By Shaykh Faisal ibn Abdul Majid
In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, Most Beneficent
The events during and since Ramadan that have been happening to our brothers and sisters in Palestine have dominated media coverage, as well as most of our thoughts, conversations, and social media. Whilst we have learnt that a cease fire has been agreed, it’s a shameful reminder of the international community’s almost criminal neglect of the crisis. Efforts which are now under way to engineer a lasting ceasefire, or what is called a “sustainable calm”, quite frankly amount to applying a poor, sticky plaster to a deeply felt, long-festering wound.
The deaths can hopefully end, and further destruction can be avoided, at least for now. But that is about as far as the good news goes. As the smoke clears, the vast devastation of Gaza becomes apparent and the slow, frustrating process of rebuilding must resume. The economy of Gaza has long suffered under an Israeli blockade and has been struggling to rebuild itself after the last war between the two sides in 2014. Noam Chomsky at the time called Israel’s actions in Palestine “Much Worse Than Apartheid” in South Africa. This majority of the West Bank, known under the defunct Oslo Agreement’s sinister sobriquet as “Area C”, has already fallen under an Israeli rule which amounts to apartheid by paper: a set of Israeli laws which prohibit almost all Palestinian building or village improvements, and which shamelessly smash down Palestinian homes for which permits are impossible to obtain, ordering the destruction of even restored Palestinian sewage systems. Israeli colonists have no such problems; 600,000-750,000 Israelis now live in at least 250 settlements which are all internationally illegal, since they violate the Fourth Geneva Convention which bans an occupying power from transferring its population to the area it occupies. 
It is important for us to recognise Palestine is no ordinary land and Al-Aqsa is no ordinary mosque. It served as a venue for the greatest conference to have ever taken place on earth in human history, one that was attended by every Prophet to have walked the globe, and when the greatest of them, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, was made to lead them all in prayer.
Ibn ʿAbbās mentions:
Al-Masjid al-Aqsa was the first qibla of the Prophet ﷺ and his Companions, and remained so for around 14 and a half years before it was then changed to the Kaʿbah. So distinct was this venue that when the Prophet ﷺ received his invitation to visit the inhabitants of the heavens, Allāh chose Palestine for his ascension, in order to create within the hearts of Muslims the unbreakable link between Mecca and Palestine.
سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي أَسْرَىٰ بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلًا مِّنَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ إِلَى الْمَسْجِدِ الْأَقْصَى الَّذِي بَارَكْنَا حَوْلَهُ لِنُرِيَهُ مِنْ آيَاتِنَا ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ
“Glory be to Him who took His slave on a journey by night from al-Masjid al-Ḥarām to al-Masjid al-Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, in order to show him some of Our Signs. He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing.”
The Prophet ﷺ said:
لا تشد الرحال إلا إلى ثلاثة مساجد المسجد الحرام ومسجد الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم ومسجد الأقصى
“Do not undertake a journey to visit any mosque but three: this mosque of mine, the Mosque of al-Ḥarām, and the Mosque of Aqsa.”
This Ramadan we watched the ‘Israeli’ occupiers take their audaciousness and vulgarity to new levels. Horrific scenes unfolded of armed Zionist troops launching an assault on worshippers including women, children, and the elderly, turning the masjid into a full-fledged war zone. The occupiers besieged those in i‘tikāf, hundreds of whom were left to bleed without medical attention. How relevant are the words of Allāh:
وَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّن مَّنَعَ مَسَاجِدَ اللَّهِ أَن يُذْكَرَ فِيهَا اسْمُهُ وَسَعَىٰ فِي خَرَابِهَا ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ مَا كَانَ لَهُمْ أَن يَدْخُلُوهَا إِلَّا خَائِفِينَ ۚ لَهُمْ فِي الدُّنْيَا خِزْيٌ وَلَهُمْ فِي الْآخِرَةِ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ
“Who are more unjust than those who prevent the name of Allāh from being mentioned in His mosques and strive toward their destruction? It is not for them to enter them except in fear. For them in this world is disgrace, and they will have in the Hereafter a great punishment.”
