A Ramadan of reflection and resistance for Gaza

A Ramadan of reflection and resistance for Gaza
5 min read

Hebh Jamal

14 March, 2024
As Gaza faces starvation, Israel's war has stolen the joy from the holy month. This Ramadan, Muslims must channel our faith into solidarity, writes Hebh Jamal.
Taking a stand against injustice is a core tenet of Ramadan. This year, Gaza needs our unwavering solidarity, writes Hebh Jamal. [Getty]

Eid in Gaza used to be special. Lights hung up in the shopping districts, sweets sold in the streets, and children ran in between their homes while lighting the stainless steel scouring pads which act like sparklers or mini fireworks when lit.

In Gaza, our celebrations marking the holy month of Ramadan and Eid were always filled with joy. Today, it is incomprehensible that this same happy place does not exist anymore.

It has been over 150 days of Israel’s brutal war on Gaza, during which it has lived under the terror of soldiers on the ground and airstrikes overhead. Over 31,000 Palestinians have been killed, with millions forcibly displaced and enduring an Israeli-made famine.

In northern Gaza, the number of children dying of starvation continues to rise.

And even so, Palestinians in Gaza are participating in this Ramadan. They are fasting from sunrise to sunset, breaking their fast on canned foods if they are lucky, and praying in congregation in between their tent cities, as the majority of mosques have been reduced to rubble.

Observing Ramadan in Palestine while under bombardment, or under constant threat by Israel, is not new for Palestinians. During Ramadan 2014, Palestinians in Gaza were under Israeli bombardment for the entirety of the holy month. Over 2,000 Palestinians were killed, including 547 children.

In Jerusalem and the West Bank, Israel routinely escalates night raids, increases military checkpoints, and restricts or even bans access to Al Aqsa Mosque - the third holiest site in Islam - just as they did on the first night of this Ramadan.

During Ramadan 2023, Israeli police attacked worshippers in a viral and gruesome video during a raid on the mosque where they are seen assaulting, beating worshipers, and preventing them from praying.

The Palestinian Red Crescent reported 12 people injured, including three who were taken to hospital. It also said in a statement that Israeli forces prevented its medics from reaching Al-Aqsa. At least 400 Palestinians were arrested.

The war on Gaza is not a religious war, but it is clearly a Muslim issue. When Muslims are forbidden from entering the third holiest site in Islam, or are faced with the unequivocal destruction of over 200 mosques, or are routinely killed before breaking their fast, the genocide of the Palestinians takes on a religious component: the systematic obliteration of Palestinian Muslim bodies and lives.

By not only murdering Muslim bodies, but also completely altering the way Palestinian Muslims observe their faith (from where they pray, to what they eat, and even where they’re buried), Israel forced the politicisation of  not only the Palestinian identity, but of Ramadan itself.

Likewise, us as Muslims must continue to call for justice and liberation of the Palestinian people even louder during this month.

Perspectives

So as I now walk the streets of Frankfurt, where the city decided to put up Ramadan decorations, I feel empty, insulted even. Germany has been enabling the genocide of Gaza by providing Israel material and political cover to slaughter my family and destroy the home of over two million people.

In fact, Germany has adopted the policy of unconditionally protecting Israel and shielding it from accountability. It has even made the protection of Israel’s national security Germany’s Reason of State.

For months, Germany has banned protests, arrested activists, censored pro-Palestinian academics and artists, and regurgitated Israeli propaganda within every major media outlet and political institution.

If you refuse to see us, Palestinians, as human worthy of life, and our basic rights of speech,  then to hell with your Ramadan decorations.

For years, Ramadan has been used as a political tool in Western states to pay only lip service to their Muslim constituents and citizens, and we have fallen for it. The Regents Park Mosque in the UK recently hosted Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who has refused to call for a ceasefire, and has even claimed that pro-Palestinian protestors are threatening to replace democracy with “mob rule.” 

One X user allegedly called the mosque’s administrators to ask for clarification. “Why do you live in this country then?” said one of them. “If you were given the opportunity to speak to Rishi Sunak you would '' said another.

We accept the invitations to White House iftars, host political leaders who support genocide in our holy spaces, and have completely forgotten the innate meaning of our holy month.

Abstaining from food and drink may be a part of it, but Ramadan’s significance and beauty comes from its sense of community. Convening together to engage in acts of worship and providing Muslims the opportunity for spiritual growth, self discipline and connection to their faith.

Most importantly, this month is an opportunity to detach from material worldliness by rejecting capitalism and reducing consumption, giving charity or zakat and reclaiming your spirituality.

Completely aligning with the essence of Ramadan is standing in complete solidarity with the Palestinian people: helping those in need by giving charity, rejecting capitalism by abiding strictly to the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement, and detaching from worldliness by rejecting Ramadan invitations of corrupt politicians who refuse to acknowledge the rights of those who believe and bleed like us in Gaza.

Ramadan is a time for us Muslims to see our lives as more than ourselves, and we must continue to stand strong and flood the streets of our communities until this genocide ends, and until all of Palestine is free.

Hebh Jamal is a Palestinian American journalist based in Germany. 

Follow her on Twitter: @hebh_jamal

Have questions or comments? Email us at: editorial-english@newarab.com

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.

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