The Terminal Hypocrisy Of A Crumbling West And The Dawning Of A New Age for Muslims

Muslim Matters - 20 November, 2023 - 15:00

The War that has ensued in the aftermath of October 7th is the defining event of our generation, and a true turning point for all future relations between Islam and the West. We witness, in its unfolding, nothing less than the final dissolution of the post-WWII settlement, and of the ensuing Americentric and Eurocentric world order, whose centerpiece was a self-justificatory moral narrative centered on the liberal, democratic West’s virtuous triumph against ‘the paradigm of pure evil’: Hitler and the Nazis.

The core sacrificial victims symbolizing the liberal-democratic right to moral leadership were the Jews, slaughtered in the Holocaust but subsequently rising up from the ashes to heroically assert their ‘will to survive’ in the construction of a new nation. That the very paradigm, indeed the veritable Platonic Form of embattled, irrationally maligned minorities had been “rescued” from the death camps and culturally rehabilitated by the Western powers, became emblematic of the claim that a liberal, proto-Rawlsian Western relativism alone could safely host different minorities by dissolving them into a neutral humanity governed by an ‘original position’; from which vantage point previously fraught differences would finally be resolved exactly by treating the substantive claims of Jew, Muslim, and Christian as equally meaningless expressions of arbitrary, culturally constructed collective will. Yet the liberal order’s great claim to moral leadership is that they are nonetheless protected cultural artifacts of constructed collective will.

In the successful imprinting of belief in the inherent relativity of all culture and opinion upon the masses, the illusion of bewildering self-expressive and self-identificatory diversity in the ‘melting pot’ of major Western societies has been essential. It provided the backdrop to the 1990s West’s ‘universalist’ self-presentation, as alone capable amongst the world’s civilizations of accommodating such pluralism and diversity, because of its unique trans-partisan ‘tolerance’. In turn, this prevailing impression was able to successfully dress the justification for its unquestionable hegemony in the pious raiment of moral self-evidence and necessity.

The Final Deathblow

But following on from a long chain of painful shocks, chief amongst them the War on Terror, the October 7th War constitutes the final deathblow to any vain hope of saving this flagship moral claim of liberalism from ultimate and intrinsic failure. It has, like no event before it, fully exposed liberal secular society’s much-vaunted “diversity” of cultural and intellectual expression, as no more than appearance. Granted, journalistic history is littered with all too great a surplus of opportunistic “turning points”; yet the power of the confluence of factors presented by our present circumstance ensures that ours is quite a different case. The West’s vacant ratification of the most transparent Israeli evil, of arbitrary and unrestrained mass murder, is for Muslims surely the final nail in the coffin of Western moral legitimacy, at a time in which the West is simultaneously devouring itself in culture wars and the frenzied worship of whimsical dysphorias. They no longer heed the wisdom teachings of their own Book: ‘Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.’

Yes, a ‘person of color’ with an unpronounceable name may be allowed to enter Number 10 or the White House on the unnegotiable condition that he prove an even more intransigent neoliberal than his white mentors; but where are the Sufi Shaykhs or Hindu Pandits in Number 10? It is only that comedic, impossible image that could ever represent the true diversity that liberalism claims. To the contrary, having long forgone the genuine pluralism which the liberal order can no longer rouse itself to affirm even as an ideal, it has at length finally confessed the strict impossibility of its ‘neutral’ position. Populist movements in Europe and America wish to recreate assertive partisanship for a distinctly Western, even ‘Christian’ culture and identity, all the while doggedly refusing to repudiate the ethical and metaphysical arbitrarist voluntarism that itself guaranteed the giddy 20th century ‘melting of all that was solid’ in Western civilization. This ungrounded arbitrarism can only result in the authoritarian imposition of pure will; and the awful truth is that the arbitrarist voluntarism of the Western liberal order is, and always has been, intrinsically authoritarian. And in the sense of impending doom from which the liberal order so clearly suffers, brought on both by the fantasy threat of “Islamism”, and the culture wars, the authorities are finding it increasingly expedient to visibly brandish their latent authoritarian powers.

Now, it is precisely in constituting one of the central pillars of this hidden authoritarian foundation that the importance of Israel lies, as the aggressive emblem and bulwark of the “neutral” liberal order. By “supporting” Israel, the liberal order means to say that the existence of that Nietzschean Nihilistan, that Great Secular Nothing called Israel, is a key article of their creed: created in the heart of the Holy Land in 1948, in the aftermath of the Allies’ precious World War Two, in which they so bravely firebombed Germany into oblivion from thirty thousand feet, while more easily expendable Slavic lives finally overcame the Nazis on the ground. That War which stamped and sealed our entrance into the very anti-ethical world of post-morality that has now culminated in the October 7th War. For it is that secular Nothing in the heart of the “Middle East” that symbolizes the victory of the liberal secular “way of life” of self-interested individualism and arbitrarist hedonism over the illusions of the ‘regrettably-still-backward’; namely, ‘those we tolerated in virtue of our enormous humanitarian sophistication, but can no longer tolerate.’ Of course, Israel is not and never has been a democracy —if it ever had been, the Palestinians would have voted the Zionists out before they ever had a chance to commence their Plan Dalet of ethnic cleansing, their destruction of 530 villages, and their 50 massacres. But, via Berdyczewski and others, the Zionists are fully immunized by their Nietzschean Will-to-Powerism against true and false, or right and wrong. It is indeed an inescapable fact, however ‘uncomfortable’, that the same post-ethical Will-to-Power that animated Nazism, now animates Zionism. As the political theorist Eyal Chowers notes, “Zionism emerged as a singular mixture of Nietzschean and Marxian themes … Zionism — as an all-embracing revolution — required the profanization of history and a generalized secularization in order to truly free the human sense of potency in the world.”

