Friday 23 February 2024

The Sacred Heart: Understanding the Importance of Jerusalem in Islam


In the tapestry of Islamic faith and history, few cities hold as profound a significance as Jerusalem. Known in Arabic as "Al-Quds," meaning "The Holy," Jerusalem occupies a central place in the hearts and minds of Muslims worldwide. Its importance stems from a rich blend of religious, historical, and cultural significance, weaving together centuries of spiritual devotion and human longing. In this blog post, we delve into the multifaceted importance of Jerusalem in Islam, exploring its sacred sites, historical legacy, and enduring symbolism.

At the core of Jerusalem's significance in Islam lies its association with the Prophet Muhammad's Night Journey (Isra and Mi'raj), a miraculous journey recounted in the Quran and Hadith literature. According to Islamic tradition, the Prophet Muhammad was transported from Mecca to Jerusalem, where he ascended through the heavens, encountering prophets, and ultimately standing in the divine presence. The Al-Aqsa Mosque, located on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, is believed to be the site where the Prophet Muhammad led other prophets in prayer during his night journey, solidifying Jerusalem's sanctity in Islamic belief.

Furthermore, Jerusalem holds a special place in Islamic eschatology, serving as the backdrop for significant events prophesied to occur in the end times. Muslims believe that the Day of Judgment will begin at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, underscoring the city's role in the unfolding of divine destiny. This belief infuses Jerusalem with a sense of sacred anticipation, drawing pilgrims and believers to its gates in search of spiritual fulfillment and divine mercy.

Moreover, Jerusalem's significance in Islam is intrinsically linked to its role as a center of religious pluralism and coexistence. Throughout history, Jerusalem has been home to diverse religious communities, including Muslims, Christians, and Jews, who have lived side by side, sharing the city's sacred spaces and shaping its cultural landscape. Despite periods of conflict and division, Jerusalem's spiritual heritage embodies the Islamic values of tolerance, compassion, and respect for diversity, serving as a beacon of hope for peaceful coexistence in a fractured world.

Jerusalem's importance in Islam also extends beyond its religious significance to encompass its historical and cultural legacy. As the site of significant events in Islamic history, including the Umayyad Caliphate's establishment of the Dome of the Rock and the subsequent rule of various Muslim dynasties, Jerusalem has left an indelible imprint on Islamic civilization. Its architectural marvels, artistic treasures, and literary legacy continue to inspire Muslims worldwide, connecting them to their shared heritage and collective memory.

In today's world, where political tensions and territorial disputes often overshadow Jerusalem's spiritual essence, it is essential to reclaim and reaffirm its sacred status in Islamic consciousness. By recognizing Jerusalem as a symbol of unity, peace, and divine presence, Muslims can uphold its sanctity and honor its rich heritage, transcending narrow political agendas and fostering a deeper sense of spiritual solidarity.

In conclusion, Jerusalem holds a special place in the hearts of Muslims as a city of profound spiritual significance, historical importance, and cultural resonance. Its sacred sites, prophetic legacy, and enduring symbolism continue to inspire believers around the world, uniting them in their reverence for the city's divine mysteries. As we reflect on Jerusalem's timeless allure, let us strive to uphold its sanctity, preserve its heritage, and nurture its potential as a symbol of hope, reconciliation, and peace for all humanity.

Thursday 22 February 2024

Jewish Historian Explodes Israel's Myths - w/. Zach Foster


Zach Foster is a fascinating guest: he hails from a strongly Zionist background, but it was through his scholarly research of Palestine that his perspective changed. We discuss the long history of Palestinians being dehumanised, why he thinks Israel makes Jewish people less safe, the history of Gaza and Hamas that's airbrushed, Israel's history of using hunger as a weapon of war, genocidal sentiments in Israel - and so much more.

Wednesday 21 February 2024

Palestine, Zionism and Police Repression in Britain - Ranjeet Brar speaks at City University.

Ranjeet Brar speaks at City University on Friday 26th January 2024, on the evening that the international court of justice (ICJ) ruled that Israel is indeed committing genocide in Gaza, and in Palestine. The ICJ failed to order the Zionist state to cease its fire, but left the way open for the UN - indeed mandating the UN - to do so.

Tuesday 20 February 2024

I was an IDF soldier stationed in Gaza in at the end of 1992


From @alon_mizrahi

Let me share with one of the most surreal and sobering moments of my life, that happened to me while I was an IDF soldier stationed in Gaza in at the end of 1992.

That kind of moment could only happen to a Mizrahi, or Arab-jewish soldier. You'll see why I say it. And I could swear to you that every word of it is true. No embellishments, no filling in missing pieces of memory. All truth.
In the summer of 1992 I finished basic and some advanced infantry training, and my platoon was ready to partake in combat function, which really was just (same as for generation of young Israeli men and women before and after that) enforcement of Israel's occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
The unit I was joining at this stage had under its responsibility (for purposes of overt occupation activities) the Al-Shati refugee camp and some of the adjacent Rimal neighborhood, on the northwestern part of the Strip.

