that I finally finished reading the book you recommended, Kierkegaard’s “Fear and Trembling.” I have numerous criticisms about it, but my main criticism is that Kierkegaard appears to be a very intelligent person whose mind is trapped by trying to make sense out of what is senseless. Thank you for taking the time to read Dawkins’ “The God Delusion.” Happy New Year. I wish you the best.

    Carlos

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#Islam

Lesson 11 From Surah Al-Kahf

Tafsir Verses 72-81

Shaykh Furhan Zubairi

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Alhamdulillah last session we were able to explore the meanings and lessons of verses 60-70. InshAllah, we’ll try our best to cover the meanings of verse 71-82. As we learned in the last session, this passage of the Surah deals with a very unique and interesting episode from the life of Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him). It’s the story of his encounter and journey with a man of God known as Khidr or Khadir. We reached the point in the story where Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) finally finds Khidr and asks with the utmost humility and respect to allow him to be his student. This highlights Musa’s 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) sincerity in seeking knowledge, his lack of pride and his willingness to humble himself in front of Khidr despite his own status as a Prophet.

But Khidr initially declined his request telling him, “Truly you will not be able to bear patiently with me. And how can you be patient with that which you have no knowledge?” Khidr recognized that he would do things that Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) would find to be illogical, irrational and even impermissible. Things that on the surface level seem to be horrible and despicable. Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was sent as a Prophet of Divine Law, while Khidr had been entrusted with some unique knowledge and actions that seemed to be contradictory to that law. So he explained to Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) that he wouldn’t be able to be patient with him and his actions. But Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was extremely eager to learn. He resolved to be patient and obedient while relying upon the will of Allah ﷻ.

He tells Khidr, “You will find me patient, if Allah wills, and I shall not disobey you in any matter.” Khidr finally gave in and both of them set off on their way. This is where we’ll pick up the story again. Allah ﷻ says,

Verse 71: So they both went on till, when they had embarked upon a ship, he made a hole in it. He said, “Have you made a hole in it to drown its people? Certainly, you have done a grave thing.”

They set out walking together along the shore looking for a ship to ride. As they were walking a ship of sailors passed by them and Khidr asked for a ride. The sailors knew Khidr so they let both him and Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) come on board without any charge. After traveling for a while Khidr got up and pulled out one of the planks from the bottom of the ship using an ax making a hole in it. This placed everyone on the ship in danger of drowning. Obviously, this seemingly absurd and cruel behavior surprised Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him). He was literally in shock. He couldn’t understand why Khidr would do such a thing to someone who helped him out. This went against his moral compass of what’s right and wrong. Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) forgot about the conditions of his teacher and objected. These people gave us a free ride and you’re pulling a plank to drown their ship. You’ve done something bad. “Have you made a hole in it to drown its people? Certainly, you have done a grave thing.” Khidr then reminded him gently with patience.

Verse 72: He said, “Did I not say that you can never bear with me patiently?”

Didn’t I tell you that you wouldn’t be able to be patient with me and my actions? The way he says this shows that he was willing to overlook and tolerate Musa’s (as) impatience. Musa (as) felt a sense of regret and apologized to Khidr telling him that he completely forgot about his deal.

Verse 73: He (Musa) said, “Do not hold me responsible for what I forgot, and do not make my course too difficult for me.”

Basically he apologized. He said please don’t hold me responsible for what I forgot and allow me to continue travelling in your company. While telling the story the Prophet ﷺ says, “the first (question) was out of forgetfulness. While this conversation was taking place a bird came and sat on the side of the boat and took a sip of water from the ocean. Khidr said to Musa, ‘my knowledge and yours combined in comparison to the knowledge of Allah is like the sip of water compared to the ocean.’” Khidr accepting his apology and they continued travelling on their way.

Verse 74: So, they moved ahead until when they met a boy, he killed him (the boy). He (Musa) said, “Did you kill an innocent soul while he did not kill anyone? You have committed a heinous act indeed.”

“So they continued…” They both got off the ship and started walking along the shore until they came across a young boy playing with his friends. Khidr went up to this young boy and killed him by either strangling him to death or striking him on his head. This was too much for Musa (as) to handle. He objected even more vehemently. How can he kill an innocent young boy for no reason whatsoever? To Musa (as) this seemed absolutely absurd, cruel and unjustified. It was too much for him to tolerate patiently despite his promise not to question anything that he saw. So he said, How can you kill a pure innocent child for no reason whatsoever? You have done something unjustified and have committed a heinous act. Once again Khidr reminds him of the condition that he made and the promise that Musa (as) had given.

