PALESTINE AND THE CHALLENGES OF THE UMMAH TODAY Print
Written by ramadan   
Tuesday, 12 June 2018 20:43

PALESTINE AND THE CHALLENGES OF THE UMMAH TODAY


Jumuah Lecture

Friday 8 June 2018 (23 Ramadaan 1439)

Zeenatul Islam Masjid, Muir Street, Cape Town

Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool



We praise and we thank Allah (SWT) for having guided us to yet another Jumuah, yet another Ramadaan, maybe the final Jumuah of the month of Ramadaan, and yet another occasion to pledge our support with our brothers and sister in Palestine on this Youmul Quds (Day of Quds) and to implore Allah (SWT) that there should be peace in Palestine and justice for the Palestinians, just as we need peace across the Muslim world and across the world where Muslims are.


My respected brothers and sisters, the Ummah of Muhammad (SAWA) is going through such enormously difficult times. Whether we are majority, we face challenges. Whether we are minorities, we face challenges. And so this Ramadaan Insha Allah must be the one Ramadaan where we put our hearts together, and we say to Allah (SWT) to lighten our burdens and make the Ummah of Muhammad (SAWA) a glorious, peaceful Ummah that is in peace amongst itself and in peace with all its fellow citizens and neighbours across the world.


VICTORY FOR THE OPPRESSED IS THE PROMISE FROM ALLAH (SWT) IN THE QURAN


We recall to mind, the promise that Allah (SWT) has made to particularly those who find themselves in such difficulty in Surah Qasas (chapter 28 of the Holy Quran). Allah (SWT) tells us in verse 5:


“And We wish to be gracious and merciful and favourable to those who are oppressed in the land and to make of them leaders and to make them the inheritors (heirs) to the land.”


Allah (SWT) continues in verse 6 by saying:


“And to establish for them a firm place in the land, and to show Fir’oun and Haman and all those who stand with them, the very things at the hands of those who are oppressed, the very things against which they fear and take all kinds of precautions.”


Verily, Allah (SWT) speaks the truth. It is instructive that the narration that on this Youmul Quds, this day when we call to mind Jerusalem, the land of Palestine, the Masjidul Aqsa, and the conditions of our people, be it Muslim, Christian and righteous Jews, that we call to mind the suffering that is continuing in that land, and that we re-dedicate ourselves to the cause of justice for the Palestinians, because at this moment with so many other communities across the world, the Palestinians fit the description in Surah Qasas of those who are oppressed in the earth, that they deserve to be leaders in the land and heirs to the land.


The contemporary forces that constitute Fir’oun and Haman, and their hosts very clearly fit the bill of those who call themselves Israelis, or Zionists, or those who also insist on calling themselves Jews. And the irony of history is that those who were the victims yesterday could be the perpetrators today. May Allah (SWT) guard us against that transformation from victimhood to perpetration, that we never (when we feel power) become perpetrators of wrong and injustice to others over whom we may have power.


2018 IS THE VERY DIFFICULT TEST FOR THE PALESTINIANS


We have seen in the fate of the Palestinians, what happens when those who were the slaves at the time of Nabi Musa (a.s) become the perpetrators of injustice today towards the Palestinians. Therefore, we must guard ourselves that we never fall into temptation, that when we have space and power that we become perpetrators, either against fellow Muslims or against fellow citizens and fellow people across the world.


2018 is particular a poignant year for the Palestinians. It is 70 years ago that the Nakba, or the catastrophe befell the people of Palestine. They have been:

  • expelled from their land;

  • removed from their homes and placed in a concentration camp like Gaza;

  • humiliated even in the West Bank;

  • a diaspora scattered across the world – some of the most talented and most knowledgeable people scattered without a homeland.

70 years is therefore also 70 years since the establishment of the state of Israel. This year, we who stand with the Palestinians, saw the 70 year anniversary from 2 completely different angles. On the one hand, Jerusalem became the de facto capital of Israel, because Donald Trump had decided that the American embassy shall be in Jerusalem and that is what they inaugurated this year.


