I deliver today’s khutbah one day after the start of Eid ul-Fitr. There is debate among scholars on whether Eid is one day or if it extends to three days, but no matter, the global Muslim ummah are still within the celebratory mood of Eid ul-Fitr and the end of Ramadan. But what should preoccupy the minds and conscience of Muslims around the world is what is taking place in Palestine, and the ongoing, seemingly never-ending systematic dehumanization and subjugation of the Palestinian people, which I submit to you is truly symbolic of the dehumanization and subjugation that Muslims at large face in the world.
Since the rise of the Zionist movement in the 20th century, and since the Zionist movement founded the state of Israel, the way that Europe and the United States interacts with the Muslim world is largely through the prism of Zionism and the state that Zionism founded in Palestine. For those who do not know, books, newspapers, and journals all around the Western world celebrated when Israel was founded, using the language and symbolism of the return of the crusades, and dreamt of the day that Jerusalem would return to Latin Christianity.
But there is a more basic problem, that being that the language, symbolism, and epistemology by which the world has related to Muslims and to Islam - whether that language speaks about fundamentalism, speaks about militancy, speaks about extremism, speaks about jihadism, speaks about political Islam, or whatever the language used to describe and construct the Muslim reality - has always been centered around how Islam and Muslims relate to the state of Israel, and how the state of Israel relates to Islam and Muslims. It is as if Israel has become a literal lens though which the West looks at and understands the Muslim world. It goes well beyond anything you could imagine. Whether Islamic law is good or not good is measured on a single scale, that being the scale of how Islamic law would impact or not impact Israel. Whether the theology of jihad is good or bad is measured on that single scale.
Whether we should support the Kurdish nationalist movement, or Armenian nationalism, or Hindu nationalism in India, or the Ethiopian nationalistic aspirations to build a dam on the Nile River, is all measured according to how the West understands what is healthy or unhealthy for the state of Israel. All Muslims know this in their heart. All Muslims who have ever applied for a visa to visit a Western country, or who work in a Western country, or who attended a school in a Western country know this to be true.
It often feels that Islam and the entire Muslim population, all 1.6 billion, only matter to Western countries to the extent that they have either a direct or indirect impact on Zionist ideology, Zionist aspirations, and Zionist interests. It is not about a homeland for Holocaust survivors, as it was in World War II. Most of the Israeli settlers who usurp Palestinian lands today come from New York City; come from the United States. They maintain their American citizenship alongside their Israeli citizenship. They maintain their American homes alongside the homes that they steal from Palestinians. They always have a safeguard. They can freely travel back and forth between the United States and Israel.
What is the issue? It is as if the West, after having destroyed the institution of the Muslim Khilafa, after having fought all democratic initiatives in the post-colonial Muslim reality, after having fought all nationalistic initiatives in the post-colonial Muslim reality, has found it too complicated to learn about the Muslim world, to understand the Muslim world, to think of the Muslim world, to deal with the Muslim world, so they created a highly artificial way of seeing, understanding and dealing with the Muslim world, and that is through the Israeli prism.
Do you think it is a coincidence that the institutions of Islamophobia are funded either by Zionists, or Christians who feel strongly about the state of Israel? Do you think it is a coincidence that all of the think tanks that talk about political Islam and theorize about what is needed to bring an end to Muslim militancy, extremism and jihadism are anchored in an ideological outlook that is sympathetic towards the state of Israel?
If you removed those who feel strongly about the state of Israel, whether Christian or Jewish, from the equation, very little would remain of the institutions that construct Islamophobia and construct most of the discourse about what is acceptable or unacceptable from the Muslim world. Again, I underscore that all Muslims, regardless of their political orientation, who have ever applied for a visa, or who have ever visited or studied in the West know this to be true. All of us have experienced it. All of us have lived it. But I submit to you that this is really not about Islam, nor is it really about Israel. When European settlers colonized the United States and destroyed the cultures of Native Americans, the reason they could not understand the Natives’ suffering, or their claims about self-determination and their own rights was because of racial reasons - because Natives looked different, and so they were less human.
When the Spaniards colonized most of South America, and the Portuguese colonized the rest, the reason they eradicated the native language and native cultures - and saw absolutely no legitimate claims to the needs of inhabitants of the land - was again because of racial reasons. The West refuses to introspectively understand its own racism towards Muslims, not since the beginning of colonialism, but indeed since the beginning of the Islamic message. The West has always seen Muslims as heathens; the West has always seen Muslims as barbarians. Whether those Muslims are in Sudan, in Algeria, in Timbuktu, or in Palestine, they are seen as less human. But we do not say this consciously. We do not express it in clear terms. The way you know it to be true is through the way that we react to the suffering of others.
As we speak, Israel once again is pounding Gaza. But not just Gazan civilians. Israel is destroying the Gazan infrastructure. All of the targets that Israel is bombing and razing to the ground are civilian targets. At the same time, Israel is cracking down on Palestinians who are protesting all over Israel and all over occupied Palestine. Right before I began to deliver this khutbah, a steady stream of news was coming out about this person shot and killed; that person arrested, this place burned, that place destroyed. Israeli settlers are lynching Palestinians on camera, beating them to death as Israeli soldiers and police step to the side and watch. It has been caught on cameras. It is undeniable.
