Today, while I write this, I hear the noise of cutting trees, and it’s definitely giving me a hard time to think, focus, and write. But the piece I’m working on is pushing me forward to focus regardless of the disturbing noise. I can simply wear noise-canceling headphones and get back to work, but what about the Syrian children fighting for their futures? How can they cancel the noise of explosions?
The civil war has taxed children’s lives for more than 10 years, and it is a humanitarian nightmare. War is already unpleasant, and to think that it has succumbed millions of children’s lives is devastating. Since 2011, around 4 million babies have been born, and they have never come out of the picture of war, desperation, explosion, and violence. The term “peace” has not even entered their vocabulary. Over 2.5 million children in Syria are registered refugees, and around 900,000 have not experienced formal education.
In a Hadith, the Prophet (PBUH) says, “The seeking of knowledge is obligatory upon every Muslim male and Muslim female.”
But the war has destroyed their chance to secure proper education, and it’s breaking my heart. Around 2.6 million Syrian children are experiencing forcible displacement, and about 2 million have no school access. Syria’s poverty line is extremely high that it has led to child marriage and child labor.
Now, let’s walk in the shoes of Syrian children for a few minutes:
Their Birth is Shaded with Fear
Syrian parents fear the birth of their baby even before they are born. They take possible measures to protect their unborn child. Some mothers consider early Cesarean delivery not to risk birthing the child while trying to escape from a war zone.
This makes me wonder about the things we worry when birthing a child. Last month, my cousin birthed a baby boy, and she was very cautious to select white dresses for the newborn instead of purchasing gender-based colors that have become a norm in Asian countries. When writing this, I’m emotionally down because rather than feeling blessed, I’m guilty that one part of the world is deprived of –safety!
A Syrian mother’s sufferings don’t end there; she’d worry about the food because a mom needs enough nutrients to keep the baby healthy. From accessing a hospital to finding solace from a loved one becomes a challenging task.
When a baby is born, it’s impossible to ensure that he will be pampered and cared for by grandparents like in other parts of the world. In Syria, birthing a child isn’t bliss rather a risk! A horrendous post published on Human Rights Watch takes us through several levels of difficulties that Syrian children undergo.
They Don’t Know What “Being Safe” Feels Like
Syrian children in the war zone are not aware of the term “safe.” Their homes, their schools, and hospitals are vulnerable. There are various reasons for the Syrian children to be afraid, and one of them is they never know how they may get killed. It could be an airstrike or cluster bomb.
Or worse –they could go back to an empty home because their parent could have been killed while they were at school. They are forced to understand siege, cluster bomb, and other war terms. They are educated on survival tips to protect themselves when there’s an explosion in the neighborhood.
What are we educating our kids on? What are our dinner table discussions on a Sunday night? Aren’t those the total opposite of the Syrian lifestyle? But this is not to feel bad about what you have but to keep your kids and family members informed about the things that are happening around the world. Let them know that Syrian Muslims are suffering, and they need to be in our supplication. They deserve a place in our dua.
A UNICEF post titled “After nine years of conflict, children continue to pay the heaviest price,” shares details that every one of us must know about. You wouldn’t regret spending a few minutes reading it.
They Experience Hunger on a Daily Basis
While experiencing hunger is not a regular thing for us, Syrian children face it on a daily basis. They wait until people worldwide donate them rations to satisfy their hunger.
Although we prep a week’s meal plan, the other end of the world is waiting for their next meal to arrive from a donor. If you like to be one of their donors to fulfill their hunger, you can donate here.
They’d have to wait until they are fed again; till then, they’d be weak and sick. According to stats, out of 100 Syrian children, around 83 are in poverty. The mother cannot breastfeed because she’s not strong enough to do so she’d have to look at her children grow up weaker.
28% of Syrian children don’t have proper growth due to malnourishment. These kids are always tired, and they don’t have a healthy body. Syrian parents suffer in silence because they know day by day; their children are getting closer to death because of hunger and malnutrition.
It breaks my heart to think that we have various dishes of our choices on our table while some Syrian children die from hunger.
Getting to know other people’s lives is a good reminder for us to understand the things we have taken for granted. When we talk about Syrian children more often, we’ll remember to make dua for them, and it’s one of the best things that we could do.
Their survival is questionable
According to the UN, Syria’s situation has reached terrifying new levels in the last few months. The living conditions of children are unimaginably worst. They accommodate themselves in refugee camps and other small tents with no bare essentials such as toilets or a blanket. These temporary accommodations have been the same for years, so the resources are thinning with time.
