How Gaza is Restoring Faith in God and Saving the World | Blog

Published: January 19, 2024 • Updated: January 19, 2024

Author: Dr. Ovamir Anjum

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ

In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

The people of Gaza have become a living miracle. Their will to survive, and not only survive, but to persist and resist has sent shock waves around the world. It has awakened not only the Muslim masses but given hope to humanity itself. Hope for a new world, it has become evident, has come not from the shining capitals, technological feats, or trillion-dollar schemes, but from the rubble of Gaza. How could this be?
Seeing their determination and strength, the Muslim ummah across the world is awakening. But not just Muslims or Arabs. Humanity at large has not sung songs of love and joined hands like it has for Palestine, despite the greatest machinery of deception and propaganda that history has ever seen. The entire formerly colonized world and the young generations and the dispossessed masses of even the colonizers have found their faith in humanity. Lest we forget this moment, let’s record a glimpse of it.
“I am not religious … but if Jesus was around today, where would he be?! Playing with his phone on a Hilton rooftop in Tel Aviv! … or down in the rubble with dead children in Gaza?!” reads one tweet. A woman says in disbelief upon watching the clips of people burying their children: “They have such peace, they say [to their dead or dying], ‘We will see you in the other life.’” She breaks down crying, whispering, “and they are up against monsters.” “All praise is Allah’s” says one young Gazan man in a shaking voice with swollen eyes, repeating what his friend reminded him to say, standing against the backdrop of bombed buildings, having lost everything. “This is our share of this world,” he added. The eyes do not lie, the grief and loss in his eyes is unbearable even as he forces a smile on his handsome face. A mother sends off her son, praying, “My beloved son Ibrahim, dearer to me than my life, I send him now to his Creator who loves him.” Another man, after losing his two sons and much else in the same days, is heard saying, “Allah created us and takes us, He does what He wills. We, thanks to Allah, are going to be patient.” An American woman comments on these scenes, “Palestinians are doing everything that it says about Job doing in the Bible.” Another TikToker notes, “I have not seen any clip of the Palestinians cursing the Jewish people or the Israelis. These are people of God.” Or imagine a 10-year-old boy reciting the Qur’an beautifully to overcome the pain as doctors operate on his head without anesthesia, as another clip shows. Breaking down uncontrollably in tears, another TikToker comments, “What is this faith, with such an indomitable hope?!” Another observes, “That’s something that people don’t get to see often. Definitely not here in the West. The result of that is that I have seen so many people pick up the Qur’an on social media.” 
Of course, the children of Gaza being bombed to smithereens today, their limbs and hearts bursting in pain, may not quite see what they have accomplished. They would deserve our support in action, speech, and prayers even if they had done none of that. But perhaps simply acknowledging and celebrating their beautiful trust in God, their simultaneous embrace of life and fearlessness in the face of death and cruelty, their love for their people and their land, their sheer resolve to protect their deen, and the sacred mosque of al-Aqsa, can be a beginning, if only a drop in the ocean, of repaying our debt to them.
It is only due to their strange faith in the ummah, and humanity at large that, even after decades of betrayal by their Arab and Muslim neighbors, and the relentless oppression by the settler-colonial entity and its old colonial masters in the West, they insist on recording their suffering, hoping against hope that there is still goodness. Even as the heartless, merciless enemy violates every moral and divine law known to man and rains down hell on them, blowing their homes and their loved ones to pieces, kidnapping and torturing their children in prisons in the thousands without charge or explanation, they refuse to give up. When their cowardly enemy armed to the teeth against their rocks and home-made weapons, given full immunity to commit genocide by the great powers in the world, fills the world with lies and deception, they still do not lose hope, give in, or run away. They respond by simply recording on their phones their sheer faith and humanity. They have invented new weapons that rightly make the world’s tyrants tremble.
Countless people across the world, with their God-given light, have seen the miracle of Gaza, and are turning to the Qur’an and Islam to drink from the same well. The source of faith and hope on which the Gazans draw is not of this world. Their examples remind believers across the world of the Prophet ﷺ and his companions.

The Secret to Palestinian Faith

1. It is the heart

I have heard faithful Muslims in recent years often remind each other of the report of the Beloved Prophet ﷺ that answers the question: Where does weakness come from? It goes like this: “I fear that people will invite each other against you like they invite each other to share a dish.” When asked if that will be because Muslims will be too few in number, he prophesied, “No, you will be great in number, but your numbers will be worthless, like debris carried by a flood.” When asked why, he said that the Muslims would suffer from al-wahan, a kind of weakness, which he attributed, when asked for further clarification, to “Love of this world and hatred of death.”
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ teaches that weakness does not lie in numbers, in material wealth, or in the affairs of the mind, but that ultimately it lies in the heart, in the weakness of faith.

