Lots of us watch in shock, horror and anger at the ongoing attacks on Gaza and the Palestinian territories. The killing of any civilian, Palestinian or Israeli, is wrong. It is condemned and must be stopped immediately. This is something made clear in Islam as well as international law
The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, once noticed a Bedouin leaving his camel without tying it and he asked him, "Why don't you tie down your camel?" The Bedouin answered, "I put my trust in Allah." The Prophet then said, "Tie your camel first, then put your trust in Allah" (Tirmidhi). This is a reminder of how turning to Allah in times of distress must be coupled with personal responsibility in all things. Here are a couple of things we can all do to help Gaza.
1. Make Dua
Do this on as many occasions as possible: when it rains; when it snows; after each of the five daily prayers; when you're sick; whenever you remember. Dua helps all of us connect to Allah in a very personal way and reminds us that He is in control. It also connects us psychologically to those we are praying for, despite distance.
2. Become informed
Not just about what's going on, the death toll, and how the conflict started, who's involved, etc. Also find out about Islam's principled stance condemning the murder of civilians, be they Muslim or not. Knowledge and the right information are key to action. Without it, you are liable to hurt, not help the call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. For more information about the crisis, please visit www.endtheoccupation.org, as well as www.IfAmericansKnew.org.
3. Write to your government representatives
Don't think that their voice doesn't matter or won't count. All it takes is one congressman or congresswoman who is well-informed and passionate enough about an issue to start a movement that successfully results in statements and legislation that can turn the tide in favor of justice. This was the case with the issue of America's stance on the genocide in Bosnia in the 1990s. The same can be done for the current situation in Gaza. Find your congressman here (http://www.congress.org/congressorg/directory/congdir.tt).
4. Keep the issue in the public eye
Protests have already been held across the nation and the world. But these must not stop. Neither should the press releases, op-ed pieces, letters to the editor and more to keep fellow Americans informed about and interested in the situation in Gaza, something which directly involves their tax money and? more importantly, the integrity and respect of their nation on the world stage. A December 31, 2008 Rasmussen Reports poll, found that Americans Democrats voters overwhelmingly oppose the Israeli offensive -- by a 24-point margin (55%-31%).
5. Invest in your political empowerment
While American public opinion largely opposes the attack on Gaza, large segments of our leadership do not. The Senate and the House continue to pass one-sided resolutions in support of Israel while 71 percent American surveyed like the US to be neutral in the conflict between Israel and Palestine.
This indicates the great power wielded by lobbies in the United States to shape our nation's course in all affairs. Common Cause (link to http://www.commoncause.org/) among others are trying to reduce the role of money in politics. Among Muslims two groups are focusing on the political arena, please check out MuslimDemocrats.net and MuslimRepublicans.net.
6. Discuss the issue calmly if called to do so
For many Americans, the Middle East crisis is something not to discuss in polite company because of the passionate and emotional responses usually elicited when either side of the crisis talks about it. Knowledge, balance in perspective and calmness are key in discussing it with those not familiar with the territory. If you choose to bring it up or are asked about it by classmates, neighbors or co-workers, speak as calmly as possible. Condemn the killing of all civilians as unIslamic and unethical, as they are. And present your perspective without becoming angry.
7. Never, ever lose hope
This is the ?trust in Allah? part of the situation. After you've done your part to help the cause of justice in Gaza, always remember that Allah is the best of planners, the most Wise, and indeed the most Merciful. We must never lose hope in His Mercy towards all human beings, displayed daily in countless ways. We must also remember that all power ultimately lies with Him, and He can turn a seemingly hopeless situation around in incredible ways.
"Destroyed ambulance in the CIty of Shijaiyah in the Gaza Strip" by Boris Niehaus (www.1just.de) - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Destroyed_ambulance_in_the_CIty_of_Shijaiyah_in_the_Gaza_Strip.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Destroyed_ambulance_in_the_CIty_of_Shijaiyah_in_the_Gaza_Strip.jpg