First, may God bless the man with the golden voice, Shayan Parsai, who does the adhan for jumu‘a. It is an adhan that moves, reminds, and awakens for those who understand. With the immense obscenity that we are witnessing today, with the entire world watching the systematic, deliberate, and unrelenting slaughter of a civilian population under the guise of fighting Hamas, we are no longer talking about collateral damage. It is a concept that does not even apply. We are no longer talking about something even remotely related to the concept of proportionality. It no longer applies. We are no longer talking about anything that comes close.
You may want to call it just war theory in Christian theology. You may want to call it humanitarian law. But modern international law has to satisfy two prongs: jus ad bellum means it has to be for a just cause, and jus in bello means it has to be conducted justly. Even if you have a just cause, if you pursue this cause through unjust means, then you are committing a crime against humanity. You are not only in violation of the doctrines of international law, but more importantly, you are in violation of all doctrines of morality and ethics. We are far beyond jus in bello. Anyone who talks about proportionality, self-restraint, or military necessity is a liar. There are no two ways about it.
They are a liar because, as recent reports by Amnesty International have shown, as repeatedly stated by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, as noted in the polite and highly political language of the Secretary General of the UN, and as the files submitted to the International Criminal Court can attest to, what is being witnessed in Gaza goes far beyond what the world has seen in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam, or in any other military conflict. Why? Because Gaza is a big concentration camp. The people in Gaza are denied food and water and are being indiscriminately slaughtered.
The Germans blamed the Jews for their own slaughter. The Germans insisted that what they did in the countries they occupied was not their fault; it was always the fault of the occupied. The rhetoric of the Germans is indistinguishable from the rhetoric that Israel, the U.S., and much of Europe uses about Palestinians. If Muslims invested money in educational institutions instead of building mosques that focus on pietistic affectations, hijabs, and beards; if Muslims were an educated people, then they would be able to clearly compare the rhetoric used by Germans in many of their World War II military campaigns to the rhetoric used by Israelis and Americans when referring to Palestinians.
Because according to Israel, the blockade is not the issue. Nor is the issue that Israel cut off electricity and water and announced to the world that Palestinians are subhuman and animals. The issue is not that Israel is already making plans to build settlements and resorts in Gaza. It is not that Israel openly and publicly said, "Let them go to Egypt. Let them leave. We are displacing them. We are ethnically cleansing them." It is not any of that. Rather, the issue is that aid is not reaching the dead and wounded in Gaza because of Hamas. The issue is that Hamas is obstructing the aid. The issue is that Hamas does not want aid to reach their own people. If Muslims were an educated people, and I am so fed up with saying “if”, then they could have easily shown how the rhetoric used by Germany lines up identically with the claims and excuses used by Israel and the U.S. in referring to Palestinians.
The entire world sees the brutality of the Israeli army when their own hostages escape, raise white flags, and are still gunned down, despite speaking Hebrew. So, can you imagine what this army does to people who speak Arabic as they raise white flags? But the world is silent. The world is not offended. The world does not talk about the implications and nuances. The entire world witnesses and knows that Israelis executed Palestinians in front of their families. They had the women and children go to a particular building on a particular floor, and they then bombed that building, killing the women and children. The same U.S. that lied about beheaded babies and raped women then remained silent.
The world is not offended, nor are they devastated. They see pictures of Palestinians being marched, blindfolded, and stripped down to their underwear, and they then see the same people executed. Still, the world remains polite, not offended, and not devastated. The world had the opposite reaction with the lie of beheaded babies and raped women. Muslims could shame the world if they were an educated people who did not waste their money on Zaytunas and other make-believe institutions that cannot compete intellectually or discursively, institutions that are not populated by the most intelligent and accomplished people, but instead populated by the intellectually lazy and intellectually dull. If rich people were not so impressed by the pietistic affectations and did not support the losers of the Muslim world, if they put their money where the winners are, then we could shame the world. We could demonstrate to the world how the rhetoric of the Nazis was identical to the rhetoric used by the Israelis and the Americans when referring to Palestinians. God is my witness, we could. God is my witness that we have, on camera, an old woman sitting in her apartment building, which has been torn apart by air strikes, pointing to bodies in her living room and her bedroom, saying, "Here lies my grandson, under a sheet. Here lies my granddaughter, under a sheet. Here lies my son and his wife," and the bodies are rotting where this old 85-year-old woman sits because no one can remove them. Why? Because Israel targets ambulances to kill medical workers, and everyone knows it.