2. Loving life, but loving God more

All humans love life and hate death. When speaking of His closest allies, awliya, Allah declares in a divine report (hadith qudsi) that “I hesitate in nothing like I do in taking the soul of the believer; he hates death, and I hate causing him pain.” When Muslim warriors say to their foes, as they have throughout history, that “We love death like you love life,” they do not mean they do not value life, but that they do not value it above God and God’s pleasure. They truly know that life is precious and sweet only because they know its source. They love life, but they love the Creator more; they hate death, but they hate losing God more. In contrast, those who have lost God, the source of life and its beauty, are drawn by their materialism to a life of nihilism and hedonism, but their God-given nature tugs them to something higher, which is why the spectacle of Palestinian faith is so revolutionary to them.
The believers are different: they ought to know better. When they love this life more than God, they are not just let loose, but earn divine wrath; they become weightless like debris carried against their will by floodwaters.
This is the true source of Palestinian strength: they, perhaps because of enduring the last two decades of oppression and endless torture in the Zionist concentration camp, have remembered their Lord’s original covenant.
The Most Merciful Lord, we can be certain, loves His allies and hates the pain they have to endure, but He promises, and they remember:

Do not count those who are killed in God’s path among the dead: they are alive with their Lord, being nourished,

Rejoicing in what Allah has bestowed upon them of His bounty, and rejoicing for those after them who have not yet joined them—that there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve. (3:169-70)

The Gazan men, women, and children show us the true meaning of these teachings. When they embrace struggle and resistance rather than humiliation and helplessness, when they declare that their commitment to their faith and its sanctities is greater than their love of life and fear of death, their weakness is replaced by strength.

3. A believer is his brother’s mirror

Why have the Palestinians so deeply touched the strings of the Muslim heart across the world? Because as believers, we are all the same. The Messenger of God ﷺ said, “A believer is his brother’s mirror; he supports his livelihood and always has his back.” This teaching of the Prophet ﷺ is an incredible tiding and encouragement, for it reminds us, even as we hang our heads in shame for being unable to stand between them and the raining bombs, that every Muslim has the same reservoir of faith, strength, and joyous hope in Allah that shines through the Gazans today. Whoever believes and declares “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah” instantaneously joins the same fraternity and partakes of the same strength, if they would only tap into it.
The hadith means, furthermore, that when believers see others, they understand them, they take heart in their strengths because they too possess the same, and if they find anything lacking in others, they attend to their own behavior, knowing they may have the same tendencies. One does not look into the mirror as the other, but as oneself. They give them advice with the sincerity and wisdom that they would like to receive it with, loving for their brethren what they love for themselves.

4. Do not think it is bad for you, rather, it is good for you!

What is this saying that pious Muslims often repeat whenever something terrible happens? Unlike other people who have been oppressed, believing Muslims do not complain of their fate or embrace victimhood. The upbeat, hopeful attitude in Gaza that exudes gratitude and grit, even under murderous injustice and betrayal, is the character of a true Muslim. The origin of this saying is a Qur’anic verse revealed when, in addition to being surrounded by the pagan tribes (aḥzāb) of all of Arabia, the Muslim community felt devastated by a campaign of lies directed at impugning the Prophet’s ﷺ own beloved wife (rA): “Do not think it is bad for you, rather it is good for you!” (24:11).
Just like the Palestinians today, the blessed community of the Final Messenger ﷺ and the messengers before him felt “shaken, until they cried out, 'When will the help of Allah [arrive]?'” Only then Allah answered, “Lo, the help of Allah is near” (2:214). Gazans, like all believers, know even when facing a genocidal juggernaut that it is not the world’s militaries, the media, the courts, human rights advocates, or so-called superpowers, but the Almighty alone who can protect them and has their affairs in His hands. He alone decides what is good for them. And so long as we hold on to our faith, all tests and trials are good for us. Muslim scholars today agree that it is an obligation upon all Muslim governments across the world to come to their aid, and upon every individual Muslim with any capacity anywhere in the world to support them to the best of their ability. The Gazans have succeeded in their test so far with flying colors; the rest of us, on the other hand, must fear the day when we will be asked about how we helped the oppressed.

