by Alia Fatin Binte Abdullah
How to Help Palestine
The recent horrifying events at Al-Aqsa Mosque have once again brought our attention to the suffering and injustice that happens in Palestine daily. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed and upset when you see innocent people facing violence, distress and hardship, especially in a sacred place of worship. Please remember that you are not alone in your feelings.
In this confusing and painful time, this article aims to guide you on how to make sense of the events in Palestine and respond in a productive way aligned with Islamic values.
Understanding the Crisis in Palestine
What is currently happening in Palestine has multiple and complicated historical, political, and religious factors. To truly make sense of the situation and think about how to respond, it is crucial to have a deep understanding of the context and history of the crisis.
The Israeli-Palestinian crisis has a long and convoluted history that dates back to the late 19th century when Zionists sought to establish a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine.
The conflict escalated after the creation of the State of Israel by the United Nations in 1948, when it divided the British Mandate of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states. This sparked the first Arab-Israeli War. Israel won the war and gained control of more territory than what was allotted to them previously, including West Jerusalem and much of the land designated for the Palestinian state.
This resulted in the Nakba, an Arabic word that means “catastrophe”, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were permanently displaced from their homes . Every year, on May 15, Palestinians and their supporters around the world commemorate the Nakba  through physical and virtual rallies.
The crisis has continued, marked by several wars, uprisings, and ongoing violence and political instability, including the intifada in 1987 and various Arab-Israeli wars, such as the Six-Day War in 1967 and Yom Kippur War in 1973. Issues such as the status of Jerusalem, the right of return for Palestinian refugees, the borders of a future Palestinian state, and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and West Bank Strip remain unresolved.
The crisis in Palestine is highly politically charged, with various opinions and perspectives. For example, Israel claims to be a legitimate government recognised by the international community and has the right to make decisions about its borders and security. On the other hand, Palestinians argue that Israel’s settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are illegal under international law and that Israel is violating the Geneva Convention by occupying Palestinian territory.
Nonetheless, it is widely recognised that the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the West Bank Strip, has profoundly impacted the lives and rights of Palestinians living in those areas.
Some people argue that the policies of the Israeli government, such as military occupation, settlement expansion, and the construction of a separation barrier in the West Bank, have led to an unequal system where Israeli settlers have access to rights and privileges that are not available to Palestinians.
There are also concerns about restrictions on movement, including checkpoints, road closures, and permit regimes, which make it difficult for Palestinians to access basic services, work, and visit family members.
Furthermore, there are different groups of people who are involved in the conflict between Israel and Palestine, and they each have their own goals and interests. Some of these groups are the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, and different Israeli political parties.
So, you know how sometimes people have different opinions on how to run things like countries and governments? Well, in Israel, there are some people who belong to a group called “right-wing populists.”
The right-wing populists talk a lot about things like national identity and being proud of their country. They also take a very strong position on issues like building new settlements. They might say things like, “we need to build more homes for our people” or “we need to protect our land.”
One thing that some right-wing populists do that isn’t very nice is something called ‘othering’. Those who are perceived as different or “other” are seen as a threat to the nation, culture, or way of life.
Unfortunately, the policies of the right-wing Israeli government are expected to have serious consequences for Palestinian people who live in Israel and in the occupied territories. Some human rights organisations have accused the government of committing crimes against humanity, and things could get worse if the government continues down this path.
The situation is also complicated by the involvement of other countries and organisations, such as the United States, the European Union, and Arab states.
For many Jews, Christians, and Muslims, the crisis in Palestine is deemed a religious issue.
In the heart of Jerusalem, you’ll find three very special places that are important to three Abrahamic religions – The Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is the third most sacred spot for Muslims, the Western Wall, which is the most important site for Jews and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected.
For centuries, despite differences in their beliefs and practices, the communities of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam coexisted relatively peacefully.
However, due to the significance of Jerusalem to all three religions, incidents that occur at key religious sites can ignite strong emotions and be manipulated by various groups to advance their political agendas. It is clear that the root cause of the conflict remains centred around issues of territory, self-determination, and identity, but it has become intertwined with politics.
It is also essential to acknowledge that being Jewish does not imply automatic support for violence and oppression. The Jewish community holds a variety of perspectives, and many Jews globally advocate for the protection of the human rights of Palestinians and work towards finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict, including groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace.
