The Current Situation in Palestine
Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri
This speech was delivered at the beginning of 2002
"Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: 'We believe,' and will not be tested."
Surah 29; verse 2
Allah declares the absolute truth regarding the purpose of this existence, of creation: its journey, its beginning and its end. Allah reminds us that if you and I declare that we have faith and trust in the One and Only Creator, Sustainer of it all, we will be shown the extent of our sincerity. Fitnah in Arabic is to reduce the situation to its foundation. That is the original meaning of fitnah. The verb is fatn- to go to the essence of the matter. One of the main uses of the word fitnah in Arabic was when their coins, the gold and silver, which were the means of exchange, had been tampered with so they used to say: "The Dinar is muftoon- 'this is a gold coin that has been tested' and it is 100% gold."
Allah wants us to realise the extent of truth of what we are saying. Allah causes existence to become a mirror reflecting our state or condition. If you and I are not unified in our human oneness, how can we have access to the nur of the eternal One? It is not possible. We first have to become unified before we can talk about tawheed, which is the foundation of existence and the purpose of all prophetic lights and the messages that have come to mankind. It is about the One Source.. If you and I are not focused upon the original light, how can we ever have access to the magnificence of the manifestations of the One? If you are dispersed, then an aspect of you is on this side and another on the other side. So Allah says in this Ayah: "Don't ever think you are left to go astray." You will be tested by what you do and experience, by your friends, by your family, by events, so that you and I know the extent of our iman and faith in Allah. Do we know that He is in charge now? Do we know that Allah is the doer of it all and we have now to read (iqra) what is the meaning of events and act appropriately. If not, we remain confused. So, we have the basic parameters of this magnificent path. If we are confused, if we are distressed, if we are at a loss, it is not because of the fault of Islam, or of the prophetic teachings. It is probably because we have not read it properly or applied it- and often both.
The subject of today’s talk is the atrocities and catastrophic situation that Muslims experience and suffer from due to the injustices that are being perpetrated in Palestine. Now I can give you a quick and superficial condemnation of events, which everybody will feel good about because here is injustice and we can rise against it. We can talk about unifying the Muslim ummah. We can talk about the 1.5 billion people that can rise or the possibility even if 1% of them raise their voice sincerely. It will be a far greater force and power than the small number of Zionists and so on. Or, I can tell you, no, look at what Allah's message is! What is Allah's message to all his creation? Allah says: "I have not created jinn and humans except to worship me."
Allah's message is to all of creation and not only to the Muslims or to the unjust and arrogant ones. It is to all of mankind of all races and colour. What you are doing is disturbing the purpose and the peace in this dunya. We can simply sit here and argue and curse the Zionists and feel a bit better, or even criticise some of the Muslims who have not protested or the Arabs or whatever, but it is not going to do us much good. We must read the full truth of the situation.
It behooves us as intelligent human beings to read the situation properly, to take the facts of the matter, to know what is going on, and then we will find alternatives as to what we can do. Then, we can take action.
Let us look at the situation now in Palestine. Since 1946-1947 and the creation in 1948 of Israel, every year for the Muslim ummah, so to speak, and the poor Palestinians, is worse than the year before. Sometimes the situation appears a bit better but look at the sum total of it. When Arafat was calling for justice, he got nowhere. But when he wanted to be a President and hero of a country, they gave him the rubbish heap in Gaza, a national anthem and directives to police his destitute people. The economy was based on donations, handouts and earnings from slave labour and casinos.
