A Letter to the People of Gaza

By Alwi Alatas

O people of Gaza, not too long after the October 7 attack and the following war on Gaza, a friend from Gaza asked me, “What should we (Gazan people) do regarding the war in Gaza?” I knew he just wanted to hear my opinion. The essence of my answer at that time was this: You (the people of Gaza) should be patient and continue the struggle.

I knew this was easy to say, but difficult to do, especially considering the heinousness of the destruction occurred in Gaza right now. After all, I don’t have any credentials to give such advice. What capacity do I have to advise you to be patient, O people of Gaza, while I live in safety, with enough to eat and sleep, without any verbal or physical threats, free to move here and there without fear?

That statement of mine was actually impudent; something out of place. You (O, people of Gaza) are veterans in such endurance, at a level that surpasses the imagination of many human beings. Who could force oneself to sit while being carried on a stretcher, covered in dust, while swinging his or her arms encouragingly happy at the group of local residents who had just helped him or her safely out of the rubble? Who can say, when they have just been brutally bombed and while standing in front of the rubble of destroyed houses they say, “O Lord, take from our blood until You are pleased; O Lord, take our lives until You are pleased; O Lord, take our children until You are pleased; O Lord, take my own children until You are pleased?” These have been their chants and their sufferings, and are you still going to advise them to be patient?

O people of Gaza, then time passed, and we were flooded with news that suffocated our chests, choked our voices, dried our tears, and made our prayers. We saw buildings in Gaza levelled by zionist bombs, supported unconditionally by the United States and her allies. We saw hospitals and schools destroyed, journalists exterminated, and civilians massacred. There was the head of a family who lost all his children as they were buried under the ruins of his house. Many became disabled and underwent medical treatment without any anaesthesia.

We were stunned to hear that thousands of children were killed, to see a number of premature babies dying whilst abandoned due to the destruction of hospitals and the loss of electricity and destroyed medical equipment. We saw some children being pulled out of the rubble of buildings, or shaking due to trauma, or walking to other regions alone without their families. Which children in the world have experienced something like that? Which children in the world deserve to experience this kind of cruelty?

How many more bombs will be dropped and bullets fired before this barbaric war is stopped? You (zionists) who threw the bombs accused them, the people of Gaza, of being “human animals”. In fact, it is you, and the parties who support you, who no longer have the hearts of normal human beings. Do you still deserve, then, to be called human? You openly commit and support barbarities that are beyond any acceptable expression in the dictionary of humanity. Even animals still have feelings of affection. You guys (zionists) are worse than animals.

Still the sad news reaches us, every day, every hour, every minute. The war still hasn’t stopped after lasting more than 70 days. At the end of 2023, the temperature dropped sharply, and most of Gaza’s population was and still is living in uncertainty without a place to stay. The loss of life continues and the number of people injured increases. The loss of extended family members, for us this may only occur infrequently every year (and sometimes none at all), for you, Gaza residents, this happens weekly, even daily at times.

Who can live a life like this? Who can be patient with all that? Our hearts scream, enough is enough! It seems okay now if you want to give up. As long as all this can stop, and you can breathe a sigh of relief and rest from those murderers. This is too suffocating. This is beyond the limits of patience. But…

O people of Gaza, don’t! Never stop being patient. Allow our presumptuous and ignorant tongues to continue saying it: be patient. In fact, stay patient and add to your patience. It’s true that we (who said this) are only good at saying it and not good at doing it. And if we experienced even a fraction of the atrocities that you suffered, O people of Gaza, we would probably be paralyzed and feel ultimate despair. However, it seems that you are different from us. The Qur’an states that “… Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity…” (QS 2: 286), and from there we recognize that your capacity is above ours. You are still able to smile and share in the midst of the difficulties you experience, while we often complain about our food being less than delicious and our sleep not being sound. God probably created you from soil that contains steel, while we from muddy soil that is less useful.

Don’t give up, O people of Gaza, because you will only surrender to the people without mercy and to those who will not keep their promises to you. This is not an expression of hatred towards your opponents, but a fact that has been going on for decades on your land, and is still going on to this day. The confiscation of land and property is their (zionists’) joy; the killing of innocent people is something light to them; imprisonment without proper trial, even for children, is entertainment for them. They will only add insult and torture you.

Do not give up, O people of Gaza, because you are already winning, and your persistence will complete the victory. It is true that many leaders of countries in the world continue to kiss the hands of zionist leaders, or are too weak to take real action to stop the war. However, the vast majority of the world’s population have taken to the streets to defend you and lend their voices to the resistance. It is true that the international media still paints zionist bombs and bullets with candy, and demonizes the image of you, the people of Gaza. However, today’s social media spreads real news about what has happened, and they do not hesitate to expose and criticize zionist carnages. It is true that the zionists still receive weapons and economic support from their western slaves. However, they were too dumb in using those bombs and too reckless in their indiscriminate attacks. Apart from that, their economy is getting closer to bankruptcy; boycotts around the world have also impoverished some of their supporting companies.

O people of Gaza, they (the zionists) have been standing arrogantly, portraying themselves as a powerful nation in the world. However, today you have shown that their network of power is nothing more than a spider’s web. “…And indeed, the weakest of homes is the home of the spider, if they only knew” (QS 29: 41). Now they are fervently bombarding your land, because they want to conceal their reality which is starting to be torn apart.

O people of Gaza, you should not allow the world to believe that only the zionists have the right to defend themselves. You should not allow the voices of resistance to be silenced, and human hands and necks to be forced into submission by the chains of modern slavery, without trying to break these evil chains. You should not let the zionist leader continue to show false promises of offering “slices of pizza” for all parties while keeping the pizza slices only to finish them alone, but instead you should slap hard this evildoer on the cheek until he chokes in confusion.

O people of Gaza, your sacrifices have increased faith and strengthened weak souls. In fact, quite a number of people in the West today have converted to Islam because of you. You are like the ghulām in the story of ashāb al-ukhdūd (QS 85: 4-10), who volunteered to be killed, but in return a large number of people who witnessed this immediately declared their faith, and they remained steadfast in that faith even though they were thrown into the ditch of fire. If doubts arise in your heart when you are in the middle of the test, hopefully there will always be children whose gaze reaffirms your belief: “Yā ummah, iṣbirī, fa innaki ‘alā al-ḥaqq (O mother, be patient, indeed you are in the path of truth).”

O people of Gaza, your blood and tears have opened the eyes of many people who were previously blind. Before this they saw water as fire and rejected it, saw fire as water and embraced it. Now many of them see water as water and drink it, and see fire as fire and stay away from it. Your spirit has dispelled the fog of sightlessness from many people. The ardour of your resistance has become a torch that lights the way. Now the path is clear and more and more people are returning to it.

O people of Gaza, you sold yourselves to God at a very high price, and that noble transaction has raised our self-esteem after previously being pawned at a low price. The ruins of your houses have pulled us out of the grave of worldly desires that have rot our souls. We lived for years in humiliation and with our heads bowed, but your courage has lifted our heads and made us feel a taste of glory. For all that, your sandals are more noble than our caps and turbans.

O people of Gaza, there is not the slightest reason after today to disparage or look down on you. While there is not the slightest reason for us not to provide support for you, with our prayers, our properties, or our struggle in cyberspace and in the real world for every drop of your tears and blood, O people of Gaza.

O Allah, forgive our shortcomings and grant a near victory to the fighters of Gaza and al-Aqsa. ***

(Dr. Alwi Alatas is an academic in the Department of History and Civilisation, AbdulHamid AbuSulayman Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences.)