Sarmad Naveed, Canada
For those sitting thousands of miles away, seeing images of the brutal cruelties being faced by the innocent people of Gaza may impact us, even bring us to tears, but no matter how connected we feel, it’s impossible to feel the real pain of the Palestinians who wish it was as easy as turning off their TV to make it go away.
Imam Musleh Shanboor, who was born and raised in the Holy Land describes,
‘Gaza has a 2.3 million population; 1.9 million have been displaced and as of now (4th December 2023) there are more than 15,000 people who have been killed, and so many more who we don’t know anything about. More than 40,000 have been injured and they don’t have enough medical staff, medical equipment to actually treat these injured people’
The actions of major world powers make it apparent that they have effectively ignored the plight of the Palestinians.
And so, it’s become the duty of ordinary people to make sure that the voices of Palestinians do not become lost, that they raise their voices for peace.
The Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslims Community, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) has urged his followers to convey to all those in their circles and to their local and national leaders, that injustices of any kind must be brought to an end.
For about two decades since being bestowed the mantle of the Caliphate, His Holiness (aba) has been warning against the destructive and self-centered ways which many of the major powers have adopted.
His Holiness (aba) has been just as vocal in calling for justice and peace in the case of the atrocities taking place against the Palestinian people. He has urged major powers to recognise their duty to establish fair dealings and justice, afforded to all people without discrimination.
Interestingly, the Caliph’s (aba) views are now also being echoed throughout the world, including at the Canadian Parliament.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association Canada organised an event near Parliament Hill called Voices for Peace, a campaign initiated under the guidance of His Holiness (aba). The event aimed to bring light to the suffering being faced by Palestinians and the urgent need to establish peace. Upon invitation, various Members of Parliament and influential members of society, including the Chief Representative of the Palestinian General Delegation to Canada attended the event.
In the various speeches and comments during this event, one thing was evidently clear; the words of the Caliph were certainly being echoed.
The Duty of Western Nations
Take for example MP Chandra Arya, who hosted the first ever Palestinian Day on the Hill in the Canadian Parliament. Since the attacks on Palestine, MP Arya has spoken up in the House of Commons to shed light on the plight of Palestinians. Looking back to his more recent comments, MP Arya reflected,
‘I brought up the brutal killings that have been happening of tens of thousands of people, including thousands of children, while the Western world, the western world that is supposed to uphold the democratic values including the human rights, the human dignity – the Western world has been silent. When thousands of people, including thousands of children are being killed in front of our eyes, and I said that is not acceptable.’
It’s a reflection of the very same sentiment expressed by His Holiness (aba), that the Western world must practically follow through on its claims to desiring peace. His Holiness (aba) said,
‘Whilst major powers make outward assertions of extending sympathy, they do not act justly. They are not serious towards this matter.’
A ‘Pause’ in Fighting…?
The event was also attended by MP Salma Zahid, who is Chair of the Canada-Palestine Parliamentary Friendship Group. She said very simply,
‘A temporary truce followed by resumed killing is not the answer’
Whereas many lauded the pause in fighting, His Holiness (aba) very astutely pointed out,
‘It is said that a pause in the war of a few days will take into effect to allow necessary humanitarian aid to be delivered. However, what will happen after? After delivering the aid, will they then start attacking them again? The intent of the Israeli government appears dangerous. Just recently, one of its key ministers threatened to quit should fighting not immediately resume after this temporary pause. So, this is their mindset.’
The Imbalance of Media
The keynote address was delivered by Mona Abu Amara, Chief Representative of the Palestinian General Delegation to Canada. With her unique perspectives and insight into the ground reality being faced by Palestinians, she spoke about the situation at hand and what she feels is the way forward.
One of the aspects she highlighted was the imbalance in media coverage, as she explained,
’I feel its news to some that our struggle has not started on October 7 it has been going on for 75 years. But the media and the whole world have chosen to tune in…only after October 7. So, in the first 3 weeks I’ve done 23 interviews. They were basically starting with, “Do you condemn Hamas?” Basically, no time was there to talk about the travesties that were taken on the Palestinian people.’
