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Khutba: Tawheed is alive in Gaza

وَلَا تَحْسَبَنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ قُتِلُوا۟ فِى سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ أَمْوَٰتًۢا ۚ بَلْ أَحْيَآءٌ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ يُرْزَقُونَ

فَرِحِينَ بِمَآ ءَاتَىٰهُمُ ٱللَّهُ مِن فَضْلِهِۦ وَيَسْتَبْشِرُونَ بِٱلَّذِينَ لَمْ يَلْحَقُوا۟ بِهِم مِّنْ خَلْفِهِمْ أَلَّا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ 

Never think of those martyred in the cause of Allah as dead. In fact, they are alive with their Lord, well provided for – rejoicing in Allah’s bounties and being delighted for those yet to join them. There will be no fear for them, nor will they grieve. (Aale-Iman: 169-170)

Three days ago, Israel’s military gained control of the Palestinian side of the Rafa crossing, the southernmost governorate of Gaza, despite Hamas stating they would accept a recent ceasefire proposal. Rafa’s border crossing from Gaza to Egypt is an entry point for humanitarian workers to the besieged area allowing critically ill and injured people to seek treatment, or refugees to flee. Food and water, life-saving medicines and fuel can also not enter. 

As of yesterdays count, at least 35,000 have been killed in Palestine and more than 85,000 injured. 60% of all residential buildings have been damaged and 267 masaajid with 85% of the total population displaced. Every hour in Gaza 15 people are killed, of whom 6 are children, 35 people are injured, 42 bombs are dropped and 12 buildings are destroyed. The 7th mass grave has been discovered at Ash-Shifa hospital. 

It’s been 216 days and 75 years of occupation.

Do what you can, wherever you can

And the truth is becoming clearer to all – the indomitable spirit of the Palestinians is inspiring the 7.9 billion humans living on this Earth to find their humanity. 

This week, we have seen student protests spanning the globe – from universities in Illinois, Rhode Island, Washington, Minnesota & New Jersey and Goldsmiths, Cambridge, Oxford, Sheffield, Bristol, Leeds ub the UK, Agreements have been negotiated by the University and students to vote on divestment and prepare new ethical investment policies. Riot police have been deployed to evit them and 32 people have been arrested by Dutch police at the University of Amsterdam. Spain, Germany, France, Switzerland and Austria have been occupying halls and facilities, demanding an end to partnerships with Israeli institutions because of Israel’s assault on Gaza. A McGill teaching assistant and student named Zeca Eufemia, who was among the demonstrators, explained her intent, “I’m here in solidarity with Palestine because I, amongst many students, and people in the community refuse to see our tuition money go to killing children in Gaza.” The demands of students across America, Europe, and elsewhere are quite simple: divest from companies and businesses linked to Israel. Isn’t it ironic how much is being invested in protecting schools from gun and knife crime but when whole school populations are wiped out every week in this genocide, few raise concerns?

Countries are rising for justice – Spain, Ireland, Slovenia and Malta have signed a statement declaring they are ready to recognise Palestinian statehood.

The Eurovision song contest which 37 participants including Israel oddly for its non-European location. They submitted a song which unashamedly refers to last years attack originally called “October Rain,” and now renamed “Hurricane”. Despite the highly politicised nature of the competition, the Israeli entrant was booed throughout her performance at the semi-final rehearsals.

In last weeks UK elections for local Government, Police and Crime Commissioner and the West Midlands Mayor, we saw 40 pro-Palestinian campaigners have won seats as councillors in Britain Leaders recognise that international issues like the war in Palestine might take precedence in UK council halls over local civic issues. The Conservatives lost almost half of their council seats and Labour’s national vote declined to 34% especially in areas with larger Muslim communities. 

We are witnessing a miracle

The people of Gaza have become a living miracle. Their will to survive, and not only survive, but to persist and resist has sent shock waves around the world. It has awakened not only the Muslim masses but given hope to humanity itself. Hope for a new world, it has become evident, has come not from the shining capitals, technological feats, or trillion-dollar schemes, but from the rubble of Gaza. How could this be?

The entire formerly colonised world and the young generations and the dispossessed masses of even the colonists have found their faith in humanity. 

A young Gazan man in a shaking voice with swollen eyes, standing against the backdrop of bombed buildings, having lost everything says “All praise is Allah’s. This is our share of this world.” 

A mother sends off her son, praying, “My beloved son Ibrahim, dearer to me than my life, I send him now to his Creator who loves him.” 

Another man, after losing his two sons and much else in the same days, is heard saying, “Allah created us and takes us, He does what He wills. We, thanks to Allah, are going to be patient.” 

Even non-Muslims comment “I am not religious … but if Jesus was around today, where would he be?! Playing with his phone on a Hilton rooftop in Tel Aviv! … or down in the rubble with dead children in Gaza?!”

Another TikToker notes, “I have not seen any clip of the Palestinians cursing the Jewish people or the Israelis. These are people of God.” 

Breaking down uncontrollably in tears, another TikToker comments, “What is this faith, with such an indomitable hope?!” Another observes, “That’s something that people don’t get to see often. Definitely not here in the West. The result of that is that I have seen so many people pick up the Qur’an on social media.” 