There are more than a billion and a half Muslims in the world. Please listen carefully, because this could not happen if Egypt, an ostensibly Muslim country ruled by a murderer, a butcher, and Trump’s “favorite dictator,” did not blockade Gaza for the Israelis. The same Egyptian army that puts on military parades showing off its hardware does not dare to raise a finger to Israel. If Saudi Arabia, with all its wealth, was as offended as it was when the U.S. threatened to punish it for the murder of Khashoggi, it would send an unequivocal message to the world. At the time, the Saudis sent an unequivocal message to the world: “If you are serious about punishing us for killing Khashoggi, we will flatten the world economy.” But now, their response is not even close. Imagine if Saudi Arabia did not use your hajj and ‘umrah money to build the city of the future, NEOM, as part of its “Vision 2030,” and to fund the murdering of Yemenis. Think of the obscene corruption of Saudi money. If only you knew what Saudi money means in Europe, Los Angeles, and New York.
And what do I say about the Emirates? If other Muslim countries simply did what Malaysia did, and refused to allow ships carrying merchandise to Israel to dock in any of their ports, then everything would change immediately. But you know all of this, so why am I saying it? Because we could not be in this situation if Muslims were not all about “al-Salamu ‘alaykum, brother” and “al-Salamu ‘alaykum, sister,” about hijabs and pietistic affectations, about the make-belief and the little games of, “Mashallah brother and Subhanallah sister.”
Imagine if Muslims spoke, acted, and thought like normal human beings, like the human beings whom we find at Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and UCLA, at every proper academic and intellectual forum. Whether you observe the law or not is between you and God. What I care about is your intellect. Can I use your intellect? Can your intellect compete with the best intellects in the world? I do not care whether it can compete with this Islamic conference, this little Islamic symposium, or this little pretend Islamic institution? The world would respect us, the world would fear us, and the world would count us as human beings. We may have Muslims who would be willing to put their life on the line if the Prophet is insulted, but the problem is that they truly think that God is accepting their hajj, their umrah, their prayer, their fasting, and their zakat as they allow rulers like Mohammed bin Salman, Mohammed bin Zayed and Sisi to rule over them. Let us not forget that yours truly was banned by the Islamic Center of Southern California, an institution in which I grew up, because I wanted to criticize the dictator of Egypt, Trump’s “favorite dictator.”
Get it through your brain! Gaza is happening not because the Israelis are immoral, though they are. Not because the Israelis are criminal, though they are. Not because the U.S. has no morals and no ethics, though they do not. This slaughter, this obscenity, the begs and the cries of the children that haunt my nightmares is happening because we, Muslims, are equivocal about immoral and unethical rulers like MBS, MBZ, and Sisi. Gaza is happening because people like Khaled Beydoun had his funding for his Islamophobia project withdrawn by cowardly Muslims. People like Khaled Abou El Fadl had cowardly rich people withdraw support because, "Oh, he might be Mu'tazili,” because “he might be a secret Shi'a,” because “he is too liberal." Because of this rumor or that rumor. So, instead, we get pietistic affectations upon pietistic affectations upon pietistic affectations, and Gaza is happening because of all that. We are cursed as a people because of our immorality and our lack of ethics. May God have mercy on us.
This is the Ummah of the Prophet Muhammad. The beautiful man, the gorgeous man, the majestic man. We allowed the Prophet Muhammad to be maligned in an unrelenting Islamophobic industry for over a decade before the slaughter in Gaza. Recall the man who used to work in the State Department under the Obama administration. He recently asked a Muslim street vendor, "Did you rape your daughter like Muhammad did?" He then tells the same man, "If we killed 4,000 Palestinian kids, you know what? It wasn’t enough." Yet, we still have the “al-Salamu ‘alaykum, brother” and “al-Salamu ‘alaykum, sister” Muslims that say, "What is the connection between Islamophobia and this?" Oh my God, the toils of ignorance!
How do you speak to an illiterate people? How do you speak to people who do not think, who do not read? How? Do you want to understand? God exposed it to you! An ex-State Department official under the Obama administration asked an Arab Muslim, "Did you rape your daughter like Muhammad did?" This same person said, “I am going to take your picture and send it back to Egypt. Does your father like his fingernails? They will pull your father's fingernails off.” This same person said, "If we killed 4,000 Palestinian kids, you know what? It wasn’t enough." This was an official under the Obama administration, not the Trump or Bush administrations. God is telling you the consequences of allowing the maligning of the Prophet Muhammad for a decade in an unrelenting Islamophobia industry. I begged Muslims, “Please, give fellowships and jobs to the most gifted Muslims students who have written doctorates on Islamophobia so that we can fight back.” But there is the problem of arrogance. For you did not kiss up to them enough. You did not praise their wisdom enough. So, we remain a dehumanized people. We are considered animals, exactly like how the Nazis looked at the Jews. We are considered something less than human, exactly like the narrative and the language of the Nazis.
