What You Need to Know (and Do) About Al-Aqsa, Sheikh Jarrah, Gaza & Palestine
Current Events
May 11, 2021
A Palestinian woman is arrested after defending Masjid Al-Aqsa; image source: Pinterest
Social media has been abuzz (mainstream media not so much, of course) with stories coming directly from Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem, where Israeli settlers have been seizing homes from Palestinians who have been living there for decades. This, coupled with the attack on Masjid Al Aqsa (the third holiest mosque in Islam) and now bombings in Gaza (killing 21 people, including children so far) as Ramadan is coming to a close has upset and enraged Muslims and Palestinians around the world
If you don’t know the history of the illegal occupation and the apartheid state set up by Israel to oppress Palestinians and systematically take over their land, we strongly recommend you educate yourself. Al-Jazeera has a great resource you can start with. Let’s talk about what is happening, and what we can all do to help our Palestinian sisters and brothers.
What's happening in Sheikh Jarrah?
In October 2020, an Israeli court ruled to allow Israeli settlers to forcibly remove 12 Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem, which legally belongs to Palestine. These settlers are backed by Israeli soldiers with weapons. Israeli settlers have been regularly walking into Palestinian homes and literally forcing them out and taking over for years now, but things have recently escalated in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem.
What about Masjid Al-Aqsa?
While people gather to protest the Palestinian families being forcibly removed from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, Israeli forces continuously and violently (with weapons) attacked Masjid Al-Aqsa, the third holiest site in Islam, as well as the Muslims who were praying tarawih and qiyam. They are also prevented medical aid from entering Al-Aqsa mosque as well as attacking the hospice near where the injured are being treated. In addition, the extremist Zionists recorded a video celebrating the fires that were set on the campus of Al-Aqsa. Palestinians are fighting this fight on behalf of all Muslims and protecting Masjid Al-Aqsa alone,
What about Gaza?
Gaza tends to bear the brunt of Israel’s violence; whenever things escalate, they end up getting attacked. True to form, Israel has started bombing Gaza, killing innocent men, women, and children in the last nights of Ramadan.
Masjid Al-Aqsa; image source: Wikipedia
Why should you care?
Aside from the very obvious humanitarian and justice aspect of why we should care, Masjid Al-Aqsa is also the third holiest site in Islam, and the original qibla (the direction in which we pray, before it became the Ka'bah). It's where Prophet Muhammad (saw) ascended and descended in al Israa wal Miraj and the only place where all the Prophets gathered at one time (on this earth) to pray in congregation behind Prophet Muhammad (saw).
What can we do? Calls to action:
1. Sign Rep. Rashida Tlaib's (organized by Rashida and Action Network) petition to #SaveSheikhJarrah
2. Sign this petition asking Secretary of State Anthony Blinken(organized by Fast Action) to #SaveSheikhJarrah
3. Contact your Congressperson to support the Palestinian Children’s Act (H.R. 2590), which states that the U.S. will not fund the Israeli government's imprisonment and torture of Palestinian children; theft and destruction of Palestinian homes and property; or any further annexation of Palestinian land. There are currently only 18 members of congress backing it.
4. Contact your elected official via this form from Emgage asking to halt the illegal eviction of Palestinians.
5. Donate to support the Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU), which works to support Palestinian voices and grow support for Palestinian rights.
6. Donate to support Baitulmaal’s Palestinian crisis campaign.
7. Donate to support Islamic Relief USA’s Palestinian crisis campaign, which is working to support Palestinians on the ground with food assistance, orphan sponsorships, the building of a hospital and more.
8. Boycotting is a powerful tool. Support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Learn more here. (If the website isn’t loading, click here to view the official BDS twitter account.)
9. If you’re looking to write tweets or other language to support Sheikh Jarrah, Gaza, Masjid Al-Aqsa and Palestine, click here.
10. Follow @paliroots, @ampalestine, @eye.on.palestine (trigger warning), @letstalkpalestine and @theimeu to stay informed. Follow these Palestinians on the ground who are reporting and documenting the crisis: @mohammedelkurd, @muna.kurd15, @ayakhalaf.official and @kokym7.
Protestors demonstrate in solidarity with Palestinians in Amman, Jordan; image source: Raya Sharbain
What can we do? Du’as and prayers
The power of our du’as is immeasurable. When we have nothing, when we are in our most vulnerable state, we always have our connection to Allah (S) and our ability to make du’a. Even if the words are mixed up and frozen on our lips, Allah (S) knows the depths of our hearts. Make du’a for Palestinians, for their oppression to end, for justice and protection. Make du’a for the protection and preservation of Masjid Al-Aqsa and strength to the Palestinians who are defending this masjid with their lives.
Du’a al-Nasiri, or the prayer for the oppressed, is a profound du’a written by Imam Muhammad Ibn Nasir ad-Dar'i and recited throughout the Muslim world and throughout history. It is a powerful du’a to sincerely recite on behalf of those who are oppressed. Read more about the du’a here, and see Dr. Rania Awaad’s IG post, in which writes out the du’a in Arabic and English so we can recite it ourselves (especially in these last fleeting moments of Ramadan).
The people of Palestine need us to raise our voices and support them however we can. In a hadith recorded by Musnad Ahmed, the Prophet Muhammad (saw) said, “‘There is a group from my followers who will continue to be openly on the truth. No one opposing them can harm them until the coming of the Hour.’
The companions asked, ‘Where will they be?’
The Messenger said ‘They'll be in and around Bayt Al Maqdis (Jerusalem).’”
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