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From The Chaplain’s Desk: Palestine On My Mind


Currently, there are several crises raging across the Muslim world. In the past few weeks, we have seen earthquakes devastating Morocco and Afghanistan, flooding in Libya, and various ongoing conflicts across the Muslim world. These past few weeks, our news feeds have been filled with heart-wrenching headlines and reports from the atrocities that are being committed in Gaza. “Atrocities” is too soft of a word. What we are witnessing is ethnic cleansing and genocide. As this article is being written, the death toll in Gaza is now above 7,000; 2,913 of those are children. We are witnessing genocide and ethnic cleansing taking place right in front of our eyes. We are seeing some of the worst atrocities being committed by occupiers and oppressors. Western states and the mainstream media are willfully, cruelly, and arrogantly turning a blind eye. The rhetoric from heads of state and the media is absolutely infuriating. The Muslim world, particularly the Arab states, seems powerless and helpless.

May Allah ﷻ accept all the deceased as martyrs, grant patience to their families, grant them immense strength, patience, and perseverance, and grant them freedom from occupation. 

Cheap Blood

It truly feels like we are living during the times that were described by the Prophet ﷺ.

Thowbān raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) narrates that the Prophet ﷺ said, “Soon nations will summon each other to attack you just as a group of diners usher each other toward their meal.” Someone asked, “Will that be because of our small numbers at that time?” The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “No, you will be numerous at that time, but you will be like the scum and rubbish carried by flood water. Allah will remove from the hearts of your enemies their awe/respect for you and will place weakness in your hearts.” That person asked, “O Messenger of Allah, what is this weakness?” He ﷺ replied, “Love of the world and dislike of death.” [Sunan Abi Dawud 4297]

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The Prophet ﷺ described a time when we as an Ummah, as a nation of believers, will be extremely weak, humiliated, and disgraced. We will have no respect, honor, authority, sovereignty, or dignity in the eyes of others. Our lives and honor will have no value or weight in the eyes of others. Muslim blood will be cheap. 

Perhaps the longest and most frustrating crisis we have witnessed during our lives is the illegal occupation of Palestine. The Palestinians have been living under occupation for the past 70+ years, since the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. Since that time, Palestinians have been victims of a systematic process of persecution designed to push them out of their homes and abandon their land. There’s no doubt that Israel is an apartheid state where the Palestinians are treated as second-class citizens who experience various forms of discrimination daily. One of the biggest issues of the occupation is the illegal settlements established in Jerusalem to push out the Muslim population. Israel’s unlawful construction and expansion of settlements and their related infrastructure on Palestinian soil is one of the most defining features of Israel’s occupation and has bred mass violations against Palestinians over the past five decades. Tens of thousands of Palestinian homes and properties have been demolished, displacing entire communities from their homes, and at least 100,000 hectares of land have been seized for Israel’s settlement project, including for construction and agricultural use. Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land do not just amount to war crimes under international law, they violate fundamental principles of international law triggering additional responsibilities among all states. 

A Very Muslim Issue

These past weeks, the IDF has launched an illegal war on the residents of Gaza dropping bombs indiscriminately killing women and children, and destroying entire neighborhoods. As a community of believers, this is not just a Palestinian issue or an Arab issue; this is a Muslim issue. It is a Muslim issue because it involves our Muslim brothers and sisters and al-Masjid al-Aqsa, our third most sacred place of worship. Al-Masjid al-Aqsa is the destination of the Prophet’s ﷺ Night Journey, the starting point of his ascension through the heavens, and our first qiblah in Islam. It is the land where the Prophet ﷺ led all the Prophets and Messengers in prayer. 

One of the most frustrating things about the entire conflict is how it is portrayed and reported in the mainstream news media. Every time I read or see a report from CNN, BCC, or Fox News I’m reminded of the following quote from Malcolm X, “The press is so powerful in its image-making role, it can make a criminal look like he’s the victim and make the victim look like he’s the criminal. This is the press, an irresponsible press. If you aren’t careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” They paint the oppressors as the oppressed and the oppressed as the oppressors; the victims as the criminals and the criminals as the victims.

