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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 107

Letter From America: Reflections on Some Unfortunate Deaths

By Dr. Habib Siddiqui

On Thursday, February 12 - just two days after the targeted killings of 3 Muslim students (Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha) in Chapel Hill, NC - a Muslim man and his family were attacked inside a Kroger grocery store, located 15255 Michigan Avenue in of the Dearborn, Michigan at the corner of Greenfield Rd., while they were shopping.

The incident occurred around 5:45 p.m. when the Arab man and his children were inside of the store purchasing ice cream. Two White American guys passed by the family and began making derogatory remarks about ISIS, according to eye witnesses. The Caucasian men began to physically assault the Arab man, making comments that included "go back to your country" and "you terrorists." One of the Caucasian men told the Arab man's young daughter to "take the rag off your head."

Surely, our world is increasingly becoming a theatre of wanton violence and abysmal intolerance. And who would have thought that the US’s claims of epitomizing the notions of diversity and inclusion would be torpedoed by its own intolerant bigots and racists!

The sad fact is such tragic incidents or events, as we witnessed in the first half of February in Houston, Dearborn and Chapel Hill, have a much wider ramification these days when the world is more connected than ever before. What is a tragic event here can trigger a tragedy elsewhere and vice versa! Not everyone in a society filters information in the same way, and some are bound to react non-proportionately. That is why the tit for tat formula cannot be a viable solution.

And yet, President Obama has sought authorization for war against ISIS (also called ISIL). As Harvard Law Professor Noah Feldman has recently argued in the Bloomberg View the authorization for the use of military force replaces the 2002 Iraq War authorization. But it leaves in place the 2001 authorization passed immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks. That law originally applied to al-Qaeda, but has been extended by interpretation to cover successor organizations including Islamic State. The old authorization permitted war against those whom the president determined to have “planned, authorized, committed, or aided” the Sept. 11 attacks “or harbored such organizations or persons.” “The new authorization,” says Feldman, “however, extends to “individuals and organizations fighting for, on behalf of, or alongside ISIL or any closely-related successor entity in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.” This language goes further than the old authorization. Fighting “alongside” Islamic State could be almost anyone involved in the fight against Bashar al-Assad, for example. Uncomfortably enough, that would include potential U.S. allies -- and even, bizarrely, the U.S. itself.”

In that week we also heard about Kayla Mueller’s sad death in Syria. She was a 26-year-old humanitarian aid worker from Prescott, Arizona, who died when her building where she was housed by ISIS had been struck by bombs from a warplane, dispatched by Jordan after one of its pilots was brutally killed by ISIS. Her death was confirmed by the U.S. government. She was captured in August 2013 in Syria, but her captivity had largely been kept secret in an effort to save her.

Kayla was a free-spirited activist (affiliated with the pro-Palestinian human rights group – the International Solidarity Movement), very much like Rachel Corrie of Olympia, Washington who was killed by a Caterpillar bulldozer nearly 12 years ago while protesting against demolition of Palestinian homes by the Israeli forces in the occupied Gaza strip. [Note: The Israeli government has refused to be held liable for her murder.]

From Prescott, Kayla helped raise awareness of HIV and AIDS and offered comfort at a women's shelter. Her desire to help others stretched beyond Arizona to Palestinian territories, Israel, India, France and Syria. In 2010, Mueller spent time with the International Solidarity Movement, a group of foreign activists who come to the West Bank and east Jerusalem to show support for the Palestinians. Activists frequently participate in West Bank protests against Israel's separation barrier, and organizer Abdullah Abu Rahmeh said, "We were shocked to know that Kayla was taken hostage, and we were shocked more when she was killed because she came here to help people."

According to her Muslim fiancé Omar Alkhani, ‘She cared for people so much. She would never buy make-up and extra clothes because she used that money to buy food for the poor children. That's how I remember her.’

Kayla wrote passionately about conditions in war-torn Syria, where she had gone to help refugees. In a blog post, she wrote: "Every human should act. They should stop this violence."

Kayla’s clarion call continues to meet deaf ears. Instead of stopping the violence and coming to the aid of its victims, the US and her allies acted wickedly and promoted self-destruction. Their nonchalance attitude to uprooting Bashar al-Assad’s murderous regime only emboldened it to practice a scorched-earth policy against the Sunni majority in Syria who were left with no viable option, and led to the creation of the very menace it now wants defeated by hook or crook. Thus, instead celebrating the release of a noble activist Kayla Muller, we must now mourn her untimely death.