Inconsistencies in The Moral Narrative

In addition to this Nietzschean component, the ‘logic’ and ‘ethics’ of Zionism amount to those of Darwinian survival and Spencerian ‘survival of the fittest’; and in the same manner as their Western intimates, in Islam they can only see a terrifyingly unyielding representation of all that they feel compelled to intransigently deny about reality. Since Israel’s whole constructed existence depends upon a lie, it will fight to the death to defend that lie; and it is an ‘existential’ and hence ‘moral’ exigency for it to annihilate anyone and anything that calls out the lie. And since the United States and Britain have founded their self-definitional moral leadership of the world upon ‘saving’ the Jews from the Nazi death camps, the survival of their own moral narrative also rests upon propping up the lie, at all costs.

Never mind that the United States and Britain had steadfastly turned countless Jewish refugees away at the outset of Nazi persecution, or that in 1940 Britain had interred Jewish refugees as ‘enemy aliens.’ For in the narrative retrospectively, but nonetheless powerfully and indelibly projected back onto events, the ‘tricky moral quandaries’ of the Second World War, the firebombing of Hamburg, and the annihilation of Dresden, are justified as exceptional cases, warranted by the unprecedented genocidal evil of Hitler in destroying six million Jews. Again, never mind the history itself, which assures us that the deliberate targeting of German civilians in Hamburg and Dresden had precisely nothing to do with a ‘fight against the ultimate evil’ of the Nazi genocide of the Jews; no, Sir Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris’s stated aim in sanctioning those horrific crimes, in which over half a million civilians were crushed or burned alive, was to ‘break the spirit of the Germans’ to resist: simply to win the War at all costs. “The Government, for excellent reasons,” Harris said in 1941, “has preferred the world to think that we still held some scruples and attacked only what the humanitarians are pleased to call “military targets.” I can assure you, gentlemen, that we tolerate no scruples.” Indeed, the first ‘area bombing’ targeting civilians in the Second World War was ordered by Churchill and carried out by the RAF in Mönchengladbach, not by Hitler as legend tells.

These disconcerting inconsistencies in the received moral narrative make far better sense in light of the unpalatable truth that Hitler and the Nazis, and the liberal West and Soviets who opposed him, are all merely so many sides of the same equation. The Holocaust was not an aberration from which ‘true’ Western civilization is innocent, but one of the worst crimes of post-Enlightenment modernity itself. It was committed by the same people, and the same ideas, who firebombed Hamburg and Tokyo, nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki, who ravaged Vietnam and Iraq, and now serve as funders and steadfast apologists for the Gaza genocide. Yes, it was post-Enlightenment modernity itself that was the perpetrator of the Holocaust; just as it also perpetrated the chattel enslavement of the continent of Africa, the opium outrages in China, the annihilation of the Native Americans, the starvation and ‘economic cleansing’ of India. Far from representing aberrations, these depravities were each inevitable consequences of the spirit of the Age of Exploration and the subsequent Scientific Revolution, namely the Baconian inversion of tripartite soul and society —wherein intellect was subordinated to spiritedness and power — as well as the subsequent, Humean, Enlightenment, Industrial Revolution progression of the inversion, in which intellect was subordinated to desire and the passions. And they are no less the inevitable consequences of Luther’s separation of faith and reason, of the extirpation of formal and final causes, and secondary qualities from nature, of the Cartesian Split, of ‘I had to deny knowledge in order to make room for faith,’ of ‘Render therefore unto Caesar such things which are Caesar’s.’

For a futile moment after October 7th, the Western powers attempted their own moral resuscitation by again invoking the time-honored narrative of their moral saviorhood; only for it to fatally backfire this time, and only serve, instead, to demonstrate their terminal moral illegitimacy. Meanwhile, the invocation of the Holocaust has lost its power, for in surely one of the supreme ironies of history, Israel has themselves supplanted their own Nazi reference point of ‘supreme evil’. Western genocide apologism after October 7th has forever imprinted in our hearts and minds all that makes the declining, flailing post-Enlightenment West so dangerous: its lack of any stable, unnegotiable morality. For anything can be countenanced in that dismal anti-ethics of post-morality, the calculus of survival.


Related reading:

Moving Beyond The Left-Right Culture Wars: A Dilemma For Muslim Communities In The West

Are Western Muslims Becoming Right-Wing? The Emergence Of A Politically Mature Community With Agency

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From The MuslimMatters Bookshelf: Palestinian Literature For All Ages

Muslim Matters - 19 November, 2023 - 05:00

When mainstream media (mostly) suppresses Palestinian voices, when you don’t know how you can help, when you want to support out Palestinian brothers and sisters in occupied territories and in the diaspora – make du’a, donate, amplify your support and read Palestinian literature.