Due to low-quality accommodation, children are exposed to deadly diseases, and they have to find differences in temperature without any protection. This is disheartening give the current COVID-19 situation.
If you are willing to help financially apart from keeping them in prayers, you can donate at Syria Mother and Baby Survival Items.
بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الَّذِي لَا يَضُرُّ مَعَ اسْمِهِ شَيْءٌ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَلَا فِي السَّمَاءِ وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ
Bismillahil-lazi la yadhurru ma’asmihi syai’un fil ardhi wa la fis-sama’i wa huwas-sami’ul aleem
In the Name of Allah with Whose Name there is protection against every kind of harm in the earth or in heaven, and He is All-Hearing and All-Knowing
Palestine is Entrenched In the Heart of Qatar World Cup
Almost every match of the Qatar 2022 World Cup has witnessed signs of having Palestine entrenched in the heart of World Cup’s fans by either raising the Palestinian flag, wearing a Palestinian kufiyah or chanting slogans in solidarity with the people of Palestine. Palestine is a kind of country that is physically absent but spiritually present in the heart of the World Cup in Qatar. There is hardly a match, event, or promotional activity without the presence of the Palestinian flag, even though its team does not participate in the tournament. This edition of the World Cup tournaments is, by all means, different and holds significant importance since its beginning 92 years ago for the Arabs and the Palestinians. Since the beginning of the tournaments, Palestinians have been looking forward to spreading awareness about their suffering and getting their voice heard on a large scale.
What is in the heart, is in the heart
Arabs’ unity at its best in supporting Palestinians is present in a chilling way in the Mondial. This is almost the first time for Muslims, Arabs, and especially Palestinians to have their powerful platform to speak aloud. They need to speak loudly about their suffering in the largest gathering ever. The Palestinian flag has been flown with pride at stadiums across Doha since the tournament kicked off.
The unifying power of football has been unmistakably displayed, with Palestinians eager to throw their support behind Arab teams upsetting football’s international elite. On the other hand, Arabs have also shown signs of solidarity with the Palestinians during the tournaments. “My friends and I have been exchanging videos posted online showing Arab people waving the Palestinian flag, it’s a testament that we are one and Palestine is alive in the hearts and minds of all Arabs,” a fan said. Furthermore, Arab activists on “Twitter” launched a campaign to boycott companies supporting the “Israeli” occupation, and widely raised Palestinian flags during the World Cup Qatar 2022. Beautifully, Tunisian fans chanted for Palestine and raised the Palestinian flag outside the stadiums beautifully displaying Palestine entrenched in the heart of the World Cup.
Qatar encapsulates timeless universal solidarity with Palestine
It is not surprising to see the Qatari fans’ support for the Palestinians in the Mondial. On top of all supporting countries, Qatar has always shown solidarity with the Palestinian question whether spiritually or financially. Significantly, Qatar has seized the chance not only to spread Islamic culture and history but also the Palestinian question as well. Likewise, a Qatari man filmed a video on social media showing him distributing Palestinian armbands.
Several Qataris wore armbands featuring a pro-Palestinian design at the Mondial, according to photos posted on Twitter. The armbands bore the black-and-white design of the kufiyah scarf that is synonymous with the Palestinian cause. They were an apparent response to players and officials protesting FIFA’s players who wear the gay armband on the pitch. On top of all of that, Winterhill Hospitality, the official Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup hospitality-booking site, has put ‘Occupied Palestinian territories’ as a country option, without mentioning ‘Israel’ on its list. Moreover, it launched a popular campaign called “The Palestinian Dream” in Qatar. It aims to raise awareness of the Palestinian cause and the crimes of the occupation. It also has another aim: taking advantage of the major global event “World Cup”.
In addition, a Qatari man appeared in a video refusing to talk to an Israeli reporter as a way of showing solidarity with the Palestinian cause. Not only him, but also many Qataris showed refusing to interact with Israeli reporters. They also held the Palestinian flags high in every street, car, and stadium.
Israel is hopelessly isolated as Palestine is entrenched in the heart of the masses
As a sign and a result of showing solidarity with Palestinians, the masses have hopelessly outcasted and isolated Israeli media in front of the world. The Israeli media appeared isolated amidst large numbers of Arab fans. Whenever knowing their Israeli identity and hear their broken Arab accent, pro-Palestinians rally around them with dozens of Palestinian flags. For more, click here. “We feel hated, surrounded by hostility and unwanted,” an Israeli journalist said. Another Israeli reporter interviewing a Saudi fan burst into anger shouting that “Israel stays for doomsday.” This is a sign of covering up the distress and anger in which he is. This Mondial has proved the hatred of Arabs, Muslims, and some Westerners worldwide for the Israelis. A Saudi fan was overwhelmed in a video telling an Israeli reporter that he is not welcome here.