We must look into the major issue from every angle. What is Allah's intention? Allah's intention is for us to worship him properly. How can you worship if you do not have the basics of health, shelter, food, security and peace? How can you get to know the ways of Allah? How can you discover your deen? How can you live the Qur`an if you are continuously oppressed and disturbed? It is Allah's way, Allah's design and Allah's purpose. We have to reflect as Muslims who are supposed to be reflecting the perfect way. As you all know, soon after the departure of the fourth of the great Khulafas after the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him, his family and his righteous Companions), by the time we enter into the thirtieth, fortieth year after Hijrah, we find divergences amongst Muslims. These differences ended up in a situation about 500 years ago when the territory of Muslims was dominating in the world. The loss of Andalusia cut off that ongoing continuous relationship between the East and the West. The Ottoman rulers allowed the loss of Granada to be able to conquer Constantinople. We Muslims and the rest of the world began to put barriers on trade and became arrogant in that the goods and products which were in our lands, mostly in the subcontinent Mesopotamia, Iran and Turkey and in other parts of the Far East and North Africa. Eventually Europeans found a way around it with the discoveries of the Americas and the routes to the rest of the world. The short-lived monopoly on trade ended.
Look at the situation 200 years ago! The Europeans, Jews and Christians from the rest of the world had enclaves in every great Muslim city and even in some of the smaller cities in the Middle East as well as North Africa, Cairo, Istanbul, Tehran and elsewhere. All of these cities had strong enclaves of Christians and Jews. Where was the Muslim enclave in Paris or London? There was not even a single halaal hotel until late in the twentieth century.
It is only possible to give you a few glimpses of how, over the last few hundred years that we have been going continuously backward in terms of social, cultural, economical and spiritual development. By that time, the Westerners had separated secularism from religion and made it desirable to accumulate wealth. We inadvertently also separated, in a way, our hearts from our heads. Islam is the path of tawheed (unity). We must connect reason, rationality and the divine light. We must deal with the outside world with our 'aql, with reasoning, with diagnostics, with mushara, with council and then act with our heart in the way of Allah.
You find all of the Muslim people and countries for the last 200 years falling under the kufr way of thinking, the kufr system of education, health, monetary systems, in our economic conditions, in our business, in our trade, in our clothes, in our houses and in overall style and ways of living. We have been mimicking the kufr ways and then suddenly we are desperate and call for jihad, whilst Arabs still build their casinos, disneylands and stock markets.
If you look back a few decades ago, young and sincere Muslims from the Middle East were asking the rulers why they were living of kufr money (borrowed or unearned) and were not deriving their authority and power from their people? The oil companies were inadvertently puppets of despotic rulers all over the place. Artificial calls for jihad were often designed to get rid of ongoing and unsatisfied young Muslims in Palestine and elsewhere so that Arab rulers could carry on squandering the ill-gotten wealth.
You must look at the situation clearly before judging and blaming. We will get nowhere if we do not look at the whole situation from its beginning to its end. Then we can come up with correct ideas and directions. If we do not do anything now we will be in every way accountable. We cannot just sit and talk and blame the past on others. We know there are injustices. We know there are immense abuses; there are untold situations all over the world, especially where Muslims suffer major injustices.
Look at what is happening in Kashmir. Look at Afghanistan. Look at Iraq. Look at North Africa. Look at Sudan. Wherever you look there is trouble. And yet, we are still talking in terms of independence so that there is another flag, another basket case economy and disagreements between parties mimicking Western democracies. We are taught by our glorious Prophet that there is no way other than dependence on Allah, trust in Allah and following in His ways and help the mu`minoon, and do not take others as your friends.
We learn all these traditions, we have learnt hadith, we have more and more huffaz of the Qur`an, but less and less living the Qur`an. This is the situation of presumption that we know which leads to hypocrisy. We are the receptacle of the past; we have received the outcome of centuries of neglect and fossilised attitudes. Now we are shocked and waking up by Allah's rahmah through these catastrophic situations. You see the Israeli cabinet meeting in a simple, modest place, a small room, and look at the Arab rulers in ostentatious luxuries. Which of these two styles is more Islamic than the other?
