Monday, 31 March 2014

Do good deeds!

"If anyone does deeds of righteousness -- be they male or female -- and have faith, they will enter Heaven, and not the least injustice will be done to them." The Holy Quran, 4:124

Why Some Muslim Men Love Khadija and Ayesha

 I loved this article from this tumblr :) This is an awesome brother mashAllah!

In the past couple of days, I’ve been witness to something that has angered me beyond measure. Some Muslim women started a hashtag on Twitter to talk about their issues. Why Twitter you ask? Well, because women’s issues are only marginally covered in the broader media unless it’s somehow connected to “saving” them or hijab or Femen. Under this hashtag - #IfKhadijaCanDoIt -, they were attempting to talk about the issues and problems facing them in current times.
As you guessed it, some Muslim men attempted to hijack it and infuse it with their own reactionary ideas of how Muslim women should live their lives. Below is a Twitter tirade I had last night that was directed at these men. For the most part, it’s what I tweeted as is, but I have added some new words and edited the tweets because in the heat of my anger, I forgot to type right at times. Here goes:

Dear Certain Muslim Men:

I’m tired and fed up with the double standards you have when it comes to Muslim women.
Why do I sense that there are two Islams for some of us? Why do I feel like the Islam for men is different from the Islam for women? On the one hand, there’s the cosmopolitan, inclusive, open Islam for men. It’s political, spiritual, religious. On the other, we’ve constructed an Islam for women that is only concerned with how they should belong to us in some way - whether as mothers, sisters, daughters or wives.
When we talk about Muslim men’s rights, we talk about everything - employment, immigration, health, education, workplace discrimination, systematic racism, racial profiling, insecurity… you name it, we talk about it. The Islam for men is politically charged. We use it to tackle issues that we face daily in our lives as independent beings with inalienable rights.
However, the Islam we’ve constructed for women serves only one purpose: to train women to be “good” mothers, wives, daughters and sisters. We don’t look at women’s problems in the same way as we do our own. We treat them like they’re far less dire than the hurdles facing us. When women attempt to get us to take them seriously, we patronize them with words like, “This is not as important as X, Y and Z facing the community right now.” As if women don’t have to struggle with issues we do.
We pretend like education, health care, immigration, racism etc… don’t affect them. Like they are only men’s issues. Some of us push hard to stunt their inclusion in our political struggles. When we allow them to join, we tokenize their presence. We’re happy to have them in full hijab, or with purdahs at rallies to show off how accepting of women’s rights we are. We like to talk about it to media. We showcase women in our political struggle, but behind closed doors, we’re just as prejudiced against them as the system that oppresses them.
We ignore that not only do they have to face every single problem we do, but they have to struggle against systemic and systematic misogyny, too, - not to mention far higher levels of sexual violence and almost all the sexual harassment.

Obviously, the worst of us want women to be confined to our houses - their role only to support us physically, spiritually and sexually. However, even among the best of us Muslim men, some treat women only as good as they can serve us in some way. Even when it comes to our political struggle, we include women to raise awareness about issues that are hurting us men, but when it comes to their problems, some of us abandon them. We don’t stand behind their voices. The worst don’t even listen.
Domestic violence? Their problem. 
Lack of access to or cramped spaces and humiliation at mosques? Their problem. 
Sexual harassment? Their problem. 
Sexism at work? Their problem. 
Misrepresentation in the media? Their problem.

If it’s something that pertains to only Muslim women, we pretend like it doesn’t even exist. We’re ready to defend ourselves when some Islamophobic nutjob collectively accuses us of treating Muslim women harshly, but when it comes to Muslim women being treated harshly by others, we don’t even notice. When Muslim women fight with us for our rights, they’re welcome. When it’s their rights, they stand alone. It’s like some Muslim men - even educated, cosmopolitan, “enlightened” men - feel shamed by supporting Muslim women.
But this… this angers me the most. This phrase that gets thrown around by some men when they’re confronted with women who want their rights, “Islam already gives women all the rights she needs.” This. Is. Bull****.