As a result, Israeli media started to flounder for being a redundant intolerable guest. “After a while, we decided to claim we were Ecuadorian when someone would ask us where we were from,” an Israeli reporter said. Read more on this: Is anti-Semitism essential for the survival and growth of Zionism and Jewish peoplehood?
The Yemeni, Saudi, and Tunisian masses gave a harsh lesson to the Israeli journalist Jay Hochmann. This happened when he stood among their groups to impose himself among them, so they cheered “Palestine”. Furthermore, Yediot Ahrnot said that their coverage of the World Cup showed the magnitude of the Arabs’ hatred of Israel. It also noted that Iranian, Qatari, Jordanian, Moroccan, Syrian, Lebanese, and Egyptian fans were looking at them with hate looks.
Summing up, it is the instinct of Arabic peoples to show such solidarity with Palestinians. All the presented signs show that Palestine is entrenched in the heart of World Cup fans. Through their unity and awareness, the Palestinian question is strongly dominant in the scene. Most importantly, let us not forget the enormous efforts of Qatar of supporting Palestinians in all circumstances. One of the most critical factors to make full benefit of the Qatar World Cup in support of the Palestinian cause is to communicate directly with match commentators, presenters, and influencers. This can be via television, radio channels, or social media sites to highlight, talk about, and address the Palestinian issue during their comments on the games.
In addition to the need to interact on social media sites via several tags, most notably Palestine in the World Cup, to get the issue to the extreme and the most significant gatherings. This interaction proved that the question of Palestine is still alive and still entrenched in the hearts of all Arabs and Islamic peoples in the World Cup. Qatar World Cup FIFA has become the main platform to convey the Palestinian question to the whole world. On the other hand, negligence and outcast, at least, are what Israelis got due to their bloody deeds against Palestinians. From our platform, we announce our support for Qatar and the Palestinian question as well.
The Scope of inter-religious pluralism within Islam
Even though pluralism is a loaded term, its generic meaning suggests a phenomenon of peaceful coexistence between entities of diverse cultural, religious, and political inclinations. It is important to remember that pluralism does not mean the elimination of difference, nor does the word “tolerance” do justice to its intended purpose. Pluralism is not merely tolerating the other but engaging with the beliefs of others with peaceful dialogue and action. The scope of inter-religious puralism within Islam proposes this kind of pluralism.
What does Pluralism mean in Islam?
Looking at the subjective meaning of pluralism within the ambit of Islam, the proponents of various Islamic discourses have proposed that pluralism is a pronounced feature of Islam. Many Muslim intellectuals claim that pluralism is central to the fundamental essence of Islam. A convincing case can be made for the presence of a compelling pluralistic ethos within the Islamic scriptures.
In his essay, Reformist Islam in Comparative Perspective, Mehran Kamrava claims that the rise in the level of religiosity amongst Muslims has given rise to other forms of Islam. One of which according to him is “likely to have the most resonating consequences for Islamic jurisprudence in both the near and the distant future” and calls it “intellectual Islam”. He claims that it is through this form of Islam that a Muslim reformist discourse is introduced. Which has produced significant work to locate the place of inter-religious pluralism in Islam. He further derives some themes out of the reformist discourse, very important with their reference to pluralism in Islam:
“First is a deep and abiding conviction in Islam as faith and a system of belief. In its current manifestation, the discourse of reformist Muslim intellectuals does not seek to instrumentalize Islam for purposes of achieving modernity in a manner palatable to the masses at large. Islam is not a means to an end; it is an end in itself. It simply needs to be re-thought and reformulated. The reformists’ reliance on and endless references to the Qur’an bespeaks of the text’s cultural centrality to them.”.
Such display of absolute faith by Muslim reformists whilst having reformist inclinations bespeak of their balanced position. A flexible modern vision can develop interfaith dialogue. The abiding conviction to Islam earns a sense of authenticity for their thought process in the eyes of fellow Muslims.
Read here, Islamophobia: Impacts on Muslim Women
What is Democratic Pluralism?