5. Faith in God, not in numbers: Many a small army has beaten a mighty one!

The Qur’anic story of Saul and David (that is, Prophet Dāwūd, upon him be peace), which differs in key respects from the Biblical one, captures the essence of the Qur’anic teachings on fighting mighty enemies. The followers of Moses (Musa, upon him be peace), after his death, ask their prophet to appoint a king for them like other nations, so that they can fight in Allah’s path. The prophet (unnamed in the Qur’an, but Samuel, according to 1 Samuel 15 in the Old Testament or the Hebrew Bible) prays to Allah on the condition that they will not shy away from jihad when called upon. The king chosen by Allah is Tālūt (the biblical Saul), for his strength and wisdom. They object to his lack of wealth, but they begrudgingly relent after Allah shows them a sign. The new king leads them to a mighty enemy (not described in the Qur’an, except one warrior named Jālūt, or Goliath), but tests them by forbidding them to drink from the river they were crossing. Most of them disobey, and as a result are terrified when they face the mighty enemy that greatly outnumbered them. The few obedient ones, however, show courage, and utter to their cowardly and disobedient brethren this golden message of hope and faith: “How many a small army has beaten a mighty one, by Allah’s leave, and Allah is always with the steadfast.” (2:249)
In the Qur’an, this is the message: obedience and faith give you courage to work miracles and beat mighty armies. This is what drives the Palestinians. This is their secret.
In the Old Testament account, unfortunately, the spirit of the story is entirely different. Allegedly, Saul and his people are told to destroy everything and “kill both men and women, children and infants, ox and sheep, camels and donkeys” (1 Samuel 15:2-3). This was the biblical command that Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, invoked to justify the genocide of the Palestinians. The Qur’an teaches that the Bible (the Old and New Testaments) has been corrupted by human alteration, yet also contains important kernels of truth and is to be honored. Clearly, for Muslims, this story is a candidate for outright rejection, as it directly contradicts the Qur’anic laws of war and the Prophet’s ﷺ teachings and practice, explained at length in our other articles. 

6. Allah does not love oppressors

Before we finish off this brief essay, it is worth asking why Allah allows oppression to happen if He hates it? Why do oppressors roam freely in the world, from the Pharaohs of the past to today’s superpowers, to exploit the poor, destroy the earth, and then, to add insult to injury, write the history books to cast themselves as the saviors?
A Muslim knows that the oppressors never truly prosper, that this life is short and transient. No story is complete here, for there is a Day of Recompense that will set right all the wrongs. The Almighty does not love the oppressors, but uses them to raise the ranks of the believers, purify their souls, remind them of their need for Him, and enhance their knowledge of truth and of His power, so that they know and love Him and rely on Him. In other words, so that people of resolve, like the people of Gaza today, could be born, and radiate faith in God in which the rest of humanity could bask.

Conclusion: Hope lives in Gaza

In the good old 1950s, when all kinds of fascinating but cruel animal experiments were carried out, Curt Richter of Johns Hopkins placed a bunch of mice in a large trough of water to test their resilience. Even though mice are strong swimmers, they on average lasted for about 15 minutes before drowning. In the next round, our scientist took out some mice just when they were about to drown, and after some rest and food, placed them back in the trough. How long do you think they could go on this time?
Not 30 minutes, or 60 minutes, or 120 minutes, but a full 60 hours. They kept on swimming for two and half days. That is a full 240 times longer than the first batch!
The difference was that the second group had tasted hope. Their little brains stored the memory of being saved if only they kept trying long enough.
The people of Gaza know, as only true believers can, that they have a Lord who will save them and, no matter the horrors and afflictions this life hands them, they can almost taste the bliss of the hospitality in the afterlife of a Just and Merciful Lord.


2 Abū Dawūd # 4297, K. al-Malāḥim, graded saḥīḥ or ḥasan.
3 Bukhārī # 6502, K. al-Riqāq.
4 al-Bukhārī, Saḥīḥ al-Adab al-Mufrad; Abū Dāwūd #4918, K. al-Adab, graded ḥasan.
5 Noah Lanard, “The Dangerous History Behind Netanyahu’s Amalek Rhetoric,”  https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2023/11/benjamin-netanyahu-amalek-israel-palestine-gaza-saul-samuel-old-testament/ 
6 Hassan Shibli, “War, Islam, and the Sanctity of Life: Non-Aggression in the Islamic Code of Combat,” https://yaqeeninstitute.org/read/paper/war-islam-and-the-sanctity-of-life-non-aggression-in-the-islamic-code-of-combat 
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