Countless people across the world, with their God-given light, have seen the miracle of Gaza, and are turning to the Qur’an and Islam to drink from the same well.

In the 40th hadith in Imam Nawawi’s collection, found in the narrations of Imam Bukhari, Abu Hurayrah (RA), relates that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:

Allah (mighty and sublime be He) said:
مَنْ عَادَى لِي وَلِيًّا، فَقَدْ آذَنْتُهُ بِالْحَرْبِ
Whosoever shows hatred to someone devoted to Me, I shall be at war with him.
My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him. 

When I love him I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks. 

Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him, 

and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant him it. 

I do not hesitate about anything (NOTE- Allah(SWT) hesitates) as much as I hesitate about [seizing] the soul of My faithful servant: he hates death and I hate hurting him. 

  وَمَا تَرَدَّدْتُ عَنْ شَيْءٍ أَنَا فَاعِلُهُ تَرَدُّدِي عَنْ نَفْسِ عَبْدِي الْمُؤْمِنِ، يَكْرَهُ الْمَوْتَ وَأَنَا أَكْرَهُ مَسَاءَتَهُ

What tawheed really means

We are an Ummah of Tawheed – this means we recognise that there is nothing greater than Allah(SWT). 

When the Prophet (SAW) received his first revelation, his wife Khadijah raḍyAllāhu ‘anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) took him to an older relative, Waraqah, who had written the remnants of the Bible in Arabic by hand, but was now blind in his old age. He warned the Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) that the truth he is trying to spread will be rejected and it’s likely that he will be cast out from his society. This is similar to what many protesters are experiencing today. Waraqah also said he longed to be young again so that he could stand next to the Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) as he experienced this struggle. 

Bilal (RA) was tied to a post in the intense desert heat or placed under a huge boulder without a sip of water, lashed, and dragged through the streets of Makkah, a trail of blood left in his wake. Still, Bilal (RA) relentlessly repeated the phrase that he would later be remembered for. This simple phrase rejected anything other than Allah(SWT) and instead proclaimed obedience to “ahadun ahad” – “one God, one God,.

Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (RA) was a poor, skinny shepherd, a young nobody in the social circles of his times, whom Allah swt bestowed with knowledge and wisdom. He grew up to become one of the most learned man of the Book of Allah and the best one to know the Quran by heart.

A few days later of the incident, Abdullah ibn Masud accepted Islam. He requested the Prophet (pbuh) to take him as a servant after he quit his job of being the shepherd with Uqbah. The Prophet (pbuh) took him in service and thus began the glorious time for Abdullah ibn Masud as he spent his young years in the company of the Prophet (pbuh).

Once in a group of companions, someone said that these Quraish have not yet heard the Quran. Who would go and recite the Quran in their presence? So, our young lad here volunteered himself. The companions tried to dissuade him saying that he didn’t belong to any of the clans or powerful family and the Quraish wouldn’t hesitate to beat him to pulp. However, Abdullah ibn Masud went forward and told them that Allah would protect him.

He walked to the front of the Kabah and started reciting the beautiful verses of Surah Ar-Rahman. The Quraish upon hearing him were thunderstruck and quite impressed at his recitation. Soon one of them realised that he was reciting what Muhammad (pbuh) was preaching. This angered the Quraish men and they stood up and beat Ibn Masud till he was terribly wounded.

When his friends saw him, they told him, ”This is what we were afraid would happen to you.” Abdullah ibn Masud replied, ”Wallahi, I wouldn’t hesitate to do the same again tomorrow.” Thus, he became the first public reciter of the Quran in front of the Kabah, after the Prophet (pbuh).

When Khalid ibn Walid (R.A) said: “I bring you men who desire death as ardently as you desire life.” it did not mean they did not value life, or were violent people, but that they did not value life above Allah (SWT) and His pleasure. They appreciated life as they knew it was a gift from their Creator, but they loved the Creator more; they hate death, but they hate losing Allah(SWT) more. In contrast, those who have lost God, the source of life and its beauty, are drawn by their materialism to a life of nihilism and hedonism, but their God-given nature tugs them to something higher, which is why the spectacle of Palestinian faith is so revolutionary to them.

The Most Merciful Lord, we can be certain, loves His allies and hates the pain they have to endure, but He promises, and they remember that they will be rejoicing in Allah’s bounties and being delighted for those yet to join them. There will be no fear for them, nor will they grieve.

The Gazan men, women, and children show us the true meaning of these teachings. When they embrace struggle and resistance rather than humiliation and helplessness, when they declare that their commitment to their faith and its sanctities is greater than their love of life and fear of death, their weakness is replaced by strength.

Unlike other people who have been oppressed, believing Muslims do not complain of their fate or embrace victimhood. The upbeat, hopeful attitude in Gaza that exudes gratitude and grit, even under murderous injustice and betrayal, is the character of a true Muslim. The origin of this saying is a Qur’anic verse revealed when, in addition to being surrounded by the pagan tribes (aḥzāb) of all of Arabia, the Muslim community felt devastated by a campaign of lies directed at impugning the Prophet’s ﷺ own beloved wife (rA): “Do not think it is bad for you, rather it is good for you!” (24:11).