And what’s even more frustrating is the inability of the Muslim world to do anything about it. How did we get here? How has it come to this? How is it that we have such large numbers but have no weight, power, authority, influence, or value? How is it that there are over 2 billion Muslims in the world but we are still weak and oppressed? That we can’t do anything beyond offer a few empty condemnations? The Prophet ﷺ told us the reason why, he told us that it will be because of a very specific weakness; love of this world and dislike of death. This weakness is found in us, not the people of Gaza. The past few weeks have shown to us that the people of Gaza are people of pure unwavering faith and reliance upon Allah ﷻ.

Strength from Imaan

This is what I want all of us to reflect upon. Our strength as an ummah has never come from numbers or material means. Our true strength comes from the strength of our Iman; the strength of our faith. Our true strength comes from following the Book of Allah ﷻ, the guidance and teachings of the Prophet ﷺ, and implementing them into our lives. 

Oftentimes when we discuss the problems and issues we face as an Ummah, we end up focusing on material factors; social, political, and economic. And of course, these factors play a role in what is happening in Muslim societies throughout the world. I’m not denying that. The issues we are facing are complex and multi-faceted. However, I firmly believe that the root cause of our issues is that we have left the guidance of the Quran and the example of the Prophet ﷺ. 

Not only were Muslim lands colonized by Western imperial powers, but Muslim minds were colonized as well. As a result of this intellectual colonization, we have been looking for success and the answers to our social, economic, and political problems towards the various ideologies and philosophies that were born of modernity. But the answer to our problems doesn’t lie in secularism, modernism, liberalism, scientism, socialism, democracy, or any other manmade system that exists. The answer to our problems lies in Divine guidance in the form of the words of Allah ﷻ and the teaching of our beloved Prophet ﷺ. 

Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) Promise of Security

Allah ﷻ tells us in Surah al-Nur,

“Allah has promised those of you who believe and do good that He will certainly make them successors in the land, as He did with those before them; and will surely establish for them their faith which He has chosen for them; and will indeed change their fear into security—˹provided that˺ they worship Me, associating nothing with Me. But whoever disbelieves after this ˹promise˺, it is they who will be the rebellious.” [Surah An-Nur: 24;55]

The starting point or focal point of the problems we’re facing is not some external factor; rather, it’s internal. The problem lies with us as Muslims. We have left the way of life explained to us in the Qur’ān and shown to us practically by the Prophet ﷺ and have adopted ideas, beliefs, customs, and a way of life foreign to our own teachings. We no longer ascribe to the Islamic worldview or live a life according to Quranic and Prophetic principles. If we want to turn the tide and change our current situation we have to start changing ourselves. We have to recommit to our faith, come back to the basics, build a strong connection with Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), and live for the sake of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)

PC: Jeremy Yap (unsplash)

That’s what Allah ﷻ is telling us in this verse. If we have faith and that faith results in righteous actions, then Allah ﷻ promises us success. Allah ﷻ is promising us as believers three distinct favors: 1) He will make us successors to the land (make us vicegerents upon the earth), as He did those who came before us, 2) He will establish the religion He has chosen for us and 3) He will grant us security to replace our fear. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will give us ‘izzah, honor us, elevate us, and place us in positions of strength, authority, and power. The Ummah will have respect and value. The believers as a nation, as an Ummah, will have influence and bring real change in the world. They will be seen as world leaders. Islam will be established and firm as a way of life. It will be seen as the best way of life that can benefit humanity. People will recognize its value and look towards Islam and Muslims for solutions to problems that they’re facing. Allah ﷻ will grant us security to replace our fear. The fear of mockery, ridicule, harassment, persecution, and oppression will be removed and replaced with peace, safety, and security. But this promise is for those who fulfill two conditions; faith and righteous actions. Meaning their faith is proactive.

The formula is very simple and straightforward; it’s literally only two things. Faith and righteous deeds. If we as an Ummah come back to the basics of our faith and religion it will make a huge difference. If we as an Ummah want to return to our glory days, if we want that ‘izzah and honor, then we have to come back to Allah. The Prophet ﷺ told us, “Truly Allah ﷻ elevates nations through this Book and lowers others.” If we want to bring about real and true change, we have to start changing ourselves along with all of our other efforts. We have to free ourselves from this intellectual colonization by submitting ourselves to our Lord and Creator. 

