When the Qur’an said in the context of the battle of Badr - which was the mother of all battles and a precursor of things to come - that the objective of the battle was to establish as well as justify the truth and abolish as well as prove falsehood false “even if the criminals disliked it” (al-Anfal, 8), the stage was set for the emergence of perennial conflicts between the two divergent paradigms of fighting: one that champions the truth, justice and dignity of man, and the other that endorses the antitheses of the former.
The latest episode in the protracted Gaza tragedy is one of those conflicts when the truth is made manifest and its credibility firmly ratified, and when falsehood, on the other hand, is also made manifest and its professed integrity seriously undermined. What follows are two aspects of the on-going truth affirmation process.
A mixture of occupation and oppression
When in 637 CE Muslims liberated the holy land of Palestine, they converted it into a safe haven for both the Jews and Christians. Barring its formative age, the region for the first time in human history was governed by the principles of heaven and pure human consciousness, rather than the principles of ruthless imperialism and unbridled human avarice.
The new state of affairs persisted ever since. It was disrupted only twice: during the Crusades (1095-1291 CE) and in 1948 the state of Israel was formed and imposed on the lands of Palestine and its people. Both disruptions were the result of fusing the effects of the perverted human nature, corruption of faith and mercenary colonialism. Since the disruptions were fuelled and sustained by unprecedented monstrosities, on both occasions were Palestine and its people subjected to unspeakable premeditated and systematically executed crimes.
Today’s fate of Gaza is an expression of a well-developed pattern. The place has been defiled to an equal degree with regards to both earthly and heavenly standards. It is crying for deliverance and the restoration of hopes not only for Muslims, but also for all people of ethical acuity and good will. It is crying for humanity.
Historically, the Jews were allowed to live in Palestine and to enjoy their freedom of worship. Just like everyone else, they were treated justly. The Islamic law has specific protective provisions for non-Muslim minorities. Moreover, it is not a secret that Muslim lands often served as a refuge for the Jewish migrants escaping persecutions elsewhere.
On balance, Muslims provided the most hospitable environments for the Jews, behaving towards them cordially. Hence, for example, no sooner had Salahuddin al-Ayyubi defeated the crusaders, bringing their unholy mission to an end, than he allowed both Muslims and the Jews to return to the holy land of Palestine.
In his book “Travels in Syria and the Holy Land”, John Lewis Burckhardt (1784-1817) was compelled to remark as an eyewitness that “the Jews enjoy here (in Syrian and Palestine) perfect religious freedom…Christians and Jews are tolerated because Mohammed and his immediate successors granted them protection, and because the Turks acknowledge Christ and the prophets.”
However, instead of appreciating the Muslim justice and generosity, certain elements within the Jewish community were never at rest; they never stopped seeking out means to upset the status quo and unsettle the accepted norms. In the end, the illegitimate state of Israel was born on the land that belonged to someone, was developed and supported by someone, and was ruled by someone’s rules. No one can deny that the move was a stab in the back.
Doing so was a plain act of occupation, accompanied by unceasing acts of terror, displacement of the Palestinians and the seizure of their lands as well as property. And just like any other regime of occupation, Israel could only survive on the premises of extra terror, extra displacement and extra land and property confiscation. Since its inception and for as long as it has existed, Israel has been an apartheid state and will remain so until its expiry. Its inherent composition (existential DNA) is such that it cannot behave differently; it will never be able to shake off its identity.
Believing that Israel is “the direct continuation of Jewish history that had been interrupted 2,000 years earlier when the Roman legions had crushed the Hebrew freedom fighters and banished the Jews from Palestine,” and that the Jews’ period of exile was a prolonged interlude in the history of Israel following which the Jews had now regained their rightful home in Palestine – is, to all intents and purposes, an outlandishly naïve thinking. Reviving some ancient and generally hazy, plus inaccurate, events that had transpired thousands of years ago, and trying to graft them and their remotest implications onto the dynamics of modern socio-political and civilizational realities, is nothing short of an absurdity. It is an endeavour to arouse sentimentality and suppress reason, and to pursue the acquisition of as much popular backing as possible for a devilish purpose. It is a revisionary measure that not only touches upon history, but also religion and humanity’s civilizational penchant.
As said earlier, Palestine was always cosmopolitan. Absolutely no one was barred from accessing it and freely living or worshipping in it. Such is in full agreement with the message of Islam and its notions of “conquest” and coexistence. Islam liberated Palestine for the world, including the Jews.
It should be recalled that from 1920 until the illegal creation of Israel in 1948, Palestine as a geopolitical entity called Mandatory Palestine was ruled by Britain. It was during those years, especially after the collapse of the institution of caliphate, that conceiving the nefarious design of implanting the cancer of a Jewish state in the heart of the Muslim world was upped, after which it was gradually put into operation.
