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  • Rukhsar from ELEVEN

Sumud: Faith Strengthened by Resistance

As I sit comfortably at home, and stare at the depravity inflicted on the Palestinians occurring in real time on my phone, an odd feeling begins to engulf my entire being. These days, this indescribable feeling has settled itself in the pit of my stomach, and the core of my soul. I walk around with this feeling, constantly conscious of the Palestinians’ plight back in their homeland. No matter how hard I try, I am unable to shake off this weird feeling. Cognitive dissonance has become that toxic friend you can’t distance yourself from no matter how much you try.


I feel helpless as I witness the actions, or lack of real actions, by those in power to save the Palestinians from close to a century’s worth of colonisation and disenfranchisement. This Ramadan, every single action is tinged by guilt. Why are you not finishing your food when Palestinians struggle even to get a morsel to break their fast or sahur? Why do you not pray taraweeh at the mosque when Palestinians are praying among the literal rubble of their once glorious, and beautiful mosques? My mind constantly berates and reprimands me for not being grateful, appreciative, or happy enough with what I have.


Pictured: Palestinians breaking fast and praying taraweeh on the rubbles of their homes and mosques,

Photos by CNN Instagram


Yet, I do not mind. I do not see this as an emotional burden, or a burden at all. It cannot compare to what the Palestinians are experiencing, not even close. Being an optimist, I recognise it as my soul’s ability to empathise, to feel, to love. This same ability might not be in possession by the culprits. The rage, the guilt, the sadness, and the helplessness that consume me every second only encourage me to be more steadfast than ever. To emulate the Palestinians themselves who still thank Allah SWT despite facing the worst and most depraved crimes against humanity by a group of people who do not recognise them as equal, let alone as fellow human beings.


The Palestinians have taught me what it means to redha (to be pleased with whatever Allah has decreed for you) and sabr (to be patient and persevere through hardships). They have taught me the concept of sumud, a Palestinian cultural value of "steadfastness", or "steadfast perseverance" borne of their oppression and resistance to it.


This Ramadan, I made it a goal to read the Quran as much as I can. Through that, I have begun to recognise striking parallels between the Palestinian resistance and verses in the Quran. For example:


Redha, as mentioned in the Quran: 



جَزَآؤُهُمْ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ جَنَّـٰتُ عَدْنٍۢ تَجْرِى مِن تَحْتِهَا ٱلْأَنْهَـٰرُ خَـٰلِدِينَ فِيهَآ أَبَدًۭا ۖ رَّضِىَ ٱللَّهُ

عَنْهُمْ وَرَضُوا۟ عَنْهُ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ لِمَنْ خَشِىَ رَبَّهُۥ



Their reward with their Lord will be Gardens of Eternity, under which rivers flow, to stay there for ever and ever. Allah SWT is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him. This is only for those in awe of the Lord.

(Al-Quran, 98:8) 


Sabr, as mentioned in the Quran: 



يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ ٱسْتَعِينُوا۟ بِٱلصَّبْرِ وَٱلصَّلَوٰةِ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ مَعَ ٱلصَّـٰبِرِينَ



O believers! Seek comfort in patience and prayer. Allah is truly with those who are

patient.

(Al-Quran, 2:153)



وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُم بِشَىْءٍۢ مِّنَ ٱلْخَوْفِ وَٱلْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍۢ مِّنَ ٱلْأَمْوَٰلِ وَٱلْأَنفُسِ وَٱلثَّمَرَٰتِ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ ٱلصَّـٰبِرِينَ



We will certainly test you with a touch of fear and famine and loss of property, life, and crops. Give good news to those who patiently endure—

(Al-Quran, 2:155) 



ٱلَّذِينَ إِذَآ أَصَـٰبَتْهُم مُّصِيبَةٌۭ قَالُوٓا۟ إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّآ إِلَيْهِ رَٰجِعُونَ



who say, when struck by a disaster, “Surely to Allah we belong and to Him we will

˹all˺ return.”

(Al-Quran, 2:156) 



وَٱصْبِرْ وَمَا صَبْرُكَ إِلَّا بِٱللَّهِ ۚ وَلَا تَحْزَنْ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا تَكُ فِى ضَيْقٍۢ مِّمَّا يَمْكُرُونَ



Be patient O Prophet, for your patience is only with Allah’s help. Do not grieve over those who disbelieve, nor be distressed by their schemes.

(Al-Quran, 16:127) 


Sabr, as mentioned by the Prophet SAW:


" إِنَّمَا الصَّبْرُ عِنْدَ الصَّدْمَةِ الأُولَى"


Verily, patience is at the first stroke of a calamity. 

(Sahih Bukhari, Book 23, Hadith No. 43)


 

How beautiful, and inspiring it is that the Palestinians are teaching their fellow Muslim brothers and sisters what it means to truly trust, and submit to Allah SWT. I must admit that throughout the entirety of my awareness of the Palestinians’ resistance to their oppressors, I have let anger and hatred consume me. It is easy to let the rage blind you, to prevent you from seeing the humanity in human beings who are just as much a victim to their ideologies, tyranny, and systemic oppression that is subjected upon the Palestinians. However, after much reflection since reading the Quran, I have, for the lack of better words, calmed down and redha.


It is easy to lose ourselves in worldly affairs and concepts of protests, rallies, and boycotts. Though these efforts to resist the status quo are noble and we must not lose hope in their effectiveness, we as Muslims must ultimately put our trust in Allah SWT, and remain steadfast in our efforts and our prayers. Only He has the power to stop such depravity, and we must recognise that.


As my mother aptly advised me after expressing my grief and anger to her, she gently reminded me:


“If the Palestinians themselves can remain patient and steadfast under such depravity, to continue to put their trust in Allah SWT, to control their justified feelings of anger, grief, and suffering, who are you to explicitly express your self-righteous rage for everyone to witness?”

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