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Blessings in Disguise: The Plight of Masjid Al-Aqsa and the Palestinians

At this point we have all viewed the footage, heard the stories, and read about the immense oppression taking place against Masjid al-Aqsa and the Palestinian people. We naturally feel heartbroken, angry, and sad, sometimes even shedding tears. All of these are understandable sentiments. However, the religion of Islam has blessed us with the special faculty to view such incidents through a loftier perspective. The main question of concern is what this lofty perspective consists of, and how it can be internalised. This lecture will decipher some of the key facets of this alternative perspective.

Allah provides us the decisive answer for this question in the following verse:

“ … it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you, and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know.”[1]

To understand this verse in detail, let us analyse the story of Mūsā (ʿalayhi al-Salām) and al-Khaḍir. It is a long story from which I will extract the most relevant elements. Allah inspired Prophet Mūsā (ʿalayhi al-Salām) by making him realise that among his contemporaries, there existed a slave of Allah actually more knowledgeable than him.[2]

In compliance to this divine order, Mūsā (ʿalayhi al-Salām) went on a lengthy journey with his servant boy to find an individual known as al-Khaḍir, who Allah said was the most knowledgeable person in the world at that time. Al-Khaḍir would be inspired by Allah to commit acts that an onlooker would mistakenly perceive as being oppression or wrongdoing. The story between the two commences with the following piece of dialogue:




“Mūsā (ʿalayhi al-Salām) said to him (al-Khaḍir), ‘May I follow you so that you may teach me from that knowledge which you have been divinely taught (by Allah)?’”

He (al-Khaḍir) said: ‘Indeed you will not be able to have patience with me!’”[3]

Despite making a promise to stay silent, Mūsā (ʿalayhi al-Salām) could not remain patient while witnessing al-Khaḍir commit acts of apparent oppression, and often felt compelled to object or question his deeds. As a prior condition for being in his company, Mūsā (ʿalayhi al-Salām) had actually agreed with al-Khaḍir to not question any of the latter’s actions. This early segment of their discussion is vividly presented in Sūrah al-Kahf. In addition to noting their prior agreement, the story continues with the following dramatic events occurring afterwards:

“He (al-Khaḍir) said: ’And how can you have patience for a matter which you do not know?’

Mūsā said: ’If Allah wills, you will find me patient, and I will not disobey you in aught.’

He (al-Khaḍir) said: ’If you wish to follow me, then do not ask me of anything until I myself mention it to you.’

So they both proceeded until they embarked upon a ship, which he (al-Khaḍir) scuttled. Mūsā said: ’Have you torn it open in order to drown its people? You have done a reprehensible thing!’”[4]

This is the first act of al-Khaḍir which Mūsā (ʿalayhi al-Salām) openly declares to be clear oppression. This results in him questioning and speaking out against al-Khaḍir, as a reasonable person would do when witnessing such acts. However, by openly objecting to al-Khaḍir, Mūsā (ʿalayhi al-Salām) actually failed to uphold the agreement he had initially made in order to stay in al-Khaḍir’s company. The story continues with the following dialogue between the two:

“He (al-Khaḍir) said: ’Did I not inform you that you would not be able to have patience with me?’

(Mūsā) reply: ’Call me not to account for that which I forgot, and do not be harsh upon me for my affair [with you].’

Then they both proceeded until they came across a boy who al-Khaḍir killed immediately.

Mūsā said: ’Have you killed an innocent person, who had killed no one? Verily, you have committed a dreadful wrong!’’’[5]

In a lengthy ḥadīth narrated by Saʿīd b. Jubayr, which also narrates the same story, we are given further details regarding this second event:

“Then they exited the boat, and while they were walking upon the shore, they saw a boy playing with two other boys. Suddenly al-Khaḍir grabbed the boy by his head, and pulled it off with his bare hands, ultimately killing him.”[6]

This is the second act which Mūsā (ʿalayhi al-Salām) condemns as being clear oppression, which once again results in him questioning and speaking out against al-Khaḍir. In this story, we observe an innocent boy being killed. With that in mind, think about all of the innocent Palestinian babies and children who have been killed in Gaza. It breaks our hearts and enrages us to see such images. One must realise that compared to many of us today, Mūsā (ʿalayhi al-Salām) was superior to us in morality as observed by his pure heart and love for his Ummah (nation). One can only imagine how much distress he must have been feeling when he witnessed the murder of this innocent boy. The story continues with yet another discussion between Mūsā (ʿalayhi al-Salām) and al-Khaḍir:

(Al-Khaḍir) said: “Did I not tell you that you can have no patience with me?”

