Praise God and Pass the Ammunition

Dear Gaza,

I’m sorry. I apologize on behalf of the United States of America. First of all, that moniker is not accurate; in a nation of over 300 million people, you can be assured that we rarely agree on anything. We are certainly not united on the issue of Israel’s holocaust in Gaza. Yes, holocaust.
I am co-opting that word and using it for something other than the Nazi holocaust against European Jews. Because what’s happening in Gaza is a holocaust–an ethnic cleansing, a genocide. Innocent non-combatants are being murdered; places of refuge serve as convenient way-stations to gather everyone together to make the slaughter more efficient. The Zionists attack with impunity and the worst the international community does is cluck its tongue in mild disapproval.

The United States marches in lockstep with Zionist policy, President Obama lip-syncing in perfect harmony with Netanyahu repeating the talking points about self-defense. He should know better, but he does not. Instead of standing up against those who want to (and, in fact, do) control our government, he authorized a delivery of more ammunition so the Zionists wouldn’t have to interrupt their wholesale slaughter of women and children. I’m sorry. I’m sorry that a bullet which my tax dollars paid for is going to take the life of a child in Gaza. I’m sorry that the Palestinian people are pawns in a power play that will reverberate across the Middle East and around the world for years to come. I’m sorry that I’m not braver and more able to help.

The sad thing is, it did not have to be this way. If we Muslims had our act together, this would never have happened. Jews should have no fear of Muslims; Muslims should have stood up for the Jews in the run-up to World War II and offered places of refuge for them. A home, a safe haven, a place with no ovens or gas chambers. If we had done our duty as Muslims then, we would not be suffering now. But we were weak, we had turned away from Allah and had chosen this world over the next, and thus the colonial powers were able to move Muslim leaders around like pawns on a chess board, creating artificial nations and marginalizing the Muslim world. Everything that is happening now is a result of that, but we have to throw off the cobwebs of colonialism that still enshroud us and return to the Islam that guided us for so long.

So hear me, “Muslim” leaders. I blame you more than I blame Britain or the United States. I blame the Muslim world for falling into a state of ignorance and idol worship that rivals that of the pagan Arabs of Quraish before the arrival of Prophet Muhammad, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him. I blame despots who torture their own people and emirs living a life of luxury while others starve. I blame the builders of clock towers and high buildings and five star hotels that cater to westerners. I blame the taxi driver who cheats his customer or the vegetable seller who turns his produce to hide the rotten underside. I blame myself for being weak and so enamored of this world that the harshest decision I have to make is whether to watch a rerun of “Psych” or the new season of “Continuum” on Netflix. I blame myself for not being more engaged. I blame myself for not crying in the night. I blame myself.

“Our Lord! We have wronged our own souls: If You forgive us not and bestow not upon us Your Mercy, we shall certainly be lost.” [Chapter 7, Verse 23]

I will try to do better. I will strive harder, pray more, repent more, teach more, love more, share more, demand more accountability, guide my kids more, encourage my husband more, give charity more, support my brothers and sisters more. My dear brothers and sisters in Gaza, in Burma, in Central African Republic, in Syria, in Iraq, in China, in all the corners of the world where you are beaten down, oppressed, tortured, killed, and mutilated, I will try to do better so you will not be forgotten.

Before I finish this and get back to my daily grind, I want to remind my fellow Muslims of one thing: IT’S NOT THE JEWS. Do not for one moment think that I will give you a pass if I hear ignorant racist tropes coming out of your mouth. Not all Jews are Zionists and not all Zionists are Jews. There are a lot more evangelical Christians who are Zionists than Jews, if you want to know the truth. There are many Jews inside and outside Israel who have spoken out against the Occupation in Palestine and who are horrified at the loss of life. There are Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Pagans, Atheists, and more who have spoken out. Here in the U.S., we would do well to remember that Jews were often at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement and there are still many today who strive to help those who are less fortunate or oppressed. So it’s not the Jews.

I don’t have an easy solution. I can’t magically swoop down and rescue a child from a playground under siege or dig out a pregnant woman from the rubble of her apartment building. I can’t grab missiles out of the air. I don’t have this power, but I have to remind myself that I have a far greater power, the power of du’a. I will ask Allah to forgive our shortcomings and relieve us from the oppression that surrounds us on every side, and I know He will call to account those who are responsible for the oppression. There are going to be a lot of guilty Muhammads right alongside the Benjamins and Matthews. We Muslims are in a mess and the only way out of this mess is to return to the correct practice of Islam as it was originally revealed. You know, that whole, worship One God, take care of your neighbor, cherish your family, don’t do drugs, don’t cheat people thing. You want to know whose fault it is? It’s our fault.
This piece originally appeared in Patheos: Muslimah in Progress.

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