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Syria in the headlines again: What can YOU do to help?

The brutal Syrian Regime and its allies have sought to exterminate the remaining rebel-held enclaves, massacring innocent civilians and attempting to force the rebels into surrender.

Tens of thousands of innocent civilians have fled the Idlib province in Syria after airstrikes and bombings intensified by the Russia-backed regime forces.

In the last few days, the regime has yet again demonstrated its appalling and brutal tactics, involving indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force on innocent civilians.

On Tuesday alone, at least eight people, including five children were reportedly killed after missiles hit a school. According to activists the schools were sheltering displaced civilians in the northwest region of Syria. [1]

The latest casualties and bombardment have resulted in another deadly humanitarian challenge as Syria’s war enters another cold winter season. According to the United Nations, approximately 60,000 people have fled in fear from the last opposition-held province of Idlib.

https://www.facebook.com/CareUmmah/videos/465839080766253/?v=465839080766253

 

At least 500,000 people have been killed in the violence, with many more being displaced. The Syrian regime, with backing and support from its allies in Russia and Iran, has been able to militarily defeat opposition and rebel fighters, and are regaining territory that had been lost in previous years.

Syria’s devastating eight-year civil war was born out of peaceful protests by Syrian civilians for reforms and changes in the Syrian regime. The latter’s response was one of violence and brutality, which forced the people to take up arms in defence.

The harrowing stories and images of the catastrophic butchery are clear.

It is important that we remind ourselves not to be put off and desensitised to the dire situation of our Ummah, particularly when the oppression of our beloved brothers and sisters has been long ongoing. We must remind ourselves that nothing in this world comes easy and everything requires some form of effort. The many years of war and conflict should in fact encourage you to go out and do your bit as it really emphasises the dire situation.

Ultimately it is Allāh in whose hand victory and trials lie, He subḥānahu wa taʿālā will not question why you did not personally liberate Idlib or anything outside of your power. However, what he will question you about is what you did within your power and capability.

Regardless of the outcome of the battle for Idlib, we must try our best in the meantime and strive to encourage others to get out and put pressure. This world is the place of striving and the Hereafter is the place of reward or punishment, where the believers will be rewarded with Paradise and the oppressors will be punished with Hell.

The great Islamic thinker, Syed Qutb (raḥimahu Allāhu) said that: “Islam needs patience in adversity at every step. Muslims have to be patient, resisting desire, bearing the harm inflicted by others, overcoming impediments, patiently addressing weaknesses and crookedness in other people, and going through the tests of either an easy life or hardship. Essentially, both are difficult predicaments.” [2]

The Ummah is collectively devastated again and rightly so, we saw the tragedy of Aleppo, Ghouta and several other regions and now we see it again with Idlib. Our modern history is also littered with massacre after massacre. From Rwanda to Srebrenica, the list simply goes on.

What should a Muslim’s response be to all of this carnage?

How can YOU help?

Crises like the ones mentioned above are a test for three types of people at once: those committing the injustice, those on the immediate receiving end of it, and the onlookers—which is the majority of us. One of the most successful traps of shaytān is to lull us into a blissful ignorance, wishfully thinking that we will not be held responsible for oppression simply because we are not committing it directly ourselves. Injustice relies on spectators doing and saying nothing. Another trap is for us to comfort ourselves with the fallacy of not doing what we can, simply because we are unable to fix an injustice fully.

The scholars of Islamic legal theory and ethics have clarified these fallacies in a succinct maxim: al-maysūr lā yasqut bil-ma’sūr – the obligation to do that which is doable is not lifted due to the presence of that which is not doable. This is similar to the principle: mā lā yudraku kuluhu lā yutraku julluhu – that which cannot be achieved completely must not be forsaken fully. These principles essentially warn us against the perfectionist fallacy; just because there are 1,000 things that are required to be done in order to “fix” a particular problem (be it the Uyghurs, Kashmir, Indian Muslim oppression, Syria, and so on) and we are able to only address 2 or 3 of those, we are not permitted to leave them, rather we are obligated to do what is in our ability and sphere of influence.

It is also important to remember our primary objective:

And when a community among them said, “Why do you advise [or warn] a people whom Allah is [about] to destroy or to punish with a severe punishment?” they [the advisors] said, “To be absolved before your Lord and perhaps they may fear Him.”

We are not in charge of the outcome, but our main concern should be doing whatever is in our ability and our sphere of influence, so that we may have an excuse before Allāh when He asks us what we did to help those being oppressed. It is not enough to say we did not do that which was out of our ability, but Allāh judges according to what percentage of our potential for activism we utilised.

So bearing that in mind, here are some things that we can and must definitely try and do in order to help our brothers and sisters in Syria, and elsewhere.

I. Sincere Du’ā

This is something that every one of us can do, and it is the weapon of the believer. It is undoutebly confirmed as a means to an end, and anyone who belittles this important means indeed has traces of hypocrisy in their heart. Since Allāh is the Owner of everything, He is able to bring about any change He wills, but He is testing us which of us is going to put effort into the means for positive change—of which du’ā is an undeniable one.

This includes seeking out the times and situations where du’ā is most beloved to Allāh, and most likely to be accepted. For example, if you are an Imām you can carry out Qunūt al-Nāzila with your congregation, as per the sunnah of the Prophet (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam). If you are not an Imām, then ask your local masjid or prayer rooms to do so. This article explains Qunūt al-Nāzila and its rulings in more detail: https://www.islam21c.com/islamic-thought/aleppoisdying-time-for-qunut/.

II. Lobby your local politicians and government departments

Election season is over and now is the time to build those relationships with our newly elected MPs. Almost every one of us is able to send a simple message to our MP to issue a statement of condemnation of the treatment of Muslims in Idlib by the regime and its allies. They can be easily contacted via www.theyworkforyou.com.