Islam does not discriminate against Jews as a religion. In fact, Islam recognises Judaism as a legitimate religion and considers Jews as people of the book and Christians. Muslims are instructed to treat Jews with respect and kindness.
Also, it is important to distinguish between criticism of Israeli policies and anti-Semitism. Criticising the Israeli government’s policies towards Palestinians is not the same as discriminating against Jews as a people or a religion. It is possible to criticise Israeli policies while respecting and advocating for the rights of Jews and other minorities.
How to Respond
The ongoing violence and suffering faced by the Palestinian people are seen by many as an injustice that needs to be addressed.
However, having considered the multitude of historical, political and religious factors involved, is it right to simply conclude that it is an issue of attacks against our religion that we must defend against?
Does our religion promote “otherism”, which divides? As Muslims, how can we react in a manner that is both meaningful and in line with our Islamic beliefs?
In Islam, diversity is seen as being a part of God’s way of creation (sunnatullah fil khalq), where differences in groups and identity can be seen as a positive way of enhancing life, knowing ourselves better and achieving taqwa (God-consciousness or righteousness).
Othering is based on the conscious or unconscious assumption that a certain identified group poses a threat to the favoured group. It becomes concerning when othering is used to incite hatred, cause divide and dehumanise groups. This can often lead to various expressions such as xenophobia, islamophobia and racism.
The Quran teaches us how to be good people and to live morally. Although some parts talk negatively about specific behaviours, the Quran does not encourage violence or aggression. Instead, it encourages peaceful coexistence, fairness, and treating all people with respect, regardless of their background.
This is shown in verses that promote justice and dignity for everyone, regardless of race, religion, or gender.
We understand that the ongoing situation in Palestine can be extremely distressing and heartbreaking to witness. In this age of social media particularly, it is so easy to find reels and short videos showing the horrific effects of violence, including on women and young children. Seeing fellow human beings suffer so much pain and injustice can evoke feelings of anger, sadness and helplessness.
As Muslims, we believe that suffering is a natural part of life and that everything happens for a reason. Allah is the All-Knowing and the Most-Wise. No matter how much it hurts, He knows what is best for all of us, even if we cannot understand it.
Dealing with feeling helpless is definitely difficult, but let’s try to help in whatever ways we can.
Here are some things you can do:
1. Focus on what is within our control
- Make dua
Making dua for those who are suffering can bring comfort to you and those you are praying for, and it can be a source of hope and positivity in a world filled with pain and suffering.
Reading Qunut Nazilah is a specific form of dua that is recited during times of calamity, hardship, or oppression. It is a supplication where we ask Allah s.w.t. for help, protection, and relief from afflictions and difficulties. We can recite Qunut Nazilah in times of war, political turmoil, or natural disasters.
- Help people around you
Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. was a mercy to all of God’s creations. Think about how he s.a.w. encouraged us to look after the elderly, the weak, and the marginalised in society and consider how we can make a difference in our own community and help those in need. This can be as simple as flashing a warm smile whenever you see your neighbours.
- Make a donation
Making a donation through legitimate organisations is a great way to show your support and help make a positive impact on the lives of people who are suffering.
Legitimate organisations have the necessary resources and expertise to distribute your donations effectively and efficiently. They have a deep understanding of the local context and the specific needs of the communities they serve, which means that your donation will be directed towards the most needed areas.
By making a donation to Palestine through legitimate organisations such as, you can be assured that your generosity will reach its intended recipients and make a tangible difference in their lives.
It is encouraging to see that the people of Singapore have shown great generosity, including donating almost S$4.5 million to support the humanitarian and relief efforts of the UNRWA and the Palestinian Red Crescent in 2021. The fact that so many Singaporeans contributed to this cause clearly indicates our compassion towards those in need, which is a fundamental part of the Singaporean spirit.
- Volunteer with humanitarian organisations
Allah s.w.t tells us in Surah Al-Fussilat,
Our Prophet s.a.w. emphasised that forgiveness trumps revenge and love conquers hate. While we process the suffering happening around the world, let’s not react with hate but instead with kindness, compassion, and love. By doing so, we will be following the teachings of Islam in creating a better world for ourselves and those around us.
Also, it is important to balance our desire to fight against injustice with the need to maintain peace and stability. For example, taking up arms overseas can have far-reaching consequences, including increased violence and instability, and can ultimately undermine the very values we seek to uphold. Instead, it is often more effective to provide aid and assistance to those affected by conflict and work to promote human rights through peaceful means.