(Mūsā) said: “If I ask you anything after this, keep me not in your company, as you have received an excuse from me.”[7]

There is one more incident that took place between the two figures, in which Mūsā (ʿalayhi al-Salām) spoke out again, breaking their agreement for the third and final time:

“(Al-Khaḍir) said: ’This marks the parting between me and you. I will inform you of the interpretation of those matters regarding which you were unable to hold patience.

‘As for the ship, it belonged to a group of needy individuals working in the sea. Thus I wished to render it defective, as there was a ruthless king after them, who seized every ship by force.’”[8]

Here we observe that there was a broader perspective which informed al-Khaḍir’s act of damaging the boat. Mūsā (ʿalayhi al-Salām) was unaware of these factors which motivated al-Khaḍir’s act, so he immediately dismissed the defacement of the boat as an act of oppression. In reality, al-Khaḍir’s action was done in order to realise a greater benefit, namely, to discourage the ruthless king from seizing their boat. As a matter of welfare, it would be better for the sailors to keep their boat with a hole in it than to have their entire vessel seized. Al-Khaḍir then provides his reasoning for the second event, stating the following:

“And as for the boy, his parents were believers, and we feared that he would oppress them through rebellion and disbelief.”[9]

Qatādah, a very famous exegete from the Successors, interprets this verse by stating:

“His parents rejoiced when he was born and grieved when he was killed. Had he stayed alive, he would have been the cause of their doom. So let a person be content with the decree of Allah. Allah’s decree of something that the believer dislikes could be better than Him decreeing something that he desires.”[10]

Qatādah highlights the importance of seeing the greater benefit for any act of injustice one may be suffering from. In light of this mindset, as believers, we must think positively of Allah when witnessing the plight of Masjid al-Aqsa and Palestinians by assuming that greater goodness will come. We will evaluate later on some of the greater goodness that Allah has already bestowed upon us. The story continues with al-Khaḍir stating the following regarding the deceased boy’s parents:

“So we intended that their Lord should replace for them one who is better in righteousness and nearer in mercy.”[11]

According to Ibn Jurayj, the interpretation of the replacement being alluded to in this verse is: “A child who was better than this one, a child from whom they would feel more compassion.”[12] We can learn from this divine event that when Allah takes away something from us and we are patient, He may at the end provide us something better.

In a parallel fashion to the greater wisdom and goodness in the seemingly unjust actions of al-Khaḍir, we should trust Allah by seeking the greater wisdom and goodness to come from this tyranny meted by the Israelis. Of course, these assumptions should only be entertained after first acknowledging and repenting from our mistakes as an Ummah, and only then being optimistic and taking the relevant means whilst relying upon Allah.

We will now recognise and mention some of the blessings that have resulted from the oppression against Masjid al-Aqsa and Palestinians so far:

1 – Courage

In this juncture it is worth recalling the famous statement of Jim Rohn:

“You are the average of the 5 closest people you spend time with.”

The Ummah has been spending a considerable portion of its time regularly following the plight of the Palestinians. By watching mainstream news footage of Palestinians speaking of their injuries, emotions, and attitudes in response to the brutal oppression meted by the Israeli Zionists, the whole globe has awakened and now has acquired the energy to respond. Here are some examples of Palestinians impacting us deeply through their remarkable acts of resistance:

 A Young Girl Stood Valiantly Against One of Their Soldiers and Spoke with Bravery and Fierceness by Saying:

“We scare you, and the whole world is better than you. You are wrong and you are terrorists!” She then gets closer to the soldier and with a fierce tone gives a firm order: “Go from my land! Now!”[13]

If a young girl can display such courage against her oppressors, then as adults older than her, we must have even more courage to speak out against this form of tyranny. In fact, her brave stance has inspired us to do such a thing.

A Sister Stays Strong Despite the Zionists Killing Her Husband:

She is not afraid of death. In actual fact, she prefers the life after death, and is willing to sacrifice herself as a martyr in the defence of Masjid al-Aqsa.[14] We observe time and time again how the oppressed Palestinians display a stoic “nothing to lose” mentality.[15] This is the mentality of sacrificing oneself to eliminate injustice, not fearing the harms that one may face by oppressors, and constantly knowing that one is near death. This is a powerful state to be in. To understand how powerful it is, let us look at the experience shared by Ryan, a contributor to Forbes:

“When I was a kid, the neighbourhood where I lived was run by gangs. In this environment we struggled for dominance and survival; we faced cops, rival gangs, prison…but the thing we used to worry the most about were guys who acted like they had nothing to lose. I saw nothing to lose as an invincible power.”[16]