This year, when Palestinians stood up and said you cannot do that, we saw in an instant 60 Palestinian mowed down and killed. We mourned, while they celebrated.


THE TRIANGLE OF MISCHIEF


So many of us often get caught up only by the bilateral struggle between Palestine and Israel, and we may miss what is emerging today very clearly as a triangular alliance in the world today, against which not only the Palestinians have to stand, but all Muslims suffer under it today. In country terms, we see a convergence between the United States with Israel (as always) but what has become clearer today, is that there are even Arab states that have joined this triangular alliance.


That is in country terms.


In ideological terms, it is the coming together of American imperialism, Israeli Zionism, and unfortunately some Arab Wahhabism, where those 3 ideologies have decided that the Palestinians are expendable. That is why there has been no outcry and decisive action from even the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) about what happened in Jerusalem.


The Palestinians are caught in this geo-political battle. A battle between some Arab states for hegemony in the Middle East and what they regard as the Islamic Republic of Iran as the other part of this geo-political battle. That is how it presents itself globally, that we see this battle of position in the Middle East for who will be the leader and whose proxies will be able to do battle against the others proxies.


That is how we see it – one proxy army against another proxy army. That is what you see when you watch the global news.


THE TRIANGLE OF MISCHIEF MANIFESTS IN TAKFIRISM ON A LOCAL LEVEL


Unfortunately my brothers and sisters, when that same battle reaches us, even in Cape Town, even in Washington’s Masaajid, even the Masaajid across the world, when it reaches us, it does not present itself as a geo-political battle for hegemony.


Instead, it presents itself as a battle of Takfirism, as a battle between Sunni and Shia. And while none of us would disagree with the idea that there are differences, but whether there are differences, there need not be division. Where there are debates, there need not be conflict. We must not be sucked into giving our support for a theological battle when it is a geo-political battle.


That is the challenge for all of us today! How do we watch this geo-political battle for leadership and hegemony in the Middle East without becoming participants in a Sunni-Shia battle on the ground amongst Muslims in our Masaajid and our communities? We must be very selfish with our mandate, because if we get sucked into giving a mandate for theological battle, we may end up giving a mandate for the slaughtering of Yemenis in the name of fighting those who, we are told, may want the Haramain under Shia control.


So that is something we must be very careful about in understanding what is happening. We MUST relate the local things we hear, with the global things we see. It cannot be easy. It should not be easy, that we just decide, or one person decides, or a group of people decide, or a country decides that 15% of the Ummah are no longer Muslim. 15%!!!


Then we would not be hearing the beautiful Qasidas that we have heard, and the beautiful Qira’ah that we have heard, because someone has decided that the sincerity that we heard here in this Masjid earlier does not count.


IDEOLOGICAL DIFFERENCES SHOULD INCULCATE INCLUSIVENESS AND NOT REJECTION


We cannot also let those same extremists tell us that those that have stood in the battlefield, as sometimes the only forces, that Hezbollah is now Hezbol-Lat ie. the Party of Al-Lat, the main idol that the Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) had to confront!


We must believe the evidence of our eyes. I have ideological differences with Hizbollah, but I will recognize that had they not been on the battlefield at crucial moments in Lebanon, we would have had the extension of the state of Israel to the south.


Had it not been that Hamas, whom the same takfiris now call a wrong grouping – and again I may have ideological differences with them - but I recognize that they have often been the difference between whether Palestine stood or whether Palestine fell!


I recognize such courage and such bravery, because some people who today are called Shia in Cape Town (I may have had political differences with them in the course of the anti-apartheid struggle) but I knew that they stood next to me when the Apartheid enemy with their Apartheid casspirs and rifles were there making war on us.