Human beings are not stupid. You cannot simply say Islam and not live it. We can honestly say that most of us are not following our deen. That is the truth. For the last two, three weeks in Hebron, people have been under 24-hour curfew. For the last 3 days- and I am talking to you as of now- people in Hebron, who were interviewed this morning, say that for 3 days they have only been allowed to go out for 2 hours. There are about 40000 Muslims in Hebron. It's no longer a case of imprisonment. It is total uncalled for brutality. Then we have these fat so-called Muslim leaders flying in their luxury jets to useless meetings with grand pronouncement and no helpful actions. They may allocate some emergency funds to buy peace but their hearts are dead and their end will also be miserable.
Allah says in the holy Qur`an that he buys from the mu'min their selves. It is not enough just to give something that you have in your pocket. Are you giving yourself? Are you giving your time, your energy and your heart? Are you connected? The reason we are in such a miserable state is because we are not connected to Allah's ways and His light of heavens and earth.
Look at the ahlul dunya on the other hand! Equally they are Allah's creation. The Israelis now are living under immense fear. They fear a young man with a stone in his hand. Look at the fear they are living under! Allah's rahmah is everywhere. Allah's rahmah is upon us who are suffering from these tragedies for Allah's rahmah is upon everyone in every situation. Where is it that Allah's mercy is not, so that we wake up to the fact that we all are sons of Adam, and we have to live in this world with utmost taqwa, implying living and enjoining good and justice. It does not mean that we simply sit in the mosque and allow the injustice to take place outside, but are we ready for a true awakening in every step?
What I read of the situation now is that this globalization of so-called democracy has swept beyond the ability of any Muslim community to come up with the alternative way of governance. Where in the world is there a place that the Muslims are living in a way that you as a mu'min, as a believer, can go and function? We suspect each other. We have all of these different madhaahib. We only see differences. Where is the love and where is the meeting point with the Noor of Allah? Every small country - you take the Comoros for example - you see two impoverished islands killing each other. You go to Bangladesh, Tanzania and Nigeria and you will find a similar situation. Wherever you look, in every town, city, you will find this faction and that faction and yet, we have the audacity of talking about ummah! It makes somebody feel a bit better for a minute, and that's it. It is not a remedy. The remedy is to read the inherited sick situation we are all in and then come up with alternative ways whereby we can act, but in a way that will be sustained. We need sustainable resistance, sustainable way of life with humbleness, and not defiance with haughtiness.
I was a youngster when Israel declared independence. In Iraq, they thought it was possible for the Iraqi army alone to crush it, let alone all the other Arabs and the Muslims. What happened? We defied with ignorance, without knowledge, competence or evaluation and without being under the banner of Islam. We were under the banner of nationalism, false pride and other isms. Then look at the last half of the last century? We had despotic leaders, we had rulers in the Muslim world that had either come from the army or from nationalistic backgrounds, professing Islam symbolically, going for a Jummah, but where was their taqwa and love of truth? Where were their hearts? They were not Abdullah's. They inherited the outer dress of their deen without earning it and they were not the representative of Rasul Allah. Allah expects His vicegerent to rule in this world not hypocritical Muslims. The qualified ruler is like the Prophet and not Muawiah.
The reason Islam and the Muslims will continue to suffer is because we do not have Prophetic 'Muhammadi' leadership. We express love for Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), we love his sahabah and his ahlul-bayt and yet we are far from appropriate leadership. How did Omar live? That humble powerful man slept in a small corner of a mosque with a brick under his head, while the rest of the world was awaiting Islamic growth and rulership. And Imam 'Ali - his way, his demeanor, clothes, his sword and his divinely inspired heroism and yet his legendary gentleness and clemency. Then there were other enlightened Muslims representing the ultimate justice on this earth. They were the true khulafah of Allah. The West separated secularism from religion because the Judeo-Christian path had become obscure and adopted by Constantine in order to enhance and strengthen his empire. Malaysian rulers did a very similar thing 500 years ago. The Sultans brought in Islam to strengthen their rule and make everybody bow more. So, many of our sultans, kings and despots used religion to increase their worldly power, rule and wealth.