The next theme of the reformist discourse is “democratic pluralism”: “Pluralism, the reformist discourse’s proponents maintain, is a salient feature of the spirit of the Qur’an and the hadith.” (Kamrava )
To support his claim he cites another Muslim intellectual Abdulaziz Sachedina who quotes:
The challenge for Muslims today, as ever, is to tap the tradition of Koranic pluralism to develop a culture of restoration, of just intrareligious and interreligious relationships in a world of cultural and religious diversity. Without restoring the principle of coexistence, Muslims will not be able to recapture the spirit of early civil society under the Prophet.
In the globalized world, the facets of modernity like its political model of the nation-state have become a governing principle for all ethnic, cultural, and religious pluralism. This means the only larger identity governing the religious identity of the people is that of the nation-state. In the religiously pluralistic society of today, people may have different identities, but the model of the nation-state promises all of them the same status. People might identify with different religious inclinations, but the state identifies them as either citizens or residents of the state. This is exactly the kind of challenge that Sachedina talks about when he implores Muslims to revive the tradition of pluralism that is central to the Islamic texts for peaceful coexistence in the globalized world.
The Case of Muslims living as a minority
If Muslims live in a minority in a nation-state that runs on one of the political models of modernity like democracy or secularism, then for the sake of the welfare of Muslims they need to fulfill the duties that the nation-state demands from them. Andrew March talks about the jurisprudence of Muslim minorities also called Fiqh al-aqalliyyat al-muslima in Arabic:
Fiqh alaqalliyyat tends to be a discourse where departures from traditional Islamic commitments are not seen as desirable, and certainly not goals in and of themselves, but where creative rethinking often occurs in subtle and pragmatic guises. It is thus an important object of study for those interested in the ideal moral encounter between a public religion like Islam and modern/post-modern secularism. (March 6).
Important questions of interest toward non-Islamic institutions have been addressed from within internal Islamic discourses that advocate for a positive Muslim attitude concerning the issue of pluralism.
Islam’s relation with other Faiths
The third theme within the reformist Islamic discourse is “Islam’s relations with other great faiths”. An important aspect central to the Muslim understanding of pluralism is the conception that god’s message in the Quran is universal and that the revelation was made through more than just one prophet, which means that the revelations had multiple manifestations. The basic underpinning for this idea can be seen in the Quran which mentions the monotheistic traditions of Judaism and Christianity. Far from denying the Quran in fact validates that Torah and Bible were predecessor scriptures affirming that their message has come from the same god. Many Quranic verses echo the sentiments which envisage a world where diversified people are united by their pious intentions and mutual devotion to God.
Also, read Islam in 2075: World’s Largest Religion!?
Some Important Milestones in the Islamic History
Apart from the theoretical contributions to promote Islamic pluralism, efficient action has also been taken within the Muslim discourse on a practical level to perpetuate inter-faith harmony.
One such historic step was the “1981 adoption of the Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights, whose article XIII states: Every person has the right to freedom of conscience and worship in accordance with his religious beliefs.”.
Apart from this, another significant step was taken in 1990 when the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam was adopted, Article 1(a) of which states:
“All human beings form one family whose members are united by submission to God and descent from Adam. All men are equal in terms of basic human dignity and basic obligations and responsibilities, without any discrimination on the grounds of race, color, language, sex, religious belief, political affiliation, social status or other considerations. True faith is the guarantee for enhancing such dignity along the path to human perfection.”
Islamic Tradition of Peaceful Coexistence
The Quran recognizes fundamental rights for all humankind whether Muslims or non-Muslims and explicitly forbids compulsion in faith. The Islamic texts also provide a practical model of implementing pluralistic ideals which have greatly affected the treatment of non-Muslims in Muslim lands. Contrary to the Islamophobic stereotypes, Islam not only acknowledges pluralism, but it also goes beyond the reductive concepts of tolerance and intolerance to endorse and encourages a tradition of peaceful coexistence.
Also, read Islamophobia: Impacts on Muslim Women
How Practical is the Secular Democracy of India? Curbing of Religious Freedom in Kashmir
Even while a right-wing Hindu nationalist government is ruling India for the past 8 years now, India still professes to be a secular democracy. The constitutional grounds for India’s secularism have been carefully accommodating religious freedom. However, the past 8 years have been witnessing a shrinking of sorts for the religious freedom of Muslims. The Indian government seems to be particularly adamant about curbing the religious freedom of Kashmiri Muslims.
In 2022, the Indian authorities arrested prominent religious clerics across Kashmir under PSA (Public Safety Act). After that, the Indian government banned schools run by FAT (Falah-e-Aam Trust ). FAT is an affiliate of the banned Islamist organization Jama’at-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir (Jama’at). Another incident followed with the circulation of a video of Kashmiri students. The video showed students being forced to chant Hindu hymns sparked controversy over social media. However, these are not isolated incidents that reveal the curbing of religious freedom in Kashmir.
