A Palestinian Prayer for Ramadan: May the Voices of the Oppressed Be Heard

April 21, 2021

Palestinian Muslims performing prayers and reading Quran in the Great Al-Omari Mosque in the early days of the holy month of Ramadan. (Photo: Fawzi Mahmoud, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Ramzy Baroud

COVID-19 cases in Palestine, especially in Gaza, have reached record highs, largely due to the arrival of a greatly contagious coronavirus variant which was first identified in Britain.

Gaza has always been vulnerable to the deadly pandemic. Under a hermetic Israeli blockade since 2006, the densely populated Gaza Strip lacks basic services like clean water, electricity, or minimally-equipped hospitals. Therefore, long before COVID-19 ravaged many parts of the world, Palestinians in Gaza were dying as a result of easily treatable diseases such as diarrhea, salmonella and typhoid fever.

Needless to say, Gaza’s cancer patients have little fighting chance, as the besieged Strip is left without many life-saving medications. Many Palestinian cancer patients continue to cling to the hope that Israel’s military authorities will allow them access to the better equipped Palestinian West Bank hospitals. Alas, quite often, death arrives before the long-awaited Israeli permit does.

The tragedy in Gaza – in fact in all of occupied Palestine – is long and painful. Still, it ought not to be classified as another sad occasion that invokes much despair but little action.

In fact, the struggle of the Palestinians is integral to a larger struggle for fundamental human rights that can be witnessed throughout the Middle East which, according to a recent Carnegie Corporation report, is one of the most economically unequal regions in the world.

From war-torn Libya to war-torn Syria, to Yemen, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan and many parts of the Arab and Muslim world, the dual tragedy of war and want is a scathing reminder of the price ordinary people pay for frivolous power struggles that yield nothing but more uncertainty and achieve nothing but more hatred.

Once more, the holy month of Ramadan visits the Muslim Ummah while its tragedies are still festering – new conflicts, unfinished wars, an ever-expanding death toll and a never-ending stream of refugees. Sadly, not even Ramadan, a month associated with peace, mercy and unity, is enough to bring about however fleeting moments of tranquility, or a respite from hunger and war for numerous Muslim communities around the world.

In Palestine, the Israeli occupation often takes even more sinister turns during this month, as if to intentionally compound the suffering felt by Palestinians. On April 14, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and preacher of Al-Aqsa Mosque called on Arabs and Muslims to intervene so that Israel may cease its harassment of Palestinians at the holy shrines of Al Quds – occupied East Jerusalem.

Aside from the increased attacks by Jewish extremists, who are now storming Al-Aqsa Mosque at a significantly higher rate than ever before, the Israeli occupation authorities have “removed the doors of the Mosque’s minarets, cut the electrical wires of loudspeakers to prevent the Adhan (call to prayer) and seized (Ramadan) iftar meals, in addition to threatening to storm the Mosque on the final days of the holy month of Ramadan,” Sheikh Hussein said in a statement.

Israel fully comprehends the spiritual connection that Palestinians, whether Muslims or Christians, have to their religious symbols. For Muslims, this rapport is further accentuated during the holy month of Ramadan. Severing this connection is equal to breaking the collective spirit of the Palestinian people.

These are only a few examples of a multifaceted and deeply rooted tragedy felt by most Palestinians. Numerous similar stories, though of different political and spatial contexts, are communicated every day throughout the Muslim world. Yet, there is no meaningful discussion of a collective remedy, of a strategy, of a thoughtful answer.

Ramadan is intended to be a time when Muslims are united on the basis of a wholly different criterion: where political and ideological differences disappear in favor of spiritual unity which is expressed in fasting, prayer, charity and kindness. Unfortunately, what we are witnessing is not Ramadan as it was intended to be, but different manifestations of the holy month, each catering to a different class – a painful but true expression of the disunity and inequality that have afflicted the Muslim Ummah.

There is the Ramadan of boundless wealth, finely catered iftar meals, coupled with endless, cheap entertainment. In this Ramadan, platitudes are often offered about charity and the poor, but little is delivered.

There is also the Ramadan of Palestine, Sudan and Yemen, of the Syrian refugee camps and of little dinghies dotting the Mediterranean, carrying thousands of desperate families, holding little but their hope of a better future beyond some horizon. For them, Ramadan is a stream of prayers that the world, especially their Muslim brethren, may come to their rescue. For them, there is little entertainment because there is no electricity and there are no massive iftar feasts because there is no money.

“Dua” is Arabic for supplication. For the oppressed, dua is the last resort; at times, even a weapon against oppression in all of its forms. This is why we often see bereaved Muslims raising their open palms to the sky whenever tragedy has befallen them. Ramadan is the month where the poor, destitute and oppressed raise their hands to Heaven, beseeching God in various accents and languages to hear their prayers.

They are reassured by such hadiths – sayings of Prophet Mohammed – as this: “The supplications of three persons are never turned away: a fasting person until he breaks his fast, a just ruler and the supplication of the oppressed which is raised by Allah above the clouds, the gates of Heaven are opened for it, and the Lord says: By my might, I will help you in due time.”

There has never been a more critical time for the Ummah to work together, to heal its collective wound, to uplift its down-trodden, to care for its poor, to embrace its refugees and to fight for its oppressed. Many Muslim communities around the world are aching and their pain is unbearable. Perhaps this Ramadan can serve as the opportunity for social justice to be finally enacted and for the oppressed to be heard so that their hymn of torment and hope may rise above the clouds.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) and also at the Afro-Middle East Center (AMEC). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

Sayyed Nasrallah To the Saudis: Don’t Waste Your Time, Yemen is Victorious …The US is Declining

Sayyed Nasrallah To the Saudis: Don’t Waste Your Time, Yemen is Victorious …The US is Declining
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Zeinab Essa

Hezbollah Secretary General His Eminence Sayyed Hassasn Nasrallah delivered on Wednesday a speech on the memorial ceremony held by the Association of Muslim Scholars to honor its late Chairman of the Board of Trustees, judge Sheikh Ahmad Zein.