Brothers, when we are beat up by cops in NY, do we say, “Islam already gives men all the rights we need.” ??? Brothers, when our mosques are bugged by the FBI, do we say, “Islam already gives men all the rights we need.” ??? What about when we’re not hired because we’re brown? “Islam already gives men all the rights we need,” ??? No?
Brothers: Why is it that when Muslim men face racism and discrimination, we don’t talk about the prophet’s companions Othman or Omar? Brothers: Why is it that when the police uses violence against us, we don’t talk about Abuzar or Talha? Brothers: Seriously, if Islam is for all time, then why are we not able to see our issues in the prism of 1,400 years ago?
Oh, but just you wait till women’s issues come up. We all suddenly become scholars of early Islamic history.
Brothers, the only thing some of us can tell women is: “Well, just look at Khadija and Ayesha. That should solve your problem.”
Tell me brothers: How can looking at Khadija help a Muslim woman who’s being denied access to education by the state? How does looking at Ayesha help a Muslim who is being sexually harassed on the way to work? How should a Muslim woman who’s being discriminated against at work follow Fatima to solve her problem? You can’t because you and I both know why we use Khadija and Ayesha and Fatima when it comes to women’s issues.
We tell Muslim their problems are solved by women from early Islamic history because they were all housewives.
That’s what some of us want Muslim women to be, brothers. We want them to only serve our needs. Their existence tied to us. We don’t actually want to support Muslim women in their struggle against issues facing them. We just want to one up them while acting smart about it. But to live a life like Khadija or Ayesha, you need to have a husband like Mohammed, which I don’t see any of us being like. Even if Muslim women choose to be housewives - and many do - they’ll still struggle against patriarchy - at home.
The truth is, when some men tell Muslim women they should follow Khadija or Ayesha, what we really mean is: “Follow men.” Guess what: If there was a school in Mecca in 7th century AD, I’m sure Khadija and Ayesha would’ve liked to go to study, too. Muslim women would’ve become nurses, doctors, and teachers, too, if those institutions existed. If all the Muslim women should do is what women in 7th century AD Mecca did, then why are men doing different things?
Why don’t we men take camels up and down the Mecca-Syria trail since that’s what the best Muslim men back then did? Name one male companion of the prophet who was a doctor or an engineer or a college professor. One. (The answer by the way is zero). Better yet, why aren’t we dreaming of becoming sheep herders when we grow up because that’s what the prophet grew up to do.
Why do some Muslim men want to be doctors, engineers and college professors unlike the prophet and his companions? Isn’t this bid’ah and fitnah? But when Muslim women want to teach, or treat patients or design cars some of us start shouting, “KHADIJA! AYESHA! BID’AH! FITNAH!” And best of all: “Islam already gives women all the rights she needs…”
You know what that translates to? “Make me food. Suck my d***. Raise my kids.”

The truth is, some of us use Khadija and Ayesha and Fatima’s names to enslave their daughters - nothing more, nothing less. Worse, we use Islam to justify our own inadequacies, our own prejudices and our own misogyny and contempt for women. No, Islam doesn’t give women all the rights they need because some of these rights didn’t even exist back then. There were no constitutions, no social contracts and no inalienable rights.
That’s why Islam isn’t the be all end all for us men and our problems and rights in contemporary society. That’s why our banners decrying racial profiling by New York Police Department don’t include the words, “Islam already gives us all the rights we need. Please continue to oppress us because we’re very happy.”

So what is the solution? How can we men help? Here’s a revolutionary idea: listen to Muslim women.
Muslim women know their problems and the solutions to them. They’re working on it. All they need from us is support. They’re fighting against the system denying them their rights and you know, their issues are too complex for a guy - like me and you - to understand on our own. We have to learn - from them. After they’ve made us understand, we have to ask them how we can support them. Not support them the way we would like to.
Most of all, we men shouldn’t try to come up with answers: Muslim women already have most of them and are working on the rest. Our job is when women come out to implement their solutions to stand behind them or beside them. Not in front of them. They’re already in the trenches for their rights and for solving their issues. They need amplification of their voices not obstruction. We can stand with them against the state, the religious establishment, even our own brothers - just like they stand with us when our rights are at stake. Or we can ignore them, but even ignoring them - at this critical juncture - is better than beating the Khadija and Ayesha drum.
Not only does it demean Khadija and Ayesha and show our contempt for women, it also gives the system extra ammunition to oppress women. After all, if Muslim men don’t want women to have their rights, why should the states care?

