"HUMILITY, CERTITUDE AND 'THE DEAL OF THE CENTURY'"
31 January 2020
In Surah al Furqan, God reminds us of the quintessential character of a Muslim. A Muslim treads on this earth lightly with humility and with the blessing of certitude—that there will be accountability and justice, and that God is the anchor that stabilizes us in our existence, giving us a sense of direction and a commitment to what is truthful, good and beautiful. This certitude does not make us arrogant, self-entitled or self-centered. True humility comes when you do not transgress on the rights of others, take anyone for granted, and do not deal with this world as if a race, color, ethnicity or religion is entitled to have hegemonic power over others.
A Muslim, by definition, lives committed to the principle of justice. There is a difference between treading upon this earth lightly and apathy. Our certitude that this universe has an Owner who is sovereign, and who placed us on this earth to live a life of reflection and the pursuit of justice means not being apathetic towards what is just, fair and beautiful.
Jumu’a was decreed for Muslims to come together for the remembrance of God. Not a theoretical, abstract remembrance, but rather, to reflect upon current affairs in light of what our belief in God demands of us. In the Islamic tradition, you cannot separate your belief in God from the living affairs of your life, in the same way that you cannot suspend God in the way that you deal with your family, your society or your community.
One such issue that must be addressed is the so-called “Peace Plan” proposed by Trump and company in the Middle East. The reason we cannot simply marginalize it as an issue of foreign affairs that might or might not impact our lives is fundamentally because of Jerusalem and more specifically, the Aqsa Mosque (Masjid al-Aqsa). Even more, there are Muslims in the U.S. that have taken the bizarre position of working with and/or supporting the Trump administration as if this is consistent with their Islamic ethics and morality.
The Trump administration, after having moved the American embassy to Jerusalem, now ignores international law, the numerous resolutions passed by the U.N. General Assembly and the Security Council, the Geneva Convention, morality, natural law, and the rule of ethics. What is the rule of ethics? Simply that you cannot usurp the homes of others, take their land and their homes, and eject them out, and then say it is someone else's problem. While the international community has repeatedly condemned Israeli colonial settlements, the colonizing of the West Bank, and the destruction of Palestinian homes, this plan follows a long procession of concessions that Muslims have made in historical Palestine.
Muslims eventually accepted the idea of a divided Jerusalem in which West Jerusalem would be the capital of the Palestinian state and at a minimum, Muslims would have access to and control of the Aqsa Mosque without having to go through Israeli authorization and sovereignty. However, the Trump peace deal would give all of Jerusalem, including the Aqsa Mosque, to the Israelis and allow for truncated settlement spots in the West Bank for Palestinians under effective Israeli sovereignty. No Muslim would be able to visit the Aqsa Mosque without going through Israeli authorization first.
Trump claims that Israel is a democratic state that has done a great job taking care of the Aqsa Mosque. This is nonsense. Israel has done extensive excavation under the Aqsa mosque, destabilizing its structural integrity. Not a week passes without Israeli settlers invading the Haram and violating the sanctity of the Aqsa Mosque. Muslims that wish to visit the Aqsa Mosque are subject to humiliation and even forced by Israeli security to strip naked. Ultimately, they may or may not be allowed to enter.
Previously, Israel’s solution for displaced Palestinians was for other Arab nations to take them in, but the new plan is to cut out a part of Sinai, Egypt, where Palestinians should move from the West Bank, another displacement, to become the Palestinian state, partly in Gaza and partly in Sinai. However, it would become a Palestinian state without sovereignty, to be run by Egyptian and Israeli militaries.
It would look very much like an apartheid with Palestinians constantly at the mercy of Israeli military authority. Basically, it is the same exact plan proposed by Netanyahu years ago, taken literally verbatim, and now proclaimed as a U.S. plan. Shockingly, this plan is in fact supported by the leaders of Arab States, not because they represent the sovereign will of their people but because they want to stay in power at any cost.
This is the epitome of injustice and the epitome of what colonialism does. Does this have the potential of ever ending terrorism? When you displace human beings, usurp their homes, destroy their dreams, confiscate property and territory, and move human beings like chess pieces on a chessboard, all for the sake of Jewish or Israeli identity and Israeli self-determination, you give full measure to Israeli self-determination and tell Palestinians and the rest of the Muslim world: “Israeli self-determination should determine your self-determination. Israel has a sovereign right to determine what it wants and what is in its best interest, and then your role is to accommodate, accept and adapt.” How will this actually create long-term peace?
As the leaders of many Muslim countries continue to support immoral, unethical and unjust acts such as this and many others, it is important that Muslims pay attention to what is going on. To be unaware is to go against the ethics of Islam, as it means one sides with the powerful against the disempowered, and with the arrogant against those who have no means for self-identity and self-determination.
The most important thing in this day and age is to know what is right and what is wrong. What can you do about it? If you are an American Muslim, what you support, what you watch and who you donate to matters. Your vote matters. Politics, political activism and your voice matter. Do you think that God on the Final Day will say to Muslims, “Well, you basically abandoned Jerusalem and the Aqsa Mosque, and that is fine with me, no problem”? God will ask each one of us, “What did you do? What did you contribute?”
God teaches us to tread upon this earth with humility and humbleness, so we cannot deny the rights of others or look only at what benefits us. To establish humility and humbleness, we must understand our rights and have a sense of justice. As the Prophet taught us, if we can change something with our hands or our speech, we must do it. But if we cannot, the least we can do is know what is right and what is wrong in our heart, and this is the weakest of all.
At a minimum, we should know that the displacement of Palestinians is unjust, and that Muslims have a right to Jerusalem and the Aqsa Mosque. Generations of Muslims over hundreds of years sacrificed everything for the Aqsa Mosque, the place where the Prophet visited Isra’ and Miraj, the land of Ibrahim, the territory that represents the pure monotheism of Islam. The Aqsa Mosque is the meeting point for all the Abrahamic prophets, ending with Muhammad. If you take Muhammad out of the equation, then you do not have an Aqsa Mosque anymore, but if you only consider Muhammad and not the other prophets, then the Aqsa Mosque becomes meaningless. If you do not at least know what injustice is and at a minimum, your heart rebels against injustice, then Islam has translated into nothing for you.
There is no place for tyrants, not just in a state, but also in a community or a family, because God taught us that our affairs should always be run according to the principle of shura; consultation and consensus building.
Al-Azhar University in Egypt recently held a conference on renewing Islamic thought. This conference and discourse are founded on a platform of tyranny. Islamic reform in a tyrannical framework works in a way in which one can critically engage anything involving Islam but cannot critically engage the ruler. This discourse was not propelled by a sense of self-determination and free will, but mandated by those who have guns, prisons, and torture humans. Tyranny in any setting is shirk (associating partners with God) and it is an offense against God directly.
The Quran was translated into Hebrew by the King Fahd Foundation in Saudi Arabia and found to contain over 300 mistakes that legitimate Israeli points of view, including the Aqsa mosque being called a temple, and deleting the name of the Prophet Muhammad. The foundation withdrew the PDF of the translation after the story broke, but the reaction of Muslims reflects the state of our affairs. Because Muslims feel powerless, we live in a state of suspicion and anxiety rather than repose and humility.
The Prophet taught us that until the Final Day, there will always be a small group of Muslims that will persevere and hold onto the truth regardless of which direction the world goes. The Quran always refers to the majority of human beings as not doing the right thing; most people will always swerve. This should encourage us to hold on to the basic principles that iman (faith) gifts us: allegiance only to God and not to any other human being. As Muslims, we live vigilantly believing in the principle of justice and beauty as our salvation.