Verse 75: He said, “Did I not tell you that you can never bear with me patiently?”

Didn’t I warn you that you wouldn’t be able to handle what I would do? Didn’t I tell you that you wouldn’t be able to remain silent when I do certain things? In this reminder, Khidr added the word “laka” to show that this time his reminder is more severe and clearer. The first time someone forgets and makes a mistake it’s overlooked. The second time it’s also overlooked but with a sense of hesitation. Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) again feels a sense of regret for breaking his word and not sticking to the conditions of Khidr. He’s now done this twice so he apologizes by saying,

Verse 76: He said, “If I ask you about something after this, do not keep me in your company. You have had enough excuses from me.”

Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him)(as) again apologizes but this time gives himself one last chance. He said if he questions Khidr one more time then Khidr can choose to part ways with him. Once again Khidr accepts his apology and they set off on their way. After commenting on this part ibn Kathīr narrates a hadīth from the Prophet ﷺ. He writes, “Ibn Jarir narrated from Ibn `Abbas that Ubayy bin Ka`b said: “Whenever the Prophet ﷺ mentioned anyone, he would pray for himself first. One day he said:

  • «رَحْمَةُ اللهِ عَلَيْنَا وَعَلَى مُوسَى لَوْ لَبِثَ مَعَ صَاحِبِهِ لَأَبْصَرَ الْعَجَبَ، وَلَكِنَّهُ قَالَ:
  • ﴿إِن سَأَلْتُكَ عَن شَىْءٍ بَعْدَهَا فَلاَ تُصَاحِبْنِى قَدْ بَلَغْتَ مِن لَّدُنِّى عُذْراً﴾»

May the mercy of Allah be upon us and upon Musa. If he had stayed with his companion he would have seen wonders, but he said, (`If I ask you anything after this, keep me not in your company, you have received an excuse from me.’))” That brings us to the third and last adventure they had together.

Verse 77: Then, they moved on until they came to the people of a town and sought food from them. But they refused to show them any hospitality. Then, they found there a wall that was about to fall down. So he (Khidr) set it right. He (Musa) said, “If you wished, you could have charged a fee for this.”

Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) and Khidr continued traveling until they came upon the people of a town that most commentators identify as the ancient city of Antioch. Being tired and hungry they asked them for some food but they refused to give them any or show them any hospitality whatsoever. As they were leaving the city they came across a wall that was about to fall down. Khidr stopped by it and repaired it. Now, this situation is also bizarre; Khidr is a complete stranger in a town that refused to give them food or host them yet he still stops and fixes their wall for nothing in return. Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) finds the situation full of irony. Why should a stranger exert so much effort in rebuilding a wall in a town where they were denied even a little food and all hospitality? He should have at least demanded some money for his labor and then they could have bought some food to eat.

Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) couldn’t hold himself so he objected, “If you wished, you could have charged a fee for this.” And that was the end of their relationship. Khidr responded,

Verse 78: He said, “This is the parting between me and you. I shall inform you of the meaning of that which you were unable to bear with patiently.”

Meaning, this is the end of our relationship and this is where we’ll part ways. But before we go our separate ways I’ll explain to you the wisdom and hidden meaning behind everything I did. Up till this point in the story, we’ve probably been just as impatient as Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him); we have no clue why Khidr did the things he did. But he then explains everything is detail; why he pulled a plank out of the bottom the ship, why he killed an innocent child and why he rebuilt the wall without taking anything in return.

Verse 79: As for the ship, it belonged to some poor people who worked at sea. I wanted to damage it, for just beyond them was a king who was seizing every ship by force.

Khidr is explained that his act of damaging the ship was, in reality, a means of saving it. It comes in a narration that these poor people were ten brothers, 5 of them were handicapped while the other five worked. The ship was their only source of income. The king was a cruel, tyrannical oppressor who would take ships by force. The damage done to the ship made it undesirable for the king and ultimately saved it for its owners. Had it been seaworthy, it would certainly have been confiscated by the tyrannical king. Perpetrating some small damage to the boat saved it from the greater harm and ruinous injustice which was certain to take place without it. Hence, causing such damage was a good and kindly action. So damaging the ship actually turned out to be a good thing.

Verses 80-81: And as for the young boy, his parents were believers and we feared that he would make them suffer much through rebellion and disbelief. So we desired that their Lord give them in exchange one who is better than him in purity, and nearer to mercy.