The ultimate objective was recognized. However, during a transitional period, when the ground for the occupation had to be prepared, people’s psychology to whatever extent be primed, and the position of a dwindling number of powerful and honourable Muslim leaders be softened, all sorts of tricks and manoeuvres were resorted to. Force, manipulation and inducement dominated.
Thus, for example, before the actual creation of Israel, David Ben-Gurion (1886-1973) - a major Zionist leader, Israel’s founding father and the country’s first prime minister – was proposing that a new state’s government should guarantee the idea of non-domination, i.e., complete parity in government between the Jews and Arabs, irrespective of population ratios. He hoped that a parity agreement would not be necessary for ever. He said: “The time will come when Arabs and Jews will work together in mutual confidence, and the lines of division will become other than racial ones. This consciousness of a common citizenship will develop gradually as a result of economic cooperation, but until it has developed, and until the present racial suspiciousness has disappeared, it is necessary to have some arrangement which will prevent either race from being dominated by the other” (John Philby, Ibn Saud and Palestine).
These were the words uttered during the time of uncertainty, when the idea of the state of Israel was still in its infancy, so some diversion and smooth talk was a necessity, and when devising a contingency plan was crucial, for nobody could fathom what the future entailed. However, subsequent to the establishment of Israel, things dramatically changed and the events which followed are well-known. For one, as the country’s first prime minster, David Ben-Gurion was known as a vicious man with stronghanded policies that aimed to displace or expel the Palestinians by Zionist militias and to keep the neighbouring Arab countries at bay. His motto was: “What matters is not what the Gentiles will say, but what the Jews will do” (Britannica).
Thus, apart from the Zionist Jews themselves, Britain and its Western allies are to be blamed the most for the crime of creating Israel by means of dislodging the Palestinians, shedding their blood, destroying and taking their lives, and stealing their possessions. In that manner, Israel became a protectorate or a colony of the West; they were all partners in crime.
This indeed is the crux of the matter. It is all about occupation and a culture of cruelty – nothing else. So much so that commencing from Israel’s founding, the Palestinians could neither dream of, nor experience, better scenarios. The most they were able to procure were some meagre benefits for which however they were asked to relinquish their dignity and most basic of human rights. In short, they had to compromise their values and make a pact with the devil, which for the honourable and proud Palestinians was not an option.
Making a Faustian bargain was out of the question, hence, the whole of Palestine, in particular the proudest and most principled Gaza, was turned into an open-air prison with no escape. Due to this, Jonathan Cook, an award-winning British journalist, branded the latest Gaza uprising against the Israeli occupation as “Gaza’s (prison) breakout.”
It goes without saying that all discourses about the Palestinian issue are to be placed against the background of the occupation and perpetual tyranny. All other things are irrelevant. If not, problems could be muddled and developments misunderstood. Accordingly, the Palestinians are entitled to make recourse to all sorts of means and channels in order to end the occupation and punish the evil oppressors. Such terms as terrorism, criminality, rigidity, unwillingness to negotiate or compromise, etc., are not to be associated with the Palestinians in any way. They are freedom fighters par excellence; they are heroes and beautiful examples to others; their dead are martyrs and inspiration to posterity.
The West has no integrity
Given that the subjects of the occupation and oppression are overlooked, or at least discounted, especially in Western circles, the reputations of the occupier and the occupied are often viewed as equivalent, and the treatments of the oppressor and the oppressed accorded parity. They are judged by the same benchmarks and classified into the same grouping. Declining to realign its outlook, the Western world, clearly, has lost its bearings. Its reactions to the unfolding Palestinian catastrophe are often outrageous, bordering on utter irrationality and farce.
The word “hypocrisy” is becoming a cliché and people are growing to be unresponsive. In consort with its propensity to distorting narratives, the West is impervious to any ethical accountability.
As a result, the desperate legitimate defensive undertakings on the part of the dehumanised and caged Palestinians are perceived as a form of aggression against the Israelis who are regularly depicted as victims. Living in the vicinity of the violent Palestinians, they are endangered and so, must be protected. The corollary of this sentiment is that Israel is one of the most potent military forces in the world, whose muscles are mercilessly and on a regular basis flexed against the innocent and defenceless Palestinians. This is all done with the unreserved approval of the Israeli masters in the Western corridors of power, with regular exclamations that the cruel and uncivilised Palestinians should be “taught a lesson” and be “given hell.”
For illustrative purposes, following the latest defensive (liberative) surprise attack by Palestinian Hamas on Israel, the White House said in a statement: “The United States unequivocally condemns the unprovoked attacks by Hamas terrorists against Israeli civilians. There is never any justification for terrorism. We stand firmly with the government and people of Israel and extend our condolences for the Israeli lives lost in these attacks.”
