Every day, we are witnessing acts of violence, terrorism and extreme military campaigns that do not give any consideration to children, women and civilians and even to the international communities and laws.
Be it coming from Hamas, who is seeking justice for the decades of oppression under Israel’s military occupation, or all the dehumanising acts by the Zionist Israeli military who are taking advantage of the incident on 7 October 2023 to justify their merciless military actions, further illegal expansions and occupation of Palestinian lands and the collective punishment of innocent Palestinians.
We are witnessing how the sacredness of human life that has been bestowed by Allah s.w.t. has not prevented people of power and influence from exploiting that power and manipulating narratives to garner support by dehumanising the other side.
All these cause us pain, stir our emotions, and evoke anger within us. We feel hopeless and helpless and sometimes lose our trust in the authorities. The emotions are sometimes confusing and suffocating, especially when we see images that shrink our hearts and send currents up our spines. These emotions are natural for us human beings who have been nurtured to have a good heart, respect lives and humanity, and trust in one another.
How we respond to these emotions will determine whether we are better human beings. We are defending the humanity of everyone. Violence and terrorist acts have no place in humanity. All Palestinians and Israelis have the right to live peacefully and in harmony. All of them have their rights to the necessities of life like water, food, safety and security.
For youths, as we go about our daily routines and activities amidst the images, narratives of violence and hatred that are flooding social media, let us be mindful of our actions. Let us reflect and think through some of these principles and take them as our guidance in finding our emotional, psychological and spiritual balance and equilibrium.
Through this conflict, we observe that violence begets violence, and hatred begets hatred. This is a universal law. When violence becomes the heartbeat that defines a conflict, innocent civilians are the primary victims.
The current government of Israel is led by a Prime Minister and several ministers who are known for their far-right extremist ideologies. For example, Itamar Ben-Gvir, the current Minister of National Security, is known for his extremist views and advocacy for radical groups in Israel. The government has clearly outlined its commitment to solidify the dominance of Jewish identity while continuing to suppress Palestinian rights in both Israel and the occupied West Bank. This is proposed through a governance system that establishes distinct tiers, perpetuating inequality across all levels. As a result, Palestinians have been deprived of their rights and protections, rendering them more vulnerable to violence and worsening the hardships they already face.
The leadership issues among the Palestinian people involve the disunity of several political groups governing Palestine, including Fatah, Hamas, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the Palestinian Authority and various political parties. One of the key points of division among them is how to engage and interact with Israel. Does it involve violence and force, or do they pursue objectives via negotiations and diplomacy?
Simultaneously, we must also be cautious of irresponsible people who propagate hate speeches, instigate disunity among us and take advantage of the emotional instability of people to propagate their own agendas. We have seen how extremist individuals and groups have exploited the internet and social media to lure vulnerable youths into radicalisation.
To end this long conflict requires restraint, big hearts, compassion, justice, humility, and other values that define us as human beings. Therefore, we should embody these values of humanity instead of succumbing to what is portrayed by these conflicts. This is truly a test not just for the whole of humanity but also individually for ourselves as well.
Our best example to emulate and embody is the exemplary traits of our beloved Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. Let us reflect on this tradition, especially the collection of Imām al-Bukhārī, where a hadith narrated by Khabbab Bin Al-Arat r.a. tells us how he asked Rasulullah s.a.w. to pray for the Muslims due to the intensity of the persecution they were facing in Makkah during the early days of Islam.
The Prophet s.a.w. replied that the previous community of believers (of past Prophets) also faced persecution of such severity. Even when it intensified, they would not lose or abandon their faith.
Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. then continued to prophesise that the lands of Sana’a and Hadramaut in Yemen would eventually be populated by Muslims. A prophecy that is proven true today without a doubt. This was a glad tiding to the declining situation of the relatively small generation of early Muslims.