Finally, next time someone asks you why you’re speaking for women’s rights or joining their rallies, tell them because:

"If one of you sees something wrong, let him change it with his hand; if he cannot, then with his tongue; if he cannot, then with his heart and this is the weakest faith." - Prophet Mohammed (PBUH)

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Hadith of the Day: Teach Goodness

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "God and His angels, the dwellers of the heavens and of the earth, even an ant in its hole and fish (in the depths of the sea), invoke blessings on (a scholar) who teaches people goodness." Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 70

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

The writing on the wall...

The writing on the wall? Apparently it’s a verse from the Quran, “And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect." [30:21]

Monday, 24 March 2014

Of Aisha’s age at marriage

IT is said that Hazrat Aisha was six years old when her nikah was performed with Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in Makkah, and nine years old when she moved in to live with her husband in Madina after Hijra.
This piece of misinformation has led to the wrong view that child marriage has the sanction of Islam. It must be noted that establishing the authenticity of hadiths, the narrators’ circumstances and the conditions at that time have to be correlated with historical facts. There is only one hadith by Hisham which suggests the age of Hazrat Aisha as being nine when she came to live with her husband.
Many authentic hadiths also show that Hisham’s narration is incongruous with several historical facts about the Prophet’s life, on which there is consensus. With reference to scholars such as Umar Ahmed Usmani, Hakim Niaz Ahmed and Habibur Rehman Kandhulvi, I would like to present some arguments in favour of the fact that Hazrat Aisha was at least 18 years old when her nikah was performed and at least 21 when she moved into the Prophet’s house to live with him.
According to Umar Ahmed Usmani, in Surah Al-Nisa, it is said that the guardian of the orphans should keep testing them, until they reach the age of marriage, before returning their property (4:6). From this scholars have concluded that the Quran sets a minimum age of marriage which is at least puberty. Since the approval of the girl has a legal standing, she cannot be a minor.
Hisham bin Urwah is the main narrator of this hadith. His life is divided into two periods: in 131A.H. the Madani period ended, and the Iraqi period started, when Hisham was 71 years old. Hafiz Zehbi has spoken about Hisham’s loss of memory in his later period. His students in Madina, Imam Malik and Imam Abu Hanifah, do not mention this hadith. Imam Malik and the people of Madina criticised him for his Iraqi hadiths.
All the narrators of this hadith are Iraqis who had heard it from Hisham. Allama Kandhulvi says that the words spoken in connection with Hazrat Aisha’s age were tissa ashara, meaning 19, when Hisham only heard (or remembered), tissa, meaning nine. Maulana Usmani thinks this change was purposely and maliciously made later.
Historian Ibn Ishaq in his Sirat Rasul Allah has given a list of the people who accepted Islam in the first year of the proclamation of Islam, in which Hazrat Aisha’s name is mentioned as Abu Bakr’s “little daughter Aisha”. If we accept Hisham’s calculations, she was not even born at that time.
Some time after the death of the Prophet’s first wife, Hazrat Khadija, Khawla suggested to the Prophet that he get married again, to a bikrun, referring to Hazrat Aisha (Musnad Ahmed). In Arabic bikrun is used for an unmarried girl who has crossed the age of puberty and is of marriageable age. The word cannot be used for a six-year-old girl.
Some scholars think that Hazrat Aisha was married off so early because in Arabia girls mature at an early age. But this was not a common custom of the Arabs at that time. According to Allama Kandhulvi, there is no such case on record either before or after Islam. Neither has this ever been promoted as a Sunnah of the Prophet. The Prophet married off his daughters Fatima at 21 and Ruquiyya at 23. Besides, Hazrat Abu Bakr, Aisha’s father, married off his eldest daughter Asma at the age of 26.
Hazrat Aisha narrates that she was present on the battlefield at the Battle of Badar (Muslim). This leads one to conclude that Hazrat Aisha moved into the Prophet’s house in 1 A.H. But a nine-year-old could not have been taken on a rough and risky military mission.
In 2 A.H, the Prophet refused to take boys of less than 15 years of age to the battle of Uhud. Would he have allowed a 10-year-old girl to accompany him? But Anas reported that he saw Aisha and Umme Sulaim carrying goatskins full of water and serving it to the soldiers (Bukhari). Umme Sulaim and Umme Ammara, the other women present at Uhud, were both strong, mature women whose duties were the lifting of the dead and injured, treating their wounds, carrying water in heavy goatskins, supplying ammunition and even taking up the sword.
Hazrat Aisha used the kunniat, the title derived from the name of a child, of Umme Abdullah after her nephew and adopted son. If she was six when her nikah was performed, she would have been only eight years his senior, hardly making him eligible for adoption. Also, a little girl could not have given up on ever having her own child and used an adopted child’s name for her kunniat.
Hazrat Aisha’s nephew Urwah once remarked that he was not surprised about her amazing knowledge of Islamic law, poetry and history because she was the wife of the Prophet and the daughter of Abu Bakr. If she was eight when her father migrated, when did she learn poetry and history from him?
There is consensus that Hazrat Aisha was 10 years younger than her elder sister Asma, whose age at the time of the hijrah, or migration to Madina, was about 28. It can be concluded that Hazrat Aisha was about 18 years old at migration. On her moving to the Prophet’s house, she was a young woman at 21. Hisham is the single narrator of the hadith whose authenticity is challenged, for it does not correlate with the many historical facts of the time.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