In this edition of the MuslimMatters Bookshelf, below we’ve listed a collection of books by Palestinians and those in the diaspora for all ages. Additionally, scroll to the end of the list for suggestions on bookish action items!

Picture Books

In this story, Salim loses his soccer ball and embarks on a journey across his beautiful village in Palestine, learning lessons from members of his community along the way. Written in rhyme, this lyrical and insightful tale will be enjoyed by children of all ages and adults alike

The beautiful illustrations in this book feature key elements of Palestinian culture including tatreez and local agriculture. Complete with a discussion guide, this book is a valuable educational tool for teaching children about Palestinian heritage and the importance of helping one’s neighbors.

When Saamidah, a young Palestinian refugee, is asked by her friends what her name means, she isn’t quite sure what to say. She turns to her baba for some answers – but what she gets is an adventure beyond her wildest dreams. Join Saamidah on a lyrical journey, with dazzling illustrations, that brings to life her beloved homeland and celebrates the richness of her cultural heritage and the determination to return.

Malak is a little girl who lives in Gaza with her parents. She goes to school, plays in the ocean, and visits Sitti’s house on Fridays. One day while she is in school, bombings begin. She spends the next 50 days at home with her parents worrying and feeling scared, until one day she picks up her paintbrush …

Sitti’s Bird: A Gaza Story is a unique children’s picture book, written and illustrated by Palestinian artist, Malak Mattar. Reflecting her experiences of childhood in occupied Palestine, Malak’s story brings warmth and wonder to children as it tells of her rebirth as an artist during the 2014 airstrikes on Gaza. It is the story of a young girl whose love for her family and discovery of art help her channel her fears and overcome traumas that few of us can imagine—traumas shared by countless children in Gaza and around the world.

It’s 1967 in Nablus, Palestine.

Oraib loves the olive trees that grow outside the refugee camp where she lives. Each harvest, she and her mama pick the small fruits and she eagerly stomp stomp stomps on them to release their golden oil. Olives have always tied her family to the land, as Oraib learns from the stories Mama tells of a home before war.

But war has come to their door once more, forcing them to flee. Even as her family is uprooted, Oraib makes a solemn promise to her beloved olive trees. She will see to it that their legacy lives on for generations to come.

Mona’s grandmother, her Sitti, lives in a small Palestinian village on the other side of the earth. Once, Mona went to visit her.

They couldn’t speak each other’s language, so they made up their own. They learned about each other’s worlds, and they discovered each other’s secrets. Then it was time for Mona to go back home, back to the other side of the earth. But even though there were millions of miles and millions of people between them, they remained true neighbors forever.

Sitti tells her story of how she and thousands of Palestinians were forced from their homes by the Israelis in 1948, a tragic event remembered as the Nakba, the catastrophe.

This gentle yet important story about the importance of heritage, history, and belonging can be enjoyed by children aged 5 and above.

After a frightening expulsion from his homeland, Thaer’s world is suddenly filled with a lot of darkness. You Are The Color is an evocative story about the Palestinian refugee experience during al-Nakba, or “The Catastrophe,” of 1948. Follow Thaer as he discovers the power of art to transform grief into hope, and find out his secret to seeing color again.

Maha’s grandma is moving from Palestine to Canada, and Maha can’t wait! Teta travels from far away with a box full of secret recipes and special memories.

Maha wants to keep them all for herself, but Teta’s kindness teaches her the value of sharing and the joy of connecting with loved ones.

Noura is a strong young lady, diligently caring for her little brother, Esam, and for her father’s rooftop garden. But life in Gaza is hard even for the young.

Can Noura keep working with all her heart even after losing the thing she loves the most?

A father and his daughters may not be able to return home . . . but they can celebrate stories of their homeland!

As bedtime approaches, three young girls eagerly await the return of their father who tells them stories of a faraway homeland-Palestine. Through their father’s memories, the Old City of Jerusalem comes to life: the sounds of street vendors beating rhythms with brass coffee cups, the smell of argileh drifting through windows, and the sight of doves flapping their wings toward home. These daughters of the diaspora feel love for a place they have never been, a place they cannot go. But, as their father’s story comes to an end, they know that through his memories they will always return.

A Palestinian family celebrates the stories of their homeland in this moving autobiographical picture book debut by Hannah Moushabeck. With heartfelt illustrations by Reem Madooh, this story is a love letter to home, to family, and to the persisting hope of people that transcends borders.

“The olive trees grow each year, just waiting to discover the magic within their growth. Waiting, for the next time to occur again…”

Discover the beauty of Palestine through a young girl’s journey as she learns the tradition of the olive harvest. A tradition that continues between each generation to maintain the roots of the Palestinian community. Alia shows the beauty of the harvest and learns the importance of the olive tree harvest through her life.

Zain and Mima were surprised to hear loud voices outside their window.

They found a crowd of people chanting “Free Palestine!”.

“What is Palestine?” they asked. To answer, Mama took them back in time with a story that began many years ago.

This book is a wonderful, age-appropriate way to explain the history of the illegal occupation of Palestine, and what it means to stand up for Palestine’s freedom, to children.

