Message from the Imam Archive
The Arab Spring
Over the last few weeks, the world has watched scenes from the Middle East flash across their television sets and computer screens which are never to be forgotten. The world witnessed the fall of two Arab dictators, each with his own résumé bursting at the seams with corruption, scandal, and the blood of many of their own innocent civilians. We watched as every Tunisian and Egyptian staked a claim in the future of their respective countries. We watched as the shackles of hopelessness and despair were fervently thrown off by young men and women who would not accept the strains of a life imprisoned. We watched with baited breath as Allah (SWT) fulfilled his promise in Surat Al-Noor, “Allah has promised, to those among you who believe and work righteous deeds, that He will, grant them in the land, inheritance (of power), as He granted it to those before them...(24:55)” We watched Spring in the Arab world burst into its first bloom without a shred of timidness. We watch yet as the Spring moves through the region, and plants deeper roots and grows brighter blooms.
Not since the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 has the Western world looked at a region with so much trepidation and confusion. The question that raises many varying answers amid new questions is what this change in power means to Western countries who have vested interests in the stability of the ever unstable region. For many years the Arab world’s voice has been split into two distinct tunes. There has been the chorus sung by the aging dictatorships, contrasted sharply with the voice on the “Arab street.” The latest events in the Middle East present the possibility that for the first time in decades, the Arab street’s voice will be one and the same with the voice spoken in its presidential palaces, parliaments, and wherever their leaders go.
Some pundits have suggested this shift in the power dynamic of the region does not play to the interests of a country like our own, the United States. This is where the pundits are wrong. For too long we have stood on the side of stability with no moral grounding. In the best cases, we have idly watched as people were robbed of their basic rights, and in the worst cases we have bolstered the robbers financially and morally. This change in power affords us the chance to support stability in line with American values and morals. This stability is the one that rekindles hope in peace and cooperation.
No war ushered in freedom in Tunisia and Egypt. There was no invasion. It was not modeled on any other people's revolt. The cries for freedom in Tunisia and Egypt were as similar as their shared language and struggles and as different as their two dialects. There was no Jihad in the terms that Western media has defined it, but there was Jihad nonetheless, the Jihad the Prophet (S) said was greatest, “A word of truth in front of an oppressive ruler (Nissai).” The distinct local conditions that prompted young and old to pour into the streets united people with different ideologies, religions, and world views. The people's demonstrations were peaceful expressions of frustration and anger at being so constantly undermined as a collective group.
When Muhammad Bouazizi lit himself in his final act of desperation and frustration in Tunisia, may Allah (SWT) forgive him and shower him with mercy, not many would have thought his fire would spread across borders and topple two foul regimes and make many others ripe for the picking. It seems fitting that a simple fruit seller would light the spark for revolution in the Middle East. It is a truth that is witnessed by any who have ties to the region that a fruit vendor has more dignity, honor, and patriotism running through his veins than any crumbling Arab dictator. Bouazizi pumped his own blood into the shriveled veins of the Arab world; veins that had been dry too long to remember their former glory; veins that when rejuvenated, connected the Arab world, so celebrations in Cairo were reverberated in Amman, and deaths in Benghazi were mourned in Sanaa fulfilling the Prophet’s (S) hadith, “The Muslim Ummah is like one body. If the eye is in pain then the whole body is in pain and if the head is in pain then the whole body is in pain (Muslim).” It is this blood that has prompted the Spring. A Spring that will leave the world a better place, more prepared for peace and justice for all.
Sh. Jamal Said