This “nothing to lose” mindset has permeated across the world, both in the Ummah and humanity at large. It has come about due to the attack on Masjid al-Aqsa, forceful expulsion of residents from Sheikh Jarrah, and bombing of innocent babies, all of which are factors that pose a threat to the most basic principles of humanity. This has led to an unprecedented wave of positive change in a short timespan: states, former Israeli soldiers, public figures, celebrities, organisations, and individual members of society are cutting off ties with Israel. This new opposition movement has articulated its grievances by protesting, expressing one’s disapproval through a number of channels, explicitly articulating the truth, eliminating the biased approach often taken in interviews, shutting down Israeli munitions factories, and more. We can quite simply observe how much goodness has emerged by Allah’s decree after the oppressed were proactively enduring the apartheid regime’s plots and massacres.

2 – There is More Truth Coming Out: The Narrative Is Becoming Unbiased

Allah says:

“Say: the truth has [now] arrived, and falsehood has perished: for falsehood is [by its nature] always bound to perish.”[17]

Through plots of falsehood, one may evade responsibility temporarily, but eventually the truth appears and falsehood vanishes. Due to the onslaught in Masjid al-Aqsa and other atrocities against the Palestinians, many of us around the world now feel compelled to learn about the Israeli–Palestinian issue. As opposed to the past, learning about this issue has now been made much easier. This is because the history and truth about the illegal occupation of Palestine is being shared throughout social media networks, news platforms, lectures, conferences, and other avenues. Therefore, the general masses have realised the truth and are standing up for the rights of the Palestinians.

In light of this oppression, we have also seen true colours come out:

Michigan congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian American, has said in relation to Biden’s indifference to the Palestinian plight:

“It’s shocking, the hypocrisy of us saying that we need to be stewards of human rights, except for Palestinians.”[18]

Former Israeli soldiers have also spoken against the organisation they once belonged to. One former Israeli Defence Forces soldier who served for 2 years in the West Bank acknowledges the following:

“We were the terrorists.”[19] Another who used to be a pilot states: “My government and military are war criminals.”[20]

By continuing to work on changing the narrative and convincing people of the truth, we hope more Israeli soldiers muster the courage to step down from serving any oppressors and join the right side.

After exerting pressure to change the biased narrative against Palestinians, we have seen a major shift in news platforms. We hope that they will remain consistent. Here is a good example:

Sky News presenter Adam Boulton was not swayed by the emotional tactics that Tzipi Hotovely, Israel’s Ambassador to the UK, tried to employ during a recent interview. Instead, Boulton emphasised the disproportionate attacks against the Palestinians, thus presenting an accurate picture.[21]

After reading these abundant examples, we realise how Allāh has brought about so much goodness, in terms of the truth now being made fully visible. These gains were only realised  after the oppressed patiently and single-handedly endured the atrocities of the Zionists for numerous decades.

3 – Economic Boost, Generosity and Self-Sacrifice

The situation in Gaza has actually led us to become paradoxically wealthier. This is because we have the opportunity to donate generously, which ultimately means that we will receive more from Allah. As narrated on the authority of Abū Hurayrah, the Messenger of Allah (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said:

“Charity does not decrease wealth…”[22]

There are a number of examples of utmost generosity which will be given specific mention here:

Through Islam Channel, a sister donated everything that she had in her bank account, which came to 1,339.79 British pounds. Afterwards, a brother named Bilal indicated his extreme kindness and compassion by donating the sister’s amount on her behalf. Furthermore, he requested the sister to keep her money, as that was the only wealth she had in her possession. This is the beauty of a united Ummah.[23]

In a number of other glittering cases, a brother donated 25,000 British pounds,[24] while a sister donated 15,000 British pounds.[25]

From the grace of these generous individuals we witness another dimension of goodness bestowed upon us by Allah. This is a golden opportunity to reach the highest levels of generosity and self-sacrifice, attributes which can secure an individual’s salvation in the Hereafter. In addition, these generous commitments inject a lot of money into the economy of Palestine, helping them to quickly rebuild their damaged or destroyed infrastructure. Once again this development of the Ummah is part of the greater benefit that Allah has blessed us with after so many years of patience.

The bottom line that we should keep in mind is:

Remember that Allah wants the best for us. We have to seek the greater goodness from all of the calamities, difficulties, and losses that we go through. Realise and be conscious of the fact that Allah is more Merciful to us than our own loving mothers. ʿUmar b. al-Khaṭṭāb narrates that:

“Some prisoners of war were brought to the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) and a nursing woman was among them. Whenever she found a child among the prisoners, she would take it to her chest and nurse it. The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said to us, “Do you think this woman would throw her child into the fire?” We said, “No, not if she was able to stop it.” The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “Allah is more merciful to His servants than this mother is to her child.”[26]

So realise that despite all of the grave oppression that we are witnessing, Allah is bringing us so much goodness through it.