Middle Grade & Young Adult

Thirteen-year-old Hayaat is on a mission. She believes a handful of soil from her grandmother’s ancestral home in Jerusalem will save her beloved Sitti Zeynab’s life. The only problem is the impenetrable wall that divides the West Bank, as well as the checkpoints, the curfews, the permit system, and Hayaat’s best friend Samy, who is mainly interested in football and the latest elimination on X-Factor, but always manages to attract trouble.

But luck is on their side. Hayaat and Samy have a curfew-free day to travel to Jerusalem. However, while their journey may only be a few kilometers long, it may take a lifetime to complete.

  • [Graphic novel] Baddawi by Leila Abdelrazaq

Baddawi is the story of a young boy named Ahmad struggling to find his place in the world. Raised in a refugee camp called Baddawi in northern Lebanon, Ahmad is just one of the many thousands of refugee children born to Palestinians who fled their homeland after the war in 1948 established the state of Israel.

In this visually arresting graphic novel, Leila Abdelrazaq explores her father’s childhood in the 1960s and ’70s from a boy’s eye view as he witnesses the world crumbling around him and attempts to carry on, forging his own path in the midst of terrible uncertainty.

In this groundbreaking memoir set in Ramallah during the aftermath of the 1967 Six-Day War, Ibtisam Barakat captures what it is like to be a child whose world is shattered by war. With candor and courage, she stitches together memories of her childhood: fear and confusion as bombs explode near her home and she is separated from her family; the harshness of life in the Middle East as a Palestinian refugee; her unexpected joy when she discovers Alef, the first letter of the Arabic alphabet.

This is the beginning of her passionate connection to words, and as language becomes her refuge, allowing her to piece together the fragments of her world, it becomes her true home.

In Palestine today, a second generation of children and young people is growing up experiencing life under occupation. These are children who know only fear when they see an Israeli soldier or come across a roadblock. This book provides a platform for young people, from all over this occupied land, to speak in their own voices about the day-to-day experience of living under occupation.

Adult Fiction

The Beauty of Your Face tells a uniquely American story in powerful, evocative prose.

Afaf Rahman, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, is the principal of a Muslim school in the Chicago suburbs. One morning, a shooter—radicalized by the online alt-right—attacks the school. As Afaf listens to his terrifying progress, we are swept back through her memories, and into a profound and “moving” (Bustle) exploration of one woman’s life in a nation at odds with its ideals.

Palestine, 1990. Seventeen-year-old Isra prefers reading books to entertaining the suitors her father has chosen for her. Over the course of a week, the naïve and dreamy girl finds herself quickly betrothed and married, and is soon living in Brooklyn. There Isra struggles to adapt to the expectations of her oppressive mother-in-law Fareeda and strange new husband Adam, a pressure that intensifies as she begins to have children—four daughters instead of the sons Fareeda tells Isra she must bear.

Brooklyn, 2008. Eighteen-year-old Deya, Isra’s oldest daughter, must meet with potential husbands at her grandmother Fareeda’s insistence, though her only desire is to go to college. Deya can’t help but wonder if her options would have been different had her parents survived the car crash that killed them when Deya was only eight. But her grandmother is firm on the matter: the only way to secure a worthy future for Deya is through marriage to the right man.

But fate has a will of its own, and soon Deya will find herself on an unexpected path that leads her to shocking truths about her family—knowledge that will force her to question everything she thought she knew about her parents, the past, and her own future.

On the eve of her daughter Alia’s wedding, Salma reads the girl’s future in a cup of coffee dregs. She sees an unsettled life for Alia and her children; she also sees travel and luck. While she chooses to keep her predictions to herself that day, they will all soon come to pass when the family is uprooted in the wake of the Six-Day War of 1967.

Salma is forced to leave her home in Nablus; Alia’s brother gets pulled into a politically militarized world he can’t escape; and Alia and her gentle-spirited husband move to Kuwait City, where they reluctantly build a life with their three children. When Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait in 1990, Alia and her family once again lose their home, their land, and their story as they know it, scattering to Beirut, Paris, Boston, and beyond. Soon Alia’s children begin families of their own, once again navigating the burdens (and blessings) of assimilation in foreign cities.

Politics and the novel, Ghassan Kanafani once said, are an indivisible case. Fadl al-Naqib has reflected that Kanafani wrote the Palestinian story, then he was written by it. His narratives offer entry into the Palestinian experience of the conflict that has anguished the people of the Middle East for more than a century.

In Palestine’s Children, each story involves a child who is victimized by political events and circumstances, but who nevertheless participates in the struggle toward a better future.

As in Kanafani’s other fiction, these stories explore the need to recover the past and the lost homeland by action. At the same time, written by a major talent, they have a universal appeal.

This collection of important stories by novelist, journalist, teacher, and Palestinian activist Ghassan Kanafani includes the stunning novella Men in the Sun (1962), the basis of The Deceived. Also in the volume are “The Land of Sad Oranges” (1958), “‘If You Were a Horse…'” (1961), “A Hand in the Grave” (1962), “The Falcon” (1961), “Letter from Gaza” (1956), and an excerpt from Umm Saad (1969).

In the unsparing clarity of his writing, Kanafani offers the reader a gritty look at the agonized world of Palestine and the adjoining Middle East.

When Jasmine’s mother dies inside their English mansion, hope comes in the form of her multi-million-pound inheritance. But with her inheritance threatened, Jasmine is left to contemplate a future she does not know how to live.

