As our brothers and sisters in Gaza are massacred before our eyes and the feelings of helplessness threaten to overtake us, as an Ummah we should look towards examples in Islamic history, perhaps to contextualise, but also to hold ourselves to account. Naturally, there is no history more pertinent to our lives than the history of our Messenger ﷺ.
There are a number of instances where hopelessness could have consumed our Messenger ﷺ and the Sahaba (may Allah have mercy upon them all). Certainly, a lesser person or community may have entered into such a state, but Allah chose the best of mankind to be His Messenger, and he ﷺ chose a suitable community in the Sahaba to be of those who supported him.
The brutal Quraysh boycott
The time I wish to focus on is within the Makkan sīrah.
It seemed that Allah had given the Muslims a number of small victories. Many of the Muslims had migrated to Abyssinia, where they were being protected under the rule of the just king al-Najāshī.
The Quraysh had been rebuffed in their attempts to get the Muslims expelled from Abyssinia, further emboldening the Muslims. Also, in Makkah, two prominent figures had embraced Islam — Abbas ibn Abdul Muttalib, the uncle of the Prophet ﷺ, and Umar ibn al-Khattāb, the future 2nd khalīfa. Perhaps, the Muslims were feeling a sense of confidence. Perhaps, they felt that after all the persecution and struggle, a turning point had been reached. Unfortunately, this was the trigger for the Quraysh to unleash their worst tendencies.
Seeking the murder of the Prophet ﷺ
In the 7th year of the da’wah, the Quraysh tribes came together to agree that they needed to kill Muhammad ﷺ.
Thus, they issued an ultimatum to Abu Tālib, the Prophet’s uncle and protector, wherein they demanded that he hand over his nephew in exchange for blood money on their arrangement of an external tribe to carry out the deed (so there was no competitive advantage gained through the rival Quraysh tribes). Or, they would boycott the Banu Hāshim and Banu Abdul Muttalib tribes.
Abu Tālib refused and thus the boycott was implemented. And to solidify their intention, they penned a pact that stated that no-one would trade, marry, or socialise with these two tribes.
Survival on rain and leaves
This boycott was upheld for several years.
Abu Tālib opted to relocate to a valley that he had a claim to but, such was the severity of this boycott that, they were forced to rely on rainwater and leaves for survival.
Such was the situation, Bilāl (radiy Allāhu ‘anhu) even mentioned that they began defecating like goats because their diet was identical.
Enduring the desert environment
This was Arabia, surrounded by desert. Of course, there were no local ports for them to find refuge in, and the option of migration had been taken away by the boycott; where could they prepare a camel for travel? Or buy the equipment and food needed for it?
The harsh desert doesn’t offer any naturally occurring foods. There are no animals to hunt while roaming the desert. There are no supportive local tribes. The Quraysh were the most prominent tribe in the region, so if someone wanted to sympathise with the plight of the Prophet ﷺ and his Companions, they would be too afraid to ruin their standing.
Our Prophet ﷺ suffered this. The Sahaba suffered this. This lasted for several years. Not a week or a month. For several years, the most beloved man to Allah (subḥānahu wa ta’āla) was besieged by his own people in the most cruel and disgusting way possible.
Acting out of feeling threatened?
Its’ worth noting that the Quraysh were traditionally honourable people.
For them to reach deep within their souls and go against their own customs and traditions to enact this vile act of persecution and torture meant that they felt threatened beyond their wildest imagination.
And this is not far fetched. History has shown us time and again that the most atrocious human depravity is only a short walk away from so-called civilisation.
Muslims in Gaza will brave the conditions
Our brothers and sisters in Gaza will endure! Allah has promised the highest rewards for the shuhadā.
Our brothers and sisters in Gaza have long held a light against the all-consuming darkness that has surrounded them for 75 years and counting.
Much like the Quraysh, when the oppressor feels threatened, their reaction is the most vile and most disgusting human reaction that they can muster up. This is what our brothers and sisters are facing; and they are enduring.
Their reward is with Allah
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوٓا۟ إِن تَنصُرُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ يَنصُرْكُمْ وَيُثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَكُمْ
“O believers! If you stand up for Allah, He will help you and make your steps firm.” 
The shuhadā in Gaza have fulfilled their side of this bargain and there is no doubt that their victory is coming.
But where are we in this?
What role are we fulfilling? Are we the neighbouring tribes to the Quraysh, watching the persecution take place without making any move to stand up against it, due to our crippling fear of the consequences?
Or will we be the likes of those Quraysh who couldn’t stand by and would covertly provide supplies to the Muslims? Or perhaps we would be those who eventually united together to campaign to get this treaty annulled?
- Learn more about the enduring courage of the Prophet ﷺ and the Sahaba during the Makkan boycott.
- Mobilise support and resources for our brothers and sisters in Gaza as they continue to endure long-standing oppression.
- Encourage the Ummah to loudly speak up and stand against injustice like the early Muslims did.
 al-Qur’ān, 47:7