Scroll down below to see an interactive timeline of the suffering of the ummah on its way to victory, covered on Islam21c over the last twelve months
A Lesson in the Ummah’s Suffering
“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” MLK Jr
One of the most pernicious features of suffering that believers must be acutely concerned of is desensitisation and the propensity of the human being to become a bystander. This, coupled with the neglect and apathy that oppressors rely on of spectators, is what turns us towards consciously remembering the suffering of our Ummah over the last twelve months. Islam21c strives to bring attention to that which some would have us forget; but with an important difference. We despise victimhood.
As the collection of aphorisms by Shaikh Dr Haitham al-Haddad recently highlighted, this Ummah’s attitude towards human suffering is ultimately a victorious one brought about through the lens of recognising the divine honour and immense responsibility put on the followers of the last Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam).
6. Being killed or dying does not mean defeat; it is but part of the repertoire of tests before a victorious end. Some Muslims were killed in Makkah during the time of the Prophet (sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). Ammar b. Yasir’s mother, brother and father were tortured to death in cold blood. The Prophet’s beloved uncle Hamza was killed with him in the battle of Uhud.
وَلَا تَهِنُوا وَلَا تَحْزَنُوا وَأَنتُمُ الْأَعْلَوْنَ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ
“So do not weaken and do not grieve, and you will be superior if you are [true] believers.” [3:139]
He did not interpret a loss as a defeat.
Likewise, Dr Uthman Lateef focused on important yet often underestimated features of human suffering in the 21st century. We reflected on ‘witnessing’ as a salient motif in Sūrat al-Burūj, as well as his commentary on the poems, “Clean War” and “The War Photographer”.
The act of witnessing is a sensory experience in which we are reminded that injustice is witnessed by a perpetrator, victim and bystander; that perpetrators too often relish in their temporal power mindless of the turning of fate that saw countless others who preceded them fall into ignominy; that cruelty unto others is not only a moral degeneration but that spectatorship and bystanding is equally reprehensible; that death nor the nature of death is the scale by which one measures victory or loss, honour or humiliation, but that Imān in Allah and commitment to His Oneness are what transcend in this life and the next.
This was followed by a powerful piece by Dr Uthman advising the community with practical guidance upon the tragic suicide of 11-year-old Asad Khan (may Allāh have mercy on him) who suffered the devastating results of bullying.
Ahmed Hammuda started the year off with a concise summary of the situation on the ground in Syria which served as a backdrop to the historical events that followed. This was followed in April with a glimpse into the planned assault, accelerated starvation and extermination of the Muslims of Aleppo by the Assad regime and its allies, the gruesome consequences of which we have recently seen play out.
There was a glimmer of hope when the people’s revolution in Syria overtook the key city of Aleppo in August. By the Decree of Allāh, this brief relief for Muslims was cut short by the attempted genocide and ethnic cleansing of Muslims during the #AleppoIsDying saga by an insidious coalition between Assad, Iran, Russia, Hezbollah and fundamentalist Shi’ite militias in Iraq, exposing the true allegiances that were for years only a suspicion.
Muslims from all over the world felt the pain of their brothers and sisters with reports of English mosques praying Qunūt al-Nāzila as far back as September. When the onslaught reached even greater unimaginably barbaric depths, Islam21c stepped up its small part in the overall campaign to highlight the plight of Aleppo and exert more pressure on those able to help in whatever way, with 10+ practical actions we could do to help those suffering. In addition, Shaikh Haitham reminded Muslims in a video address of the importance of going beyond the emotional response to thinking ahead in this long-term conflict, whilst Fahad Ansari addressed the common excuse and whisper of Shaytān of belittling protests, petitions and other deeds available to us.
Over the year the enemies of the Syrian people—Assad, Iran, Russia, ISIS and some NATO states—turned their attention to the allies of the Syrian people as well, with Turkey bearing the brunt outside of Syria. One of the major events in the Ummah over the last year was the attempted coup in Turkey which—unlike before—was addressed and spread immediately due to the speed of communications and social media today, with Muslims around the world wielding their most powerful weapon: du’ā. On the night the news broke, Shaikh Haitham released an audio message which went viral along with our Middle East Editor’s short remarks.
Upon the people of Turkey resisting the coup against their legitimate leadership, Shaikh Haitham released an article detailing why they are an inspiration to Muslims of the world, followed by a lecture and podcast on why he believes Muslims should support Erdogan, a man he believes to be a reviver (mujaddid) of Islamic politics today.
More recently, Turkey’s operation Eurphrates Shield was written about with reference to the two Turks recently being burnt alive by ISIS. The sacrifices the Turkish people made for their brethren in Syria was the reason Ahmed Hammuda had to address the misguided and superficial attacks against Turkey, surprisingly from within some Muslim circles, by highlighting Turkey’s role in helping Aleppo in particular and Syria in general in the military, diplomatic, political and humanitarian domains.
Suffering beyond Syria
Over the year we were keen to highlight the suffering of the Ummah outside of the media spotlight. Abdullah Ladadwi wrote of the quiet ethnic cleansing and massacring of Sunnis in Fallujah—the “Gaza of Iraq”. This was followed by a statement from the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq which we translated and published. Then, in light of the release of the Chilcot inquiry later on in the year, Dr Izzadeen looked back in The Bloody Legacy of Western Imperialism in Iraq, at the destruction and havoc subjected to Iraq over the last few decades.
The trauma of Masjid al-Aqsa was also shone a light on by writers who were there during multiple attacks. Remembering 68 years after the Nakba, Ahmed Hammuda recounted his own grandfather’s experience prior to and following the diaspora, reflecting on his poetry.
From one anniversary to another, the Rabaa Massacre was remembered three years later, along with the plight of Muslims in Central African Republic, with Islam21c’s resident historian, Z A Rahman remembering a time when the Muslims of Burma were freed under the rule of Sultan Aurangzeb.
Scroll down below to see an interactive timeline of the suffering of the ummah covered on Islam21c over the last twelve months…