The Madrasa of Gaza al-‘Izza

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Gaza is a madrasa of ‘izza. Allah says in the Qur’an: And to Allah belongs all ‘izza, and to His Messenger, and to the believers, but the hypocrites do not know. (63:8)

What exactly is ‘izza? English translations of the Qur’an typically translate ‘izza as glory, might and honor. And therefore: To Allah, His Messenger ﷺ and the believers belongs all glory, might and honor.

But the etymology of the word ‘izza denotes many other meanings: strength and power; rarity and preciousness; and even difficulty and unattainability.

Material manifestations of ‘izza as strength and power come immediately to mind. But this is only an expression of one of its meanings. A more comprehensive understanding of its meaning must include its other usages: of rarity, uniqueness, preciousness, and unattainability. Without them, I will not understand true ‘izza.

How do I understand it then? The best example is Allah’s name, al-‘Aziz. He is the Infinitely-Strong. He is singular, rare in His power. He is so singular, so infinitely mighty, that He is beyond all harm. He is Untouchable.

No dissent, defiance or disobedience hurts Him. No insubordination, insurgence or insurrection compromises His Divine dominion.

My wanton choices — which He knows and permits temporarily for a higher wisdom — can never escape the inevitability of His Justice, or outrun my justly decreed fate.

He is the Source of ‘izza. For those He loves, He gifts manifestations of His ‘izza. Yes, the glory, power and seeming impregnability of Islam in years past leaves us nostalgic and breathless.

But we must never forget that we are not merely bodies, but souls. The inherent ‘izza that the angels bowed to in Adam was his spiritual reality, not his material constitution. And the many material endowments that Allah often bestows to those who reject faith are not expressions of ‘izza at all. They are only means of deeper entanglement into delusion and self-destruction.

The essence of ‘izza is the strength, rarity and untouchability of the mind and heart that remains faithful to Allah, come what way, despite every vicissitude. Such a soul is unconquerable. Unvanquishable. It kneels to none except its Lord.

What have the people of Gaza — countless men and women, young and old — not taught me about ‘izza? What have they not endured of difficulty at every level of their material existence?

Colonization. Occupation. Sanction. Quarantine. Starvation. Fear. Insecurity. Vilification and demonization. Imprisonment. Persecution. Injury. Torture. Murder. Genocide. Loss of father, mother, children, entire families. Forced migration. Loss of home. Seizure of land. Destruction of livelihood. Ghettoization. Deprivation of basic necessities. Abandonment. Desertion. And more.

Yet, look at their perseverance, endurance, courage, audacity, resolution, certainty, sacrifice, steadfastness, Divine remembrance. Even — how can it be humanly possible? — gratitude.

Shaykh Mokhtar Maghraoui once said: “The people of Gaza are the living Ihya’ ‘Ulum al-Din (the renowned work by Imam al-Ghazzali that captures the rational, legal and spiritual dimension of Islam). It is said by our scholars that if the texts of Islam were lost, the Ihya’ would revive Islam.”

What the people of Gaza teach cannot be learned in any book.

You must see these two videos, if you have not already. Listen to them carefully. Read their expressions. Pay attention to the circumstance and backdrop. Then watch them again; for once is not enough. And marvel.

How are they not miraculous, living saint-martyrs?

Rasulullah ﷺ told us of the incredible fitna, trials and tribulations to come in the latter days that will leave us bewildered and paralyzed. We will ask, incredulous: Did our Messenger ﷺ speak of such unbelievable things?

The moral entropy and decadence of our world is only increasing. What is still left to come?

He ﷺ asked us: “How will you be then, in those times?” I hope, Ya Rasulullah ﷺ, like the people of Gaza. Just like the people of Gaza.

The great glories of our history — like the towering majesty of the Süleymaniye Mosque itself — cannot compare to the spiritual architecture of just one of those hearts that radiates the reality, the haqiqa, of ‘izza.

The Shaytanic statesmen and politicians, PR propagandists, so-called experts, mercenary soldiers, financiers of terror, traitors, hypocrites and sycophants — about them and for them, the words of Sayyidina Hasan al-Basri, when he saw the material might, strength and glory of the decadent: “…The humiliation and abasement of sin will not depart their hearts; for Allah has refused except to humiliate those who transgress against Him.”

For the Shaytanic statesmen and politicians, PR propagandists, so-called experts, mercenary soldiers, financiers of terror, traitors, hypocrites and sycophants — Gaza is God’s conclusive evidence (hujja), beyond any reasonable doubt, against you. Your life will pass in the blink of an eye. And then you will see who truly had ‘izza and who did not.

As for Gaza’s evidence against me, I am duty-bound to live through the pulse of its imposing duality.

First, I cannot and must not allow myself to forget the indescribable, constricting pain of its ongoing tragedy, and I must do what I can to alleviate it — relentless du‘a, financial support, and principled activism.

Second, I cannot and must not allow myself to squander their profound, spiritual mentorship of what is true ‘izza, and how to project it into my practical life. What is my adherence to the principles, values and commandments of Allah in my day-to-day — as I am challenged with less than one hundredth of what they are challenged with day-to-day?

And where I have compromised my ‘izza — by compromising the ‘izza of Allah’s din [religion] — let me seek strength through my brothers and sisters in Gaza. If there is anyone worthy of seeking intercession in today’s world, it is them.

Ya Allah, we ask you to grant Gaza Your Loving-Gaze, relieve its pain and suffering, provide for it in subtle and unknown avenues, bestow it with steadfastness, and grant it and us victory, for You and by You. Amin.