In the end, we do not despair. Our affairs are ordained by the Most Merciful. We accept His Decree and obey Him alone.
Short, Medium, and Long Term Responses to Help Palestine
Enough has been said of the inhumanity of those undertaking a slow ethnic cleansing against innocent Palestinians. What of our humanity? Are we content with watching civilians being killed? God charges us with a response to inhumanity and injustice, no matter the circumstances.
A ceasefire is in place, a welcome de-escalation from the barbarity we witnessed over the last few weeks. Is there a ceasefire on your efforts as well? Are we content to scream and shout and let the status quo continue? If we are, then surely we should not be surprised when such violence erupts again.
For this time to be different, we will have to focus on the short, medium, and long terms, and have effective plans of action for each. I want all of us to think about is how we split our responses over the short, medium, and long run.
This is crucial to creating momentum and long-lasting change. As we saw with the thunderous Black Live Movement last year, powerful emotional sentiments are ideal channels to institutionalising positive and peaceful longer-term changes. This is what we must do now, this is our task and duty.
Short Term Responses
1. Pray Qiyām ul-Layl
As Muslims, we know that the remembrance of Allah is connected to a broader cosmic order. We know that Allah does not change the state of a people until they change that which is in themselves. We know that fruitful, populated masājid are lightning rods of barakah for all of humanity.
Never underestimate the power of fervent du’ā. The desperation you feel at watching the human suffering of the Palestinians may beget a history-changing du’ā.
Your prayers could be the key to it all.
2. Attend the protests
There are a number of protests being held across the country, with masses of people attending to show support for humanity and rebellion against tyranny.
Every person occupying space on a pavement is a statement to all those who think that they will never be taken to account.
3. Write to your politicians
This is a well-trodden path. Every tragedy usually follows for calls to mount pressure on local MPs. As monotonous as this may seem, it remains necessary.
We live in an era where outrage is so common, that its absence is very keenly heard. Were our MPs not to hear from us on a matter, they would feel especially free from pressure. We cannot have that. Here are some quick tips for writing persuasively:
- Do not use copy and paste letters. MPs very often ignore these, and some explicitly mention that they will ignore copy and paste letters. MPs have staff who will do this for them. Write your own letter, from your own heart.
- Build your letter around facts and statistics. Cite any reports that you have come across. An especially powerful report was released by the Human Rights Watch, which clearly labelled Israel as being guilty of apartheid.
- Include a call to action, such as raising an issue in Parliament, or passing a letter onto a Minister, and mention specific arguments such as
- Support sanctions against Israel;
- Suspend arms sales to Israel
- Call for an inquiry into the ambiguous weapons sales from the UK to Israel
4. Complain to news outlets for biased reporting
As Muslims, we are no strangers to biased reporting. We are well attuned to it, and it is well documented.
We’ve seen plentiful examples of media reporting that minimises the extent of the destruction of the homes and buildings of the Palestinian people, and continually conflating them with Hamas.
If you see media reporting that is biased and partial, raise your voice about it. The Centre for Media Monitoring has put together an excellent guide on how to make a media complaint. Make the complaint, and then circulate widely on social media.
The CfMM have also specifically published a report on the specific biases and inaccuracies seen in reporting the recent violence against Palestinians, which you can read here.
5. Engage in boycotts
Ramaḍān has just passed, so hopefully we are all accustomed to checking out dates to see which brands are Israeli. Continue this onwards, but please extend this to other areas of your life as well. This will take be difficult in places; brands like Puma and HP are household names.
Yet we must accept this difficulty for those who no longer have households because they’ve been bombed to oblivion.
6. Stand against anti-Semitism
Think of the tension in the air whenever an attacker who happens to be Muslim commits an atrocity. Think of how it becomes a frightening act to even commute, knowing that you may be sworn at, spat at, or even attacked.
Many Jews will be feeling this way because of heightened anti-Israeli sentiments, and this is appalling. We need to be very clear that we are opposed to the killing of innocent civilians and the structural oppressions that the Israeli State is orchestrating, and not against Jews. It is a mistake to conflate Israel with Jews. The Jewish people are an internally heterogeneous group; essentialising them is wrong and inaccurate.
Reach out to your Jewish friends and neighbours. Make sure they feel safe and protected. Justice and peace for all is our objective.
7. Manage your mental health
All of our social media feeds are saturated with heart-shattering images and videos of the absolute barbarism that Palestinians are being subjected to. This has taken a significant toll on our mental health.
Take a break from social media for a few days. In that time, do some journaling, be present with how you feel, give yourself time and space to process the immense emotional toll.
We need you to be healthy to continue the struggle for justice in the coming weeks and months.