Furthermore, we can also send a message to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to issue a statement to make their condemnation clear and put pressure on the Syrian regime. Their social media information can be found here.

The United Kingdom in particular is an important country on the world’s stage so those living here have a greater duty to lobby those working and speaking on our behalf to represent us.

Again – do not fall for the trap of shaytān to make you think this will ‘do nothing’ because our primary concern is not the material outcome but lifting the obligation to use any means at our disposal to make a change. 

III. Encourage public figures to issue a statement

It may come as a surprise to some, but statements of condemnation of perpetrators and support for victims, from politicians, governments and even celebrities do make an impact. Look at the example of Arsenal Football Club midfielder Mesut Ozil’s condemnation of the silence over the treatment of Uyghurs in East Turkestan by the Chinese state.

This simple act has led to a furious reaction by the Chinese state, including reportedly cancelling the broadcasting of Arsenal matches costing millions, removing him from their version of the Pro Evolution Soccer game, accusing him of being misled by ‘fake news’, and removing his fan club from Chinese search engines.

This was just one man – don’t tell me our voices cannot make an impact.

This also includes identifying prominent figures and celebrities to raise awareness and issue messages of support. Apartheid was dismantled in South Africa because the country was treated like a pariah.

IV. Raise general awareness yourself

Each one of us has the blessing/curse of a mobile phone and an online persona on social media platforms whether we know it or not. The democratisation of the news agenda by social media has made it such that ordinary people such as you and I, can be involved in making something become too loud for the traditional brokers of knowledge and power to ignore it. There have been many examples of this.

How do we exercise this power? Share this and any other news or calls to action about an important issue to your networks, and encourage them to spread awareness. When you come across an important narrative, piece of news, or call to action on a social media platform, chances are that its algorithms are testing its ‘engagement’ potential, to increase ‘time spent on site’—the single metric all advertising-run apps or sites are geared to maximise. This means that if you just scroll past it, the algorithm will not show that thing to more people. But if you stop on it, click the link, engage with it (like, comment, share), then the algorithm will show that same post on the timelines of a larger and larger number of people. This is one way we can ALL help something go viral.

And do not think “What is the point of sharing negativity and bad news?!” Making inkār (condemnation) of a munkar is in and of itself an act of worship, and sometimes we have to get out of our comfort zones in order to speak out even if it brings us moral anxiety or temporary sadness. It is of course counterproductive to focus on that and ignore everything else that we can practically do, but it is just as counterproductive to ignore this act as well.

Part of this is also following and signal-boosting key activists and NGOs on the ground that are doing the hard work of reporting what is happening, sometimes at risk to their own lives. Look for advocacy groups for particular causes, such as Stand With KashmirAmericans With KashmirTalk to East Turkestan, and CAGE in the UK for example.

 V. Send messages of support to those affected by injustices

Never underestimate the power of moral support. Even Allāh (subhānahu wa tal’ālā) gave moral support to His beloved Messenger (sall Allāhu ‘walayhi wa sallam) when he was being attacked: 

“Nun. By the pen and what they inscribe,

You are not, [O Muhammad], by the favour of your Lord, a madman.

And indeed, for you is a reward uninterrupted.

And indeed, you are of a great moral character.”

Find people on social media platforms and also physically through friends and relatives, and send messages of support to them letting them know that their brothers and sisters are thinking of them, making du’ā for them, and doing all that they can to help them. One of the most poisonous feelings fostered by Muslims suffering far away is the feeling that the Ummah has forsaken them—let them know this is not the case.

 VI. Charity

Find reputable registered charities that are carrying out work to help alleviate the suffering of those facing injustices. We all talk the talk but let us put our money where our mouths are.

We need to increase our financial muscle. Make the intention that a portion of your wealth (in addition to zakāt) will be used to aid the Muslims in East Turkestan, India and Syria, for example. Research ways to do so; charities which launch legal challenges for instance, and carry out important systemic and institutional work. Help the creation and funding of think tanks and lobbies to carry out this work. 

VII. Write to media outlets to cover these stories

Ask the major newspapers and sites to cover what is happening in India right now. For example, here are the email addresses of editors of top newspapers in the US: https://publicize.co/databases/list-of-top-100-newspaper-contact-information/ and in the UK: https://media.info/uk/newspapers.

VIII. Create the next generation of major change tomorrow today

Salāh al-Dīn Ayyūbī did not wake up one day and decide to liberate al-Quds (Jerusalem). He was the culmination of generations educated and nurtured to have a vision for great change. We must prepare our next generation to lead the change that will happen tomorrow.

Embed in their hearts the love for the Dīn, love for justice, being concerned with what is happening around the world, so they are prepared to take their position as leaders of mankind once again. This requires them to be raised with a leadership mindset and not feel disempowered by the challenges we see but empowered to think creatively for leading change in tomorrow’s world.

For our brothers and sisters in Syria who feel they have been forgotten and left alone at the hands of the merciless regime of Assad, we must remember that from the very first day the main banner raised across Syria by groups and individuals during the revolution was, “we have no one other than you, O Allah.”

If this is the case, we should remind ourselves of how and why this revolution started and we should actualise this in all of our matters abandoning any hope of any power except the power of Allah. In times like these we must also remember to always remain united as Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) says:

“And obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not dispute and [thus] lose courage and [then] your strength would depart; and be patient. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” [3]

May Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) free all of our brothers and sisters from oppression, forgive our shortcomings and give us the tawfīq to get to work. Āmīn.

Source: www.islam21c.com

Notes:

[1] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/12/children-killed-syria-missile-hits-school-191224115623082.html

[2] “In The Shade Of The Quran” – Sayyid Qutb, Volume 14, pp. 59-61

[3] Quran 8:46

About Hamad Momin

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