لَا تَحْسَبُوهُ شَرًّۭا لَّكُم ۖ بَلْ هُوَ خَيْرٌۭ لَّكُمْ ۚ

Just like the Palestinians today, the blessed community of the Final Messenger ﷺ and the messengers before him felt “shaken, until they cried out, ‘When will the help of Allah [arrive]?’” Only then Allah answered, “Lo, the help of Allah is near” (2:214). 

Gazans, like all believers, know even when facing a genocidal juggernaut that it is not the world’s militaries, the media, the courts, human rights advocates, or so-called superpowers, but the Almighty alone who can protect them and has their affairs in His hands. He alone decides what is good for them. And so long as we hold on to our faith, all tests and trials are good for us. 

Muslim scholars today agree that it is an obligation upon all Muslim governments across the world to come to their aid, and upon every individual Muslim with any capacity anywhere in the world to support them to the best of their ability. The Gazans have succeeded in their test so far with flying colours; the rest of us, on the other hand, must fear the day when we will be asked about how we helped the oppressed.

A Muslim knows that the oppressors never truly prosper, that this life is short and transient. No story is complete here, for there is a Day of Recompense that will set right all the wrongs. The Almighty does not love the oppressors, but uses them to raise the ranks of the believers, purify their souls, remind them of their need for Him, and enhance their knowledge of truth and of His power, so that they know and love Him and rely on Him. In other words, so that people of resolve, like the people of Gaza today, could be born, and radiate faith in God in which the rest of humanity could bask.

The believer is never hopeless

Psychologists Martin Seligman and Steven Maier studied and wrote about helplessness defining it into two categories:

  1. Universal helplessness; a sense of helplessness in which the subject believes nothing can be done about the situation they are in. They believe no one can alleviate the pain or discomfort.
  2. Personal helplessness is a much more localised sense of helplessness. The subject may believe others could find a solution or avoid the pain or discomfort, but he believes that he, personally, is incapable of finding a solution (Abramson, Seligman, & Teasdale, 1978).

Both types of helplessness can lead to a state of depression, but the impact of that depression may differ. Those who feel universally helpless will tend to find external reasons for both their problems and their inability to solve them, while those who feel personally helpless will tend to find internal reasons. A Muslim is immune from helplessness and certainly hopelessness, as they know the greatest and Ultimate source of help is Allah(SWT). We ask for His help in every standing in prayer when reciting al Fatihah – iyyaka nasta’een, and we are certain that He hears us, knows our condition and gives us what we need at the time that is right for us like in the example of ‘Awf ibn Malik (RA).

Imam Ibn Rajab   al-Hanbali (rh) states in Jami’  al-‘ Ulum wa al-Hikam that Malik al-Ashja’i (RA)  came  to the Prophet  (Peace be upon him)  and  said, “My son, ‘Awf, was taken as a prisoner of war.” He replied,  “Send him someone to tell him that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) orders him to say frequently,  ‘There is  no  might  nor  power  except  with  Allah.'” 

Having received the Prophet’s message,   ‘Awf engaged   in saying, ‘There is no might nor power except with Allah’.  Although he was heavily chained, the chains became released from him. He went out to the place where he faced a camel belonging to the enemies and he mounted it. On his way, he saw the enemies’ camels, and as he cried out, all the camels followed him.  

A short while later, his parents were greatly surprised when they heard him calling for them. His father said, “By the Lord of the Ka’bah, it is ‘Awf.”  His mother said, “Woe! ‘Awf has undergone great pain because of the heavy chains.”   

Both his father   and   their   servant hastened to him, where they saw that ‘Awf had filled the courtyard of the house with camels. ‘Awf told his father the story and the latter went to the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) in order to inform him of the matter.  

Having  heard  the  news  of  ‘Awf,  the Messenger   of  Allah  (Peace be upon him)  said,  “You are permitted  to do what you wish regarding  the camels,” Then,  the  following  Qur’anic  verses  were  revealed, “And  for   this   who  fears   Allah,   He   (ever) prepares a way out, and He provides  for  him from   (sources)  he never  could  imagine.  And if anyone puts his trust in Allah, Sufficient is (Allah) for him.” (Surah At-Talaq: 2-3)

Ali (RA) is aso reported to have said:

“I advise you with five matters: 

    • Never place the hope of your affairs in anyone except Allah (SWT)
  • Fear nothing except your sins
  • Never be ashamed of saying ‘I don’t know’ when asked about a matter which you have no knowledge of. If you do not know something, seek to learn it. 
  • Be patient, for patience to your faith is like a head to a body. If the head is cut off, the body perishes as well 
  • Whoever desires riches without having the wealth and abundance of a large family, then let him turn from the corruption of sin to the honour of serving Allah(SWT).”

And his son, Hasan(RA), would say “Whoever fears Allah, He will make all things fear him. And whoever fears people, Allah will make him fear everything.”

May the pleasure of Allah(SWT) remain our greatest hope. May He (SWT) aid the oppressed and not take us to account for our negligence in their time of need.

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