Beyond empty promises: Deeds over words for Palestinians

Fazal Masood Malik and Farhan Khokhar, Canada
empty words on palestine scaled
Empty words for Palestine | Image: Library

Suffering exists globally. As human beings, our duty is to reduce misery and improve the world before we leave it. Our shared humanity also creates varying degrees of connection and obligation to one another. The empathy we feel ranges in intensity – from the selfless, unconditional love a mother feels for her child, to the care and concern we feel for close family members, to basic human empathy for strangers we may not know personally. While we can relate to all humans on some level, the strength of that emotional connection differs greatly depending on our closeness to the person.

Aside from the Prophets (peace be on them all), who exhibit equal compassion for all of humanity, we ordinary humans struggle to extend our circle of empathy very far. This shortcoming is why the Holy Prophetsa instructed us to look past our immediate families and feel a sense of duty to relieve the suffering of the broader human community, especially fellow Muslims.

Tragically, this guidance is presently disregarded by Muslim-majority countries. Their lack of unity and unwillingness to assist their brethren reflects discord within the global Muslim community. It also signifies a deficiency in embracing the core Islamic tenet of collective well-being – the idea that when Muslims face hardship, concern for their welfare should supersede national borders.

The Holy Quran and ahadith emphasise unity amongst believers using the metaphor of one body – if one part suffers, then the whole body feels pain. As mentioned in the Holy Quran, “All believers are brothers” (Surah al-Hujurat, Ch.49: V.11). The Holy Prophet Muhammadsa expanded on this, stating that, “A believer to another believer is like a building whose different parts enforce each other.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-mazalim). He further urged compassion, saying, “The similitude of believers in regard to mutual love, affection, and fellow-feeling is that of one body; when any limb of it aches, the whole body aches, because of sleeplessness and fever.” (Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-Birr wa-s-silah wa-l-adab).

These define the obligations Muslims owe to one another regardless of nationality or ethnicity when adversity strikes. Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra has repeatedly asserted the primary teaching of Islam that the ummah should function as a unified front rather than fractured populations. From this lens, the economic hardships and violent oppression endured by Palestinians constitute harm to the entire body of Muslims. Standing by idly or offering just lip service contradicts the essence of the Islamic fraternity.

However, the political realities of modern Muslim-majority states reflect priorities aligned more along the parameters of realpolitik or individual national interests; rather than global Muslim unity. While some mobilise resources only to bolster their own religious credentials, others have initiated tacit cooperation with Israel under the ‘Abraham Accords’ to combat shared threats. Their lack of concrete action to alleviate the systematically induced misery laid bare on brethren in Gaza speaks to the absence of heartfelt spiritual connections meant to bind Muslims globally into one community.

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) seemingly provides a platform for collaboration on Palestinian welfare and defending the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Yet, for decades, it has failed to deliver results beyond grand declarations without teeth. Individual members like Saudi Arabia expend extensive financial and diplomatic capital supporting religious causes, from mosque-building worldwide to lobbying for Muslim minorities in places such as India and Myanmar. But when it comes to substantially improving living conditions for Palestinians by channelling oil wealth their way or pressuring Israel through trade and security partnerships, the situation remains stagnant at best.

In their dealings with the Palestinian situation, the actions of Egypt, Jordan, and Turkey have often sparked debate regarding their commitment to the Palestinian cause versus their geopolitical and security interests. The common thread appears to be that no Muslim power is willing to imperil its own stability and ties to global superpowers in order to uplift Palestinians from an ever-darkening abyss.

This reality runs counter to the teachings of the Holy Prophetsa that “None of you has faith until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself” (Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Kitab Sifati l-qiyamah wa r-raqa’iqi wa l-war‘). The indifference exhibited by resource-capable Muslim governments stems from under-prioritising spiritual development, both individually and collectively. The Holy Quran warns against the selective application of faith (Surah al-Hujurat Ch.49: V.12). To manifest the Islamic ideal of tranquillity and empathy among the entire Muslim nation, leaders and populations must nurture higher levels of conscientiousness so fear or selfishness do not override religious duty towards the oppressed.

The seed of unity among Muslims cannot take root until the call of Prophet Muhammadsa is heeded – the advent of the Imam Mahdi and Promised Messiahas foretold to revive faith when it is dwindled. Only by embracing the Reformer of the Age can the rebelliousness plaguing Muslim societies begin to be cured, realigning present-day beliefs and institutions into the reformative Islamic vision that uplifts humanity. This renewal of spiritual harmony lays the groundwork for achieving unity between divided Muslim nations on issues of common concern, like the Palestinian cause.

As Palestinians continue to suffer with little hope on the horizon, this crisis reveals how the existing international order fails to live up to its own principles of justice when politically inconvenient. The United Nations was founded on the words “reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person”, yet it stands by in complicity. At the same time, these very values are trampled upon in Palestine.

In the absence of a unified Muslim position of the Muslim ummah helping each other, the Western nations have taken the lead, no matter how inadequate. Agencies of the UNO and Western nations have claimed the high moral ground. This assumed service to humanity by Western agencies comes with strings attached. The agencies will only help if the recipients support the Western agenda. This selective, conditional aid holds true for famine, war or any other calamity, as foretold by the Holy Prophetsa: “And with him will be mountains of bread, and people will be in difficulty except those who follow him” (Musnad Ahmad, Musnad Jabir ibn ‘Abd Allahra). We see this conditional aid dynamic playing out when Western nations exploit human suffering to advance political objectives, rather than addressing affliction equitably.

There is only one solution to end this dilemma. The world must unite under a Khalifa who brings together the east, west, north and south without political objectives. Because true divine Khilafat is beyond worldly gains and is a genuine service to humanity. In this day and age, Khilafat is the only solution, as Muslims are not willing to unite, and the West will not help without vested interests.

The collective responsibility of Muslim-majority countries (Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa, Friday Sermon, February 2, 2024) to enforce respect for Palestinians’ fundamental rights and humanity is the sole pathway for shaking the status quo. If Muslim governments dare to move beyond narrow self-interest and embrace true Islamic unity, the future could still hold long-awaited justice. But they must wholly commit to uplifting their brethren with deeds over words, as faith sans action lies lifeless.

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