Education History

The Right to know; if you don’t know.

On which side of the wall are you?

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall‘ is the innate cry of the heart because by the nature of separation, man feels an acute sense of alienation. The wall in Occupied Palestine is a remarkable feat of the Zionists that shuts out millions of Palestinians, encroaches their land which is then usurped in the name of the wall, cuts through century old olive groves, kills off acres of farmland and congests a population like fish caught in a fish net suffering to breathe like a COVID – 19 patient nauseating in the throes of death in a pitiful plight of a drowning sensation.

When I wanted to know about the Nkaba it I had to read it about it long before we had access to the internet and in the belief of having the right to know, it startled me to know that humanity at large have differing views on it. It was imperative that I shaped a view based on facts and on the principle of being human. The interesting feature of my reading then and now again was the interview of Benny Morris on the subject amongst other serious issues on the grave matter of Palestine – the Occupied land. Below is an excerpt followed by a discussion I found instructive for all of us.

The interview:

Survival of the Fittest. An Interview with Benny Morris  

Are you a neo-conservative? Do you read the current historical reality in the terms of Samuel Huntington?

I think there is a clash between civilizations here [as Huntington argues]. I think the West today resembles the Roman Empire of the fourth, fifth and sixth centuries: The barbarians are attacking it and they may also destroy it.

The Muslims are barbarians, then?

I think the values I mentioned earlier are values of barbarians—the attitude toward democracy, freedom, openness; the attitude toward human life. In that sense they are barbarians. The Arab world as it is today is barbarian.

And in your view these new barbarians are truly threatening the Rome of our time?

Yes. The West is stronger but it’s not clear whether it knows how to repulse this wave of hatred. The phenomenon of the mass Muslim penetration into the West and their settlement there is creating a dangerous internal threat. A similar process took place in Rome. They let the barbarians in and they toppled the empire from within.

In light of the above you have the right to know, if you don’t know or, you can just pretend all is not true or happening or has happened. The choice is yours. How you view the world and how the view of the world is for you stems from how much of interest you take in what goes on. The above is all Middle-Eastern in character and in choosing it for this article, I know will cause some stirring because the affected are Muslims and the lands of Muslims. 

(end of excerpt. Click on MORRIS above to go to the full interview)

“The Arab world as it is today is barbarian” How does it catch you? Or how does the Naqaba concern you? Or how does the wall in Palestine worry you? Or how does the situation in Iraq, Syria, Libya or Yemen amongst many other invaded lands rile you? These issues affect us and we are still in limbo as to what we should think because we are still thinking in terms of what the mass media wants us to think. Our right is to know the truth and knowing the truth is not all. We should keep the truth alive so that our glorious Islamic history is maintained and not wiped off the surface of the earth as is what is happening in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine but; somewhat preserved in Timbuktu at the moment.

On which side of the walled fence are you? The point made here is to knock your heart to take a stand and be willing to believe in it. You see, Benny Morris (born in 1948) is an Israeli historian and unofficial leader of the New Historians, a group of scholars who dispute the mainstream historical view of the origins of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benny_Morris) but, he is taking an active stand to view Arabs in certain negative light with the backing of being a well known figure in writing history. Are you willing to navigate into tough terrain and take a stand that can put you in opposition of many people? The fact is, the willing are few and the able need the following of the masses. 

Think about this fact – many Palestine men who are utterly desperate actually worked on the wall/fence in Palestine to earn a living. How desperate have we become? Furthermore, Benny Morris makes the following comment: Remember another thing: the Arab people gained a large slice of the planet. Not thanks to its skills or its great virtues, but because it conquered and murdered and forced those it conquered to convert during many generations. But in the end the Arabs have 22 states. The Jewish people did not have even one state. There was no reason in the world why it should not have one state. Therefore, from my point of view, the need to establish this state in this place overcame the injustice that was done to the Palestinians by uprooting them. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benny_Morris)

The question begs the mind as to our right to know the truth and how to use it. Just how many of us are talking about these issues with our children and making it a point of knowledge for them. The emphasis here is how we, as an ummah (Muslims across the world) and Humanity at large, need to pool our resources and challenge the views of people like Benny Morris. When last did you discuss an issue concerning the ummah with your child in such a way that the child conveys his/her view even though it might be opposite to yours? In a conversation with a Muslim youngster in the USA in 2006 on Iraq, he was supportive of Bush and could not comprehend my view. In the ensuing discussion I realised that he understands the world from different angle. The angle been that as a youngster, he has only seen Muslims branded as bad characters and 9/11 adding the cherry on the top therefore, he believes in the Muslim that looks and is appeasing to the status quo that offers from western politicians. Therefore, any one else who is opposed in stronger ways to the western politicians is a fundamentalist. This type of youngster is now everywhere and the question that springs to mind is: “Do we blame them?”

Of course, we don’t want to blame them but, we don’t cherish their views and we want them to revise their views to face the truth from a researched perspective. However, what is your view that you can offer to such a youngster? Do you have the knowledge? Have you spent time and energy researching the issues like the ones above or, have you read a book or two on the matter? By and large, NO! Therefore, if we are not going to take the lead by walking the talk then, we are going to be obsolete in our roles as leaders of the youth. To the youth as well, if you think you going to get everything from an adult, think again! You need to start reading, researching , practicing leadership, volunteering and writing amongst a host life critical life-skills to remain relevant. Seek to become professional with finding the truth. It is Allah’s promise that truth will prevail and falsehood will perish. For now, with all the falsehood on Islam and Muslims, Allah is all Knowing but HE wants to see what gusto we have to enjoin in good and forbid the evil.

