Islam Times: This Ramadan we should think especially of the people of Somalia, suffering from both starvation and the oppression and cruelty of the Wahhabi militia Al-Shabab. Calamities and tribulations come and go, but there is one issue which stays with us Ramadan after Ramadan, year after year. That is the Palestinian issue. Palestine has become a symbol of oppression and a symbol of resistance.
As long as the occupation continues, resistance must continue – a noble, moral resistance based on principles of justice, mercy and moderation. The last Friday of Ramadan offers the world an opportunity to manifest its opposition to Zionist aggression.
Quds Day was introduced by the late Imam Khomeini, whose life and struggle had showed what a popular, organized mass movement under the right leadership could achieve. The Iranians managed, through determination and sacrifice, to establish a democratic, Islamic republic.
One of the aims of Quds Day is to revitalize resistance towards Zionist aggression and to unite and mobilize the global Palestinian movement. Quds Day also shows that “political Islam” or “Islamism” is not the same thing as violence, sectarianism and obscurantism. To be a politically active Muslim does not mean you endorse violence or sectarianism or fanaticism. Rather it means that you work for the betterment of your society, to strive to provide education, health care and food for all. It means to work for peace and justice, against aggression, imperialism and occupation.
Western media outlets, out of ignorance or malice, blur the concept by constantly referring to Wahhabi terrorists in Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and other places who blow up mosques and kill innocent Muslim men, woman and children, as “Islamists”. During lasts years Quds Day in Iran, Lauren Booth, sent a letter to her brother in law Tony Blair. She had participated in the rally and wrote: “Personally I’ve never understood this fear of ‘political Islam’ it seems to me that religious people should always be educated on world events rather than kept in ignorance …”
She had witnessed that “political Islam” was not the same thing as violence and sectarianism. Every year the Quds Day rallies shows the world what “political Islam” really means: education, engagement, solidarity.
Every year the Quds Day rallies in major cities all over the world, including Stockholm, the capital of my home country Sweden, shows that people of all faiths and all ethnic backgrounds can come together based on the universal values of peace, freedom and justice.
All Islamic schools of thought, Jews, Christians and others march together demanding with one voice an end to the occupation and the dismantling of the Zionist regime. To dismantle the Zionist regime and the system of apartheid does not mean harming the Jews as some propagandists claim. There will always be a place of Jews in Palestine – as citizens, not as occupiers.
In 2009 I spoke at the Quds Day rally in Stockholm. My fellow speaker was an Anti-Zionist of Jewish ethnic background: Lasse Wilhelmson. As a young man he had lived in Israel working at a kibbutz but since then he has changed his stance. Today he is a dedicated pro-Palestinian activist. My friend Lasse is an example of how a person can break away from tribalism and sectarianism based on universal values of peace, freedom and justice.
This is “political Islam” as it should be, this is “Islamism” as it should be, far from those ugly caricatures killing Muslims in Bagdad, Karbala and Najaf, caricatures which seem to have been dreamt up by the imagination of a rabid Islamophobe, but unfortunately they are real.
“Political Islam” is not obscurantism, fanaticism and sectarianism. Political Islam is first of all an intellectual movement with thinkers and writers such as Said Nursi, Morteza Motahhari and Imam Khomeini. The most important struggle is not armed and physical, but intellectual, economic, spiritual and political. As a poet, a thinker, a mystic, an eloquent speaker and a writer, Imam Khomeini is a role model to Muslim activists. Quds Day is his legacy.