If Gaza Has Not Given Up, Why Should We? – OpEd


Enraged Arabs and Muslims who feel helpless in the face of the Israeli genocide in Gaza often say that “all we can do for Gaza is offer our Du’a.” But is it true that only invocations and supplications are possible, while tens of thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are being killed and wounded by the Israeli war machine?

No. There is much that can be done and, in fact, many people around the world are already doing it.

In the traditions of Hadith, the sayings attributed to Prophet Muhammad, the most cited reference to the need for action, collectively or individually, is: “Whoever among you sees evil, let him change it with his hand. If he cannot do so, then with his tongue. If he cannot do so, then with his heart, which is the weakest level of faith.”

Du’a is an invocation, communicated by the heart; it is a Muslim’s conversation with God. It can be verbalized, or not. In group prayers, especially during Friday sermons or throughout the holy month of Ramadan, among other occasions, Du’as can be performed collectively.

The nature of the collective Du’a highlights the priorities of any given Muslim group, community or even nation. Gaza, Palestine and Al-Aqsa Mosque are among the main themes, or causes, for which Muslims beseech God’s help.

“Oh Allah, please free the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” “Oh, Merciful One, stand by the children of Gaza,” or “Oh, All Powerful, deliver Palestinians from injustice” are just a few of an almost endless stream of Du’as that are uttered from Makkah to Madinah and Jerusalem to Kuala Lumpur, in every mosque and every Muslim home throughout the world.

A Du’a is the affirmation of the relationship between man and God, delineating that nothing would occur without God’s permission and that a person, no matter how poor, beleaguered or weakened, can transcend all earthly relations to speak directly to the highest of all authorities.

“Your Lord has proclaimed, ‘Call upon Me, I will respond to you’,” Allah says in Surah Ghafir, verse 60.

That does not necessarily mean that Du’a is a last resort. Rather, it goes hand in hand with action. It does not supplant action but reinforces it. Collective Du’a is a communal declaration that all Muslims are driven by similar priorities; those of peace, justice, equality, mercy, kindness and all the rest.

The dichotomy, however, arises from the fact that many Muslims feel unable to effect change regarding the horrific fate of Gaza, whether on a small or a large scale, thus the widespread notion that “all we can do is offer Du’a.”

I have visited South Africa several times in the past. Each time, I learned more than I could have possibly imparted. I learned that people power is far more effective, in the long run, than the opposing power of state violence. I also learned that no worldly laws, especially those that aim to impose racist apartheid, can possibly stand against our innate rejection of social inequality and other evils. Finally, I also learned that, when people rise up, nothing can stand in their way. This last maxim is as true in the case of South Africa during the anti-apartheid struggle as it is now in Palestine, particularly in Gaza.

Famed Tunisian poet Abu Al-Qasim Al-Shabbi wrote 100 years ago: “Should the people one day truly aspire to life, then fate must need respond, the night must need shine forth, and the shackles must need break.” His powerful words also included a caveat, an ominous warning of terrible things to come: “Those who are not embraced by life’s yearning, shall evaporate in her air and vanish.”

South Africa did not make that choice, nor did Gaza. And every attempt at crushing these great peoples failed. They remained, persisted, healed their wounds and fought back.

I always believed that South Africa would play a central role in international solidarity with Palestine. But, frankly, I had not expected that the African nation would become so intrinsic, even unparalleled, in holding Israel accountable for its crimes in Palestine. Its push to hold Israel and its war criminals to account at the International Court of Justice continues unabated.

It was not the sheer military, economic or political power or prowess that made South Africa a factor in the Palestinian fight for justice. It was the sheer will of a nation and, subsequently, a government to translate its desire to achieve a more equitable, just and law-governed international system into meaningful action.

South Africa could have simply resorted to self-pity, highlighting its supposed insignificance in the face of more powerful US-Western governments that continue to support Israel, providing it with all the weapons necessary to sustain its genocide.

It, too, could have resorted to prayers, invocations and supplications as the “only thing that can be done.” It did not. On the contrary, it used its diplomatic leverage and moral authority to articulate one of the most powerful cases in favor of Palestinian freedom and against Israeli brutality ever argued before an international legal institution.

It is understandable that many may feel helpless, especially when one attempts to fathom the enormity of the crime underway in Gaza. Israel might not have used weapons of mass destruction in the Strip, but it has certainly applied all of its Western-supplied weapons to inflict mass destruction.

If Gaza has not given up, why should we? Even giving up is a privilege. Gaza does not have that privilege and we should not grant it to ourselves. Gaza is fighting for its very survival and we, too, must fight for the same end.

Make a Du’a for Gaza. Let it be your first act as you undertake your quest for a just world. And make another Du’a for Gaza, to beseech God to reward your selfless and well-intentioned deeds. And, if you are besieged by desperation, still make a Du’a, so that you may discover the power to make a difference, which has always been within your grasp.

Ramzy Baroud

Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story (Pluto Press, London), now available on Amazon.com

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