Once again, Israeli forces prevent ambulances from aiding wounded Palestinians until they perish, as Israeli army and police stand there watching. The atrocities have become so repetitive at this point that all of us look at them and say, "Oh, here we go again." Well over 1,000 Palestinians have already been killed in Gaza, and here we go again. During Ramadan, entitled, arrogant Israeli settlers interfere time and time again with the Palestinians’ ability to have Tarawe’eh prayer, all while protected by Israeli forces. At the same time, they harassed, intimidated and attempted to expel Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
Incidentally, the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood has been a Palestinian neighborhood, at least since the time of Salahaddin in the 12th century, Sheikh Jarrah himself was a medical doctor who served under Salahaddin. Sheikh Jarrah died in the 12th century AD and has been buried in this area, and there is a mosque constructed over his grave that goes back hundreds of years. But in the eyes of Israeli justice - or rather, Israeli injustice - Palestinians have no rights. Although their families have resided there for centuries, they have no claim to the land or to their homes.
Israeli settlers, who are typically racist and entitled, tell these Palestinians, "Out with you. We are taking this land." Throughout Ramadan, the Aqsa mosque has gone through assault after assault. The Palestinian neighborhoods around the Aqsa mosque have received the same treatment, and Sheikh Jarrah is not very far from Aqsa mosque. And in true classic racist attitude, they expect the victim to suffer in silence. To shut up and just suffer. Exactly how a rapist treats their victim.
When we say Israelis intervened with the Aqsa mosque, understand that that includes week after week during Ramadan, Israeli security forces sprayed Palestinians around and inside Aqsa mosque with sewage water, so often, in fact, that the Aqsa mosque stunk like sewage. Time and again, the Palestinians would scrub it to get the odor of sewage out. And time and again, the Israelis would spray them with sewage water.
Incidentally, there is an Israeli court that ruled that the use of sewage water against protestors is illegal. But frankly, Israeli security forces do not care, because they look at Arabs, Muslims, and Palestinians as nothing but garbage. All of us watch the Israeli settlers chant in Hebrew, "Death to Arabs. Death to Palestinians. Death to Muslims." and interestingly, "Death to Muhammad." But the racist paradigm is that all of that is seen as an aberration of excess. If it was done by Arabs, Palestinians or Muslims, it would be seen as a symptom of a deep malady in the consciousness of Muslims, Arabs, and Palestinians. But, if it is done by Israelis, it is seen as an aberration of an excess of zeal.
That is the nature of racism - that you are not alarmed by what your own people do, but you are deeply threatened by what “the other” does. Israelis have consistently and systematically violated the Aqsa mosque and Palestinian neighborhoods, why? Because Netanyahu is confronting a lot of political problems and he wants an out. And like a classic racist, he chooses to beat upon the disempowered and weak, because they do not matter. They are expected to suffer in silence, to just shut up and take it.
Predictably, this kept happening until it got to the point that Netanyahu knew that if he kept pushing, he would finally provoke the Palestinians in Gaza to respond. And they did. What was Israel's response to Palestine’s response? It was grossly disproportionate, of course. Like a typical racist paradigm. If I am white and someone throws a stone at me and they are black, I can wipe out the entire neighborhood because: ‘How dare they?’
Gaza does not have airplanes, does not have tanks, does not have armored vehicles, does not have artillery, does not have electronics, does not have radars. But to the world, it does not matter, because if they fire rockets that, yes, are largely ineffective, Israel’s response is justified. We do not talk about whether they intended to hit military targets or not. We do not talk about whether they targeted territories that have been seized from Palestinians unlawfully in violation of international law. We do not refer to that violation as a violation of excess of zeal. Instead, we talk about Palestinians as if they are all criminals. Indeed, Arabs are all criminals. Indeed, Muslims are all criminals. That is, of course, unless they see things the way we see them. So in classic fashion, the response was thoroughly disproportionate - constant bombardment using weaponry that far surpasses anything that the Palestinians could direct at the Israelis.
Not only that, but we are witnessing the live lynching of Palestinians, and these suppposedly highly educated, civilized people who claim to be active in the human rights field, look at the lynching of Palestinians and say, "Yes, it is very unfortunate. It is horrible. But, it is not characteristic of all Israelis. This is just some Israeli who just lost their mind." So Palestinians are supposed to be occupied for decades; live in refugee camps for decades; accept a blockade for decades; suffer bombardment for decades; and they are not supposed to lose their minds? And if they lose their minds, then it is Muslim fanaticism, Muslim militancy, Muslim jihadism, terrorism? But Israelis are bombed with a few missiles, and it is completely understandable to lynch a defenseless Palestinian who stopped at a traffic light?
Again, classic racism. There are people who I highly respect in the human rights field, in the field of democratic theory and practice, who are otherwise very decent people, who suddenly have strangely skewed judgment when it comes to the issue of Arabs and Muslims - because racism is a powerful agent. The worst thing about racism is that it infects us all like a disease, and we often do not even know it. It is that instant sense of dread when you see a black man - that is racism. It is that immediate assumption where you excuse the Israeli and condemn the Palestinian, before you even know anything about the facts - that is racism.