Jasmine has only ten days to uncover the circumstances of her father’s decade-long disappearance before her fortune is lost forever. Forced to return to his homeland in Palestine, she follows his footsteps through stories long ingrained in the local’s minds. She is helped on her journey by a mysterious stranger who guides her through the trails of the Holy Land to the scattered broken villages, each harboring its own secrets.

Under the watchful eyes of the ever-encroaching Occupation, Jasmine must piece together her history in the broken land, before it destroys her future.

Adult Non-fiction

Ahed Tamimi is a world-renowned Palestinian activist, born and raised in the small West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, which became a center of the resistance to Israeli occupation when an illegal, Jewish-only settlement blocked off its community spring. Tamimi came of age participating in nonviolent demonstrations against this action and the occupation at large. Her global renown reached an apex in December 2017, when, at sixteen years old, she was filmed slapping an Israeli soldier who refused to leave her front yard. The video went viral, and Tamimi was arrested.

But this is not just a story of activism or imprisonment. It is the human-scale story of an occupation that has riveted the world and shaped global politics, from a girl who grew up in the middle of it. Tamimi’s father was born in 1967, the year that Israel began its occupation of the West Bank and he grew up immersed in the resistance movement. One of Tamimi’s earliest memories is visiting him in prison, poking her toddler fingers through the fence to touch his hand. She herself would spend her seventeenth birthday behind bars. Living through this greatest test and heightened attacks on her village, Tamimi felt her resolve only deepen, in tension with her attempts to live the normal life of a daughter, sibling, friend, and student.

An essential addition to an important conversation, They Called Me a Lioness shows us what is at stake in this struggle and offers a fresh vision for resistance. With their unflinching, riveting storytelling, Ahed Tamimi and Dena Takruri shine a light on humanity not just in occupied Palestine but also in the unsung lives of people struggling for freedom around the world.

Justice in the Question of Palestine is often framed as a question of law. Yet none of the Israel-Palestinian conflict’s most vexing challenges have been resolved by judicial intervention. Occupation law has failed to stem Israel’s settlement enterprise. Laws of war have permitted killing and destruction during Israel’s military offensives in the Gaza Strip. The Oslo Accord’s two-state solution is now a dead letter.

Justice for Some offers a new approach to understanding the Palestinian struggle for freedom, told through the power and control of international law. Focusing on key junctures—from the Balfour Declaration in 1917 to present-day wars in Gaza—Noura Erakat shows how the strategic deployment of law has shaped current conditions. Over the past century, the law has done more to advance Israel’s interests than the Palestinians’. But, Erakat argues, this outcome was never inevitable.

Law is politics, and its meaning and application depend on the political intervention of states and people alike. Within the law, change is possible. International law can serve the cause of freedom when it is mobilized in support of a political movement. Presenting the promise and risk of international law, Justice for Some calls for renewed action and attention to the Question of Palestine.

When Mona moved from California to Ramallah to teach conflict resolution in a school for a year, she kept a journal. Within its pages, she wrote her impressions of her homeland, a place she had only experienced through her mother’s memories.

As she settled into her teaching role, getting to know her students and the challenges they faced living in a militarized, occupied town, Mona also embarked on a personal pilgrimage to find her mother’s home in Jerusalem.

Mona had dreamed of being guided by her mother down the old souqs, and the leafy streets of her neighborhood, listening to the muezzin’s call for prayer and the medley of church bells. But after fifty-nine years of exile, it was Mona’s mother who held her daughter’s hand as they visited Jerusalem together, walking the narrow cobblestone alleys of the Old City. Their roles were reversed. Mona had become her Mama’s legs and her memory – and the one to tell her story going forward.

In 1899, Yusuf Diya al-Khalidi, mayor of Jerusalem, alarmed by the Zionist call to create a Jewish national home in Palestine, wrote a letter aimed at Theodore Herzl: the country had an indigenous people who would not easily accept their own displacement. He warned of the perils ahead, ending his note, “in the name of God, let Palestine be left alone.” Thus Rashid Khalidi, al-Khalidi’s great-great-nephew, begins this sweeping history, the first general account of the conflict told from an explicitly Palestinian perspective.

Drawing on a wealth of untapped archival materials and the reports of generations of family members—mayors, judges, scholars, diplomats, and journalists—The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine upends accepted interpretations of the conflict, which tend, at best, to describe a tragic clash between two peoples with claims to the same territory. Instead, Khalidi traces a hundred years of colonial war on the Palestinians, waged first by the Zionist movement and then Israel, but backed by Britain and the United States, the great powers of the age. He highlights the key episodes in this colonial campaign, from the 1917 Balfour Declaration to the destruction of Palestine in 1948, from Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon to the endless and futile peace process.

Original, authoritative, and important, The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine is not a chronicle of victimization, nor does it whitewash the mistakes of Palestinian leaders or deny the emergence of national movements on both sides. In reevaluating the forces arrayed against the Palestinians, it offers an illuminating new view of a conflict that continues to this day.