A Woman's Love, A Prophet's Promise

Pls read full post at the excellent Salafi Feminist blog: 

A Warrior’s Spirit

Nusaybah bint Ka'b, Umm ‘Imarah al-Ansariyyah was another sahabiyyah whose love for Rasul Allah (sallAllahu 'alayhi wa sallam) resulted in a unique relationship that has been immortalised in the seerah.
Initially a nurse, Umm ‘Imarah was present at the battlefield of Uhud when the rumour began to spread that Rasul Allah had been killed. Amidst the fleeing of Muslim soldiers, Umm ‘Imarah lifted her sword and sought out the Prophet (sallAllahu 'alayhi wa sallam) for herself. When she found him, she placed herself firmly in front of him and began to defend him with a strength and courage to rival that of the male companions.
The power of her love was such that when her son was gravely injured, she didn’t even stop until Rasul Allah (sallAllahu 'alayhi wa sallam) told her to attend to him. “From where can anyone get courage like you, O Umm 'Imarah?”
It is narrated that the Prophet said that in whichever direction he turned in the battlefield, he could see her defending and protecting him. Admiring the ferocity of her devotion, Rasul Allah (sallAllahu 'alayhi wa sallam) invoked Allah's blessings on Umm ‘Imarah’s family and prayed that they should be his friends in Paradise as well.
After the Battle of Uhud, Umm ‘Imarah wielded her sword on the battlefields of Yamamah and Hunayn and was present at the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah. She also took part in the second pledge of ‘Aqabah.

However, Umm ‘Imarah’s relationship with the Messenger of Allah was not restricted to the battlefield. It is also due to her questioning that the famous verse of Surah al-Ahzab, verse 35, was revealed. 
Umm ‘Imarah al-Ansariyyah said that she went to the Prophet (sallAllahu 'alayhi wa sallam) and said to him: "I feel that everything is for men. Women are not mentioned as having anything!” Verse 35 of Surah al-Ahzab was then sent down. 
(The Hadith is narrated by at-Tirmidhi under No. 3211, and is in Sahih at-Tirmidhi under No. 2565)

These stories are examples of how Rasul Allah (sallAllahu 'alayhi wa sallam) interacted with the women of his Ummah, inspiring their love for him and their dedication to Islam. His dealings with the sahabiyyaat were full of dignity and respect, acknowledging their sacrifices and their talents. He valued them as much as any male companion and never, for a moment, doubted their sincerity or their worth.

