The Qarawiyyin Newsletter: May round up

Reviving Islamic Discourse among Muslim Women

يَـٰقَوْمِ ٱدْخُلُوا۟ ٱلْأَرْضَ ٱلْمُقَدَّسَةَ ٱلَّتِى كَتَبَ ٱللَّهُ لَكُمْ وَلَا تَرْتَدُّوا۟ عَلَىٰٓ أَدْبَارِكُمْ فَتَنقَلِبُوا۟ خَـٰسِرِينَ

“O my people, enter the blessed land [Palestine] which Allah has assigned to you and do not turn back [from fighting in Allah's cause] and thus become losers."

5:21


Welcome to The Qarawiyyin Newsletter!

A belated Eid Mubarak from The Qarawiyyin Project! We hope that despite the devastating situation of our brothers and sisters in Palestine weighing heavily on our hearts, Eid was a time for our readers to rejoice in the blessings of Allah ﷻ with friends and family.

Every year without fail Israel unleashes violent attacks on worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan. Palestinians have been subjected to physical and systematic violence by the Zionist regime every day since the illegal and brutal occupation began in 1948. For years we have witnessed the casualties, from newborn infants to the elderly, and the decimation of homes, hospitals and schools. Yet the international community has been largely complicit in this oppression.

In recent weeks however, the discourse is noticeably shifting. As Muslims, we are hopeful and always have trust in Allah, who is Al-Muhaymin, the protector and overseer. We pray for Palestine, we protest and then we pray again, for there is no stronger weapon at our disposal. We must remember al-Quds in our sermons, on social media, in our schools, and we must visit the Holy Land to ensure the people of Palestine know that the rest of the world has not forgotten them. May Allah ﷻ allow us witness the liberation of Palestine in our lifetime and ease the situation of all oppressed peoples. Ameen.

To that end, in this edition of our newsletter, we have included a variety of resources for those wanting to learn more about the situation in Palestine and how we can navigate the supporting cause.

NEW: Reflections on Violence

In this piece, we reflect on ‘violence’, a term that is almost intrinsically tied to Muslims in mainstream discourse - from political journalism to orientalist history. Yet, as we have seen from the recent coverage of the brutal occupation of Palestine, it is used disingenuously to whitewash and undermine Israeli crimes - disregarding the power dynamics between the oppressor and oppressed, reducing ‘violence’ to only physical and invoking the rhetoric of the War on Terror.

NEW: Islamo-leftism: The making of new vocabularies in the liberal world

In this article, Huda Mohammed Shareef examines the recent emergence of the term ‘islamo-leftism’ in the mainstream French media. She explores how language has and continues to be used by those in power as a tool of those to further their own aims. She contextualises islamophobia and the otherising of Muslims as part of the liberal project, and reflects on how we as Muslims can best respond.

The destroyer of pleasures: A reflection on Death culture

Navigating death as a concept is an immensely difficult task, but when one has to factor in ethnic cleansing, the deliberate destruction of whole cities and the bombardment of children, it becomes immensely more taxing. After the 11-day onslaught by Israel on the Gaza Strip, the approximate death toll stood at 248, including 66 children. How does a believer come to terms with the brutal deaths of innocent civilians? In this article, we discuss the need to re-orientate our perception of death, and comprehend it outside the realm of pure tragedy, and never to forget that our Lord is the Most Just.

Podcast Ep. 15: With the Qur’an | Shaykha Maryam Amir

In this month’s episode, Shaykha Maryam Amir joins the Qarawiyyin Podcast for a conversation on women seeking religious knowledge: access, barriers, missteps, and successes. We discuss the challenges women commonly face when attempting to access even basic information about their deen. Shaykha Maryam dispels misconceptions regarding women reciting the Qur’an, and illustrates the power of reciting and memorizing the Word of Allah ﷻ.

Previous episodes that may be of interest right now:

Podcast Ep. 11: Palestine – Revelation and Realpolitik | Dr. Aysha Wazwaz

As we witness shifting rhetoric about the liberation of Palestine, normalisation efforts with the occupying force, and complicity from religious scholars in these efforts, we ask: what is the religious significance of Palestine? Why are Muslims dropping the banner of Palestine advocacy? What is the role of scholars in politics (and must we defer to them)?

To fully understand the recent events in Palestine we must educate ourselves on the violent history of the occupation, and also comprehend Palestine from both a historical and theological lens to understand its significance in the lives of Muslims. Here are a few important reads to start with:

  1. The Hundred years’ war on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917–2017 - Rashid Khalidi

    With such contrasting views on this topic in the mainstream, Rashid Khalidi’s contribution is invaluable in dissecting the Israeli occupation from an explicitly Palestinian perspective. He traces one hundred years of colonial war on the Palestinians, from the blueprints to the Balfour Declaration, touching on key events and actors that have played a role in shaping the current situation.

  2. The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine - Ilan Pappé

    Following on from Khalidi, similar sentiments are expressed in this more well-known book by the prominent Israeli historian, Ilan Pappé. By analysing the inception of the Israeli state, he offers a magnitude of evidence to demonstrate that the very basis of the ideology in Israel’s formation relies on the forcible removal of the Palestinians, the indigenous population. The ‘conflict’ was not initiated by the arrival of opposition such as Hamas as mainstream discourse commonly suggests, rather the formation of Israel itself was rooted in violence from the start.