With the rigorous scholarship he brought to his influential Orientalism and an exile’s passion (he is Palestinian by birth), Edward W. Said traces the fatal collision between two peoples in the Middle East and its repercussions in the lives of both the occupier and the occupied–as well as in the conscience of the West. He has updated this landmark work to portray the changed status of Palestine and its people in light of such developments as the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the intifada, the Gulf War, and the ongoing Middle East peace initiative.

Palestinian litRenowned Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe’s groundbreaking book revisits the formation of the State of Israel. Between 1947 and 1949, over 400 Palestinian villages were deliberately destroyed, civilians were massacred and around a million men, women, and children were expelled from their homes at gunpoint.

Denied for almost six decades, had it happened today it could only have been called “ethnic cleansing”. Decisively debunking the myth that the Palestinian population left of their own accord in the course of this war, Ilan Pappe offers impressive archival evidence to demonstrate that, from its very inception, a central plank in Israel’s founding ideology was the forcible removal of the indigenous population. Indispensable for anyone interested in the current crisis in the Middle East.

In this groundbreaking book, published on the fiftieth anniversary of the Occupation, the outspoken and radical Israeli historian Ilan Pappe examines the most contested ideas concerning the origins and identity of the contemporary state of Israel.

The “ten myths” that Pappe explores—repeated endlessly in the media, enforced by the military, accepted without question by the world’s governments—reinforce the regional status quo. He explores the claim that Palestine was an empty land at the time of the Balfour Declaration, as well as the formation of Zionism and its role in the early decades of nation-building. He asks whether the Palestinians voluntarily left their homeland in 1948, and whether June 1967 was a war of “no choice.” Turning to the myths surrounding the failures of the Camp David Accords and the official reasons for the attacks on Gaza, Pappe explains why the two-state solution is no longer viable.

Barred from his homeland after 1967’s Six-Day War, the poet Mourid Barghouti spent thirty years in exile—shuttling among the world’s cities, yet secure in none of them; separated from his family for years at a time; never certain whether he was a visitor, a refugee, a citizen, or a guest. As he returns home for the first time since the Israeli occupation, Barghouti crosses a wooden bridge over the Jordan River into Ramallah and is unable to recognize the city of his youth.

Sifting through memories of the old Palestine as they come up against what he now encounters in this mere “idea of Palestine,” he discovers what it means to be deprived not only of a homeland but of “the habitual place and status of a person.”

Mowafa Said Househ’s family fled Palestine in 1948 and arrived in Canada in the 1970s. He spent his childhood in Edmonton, Alberta, where he grew up as a visible minority and a Muslim whose family had a deeply fractured history. In the year 2000, when Househ visited his family’s homeland of Palestine at the beginning of the Second Intifada, he witnessed the effects of prolonged conflict and occupation. It was those observations and that experience that inspired him not only to tell his story but to realize many of the intergenerational and colonial traumas that he shares with the Indigenous people of Turtle Island.

This moving memoir depicts the lives of those who live on occupied land and the struggles that define them.

  • Rifqa by Mohammed El-Kurd

Each day after school, Mohammed El-Kurd’s grandmother welcomed him at the door of his home with a bouquet of jasmine. Her name was Rifqa—she was older than Israel itself and an icon of Palestinian resilience. With razor-sharp wit and glistening moral clarity, El-Kurd lays bare the brutality of Israeli settler colonialism. His poems trace Rifqa’s exile from Haifa to his family’s current dispossession in Sheikh Jarrah, Jerusalem, exposing the cyclical and relentless horror of the Nakba.

El-Kurd’s debut collection definitively shows that the Palestinian struggle is a revolution, until victory.

Palestinian litOne of the most transcendent poets of his generation, Darwish composed this remarkable elegy at the apex of his creativity, but with the full knowledge that his death was imminent. Thinking it might be his final work, he summoned all his poetic genius to create a luminous work that defies categorization.

In stunning language, Darwish’s self-elegy inhabits a rare space where opposites bleed and blend into each other. Prose and poetry, life and death, home and exile are all sung by the poet and his other. On the threshold of im/mortality, the poet looks back at his own existence, intertwined with that of his people.

Through these lyrical meditations on love, longing, Palestine, history, friendship, family, and the ongoing conversation between life and death, the poet bids himself and his readers a poignant farewell.

These poems emerge directly from the experience of growing up and living one’s entire life in Gaza, making a life for one’s family and raising a family in constant lockdown, and often under direct attack.

In this poetry debut, conceived during the Israeli bombing campaign of May 2021, Mosab Abu Toha writes about his life under siege, first as a child, and then as a young father. A survivor of four brutal military attacks, he bears witness to a grinding cycle of destruction and assault, and yet, his poetry is inspired by a profoundly universal humanity.

In direct, vivid language, Abu Toha tells of being wounded by shrapnel at the age of 16 and, a few years later, watching his home and his university get hit by IDF warplanes in a bombing campaign that killed two of his closest friends. These poems are filled with rubble and the ever-present menace of surveillance drones policing a people unwelcome in their own land, and they are also suffused with the smell of tea, roses in bloom, and the view of the sea at sunset. Children are born, families continue traditions, students attend university, and libraries rise from the ruins as Palestinians go on about their lives, creating beauty and finding new ways to survive.