In turn, the sahabiyyat loved him fiercely. Not as a husband or a father, but as the Messenger of Allah: the person who had brought them the message of Islam, the truth that purified their souls, the only path that would lead them to their Lord and Creator. It was Muhammad (sallAllahu 'alayhi wa sallam) who taught them about Allah, who told them about Paradise and its beauty and its reward, who warned them against Hell and its torments.

It was for the sake of Allah and His Messenger that the Sahabiyyaat transformed their lives and sacrificed their health and wealth, dedicating their lives to the promise delivered by Rasul Allah (sallAllahu 'alayhi wa sallam):

{Indeed, the Muslim men and Muslim women, the believing men and believing women, the obedient men and obedient women, the truthful men and truthful women, the patient men and patient women, the humble men and humble women, the charitable men and charitable women, the fasting men and fasting women, the men who guard their private parts and the women who do so, and the men who remember Allah often and the women who do so - for them Allah has prepared forgiveness and a great reward.} (Al-Ahzab:35)

Thursday, 13 March 2014

The best to women....

"The most perfect of men in belief are they who are best in character. The best in character are they who are best to women."

The Prophet Muhammed, upon him be peace. (Al-Tirmidhi)

Monday, 10 March 2014

Loving the Prophet is the essence of Islam

Wonderful blog post from Dr Musharraf Hussain:

