M Adam Ahmad, Al Hakam
A fire raged in the middle of a huge forest, threatening to consume everything in its path. Amidst this chaos, a sparrow took flight to a nearby stream. Collecting a single drop of water in its beak, it began to play its part in extinguishing that blazing inferno. Observing her insignificant efforts, an eagle mocked this little bird and said:
“With so little water, how can you possibly hope to put out the fire? You must save yourself and fly away, as there is nothing you can do.”
The sparrow replied:
“I don’t care if I die, as my contribution to putting out this fire – even if it’s just a single drop of water – is what matters, not what I can accomplish.”
The clouds in sight were so much moved by this small yet very powerful deed, that they poured out rain as soon as she finished speaking, saving the entire forest from the impending catastrophic fire that was about to destroy everything.
This parable conveys a very profound lesson about the strength of seemingly insignificant efforts that can ultimately make a huge difference. As Mother Teresa once said, “I do not agree with the big way of doing things. What matters is the individual. If we wait till we get the numbers, then we will be lost in the numbers, and we will never be able to show that love and respect for the person.” (Stories Told by Mother Teresa, by Edward Le Joly and Jaya Chaliha, p. 122)
In the current plight of Palestine, we, as concerned citizens of the world, must acknowledge that even minute efforts – like a single drop of water – can eventually lead to a resolution and peace in the region.
Allah the Almighty says:
وَاِذَا قُلۡتُمۡ فَاعۡدِلُوۡا وَلَوۡ کَانَ ذَا قُرۡبٰی
“And when you speak, observe justice, even if the person concerned be a kinsman.” (Surah al-An‘am, Ch.6: V.153)
This verse emphasises how important it is to uphold justice, even when doing so requires one to go against the interests of their closest friends and relatives. It is a poignant reminder that justice must always be adhered to, disregarding completely one’s own preferences or allegiances. People are urged to put their moral principles above their affiliations and loyalties in order to pursue righteousness and guarantee that justice is served. This principle attests to the obligation of standing up for what is right regardless of one’s vested interests or conflicting associations.
The founder of Islam and the greatest upholder of justice, Prophet Muhammadsa advised mankind not only to help the oppressed but also the oppressor by preventing him from committing acts of cruelty. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-mazalim, Hadith 2444)
It is thus our moral duty to speak out against injustice and actively assist the oppressed, as in another hadith, the Holy Prophetsa is reported to have said that if people witness an oppressor and do not stop them from committing oppression, it is very likely that Allah shall punish all of them. (Jami‘ at-Tirmidhi, Kitab al-fitan, Hadith 2168)
Currently, many social media platforms are rife with support for the disproportionate response by Israeli forces against the October 7th attack by Hamas. Meanwhile, thousands of innocent civilians, mostly women and children, are being brutally killed in Palestine. Apparently, the IDF is “literally bombing everything but Hamas inside of Gaza”, an American political commentator, Jackson Hinkle, said.
It might be difficult to speak up against injustices committed by people who are close to us, but “some Jewish rabbis have also spoken out in favour of justice and against oppression [of Palestinian people].” (Friday Sermon, 20 October 2023)
It is imperative that we take the first step, small as it may be, because these little efforts act as catalysts for change. Leading by example, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V, may Allah be his Helper, openly spoke against the atrocities being perpetrated against the Palestinian people, and advised that, “Muslim countries should speak in unity and with one voice. If the world’s Muslim-majority nations, often cited as 53 or 54 in number, were to speak as one, it would indeed be a powerful force and would make a significant impact.” (Ibid.)
We might not see a sudden shift, but history has shown that persistent efforts, no matter how small, can eventually bring about a huge change. Similar to the bird that brought water to the forest fire, our little actions can have a big impact on the process of bringing about peace in the Israel-Palestine issue.