At the end of 1992, Israel's leadership decided that the (Zionist and brilliant) solution for the growing discontent, or resistence, in the Strip, was removing 400 Hamas 'leaders' from Gaza and sending them into exile in Lebanon.

As many of those Hamas figures lived in and around the area designated for my unit to handle, we were appointed with making dozens of arrests, or maybe hundreds (Israel would always arrest additional people for more information, as a form of pressure and to prevent an eruption of a violent reaction).

For weeks in November of 1992 I would spend whole nights of my very young life walking from house to house in the dead of night in Gaza, knocking on doors, threatening family members of missing wanted people and handing over those who were home to the representatives of the security services, who were always with us, and always in plain cloths.

As part of my service there, I was in hundreds of Palestinians homes in Gaza, many of them during that month of endless nocturnal search and arrest hours.
Some nights we would take in 10 different people from same numbers of homes.
I was too young and shocked to understand anything, though it was clear to me that this was not the hero's service fighting evil I spent the months and years before joining the IDF hoping for and fantasizing about.

Those people in Gaza were normal in a way that no part of me could align with evil. And I could never bring myself to become that natural lord and master that colonial and racist regimes always expect their soldiers and cops to be. I was too soft.
The people we took in never cried, begged for forgiveness or claimed it was a mistake. They would climb up and sit in the military vehicle with their hands tied behind their backs and their eyes covered in a kind of quiet that was more thunderous, more painful for me to remember all those years later, than any other act would be.
One man in particular I remember. A big, sombre man in his 30', who looked untouchable in a big, thick black coat. But as he sat in the military vehicle with his hands tied behind his back his coat slipped over his shoulders, revealing a tank top and a body and skin that did not look invincible, or untouchable. He was human.

And he sat there, staring into space, in total quiet. Back then I had no idea where these men were taken, and what was going to be unleashed upon them. Only many years later did I discover how extensive Israel's use of torture was, and how horrible.

But the big, somber, fragile man sat there, quiet, and, like any other Palestinian I saw in this situation, with  what I can best describe as dignity in brokenness, that was astonishing. I have never seen anyone with more dignity in my life than a hand-tied, eyes-covered Palestinian detainee.
Towards the end of those weeks of knocking on doors and arresting people, one morning, around 7AMm after a long long bight, that moment happened to me. It was something that I never forgot and never will forget.

It was the last arrest for that night, which already becade day. We stood there, a small band of soldiers, and knocked on the door of what looked like a well built, well kept house. It was not fancy, but it surely not the house of poor people.

We waited for someone to come and open the door. After a minute or so, someone did.

If you ever felt like reality around you had its fundamentals twisting and changing, or like the layer of meaning that enveloped reality was torn, revealing another layer of deeper meaning, but in a way that makes you dizzy and dumbfounded - if you know that feeling you'll know what I went through that moment.

Because the person that opened that door at that house that morning in Gaza was my very own and only sister.

The door opened and the actual, precise, living and breathing image of my sister, identical as any identical twin ever was, stood in the doorway. It was her face. her expression, her hair, her highet, her age, her build, her movement, her skin tone accurate to the 1000th degree.

I didn't know what was going on, or what kind of insane trick was being played on me. I gasped, lost for words. I stood a meter away from her, and my very wanted to call her by my sister's name.   
Not long after this, after that whole period, I started cracking. I could not take it anymore, though I never could tell myself what it was that I couldn't take. I went to see a psychologist and got restationed to a non-combat unit.

It took me many years to start to appreciate the damage done to me by what I was sent to do and see in Gaza. I don't think that even today I have completely processed it.
She stood at the door and was a little puzzled, bot not panicked. She was wiping the floor, and it was still wet. A bucket with a rug in it stood by. It was a clean house, with a shining clean floor. The officer told her to get out and speak to us from street level, as the house was one stair up from that.

But the street was dirty and sandy, and she couldn't bring herself to step outside barefoot. Her foot (my sister's foot) ventured out for a second, not actually stepping, just hovering, but then was drawn in.

The officer pretended to not notice. He didn't insist, and she remained inside. By not insisting and not becoming violent, I think, he saved my actual sanity, and never knew it.

Monday 19 February 2024

Academia in the Midst of Genocide: A Dialogue with Professor Norman Finkelstein


In our discussion with Professor Finkelstein, we delved into the intricate geopolitical dynamics of the ongoing genocide in Gaza. We also examined Germany's support for Israel, its historical connections, highlighted by Germany's opposition to South Africa's position at the International Court of Justice.