US military chief Lloyd Austin added: “Over the coming days the Department of Defence will work to ensure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself and protect civilians from indiscriminate violence and terrorism.”
Similarly, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen posted the following: “I unequivocally condemn the attack carried out by Hamas terrorists against Israel. It is terrorism in its most despicable form. Israel has the right to defend itself against such heinous attacks.”
Singing the same tune, which appears almost as though written in advance and memorised beforehand, French President Emmanuel Macron said: “I strongly condemn the terrorist attacks which are currently hitting Israel. I express my full solidarity with the victims, and their families and those close to them.”
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization likewise condemned “terrorist attacks by Hamas against NATO partner Israel”, a spokesman for the defence alliance said. “Our thoughts are with the victims and all those affected. Terrorism is a fundamental threat to free societies, and Israel has the right to defend itself,” said spokesman Dylan White (Aljazeera.com).
However, the problem with the West goes further. Inasmuch as they regard themselves as the custodians of progress and universal values, the Westerners feel that their primary task is a mission to enlighten and civilise the rest of the retrograde world. They see such a task as a cosmic mandate. Which begs the question as to what type of guidance and wisdom those people can give. Are they even qualified to be teachers and exemplars? The conundrum is akin to the case of blind and illiterate persons trying to guide and enlighten another group of blind and illiterate individuals. Surely, the West’s lack of integrity is a ubiquitous phenomenon, encompassing and affecting in varying degrees virtually all aspects of the Western civilizational trajectory.
We ought to remember that this is the same West that colonised most of the Muslim world, imposing on it a variety of life systems. It was due to Muslims’ embracing of those systems that they made no remarkable progress throughout the 20th century, and it is the same systems that now constitute a major impediment to any Muslim renaissance initiative.
It is therefore incumbent upon Muslims to be prudent in their dealings with those who have a history of deception and maltreatment, that Muslims should exercise circumspection when engaging with the Western relativized and customised knowledge, that Muslims should be more selective when importing and applying the Western relativized standards and values, and - perhaps most importantly - that Muslims should be careful when studying history as the nucleus of all sciences as well as human pursuits on the basis of Western narratives, because it is the realm of history where the Western mastery of global manipulation and fabrication comes most readily to the fore.
Epitomising the Western position vis-à-vis history, Napoleon Bonaparte once remarked that history is a bunch of lies which a community agrees upon. The subject of the history of Palestine is an excellent case in point. The case denotes a centre of gravity around which the majority of other foremost issues revolve. The level and intensity of untruths applicable to the Palestinian case are expected to spill over and permeate the other either scientific or cultural domains.
That is why the triad – or unholy trinity - of Zionism, Islamophobia and Orientalism belong to the same family of a Western civilizational aberration. Although they had diverse origins and divergent performance metrics, the three continuously aided each other’s existence and functionality. Whenever it was needed, they carved out a plenty of convergence points where they could stand united and perform accordingly, appearing thus stronger and lending additional credence to the clouts of their respective spheres.
This means that despite its aspiration to become a global spectacle and despite its aggressive proselytising proclivity, Western civilization is compatible neither with the spirit of the Islamic faith nor the disposition of the Muslim mind. Whatever has been imposed on the Muslim biological, intellectual and spiritual existence, chiefly by way of the Western forceful expansionism and colonization, is of an artificial character. The same increasingly alienates Muslims from their religion, history, culture and identity, while at the same time does not bring them any closer to the actual orbit of the West and its civilizational legacy. Retaining the status quo does not bode well for the future of the Muslim world.
Western civilization belongs to the West. That is not a club for Muslims. The sooner Muslims start reducing their civilizational dependence on the West, Islamizing what is at hand and generally working on producing viable Islamic alternatives, the better. The West should be eschewed as much as feasible, and all focus should be directed inwards, towards rebuilding what has been lost or forgotten.
Islamic civilization was the most consequential in history. It did not die – in fact, it cannot die because it represents the truth and the truth does not die. Islamic civilization merely went into a hiatus. It declined as a consequence of the vicissitudes of time and space (the laws of the rise and fall of civilizations) and just waits to be resuscitated.
Indeed, since many Muslims are torn between the beckoning of Western civilization which offers a poisoned chalice, and the prospect of reviving Islamic civilization which at this point demands hard work and sacrifices, the same Muslims stand at a crossroads insofar as responding to the Palestinian situation is concerned. What the intrinsic states of their heart and soul invite them to is not necessarily that which their indoctrinated mind feels inclined to. The clash between the two moods is real and painful. The physical battles on the streets of Gaza are almost similar intensity-wise to the inner battles those people have to endure.
