Recently, over a thousand mass unmarked graves of First Nation children were found in areas surrounding Canadian residential schools. It was both horrifying and a much-needed reminder of Canada’s recent history. The discovery of the mass graves and First Nation genocide came as an eye-opener to how we as Muslims seek justice today. I had to ask myself, do I really expect the Canadian government to stand up for Palestinians when they are complicit in the murder of 95% of the Indigenous population? Once history is made apparent, it is not shocking that the Canadian government placed its unconditional support behind Israel.
Canada is built on genocide. America is built on genocide. Although I was familiar with how the natives welcomed Europeans, how the natives were deceived, I did not realize the similarity in the pain Muslims feel today. Being killed in masses, denied access to resources, having their children killed to erase their identity, and having their lands stolen. Except for the one extra step in genocide (residential schools), Israel is doing the same thing. The past is repeating itself.
Iman-based thinking allows us to see injustice as injustice regardless of who the oppressor is, and the oppressed. As Muslims, we are not to make excuses just because we were raised by a nationalistic educational system that taught us to be loyal to Canada first and has diluted the depth of this tragedy in our minds. Such a just way of thinking allows us to not pass judgment as we witness how generational trauma unfolds and continues to effect so many First Nation lives and to not look down upon the people of this land.
O you who believe, be upholders of justice – witnesses for Allah, even though against (the interest of) yourselves or the parents, and the kinsmen. One may be rich or poor, Allah is better caretaker of both. So do not follow desires, lest you should swerve. If you twist or avoid (the evidence), then, Allah is all-aware of what you do.
Iman-based thinking gives us an opportunity to see injustice taking place but also remember that this land, this earth belongs to the Rabb of the Worlds. To know in your heart, there is wisdom behind how Allah SWT manages the world and to understand that this life is a test. It allows us to not engage in the “whys” and the “how” did Allah allow this injustice to take place?” but rather focus on “what can I do?” Being responsible for upholding justice, means that it is an obligation which every Muslim will be questioned. Imagine standing on the Day of Judgement and being asked, “what did you do when such and such injustice took place?” Such a heavy question must have a right and wrong answer, there has to be a correct way of dealing with injustice.
Dr. Syed said: “Justice comes from the Quran and Sunnah, but it is the heart that implements it.”
This an important thought to think about when we shout, “free free Palestine.” Justice for Palestine, Kashmir, Yemen, East Turkistan and Myanmar are all possible, but it requires an important first step, a heart willing to implement to guidance of the Quran and Sunnah. This is where Iman-based thinking diverts from the Western mindset. With the discovery of the mass graves, the response from the Canadian government was to place the flag at half mass. As though, such a trivial action makes up for the years of genocide faced by the First Nation people. The same superficial action comes through when we take part in protests for Palestine by dancing (dabke) and singing. However, from an iman based perspective, we understand that Allah swt is the only One that can lift harm and that everything is ultimately in His hands. This is an excellent reminder because when you know where the power and control lay, you know Who to turn to in times of need and how to deal with injustice adequately.
“Do not think ˹O Prophet˺ that Allah is unaware of what the wrongdoers do. He only delays them until a Day when ˹their˺ eyes will stare in horror– rushing forth, heads raised, never blinking, hearts void.” (Ibrahim: 42-43).