Interestingly, Al-Ṭabarī prefers the opinion that the specific connection to this verse is in relation to Al-Masjid al-Aqsa. Meanwhile, outside the masjid, the Zionist occupiers, neither content with the stolen land “bestowed” upon them by the UN, nor with the stolen land occupied by them in violation of the UN since 1967, raided Palestinian homes and sought to evict tens of families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, named after a personal physician to Saladin, in East Jerusalem. They threw people out of their own homes, usurping them with impunity, whilst their own security forces watched them do so in order to “preserve Jerusalem’s Jewish identity”.
Yet this historical issue will not get solved over the next weeks of media fuelled images. After all, the war has enabled the Biden administration to approve $735M of weapons sale to Israel, and while this raises red flags to Democrat voices, the reality, as the former US Secretary State Henry Kissinger cites in his book World Order, is that the US have and will continue to exploit the Isreal-Palestine situation for their own interests. 
Our response, what can we do?
Avoid haste, read the history.
We need to pause for a moment because of this prophetic narration. The Prophet ﷺ said:
قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ الْأَنَاةُ مِنْ اللَّهِ وَالْعَجَلَةُ مِنْ الشَّيْطَانِ
“Consideration is from Allah and haste is from Satan.”
When we see brutal images that make us weep, we are naturally enraged, however we need to know that our ends are different. Allāh is raising those people up in this world. It’s difficult to say and hear but political power is not the victory of eternal bliss. Part of not being hasty includes the strategic action we can take. By all means, act upon the suggestions of signing petitions, lobbying MPs, boycotts, divestments, and attending demonstrations. However, let us also educate ourselves about the history of the region. The issue of Israel and Palestine dates back to diplomats Sykes-Picot Agreement (1916) that demarcated British and French spheres of influence in the event of the collapse of Ottoman rule. The British government’s Balfour Declaration in 1917 formally declared support for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine, in a letter between David Lloyd George’s foreign secretary, Arthur Balfour, and Jewish community leader Walter Rothschild, assuming ownership over a land that many would argue it had no legal right to give away. The state of Israel was founded in 1948, winning immediate recognition from the US and Soviet Union but prompting the outbreak of the bloody Arab-Israeli War, which saw 3,000 resistance fighters rise up against the new nation and forced 700,000 Palestinian people to flee the fighting, seeking refuge in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza, often without citizenship being granted.
The displacement of the Palestinian people on that date is still marked every year on “Nakba Day” named after the Arabic word for “catastrophe” and on which Palestinians give speeches, hold rallies and brandish the keys to the homes they were forced to leave behind and still hope to return to.
We lack literature for children regarding the issue of Al-Aqsa and its plight. What can we do about that? Let’s educate ourselves first, and then our children, about the history of Al-Aqsa.
What ways can our existing NGOs, like Friends of Al-Aqsa be further empowered? Literally thousands of NGOs exist in support of settler groups.
Political interaction for Al-Aqsa is increasing, but what about our local councils, many of whom have contracts with ‘Israeli’ businesses or support ‘Israeli’ settlements? How can this be addressed?
What can wealthy businessmen do by way of awqāf for the cause of Al-Aqsa?
Unlike Zionist charity work, most of our charity work for Al-Aqsa is reactive. What ways can we make it proactive?
Social media platforms like Instagram are deleting accounts and censoring stories relating to Al-Aqsa’s plight. What alternative strategies can we devise to raise awareness and concern?
Do not under estimate your prayer (du‘ā)
We often hear, people say, “other than prayer (du‘ā), what can I do for Al-Aqsa?”. Whilst we do not doubt the sincere frustration of such a statement, it does illustrate a frustration that may have obscured certain realities and understandings. We are witness to the many times that the geography of lands was shifted, the permission of angelic descent granted, and history rewritten via the supplication of a single man or woman. The often deafening silence that follows from your heartfelt du‘ā does not mean that it was not heard by the heavens. Rather, end your du‘ā with unwavering conviction that your du‘ā is on its way to its destination. It will become a key player on the Al-Aqsa scene in the form of steadfastness in the hearts of the Jerusalemites, or weather conditions that favours them, or angelic descent, or circumstances that only Allāh knows of.