The Palestinian quagmire is inextricably linked to the part played by both Israel and the West, which are mutually reinforcing in pursuit of a common objective. This is a proxy war wherein the West is the mastermind and Israel the marionette. The latter does the dirty work its masters in the West are supposed to do. When it comes to harming the interests of Islam and Muslims, the two principles that preside over the other considerations are unity - i.e., unity is strength - and collective efforts - i.e., collective efforts yield mutual success. Nothing unites those vultures better than an agenda against the Muslim interests.
Like so, for the West Israel signifies a bulwark of defence against the peril of Islam, whereas for Israel the West signifies a defensive shield from both the back and the flanks. Owing to this pact, while currently Israel mercilessly keeps pounding the vulnerable Palestinians trapped in Gaza, using some of the most sophisticated weapons on the planet, its master patron, the US, warned “against any other party hostile to Israel seeking advantage in this situation.” It moreover said it will send multiple military ships and aircraft closer to Israel as a show of support, and will also increase military aid and provide munitions to Israel (Aljazeera.com).
With this in mind, one muses when Muslims will gain insight into what really is going on and when they will recognize the key protagonists in the evolving scenario. When will they understand that they themselves, their Prophet and their Creator are their only friends and supporters? When will Muslims finally wake up? The other communities, especially the West and its staunch allies from other corners of the world, are either outright enemies or cunning hypocrites. Which is not surprising, though, given that all religions have been destroyed long ago and that their man-made substitutes keep faltering and vanishing into oblivion by the day, except Islam which not only refuses to succumb and go away, but also keeps getting stronger and its adherents getting more numerous by the day.
Without a doubt, hatred towards Islam and Muslims is factual and is as much impulsive as premeditated. Islam is the only power formidable enough to stand against the emergence and spread of devilish world orders.
When will Muslims start listening to the words of their Creator who knows the seen and the unseen, and the disclosed as well as concealed intentions of people? When will they heed for example these words: “And never will the Jews or the Christians approve of you until you follow their religion. Say: ‘Indeed, the guidance of Allah is the (only) guidance.’ If you were to follow their desires after what has come to you of knowledge, you would have against Allah no protector or helper” (al-Baqarah, 120).
Also: “O you who have believed, do not take as intimates those other than yourselves (like the Jews and Christians), for they will not spare you (any) ruin. They wish you would have hardship. Hatred has already appeared from their mouths, and what their breasts conceal is greater. We have certainly made clear to you the signs, if you will use reason. Here you are loving them but they are not loving you, while you believe in the Scripture - all of it. And when they meet you, they say: ‘We believe.’ But when they are alone, they bite their fingertips at you in rage. Say: ‘Die in your rage. Indeed, Allah is Knowing of that within the breasts.’ If good touches you, it distresses them; but if harm strikes you, they rejoice at it. And if you are patient and fear Allah, their plot will not harm you at all. Indeed, Allah is encompassing of what they do” (Alu ‘Imran, 118-120).
Finally, if there is any silver lining to what is happening in Palestine it is the fact that more and more Muslims are starting to ask questions they never asked before, and are starting to feel what they never felt before. This truly gives hope, for as long as there are questions there will be answers too, and as long as there are appropriate emotions and right mental states there will be right actions too. What is calamitous and assassinates hopes is apathy. Indeed, the confinement and suffering of the body are inconsequential when compared to the imprisonment of the intellect and soul. Before a person (a nation) gets out from his physical predicament, he must get out from the predicaments of his inner self first.
The Muslim potential is undeniable, imbuing the foes with a sense of dread. However, the outpouring passions and energies need to be fused and as such channelled towards a set of shared objectives. The key words are unity and cooperation: the unity of purpose, enthusiasm and direction, and cooperation - as per the Qur’anic directive (al-Ma’idah, 2) - in righteousness and piety, rather than in sin and aggression. If the West can constantly be united in matters of mischief, one ponders what prevents Muslims from getting united in matters of goodness and virtue.
It is high time to start getting to the bottom of things, and perhaps allow the latest chapter in the Palestinian tragedy - which contributes significantly to the separation of the wheat from the chaff, both domestically and internationally – to serve as a watershed. It is better to start taking things into our own hands before things take us in theirs.
As far-fetched as it may seem, but the recent events in the valiant Gaza denoted a step closer to the apocalypse about which the teacher of all teachers - Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him and his family – informed us in such vivid and minute details. The Prophet told us that a great sign of the imminence of the Day of Judgment will be when Muslims as the only proponents of the truth will fight the Jews as a prominent segment of those who will follow Dajjal (false Messiah). The Jews could well be the vanguard of the rest.
Hence, when the big one comes, a person should be capable of discerning the true character of each side involved in the unfolding bedlam, and long before then, both in body and spirit, he should be in the ranks of the right party. Otherwise, there may be no extra time for reassessment, nor extra opportunity for redemption.