Make du’a for Gaza… and Darfur… and Kashmir… and Thailand… and China… and….
Since the Israelis started returning fire into Gaza last week, my Facebook page has been inundated with invitations to new groups that have sprung up in response to the violence. “I bet I can find 1,000,000 people who hate Jews”, “Support Gaza”, “Stop the Holocaust in Gaza”, “Look at This Graphic and Bloody Video of a Dead Palestinian Baby”. My live feed is updated practically minute by minute with news of an impending protest in London or Jakarta or Washington D.C. Many of my friends have changed their profile pictures to the Palestinian flag or colors to show solidarity. All this interest and outrage is heartening and important, but don’t forget that this is one small section of a world under siege….
Last week, there were still millions of refugees in Darfur. There were still women being raped by Janjaweed militiamen in an effort to dilute the Black African blood. There were still villages being burned. There were still children being pressed into some tinpot dictator’s army so they could shoot at other children enslaved by the opposition. There were still thousands of children being sold into the sex trade in Bankok. There were still Muslims in western China being forced to take their worship underground or risk arrest and “re-education”. There were still women in India aborting babies because they were girls. There were still women in Africa and Southeast Asia undergoing female genital mutilation. There were still opium poppies being grown in Afghanistan. There were still coca leaves being processed into cocaine in Colombia. There were still dozens of beheaded bodies turning up in the streets of Mexico City because they tried to stop the flood of drugs through their country. There were still women in the U.S. being routinely beaten by their husband or lovers, and more being murdered while pregnant. There were still women being murdered in alleys in Basrah because they dared to go out of the house without an escort. There were still girls’ schools being burned in the villages outside of Kabul.
Where are the outraged postings? Where are the groups, the marches, the protests? Why do not the Imaams in the mosques rail against the injustices of man against man, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, that are taking place all over the world? Why were we spending last week complaining about a cold and wondering if we remembered to Tivo the “Monk” marathon and eating our fish and chips while we natter on about the latest political scandal?
It seems as though we cannot focus on more than one outrage at a time, or we have to pick a “flavor of the month” crisis to get behind before our attention fades. I see the outrage and the genuine shock and disgust on the murders taking place, and I know that my brothers and sisters are sincere in their condemnation of Israel, but I also want to remind everyone that you must not forget the issues that are going on around the globe and close to home. The more mundane things like the local rape crisis center shutting down for lack of volunteers. The men’s shelter that needs blankets. The prison the next town over that could benefit from having a Muslim chaplain visit. The refugees who need a sofa and socks and underwear for the kids. While you are protesting, remember that one good deed can be more beneficial than a thousand words. Words are powerful, don’t get me wrong. After all, I’m wasting a few pages of space here to write about why we are writing and not doing. But after I’m done, I’m going to put together a bundle of baby clothes and abayas to send off to a sister for distribution to the poor. And as soon as I get paid I’m going to send some of the money to a charity of my choice to try to make a dent in the needs of someone, somewhere. And damn sure I’m going to write and talk and protest and make heard my opinion about everything going on around me, from Gaza to Colombia to Darfur and Thailand. Not all my causes are Muslim. My causes are HUMAN. This planet is under assault from the forces of evil, and we certainly have many worthy causes from which to choose.
I am asking you, I am begging you. Support Gaza, yes, but don’t forget the causes in your own back yard (and of course if you are IN Gaza you are kinda busy right now and that IS your issue) and don’t forget people in other conflicts who just don’t happen to be on the front page of the newspaper this week or in the forefront of our consciousness. Send a few bucks to a poor villager in Ghana. Call your senator to stop flights to Bankok where US businessmen go to rape little girls. Tell your Imaam to talk about violence about women, and if he doesn’t think it’s important, rally to get him replaced. Call your mom. Donate an old abaya to a sister who needs one. Talk, yes. Write in your blog, of course. Fire off a heated letter to the editor of your local paper, sure. But don’t stop there. DO. After you make wudu’ and pray two raka’aats and then make du’a for the Ummah and pray for the deliverance of all mankind, get up and DO. Like I’m going to right now, after I post this and go make lunch for my family. And don’t forget to fast on ‘Ashuurah.