Although the young child seemed to be pure and innocent in reality the seeds of disbelief and wickedness were entrenched in his heart. If he had grown up he would have been a source of grief and sorrow for his parents who were believers. Their love for this child would have led them towards evil and wickedness as well. They would suffer because of the rebellion and disbelief. So Allah told Khidr to kill this boy to spare them that grief and to replace him with a child that would be better and more dutiful. Now obviously the parents weren’t aware of this at this time so to them this was a huge loss and tragedy. They weren’t aware of the future difficulties that they were saved from by his death.

Qatādah said, “His parents rejoiced when he was born and grieved for him when he was killed. If he had stayed alive, he would have been the cause of their doom. So let a man be content with the decree of Allah, for the decree of Allah for the believer, if he dislikes it, is better for him than if He were to decree something that he likes for him.” That’s why in connection to these verses ibn Kathīr رحمهم الله quotes the hadīth, “Allah does not decree anything for a believer, save that it is better for him.”

  • «لَا يَقْضِي اللهُ لِلْمُؤْمِنِ مِنْ قَضَاءٍ إِلَّا كَانَ خَيْرًا لَه»

It is mentioned in a narration that the parents were blessed with a pious daughter who gave birth to a Prophet. So the murder of this child actually turned out to be something good in the long run.

Verse 82: And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the city, and beneath it was a treasure belonging to them. Their father was righteous, and your Lord desired that they should reach their maturity and extract their treasure, as a mercy from your Lord. And I didn’t do this upon my own command. This is the meaning of that which you couldn’t bear with patiently.

Khidr explained to Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) that the wall that was about to fall that he rebuilt was covering a treasure that belonged to two orphan boys. If the wall had fallen down the treasure would be exposed and the orphan children would’ve been deprived of their wealth. By rebuilding the wall Khidr made it possible for them to access their treasure when they grew up. This was done partially because their father was a righteous and pious man. Khidr then explains to Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) that he didn’t do any of these things based on his own accord or understanding. Rather he did them according to the Divine command, decree, and will of Allah ﷻ. “And I didn’t do this upon my own command.” He concludes by saying, “This is the meaning of that which you couldn’t bear with patiently.” Meaning, this is the explanation of my actions that you didn’t understand and weren’t able to be patient with.

Lessons:

1) One of the most powerful and profound lessons we learn from this entire episode is that oftentimes a tragedy is a blessing in disguise. Everything that happens in this world, whether good or bad, happens according to the Divine will and decree of Allah ﷻ. There’s some deep divine wisdom behind every single thing that happens in this world. When something good happens we recognize it as a blessing. For example, if we get a good job, get a raise at work, purchase a new car or are blessed with the birth of a child. All of recognize this as something positive. On the other hand whenever we face setbacks, difficulties, hardships and tragedies we tend to lose patience.

This incident is teaching us that difficulties, tests, trials, and hardships are oftentimes blessing in disguise. The first thing to understand is that Allah isn’t sending these difficulties our way to break us or destroy us. Rather he’s sending them our way to test our patience and faith, as a source of mercy and a reminder. As a way of nurturing and training us. He’s reminding us to turn back to Him, to hold on to our faith, to be steadfast, patient, strong, and to persevere. When we’re struggling and going through difficult times we shouldn’t assume that somehow Allah is displeased with us. Similarly, when we’re comfortable and enjoying life we shouldn’t assume that Allah is pleased with us. The opposite can be true. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said,

  • « إِذَا أَرَادَ اللَّهُ بِعَبْدِهِ الْخَيْرَ عَجَّلَ لَهُالْعُقُوبَةَ فِى الدُّنْيَا وَإِذَا أَرَادَ اللَّهُ بِعَبْدِهِ الشَّرَّأَمْسَكَ عَنْهُ بِذَنْبِهِ حَتَّى يُوَفَّى بِهِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ

“If Allah wants good for his servant, He hurries on His punishment in this world, and if He wills ill for a servant, he holds back punishing him for his sin so He can give it to him in full on the Day of Resurrection.”

Everything we face in this world is actually a source of blessing for us. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

  • «مَا يُصِيبُ المُسْلِمَ مِنْ نَصَبٍ،وَلاَ وَصَبٍ، وَلاَ هَمِّ، وَلاَ حُزْنٍ، وَلاَ أَذًى، وَلاَ غَمِّ، حَتَّىالشَّوْكَةِ يُشَاكُهَا؛ إِلاَّ كَفَّرَ الله بِهَا مِنْ خَطَايَاهُ»

“No fatigue, illness, anxiety, sorrow, harm or sadness afflicts any Muslim, even to the extent of a thorn pricking him, without Allah wiping out his sins by it.”

