Obligatory Gaza Post

I know, I’ve been silent on this issue. I’m also sure that a number of detractors view my silence as a sign of my apathy towards the struggles of the people in Gaza and lack of sympathy for the civilians who have died or have been wounded. The truth is, I’ve been away from my computer living life. We muslims aren’t really supposed to take time to enjoy our lives, celebrate marriages, births, feel joy, happiness, or fall in love, when our brethren are suffering in some central Muslim land. We are supposed to be wracked with guilt, laden with heavy hearts, feel insecure because of our political impotence, and develop a heavy case of neuroses out of worry about the future and impending decline of civilization as we know it. I guess that’s the feeling I got from last Friday’s khutbah, and most khutbahs that I’ve gone to since well forever. This past week, I felt kind of guilty because I wasn’t reading every article on Gaza. Instead, I was celebrating this new chapter of my life, especially in light of some of the hardships and obstacles both me and my husband went through over the past year. Although we were able to steal away from our everyday troubles and enjoy a few moments of marital bliss, Gaza reached us. I don’t think anybody can escape the news coverage of the bombing, the protests, and the friday sermons where every imam across America calls on American Muslims to sympathize with the plight of the people of Gaza, and Iraq, and Kashmir, and Somalia, and Sudan (notice how they don’t say Darfur). So, in my obligatory, and likely at this time superfluous, post I will state clearly that I think what’s happening to the people in Gaza really stinks. I feel bad for the Gazans, and I am with them in solidarity. The whole blockade thing was a bad idea, because squeezing the Gazans would only make Hamas look better, similar to Hizbullah in Lebanon. Like the invasion of Lebanon, I don’t get why the international community can let this happen. But my concern for Gazans is not about a Muslim thing, but a humanist concern. My empathy for their suffering does not mean that I can hang up my ethical framework and demonize Israelis and Jews. Nor does it mean that I forget the suffering in unjust wars like Congo, Cote D’ivoire, and Nigeria. In fact, there is so much suffering in the world and everyone is fighting their own personal battles. I guess it is a careful balance of looking for hope, of accepting God’s will, of being grateful, of feeling for your brothers and sisters who are suffering and recognizing that we all have our moments of joy and sorrow. I’m not saying that our community centers shouldn’t take a stance against unjust wars. I guess I want to go to my friday sermon and not feel like I’m at a political rally. Maybe that should be reason enough to develop a lobby, some political coalitions, and effective political organizations that represent the interests of American Muslims. Maybe then the minbar can be used to focus on spiritual and moral life, as opposed to always reflecting on the political conditions of Muslims throughout the world. It seems like as long as there is war, occupation, and oppression, all of us Muslims can look at the enemy without, while ignoring the enemy within.