Monday, December 29, 2008

Protesting Israel's Actions, The Islamic Way

This one is going to alarm a few readers, so I have to write my Bismillah and ask my Lord to guide me on the Straight Path.

The cycle continues. Israel is bombing the daylights out of Palestinians. CNN reports that there are protests worlwide. I too feel moved by the sheer numbers of those dead. But I want to pause for a second. This has happened so many times before, I want to reflect and process this.

Were there actually rockets flying from Palestinian territories into Israel for months, as Israel alleges? If there were, then that changes everything for me. I am not going to be tribal about this. I am taught by my faith to be just, even if it means I have to bear witness against myself (or my "tribe" in this case). And you, my friend, all ready to beat your chest and protest, protest today, ONLY if Israel's claims of unprovoked rockets is false.

If those claims are true, then I am inviting you to reflect on this for a moment...

If I practiced Tribalism, I should be cheering every time "my side" hit the other side, and protesting every time the other side hit mine.

But I practice Islam. And my reaction is to be consistent with the command in Surah 5, verse 2:

"...and let not the hatred of some people in (once) stopping you from Al­Masjid­al­Haram (at Makkah) lead you to transgression (and hostility on your part). Help you one another in (virtue, righteousness and piety); but do not help one another in sin and transgression. And fear Allah."

So today, protest if and only if Israel's claims of rocket attacks are false.

If Israel's claims are true, then we can all ask Israel to consider practicing constraint and pray God brings about peace. But I don't think we have the moral high ground needed to show our face at a protest, particularly if we were not protesting the Palestinian rocket attacks. I pray I live to see the day when we get rid of the Tribe in us to protest acts of transgression by those of our own faith. Wouldn't it be nice to read a headline that says "Muslims acrsoss the world condemn rocket attacks by Palestinians against Israel"? If you find that idea repulsive, consider this - they are UNISLAMIC actions :) - there, that should make it easy for you to show up at a rally!

Anarchists on both sides are ruining the lives of their people. Infants are dying, wives are widowed and little children orphaned as mere spectators and for no faults of theirs. I condemn such fitteen and anarchists on both sides. I seek God's mercy upon the innocent who suffer on both sides.


Naeem: said...


Nice post. I can appreciate your attempt to remain level-headed.

However, this is all about proportion (or the lack there of). The rallies and all related outcries are specifically denouncing the lack of proportion shown by the Israelis.

I'm confident that if Israel went after those carrying out the missile attacks, there wouldn't be any protests or rallies.

ThinkingMuslim said...

I don't see the whole proportion thing either. Sorry, not trying to be deliberately difficult. I am trying to imagine what (good, ideal) Muslims would do if roles were reversed. I think if you have a crazy neighbor who threatens your life every day, you should basically uproot him completely. Fitnah is worse than death, remember? And these randoms rocket firings are fitnah.

Naeem: said...


"I think if you have a crazy neighbor who threatens your life every day, you should basically uproot him completely."

Sure, that's all fine and well. But are you justified in killing his entire family? And his extended friends? And the rest of his neighborhood?

That is what would be called disproportionate.

Stop trying to defend the indefensible.

ThinkingMuslim said...

That is precisely what Islam calls fitnah: when terrorists hide among civilians, when terrorists use schools and public service organizations to store weapons, or, as was the case in Pakistan, when terrorists try to dodge police by wearing burqa.

You want to fight - there is a protocol by which you can wage wars. Sadly, we lost that war. And instead of coming up with a sound strategy to fight the oppressor, we are jeopardizing our innocent family members.

Remember, the Prophet (pbuh) knew exactly which of his "companions" in Madinah was a munafiq. However, he refused to take action against any of them because, as he said, "rest of Arabia will say that Muhammed goes about killing ihs companions." Our ummah simply doesn't get this aspect of seerah.

ThinkingMuslim said...

Let me recapture this: The inhumane bombing of Gaza is as painful to my heart as the next human being with a soul. It is. But I don't get the way Muslims want to protest. Look, Israel is the adversary here. It has proven in the past it doesn't care for Palestinian lives much. WHAT IS THE POINT IN PROTESTING IN FRONT OF ITS EMBASSY?

Now there IS a point of protesting - and that would be if the entire strategy was based on non-violent resistance. But some of our "brothers" are out launching rockets and when Israel responds in kind with mightier, more forceful and more lethal firepower, the others side of the family wants to start the non-violent resistance movement? The time for that rally was when our own brothers were indulging in their misadventures with rockets against a nation that has shown no regard for their life.

Can't have it both ways. Live and die by rockets or live and die by non-violent resistance. It's not that hard. I am shocked by a million things Israel has done over the years. But I am not at all shocked at its actions of the last few weeks. I also know that the rallies and outpourings from Muslims around the world mean nothing to it. The rallies and outpourings could mobilize our non-Muslim neighbors if we had been consistent in the way we condemn violence in the region - but we are not consistent. We practice duplicity when it comes to that.

Naeem: said...


"Can't have it both ways. Live and die by rockets or live and die by non-violent resistance. It's not that hard."

Not true my friend. Many liberation movements have incorporated both styles of resistance. The civil rights movement in the US, the Anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa, even the Indian independence struggle against Britain all included militant wings to their efforts.

Resistance is never as black and white as you paint it...chari