As of Wednesday July 30, 2014, more than 1,300 people have died from the conflict in Gaza that began on July 8th according to a recent CNN report. The violence continues to rage despite the recent cease-fire attempt, and according to Radio Islam, a Chicago-based talk radio program that covers a variety of topics ranging from news and current affairs to the environment and health, new reports indicate that 10 people, mostly children, were killed and 40 injured during the attack which took place on the first day Eid. Most of those killed have been civilians.
Eid Al Fitr, the feast of breaking the fast following the Islamic month of Ramadan, was marred by the attacks against innocents and although the day of Eid is meant to be one of celebration, it has been difficult to celebrate when there are children being killed, families being devastated by loss, schools being bombed and hospitals being destroyed.
The Palestinian people were not forgotten at the Eid Prayer ceremonies sponsored by Risala Foundation and the Islamic Society of Greater Houston. Imam Zaid Shakir, co-founder and senior faculty member of Zaytuna College, the first Muslim liberal arts college in the United States, declared in the Eid Khutbah:
“The people of Palestine show us that you can blow up schools but not the desire of a people to educate themselves. You can demolish a hospital but not the desire of a people for peace and healing. Let us extend the Salaam of Laylat al Qadr to all parts of the world until the morning comes.”
In addition, on July 29th, a vigil was held in the Freedmen's Town Prayer Labyrinth garden in mid-town, Houston. The non-denominational service was a call for all people to silently mourn for the innocent victims, mostly children, in Gaza, as well as the thousands of injured and bereaved family members. The vigil was also meant to be a place where people of faith could come together to pray for an end to the siege of Gaza, for world peace, and for Palestine's freedom in this historically significant place.
Another part of Imam Zaid’s message at the Eid prayer ceremony which illuminated how change can and does begin with the efforts of each and every individual was captured when he spoke about how during the month of Ramadan, we as Muslims practice self- restraint of our lower natures and seek Allah (SWT) so that we may access our potential. The Imam mentioned the following Quranic verse from Surah Al Baqarah 2:186:
When my servants question you about Me, tell them that I am very close to them. I answer the prayer of every suppliant when he calls on Me; therefore they should respond to Me, so that they may be rightly guided.
Yes, the loss of life is heart-breaking. Yes, the tyranny of oppressors is infuriating. Yes, the practice of injustice is cruel, but we as people of faith cannot lose heart and we must continue to strive for the good while trusting in the promises of Allah (SWT).
One of those promises as stated in another Quranic verse from Surah Al Mulk 67:1-2 and reads:
Blessed be He in Whose hands is the Kingdom of the universe and has power over all things. The one who created death and life, so that He may put you to test, to find out which of you is best in deeds: He is the All-Mighty, the All-Forgiving.
Something that you can do to commend the good and forbid the wrong is to sign the below petition for enforcing the Symington Amendment, which prohibits sending aid to nuclear armed nations such as Israel.The Symington Amendment banned U.S. economic, and military assistance, and export credits to countries that deliver or receive, acquire or transfer nuclear enrichment technology when they do not comply with IAEA regulations and inspections. The link is provided here.
You can also contact local officials to voice your opposition to the current acts of violence. Below is an open letter that has been written by Sister Umm Yusuf Aisha Lbhalla, director of The Muslim Women’s Council of Tennessee, who penned the letter for women and mothers to sign especially women writers, community leaders, and activists. The letter can be utilized for contacting the mayor and members of Congress to enforce justice for the Palestinian people.
The links for Houston Mayor Annise Parker and Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee and Al Green are also provided below.
May Allah’s (SWT) mercy overshadow His wrath and may justice and peace prevail.
Contact local officials with the letter provided so that you can do something to stop an evil from occurring:
Contact for Mayor Annise Parker:
Contacts for Congress Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee and Al Green:
Dear Elected Official:
It is related to Muslims in the Holy Quran in chapter 5 verse 32 that the killing of an innocent person is like killing all of humanity and saving a person is like saving all of humanity.
And a saying of the Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him, relates that the Prophet, may peace be upon him, was asked: "What actions are most excellent?” He replied: "To gladden the heart of human beings, to feed the hungry, to help the afflicted, to lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful, and to remove the sufferings of the injured."
As a person of faith, a fellow American and loving mother/father with children nestled safely by my side, I and Muslims as a community are pained by the senseless loss of so many innocent lives. I am voicing my concern over the blatant human rights abuses against the people of Gaza. I call upon our president - President Barak Obama - and elected officials to condemn Israel's bombing campaign against defenseless Palestinians. Since the start of this murderous onslaught Israel has killed over 1,300 Palestinians, many of them women and children, in addition to having wounded over 7,000 innocent civilians. The Israeli government has arrested helpless children and has caused immense damage to Palestinian communities.
I ask that you sanction Israel and demand that the violence against the Palestinian people, especially women and children, be stopped. Genocide against the Jewish people was wrong and genocide against Arab Muslims and Christians is wrong. Tax dollars should not support the Israeli government until Israel complies with the existing laws, stops the settlements in Palestinian land and lifts their blockades.
Israel's bombings have destroyed homes, hospitals, ambulances, schools, mosques, and infrastructure for water, sewage and electricity. Hamas’s response with rocket fire has caused less than 60 Israeli deaths and no Israeli infrastructure damage. The world is watching and the world is seeing just who the real aggressor is. President Obama and many other politicians have stated the usually refrain: “Israel has a right to defend itself against rockets.”
What about the Palestinian people and their right to defend themselves against a Goliath oppressor with fighter jets, bombs, tanks and missiles? Palestinians are not occupying anyone’s land; Palestinians did not expel and seize Jewish lands. Palestinians are the victims of indifference and a failure to act against injustice. Palestinians have been and still are being punished for this indifference by having their lands seized increasingly by the building of settlements for establishing a Jewish homeland without considering the rights of the Palestinian people. Since 1948, Palestinians have been violently expelled from their homes and forced to live under what have been described as Jim Crow conditions. Palestinians in Gaza live under military occupation with Israel controlling Gaza’s borders through land, sea and air blockades.
The world is watching and the world is waiting for the American president and elected officials to condemn these atrocities. Atrocities made possible because of the unconditional support to Israel by the United States without establishing conditions or accountability. This support with our tax dollars emboldens Israel and sustains the conflict. Israel continues to thumb its nose to the world, to violate international laws, and to make America an accomplice and a target for anger and reprisal.
The world is watching, the world is seeing and the world is protesting this genocide. Even Israeli soldiers have spoken out about the cruel brutality they’ve perpetuated against the Palestinians.
Jewish people deserve to exist in peace and safety, but this existence SHOULD NOT and CAN NOT be at the extinction of Arab Muslims and Christians. Palestinians deserve freedom, security, equality, self-determination and dignity.
Peace will not be possible until Palestinian human rights’ abuses end; until the bombing of civilians and Palestinian infrastructure ends; until the killing of children ends; until the building of illegal settlements ends; until the blockades against Palestinian lands ends; and until valuing Jewish lives over the lives of Palestinians ends.
True equality for the Palestinians is the only solution.