Muslim World, We Need to Talk

Holy moly.

There is a lot that needs to be said about what has happened over the past few days. Too much for a tiny article. What I’m going to say might be hard to hear, so I ask you read it with an open mind. I’ll keep it short: We have to accept the consequences of our actions.

Violence, especially murder, has consequences. One such consequence is the need for increased security. But we’ve been acting like children, throwing a temper tantrum over metal detectors. Metal detectors! It’s not like we don’t have them at the Kaaba and other Muslim holy sites, due to the killing of people there, too. They are there to prevent violence and save lives.

Think hard about what you’re upset about. Get past that knee-jerk reaction that you have whenever Israel sneezes in the direction of the Palestinians, and think. You’re protesting the fact that Muslims can’t bring weapons to the mosque. You’re protesting that people can’t slaughter others at our holy site. This is how low we’ve sunk.

We need to take a hard look at ourselves. I have not seen any Muslims condemn the murders of two Israelis – two people – at Al Aqsa, but plenty of outcries against the security measures put in place afterward. One of those people killed had a newborn nephew who will now grow up without an uncle. Where is the outrage over his death? Where is our compassion for human life?

This whole thing is drenched in hypocrisy. We have prevented Jews from accessing the Temple Mount, their holiest site, for decades, and yet we have the sheer audacity to claim that the Jews are preventing us from free worship at Al Aqsa? Jews didn’t tell the Waqf to boycott basic measures against violence. Jews didn’t declare that suddenly Allah would not accept the prayers of the faithful just because they stepped through metal detectors. Even now Israel has given in to our demands and removed the metal detectors, and we’re still boycotting and calling for days of rage, because Israel dares to have any say in whether or not their citizens’ lives are protected. This is petty and unreasonable. Just breathe for a minute and let’s be rational people. The blood of innocents need not be shed.

Some have been protesting nonviolently. Others, not so much. Others have murdered random Jews at their dinner table, stabbed people they mistook for Jews on the street, and attacked synagogues in Turkey. Why? “For Al Aqsa,” apparently. How does this help? How is the suffering and death of innocent people justified to protest metal detectors? I have not heard condemnations for any of these actions, either. Just accusations that Jews are preventing Muslims from worship.

It is not Jews who are preventing us from worship. It is ourselves.

Muslim world, we need to get our priorities in order. In the words of an Amazigh friend of mine, Muslims don’t really care much about the many other struggles our people are facing worldwide, “but open an umbrella in Morocco when it rains in Palestine.”

I have to ask you this: Where were you on Monday, when dozens were killed in attacks in Pakistan? In Afghanistan? In Nigeria? In Syria? Chances are, you didn’t even hear about these attacks. Or if you did, you thought, “Oh, that’s sad,” and went back to posting #PrayForAlAqsa on Twitter. The media and our mosques were too focused on metal detectors in Jerusalem. Our protests, our hearts and minds, belong only to the Palestinians. We have idolized them, turned them into martyrs who can do no wrong. But we exploit them. Our governments exploit them, forcing them to live in deplorable conditions, such as in Lebanon. Their own governments exploit them and steal their aid. We use them as political pawns. We excuse any violence they commit, infantilizing them, treating them like hapless children, and enable the cycle of terrorism. And in our exploitative obsession over the Palestinians, we barely spare a “Ya Allah” for the plight of the Rohingya Muslims, who are being genocided in Burma, for the Muslims in China who are forbidden from even fasting Ramadan, for the human rights abuses committed upon Muslims by Muslim governments themselves.

If we believe in justice, if we believe in peace, we have to hold the Palestinians and ourselves accountable for our actions. We have to treat the Palestinians as human beings with faults, and expect them to answer for their poor choices as we would anyone else. We must demand the Palestinian Authority stop rewarding terrorism by paying salaries to terrorists. We must not excuse terrorism as “resistance.” Killing innocents is not “resistance.” Stop pretending it is. We must call out leaders who incite violence, and not allow our imams to call for the annihilation of Jews. Why do we allow this to begin with? Why do we go through these mental gymnastics, bending over backwards to justify violence against Jews, when we wouldn’t do that to anybody else?

The Quran says, “Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves” (Quran 13:11). The hatred in our hearts that manifests into violence has not changed the condition of the Palestinians over the decades. Indeed, perhaps it is time to try something new, to work together with the Israelis to build two flourishing states, side by side, to cooperate in harmony beyond our differences in faith.

Muslims, we need to get our act together. This has gone too far. Our inability to admit fault, the fact that we put the Palestinians on an untouchable pedestal, our anti-Semitism problem, our violence issues, will be the destruction of us. It’s time to face reality, as difficult as that may be, and move forward.

About the Author
Nadiya Al-Noor is a young Muslim interfaith activist with a focus on Jewish and Muslim communities, and she actively supports peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Nadiya is a graduate student at Binghamton University in New York, studying Public Administration and Student Affairs Administration.
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