This is why very decent and civilized people were able to watch the extermination of Native Americans and live in the land that used to belong to them, yet still talk about democracy, civil rights, and human rights. That is why the French were able to colonize Algeria without batting an eye. That is why the Dutch were able to colonize what is now South Africa without batting an eye. The nature of colonialism makes you incapable of seeing the disempowered as equally human.
For all of you Muslims who are watching this and questioning, "How could it be that these people that we respect so much, we go to them and say, 'Look at what's happening. This is wrong!' and they suddenly act like the people we cannot respect? They do not listen. They do not understand. They do not think." What you are experiencing in one word is racism, whether you realize it or not.
What are the subjugated and disempowered to do as they consistently suffer? In international law, those who live under occupation have the right to resist occupation. The international law that the West authored, invented, and constructed is the same international law that today we ignore for the sake of Israel;, that we have ignored for a long time. We do not recognize a right to self-determination for the Palestinian people. We do not recognize the right to national liberation. We do not recognize the right of occupied people to resist occupation. We do not recognize any of that. We recognize the right of Israelis to defend themselves, but we do not recognize the right of Palestinians to defend themselves.
What are Palestinians to do when they suffer? When they try to pray in the Aqsa mosque and find that Israeli settlers are violating the sanctity of the mosque, burning the trees around the mosque and destroying the glass - what are they supposed to do? “Resort to Israeli courts.” So your persecutor becomes your judge. And if you ask any supporter of Israel about this, they will say, "Well, because Israel has a system of justice." What they think, but do not tell you is, "And we know that you Muslims, you Arabs, you Palestinians, do not understand justice. And whatever measly justice we throw your way, you should be happy with it. Even our injustice, when compared to your barbarism, is justice. Why? Because we are a superior race."
This is what they do not even dare tell themselves. So what are Palestinians supposed to do? Simply suffer? But I would be remiss if I did not talk about something in addition to this. So many Muslims who have become thoroughly vested in the life of privilege that is offered by the superior race in the world - who want to continue living in this world of privilege and just be allowed a membership card in the club of whiteness. I am talking about the Emaratis, the Saudis, and the Bahrainis. Yes, their response to the Palestinians is, "Just suffer. Just accept whatever Israelis are willing to give you. And maybe, maybe you can make a little profit from selling your home to an Israeli settler and enjoy the privilege of a job in the Emirate, Bahrain or Saudi Arabia. Maybe you could share a bit of the wealth that we live in and enjoy."
In other words, we already know that all around the Gulf countries, Emiratis, Saudis, and Bahrainis treat fellow Arabs as an inferior race. Anyone that has worked in the Gulf knows this to be true. They are a highly classist, racist society. To them, if you are Saudi or Emirati, you are superior to a Palestinian, to an Egyptian, to an Indian, to a Bangladeshi, to a Pakistani, to a Sri Lankan. In their mind, they are equal to the British, French, Americans, and Germans. But in reality, what they internalize in their consciousness is a deep inferiority complex.
All they want is for the Americans, the British, the Germans and the French to pretend to treat them as an equal. They know fully well that these groups only treat them as equals to the extent they make a profit from them. The minute these Gulf Arabs no longer make them a profit, they will treat them with absolute disdain. The Gulf Arabs know that, but it is still enough for them. And because of that, we find Muslims and Arabs who look at the Palestinians and say, "Do not interfere with our theater. We work very hard for the white, blonde, blue-eyed woman from the Ukraine to shut up and be our sex slave so we can feel superior as Arab men, because we feel deeply inferior in front of the British, the French, the Americans, and the Germans. And when you Palestinians remind us of causes like the Aqsa mosque, like Palestine, like the genocide in China, like the genocide in Kashmir, or like the genocide of the Rohingyas, you disturb our little make-believe world. You make us remember that we are Arabs, that we are Muslims, and that we are inherently inferior to our colonizer."
So in the midst of this sickening, disgusting, godforsaken demonic reality that surrounds us, we get American Muslims like Hamza Yusuf, who condemn the violence and call for peace. You see no oppressor and oppressed? You do not see a clear aggressor and aggressed against? You think that these neutral terms are going to vindicate you before God in the Hereafter? You are as much of a racist, sir, as the whites who colonized the Muslim world, and the whites that look down upon the Arabs and the dark-skinned, whether you recognize it or not.
Until Muslims wake up and understand the world in which they live, and demand that the world stop being so racist - and understand that no religion rebelled against racism like Islam - there is no path forward. Our misery will continue. Our Ramadans and Eids will be sullied with blood and oppression. This Ramadan, over 2,000 Chinese Muslims imams were arrested and each sentenced 10 to 20 years in prison simply for leading Tarawe’eh prayers, because the Chinese government decided it is an act of extremism. How many Muslim countries have objected? None. Why? Because our white masters do not make it a big issue. They continue trade with China. They condemn with a word here and there, but it is not a big issue. If our white masters do not make it an issue, it is not an issue for us.