Medium Term Responses
1. Build your relationship with the Qur’ān
The cosmic order that our worship is connected to is something that we need to deeply internalise. This will guide us to upholding justice for all in a way that is reflective of the most timeless truths of existence.
Beyond this, the Qur’ān will teach us to manage our emotions; the Book that we have been blessed with masterfully balances hope and fear, passion and restraint, anger and serenity.
As Believers, we must equip ourselves with this divine toolkit, so that we remain rooted in Divine Guidance in the face of calamity.
2. Morph your outrage into a sustained programme of awareness and outreach
In 2014, when Israel bombarded Gaza, did much change after the initial outcry? Not much did, unfortunately. This time is different. We’ve seen what powerful grassroots action can do. The Black Lives Matter movement is a lesson for us all in that regard. We must seize this emotion and not let it fetter out.
Create a social media timetable for yourself; at regular intervals, release posts about the situation in Palestine. Weekly and monthly events, follow-up protests will all be needed to sustain the current momentum. Organise events in your local community, across interfaith groups, and at work. Begin to slowly work your outrage into a sustained programme of awareness and outreach.
3. Plan longer-term fundraisers to support the structural well-being of Palestinians
The current carnage is causing serious structural damage to Palestine. Hospitals, schools, living spaces are being devastated, during a time when one of the worst pandemics in recent history is simultaneously ravaging those blessed lands. A major rebuilding effort will be needed.
Start to plan major fundraisers. Research charity organisations and begin to identify what structural projects will be needed; schools, hospitals, Covid response units will all be needed to recover and create long-lasting wellbeing to break cycles of poverty and deprivation.
4. Build and sustain a broad network of allies
As Muslims, Jerusalem is an epitaph of the Abrahamic legacy; it is especially dear to us. Time and time again, as we raise our voices for the human cost of the oppression of the Palestinians, we are joined by a diverse range of allies.
Entrenching ourselves in Qur’ānic systems of meanings is not at all contradictory in joining people of all faiths and none for the common good.
5. Ditch the eschatological fantasies
It is quite common to see ḥadīth in circulation pertaining to the End of Times, and various eschatological prophecies and events. As Muslims, we of course know of scriptural references to particular events towards the end of time, subject to various ikhtilāf.
Many of us seem convinced that these prophecies are being fulfilled in the here and now. Perhaps they are. Or perhaps they aren’t. None of us can say this with clarity. Unfortunately, so many are swept away with this idea that some sudden event is on the horizon that will sweep away all of the bloodshed and oppression.
This is misguided. Since we do not know what will or will not happen, we always default to tying our camel – that is, using the best means available to us. Change takes time, and is the fruit of a long and considered action, and not abandoning efforts in favour of merely hoping for some sudden shift to occur.
Yes, we are hopeful in God’s raḥma, but that never excludes sensible action.
Long Term Responses
1. Work towards a model of Sacred Activism
Islām commands us to be people of justice. Our scripture is filled with heart-felt commands to uphold justice, even if it be against ourselves. The exhortations that we see in the Qur’ān and Sunnah create specific emotions and sentiments around injustice and oppression.
In other words, Islām presents a model for us as sacred activists, equip with sentiments and values, and a willingness to act positively for all. We need to come together to sharpen ourselves as sacred activists. This is a lengthy topic which we will return to later. But you can begin by being a better Muslim.
2. Keep a sharp eye out for changes to the law
Earlier this year, the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill has caused deep concern for the right to protest. Similarly, the current Government is trying to pass Anti-BDS legislation. This is a major challenge to the voices of justice and peace.
We will need to keep a sharp eye out and continually lobby to make sure that such drastic changes to our freedoms do not pass.
3. Protest in a way that only you can
We can all write emails to MPs, attend protests and engage in boycotts. But what are your talents? Are you a budding poet? Share your passionate poetry on social media to stir emotions! Are you a skilled video editor? Make awareness videos! Are you an erudite author? Write an essay on the history of Palestine!
The point being is that protests are fantastic, but there is so much more that you can do. What skills do you have? What is your day job, what are your skills and hobbies? Bring your skills and talents to the table.
To create a long-lasting, sustainable movement, we need a broad and multi-pronged approach, with advocates in a variety of professions, with a variety of skills.
4. Be a better human being
Stand against all injustices. As Muslims, Allāh, exalted be He, commands us to stand against every injustice and oppression, even if it be against ourselves and our family. We are a people defined by our moderation (Baqarah: 143), and our commitment to justice for all.
And in the end, we do not despair. Our affairs are ordained by the Most Merciful. We accept His Decree and obey Him alone.