Those who want to pronounce them non-Muslim are the very people whom you did not see when injustice had a shape, when injustice wore a uniform, when injustice drove a casspir, when injustice and Apartheid locked you up in a prison cell. Why do they find their voice when we have won freedom for them but they did not have a voice when Apartheid would jail them for using your voice in the right way! Why were they silent when speaking as they do today could get them jailed or killed?


These are the things I ask you to think about, my dear brothers and sisters, in this time of mischief that we are in. In this time, we need each one of you to be a beacon of light  and rationality for the Ummah.


A WEAK MUSLIM NATION IS PRONE TO ATTACKS BY THE MISCHIEF-MAKERS


I travel the world and wherever I go, the example of South African Muslims and particularly Cape Town Muslims is such that the world envies us. They wonder how is it that our people are in the cabinet of government, in the parliaments, in the judiciary, in the boardrooms, in the teams of cricket and rugby, etc. They ask what is going on here?


Therefore, we are witnesses today to the fact that it is under conditions of division and fragmentation that the Ummah (not Islam) will lose its grip in this world. Vultures never attack a healthy body! Vultures always look for the animal that has strayed, the animal that is injured, the animal that is divided from the main herd. We should not give those triangular forces that ability!


POIGNANT LESSONS FOR REFLECTION FROM SURAH RUM

I end by saying that in times like this, and especially for the Palestinians (and for the Ummah generally), there was one revelation of the Quran, in Surah Rum – the Roman Empire - (chapter 30), that would then be the equivalent of today’s breaking news.


The Nabi (SAWA) was going about his business in Mecca and then received the following revelation (verse 2 of Surah Rum):


“Rome has been vanquished”


As it happened, the Quran says it has just happened at a place not far from here. Rome has been defeated by Persia. Rome was the Holy Christian Empire and Persia was the Polytheist Empire at that point. This breaking news comes, and one wonders what the significance of this breaking news is? Why does Allah (SWT) tell the Prophet (SAWA) this? Allah (SWT) says that this will soon be overturned. Rome will be victorious again. This is revealed in verses 3 and 4 of Surah Rum:


“In the nearer land, and they, after their defeat will be victorious”


“Within a few years. With Allah is the Decision, in the past and in the Future: on that Day shall the Believers rejoice”


In a span of 9 years from the revelation to the day that Rome defeats Persia again – what happened in between? That is the advice! That gave the Muslims a breathing space in history because the 2 superpowers of the time, Rome and Persia, had fought each other to a standstill. They had to go back to their capitals to find more money, more soldiers and new technology for war, and to rebuild their countries.


THE MASTERPLAN OF RASULULLAH (SAWA) AND ITS SHARP EXECUTION


This gives the space to the fledgling Muslim Ummah to stand up and to organize themselves. What does Rasulullah (SAWA) do in this period of 9 years?

  1. He exhorts the early Muslims to strategic patience and resilience. He teaches them to stand:

    • even though Sumayya (may Allah be pleased with her) is martyred,

    • even though Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him) is tortured,

    • even though Rasulullah (SAWA) himself was humiliated and the Muslims were boycotted.


He teaches them to absorb that punishment first, to steel themselves in all of this punishment.


  1. Secondly, he takes out a strategic insurance. He sends a group under Jafar (may Allah be pleased with him) to Abyssinia, exhorting them to go there, in case things are tough here in Mecca. He takes out this insurance policy that the fledgling group of Muslims will never be obliterated from the earth.


  1. Thirdly, he reaches out to different parts of the Hijaz to look for strategic alliances. He goes to Ta’if amongst others and is rebuffed. He is approached by Yathrib – Aws and Hadhraj ie. 2 tribes fighting each other and he mediates and they convert to Islam. He then unites the one tribe with the other and together they becomes the Ansar.


  1. When all of this is in place, he then leads the strategic retreat from Mecca to Madina called the Hijra, but only after the early Muslims are steeled in Sabr, the insurance policy has been taken out in Abyssinia, and the basic alliance has been put together in Yathrib.


