The Burning Palestinian
In 1963, a Buddhist monk set himself alight protesting the persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government. The image of Thich Quang Duc, a frail man engulfed in flames would become a symbol of resilience, empowerment, and protest for generations to come. Two days ago, a distressed Palestinian woman attempted the same feat in Tulkarem, West Bank, except there was no appeal to a higher political motive. It was sheer distress. It was a fear of the unknown; a fear of what lies beyond Israel’s 1st July annexation plans that will leave 300,000 Palestinians displaced or, worse still, dead. Fortunately, onlookers intervened just as the woman raised a lighter to her face glistening in gasoline to the beatdown of the midday sun. No image could better capture the plight of the Palestinian people.
The purveyors of this oppression against the indigenous population of the country lay claim to the holy land to create illegal sovereignty justified by race and driven by racial inequality. The world has long questioned the motives of Israel and the Israeli government, even vocalizing their grievances with Netanyahu’s present plans for annexation. However, for Muslims, the question of Palestine transcends a debate over apartheid, human rights violations, and racial inequality. For Muslims, the question of Palestine is a question of faith. Palestine is home to Islam’s third holiest site, the al-Aqsa Mosque. The al-Aqsa Mosque is not a mere trinket of Muslim conquest as pro-Israeli apologists would have us believe; the al-Aqsa Mosque and its surroundings constitute a sacred piece of earth eternally extolled in the words of God. Thus, for Muslims, the veneration and preservation of this sacred land is viewed as a religious obligation and was treated as such for over 1000 years. This then begs the question: how emotionally, religiously, and politically invested are we, as Muslims, in the question of Palestine? Sadly, the answer to this question was delivered many years ago by the late Shaykh Ahmad Deedat. Addressing a Muslim audience at a lecture following increased Israeli aggression against Palestinians, Shaykh Deedat remarked: “You should be ashamed of yourselves. You can’t even cry for your brothers and sisters in Palestine!” This sharp statement sadly highlights the damning truth with regards to Muslim concern, by and large, regarding the issue of Palestine. However, this lack of concern cannot be wholly attributed to idle complacency on the part of Muslims. Over the years, millions have been spent annually to fuel sophisticated pro-Israeli propaganda efforts to convolute the simple narrative of oppression playing out in Palestine. Many unsuspecting folks, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, often over evaluate the situation in Palestine, whilst others undervalue the Palestinian cause.
As Muslims, there has never been a more demanding time for us to reverse the efforts that have left so many of us largely clueless about our most important communal obligation as an Ummah: the liberation of al-Quds. However, before we can organize truly proactive forms of action and protest, we need to first internalize what Palestine, al-Aqsa, and Quds actually mean to us and awaken latent passions and love for this land that reside in the heart of every believer. Therefore, I strongly urge every reader to follow the following action points as a first response to the intensified aggression in Palestine:
- Make dua for the liberation of Palestine. I firmly believe none of the readers of this piece require a lesson on the importance of heartfelt supplication in Islam. The importance of regularly praying for the liberation of Palestine and ensuring our friends, families, and communities engage in daily prayer for this cause has more than a simple personal effect. The constant remembrance and mentioning of a thing prompt a continued awareness of it. Having recently visited Palestine, what struck me most was the bread and butter propaganda techniques employed by the Israelis to ensure that their cause never gets lost amongst the general foliage of the world. The very movements and casual conversations of the Israeli people constantly murmur: “This is our land.” So, as of reading this piece, ensure to do the following:
- Make sure you pray for Palestine after every Salah.
- Make sure you encourage your family to make a collective dua for Palestine every Friday. Sit together, recite some Quran, and then pray for the people of Palestine. This ensures that this cause will not be lost in the coming generations.
- Speak to the committee of your local masjid and make it mandatory for the Imam to make dua for Palestine after every Salah.
- Create a message: ‘Have you prayed for Palestine today?’ and send it to ALL of your contacts on Whatsapp at the same time every day. Equally, share it on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc every day.
- Educate yourself on Palestine by buying and reading: ‘Palestine, Beginner’s Guide’ by Ismail Adam Patel. This is the most beneficial work, in my opinion, for people new to the entire issue.
- Constantly share images/videos of Palestine with your family, friends, and contacts. Buy photos of al-Masjid al-Aqsa and place them in your homes. Tell your children every day why this place is so important. Request your local mosque, madrassah, Islamic center, a zawiya, etc. to add a photo of al-Aqsa on their walls. Place a photo of al-Aqsa in your front room window with a simple message. Set your profile photos on social media as al-Aqsa.
These three action points are the simplest steps we can take NOW to start internalizing the grand importance of this issue. They are built on two simple principles: awareness and education. As we start to become more aware of the importance of this cause, we will share more recommended action points to start taking us to more stable forms of protest.
– Muhammad Danyaal
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