“… to Keep Thee in Bonds” – ONE

BY WAEL HAMZA

I was reflecting on the recent wave of anti-Muslim and I re-read the speech I delivered on this past Eid. I was mostly reflecting on our response to this wave, positive and negative. While doing so, a verse from the Qur’an struck me, a verse addressed to prophet Muhammad (pbuh) when he was faced by plots from his very tribe opposing him, his companions, and his message.

Remember how the Unbelievers plotted against thee, to keep thee in bonds, or slay thee, or get thee out (of thy home). They plot and plan, and Allah too plans, but the best of planners is Allah. [8:30]

As much as the tail of the verse brought comfort to my heart: “They plan and Allah too plans,” the objectives behind their plots scared me a bit. They tried to kill the prophet. They did make a plan and they were about to succeed in their plan except that Allah planned otherwise and saved him. They tried to drive him and his companions out of their homes and they, kind of, succeeded. Although being killed or being driven away from home is kind of scary but they scared me the least. As a Muslim, it is deeply engrained in my hearts that nothing can happen to anyone without the full permission of Allah, and one should rely on His protection and His support. I also thought what is better than suffering a bit for the sake of Allah (although never wished it to happen). What stopped me AND SCARED ME is this first objective, “… to keep thee in bonds.”

The Arabic word that is translated to “keep thee in bonds ” is“yuthbitook,” which roughly means “jail you.” It was actually reported that jailing the prophet was one of the options they proposed while discussing how to deal with him. However, Allah did not use the word “yasjinook” which clearly means “to jail you.”  He used the other word mentioned above. I checked the dictionary for this word and I found out that it, indeed, means “jail you,” but it also means “chain you,” “put ties on you” and “keep you still.” These new meanings opened a whole dimension and these new meanings is what scared me more. I am sure many of you who are reading this post are asking the following question. Why would this word scare me more than the other two: killing and driving away from home? The other two look more scary, right? Actually, what made me scared is that this last word is related very much to our response, something that we have control over, something we are responsible for, something we will be held accountable for in front of Allah (swt).

I do not really know the intention of these people who lead this anti-Muslim wave. I can only guess. However, their intention is not my focus. I simply do not care about their intention. What I care about, the most, is our response to their wrong doing. Their wrong doing MUST NOT succeed in achieving this objective, “yuthbitook,” (put ties on you, keep you still, etc.). We MUST not confine ourselves, abandon our message, change our beliefs, retreat from public life, stop enjoining what is right and forbidding what is evil, quit sharing the final message to humanity with our people, or stop speaking against the wrong and fulfilling our duties as citizens. If we do so, we would have fallen into the trap and we would have granted success to this wave of bigotry and hatred. If we do so, we would have turned ourselves into an ineffective human beings and the label “second class citizens” will be the perfect label for us, for citizens who do not contribute to the public life are, to me, second class.

I have a mixed feeling about our response, or say, I see different responses I am not sure which one represents us as a community. I see a response of renewed energy, commitment, and steadfastness–which makes me happy, while I see another that is weak and apologetic. I see a response that demands more involvement, more struggle, and more action, and another that calls for retreat. I see excellent counter arguments to the nonsense anti-Muslim arguments while I see a very scary change in positions (and somehow in belief) to mistakenly answer those nonsense accusations. I was very excited with the response I got after my Eid speech but I was frustrated to hear some other comments a little later.

Anyway, since I am not a researcher to find out which response is more dominent (don’t have the tools nor the skills), I would share my view of how we should respond, at least intellectually, to some of the unreasonable, insulting accusations of this anti-Muslim wave, highlighting the issues that may make us fall into the trap of “… keep thee in bonds.”

Stay tuned!

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