  1. Having led the strategic retreat from Mecca to Madina, on arrival in Madina, he does the strategic consolidation. He takes Aws and Hadhraj and turns them into the Ansar. He unites the Muhajiroon with the Ansar and they become Muslim. With the Muslims and he pens the charter of Madina and then invites the Jews to commit. Even the hypocrites and the polytheists of Madina are signatories to the Charter to ensure that they will all defend this community that is there in Madina.

OUR INTELLECTUAL TERROR HAS DISASTROUS CONSEQUENCES


You see, the mindset, attitude and approach of Rasulullah (SAWA) is completely different to ours today, where the Ummah is in trouble and it is suffering. He unites all, and what do we do? We look for schisms! We look for opportunities to say that the Shia are not that, that the Sufis are this, that the modernists are that, that the guys with short beards should not lead, that the guys with long trousers over their ankles are not fit.


We do Takfir on the whim of a beard and pants. Rasulullah’s (SAWA) approach was completely different. Only 2 years after the Hijra and 9 years after “ghulibatil Rum” do we see that indeed, not only does Rome vanquish Persia, but that is also the year where Persia’s alliance partner in Mecca (the Quraysh) comes out with a thousand men, and is met by only a few hundred Muslims at Badr. We all know what happened at Badr. A small army vanquished this large Qurayshi army.


Do we have the luxury today to say that 15% who worship one way are not Muslim, and 50% who may be Sufis are not Muslim and 50% who are women are not allowed in Masaajid and the black Muslims will always be below the brown Muslims and so on and so forth. Do we have that luxury given the Islamophobia in the minority situation and the authoritarianism in the majority situations?


I leave that challenge with you my dear brothers and sisters, and I leave you with an imploration to treat everything as fake news until you verify. Don’t fall for Sheikh Google, for Mowlana YouTube and the Mufti Twitter. That is not how Fatawa is offered.


It is often the collective endeavors of the scholars to come together. That is where we invented the term Ijmaa ie. the consensus of the Ulama, and not the opinion of one, however learned and qualified they may sound.


It is Qiyas – it is to compare one situation with another and then to come to a conclusion. It is Ijtihad to take the evidence of your eyes and your ears, your heart and your mind, and then to apply it.


I ask you my dear brothers and sisters, during this time of mischief and Fasaad, of division and fragmentation. I ask of you, let us not fall for these things, because the stakes have never been higher for the global Ummah. If we who are happy in South Africa, despite our problems, are being divided along those lines, can you imagine what it must be like in Palestine where those kitabs, tweets and Facebook messages come there, where they least need it, as is the case in Syria, in Iraq and in America and so on.


WE IMPLORE ALLAH (SWT) FOR HIDAYA IN THESE REMAINING DAYS OF RAMADAAN


Let us return to a decent and proper adab or way of doing things. May Allah (SWT) strengthen the Ummah against all kinds of divisions Insha Allah. May Allah (SWT) open our eyes and our minds so that we may clinically separate Falsehood from Truth, Insha Allah.


May Allah (SWT) give courage to the true leaders ie. “the ulul ilm qa imam bil qist”  - the people of knowledge standing on justice. Allah (SWT) never gives the Ulama a free pass. It is always “the ulul ilm qa imam bil qist”. If an Imam sounds knowledgeable but his utterances are unjust, then he has not met the criteria set out in the Quran. Therefore, we had the situation in Apartheid, where some Ulama may not have had the courage to stand up and speak out against Apartheid, but they knew better to keep quiet and let us do the job.


Ya Allah (SWT) strengthen us, and may this month of Ramadaan be personally enriching and for the Ummah, Insha Allah, may this month of Ramadaan be a month of unity and consensus, of coming together that we may embrace each other across our differences, because it is those differences and diversity that makes the Ummah strong.


Whenever we were mono-cultural, we declined. Whenever we are multi-cultural, we thrive. May Allah (SWT) bring that situation back again!