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One Night In Aleppo… Will Change You

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Innovation isn’t something that most Muslim organisations are accused of lately. We tend to be behind the curve on most things, if we’re even on it at all. So when I got an invite to a unique experiential event called “One night in Aleppo”, I was keen to see what it was all about.

Organised by Islamic Relief UK, the event was designed to highlight the suffering of the ordinary Syrian people that has tragically reached the 5th anniversary with no end in sight.

I went expecting to sit in a lecture theatre and hear speakers who would tell us about the dire situation in Aleppo and perhaps see a few file clips from the news. So I finished up quickly at work and sent my Medical students away with homework and proceeded to the event, but my mind was elsewhere.

I was thinking about the piles of marking I had to do, planning my Charity Week meetings for the coming week and what I needed to pick up from the supermarket on the way back home. My mind was everywhere but on the event that I was going to. I certainly wasn’t thinking about Syria.

All that changed the minute I walked through the door of the non-descript building and pushed aside the curtain.

IMG_0739

What I saw before me was nightmarish.

The dingy lights.

The broken glass.

The empty shops and homes.

The demolished mosque with no minaret.

The unexplained splatters of blood leaving trails of broken dreams and families in their wake.

The ghostly figures standing in the corners of the ruined buildings making me realise – shockingly – that there were some who still lived there.

Everything that had preoccupied my mind seconds ago had been pushed out. The tragedy of Syria had collided with my brain head-on and what I was left with was a deepening sense of dread.

Islamic Relief had hired a venue used for WW2 simulation war games and converted it into the streets of Aleppo. You know a conflict is bad when a WW2 scene needs to be made more harrowing to reflect it.

Alepo2

They also hired actors to act out scenes of ordinary people and their extraordinary struggle to survive through the chaos. There was a teacher desperate to learn about the fate of her school children. There was a medic struggling to help an injured lady with little equipment in the ruins of the hospital. There were aid workers being overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster. Most hauntingly of all, there was a couple consoling each other about the loss of their little son.

Alepo1

I felt numb, desolate and angry. If this re-enactment of Aleppo could be so moving, how much more desperate must the real city be?

It has been 5 long years.

5 years of tragedy.

5 years of killing.

5 years of fleeing.

5 years of watching a people torn apart, city by city, family by family, person by person.

Today, as I write this, Aleppo is surrounded by the forces of darkness preparing to snuff out any remnant of hope left in that broken, battered city. We have yet to figure out how we are going to stop this and the other conflicts that afflict us. Until we do, we can at least donate to help them in their hour years of need.

www.islamic-relief.org.uk/current-appeals/syria-appeal

www.irusa.org/syria

I’m grateful to Islamic Relief for organising an event this innovative and immersive that it managed to shake me out of the rat race. One night in Aleppo was a glimpse into hell, but the fact that we are able to put on events like this to remind us of their suffering gave me hope amidst the darkness.

May Allah protect the people of Aleppo and the oppressed wherever they may be.

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Dr. Muhammad Wajid Akhter - Doctor, Medical Tutor (Social Media, History & Medicine) - Islamic Historian - Founder of, and current board member to Charity Week for Orphans and needy children. www.charityweek.com - Council member, British Islamic Medical Association

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Umm Ayesha

    April 28, 2016 at 11:41 PM

    When we muslims leave the ways of sunnah, become westernised liberal and modern, forget the teachings of the Quran and Hadith then Allah’s wrath opens in any form. May Allah have Mercy on us. This the time for Astaghfaar and repentence. Begging Allah for forgiveness and trying to lead our lives as Rasoolallah (PBUH)and his companions, the Sahaba led (RA). There is no other way for te Ummah to get out of these tragedies.

    • Avatar

      Truth

      May 1, 2016 at 3:30 AM

      Umm Ayesha do you live in the West? if so, what do you mean “When we … become westernised liberal and modern … then Allah’s wrath opens in any form.” If indeed you do live in the west then obviously you and your interpretation of Islam have no place in the west and you need to move to a Muslim majority country.
      Also it seems obvious that it’s the violence found in the Quran and hadith that is a big part of the problem.