As His Eminence renewed Hezbollah’s condolences on the demise of the great Sheikh, dear resistance fighter, father and teacher Sheikh Ahmad Zein, His Eminence hailed “Sheikh Zein as a sublime model of faith, religiosity, knowledge and sincerity.”

“Sheikh Ahmad Zein resembles a model of ethics, humility, transparency, tenderness, friendliness, love and kindness,” Sayyed Nasrallah added, noting that “Sheikh Ahmad Zein is a model of the revolutionary resistant who was clear in his stances, vision, and bravery.”

In parallel, the resistance leader underscored that “Sheikh Ahmad Zein was stable and solid in the path of [Muslim] unity and resistance.”

“Unlike Sheikh Ahmad Zein, other people’s stances changed due to personal desperation, Petrodollars and authority,” he confirmed, praising “Sheikh Ahmad Zein, who walked a path of an intellectual, juristic, and religious basis on which he remained firm.”

According to Sayyed Nasrallah, “Sheikh Ahmed placed before him the constants of Palestine, its people, Al-Quds and the occupied land from the sea to the river. He took upon himself the cause of confronting the ‘Israeli’-American scheme to dominate the region.”

“Sheikh Ahmed, from the beginning to the end, was with Palestine and against the liquidation of its cause and with everyone who stood with it,” His Eminence highlighted, recalling that “Sheikh Ahmad Zein stood from the beginning with the revolution in Iran, because it supported Palestine.”

Moreover, Sayyed Nasrallah went on to say: “Sheikh Zein backed and supported all resistance fighters and scholars. He offered all what he could for the sake of resistance.”

He further said that “The most difficult situation for Sheikh Ahmed Zein was in Syria, and he endured a lot for that stance.”

“The most important reason behind targeting Syria was because of Palestine and the resistance, which Sheikh Zein had been aware of,” His Eminence mentioned, reminding that “Sheikh Zein rejected the regime’s practices in Bahrain and the war on Yemen despite all the pressures, and he was one of the scholars who uncovered the fabrications and misleading regarding the talk of the so-called sectarian war in Yemen.”

Sayyed Nasrallah also hinted that “The most difficult level of Sheikh Zein’s and the resistance scholars’ political life was in this decade. Recently, stances made by Sheikh Zein and other scholars were of great importance.”

In addition, Sayyed Nasrallah underscored that “In the last stage, the position of Sheikh Zein and other scholars had great significance. One of the most dangerous and difficult problems was those who tried to turn the battles into a sectarian war.”

Meanwhile, Sayyed Nasrallah hailed the historic role of many scholars who buried the sectarian division long sought by conspiring states, noting that what happened in many countries was intended to be turned into a Sunni-Shia strife as in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, etc…

“Those who broke the strife in this war are the wonderful and distinguished Sunni elite,” he elaborated.

On another level, Sayyed Nasrallah underscored that “There is a new political and media war against the oppressed Yemeni people through showing that Saudi Arabia wants to end the war while Ansarullah refuses this.”

“What is proposed to the Yemenis is not an end to the war. It is just a ceasefire while all other forms of war continue such as blocking the airport, seaports, and borders,” he emphasized, noting that “What is proposed to Yemenis is a major deceit that neither Sayyed Abdul Malik Al-Houthi nor the Ansarullah movement or the Yemeni scholars will be deceived with, not even the Yemeni children will accept this.”

In addition, Sayyed Nasrallah hailed “The Yemeni people who are as great in politics as in resistance.”

He further advised the Saudis and the Americans not to waste time after they have touched the Yemenis could not be deceived. “Ceasing the fire without lifting the siege is misleading and reflects the desire to achieve what they were unable to score in the military field.”

To the Saudis, Sayyed Nasrallah sent a sounding message: “Don’t waste time as your game won’t deceive the Yemenis. Just stop the war and end the blockade.”

On the Palestinian front, His Eminence viewed that “Palestinian steadfastness is the reason behind ‘the deal of the century’s’ failure, particularly disappearance from circulation.”

“The axis of resistance passed and crossed the worst and most dangerous stage in its history, and it continues to meet threats with hard work and the accumulation of capabilities,” Sayyed Nasrallah stressed, underlining that “Iran will not give today what it didn’t give during the harshest stage of sanctions and the daily threat with war.”

Moreover, he underlined that “Iran is on the threshold of overcoming the blockade and sanctions, and it has proven its strength and abilities.”

“Biden’s admin is seeking not to let Iran be part of an alliance that includes Russia and China. However, what Iran did not offer amid the harshest sanctions and daily threats of war it won’t offer now. It’s on its way to overcome the blockade and sanctions. It [Iran] proved strength.”

On another level, Sayyed Nasrallah predicted that “The US is moving in decline, while the axis of resistance is moving in an upward progression.”

To the Lebanese, His Eminence sent the following advise:“Let us not wait for America, the world, and developments. Let us set internal and regional dialogues to solve our problems.”

“America’s allies should know that the current US administration’s priorities are not in our region anymore, and that the US is sinking,” he said, warning that “Everybody should learn that Lebanon has exhausted its time. And it is now that we must reach a solution.”

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