Grieving Palestine Through an Islamic Perspective
We must remember that like us, Palestinians are humans too, and we cannot ignore the immense suffering they are going through and the dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza—the time to educate ourselves and take action on this issue is now.
Reading Time: 5 minutes
The conflict between Israel and Palestine didn’t just begin on October 7. This tension has been here since 1948, when 750,000 Palestinians were forcefully expelled from their homes during the Nakba. From then on, it has only been building up through events like the First and Second Intifadas and the Great March of Return. Palestinians have continuously faced apartheid and segregation in their homeland for 75 years. Innocent citizens were unjustly killed and tortured even before the start of the “war.” Many, however, are unaware of this history. Because of this ignorance, combined with the lack of representation of Palestinian and Muslim perspectives on the Israel-Hamas war in mainstream media, many are unaware of the suffering that Palestinians are currently going through and misunderstand the Palestinian cause. This is extremely dangerous and dehumanizing, as people are not only becoming misinformed, but are also starting to become prejudiced towards Palestinians and, by extension, Muslims and Arabs.
Because of this, many Muslims and others who stand with Palestine feel the need to show what we stand for and fight to get others to understand what is happening in Gaza. Not only do many of us feel this responsibility, we also feel immense grief. Through this article, I hope I can shine a light on the plight that Gazans are going through every day and how it connects to other issues as well. In addition, I also want to show how I, and many other Muslims, are grieving, particularly through an Islamic lens.
The past few weeks have been disastrous. I have been filled with sadness, grief, and guilt because of the atrocities that are occurring in Gaza. I have seen images of fathers holding the limbs of their children in plastic bags, children reaching out from under the rubble of their homes, and bodies placed in ice cream trucks. Ten thousand Palestinians have been killed so far, and 825 families have been wiped out. There is no shortage of terror.
But it doesn’t just end here: there has also been a rise in hate crimes against Muslims and Palestinians throughout the world, especially in the U.S. and in the West Bank. According to AP News, at least 190 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank in 2023, before October 7, with this number only increasing since the start of the war. In the United States, we’ve already witnessed the murders of Wadea-Al-Fayoume and Dr. Talat Khan. Many of my Muslim, Arab, and South Asian friends have been spit on, cursed at, and told to “stop killing Israelis” and “go back to the terrorist country they came from.”
When I see this, when I hear this, it’s easy to lose hope. In Islam, we believe that all humans are descended from Adam and Eve. We see each other as brothers and sisters—as family. So when I see Palestinians and other Muslims being killed, it feels like members of my own family are dying. There is a famous quote by the prophet Muhammad (SAW) that I’ve heard since I was a child: “The Muslim Ummah is like the human body: when one part of the body feels pain, the whole body feels pain.” The entire situation is just so disgusting—how can I go through my daily life without worrying about what is happening to my family, to my community, both on the other side of the world and in my own country?
These people who were killed, most of them children, had hopes and dreams of doing the things that we do. Wadea was six years old. He had his entire life ahead of him. He wasn’t even able to go through his awkward teenage years like we are. He didn’t have the luxury of complaining about failing his physics test like we are or celebrating Halloween with his friends this year like we did. But Wadea is not alone; Wadea represents every child who wasn’t able to grow up simply because they were born Palestinian.
But through all of this trauma, terror, and horridness, I see those affected say “Allahu Akbar” and “HasbunAllahu Wa Ni’mal Wakeem”—that Allah (God) is Greater and that Allah (alone) is sufficient for us. To some, these are phrases associated with terrorism, as some “Islamist extremists” shout these phrases when carrying out their attacks. But to many Muslims, these phrases are exactly what they mean. In Islam, we believe that life is temporary, that it’s simply a test to help us in the akhirah (afterlife). We believe that everything that happens to us is predestined and meant to happen to us. So through the bombs, the screams, the terror, and the deaths, Muslims remain hopeful; they are not afraid of what will happen to them because Allah is Greater, and whatever they go through is what Allah decided for them.
This isn’t to say that just because they believe it was meant for them means that the Israeli government is even slightly acceptable: these are war crimes that break international law and create a perilous humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Rather, this is how Muslims and the people of Gaza hold onto hope; our love of Allah and our faith in Islam is what keeps us going, what helps us fight and resist oppression.
There is another beautiful quote from the Quran that I think is especially relevant now: “Never say that those martyred in the cause of Allah are dead—in fact, they are alive, though you do not realize it” (2:154). The Palestinians and Muslims who have been killed in Gaza, the West Bank, and around the world are not truly dead. Their spirits are everywhere. They represent those who held onto their faith, courage, and hope. They will never, ever be forgotten by me and by many others around the world.
But to keep their legacy alive even further, I ask anyone reading this article to educate themselves. Start by looking at different perspectives, and then study the history of the two states. Read about the Nakbah, the legacy of the Palestinian resistance. Read about the Great March of Return and the difficulties Palestinians have had to go through for 75 years. But most importantly, read about what is happening right now because now is the time to take action: go to protests and ask your parents and loved ones to call representatives and ask for a ceasefire. Every life being killed is precious, so as we grieve for those who already lost their lives, let us fight to save the ones who are still living.