The hadith demonstrates to us the patience of the Prophet and the hastiness of the companions, at that time, who wanted to win over the people who oppressed them. The Beloved Prophet s.a.w, who is fully connected to Allah, assured the companions that Allah would grant them victory to the point that the route between Sana'a and Ḥaḍramawt would become safe.
One way to be thankful for this blessing is to protect it. We must believe in the model of our Muslim community in Singapore. The fact that we are all able to carry on with our daily routines and activities in these difficult times does not come about by chance.
As Singaporeans, we all have worked hard to develop trust with one another. We live amicably with our friends and neighbours who are of different races and religions, with the Islamic values of care, compassion, and trusting one another.
We have lived peacefully with one another way before the coming of Sir Stamford Raffles to this island. We can see different places of worship within a neighbourhood or a street built way before Singapore’s independence.
The peace and harmony we enjoy are rare commodities in this world. Let us all continue to be gracious Singaporeans to one another, believing in and trusting each other.
As we advocate for our cause, let us ensure that we remain respectful and wise, avoiding personal attacks and hate speeches that could erode the trust we've built together.
Israel is not equal to Judaism. Israel is not equal to Jews. Simultaneously, Hamas does not represent all the Palestinians. Muslims, Jews, and Christians lived peacefully in the land in the last century.
The crisis involves territorial disputes, historical grievances, and differing claims to the land. While it has often been framed in religious terms due to the significance of the land to Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, at its core, the issue is primarily about land, power, and self-determination.
Some of the rhetoric being played out on social media aims to create the impression for both the Muslim and Jewish communities that this conflict is a religious one. Some individuals employ religious symbols and the chant of "takbīr" in an effort to garner attention from the public.
Others invoke end-of-time discourses when discussing this conflict. Such discussions are not limited to Muslims; they also involve Christians and Jews. These narratives have raised concerns as public sentiments among both Muslims and Jews have been mocked and condemned.
We must be wary of the rise of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia to the point that it could potentially cause tensions in our multi-religious country. More importantly, as we strengthen our faith for the Hereafter, let us pay attention to how Prophet Muḥammad s.a.w. advised us to navigate the signs of the end of times.
Narrated by Anas r.a, from the Prophet s.a.w:
“Even if the Day of Judgement is approaching and you have a palm shoot in your hand and can plant it before the Hour arrives, you should plant it.”
Never underestimate the power of dua (supplication) with a firm belief. It can change what you may have thought was impossible to change. Dua is never wasted. So, keep making supplications as it is a special gift that Allah has given to us. He is the Best Listener and He is always Listening.
Keep knocking on the door of the Merciful, and it will open eventually. The key is to be patient. Allah knows when is the right time to fulfil our supplications and bring us relief. The Prophet s.a.w. said:
“Supplication is the shield of a believer, a pillar of the religion and light of heavens and earth.”
The Prophet further taught us the best way we can carry out our supplication. He said:
“Whomsoever has completed reading the Quran, ask Allah with it”
(Narrated by Imam At-Tabrani)
Based on the above hadith, we can make supplications for our brothers and sisters in Gaza, Palestine and for all humanity after reading ṣūrah al-Ikhlāṣ three times as reading this ṣūrah three times is equivalent to completing the Qurān.
Let us make duā after every ṣolat for all those who are experiencing oppression to be given patience, perseverance and paradise for the sacrifices that they are experiencing.
رَبِّ سَلِّمْ سَلِّمْ
Oh Allah, save us, save us
رَبِّ سَلِّمْ سَلِّمْ إِخْوَانَنَا فِى فِلِسْطِيْنَ
Oh Allah, save us, save us, save our brothers and sisters in Palestine
As the crisis continues, we can be overwhelmed when we experience moments of incapacity to help, the loss of freedom of choice to voice our concerns and acts, and other types of emotions.
This is where we seek refuge in Allah out of our sheer necessity with no other ulterior motive. All these emotions are His creations, and we turn ourselves towards Him with these emotions.
