December 13, 2017 Abdul Haqq

Jerusalem isn’t the problem: Our lack of a cohesive response is

As many around the world begin to participate in seasonal religious and traditional festivities, it would be remiss to ignore the premise upon which these celebrations were first established. Biblical references to the miraculous birth of Jesus are accompanied with angelic visits proclaiming: ‘Peace on earth and goodwill to all men.’[1] This event allegedly took place in Bethlehem; less than 6 miles from Jerusalem.[2]

Back to the future

Fast forward more than 2000 years – 2017 to be exact – and any hope for peace in this region, let alone other parts of the planet, have arguably been dashed by President Trump’s incendiary declaration, recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.[3] Unsurprisingly, this has been met with global condemnation from world leaders and protests across the Muslim world.[4] Again, unsurprisingly, there were Palestinian protests in Gaza resulting in 2 fatalities as a result of Israeli troop gunfire.[5]

In case we are unaware, Trump’s declaration is as illegitimate as the present occupation of Palestine.[6] The orchestrated displacement of thousands of Palestinians, culminating in what is recounted by many as ‘Al-Nakba’ – ‘The Catastrophe’ – in 1948, when the state of Israel was declared and recognised by western governments, remains among the most controversial incidents in modern history.[7] Initial British and subsequent US support for the establishment of this state were considered a sufficient enough mandate for its birth.[8] The British Royal Commission of Inquiry’s conclusion (known as the Peel Commission after Lord Peel) is evidence of such support – particularly in view of its recommendation for the partition of Palestine.[9] As continues to be the case today, Palestinians rejected this land grab and revolted:

Between 1936 and 1937, the British killed over 1,000 Palestinians; 37 British military police and 69 Jews also died.[10]

Then, as now, the ratio of casualties, when comparing between Palestinians and Israelis, continues to be disproportionate – even by the latter’s account:

‘The number of Palestinian deaths to Israeli deaths is clearly disproportionate – as of this writing, about 192:1…’[11]

Trump’s reason for making such an inflammatory statement was borne out of his concern for losing support from his voters. Many among the 50 million evangelical Christians in the US support him and believe in:

‘… a prophecy of the end of days, foretelling Jewish control of all Jerusalem, a war of civilisations, and a choice of Jews to either embrace Christianity or die in the wrath of God.’[12]


Black Friday?

Unfortunately – and this is where the article will proceed along a slightly different tangent – Trump is not alone in pandering to supporters’ expectations. Similarly, we see other leaders focusing on issues of importance to their political survival while ignoring more pressing priorities. One example is Theresa May’s agreement with the DUP and £1 billion sweetener to effectively secure her position as prime minister after losing the government’s majority. Shortly before this and during her disastrous election campaign, she had claimed there was ‘…no magic money tree’ to tackle the crisis in the NHS or schools.[13] Another, more ominous example is the emerging report revealing some EU governments’ complicity in the human trafficking and slave trade in Libya:

European governments are knowingly complicit in the torture and abuse of tens of thousands of refugees and migrants detained by Libyan immigration authorities in appalling conditions in Libya.’[14]

The report goes on to mention ‘…how European governments are actively supporting a sophisticated system of abuse and exploitation of refugees and migrants by the Libyan Coast Guard, detention authorities and smugglers in order to prevent people from crossing the Mediterranean.’[15]

One media headline posed the question: ‘Where is the world?’[16] Among numerous other questions that could also be asked are:

  1. How have we allowed this to happen in 2017?
  2. Why have protests and decisive action been negligible from other governments?
  3. Have the rise of populism and far right extremism in the west contributed to the apparent disregard for the persecution of the ‘other’?


A time for action and introspection

The Arab and Muslim world are not exempt from scrutiny on this issue. It has also contributed to the ominous silence regarding Libya. This is disconcerting to many – Muslim and non-Muslim alike – particularly those of African heritage. There is no justification for what is currently taking place in Libya – religious or otherwise. Slavery is from a bygone era and any attempt to evoke religious dictates to justify it today is surely futile. Instead, there are prophetic addresses that remain unequivocal in conveying the equality, which exists between all ethnicities:

‘All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white [person] has no superiority over a black [person] nor a black [person] has any superiority over a white [person] except by piety…’[17]

In light of other prophetic narrations relating to the inviolability of a Muslim’s life over that of the Kaaba in Mecca,[18] it is inconceivable that, as Muslims, we would prioritise the importance of Jerusalem – although of immense religious and symbolic significance – above the enslavement of Africans in Libya. The Muslim perpetrators behind this crime must be condemned with as vociferous a voice as the one against Trump. Nothing less will suffice.





[1] The Bible, Gospel of Luke 2, verses 8-20.

[2] DistanceFromTo:

[3] Landler, M: ‘Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital and Orders U.S. Embassy to Move,’ New York Times, 6th December 2017:

[4] Nelson, L: ‘Trump’s plan to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital met with global condemnation,’ Politico, 6th December 2017:

[5] Beaumont, P & Wintour, P: ‘Two Palestinians shot dead and one critical in riots after Trump Speech,’ The Guardian, 8th December 2017:

[6] Bodi, F:’Israel simply has no right to exist,’ The Guardian, 3rd January 2001:

[7] Al Jazeera: ‘Series on the Palestinian ‘catastrophe’ of 1948 that led to dispossession and conflict that still endures’ 29th May 2015:

[8] Ibid

[9] ‘Peel Commission Report (1937):

[10] Al Jazeera: ‘Series on the Palestinian ‘catastrophe’ of 1948 that led to dispossession and conflict that still endures’ 29th May 2015:

[11] Heilman, U:’Palestinian deaths vs. Israeli deaths,’ Jewish Telgraphic Agency, 15th July 2014:

[12] Sengupta, K:’The real reason Trump declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel is because he feared losing his evangelical base,’ The independent, 8th December 2017:

[13] Watts, J: ’Theresa May accused of bribing DUP with £1bn deal despite claim ‘there is no magic money tree,’ The Independent, 26th June 2017:

[14] Amnesty International Press Release regarding report, ‘Libya’s Dark Web of Collusion: Abuses Against Europe-Bound Refugees and Migrants,’ 12th December, 2017

[15] Hackwill, R: ‘Amnesty International accuses EU of complicity in Libyan salve trade,’ euronews, 12th December 2017:

[16] Razek, R & Said-Moorhouse: ‘Where is the world?’ Libya responds to outrage over slave auctions,’ CNN, 23rd November 2017:

[17] Al-Bukhari, Hadith 1623, 1626, 6361) Sahih of Imam Muslim also refers to this sermon in Hadith number 98. Imam al-Tirmidhi has mentioned this sermon in Hadith nos. 1628, 2046, 2085. Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal has given us the longest and perhaps the most complete version of this sermon in his Masnud, Hadith no. 19774:


[18] Imam al-Mundhiri: ‘(A) Muslim’s blood more sacred than the Ka’ba,’ Targhib wa’ l-Tarhib, no.3/276:

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