The Persian poet Saadi Shirazi sang a eulogy of the Prophet: “Thousand times was I to wash my mouth with rose water it would still be insolence to utter your beautiful name.”
The Quran describes the Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) beautiful, loving, compassionate and caring character in these glowing words: “He is ever yearning for your welfare and very compassionate and beneficent towards the believers”. He loves us and Muslims in return love him too. Loving is this intense feeling of affection, fondness, delight and admiration for the most magnificent person who ever lived in human history. History has produced many great leaders who have left their marks on different walks of human life. There have been great philosophers, scholars, pious saints, conquerors, poets, musicians, inventors and doctors, all these great men have changed the course of human history for better one way or another.
However, the life of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is unique and has certain outstanding features, which set it apart from the rest of the leaders. William Draper in his book “history of the intellectual development of Europe” said “four years after the death of Justinian A.D. 569, was born in Makka the man who of all men exercised the greatest influence upon the human race, Muhammad“. Similarly la Martin in ‘Histoire de la Turquie’ says “philosopher orator, apostle, legislator, conqueror of ideas, restorer of rational dogmas of cult without images, the founder of 20 terrestrial empires and of one spiritual empire that is Muhammad as regards all standards by which human greatness may be measured. We may well ask is there any man greater than him.”
The Quran describes the messenger of God’s (peace be upon him) special role; “There is a beautiful role model for him who wishes and hopes to meet his Lord” (33:21). Therefore the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is really a role model and exemplary person. We recognise the need for role models, children imitate their parents, students copy their teachers and those who yearn for perfection, he is a role model for all in beliefs, behaviour and lifestyle.
Love is an intense feeling of deep affection and fondness for someone. It’s a transitive verb which requires an object, so you love something, you love someone, you delight in them, you admire them and cherish them. Muslim poets have expressed their love for the Prophet (peace be upon him) in various ways.
For a Muslim the Prophet (peace be upon him) is really the centre of his life, of his attention and of his very being. So if you imagine Islam is the name of a body then Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the spirit of that body and if you imagine Islam is a tree then Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the leaves and the fruit of that tree, if Islam is a flower then Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the scent and that beautiful colour. In brief whatever image of Islam you can conjure and imagine, then Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the lifeblood of that. Loving the Prophet (peace be upon him) is really the very essence of believers life and the early Muslims displayed this deep affection and this intense love of the Prophet (peace be upon him) openly. Here is a description of their passion for the Prophet (peace be upon him): Urwa bin Masood Saqafi was the ambassador of the Quraish at the time of the treaty of Hudabiya on his return to Makkah he said to them “I witnessed some amazing scenes, when Muhammad washes himself, his disciples do not let a drop of water fall on the ground, they take it in their hands, whatever he says they obey him, I have visited the courts of the Roman and Persian emperors but nowhere have I seen such scenes of loyalty and dedication to their leader”.
Even the world of kufr knows that in order to defeat and divert the Muslims from their religion. They have to weaken this link with the Prophet (peace be upon him). Iqbal the great poet of Islam reveals this conspiracy of the non-Muslims in this couplet. He said “this starving man who does not fear a bit, take away from him the spirit of Muhammad and give him Western ideals and it will be then it expelled and then you will be able to easily expel Islam from the Muslims”.
In another place Iqbal attributes his own fondness and love of Islam and his deep understanding of the message and the meaning of the religion of Islam to this deep love. He says “the dazzling Western intellect did not impress me at all since my eyes were filled with the dust of Medina and Najaf.” He believed that the love of the Prophet (peace be upon him) was his powerful shield against the influences of the Western culture. He said “the Western culture corrupts the mind and heart because it is no longer chaste and pure and when the salt is no longer pure then it is impossible to have even a clean conscience, lofty ideals good taste.”
So we see that the love of messenger (peace be upon him) is the energy that drives the believers on the straight path, it is the shield, which protects them from the evil influences of a society and the deceptions of his own ego and the snares of satan. Let me give you another example of the disciple’s love for the messenger (peace be upon him). Aisha the mother of believers reported that one day Sauban a disciple came to the messenger (peace be upon him) and he looked quite sad and the messenger (peace be upon him) said ‘why are you gloomy and sorrowful?’ He replied I love you more than myself and my family and whenever I miss you I visit you, but now my anxiety is increasing that in the hereafter when I die you will be in a very lofty place near your Lord, but I don’t know where I will be, this worries me, this thought of being detached from you and not being able to visit you makes me miserable. The Prophet (peace be upon him) on hearing this was very moved and was quiet for a while then this verse was revealed from God: “whoever follows God and his messenger these are the people, whom God has blessed they are the prophets , the truthful, the martyrs and the righteous people. What a wonderful group of friends” (4:69).
Love of the Prophet (peace be upon him) is a basic ingredient of Islam. The Prophet (peace be upon him) himself declared that “none of you can be a believer until I am more dear to you that your parents, children and the rest of humanity”. The love of the Prophet (peace be upon him) has to be more intense, deeper, stronger than love for anything else. In another hadith it is reported that a man once came to the messenger (peace be upon him) and asked “when is the last day coming and the messenger (peace be upon him) asked him ‘what have you prepared for it?’ He said I haven’t prepared a lot but I do love God and his messenger and the Prophet (peace be upon him) replied well if that’s the case then remember a person will be with the one who he loves.” This is why Iqbal very poetically said “the essence of the Quran, the spirit of faith and the secrets of religion all lie in the love of the mercy for universe.
Another poet eloquently puts this point when he says: ”the love of Muhammad is the first requirement of religion if this is lacking then everything is incomplete”. Love is the intense feeling of fondness for someone who has outstanding qualities, he has force field of energy about him which attract others. It is difficult to pin down what love is precisely. However, we can identify two reasons for loving someone; his special quality of attractiveness due to his power or knowledge and secondly a favour that he has done to us making us indebted for the protection and security whether it is financial assistance, when we look at the life of Muhammad (peace be upon him), we see in him the most wonderful qualities of generosity, kindness, compassion and forgiveness. Another immense favour on mankind is delivering mankind from the darkness of ignorance to the light of deen.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Hebron Under Siege

Twenty years ago, on 25 February 1994, Baruch Goldstein, an American Jewish settler from Brooklyn, New York, walked into the Ibrahimi Mosque in the Palestinian city of Hebron, in the occupied West Bank.
It was during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
He opened fire, killing 29 Palestinian men and boys and injuring dozens more, before his victims overwhelmed him and beat him to death.