We have examples in Andalusia where the Sufis and the others who were bringing people to Islam were attacked by the sultans because they reduced the jeziah by bringing in people to the deen. They showed the sultans not living according to the ways of the Prophet and this was an embarrassment. That is why you will find that in so many Muslim homes they prefer to have non-Muslim servants, so that they can carry on their non-Islamic way in their home rather than be witnessed by a Muslim servant. In Kuwait many servants were Christians imported from Goa so that they can serve alcohol to their Masters. Wherever you look there is sadness and suspicion instead of the mu`min' s heart to overflow with joy. Allah will show us and put the mirror of creation in our face so that we see the truth and stop calling ourselves this and that madhhab, whilst not being worthy of even the glance of the Prophetic light, let alone all the knowledges that we have in our great tradition.
So, it is no use for us to simply accuse this group or madhhab and come up with useless, instant and simplistic remedies for complex sicknesses. Look at what happened in the past two hundred years and how the Muslims in Turkey, Egypt, Iran and elsewhere mortgaged their countries and people to European banks. You will find the banks of the world took control of the Muslim world totally. In Turkey, it was over by 1810 when the Sultan had begun to modernize. We have to be modernized all the time, but once we have taken and adopted a kufr system, we are already under its hegemony. By 1850 most of the training in the Uthmania army was by officers from the West, several of them from Austria, France and Britain, because we didn't know, develop and educate our people as the West was doing.
By the time the Suez Canal was built, Egypt was completely under the weight of the debt to the banks. Soon after that, Britain decided to rule the country directly. All the so-called Muslim countries ended under direct control through the banks. In each of these countries, the bankers instituted systems of retrieving the money. In the case of Turkey, which had a substantial loan, they had instituted a committee of bankers (two of whom were Jews) that were living in Istanbul, to make sure that through customs, excise, and other means these loans were repaid, with incredible amount of usury and interest. That is why Turkey was called the 'Sick Man of Europe', because the sick is not dead, but his blood can still be sucked. Until such a time that the sickness was so great that Allah sent this virus called Kamal Ataturk and finished it off. Allah sends Shaytaan in order for us to wake up to Rahman. Look at Allah's ways: "which of the signs of Allah will you deny?" Wherever you look if you don't see the rahmah within it, then you have missed the point, His constantly recurring point. Do not brush aside the difficulty and the challenge. Allah is challenging us all the time. Do we think that we will be left without being tested and afflicted so that we know exactly where our Jihad is? Jihad is from an Arabic word, which means 'exert energy'. You and I have to expand energy as long as we are alive. The Prophet (peace be upon him and his family) has taught us that we are continuously accountable to this light and our higher self. Are we truthful? Are we honest? Are we aware? Are we in dhikr of the One? Are we aware we are doing such and such for Allah's sake, by Allah's rahmah? Are you ready to leave this world? The inner Jihad and the outer Jihad both connect at all times. But there is a hierarchy. If I am sick in my body, then I am in stress and my mind is not clear. Thus, I am not qualified to lead others during my serious disturbance. It is for that reason an ignorant person should not embark upon an action, because that action will mislead people more than benefit them. That is why so many false Jihads have been declared and have failed. The danger of involving other people is serious when politics and religion are confused. Jihad has to continue forever - any minute we may leave this world, and the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "You will die according to the condition you are in, and you will be resurrected in that condition also." What condition are you in? You will be in the grave according to your inner mirror. If the condition and consciousness you were in were the highest possible, then you are on your way to the best destiny ready to meet your Prophet. Outer fighting Jihad has to be qualified by the enlightened ‘ulama. There are many conditions for it including the presence of a just and prophetic ruler or king. You cannot have a king sitting in some cozy palace ordering his paid 'ulama to go and call for a Jihad; the leader must be in the front. In the Western world, the separation between government and religion resulted in considerable growth and development in their social, political and economic life. As for the 'reformed church', it is being constantly 'deformed' and fighting for survival. At one church in England where they were selling beer, the bishop was asked how he could justify alcohol in a place of worship. He replied that alcohol is part of the Christian culture. If we are not careful, we will end up having Islamic banks as part of our Muslim culture, and many other Shaytanic activities as part of our culture.
