As many of us are aware, the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan has been
classified as Al-Quds Day by the leader of the Islamic Revolution of Iran, the
great Ayatollah Imam Khomeini. This "international day" of observance was
introduced to raise our voices to liberate Al-Aqsa Mosque and also to express
solidarity with our oppressed Palestinian brothers and sisters who have been
facing great trials not only now but for the past 60 years by the
Zionist-Apartheid system of Israel. Despite the knowledge of this clear case of
oppression, unfortunately there are a significant number of Muslims who pose
some concerns and display a lack of passion for the Quds crisis.
Of all cases of oppression, why did Imam Khomeini dedicate the last Friday of
Ramadan for Al-Quds?
Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that the usurped land of Al-Quds is not just
any land; it is a holy land that holds great religious significance. In fact,
the war which Israel is fighting against the Palestinian people is really a war
against Islam and in opposition to the Muslims, and the means to do so is by
desecrating one of the most sacred Islamic holy lands such as Al-Quds.
Furthermore, the oppressors (Zionists) of Al-Quds are one of our most lethal
enemies today, so there is greater urgency in fighting them over other
oppressors. Perhaps one of the reasons why Imam Khomeini saw it necessary to
highlight this particular case is because the land of Quds and Masjid Al-Aqsa
will be one of the key items on the agenda of Imam Mahdi (may Allah hasten his
reappearance) and Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) at the time of reappearance.
We cannot compare Al-Quds (which means 'holy', derived from the word 'Muqaddas')
with any usurped land. The reason is because the land of Al-Quds is a symbol
which represents Allah, and thus becomes holy and constitutes Sha'aer Allah
(signs of Allah); hence desecrating it is a direct offense to Allah.
As the holy month of Ramadan revives the spirit of unity and brotherhood among
Muslims, it was certainly not a coincidence that Imam Khomeini chose a Friday
during this month to dedicate for this most noble purpose of joining our hands
together as a unified nation, no matter what school of thought we belong to or
what nation we come from. When the Muslim world has tasted an example of what
the poor and needy suffer by fasting from food and water throughout this holy
month, we naturally become more sympathized and united for the cause of the
oppressed. Hence, the peak of spiritual recognition in this aspect becomes more
apparent towards the latter part of Ramadan, which makes the timing all the
appropriate to dedicate as Al-Quds Day. We all share the same concern for
Al-Quds and Baitul Maqdis, and therefore, our collective protest on this
specified day, particularly as the world is well aware of the Muslims observance
of the holy month of fasting, creates a greater effect and speaks a louder voice
for the cause of standing up against oppression.
Why do we not have the same passion equally distributed to other cases of human
rights violation, such as in Tibet, Darfur, etc?
One may continue in this endless and futile chain of asking "why not this?" and
"why not that?" However this type of fruitless questioning will not bring a
solution to the existing problems, and there is no value in starting a sequence
of comparisons whenever passion is expressed about an issue or a noble cause.
After all, one can argue why so much passion about the tragedy of Karbala in
which only around 72 people were killed, while thousands of lives were taken in
the Holocaust! The comparison here is inappropriate as there are other factors
that come into play when assessing a case of oppression.
Granted this world is filled with oppression from the North to the South Pole,
and that will be the case until the Imam of Our Time (may Allah hasten his
reappearance) fills the earth with justice and equality. There is no
disagreement that it is the duty of every human to stand up against any and all
oppression we witness, and as the saying goes, "He who witnesses oppression and
is silent is like he who condones it and takes part in it." It would be great if
there are demonstrations for every case of injustice that takes place in this
world till the end of time, and we should exert all efforts to initiate,
organize, and participate in such noble efforts. However, it may be beyond our
capacity and resources to tackle every case of oppression to the same degree. We
should at least exert our efforts in the most efficient way possible and
prioritize with the most critical issues at hand, under the guidance of our
respected religious leaders, which by default represents all other cases as
Why boycott companies that support the Zionist state?
One of the important ways of raising our voice on Al-Quds Day is to announce our
boycott of all companies which support the apartheid economy of the Zionist
state as a part of the larger Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
By implementing consumer boycott of those Western companies which sponsor the
Apartheid state, these companies are being educated about how their close
relationship with the Zionist apartheid state is a financial liability.
Part of this education requires participants of the boycott to contact the
companies and inform them why you are boycotting. It is an ethical and moral
issue that goes hand in hand with the idea of Bara'at (dissociation from
falsehood). We learn a great example from the young daughter of one of the close
companions of Imam Ali named Abul Aswad Al-Du'ali. When she learned that the
honey which she just consumed was given as a gift from the oppressive caliph of
her time, she protested by voluntarily vomiting everything she swallowed. It was
a feeling of disgust that she felt even though the honey was not forbidden from
the jurisprudence perspective. Rather, it was a moral stance by which she voiced
her condemnation to Muawiya and thereby stamped her support and devotion to Imam
Ali (peace be upon him).
Passive Muslims Avoiding Politics
Unfortunately, there are some factions even among the Shia brethren who have
stepped aside when it comes to joining the protests on Al-Quds Day or initiating
a rally locally. Some reasons for their silence are the desire to stay away from
"politics" or any controversial issue that may harm them or their worldly
positions. Some fear that their citizenship or jobs be taken away from them. To
those who use the pretext of "politics", we say that the issue of illegitimate
caliphate assumed by Yazid in the Karbala crisis is also considered to be
"politics". Yet we observe that Imam Hussein (peace be upon him) stood up
against falsehood and oppression, even if it is political, and even if it cost
him his own life as well as the lives of his beloved ones. Surely, if we seek to
gain knowledge of the purified lives of our Imams, we will realize that every
one of them were involved in the political environments of that time and
struggled to stand up for the truth!
Al-Quds Speaks for All Cases of Oppression
It is imperative for us to bear in mind that when we raise our voices on Al-Quds
Day, it is to stand up against oppression not just in Palestine but all over the
world, including Bahrain, Yemen, Egypt, and Tunisia. It is the day for the weak
and oppressed to confront the arrogant powers of Zionism and the Yazids of our
time. Likewise, when we lament and mourn over the tragedy of Imam Hussein, which
is the greatest of calamities in the history of mankind, we are in essence
voicing our condemnation for all other oppressions, and we recognize that
Karbala is a representation of "enjoining the good and forbidding the evil"
which is not limited to the land of Karbala nor to the day of Ashura. When we
participate and promote the yearly Al-Quds rally on the last Friday of Ramadan,
remember that we are also protesting the usurped land of Fadak which was
unjustly seized from Lady Fatima Zahra (peace be upon her)!
For those of us who are hesitant to participate in Al-Quds rallies or have any
affiliation with organizations that stand up for this cause, it is a good time
to reassess our faith as the holy month of Ramadan culminates. Surely it is
contradicting to claim that we are preparing ourselves for the return of our
Imam when we are struggling within ourselves to protest against one of the most
obvious cases of oppression in our present time. Yet again, it is a commonly
observed phenomenon that Truth is usually supported by few while the majority
tends to lean towards Falsehood where ever it is convenient. We hope and pray
that we are not among those whom Imam Hussein described, "Verily, people are
the slaves of the world, and religion is just on their tongues. They are
attentive to it as long as their material benefits are provided, but when they
are tested, the number of true devotees dwindles!"