What We Can Learn From Gilad Shalit (Updated)

In the Name of the Kind and Beautiful Precious Beloved

As Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier captured by Hamas more than five years ago, was finally released in a vast prisoner exchange, it made me think about the relentless pursuit of his release by Israel. Such a pursuit by one’s family is both natural and understandable. Yet, not only was his family behind him, but the entire nation of Israel was behind him. So many times, Israelis – from government on down – mentioned that they will never abandon one of their own. No matter how one feels about the Arab-Israeli conflict, it must be said that the tenacity of the Israeli people over Gilad Shalit is truly admirable. I even saw someone wearing a shirt saying “Free Gilad Shalit” during the 2011 Chicago Marathon this year. And it begs a very important question: do we as Muslims have this same tenacity over “our people”?

Sadly, the answer is “no.” In so many places around the world, Muslims are being slaughtered like animals, and the Muslim world hardly lifts a finger for their aid. Ideally, NATO warplanes should not have had to intervene in the Libyan civil war, because it should have been Muslims on the ground and in their air helping their own brothers and sisters defeat a maniacal and murderous madman. Rather than help the people of Bahrain gain more freedom for themselves, the Saudi government sent in its own troops to make sure the people’s voices were not heard at all. Yes, Muslims all over the world rightly decry the injustice being committed against the Palestinian people. Yet, when some Muslims commit the very same injustices against their own people, the cries of condemnation by other Muslims are sometimes not as fierce or loud.

When Muslims were being massacred by fellow Muslims in Darfur – the silence of the worldwide Muslim community was deafening. And now as the Arab Spring turns into the Arab Autumn and Winter, there does not seem to be a credible response of the Muslim world to the daily murder of people in Syria and other places. Gilad Shalit knew that, no matter what, the entire Israeli nation had his back. Does the Muslim world have the back of its own, as its Lord had commanded it to do? Sadly, the answer is “no.”

And what’s worse, the response of some Muslims to the slaughter of their fellow Muslims around the world is – in and of itself – horrific and barbaric. A newspaper publishes provocative cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), seeking to intentionally provoke Muslims, and some Muslims respond with violence and property damage: the very thing the publishers of the cartoons wanted to show the world. Elsewhere, pitiful bands of misguided “holy warriors” claim to be defending Muslims by committing mass murder and mayhem, causing much more damage and strife to the entire world Muslim community. With “friends” like these, as they say, who needs enemies? Again I ask the question: does the Muslim world have the back of its own, as its Lord commanded it to do? Sadly, the answer is “no.”

The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was reported to have said, “Wisdom is the lost property of the believer, so wherever he finds it, he has more of a right to it.” There is nothing wrong with learning from the good qualities of another people and seeking to make them our own.

Michael Oren, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, told NPR: “Israel is a democracy that has a citizens army. And when we send our sons and our daughters off to defend our country, they have to know that if they fall captive or, God forbid, anything worse happens to them, that the state will do everything in their power to get them back. And that is the source of our strength.” We would be all the stronger if we had that same sort of commitment to our own people as Israel had to Gilad Shalit.

This article also appeared on altmuslim.

I discuss this article on Radio Islam on October 27. Listen to the show here


One thought on “What We Can Learn From Gilad Shalit (Updated)

  1. Assalamu ‘aleyckum

    Though not being a Muslim myself, I still do relate to Islam and Muslims, mostly because I do see a very close similarity between our religions, as well as our heritage, being descendants of Ibrahim/Avraham, A”S.

    I often wonder what has happened since around 1200-1300 CE until today. Though the Osmans and other Muslim groups did keep a high profile, it seems that after the beginning of the European Renascence it just went downhill. What happened with the creativity, the curiosity, the lust for knowledge, which characterized Islam in the first centuries?

    I’m not writing this to mock, but because it seriously sadden me to see what happened. It seemed like there once was a high ethical sense among Muslims, at least among the leader, but today it’s hard to find.

    All the best


    Shmuel Aryeh

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