The conversation brought to light the complexities of the situation, the different perceptions and narratives about Hamas, and the prevailing perspectives within Western academic circles regarding the genocidal violence in Gaza.

Norman Gary Finkelstein is an American political scientist and activist. His primary fields of research are the politics of the Holocaust and the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. He is the author of many books, including The Holocaust Industry, Gaza: An inquest into its martyrdom, and I Accuse! In the year 2020, Norman Finkelstein was named the fifth most influential political scientist in the world.

Friday 16 February 2024

Conversations with an anti-Zionist Jew: Ilan Pappé

 In this extended conversation, Professor Ilan Pappé speaks to IHRC about the situation in Gaza; what it says about Israeli society, how he reads this moment in history and what the future might hold.

Tuesday 13 February 2024

Coping with Grief and Bereavement: Islamic Guidance for Healing

Losing a loved one is an inevitable part of life, yet it remains one of the most challenging experiences we may face. The pain of grief can feel overwhelming, leaving us feeling lost, confused, and even questioning our faith. However, Islam offers profound guidance on how to cope with grief and bereavement, providing solace and support during these difficult times. In this blog post, we'll explore some Islamic teachings and practices that can help in the healing process.

Understanding the Nature of Life and Death
: Islam teaches us that life and death are both part of Allah's divine plan. The Quran reminds us, "Every soul will taste death" (Quran 3:185). Recognizing death as a natural transition can provide comfort and acceptance in times of grief.

Seeking Patience and Perseverance: Patience (Sabr) is a central tenet of Islamic faith, especially during times of adversity. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, "Patience is at the first stroke of calamity" (Sahih al-Bukhari). Through patience, we can endure the pain of loss while maintaining our faith and trust in Allah's wisdom.

Turning to Prayer and Remembrance: Prayer (Salah) is a powerful tool for finding peace and solace in times of grief. Establishing a connection with Allah through regular prayers can provide comfort and strength. Additionally, engaging in Dhikr (remembrance of Allah) and reading Quranic verses can soothe the heart and uplift the spirit.

Community Support and Compassion
: In Islam, the community plays a vital role in supporting those who are grieving. It is incumbent upon fellow Muslims to offer condolences, provide assistance, and offer prayers for the deceased and their family. Seeking support from loved ones and community members can alleviate feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Charitable Acts and Sadaqah: Engaging in acts of charity (Sadaqah) on behalf of the deceased is considered beneficial in Islam. By giving to those in need, we honor the memory of our loved ones and continue their legacy of kindness and generosity.

Reflecting on the Hereafter: Islam teaches us to reflect on the transient nature of this worldly life and the eternal Hereafter. Remembering that our ultimate destination is with Allah can provide hope and perspective amidst grief. The Quran says, "To Allah we belong, and to Him is our return" (Quran 2:156).

Seeking Professional Help if Needed: While spiritual practices can provide immense comfort, it's essential to recognize when additional support is required. Seeking guidance from counselors, therapists, or support groups specialized in grief counseling is not contrary to Islamic teachings but rather a proactive step towards healing.

In conclusion, coping with grief and bereavement is a deeply personal journey, but Islamic teachings offer invaluable guidance and support along the way. By turning to Allah, practicing patience, seeking community support, and engaging in acts of charity, we can navigate through the pain of loss with faith, resilience, and hope for the Hereafter. May Allah grant us all patience and strength during times of sorrow, and may He grant peace and mercy to the departed souls. Ameen.

Monday 12 February 2024

Israeli women soldiers give shocking testimonies


A personal account of female soldiers about their life in the Israeli Army, the only one to draw women for mandatory military service.
A female point of view on the drama of an unending war, on the moral challenges they faced at the encounter with the Palestinian population. Questions that were not dealt with during the service are raised today with great pain - and courage. A female point of view on the drama of an unending war, on the moral challenges the soldiers faced at the encounter with the Palestinian population. The young women look back critically at the way they handled the power that was placed in their hands at the young age of eighteen. Did they really smile in the pictures?

In 1988 the filmmaker served herself in the Israeli Defence Force in the Occupied Territories. 'How could I ever think I'd forget...' is what one of the young women asks herself at then end of this film.

Friday 9 February 2024

Allah Has not Abandoned You | Imam Khalid Latif


Our faith in Allah is not just about memorization or the outward aspects of religion; it's about a deep, personal understanding of who Allah is to us. Through reflection and contemplation, we learn that in the face of trials and tests, Allah is always with us, purifying us like gold, and offering His mercy and love. 

Thursday 8 February 2024

Khalid ibn al-Walid (ra): The Legendary Military General


After he became Muslim, he immediately became perhaps the greatest factor in the spread of Islam throughout the world. Learn about his military genius, his legacy and contributions, and his unexpected death.