This is a trial for us too

This is a trial for us too

By: Dr. Youcef Bensala

Witnessing Muslims globally prepare for Eid celebration, a significant ritual in Islam, is captivating. They eagerly shop for clothes, perfumes, and exchange gifts and sweets with loved ones. Bustling markets and lively streets transform night into day, heightening the anticipation for Eid festivities. Yet, our brothers and sisters in Palestine, the esteemed land of the prophets and the Night of Ascension of Prophet Muhammad to the heavens, as described in the Quran: “Glory be to the One Who took His servant Muhammad by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque whose surroundings We have blessed, so that We may show him some of Our signs” (Surah al-Isra, 17: 1), deserve our solidarity. Imagine Palestinians in Gaza, preparing burial shrouds, bracing for potential killings by Israeli soldiers. Some children even inscribe their names on their bodies before sleep, unsure if they will awaken. The uncertainty of survival weighs heavily, a poignant reality of their daily existence.

After six months of relentless Zionist aggression against Gaza in an unequal and oppressive war, the toll is staggering: over 33,000 martyrs and 75,000 wounded, with a majority being women, children, and the elderly. Even doctors, journalists, and aid workers are not spared. The blockade exacerbates hunger and thirst, with vital aid supplies denied, and 70% of infrastructure lay in ruins. Amidst these unprecedented massacres and genocide, where do we find the United Nations Security Council, the International Court of Justice, and the United Nations? Where is the advocacy of Human Rights, swift and resolute in defending Ukraine against Russia? Does this imply Western blood holds greater value? Urgent answers are imperative.

The racism and double standards of the West are evident in Gaza. The recent murder of seven UN personnel from diverse nationalities by Israeli soldiers underscores this bias. While Western governments demand investigations and halt weapon supplies, the thousands killed in the past months are seemingly disregarded. As Yoav Gallant, Israel’s Minister of Defence, callously stated on April 8th this year, it questions the humanity attributed to these victims. Hence, the crucial question must be directed towards Muslim leaders and communities.

While a significant portion of Muslims have shown awareness through boycotts, protests, and support, some self-proclaimed Muslims exhibit negligence and hesitation. Yet, this response falls short given the ongoing shedding of innocent blood in the holy land and the dire lack of necessities in Gaza. It’s imperative for all to realize they are answerable to Allah, humanity, and history. While mourning is customary when a loved one passes, let’s not forget our brethren in Gaza who face death every moment. Instead of frivolities like extravagant parties with singers and sports events, we should focus on supporting those in need and advocating for justice.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us ponder deeply. Islam instructs us to oppose oppressors and aid the oppressed, irrespective of their religion, colour, or gender. The Prophet Muhammad conveyed from Allah, the Most High: “O My slaves, I have made oppression unlawful for Myself and have made it unlawful among you, so do not oppress one another” (Sahih Muslim). Let us uphold this noble teaching in our actions and dealings with others.

This emphasizes the unity of Muslims as one body; when one part suffers, the entire body feels the pain. Allah’s Messenger likened believers to a single body: “You see the believers, in terms of their mercy for one another and their love for one another and their kindness, similar to a single body so that if one part of the body is not well, the whole body shares insomnia (sleeplessness) and fever with it” (Sahih al-Bukhari).

Let us embody this unity and compassion in our actions towards each other. In this context, it is crucial to remind the world, especially the Jewish community, of history. Muslims extended welcome, protection, and refuge to Jews, opening their lands when they were expelled from Germany. While Greece, Italy, France, Switzerland, and Portugal imposed bans and persecution, Muslims provided sanctuary, highlighting the tradition of hospitality and compassion in Islam.

Historical records attest to Islam’s justice, generosity, and solidarity. In 1492, Ottoman Sultan Bayezid II dispatched a fleet to evacuate Sephardic Jews, granting them Ottoman citizenship and religious freedom. They found safety and security in Turkey, Algeria, and other Islamic lands under Ottoman rule. Chief Rabbi Isaac Sarfati of Adrianople affirmed: “Turkey is a country where nothing is lacking and where everything will be in order. If you wish, the way to the Holy Land through Turkey is open to you.” This illustrates Islam’s tradition of sanctuary and inclusivity. The question that arises is: Is this how you repay those who aided you in times of need, who shielded you from fear, and who rescued you from peril? Surely not, for Allah, the Almighty, decrees, “Is the reward for good [anything] but good?”

The atrocities unleashed by Israel today—massacres, genocide, starvation policies, displacement, and infrastructure destruction—are not just a trial for Gaza’s people but also for international organizations, power holders, and influencers who champion justice and human rights yet remain passive. It’s a moral test for every individual with a conscience, especially Muslims, to alleviate the injustice against their brethren in Palestine.

The author is a senior lecturer at the Department of Fiqh and Usul, Academy of Islamic Studies, Universiti Malaya. He may be reached at [email protected]

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