We are all absolutely distraught and destroyed (as I am sure you and all people with hearts must be) with what is happening in Gaza/Palestine, which started with the attack on Al Aqsa during the night prayer on the 27th night of Ramadan, one of our holiest nights and has now escalated into a full-scale invasion. I don’t care who is right and who is not. All I know is that killing innocent civilians, men, women and children, destroying homes and lives, is not right. All conflicts can only be solved through negotiation. Not by killing. But it looks like those who are in power everywhere are on another plane of awareness and disconnected from the massive misery and suffering they unleash in the midst of this pandemic.
Reparative Justice is a name. The reality is that reparations can never replace or restore what was lost. What is the price of the life of a child? Please notice that I don’t say, Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Jewish, Bahai, Native American, African or African American or whatever – child. A child is a child. Its life is sacred. The Qur’an said about the little girls that the pre-Islam Arabs used to kill in infancy, “On that Day she will ask for what crime she had been murdered.” So will those who are being killed in the Holy Beleaguered and Benighted Land of Palestine. How can anyone ever pay reparations for that? Not everything has a dollar value. Actually, all the truly valuable things in life are invaluable and can’t be ‘paid’ for or ‘bought’. If wealth could save a marriage, Bill and Melinda Gates would have remained married. If we genuinely want to help, we must stop injustice.
True, for historical wrongs which happened before our time, the only recourse we have is to pay money. But what if the Holocaust had never happened because Germans, Americans and British, had prevented it from happening? What if Native American people had not been systematically slaughtered and that success celebrated as a festival? There would have been no need to pay reparations because our loved ones would still have been with us. For the record let me say that we are not even talking about paying reparations to the Black African people who were brought to this land of the free, home of the brave – in chains. And that is, only those that were still alive after all the horrors of capture from their homes and being transported in unspeakable conditions, across the Atlantic, so that America could be built. The land of the free, home of the brave was built by people in chains but who were much braver than the so-called ‘brave’. Those chains metaphorically remain to this day and that is why George Floyd died.
People think that education is the solution. But I remind myself that the gas chambers of Hitler’s concentration camps were built by highly educated engineers. Those who slaughtered Native Americans had more education than their victims. That education enabled them to do their job of ethnic cleansing (what a horrific term that is) so efficiently.
Ditto those who enslaved free men and women and sold them in the slave markets of America, they all went to school and college. Thomas Jefferson was one of them and his famous house (do you want to call it a home) Monticello was built, redesigned, rebuilt, with gardens that are iconic, all by slave labor. Some of those slaves bore his name. Guess why?
In the same way, today’s most powerful armies have soldiers who have university degrees but lack the discretion to know that killing other human beings is murder and evil. What kind of education is this which has given the terms, “humanity, inhumanity, human values,” a totally new meaning? Being ‘human’ today means being capable of killing other people’s children and then going home to your own children and hug and kiss them. All in a day’s work. Is this the world we want to live in?
I believe that it is critical that we speak about these matters, keeping clear of the politics of it because arguments about who is wrong and who is right never get anywhere. What is wrong, no matter what the reason, is murder. No matter who does it, murder can never be right. And that is what must be stopped because once it happens it is irreversible and can never be compensated.
Sorry for this long rant, but I have a lot of trouble keeping silent about real issues that matter. Injustice to one is injustice to all. That is our Islamic position and that is my personal position.
We continue to pray for peace and justice in the Holy Land and all over the world. To address or change a result we must address its cause. Peace is a result. Justice is its cause. If we want peace, we must establish justice. Without justice there can never be peace. Those who fight for justice are called by different names and are always persecuted, maligned, and sought to be eliminated by the oppressors. But oppressors don’t know – those they try to bury are really seeds and they will germinate and flower and bear fruit.