If only Muslims were an educated people! The Prophet Shuyaib told his people, "I have given you advice. I have told you to stop cheating people. Stop mistreating people. Stop being fakes. Stop being liars. Stop being pretenders. Stop being false. But you do not like those who speak the truth” (Q 7:79). People make up all kinds of excuses. "Oh, they must be liberal. They must be Shi'a. They must be Mu'tazili. They must be this, they must be that." Okay, fine. God knows the truth. I do not care, and it does not keep me at night. What does keep me awake are all the children, the tears, the unbelievable suffering of Palestinians, and the hypocrisy of the international community, none of which would not be possible without the hypocrisy of Muslims everywhere. The fakeness of the international community is anchored on the fakeness of Muslims everywhere. It is time to reexamine everything. It is time to rebuild everything. Listen to the tafsir I gave on the Qur’an. If you want, it is there. It can teach you everything you need to know. But if we do not rebuild everything, if we do not rethink everything, then God warns us:
And do not incline towards, nor rely upon, those who are bent on evildoing (Q 11:113)
God is telling us to not allow ourselves to be thoroughly unjust, led by unjust people, inspired by unjust people, and represented by unjust and fake people. Otherwise, as God warns us in Surah Hud, we will be replaced. God will bring forth another nation worthy of God. Fakeness does not play with God. Fakeness does not help the people in Gaza. This includes my own fakeness as well, because I do not except myself under these circumstances. It is time for each of us to look deep and hard in the mirror.
There are some Muslims who love to say, "Look, this proves human rights are fake and nonsense." How silly we are. How deluded, ignorant, and fake we are. The very reason this is happening is because Muslims themselves do not believe in or apply human rights values to each other. This would not be possible if there was not a Sisi who treats 100 million Egyptians as if they are brainless; if there was not a Saudi Arabia that has zero regard for human rights; if there was not an Emirates, Iran, Pakistan, or any Muslim country that disregards human rights for their own people. They will respect human rights for the White man, of course, but the same cannot be said for their fellow Muslims. The very reason Gaza is happening is because the Muslim world is full of Muslims who do not believe in human rights for their fellow Muslims.
Think about it. Gaza would not be happening if there was not a Palestinian Authority that arrests and tortures Palestinians on behalf of Israel. Not if there was not an Egyptian government literally living like a faithful servant at the feet of Israel. But we do not read, and we do not think, so we do not know that Nixon said, years ago, in his book, Victory Without War: "When it comes to Muslims, we do not believe in human rights because they do not believe in human rights. Let Muslims hate the U.S. publicly, the important thing is that privately, the rulers do our bidding, and they suppress and silence their own people." He wrote this years ago, and Nixon is the teacher of most of the accomplished diplomats in the State Department. Still, there are plenty of Muslims who would rather concern themselves with the usual, pedantic issues. "Brother, take care of yourself and your family. As long as you separate women and do not look at them, that is what is important. Alhamdulillah, men and women are separate. Women cannot be heard. Women cannot do adhan. Women cannot give khutbahs. So long as we have that, brother, who cares what Nixon said? So long as we have that, why criticize the rulers of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt? Why? We are not in their position, so we do not know what they know. Didn’t God tell us to obey the rulers?"
This is why Gaza is happening. I am done. May God take me. May God take my soul after this. No more time, no more space for lies and pretense. I am tired. I need to speak the truth. I need to say it, even if no one hears it. Even if no one cares. Even if everyone says, "Oh, it is too extreme. It is too much. Relax, brother. Take a chill pill. Go play some video games. Why don't you go take a nap?"
We are done. I will see you on the Final Day before a God who is all-Just and all-Knowing. May God forgive you and forgive me. May God guide you and guide me. May God inspire you and inspire me. May God educate you and educate me. May God have mercy upon you and have mercy upon me. May God forgive you and forgive me, for God knows that I need forgiveness. I need God’s forgiveness. I need God's mercy and compassion. I need God’s love as I need air and food. I need God. May you need God too.