There is no doubt that what ISIS did with the Jordanian pilot was absolutely un-Islamic and barbaric. In response, Jordan executed two prisoners, including Sajida al-Rishawi, an Iraqi militant whom it had sought to trade with ISIS, on February 3 only a few hours after Jordanian King Abdullah met in Washington with President Barack Obama. Its bombing inside Syria has also resulted in the death of Kayla.

Jordan’s revengeful execution of prisoners is equally condemnable. Surely, when a dog bites you, you don’t bite it back to be equal with it. I wish Jordan’s Abdullah who claims to be the 43rd generation direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (S) had instead borrowed a leaf out of the life of his most illustrious predecessor.

The tenth year of Muhammad’s (S) prophetic mission was a sad one. He had lost his beloved wife, Khadija (R), with whom he was married for 25 years. He also lost his uncle, Abi Talib, who as the chief of the Hashimite clan had stood by him in times of despair making sure that no physical harm would befall him. Now with Abu Lahab, an ardent enemy of Islam, as the new chief of the clan the Prophet (S) was ill-treated as never before. On one occasion a passer-by leaned over his gate and tossed a piece of putrefying offal into his cooking pot; and once when he was praying in the courtyard of his house, a man threw over him a sheep’s uterus filthy with blood and excrement. On another occasion, when the Prophet (S) was coming from the Ka’bah, a man took a handful of dirt and threw it in his face and head. When he returned home, one of his daughters washed him clean of it, weeping while the Prophet (S) reassured her, “Weep not, little daughter, Allah will protect your father.”

It was then that Muhammad (S) decided to seek help from the Thaqif, the people of Ta’if – a decision that eloquently reflected the apparent gravity of his situation in Makkah (Mecca). Accompanied by his disciple, Zaid ibn Haritha, Muhammad (S) came to Ta’if. On his arrival, he went straight to the house of three brothers who were the leaders of Thaqif at that time, the sons of ‘Amr ibn Umayyah. When the Prophet (S) invited them to Islam and asked them to help him against his opponents, they abused him verbally. So the Prophet rose to leave them, perhaps intending to try elsewhere in Ta’if; but when he had left them they stirred their slaves and retainers to insult him and shout at him, until a crowd of people were gathered together against him who started pelting stones at him. His feet started bleeding. Zaid himself was injured with a head injury. The Prophet could not walk any longer. But the unbelievers put him on his feet and again resumed throwing stones at him. Ultimately, the Prophet (S) was forced to take refuge in a private orchard. Once he had entered it the crowd began to disperse, and, tethering his camel to a palm tree, he made for the shelter of a vine and sat in its shade.

When he felt himself to be in safety and at peace, Muhammad (S) prayed: “O God, unto You do I complain of my weakness, of my helplessness, and of my lowliness before men. O Most Merciful of the merciful, You are the Lord of the weak. And You are my Lord, Unto whose hands will you entrust me, unto some far off stranger who will ill-treat me? Or unto a foe whom You have empowered against me? I care not, so You be not wroth with me. But Your favoring help – that were for me the broader way and the wider scope! I take refuge in the Light of Your Countenance whereby all darknesses are illumined and the things of this world and the next are rightly ordered, lest You make descend Your anger upon me, or lest Your wrath beset me. Yet is it Yours to reproach until You are well pleased. There is no power and no might except through You.”

After he had made the supplication, Muhammad (S) looked up. He saw a cloud providing shade to him and in that cloud was seated the Angel Jibril (Gabriel). Jibril (AS) said, “Allah has heard what your community has said and He had also witnessed what the people of Ta’if had done to you. He has sent you the Angel who is entrusted with the mountains. Whatever you command, he will carry it out.”

The Angel who is entrusted with the mountains approached Muhammad (S) and said, “O Muhammad, I am the Angle of Mountains. I am at your command. If you command me I shall destroy this town by smashing it with the Mountain Akhshab.”

At this moment of trial, what the Prophet of mercy had to say simply surprised the Angel. The Prophet (S) said, “I beg forgiveness for them. Even if these people do not accept Islam, I do hope from Allah that there will emerge from there a people submissive unto Him who will not associate any partners to Him.”

No man has ever uttered such words for those who caused so much suffering. But such was the person of Muhammad (S). [Devotional Stories by Habib Siddiqui, A.S. Noordeen, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (2011)]
As we try to find answers and solutions to our problems and dilemmas in these times of despair, let’s not get carried away by wanton violence which only begets more violence.

- Asian Tribune -

Letter From America: Reflections on Some Unfortunate Deaths
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