  3. Palestine: A Four Thousand Year History - Nur Masalha

    Maybe one of the biggest injustices to Palestine is limiting our commentary to the last 100 years. A land so rich in history and culture and central to the three Abrahamic religions is now only discussed in the language of geopolitics. So whilst understanding the last century is vital, we must not forget that its history begins many thousand years prior. As Nur Masalha discusses the evolution of the Palestinian identity through the ages, the core message is that Palestine is not a modern concept or identity constructed to parallel and oppose ‘Israel’; rather it is ‘rooted firmly in an ancient past.’

  4. The Race for Paradise: An Islamic History of the Crusades - Paul Cobb

    The liberation of Jerusalem is one of the most glorious moments of our Islamic history, and the Crusades played a significant role in shaping the Muslim world, yet the details are relayed almost entirely through Western or Christian sources. Using Arabic primary sources, Paul Cobb has produced one of the few English works on the Crusades from an Islamic perspective, and in many ways contradicts the dominant narrative. Through the accounts of Arab chroniclers such as Ibn al-Qalanisi and Usama Ibn Munqidh, we learn about the importance of the Holy Land in Islam, the military efforts to preserve it, and more generally its role in shaping the lives and culture of Muslims in the 11th and 12th centuries.

There is an upcoming hadith monograph on the merits of al-Sham by Abdullah Al-Rabbat, which will include traditions revolving around the land and people of al-Sham, Jerusalem, al-Aqsa mosque, Dome of Rock and Damascus. It will be an invaluable resource from an Islamic perspective insha'Allah so keep an eye out for its release!

As well as periodically updating our resource bank, here we share some other insightful contributions from prominent Muslim figures and organisations.

AUDIO: Darul Qasim’s Position On Dealing With Oppression
In this khutbah delivered on Eid al Fitr, Shaykh Amin addresses the grave crisis in Palestine. He explains that the suffering of the Palestinians is connected to the suffering of Muslims globally and the suffering of all oppressed people everywhere, including in America where there are grave issues of injustice facing the African American community.  Shaykh Amin explains that the solution lies in Muslims adopting a principled approach based on Islam’s civilisational values which call for us to combat oppression everywhere we find it, using the proper means.
RESOURCE: Uyghur Tribunal
An independent people’s tribunal has been established in the UK to investigate the ongoing atrocities and Genocide against the Uyghur, Kazakh and other Turkic Muslim populations. The first set of hearings are being livestreamed between 4th-7th June. A collection of harrowing witness statements are also available to read.
ARTICLE: Palestine and the question of Islam 
From journalists to social scientists to activists, one question that often arises is whether the Israeli occupation of Palestine is a political, secular or religious issue. In the face of some pushback against those claiming it is an 'Islamic issue', Muneeza Rizvi provides a thought-provoking critique on the policing of Islam's visibility in the political and activist spheres.
VIDEO: Liberating Palestine: Lessons from History - Karima Foundation, Dr Yaqoob Ahmed & Dr Uthman Lateef
The Karima Foundation hosts two expert Islamic historians to discuss how the Ummah arrived at its present situation and what lessons we can take from previous successful liberations of Al-Aqsa. They also discuss the roots of the Zionist movement and how the fall of the Ottoman Caliphate shaped the state of the Muslim world today. 
VIDEO: Inside the Battle for Jerusalem - VICE News
VICE release an important documentary dismantling the propaganda and myths surrounding the occupation of the Palestinian people, providing invaluable context to a dire situation which has been maliciously distorted into a two-sided conflict.
RESOURCE: Know what to boycott - BDS Movement
More so than futile negotiations and unheeded UN calls for peace, our money is a more impactful route for change. The number of household names that have ties to Israel is shocking, and so both strategically and out of principle, we must stop contributing to an apartheid regime in any way we can. Read more to understand how a targeted boycott can make a difference, but forget not that every little helps, and nothing is too small in the eyes of Allah. 
SUPPORT: Dear Palestine, The Cookbook - Halal Girl About Town
A group of talented chefs came together and curated a recipe book with 30 fantastic recipes to help raise emergency funds for Palestine. All sales from this book will be donated directly to Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), a longstanding registered charity, that are currently working to provide much needed medical supplies to as many as possible, directly on the ground in Palestine. A minimum donation of £5!  
SUPPORT: Hirbawi Keffiyeh Weavery 
The Hirbawi Keffiyeh Weavery is the last original keffiyeh factory in Palestine, which has struggled with sales due to cheap keffiyehs made in China flooding the markets worldwide and Israeli checkpoints further complicating their production and trade. Alongside boycotting Israeli brands, we must support Palestinian businesses - so as we take the streets for protests and don the keffiyeh in solidarity, make sure it's authentically Palestinian.

If you have any questions, feedback or would like to feature in our next newsletter, let us know. Email us at contact@qarawiyyinproject.co or visit our website to find out more about our article submission process.

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Until next time, Assalaamu Alaykum.