Curbing Religious Freedom in Muharram
Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar is one of the holiest months for Shite Muslims worldwide. During this month, Shia mourners gather together to hold a procession. They recite eulogies, and chant slogans to mourn the martyrdom of the Prophet’s grandson Hussain.
However, since 1989, the Indian government has prohibited some of the major Muharram processions in Kashmir. The government issues an order each year prohibiting Muharram processions due to “security reasons”. Kashmiris claim that the Indian state has been curbing their religious rights on the pretext of “security concerns”. Kashmiri Muslims have a history of raising their voices against the curbing of their religious rights by the Indian government. Nonetheless, this history of resistance against religious inequality has always been violent for the Kashmiris. Every year, Shia mourners face police thrashings, beatings, and arrests while trying to take out Muharram processions.
Since the abrogation of Article 370 in 2019, the police arrested 15 Shia mourners. They also arrested a well-known preacher named Manzoor Ahmed Malik. The police charged them under the stringent anti-terror law UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act). According to the police, they allegedly chanted free Kashmir Slogans during Muharram processions.
While talking to the Wire, Arshid Ahmad, a Shia mourner told The Wire “In contemporary times, the ‘step-motherly’ treatment of Muslims is unacceptable and the government should reconsider the decision on Muharram bans. This minority bears the brunt of the repression, even though other religious pilgrimages are permitted with full security and pomp,”.
“We are protesting and condemning this ban but no one is listening to us. If the government can allow other religions to perform their religious rites, why ban the Muharram procession?” Muzzafar, another mourner asked.
Most mourners who talked with the media brought up the Amarnath Yatra, a 40-day pilgrimage. They questioned why the government couldn’t guarantee protection for the Muharram parade for one day.
Janmashtami Procession held by Kashmiri Pandits Amid Police and Army Security
Days after Muharram, Kashmiri pandits staged processions throughout Srinagar to celebrate the birth of the Hindu god Krishna. The government allowed Hindu devotees to take out the religious procession and provided them with tight police and army security.
Amid massive spectacle and show, the government supervised and safeguarded the religious procession. National news outlets in India were hailing this incident as “signifying a perceptible improvement in the situation in the strife-ridden Valley”. However, none of the Indian media called out the hypocrisy of the Indian government that has been curbing the religious freedom in Kashmir for Muslims for decades.
Read here, Kashmiri Pandits Face Targeted Killings
The Grand Mosque in Kashmir Closed For Friday Prayers For Three Years
The Jamia Masjid or the grand mosque in the heart of Srinagar city is a 600-year-old that has been cherished and venerated by Kashmiris for centuries and is of historic and religious significance. On important religious occasions throughout the year, thousands of Muslim worshippers have been visiting the grand mosque. Friday is considered the holy day of the week for Muslims and congregational prayers are of utmost importance. Yet, Kashmiris haven’t been allowed to offer prayers in Jamia Masjid for three consecutive years now.
Additionally, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Hurriyat leader, and the mosque’s chief preacher has been kept under constant house arrest and is not permitted to give Friday sermons. Recently, the Lieutenant Governor of Kashmir Manoj Sinha disputed reports of Mirwaiz being under house arrest, yet a few days later, the Hurriyat leader was denied permission to deliver the Friday sermon at Jamia Masjid. In attempts to deny the claim of “prolonged closure, of the Jamia Masjid” the LG declared that it had only been in effect on three Fridays this year. However, the mosque’s administration made it explicit that this year, prayers have been prohibited for 14 Fridays so far by the enforced presence of the CRPF and J&K Police.
To Kashmiris, the prolonged closure of the Jamia masjid serves as a bitter reminder of their helplessness. And the attempts of psychological warfare. This is yet another incident that speaks of the curbing of religious freedom in Kashmir.
Read more here, India Bans Falah-e-Aam Trust (FAT) schools in Kashmir
Religious Freedom Vanishing From The Largest Democracy In The World
India prides itself internationally as the world’s largest democracy. According to the Indian constitution, the government “will not discriminate, patronize, or meddle in the exercise of any religion.” Its constitution guarantees religious freedom, which entails that individuals should be able to adhere to and freely practice their religious views. However, the religious freedom and claims of secularism mentioned in the Indian Constitution are utterly absent when it comes to Muslims and particularly when it comes to Kashmir.
Read here, The Case Of The Gyanvapi Mosque Explained
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