So, to get back to the point, we must read and understand the present situation as the culmination of decades of us living in spiritual lethargy, ignorance and superstition under despotic leaders and ignorant 'ulama. We are now reaping the result of deviation from original Islam. You cannot simply attack the kuffar or Christians whilst they lead globally in most human endeavours. They are the inventors of the money, modern arms, the information technology and all modern ways of life. Yet, Iraq's government defies the world powers poised for suicide. We have over a million children in Iraq who are mentally retarded. A million and a half of the best people of Iraq and Iran killed in the senseless war, which was encouraged by Western powers. The truth is that no Muslim country or people have any real independence politically or economically. I was brought up in Iraq at the time of the Second World War, which did not touch the town I was in, because we hardly needed imported goods or products. Within twenty years, the country's income from oil doubled .The number of poor people increased and self-sufficiency vanished.
Look at the situation now in any of the Muslim countries. If you cut off the medicines or the clothes, or whatever for a month or two, you will have serious destitute. So, this globalization of the kufr system, and the power of their finance is everywhere. How do we get out of its stranglehold? My reading is that this so-called pseudo democracy, which is un-Islamic, needs to be changed and imposed in a real way. At the moment, our rulers pretend to be just and democratic but they are only able to mimic the West and appease the world powers. The Muslims know that they have to live according to the way of the Prophet (peace be upon him), Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, Ali and other great, enlightened beings. We know that we are not living anywhere near what is expected. So, we end up having this paradox: We love the West and the Western ways, nostalgic about our Islam, which stops at the gate of the mosque. Where is the tawheed in this? Deen implies a way of living - a debt upon you. It is a complete code of life. And that is why Islam is the only true path. And that is why we find so many of the so-called religions destitute and incomplete. One hour every week, of gathering in a temple, is not good enough. Why don't you breathe, also, once a day? It is about your functioning, your cells, your mind, your heart and your ruh; to be in worship and awe all the time is to be truly in Islam and thus be safe from afflictions of self or society.
We have to be guided by the divine spark within us, which is the ruh. Otherwise, life will be difficult and miserable. You eat, sleep, etc. and at the end of it, you are under six feet of dust at best. What is it all about? We have an agenda as Muslims. We have a path, which, if lived, everybody will be transformed by it and others will want it. But if we are not living it, then that potential joy and knowledge is not achieved. Materially, outwardly, we can see that Muslims have become inferior, because of our negligence. We had at one time all the sciences and advanced way of life. But often, when the Muslim scientist or scholar died, with him died his creativity and knowledge. When the great physician and philosopher Ibn Sina died, there were a few hakims after him, and few decades after that, there was nothing left. And his qanoon, which is translated as "canons, rules, of Ibn Sina" was taken by the Western medical practitioners and it remained their main manual until recent history.
Why have we not grown in culture and civilisation? It was because our rulers in most cases were not fit to rule in the prophetic sense. They used Islam to oppress Muslims and appointed clergies to confirm their despotic and often inhumane ways. Thus no ongoing institutions for education, health or civil service came about. Our schools remained basic
shariah and Qur`an recitation static and unpopular primitive attempts. No history, geography, health, mathematics or any other sciences were taught.
We must realize that we have all deviated from the way of the Prophet (peace be upon him and his family). It is Allah's rahmah that we still have the Qur`an intact and that we still have the knowledge and the love of the Prophet in our hearts. These are great foundations to build upon the future of illumined and universal Muslim lives. Everybody wants durable happiness and spiritual reference. But often happiness becomes a disaster for five minutes of pleasure. We must take responsibility for our actions. Expect good destiny and live joyfully Allah's perfect ways and decrees. To live in taqwa with the goal of knowledge of Allah, following the footsteps of Rasoolallah is the road to safety and success.
As salaam alaykum