To illustrate the point: when Bilal (R.A) was tortured and exclaimed that Allah is One, Allah is one he did so to prove his worth to Allah. His is the story that Muslims have a right to know so that they can know which side of the walled fence they are. Now that you know something different and that you see things somewhat differently ask yourself how much you allow for people to continue their oppression on Muslims – be it a psychological oppression, a physical oppression or any other form of oppression.

If you do not talk to your child about the issues facing the Muslim world and the Muslim ummah then, the media is already talking to them and probably making up their minds for them already. That is why we need to start training our flesh and blood – our youth, to be historians, writers, researchers and media specialists because they would be able to present the true Islamic spirit. Then we would not need the likes of Benny Morris to provide some sympathetic historical evidence in favour of Muslims. We need to therefore, take the bull by the horns and provide the world with the right view of Islam and its history. To do this, we need to become accredited by Allah – the accreditation follows on the intention – “Every action is judged by its intention – hadith to the effect, Al-Bukhari, therefore, we need to focus our minds on seeking the truth and then presenting it. In this way what we say will impact on the hearts of people and then the mind will change. Currently, you would know that the events of 9/11 are written in such a way that Muslims are demonized in the textbooks children are learning from. So, where are the Muslim intelligentsia and research class who aught to have provided the ‘other opinion’in textbooks for students?

In light of the COVID-19, 2020, pandemic, the world has come to a standstill because the virus does not fathom the clash of civilisations to discern who should and who should not get affected. It cuts through all without prejudice and in many ways gave people the world over a short shocking reality of what it is to live behind walls and be in a lockdown. We, as Muslims, should be the standard bearers of self-sacrifice in these times of colossal adversity for the benefit of humanity but; first we need to face some brutal facts.

By now the thinking is clear that you need to focus on issues that surround you. The nagging reality is – taking a broad general view:

  1. You did not follow through strictly on the President’s decree on the LOCKDOWN in light of COVID-19.
  2. Your car is never parked correctly in the masjid’s parking lot yet, you could fist a guy who blocked you in the same non-parking zone.
  3. Your child attends a particular school and you complain about the school like hell.
  4. The potholes in the community drive you mad and all you do is go on about the taxes you pay.
  5. Your child’s teacher had made one remark against your child and you made a tsunami of it.
  6. You had to wait an hour longer in the queue at the Home Affairs Department and you lampooned the country to the dogs.
  7. You did not pay for the traffic offences and you could have bribed the cop if you could.
  8. Your teacher marked your assignment and you get less than expected – you were ready to call in the infantry.
  9. And the list can go on…

The point of the above is that: if you are not prepared to do something proactive and right, as opposed to complain and be reactionary then how are you going to be contributor to your own self growth, the mosque’s development, the school’s development, the community’s development and then to the country’s development? Yes, how, how, how.? We cannot expect change to come if we sit and do nothing because scientifically speaking, nothing comes from nothing! Only Allah has the power to create everything from nothing!

When we look at the Muslim ummah you will be shocked to know the plethora of expertise we have and the dynamism we possess. Therefore, we need to start in small ways. Start an awareness campaign of some sort in your school, masjid and community and then see how it benefits yourself, your immediate circle of friends, community, country and ummah. The issue at hand is the fact that you had the right to know and you chose to do something about it rather than just knowing about something and doing absolutely nothing. Take South Africa as a case in point – if we have so many Loyal South African Pessimists how can this country progress? I know we have a crime problem. 

In the whole episode of this article you were jolted from side to side and probably made uncomfortable about what is going on in the ummah but at least you took the time to read – yes! You took the time to read about it. Now you have the right to know just how much of self worth you have with all the things you believe in i.e. do you actually do something about it or does it remain a figment of your imagination? You know best and knowing now has been the right to know. Decide now on which side of the walled fence you are: Those who choose to know and do; or those who choose to know and never to do! Ask not what Islam can do for you; ask what Islam can do for you. Ask not what my rights are; ask what my responsibilities are. Ask not what my right to know is; ask what is it that is right that I should know.

Finally, are you going to read the Benny Morris’s interview in full by visiting the website or are you going to talk to someone about the wall in Iraq, the wall in Palestine or maybe, do some research on the Naqaba? If not, perhaps you have wasted time reading because with the revelation of the word READ came the action of knowing and doing. To be or not to be was the question. Now; to do or not to do; is the question. It’s the question you have the right to know. Therefore, the effort of each one of us should be the striving for justice from micro self issues to macro issues because; it is justice that will summon peace.

The words of Nelson Mandela from his autobiography, Conversations with myself, in a letter to Lord Nicholas Bethell, 4 June 1986 is the clarion call on what we should have the right to know. An excerpt is given below as the conclusion this article:

But I must say that it is a matter of grave concern to sit on the sidelines and be a mere spectator in the tragic turmoil that is tearing our country apart, and that is generating such dangerous passions. It may well be that the days when nations will turn mighty armies into powerful peace movements, and deadly weapons into harmless ploughshares are still years away. But, it is a source of real hope that there today world organisations, governments, heads of state, influential groups and individuals who are striving earnestly and courageously for world peace.

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