The fact that there are a lot of positive outcomes in light of recent events should motivate us to continue with our efforts to protect Masjid al-Aqsa and bring an end to the Israeli apartheid oppression that has killed many innocent women and children.

In this article, we have been focusing on the positive elements. When we focus on what we have gained we become grateful, thus feeling energised and motivated to continue on. The following hadith reported by Ṣuhayb encapsulates the mindset that believers should have when suffering from acts of oppression:

Allah’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said:

Strange are the ways of a believer! For there is good in every affair of his. And this is not the case with anyone else except in the case of a believer. For if he has an occasion to feel delight, he thanks (Allah), and thus there is good for him in it. And if he gets afflicted by hardships and endures them patiently, there is good for him in that.[27]

Furthermore, Allah said:

“And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]. But if you are ungrateful, then my punishment is indeed severe.’” [28]

So let us be grateful for the goodness which our Lord has granted us already. As a way to extend our thanks and gratitude, we should continue to take action, in the form of the following steps:

– Boycotting Israeli products: for this, one may refer to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement,

– Sharing relevant content and raising awareness through social media,

– Attending demonstrations,

– Writing articles, delivering sermons, giving lectures, while also participating in conferences, podcasts, and interviews,

– Lobbying, signing petitions, and writing formal complaints to political authorities for their idleness,

– Donating,

– Speaking out in your platforms of influence, whether that sphere be religious, political, or social,

– Making duʿā, repenting, and bonding with Allāh,

– Being creative, such as having children in other countries writing to the children of Gaza.

To conclude, let us try to enact the lessons learnt from the story of Prophet Mūsā (ʿalayhi al-Salām) and al-Khaḍir by seeing the bigger picture. Through such an outlook, we realise the wisdom and greater goodness that Allah provided after the Palestinians were proactively patient with brutal oppression. We have high hopes and confidence in Allah for more milestones of success against the Zionists who are continuing to maltreat the Palestinians. Therefore, stay optimistic, rejuvenated, and energised whilst continuing to take relevant action as mentioned above. Through these decisive measures we will storm our way to victory by the permission of Allah.

Source: www.islam21c.com

Notes:

[1]Al-Qur’ān, 2:216

[2] Al-Bukhārī, al-Ṣaḥīḥ.

[3]Al-Qur’ān,18:65-67

[4] Al-Qur’ān, 18:68-71.

[5] Al-Qur’ān, 18:72-74.

[6]  Al-Tirmidhī, al-Sunan.

[7] Al-Qur’ān, 18:75-76.

[8] Al-Qur’ān, 18:78-79.

[9] Al-Qur’ān, 18:80.

[10] Ibn Kathīr, Tafsīr al-Qurʾān al-ʿAẓīm.

[11] Al-Qur’ān, 18:81

[12] Ibn Kathīr, Tafsīr al-Qurʾān al-ʿAẓīm.

[13] https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Ca3jM1DgWlc

[14] https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=DqSFweu3uTY

[15] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/08/these-are-people-with-nothing-to-lose-inside-defiant-gaza

[16] https://www.forbes.com/sites/ryanblair/2012/05/30/a-lot-to-learn-about-nothing-to-lose/?sh=2739215c5712

[17] Al-Qur’ān, 17:81.

[18] https://www.ft.com/content/7c49d151-2635-41ee-9a63-73b241e048ce

[19] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bch_qZFYHk0

[20] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QY3V8FC3VHs

[21] https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5hh0dkscOXw

[22]  Muslim, al-Ṣaḥīḥ.

[23] https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=eHc1e7SfIr4

[24] https://www.instagram.com/p/CPJ2GGLj5Cd/?hl=en

[25] https://www.instagram.com/p/CPJ7dX4DR87/?hl=en

[26] Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 5999, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2754

[27] Sahih Muslim, 2999

[28] Al-Qur’ān, 14:7

The views expressed on Islam21c and its connected channels do not necessarily represent the views of the organisation.

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About Burhan Uddin

Burhan is a Hāfidh of the Qur'ān, who studied at Dar Al-Arqam institute, where he now delivers courses. A regular Khatīb, he has a Bachelors of Science in Economics with Banking, and is the author of 'Gratitude to Greatness: Proven Practices Producing Profound Success'. He is passionate about Islamic sciences, particularly Tafsīr and contextualising the Qur'ān and Sunnah in the modern context.

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