Bookish Action Items
  • Storytimes

Organize a story time at your local library, masjid, or community center! With the variety of Palestinian kid lit available, there are plenty of books to choose from. Story times are an excellent way to share age-appropriate information and ways of connecting big ideas to younger children. To make a Palestine-themed story time extra special, think about including Palestinian snacks, and coloring sheets, and make sure to give an opportunity for little ones to ask questions!

  • Call Your Local Bookstore

Call up your local bookstores to ask them to stock Palestinian literature titles. Get other people in your locale to also call the bookstores so that they see there is a demand – and then make sure to actually purchase the books! This will demonstrate that there is not only a demand for these books, but also follow-up in the books being bought.

Also, ask for a book display featuring Palestinian literature! Many independent bookstores will be more open to this than major companies such as Indigo Canada (whose owners run a scholarship fund to send Zionists to Israel for military combat).

  • Start a Book Club

Choose a #PalestinianVoices book and start a book club, in person or online! It is important to encourage people not just to passively consume with literature, but to actively engage with the content of these books. Book clubs can be an opportunity to educate, to ask questions, to learn more, and to increase in awareness. This can be especially valuable for kids in middle school, high school, and college.

  • Support Palestinian Authors

Support Palestinian authors by purchasing their books, following their social media, sharing information about their books with others, and finding opportunities to highlight their work.

Share your own bookish action items below!


– Related reading

Farha Film Review: Palestinian Stories Will Be Heard 

The Importance Of Palestinian Stories [Interview]

The post From The MuslimMatters Bookshelf: Palestinian Literature For All Ages appeared first on

6 Quranic Reflections On The Current Situation In Palestine

Muslim Matters - 18 November, 2023 - 04:28

SubhanAllah, it’s been just over a month since the beginning of the Israel-Palestine War but nobody would have thought that this would have led to a mass genocide of Palestinians in Gaza. Our days have been so bleak, filled with so much hurt and despair. We have seen thousands of images and videos coming out of Gaza. Every day the situation is worsening on the ground in Gaza and we can only pray and hope that peace prevails in Palestine.

Despite the immense calamities and hardships the people of Gaza are facing, the tide is turning in terms of global support. The number of pro-Palestinian supporters is increasing globally and so many countries, leaders, influencers, and activists are starting to become more vocal in terms of their support for the people of Palestine.

Within this article, I wanted to share seven reflections to help us navigate and manage the situation in Palestine from the lens of the Quran.

  1. Trials & Tests

“And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient,

Who, when disaster strikes them, say, “Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return.

Those are the ones upon whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy. And it is those who are the guided.” [Surah Al-Bawqarah; 2:155-157]

In times of trials and tribulations, the Quran offers profound guidance and solace. As we witness the difficult situation in Palestine, the verses of the Quran become even more poignant, reminding us of the strength and resilience that faith can bring.

The Quran frequently speaks of trials as a part of the human experience. Surah Al-Baqarah (2:155) reminds us, “And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient.” These verses emphasize patience, perseverance, and the rewards that come to those who endure hardship with faith.

In this challenging time, as we stand united with those seeking freedom and justice in Palestine, let us turn to the Quran for comfort and inspiration. It teaches us to have hope, to stand firm in the face of adversity, and to remember that God is with those who patiently endure. As we pray for peace and justice, may the Quran’s wisdom and guidance strengthen our resolve, offer solace to those in need, and remind us that even in the darkest of times, faith can light the way forward.

O Allah! You are Al-Fattaah, the Supreme Solver. We ask you to remove our trials and tribulations, especially for the people of Palestine! Ameen.

  1. Grief

“Indeed: everyone who surrenders his whole being unto Allah, and is a doer of good, shall have his reward with his Sustainer; and all such need have no fear, and neither shall they grieve.” [Surah Al- Baqarah; 2:112]

During more difficult times in our lives of loss and affliction, emotions can be intensely painful, affecting all aspects of life, including relationships with family members and loved ones. For some people, grief might be experienced in a number of iterations and stages throughout the day, while for others the feeling may suddenly arise every few days.

It’s well known that the different verses of the Quran can have a particular impact depending on the context and mood of the reciter; the experience is determined by what trials and tests they are going through at that particular time.

Being a believer doesn’t mean that life will always be comfortable and stress-free. However, believing in Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), trying our best to worship Him, and placing our hopes in Him will give us the strength we need to endure any challenges that arise in our lives. This is precisely what we are seeing daily in Palestine. Fathers and mothers having to bury their children, and yet they are still praising and thanking Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

O Allah! You are Ar-Raheem, The Merciful One. You alone can help us cope and manage grief in the best possible way. Please help us during times of grief and hardships. Allow us to bear the strength and patience to cope with testing times. Ameen.

  1. Suffering

As we bear witness to the heart-wrenching situation our brothers and sisters in Palestine face, these verses and this theme become even more poignant and relevant.

In Surah Al-Baqarah (2:155), Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) reminds us: “And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient.”

The Quranic verses on suffering are not just for reflection in moments of personal struggle; they are a source of solace and guidance for understanding the hardships of others, the small struggles, and the struggles that just seem too painful to comprehend.

As we stand in unity with the people of Palestine, let us not only reflect on the verses of the Quran but also act upon them. Let’s deeply contemplate how we can bring the lessons and guidance from the Quran alive.

Let’s use these sacred words as a means to comfort our own struggles however seemingly insignificant they may seem. But most importantly let’s use them to advocate for a world where suffering and injustice are replaced with peace, compassion, and justice.