As we turn ourselves towards Him, we acknowledge our weaknesses and inabilities and read a dua taught to us by Allah in Surah Ali-’Imran,
حَسْبُنَا اللَّهُ وَنِعْمَ الْوَكِيلُ
“For Allah suffice for us, and He is the best disposer of affairs.”
(Surah Ali-’Imran, 3:173)
This was the dua read by Nabi Ibrahim a.s when he was catapulted into the fire. As he flew into the fire, he read this dua, and Allah commanded the fire to cool down for Nabi Ibrahim a.s.
قُلْنَا يَا نَارُ كُونِي بَرْدًا وَسَلَامًا عَلَىٰ إِبْرَاهِيمَ
We said, “O Fire! Be your coolness and safety unto Ibrahim”
(Surah Anbiya, 21:69)
Work together with others in contributing towards humanitarian aid during this conflict. People in Singapore, regardless of race and religion, were able to raise almost five million dollars in humanitarian aid for Palestine in less than 2 weeks after the fundraiser by the Rahmatan Lil Alamin (Blessings to all) Foundation, or RLAF, was launched.
Always start something good within your means and circle of influence. For example, aside from making dua, donating and raising awareness about the crisis, we can also channel our efforts by volunteering at the mosque near our homes. Join the youth wing of the mosque and start supporting one another.
As the conflict continues to unfold, we will continue to be bombarded with many different narratives. You may feel overwhelmed by the discussions and the emotions attached. Look for our local asātizah to process your feelings and thoughts. Go to the nearest mosque to seek help. Or you can look for a trusted adult to speak about your worries.
There are available channels for you to seek help, like the Asatizah Youth Network, mysafespace.sg, Asatizah Solace Care and others. Keep an eye on divisive speeches and extremist thoughts in virtual chat rooms or in social media platforms.
The Prophet always wants us to unite instead of being divided. Narratives that seek to plant the seed of hatred towards fellow Muslims and others are signs for us to distance ourselves from them.
In conclusion, let us take the opportunity in this challenging time to explain and showcase the beauty of Islam. Let us elucidate the core principles and values such as Peace, Excellence, Mercy, Forgiveness, Justice and Wisdom that are contained in the Qurān and the exemplars of the Prophet s.a.w.
References & Notes:
 Ruth Margalit, Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel’s Minister of Chaos, The New Yoker, February 20, 2023. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2023/02/27/itamar-ben-gvir-israels-minister-of-chaos accessed on 8th November 2023.
 Jonathan Guyer, Israel’s new right-wing government is even more extreme than protest would have you think, in Vox Journalism, 2023. https://www.vox.com/world/2023/1/20/23561464/israel-new-right-wing-government-extreme-protests-netanyahu-biden-ben-gvir, accessed on 8th November 2023.
 Alexandra Sharp, A Guide to Palestinian and Other Anti-Israel Factions, Foreign Policy, October 10 2023. https://foreignpolicy.com/2023/10/10/what-is-hamas-israel-war-palestine-fatah-hezbollah/ accessed on 8th November 2023.
 Narrated by Khabbab bin Al-Arat, “We complained to Rasulullah s.a.w. (of the persecution inflicted on us by the enemies) while he was laying down (and resting his head on a cloth) under the shade of the Kaabah. We said to him, "Would you seek help for us? Would you pray to Allah for us?" He said, "A man from the previous nation would be put in a ditch that was dug for him, and a saw would be put over his head, and he would be cut into two; yet that (torture) would not make him give up his religion. His body would be combed with iron combs that would remove his flesh from the bones and nerves, yet that would not make him abandon his religion. By Allah, this religion (i.e. Islam) will prevail till a traveller from Ṣan‘ā (in Yemen) to Ḥaḍramawt will fear none but Allah, or a wolf as regards his sheep, but you (people) are hasty” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)
 https://www.islamweb.net/ar/library/content/74/1701/index.php assessed on 8th November 2023.