      • Avatar

        Ishmum Khan

        May 8, 2016 at 1:02 AM

        okay so Russia and US are attacking according to Quran and hadith?

  2. Avatar

    Umm Aasiyah

    April 29, 2016 at 9:44 AM

    Subanallah! It’s so easy to forget about the suffering and anguish in Syria as we in the West and other relatively calmer places go on with the hustle and bustle of life. May Almighty Allah reward Bro. Akhter for this piece. It has also shaken me out of my complacent state. Even if regular folks like I cannot do much, we can at least make our dua for Syria more intense and more frequent. And also increase our donations to the relief organizations out there. May Almighty Allah help the people of Syria. It is indeed a great trial.

  3. Avatar

    Murtala Lawal lsah

    April 30, 2016 at 6:07 AM

    Oh! Allah, saves Muslims ummah from the enemies of lslam, and restored peace in Muslims state, such as Syria, Nigeria, Iraq, Somalia etc.

  4. Avatar

    Mohammad Abdul

    May 3, 2016 at 5:20 PM

    Ameen,

    The rulers in the Muslim world have let down the Muslims of Syria spectacularly. Erdogon pretends to be the saviour of the Muslims, but he has not moved one soldier to help protect the Muslims of Syria. The Saudi family can find all the resources under the sun to fight and kill the Muslims of Yemen, but cannot find any soldiers to assist the Muslims of Syria.

    If there is one thing we as an Ummah need to understand is that until we remove these rulers and put in charge someone who cares for the sanctity of Islam and Muslims, these types of massacres will become common place, if they have not become already.

    May Allah (swt) bless us with a leader like Abu Bakr (ra), ameen.

    • Avatar

      Hue Man

      May 10, 2016 at 11:00 AM

      May Allah make us like the followers of Abu Bakr so that we may deserve a leader like him.

  5. Avatar

    Muslim

    May 6, 2016 at 3:59 AM

    Salam Aleikum,

    A primitive narrative toeing the mainstream/corporate/NATO parameters on what is happening in Syria. The sad reality is that events in Syria have nothing to do with Bashar al-Assad or “human rights.” It has everything to do with securing Israel, eliminating Hizbullah, Hamas, PIJ and PPF from having an Arab state support to resist Israel, along with facilitating inter Muslim divisions.

    Why does the Western media not cover Yemen even for 5% of air-coverage it gives to Syria? Why do Western regimes back regimes in the Muslim world 100 times worse than Assad?

    Wake up people, Syria is a trap and it has nothing to do with slogans projected by the Western media and parroted by naive Muslims.

  6. Avatar

    Manaal

    May 26, 2016 at 8:48 AM

    In 2009, Rania Azeem made contact, heshe was from a family of doctors in Aleppo. She said, such a sad state to find the curses of the oppressed resting upon the very fate of the oppressors, who have tried everything to plot and plan against Allah’s creation. The meddling of tryants is only a reflected wave to themselves. For which human thinks it can stand against Allah’s retribution and power?

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#Current Affairs

Coronavirus And The Impetus To Close The Chinese-Run Concentration Camps

My Appeal to the International Community to Save the Lives of 3+ Million Uyghurs in China’s Concentration Camps

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According to Dr. Adrian Zenz, an independent researcher based in Germany who has testified on several occasions on Capitol Hill, the concentration camps in East Turkestan number up to 1,400 (8 Nov 2019, [1]). It has been estimated that the number of the Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other Turkic minorities being held in those concentration camps can add up to more than 3 million.

On February 5th, 2020, when the official Chinese government’s media were reporting that coronavirus death toll on mainland China was 600 – 700 [2], Tencent briefly listed 154,023 infections and 24,589 deaths from Wuhan coronavirus [3]. That is, the actual death toll is about 40 times higher than what the Chinese government reported. East Turkestan (known as Xinjiang) is far from the epicenter of the outbreak and just 55 cases have been reported in the region so far [4]. We can easily believe that the actual number of the people who fell victim to coronavirus in East Turkestan is tens of times more than the above figure.