It’s a crucial point because ultimately, for those not physically entrenched in the reality, the media is what informs the world – or at least that’s what it’s supposed to do, and fairly. As His Holiness (aba) points out, especially when it comes to the current situation, there’s been an unjust tipping of the scales by the media,
‘The Western media is actively promoting one side of the story and briefly presents the other side’s story in a corner. For example, recently among the women who were freed [by Hamas], one woman said that she was treated well during imprisonment. This report was buried in a corner, and another statement that imprisonment under Hamas was hell, constantly made headlines. Justice demands that the entire situation should be presented so that the world can determine for themselves as to who is the oppressor, and who is the oppressed, to what extent the war is warranted and when it should end.’
If Only They Did Their Job…
Perhaps the proverbial salt in the wounds is that the mechanisms and organs exist – in theory at least – to hold countries accountable and ensure that peace is established by way of upholding justice. But currently, at best, they only present an idea of what could be. Mona Abu Amara said in her remarks,
‘When…these organs came to be after World War 2, those are the values and principles we are asking the world to implement. We are asking for justice, and only with justice can peace come. The problem is that we are denied that justice; because with justice comes accountability, with justice comes an end to occupation and apartheid.’
But how can these organs uphold justice when they themselves have been reduced to a feeble voice on the world stage and are mired by political and vested interests? Again, these are all things which His Holiness (aba) has been highlighting for years, and calling for the discrepancies to end by allowing justice, not political or vested interests, to prevail. In context of the current situation, His Holiness (aba) said,
‘After the First World War, the major powers created the League of Nations in order to bring an end to wars. However, due to not fulfilling the demands of justice, and failing to establish its own authority, it proved unsuccessful. Consequently, the Second World War broke out, and it is said that more than 70 million lives were lost. The same is happening now with the UN. It was created to establish justice in the world, support the oppressed and to try and bring an end to wars. However, these are all far from being reality. Everyone is simply concerned with their own interests.
The average person cannot even fathom the harmful consequences of the war that will result from these injustices; however, all the major powers are well aware of the grave consequences. Yet, despite this, there is no attention given to establishing justice. No one is even prepared to pay attention to this.’
The Way Forward
So, what does this all mean? It means that the people in society who the public either elects or chooses to listen to are effectively echoing the message of the Caliph (aba), because the Caliph’s (aba) guidance has always been rooted in what, simply put, makes sense.
His Holiness (aba) has travelled far and wide, spoken and corresponded with the leaders of the world’s most powerful nations conveying Islam’s message of absolute justice and peace. Yet, those same major powers have insisted on doing things their way. Where has that gotten us now?
Reason dictates that we must try something different. As horrifically unfortunate of a rude awakening the current atrocities have been, perhaps it’s finally the eye opener for the world that the message being spread by the Ahmadiyya Caliph, the global ambassador of peace, must now be heeded if we wish to see peace in our time.
And the Caliph’s way forward is quite simple to understand. Whilst referencing remarks by the Head of the Palestine Mission to the UK, His Holiness (aba) said,
‘If true justice were to be established, then such things would not transpire. If major powers did not have double standards, then such restlessness and warfare in the world could never happen. Hence, if these double standards were eliminated, then it would bring and end to such wars.
These are the very things which I have been stating in light of Islam’s teachings for quite some time.’
Sitting afar, no matter how helpless we may feel, each and every person has the ability to directly impact a positive change in the world, as His Holiness (aba) advises,
‘We must focus a great deal on prayers. We should strive to end injustices within our own circles along with prayers’
The Caliph (aba) presents a clear path to peace. The question is, will you take it?
About the Author: Sarmad Naveed is an Imam of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community who graduated from the Ahmadiyya Institute for Languages and Theology in Canada. He serves as Online Editor and is on the Editorial Board for The Review of Religions, and also coordinates the Facts from Fiction section. He has also appeared as a panelist and host of programmes on Muslim Television Ahmadiyya (MTA) such as ‘Ahmadiyyat: Roots to Branches.’