Killer praised as hero

Mohammed Abu al-Halawa, now 53, a survivor who was left paralyzed by Goldstein, told Ma’an News Agency this week, “I remember the massacre at every moment and am physically still affected by it … I’m still in a lot of pain and need regular medical treatment.”
“It pains me whenever I see settlers dancing next to the grave of the criminal who left me disabled.”
For years afterwards, the mass murderer’s grave became “a pilgrimage site” for admirers.
Even recently, Israeli settlers have celebrated Goldstein as a hero, teaching their children to revere him for his murderous act, especially during the Jewish festival of Purim.
Goldstein had lived in the settlement of Kiryat Arba and had been a member of the violent extremist Jewish Defense League, founded by Meir Kahane.
On 6 April 1994, Palestinians carried out the first ever suicide bombing targeting Israeli civilians, killing eight people in the northern town of Afula. Hamas, which claimed responsibility for the bombing, said it was in retaliation for the Hebron massacre.

Punishing Palestinians

In the days immediately after the Hebron massacre, Israeli occupation forces took action not against the settlers but against Palestinians: Israeli forces killed and injured dozens more unarmed Palestinians protesting the massacre across the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
This set the pattern: instead of cracking down on the settlers, Israel escalated its persecution of Palestinians, especially in Hebron, gradually allowing the settlers to take over more of the city.
The Ibrahimi Mosque was forcibly partitioned with settlers being given most of the space – a precedent many Palestinians fear the Israeli occupation will one day try to repeat at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque.
In 1997, settlers were rewarded even further for Goldstein’s massacre when the Palestinian Authority agreed to allow the occupation to partition Hebron itself into two zones: “H1” and “H2.”
H1 is nominally administered by the Palestinian Authority and is home to more than 120,000 Palestinians.
H2, under full Israeli military rule, includes Hebron’s historic Old City as well as the Ibrahimi Mosque.
Israeli occupation forces severely restrict the movement of more than 30,000 Palestinians in H2 while Israeli settlers move about freely under army protection.
Since then, settlers have aggressively seized Palestinian properties in the Old City, leaving much of the city center a ghost town.
A 2006 survey by the Israeli rights group B’Tselem found that at least 1,014 Palestinian homes in the Old City of Hebron had been vacated by their occupants and more than 1,800 businesses had shuttered due to the Israeli takeover.
This represented 42 percent of the housing units in the district and more than three-quarters of the businesses.

Hebron still under siege

In the beautifully shot 5-minute documentary above, Hebron Under Siege, Palestinian filmmaker Nizar Abu Zayyad visits some of the residents of old Hebron’s main thoroughfareShuhada Street, shut down by Israeli occupation forces since the massacre.
Zuleekha Mohtaseb’s tells us how the front door of her house, opening onto Shuhada Street, has been welded shut by order of the Israeli army
“We are barred from using the street in any way,” she says.
“To the right and to the left of us, we are surrounded by settlement outposts that harass us constantly.”
Settlers can go where they like and often throw things at Palestinians and curse them.
“You feel you are under house arrest, a prisoner in your own house,” Mohtaseb adds.
“By what right? What right grants him [the settler] freedom of movement and takes it away from me? Is it because I’m Palestinian and he’s Israeli? He is the one coming from the far end of the world and claiming ownership of the land. But I am the one born here.”
Bader Syoori, a businessowner, talks about the economic devastation caused by the closure of Shuhada Street
After the massacre, things changed totally, he explains. Israel closed the area to Palestinian vehicles before it became strictly off limits in 2002.
Samah Brewesh, 15, talked about the daily ordeal and harassment children like her face because of the settlers, while the settlers enjoy every advantage.
“Their children live in luxury, they have a place to play in. In my neighborhood, children have none.”
Abdul Halim Syoori, also a businessowner, says he wishes that things will return to how they once were, “that we live just like we used to in the old days. We work and earn a living for our children.”
Zuleekha Mohtaseb wants to use her front door. “We want the settlers gone,” she says.