Let’s not forget about other Genocides
While everyone is all stirred up, let us also reflect on other injustices that should make our blood boil if they got the same coverage. Shouldn’t we be shouting equally as loud or perhaps even louder about the on-going Genocide in Mynamar and China? Let us just step back and consider the current and ongoing Rohingya genocide: it has to date resulted in over 25,000 deaths since 2016, the number of reported refugees exceeds 700,000, gang rapes and other sexual violence have been widespread against Rohingya women and girls, mostly by Rakhine’s Buddhists and Burmese soldiers, and Rohingya homes and mosques have been burnt down, in addition to many other human rights violations.
Let us also call out the ongoing Uyghur genocide that has led to more than one million Muslims being held in secretive detention camps without any legal process, with birth rates plummeting in Xinjiang, falling nearly 24% in 2019 alone when compared to just 4.2% in China. Where is our righteous indignation at the Chinese government for these outrageous actions which continue today? How many telegram and whatsapp messages have you received telling you to petition your local MP about this issue? Where are the Friends of Uyghur or Friends of Rohingya charities? Let’s be fair and proportionate with our concern for people suffering in our Ummah. If our thoughts and actions are dominated by front page news and sound bites, what does that say about our intelligence and our ability to unite as an Ummah? We completely condone what is happening, it’s an absolute outrage to see innocent people killed in Palestine, but let’s also share that concern for the Genocides which are happening elsewhere, that do not get the media coverage. Where is our marching for the Uyghurs?
When we have rage, when we see injustice, how do we deal with it? Our Prophet ﷺ said to never despair in the destiny (qadr) of Allah and lose hope. We need to be optimistic about the future. For remember, our end is not the same and importantly, what we see as success is not the same. They plot and they plan – And Allah is the best of planners.
When talking to one of my teachers, Dr Sheikh Ridhwan Saleem, recently, he shared a good reflective point about how people point blame at our leaders. He said, can we really blame the leaders? If we replace a tyrant like Sadam Hussain, are there not dozens like him queuing up for leadership? Our leaders are a merely a reflection of the people they rule. Allah says in the Quran: “Allah does not change the condition of a people unless they change what is in themselves”.
Starting with oneself
On the day of judgement will our Lord ask us if we went to the protest march? If you’re trying to solve the Ummah’s longstanding problems but haven’t started with the person in the mirror, how are we to prosper? It’s time to awaken the prophetic character inside of you.
- If you’re struggling to wake up for Fajr or Tahajjud, let the pain of the current situation get you out of bed to pray for yourself and your brothers and sisters in Palestine, Mynamar, China, Sudan, and let’s not forget about Syria.
- If you’re struggling with an addiction, let the cries of women and children shake you out of your desires and instead put your energy, focus, and time in actions that will
give you eternal salvation.
- Embody the prophetic character of spreading peace, and enjoying and reuniting in our blood ties. This makes us stronger as a global Ummah and it’s a prophetic advice to achieve felicity.
The Prophet ﷺ said:
أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ أَفْشُوا السَّلَامَ وَأَطْعِمُوا الطَّعَامَ وَصَلُّوا وَالنَّاسُ نِيَامٌ تَدْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ بِسَلَامٍ
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said: O people, spread peace, feed the hungry, and pray at night when people are sleeping and you will enter Paradise in peace. 
So let’s stand up for Allah in these times and be part of the solution and not part of the problem. We can all become better versions of ourselves: spiritually, physically, and socially, in addition to donating, protesting, lobbying, and educating. May Allah protect the people of Palestine and all our brothers and sisters across the world.
Ameen. And success is from our Lord.
 Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research (2020), The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine Ilan Pappe (2007)
 Al-Qur’ān, 17:1
 Al-Bukhārī and Muslim, on the authority of Abū Huraira
 Al-Qur’ān, 2:114
 World Order: Reflections on the Character of Nations and the Course of History by Henry Kissinger (2015)
 Sunan al-Tirmidhī 2012
 A line in the Sand Britain, France and the Struggle that shaped the Middle East by James Barr (2012)
 Al-Qur’ān, 8:30
 Al-Qur’ān, 13:11
 Reported Sunan al-Tirmidhī 2485