Among those who died in Wuhan, 61% died in their homes. Currently, almost all the Uyghur population in East Turkestan is locked up in their homes. 

The situation of the 3+ million Uyghur concentration camp detainees is worse by several degrees. Keeping 3+ million Uyghur alive detainees is a complex, expensive and extremely difficult project. Are the 3+ million detainees still alive? Are they still being fed? How and from where? 

There is a real reason to fear a rapid spread of coronavirus in the controversial Chinese camps. “The virus spreads from person to person through droplets disseminated by sneezing or coughing, and confining large groups of people together, possibly without adequate access to germ-killing soap and water, will increase the likelihood of an outbreak.” [4] 

I have started to panic. Most Uyghurs in the United States have families there, and they are dealing with the camps and the virus, and we do not know if they have enough to eat, have masks and enough heat to survive.

“If the international community fails to pressure China to take adequate actions to prevent outbreaks in the region, the nature of its mass network of concentration and forced labor camps will add an entirely new dimension to China’s ongoing genocide against the Uyghurs.” [5]

“Uyghurs in the diaspora fear if the virus isn’t already in the camps, when it does reach them, the consequences will be catastrophic, leading to mass outbreaks and high mortalities very quickly given reports of overcrowding, starvation, forced labor, sexual abuse and torture in the camps. As China has largely ignored the issue of the virus spreading in the region and its crimes against humanity in the region are ongoing, it’s unlikely the Chinese government will allocate resources to address the issue.” [5]

I call for:

  1. UN to send a delegation to the region to find out if the concentration camp detainees are being provided with enough food and heat to survive.
  2. WHO to send a delegation to the region to evaluate the spread of the virus, assess the risks in the camps and take all measures necessary to prevent mass outbreaks and deaths. 
  3. WHO, the UN, international human rights groups, national governments and the rest of the international community to pressure China to close the camps and release the millions detained immediately as part of the global response to the coronavirus outbreak.
  4. Global health and humanitarian organizations to send medical supplies and teams to screen, diagnose and treat affected individuals in the Uyghur region including those in China’s concentration camps. (Items 2 – 4 are almost identical to those in [5])

[1] https://www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/detainees-11232019223242.html

[2]https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/02/cloneofcloneofchina-coronavirus-outbreak-latest–200207231158175.html

[3]https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3871594?fbclid=IwAR1k3x27tW2jNmmQzbaNOWtciIwlP3z70GWvj2XcRhestwB6T6l16pSqL18

[4] https://www.france24.com/en/20200212-exiled-uighurs-fear-spread-of-coronavirus-in-china-camps

[5]https://www.change.org/p/demand-china-release-3-million-uyghurs-before-coronavirus-outbreaks-in-concentration-camps?utm_content=cl_sharecopy_20183581_en-CA%3Av2&recruiter=53261213&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=share_petition

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Civil Rights

Podcast: Lessons from the Life of Malcolm X | Abdul-Malik Ryan

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One of the things that happens with historical figures who continue to remain well-known and influential years after they can continue to speak for themselves is that others seek to speak for them.  Attempts are made to co-opt their legacy, either in sincere efforts for good or in selfish efforts for ideological or even commercial gain.  This is especially true of Malcolm X, who is not only a historical and political icon but in many ways a “celebrity” remembered by many primarily for his style and attitude.

The only real and meaningful tribute we can pay to Malcolm X is to follow his example. Click To Tweet

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Podcast: We Are All Slaves of Allah | Hakeemah Cummings

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Once, while in class at college, an Arab girl I was sitting next to said quite loudly to another, “Hey, give this paper to the ‘abdah” referring to a black girl in the class. I wondered if she was even aware of what she was saying in English. Did she think that ‘abdah translates to “black girl” and never thought of its true meaning? Did she think that I didn’t understand?

 

Read by Zeba Khan, originally posted here on Muslimmatters.org.

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