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) tells us that the main tool, the key to deal with the world and all the problems it contains is through patience and turning towards Him. When we’re dealing with our problems we should turn to Allah. We should make dhikr, read Quran, spend time in prayer and reflection and try to be around good company. We should try to focus our attention, our spiritual and emotional energy on our relationship with Allah instead of our problem. By doing so we’ll find peace and comfort. True contentment. Part of patience is recognizing that whatever we’re going through is something that we can handle. Whatever we’re going through will not last forever. That’s why throughout the Quran whenever Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) consoles and comforts the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) He reminds him to be patient and to turn to him. “So be patient over what they say and exalt [Allah] with praise of your Lord.” (20:130) “So be patient. Indeed, the promise of Allah is truth.” (30:60) “So be patient, [O Muhammad], over what they say and exalt [Allah] with praise of your Lord before the rising of the sun and before its setting.” (50:39)

2) Being content with the Divine decree of Allah ﷻ.

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#Life

Why I Turned to Tech to Catch Laylatul Qadr

Make sure you maximize your sadaqah

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By Ismael Abdela

My life, just like yours, is sooo busy. So naturally, as the tech nerd I am, I turn to tech to help me manage my regular routine including project management apps to manage my daily tasks. I even have a sleeping app that wakes me up at the optimum time (whatever that means!). But even though tech has changed everything in all sectors and helped make efficiencies in my daily life, it had had little impact on my religious activities.

A few years ago, whilst I was preparing for the last 10 nights of Ramadan, it hit me – why doesn’t something exist that automates my donations during these blessed nights to catch Laylatul Qadr. Rather than putting a reminder on my phone to bring out my bank card every night and inputting it into a website – why doesn’t something exist that does it for me, solving the problem of me forgetting to donate. After all we are human and it’s interesting that the Arabic word for human being is ‘insan’ which is derived from the word ‘nasiya’ which means ‘to forget.’ It is human nature to forget.

So the techie in me came out and I built the first scrappy version of MyTenNights, a platform to automate donations in the last 10 nights of Ramadan (took two weeks) because I wanted to use it myself! I thought it would be cool and my friends and family could use it too. That same year, nearly 2000 other people used it – servers crashed, tech broke and I had to get all my friends and Oreo (my cat) to respond to email complaints about our temperamental site!

I quickly realised I wasn’t alone in my need  – everyone wanted a way to never miss Laylatul Qadr! Two years down the line we’ve called it MyTenNights, and our team has grown to 10, including Oreo, senior developers, QA specialists, brand strategists, creative directors and more. It fast became a fierce operation – an operation to help people all over the world catch Laylatul Qadr!

Last year alone we raised almost $2 million in just 10 days – and that was just in the UK. We’ve now opened MyTenNights to our American, Canadian. South African and Australian brothers and sisters and we’re so excited to see how they use it! We’ve made it available through all the biggest house name charities – Islamic Relief, Muslim Aid, Helping Hand, Penny Appeal, you name it! All donations go directly to the charity donors choose – all 100% of it.

Looking back at the last couple of years – it feels surreal: The biggest charities in the world and tens of thousands of users who share my need to be certain they’ve caught Laylatul Qadr. Although I hear many impressed with the sheer amount MyTenNights has raised for charity (and that excites me too!), it’s not what motives me to go on. What excites me most is the growing number of people who catch Laylatul Qadr because we made it easier.

I often tell my team that the number of people that use MyTenNights is the only metric we care about, and the only metric we celebrate. It makes no difference to us whether you donate $1 or a million – we just want you to catch Laylatul Qadr and for you to transform your Akhirah, because (after Allah) we helped you do it.

To catch Laylatul Qadr with MyTenNights, visit their website MyTenNights.com

Ismael Abdela is a Law & Anthropology graduate from the London School of Economics. He spent some years studying Islamic Sciences in Qaseem, Saudi Arabia. He is now a keen social entrepreneur. Ismael likes to write about spiritual reflections, social commentary, and tafsīr. He is particularly interested in putting religion in conversation with the social sciences.

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Heart Soothers: Shaykh Noreen Mohamed Sideeq

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