Searching for Words
from Notes: New Islamic Directions by Imam Zaid
As I pen these words, the people of Gaza are suffering a terrible fate. We pray that God brings them relief and replaces their state of insecurity and war with one of security and peace. As of yet, I have not found the words to write anything meaningful and intelligible about the situation. Perhaps, in the coming days, after I have returned from the current trip that has entered its third week, and I am in a more stable situation, personally, I can begin to make some sense of it all.
In the meantime, the words are missing. What can one say after everything has been said before? How many more tears can be shed after the tears have run dry? How many more protests can be undertaken when that being protested has been protested against, time and time again? How many more outrages can be condemned when each succeeding act becomes more outrageous than that preceding it?
In the void that ensues when words are absent, there is only confusion. The confusion of the powerless, who are left to wonder from where they will find the strength to yet again patch together the shattered remnants of a life turned upside down, for the umpteenth time; the confusion of the living, left to mournfully bury their dead, and to care for the maimed, when such scant resources are available to meet the needs of those who are whole. Yet through their confusion, they are strong, and they will find a way. They are dignified and ask not for pity. Perhaps they possess clarity.
Perhaps the greatest confusion is the confusion of the dead. This confusion includes both those who have physically expired, who are left to ask a question so poignantly posed in the Qur’an in the context of the female child buried alive, and hauntingly appropriate for all of the children who have been buried under the bomb-bequeathed rubble of Gaza: For what sin has she been killed? (Qur’an 81:8-9)
It also includes the living dead, the hollow people who have sold their souls to an even more hollow cause. Their ranks include the powerful. The confusion of the powerful is oftentimes rooted in their failure to see beyond their delusions to grasp the intensity of the suffering of those bearing the awful brunt of the consequences of their decisions. They are the prisoners of stale rhetoric that essentializes a meaningless existence; an existence rationalized through its loss of touch with reality, the drunken sailors on a ship being steered irreversibly towards wreckage. Would that they fain accept it is Satan who is at the helm!
When the smoke has cleared, some of them will claim victory. However, such a claim will only be an affirmation of their delusion. Despite their pretenses of power, they are truly weak. They are pathetic. It is they who should be pitied.