As young Muslim college/university students, we may be asking ourselves, “What can we do?” “How can we help?” “How do we start bringing about change?” I want to share five practical things all of us can do to start making real practical change:

  1. Come Back to Allah ﷻ – I’m sure all our hearts are shaken by the current events in Gaza. The eyes shed tears, the heart feels pain, and we sincerely pray for our brothers and sisters. When atrocities like this take place, they are moments of introspection. These are times for us to come back to Allah ﷻ, al-Rujūʿ ila Allah. This is a wake-up call from Allah ﷻ shaking us from our deep slumber and heedlessness. It is as if Allah ﷻ is telling us enough is enough. We have missed enough prayers, we have slept through enough Fajrs, we have missed enough fasts, we have sinned enough, we have disobeyed Allah ﷻ enough, we have been careless long enough, we have stayed away from the masjid long enough, we have focused on the dunyā for too long, and we have been divided for too long. Enough is enough and it is time to come back to Allah ﷻ. We will not be able to liberate or free anything unless we are able to liberate and free our lazy bodies from our beds at Fajr time. We will not advance as an Ummah unless the masjid is as full for Fajr as it is for Jumuʿah…
  2. Duʿā – We cannot and should not underestimate the power of supplication. Duʿā, supplication, calling upon Allah ﷻ, is one of the absolute most powerful tools that a believer has. The Prophet ﷺ said, “Dua is the weapon of the believer.” It is a direct line of communication between a believer and their Lord and Creator. It is considered to be the essence or epitome of worship. When a person raises their hands in supplication to Allah ﷻ it shows that they recognize the reality of their relationship with Him. They recognize that they are His servants and that He is their Lord and Creator. They acknowledge and admit that they don’t have the power, ability, or capability to do anything without the help and assistance of Allah ﷻ. By supplicating to Allah ﷻ they are fulfilling their obligation of calling upon Him. And the beautiful thing is that when they call upon Him, He answers. Allah ﷻ says, “And your Lord says call upon me and I will respond to you.” Similarly, in Surah al-Baqarah Allah ﷻ says, “[Prophet], if My servants ask you about Me, I am near. I respond to those who call Me, so let them respond to Me, and believe in Me, so that they may be guided.” When a person frequently calls upon Allah ﷻ it shows that they have firm faith and a strong relationship with their Lord and Creator.
  3. Awareness – All of us should be aware of what is happening right now and educate ourselves regarding the history of the conflict. We should also be actively engaged in spreading awareness in our respective spheres of influence. Our voices will make a difference and it is important for each of us to play a role in changing the narrative. That like, retweet, share, and post makes a difference. Have conversations with your classmates, professors, and build awareness on campus through programs, lectures, teach-ins, rallies, and walk-outs etc.
  4. Get involved with the BDS movement
  5. Don’t Lose Hope – Despite all the material odds stacked against the Gazans, believers are people of hope and optimism. We know for a fact with absolute 100% certainty that Allah ﷻ will aid, support, assist, and grant relief and victory to the oppressed. The Prophet ﷺ taught a young ibn ʿAbbāds raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him), “And know that victory comes with patience, relief with affliction, and hardship with ease.” The Prophet ﷺ told us, “Beware of the supplication of the oppressed for there is no veil between it and Allah.” We know their prayers are being heard and answered. Allah ﷻ consoled and comforted the best generation of believers to walk in this earth saying, “Do you think you will be admitted into Paradise without being tested like those before you? They were afflicted with suffering and adversity and were so ˹violently˺ shaken that ˹even˺ the Messenger and the believers with him cried out, ‘When will Allah’s help come?’ Indeed, Allah’s help is near.”

Allah’s help is near!


Related reading:

Palestine: Reflecting, Responding, and Moving Forward

– Khutbah Notes: Palestine Solidarity

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

The IOK Chaplains work for the Institute of Knowledge Chaplaincy Initiative. Formally trained in Islamic seminaries, they work to provide spiritual and pastoral care to Muslim college students in Southern California.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Mirza Yawar Baig

    November 3, 2023 at 12:26 PM

    Beautiful reflection. May Allahﷻ reward the Shaikh. This is what we need – direction about the way forward which can lead us all out of the quagmire we find ourselves in.

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