O Allah! You are Al-Khaafidh, The Reducer. We humbly ask you to reduce the suffering of those facing injustice and oppression around the world. Ameen.

  1. Death

“If God were to take people to task for their wrongdoing, He would not leave even one living creature on earth, but He gives them respite till an appointed time: when their time arrives, they cannot delay it for a single hour nor can they bring it forward.” [Surah An-Nahl; 16:61]

Here again, we are reminded of our fate with death – none of us can change it. As much as we like to believe we are in control of our lives – even our health, we must submit to Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) Will at all times and accept death as a blessing and a preordained end to our life here on earth.

Never have we been faced with such brutal and painful images of death as we have these past few weeks, witnessing the horrific scenes taking place in Gaza. May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) accept every lost life as a martyr and grant them the highest of Jannah and an end to their suffering. Ameen.

The only comforting thing is knowing that our time of death is written, we will not go a moment before or after that which is destined for us. As we reflect on death, we must remember not to jeopardize our relationship with Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) for the sake of anything in this temporal world. If we live a life pleasing to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), if we strive for His cause, we need not fear taking our last breath.

What unites us with our brothers and sisters in Palestine, is that we will all inevitably face death. For those of us who are not in a war zone right now, let us count our blessings. Let us not take our lives for granted and let’s be sure that we use the breath in our lungs to fight for every injustice but to fight especially for a free Palestine.

O Allah! You are Al-Mumeet, The Creator of Death. We know that we will all ultimately be returned back to You when our time arrives. Grant us the true understanding of the next life and allow us to maximize our time on this earth to best prepare for our death. Allow us to depart from this world in a way that You are pleased with us and grant us a good ending from this temporary abode. Ameen.

  1. Afterlife & The Day of Judgement

On the Day of Judgement, we will all be paid our rewards in full, for Allah is Al ’Adl (the Most Just). Our ultimate aim for the afterlife should be to keep away from the torment of the fire and strive for the bliss of the highest ranks in Jannah.

“And let not those who disbelieve ever think that [because] We extend their time [of enjoyment] it is better for them. We only extend it for them so that they may increase in sin, and for them is a humiliating punishment.” [Surah ‘Ali ‘Imran; 3:178]

There is always a balance in the Quranic message, whereby Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) consistently reminds us of the two possible destinations that all of humanity will be forced to enter. We must remember always, the temporal nature of the dunya, and keep the afterlife firmly in our hearts and minds inshaAllah.

Islam likely possesses the most coherent and concrete image of the Hereafter through the rich, elaborate, proof-texts found in the Quran and Hadith which helps us to form a firm foundation, dedicating ourselves to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and His Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).

As we all continue to feel the fatigue and harrowing pain from the heartbreaking genocide taking place in Palestine it’s easy to slip into despair. But we must remember that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) sees all – and He is the ultimate judge, so don’t doubt that justice and victory will come.

You may be finding it hard to open your Quran, or maybe you find yourself turning to it more than ever – but it’s always good to ponder on the words we recite, especially during this time, when our souls need the shifa that the Holy Book can bring.

Ultimately, we will all be answerable and accountable on this day. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will forgive whom He wills and He will punish whom He wills. All of our good and bad deeds will be weighted on a scale and we will be questioned about how we treated others. Punishment will be inflicted on those who oppressed others, and Paradise will await the doers of good.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is All-Knowing and He knows best.

O Allah! You are Al-Hakam (The Impartial Judge) and Al-Ghafoor (The Great Forgiver). We know you will never allow the oppressors and evildoers escape justice in the afterlife. Your judgment is impartial and You are the most just. O Allah! On the Day of Judgement, show us Your Mercy and forgive us for our shortcomings. You are the Most Forgiving. Ameen.

May we be of those who make it to the best of abodes and may we be protected from entering the fire for even one second. Ameen.

  1. Tawakkul

“And rely upon Allah; sufficient is Allah as Disposer of affairs.” [Surah Al-Ahzab; 33:3]

The concept of tawakkul essentially means, to have complete trust and reliance on Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) in all of our affairs. We know that nothing in this world happens without His knowledge and His will and that He alone understands our circumstances better than anyone else. Despite all this, we can still find ourselves doubting His Judgement and we have to be reminded that our intellect is limited and we cannot see or know what Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) sees and knows.

Use this verse to reflect upon the times in your life when you’ve had to have complete tawakkul; when you couldn’t see the hikmah, and you simply had to trust. Think about when the trial was over and it began to make sense. Even when things don’t make sense, how has having tawakkul helped you? Or perhaps this is something you need to work on inshaAllah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

Reflecting on the current situation in Palestine, we have never seen such heavy reliance upon Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). They are practically demonstrating tawakkul daily. Family members are passing away and yet they are praising and thanking Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). It makes us wonder if we were in the same position as the Palestinians, would we possess the same levels of tawakkul?

O Allah! You are Al-Mumin, The Infuser of Faith. Strengthen our faith and reliance upon You, especially during our darkest times. Enable us to understand and implement the true meaning of tawakkul within our daily lives. Ameen.


Related reading:

Palestine: Victory Is Already Here!

Palestine: Reflecting, Responding, and Moving Forward

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