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Empathy with Palestinians brings US women close to Almighty Allah

Muhammad Faheem

Radiance News Service, Nov. 26
“If you are not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing. … They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent,” said American human rights activist Malcolm X. Likewise, Israel successfully deceived the people into believing that Palestinians are terrorists and Israelis are victims and most of the world population swallowed this concocted story. But remember the saying, you can fool all the people for some time, you can fool some people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.
Human rights of Palestinians are violated daily, with full political, military and economic support of champions of human rights, especially the United States, the first country to recognise Israel in 1948, which has invariably supported Israeli expansionism and occupation of Palestinian lands, besides playing the divide-and-rule policy in Arab countries and establishing its military bases in the Middle East (West Asia for Indian subcontinent). Palestinians were constantly subjected to fear of arrest, abuse, mistreatment and death. Thousands were forcibly dispossessed of their homes and thousands are still languishing without trial in Israeli jails. They were disallowed entry into Masjid al-Aqsa, which erupted into a full-fledged war between Hamas and Israel. Israeli armed forces are regularly carrying out bloody attacks at Gaza, while innocent civilians are bearing the brunt of ravages of the war.
Israeli fighter jets are dropping bombs over hospitals and refugee camps, which is tantamount to ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Shells were exploding and damaging houses, tearing household materials to pieces. Killings of innocent civilians, especially more than one thousand children, opened the eyes of those who had turned a blind eye to seamless Israeli atrocities for the past 75 years. Now it has become crystal clear to them that Israel was spreading blatant lies across the world.
In the wake of these Israeli brutalities, a few young American women had a change of heart and, in solidarity with Palestinians, they switched over to Islam. These women were profoundly moved by what they saw on videos and TV channels and read in newspapers, which developed compassion and empathy for women, children and other victims. “The relentless use of force by Israel in response to the Hamas attack has been a catalyst for my acceptance of Islam,” one of the young converts was quoted as saying in the British newspaper Daily Mail. In fact, empathy creates closeness between you and the victim. However, social structures and divisions such as race, religion and class are barriers to empathy, but those who rise above such barriers become human in true letter and spirit. These women made short videos to publicly declare their conversion to Islam, and these videos quickly went viral on social media platform such as TikTok.
The sight of bloodshed filled them with rage and compassion. Fathers were rushing towards hospitals with critically or fatally wounded kids in their arms. Several faces were covered in blood. A dark pool of blood was spreading over broken hands and legs, and doctors were forced to perform surgeries without life-saving drugs and anaesthesia amid cries of pain. A child started reciting verses from Holy Qur’an in order to divert his attention from surgical pain. The recitation helped his cry escape his lips.
One of the converts and famous TikToker in the United States, Megan B. Rice, announced her profession of Islam on a short video. She used TikTok to highlight the plight of Palestinians at Gaza. She attributed her conversion to Israeli oppression and Palestinians’ faith in God. She was surprised to see their staunch faith.

“I wanted to talk about the faith of Palestinian people, how it is so strong, and they still find room to make it a priority to thank God, even when they have everything taken away from them,” she said in an interview. Their faith aroused a lot of curiosity in them to delve into the teachings of the Qur’an. She founded the World Religion Book Club, comprising 13,000 members only in a few weeks, where she carries out live readings of the Qur’an.

Rice, who lives in Chicago, also motivated another TikToker Alex. She also announced to profess Islamic faith on a short video. She bought a copy of the Qur’an and starting wearing Hijab. She has also begun attending pro-Palestinian marches. “Usually, we’re so used to the religious community combating science,” Rice said. “Now I’m seeing a religion embrace science and use its holy texts to back it up.” Unlike Christianity, which shows conflict between religious community and science, Islam shows cohesion and compatibility between science and religion.
The third convert is 24-year-old Madison Reeves from Tampa, Florida. She started taking interest in Islam after conversation with a Muslim girl on an app. But the conflict of Gaza worried her. On October 24, she posted a video in a hijab, professing her Islamic faith.
A 35-year-old Nefertari Moonn, the fourth convert from Tampa, Florida, started reading a copy of the Qur’an her husband brought. Reading passage after passage ignited in her an emotional attachment to it. “I can’t explain it, but there’s a peace that comes with reading the Qur’an,” she said after pronouncing Shahada. “I feel light, like I came back to something that was always there and waiting for me to return.”
Surprisingly, in order to understand the profound impact of the Qur’an on the lives of Palestinians, these converts started reading the Qur’an to explore its teachings, moral values, pro-poor and anti-oppressive guidelines, pro-social and anti-capitalist anti-exploitative laws, etc., and found it close to their personal values. “They are turning to the Qur’an to understand the incredible resilience, faith, moral strength and character they see in Muslim Palestinians,” said Zareena Grewal, an associate professor at Yale.
No doubt, the reading of the Qur’an bolsters the faith and cements relationship with Allah. Rice and other TikTok converts found that the Qur’an shows that men and women are equal in the eyes of God. Their interpretations of the text underpin their feminist principles. It also deals with scientific explanations for creation, with verses explaining the big bang and other theories.

In the wake of 9/11, Americans were studying the Qur’an to confirm their prejudices and biases about Islam being a violent religion and to back up their anti-Islamic views, and now, after the October 7 Hamas attack, they are trying to “understand the incredible resilience, faith, moral strength and character they see in Muslim Palestinians” by going through the pages of Qur’an.

Another convert, Sylvia Chan-Malik, who is now an associate professor at Rutgers University, also narrated her experience similar to what the above four converts had. “At the time, I wondered why the people I met who were Muslims were so different than what I heard in the news. I’d never experienced such a vast disconnect between popular perception and the truth,” she said in an interview. In fact, western media played a key role in maligning the image of Muslims and Islam.
Many videos from these women display a variation on the hashtag “revert.” Reversion is the Islamic belief that everyone is born into the Islamic faith and so any conversion is simply a return to the religion of Islam. Secondly, the religion of Prophet Adam, the first man on earth, was Islam. And so, basically, they have reverted to the religion of Prophet Adam, the father of all human beings.

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