There are many examples of Singaporeans doing good humanitarian work both locally and internationally. One example is Mercy Relief, a Singapore-based humanitarian organisation that works to provide aid and assistance to those affected by disasters and conflicts throughout Asia.
Volunteering with humanitarian organisations can be a noble and fulfilling experience, but it also comes with risks that you need to be aware of. For example, the situation in the West Bank and the Gaza strip can be unpredictable and volatile, and there are dangers that come with working in a conflict zone.
Here are some dangers you may face:
Security risks: The security situation can be unstable, and there have been instances of violence against humanitarian workers. You may also be at risk of kidnapping, theft, or other forms of violence.
Health risks: The health infrastructure is limited, and medical care can be difficult to access in case of an emergency. You may also be exposed to diseases or other health hazards.
Psychological risks: The constant exposure to violence and suffering can be emotionally taxing, and you may experience stress, anxiety, or other mental health problems.
We understand that your desire to make a positive difference in the world is strong, but it’s important to be aware of these risks and take precautions to ensure your safety and well-being.
If you do choose to volunteer in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, we recommend that you work with reputable organisations, follow their guidelines and advice, and have a plan for staying safe in case of an emergency.
2. Educate yourself
Learn about the history and context of the crisis, and try to be well-versed about the issues so that you can make informed opinions and decisions. This can include reading books, academic journals and articles written by reputable authors and watching documentaries.
It is important to note that, even with the rise of social media, you may not easily be able to find pro-Palestinian content online. For example, in 2021, Facebook came under fire for taking down posts and pages by Palestinians and their allies, including posts highlighting human rights violations. The company later acknowledged the wide-scale deletion of Palestinian posts but blamed it on a technical bug that it strove to fix.
3. Refer to reliable sources
In addition, do ensure that you consume information from reliable sources. Here’s where the National Library Board’s S.U.R.E. approach can help you:
Source: Look at its origins. Are they trustworthy? – Make sure that the source of information is credible and reliable.
Understand: Know what you’re reading. Search for clarity. – Look for facts rather than opinions. Question personal biases.
Research: Dig deeper. Go beyond the initial source. – Investigate thoroughly before making a conclusion. Check and compare with multiple sources.
Evaluate: Find the balance. Exercise fair judgement. – Look from different angles. Will what we say help improve the discussion or make it worse? Are we just expressing our anger, or also suggesting ways to help?
4. Raise awareness
We all have a shared goal of creating a better world for everyone, and this includes helping those who are suffering, regardless of their backgrounds.
To be able to speak up responsibly, you must ensure that you have educated yourself as much as possible on the history, current events, and the root causes of the crisis in Palestine. Only by understanding the issues can we make informed decisions on how to help.
Once we have a good grasp of the state of affairs, we can spread the word to others. We can talk to our friends, families, and communities about what is happening in Palestine and how we can support those in need. We can also use social media to share information and resources and raise awareness about the crisis. Always remember to be peaceful, respectful and constructive and avoid hate speech or false information.
Fight for what you believe in, but always remember, hate will never drive out hate. By taking a proactive and informed approach, we can make a meaningful difference and support Palestinians in a productive way.
Your actions, no matter how small, can make a difference.
May Allah guide us all in our efforts to promote peace and justice for all people, regardless of background, Ameen.
About the Author: Alia Abdullah is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Muslim.Sg. In 2021, she won the Exemplary Skillsfuture @ Public Service Award, a national award that recognises individuals who constantly upgrade their competencies. A law graduate and digital media specialist, Alia is an exceptional writer whose work has been featured in Young Women in Leadership Dialogue’s (YWILD) Commemorative Book “Unprecedented – To the Beat of Her Own Drum” and on platforms such as Mvslim and The Muslim Vibe. Alia lived and worked in Saudi Arabia for 2 years. She is now based in Singapore.
 The idea that all Jews are Zionist is misleading. Zionism is a political movement and ideology advocating for the establishment of a Jewish state in the historic land of Israel as a response to increasing anti-Semitism and discrimination against Jews in Europe. It was founded by Theodor Herzl in the late 19th century and continues to be a central issue in Israeli politics and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Some view it as a legitimate national liberation movement, while others argue it represents a form of colonialism and displacement of indigenous peoples. Read more here – https://www.history.com/topics/middle-east/zionism
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