As the drums of war beat louder, a clarion call echoes: raise your voice for peace and absolute justice!
In this episode, we dissect the urgent need to challenge media bias, deepen our understanding of human rights struggles, and stand firmly for absolute justice. We navigate the deafening silence of world leaders and amplify the lone voice of a spiritual leader urging unity. Let’s ignite the #VoicesForPeace movement – join us as we unpack the harsh realities of ongoing human rights violations and illuminate the path toward a just and peaceful world.
Listen to the full episode by clicking below or read through the transcript.
Bushra: Welcome back to another episode of the Muslim Down Under Podcast. Today I have with me Mahreen Khan who is in the final leg of her legal education and has a keen interest in human rights law. She is also a wife, a mother of three, and a social justice advocate. Peace be upon you and welcome to our podcast.
Mahreen: Peace be on you too, and thank you so much for having me on the podcast and talking about an issue that I am very passionate about. So I feel very grateful and extremely humbled at the opportunity.
Bushra: Yes, thank you so much for joining us today. I do appreciate your time. So our whole platform, The Muslims Down Under platform, is built around making an effort to change the narrative around social injustices and educating people about them. And as ordinary people, I think we can’t even imagine the social injustices taking place right now across the world and we can’t comprehend the extent and the intensity of the damage that this is causing towards global peace. So as someone with an interest in human rights and as a social justice advocate and someone very passionate about this issue, what’s your take on the current situation happening across the world?
Mahreen: So, when I look at the current situation of the world, from the genocides happening, not just in Palestine, but also in Congo, to the treatment of Uyghur Muslims in China, I genuinely believe that our perception of human suffering and just generally on what injustice is has changed. After World War One and Two, we, as a collective society believed that the mistakes that our leaders made at that time shall never be repeated again and that we need to take better steps in ensuring that there is World Peace. And yet, right now in 2023, we have ended 2023 by witnessing the ruthless killing of Palestinians right in front of our very own eyes.
And yet Western leaders are again doing absolutely the bare minimum or even less than that. I think that they’ve just closed their eyes and mainstream news channels and journalists are also failing to report on this truthfully. I think greed and power have genuinely clouded the moral compass of the world leaders and unfortunately, that has led to the death of millions of people.
There has been a significant loss of quality of life for many generations to come, and that has also led to the collapse of nations and society. The Palestine economy has completely collapsed to the healthcare system and even the justice system, you know, and despite witnessing these injustices taking place with the help of social media, there is an overwhelming feeling of helplessness. Because our leaders are failing to stand up with courage and fight against those who commit these crimes against humanity.
Bushra: Yeah, it’s almost as though we are witnessing a turning point in the human experience. You know, we’re living in a moment of an absolute paradigm-shifting reckoning and essentially we’re watching a global catastrophe unfold before us because the persistent and the very purposeful dehumanisation of the Palestinian people is insidious. And it’s very dangerous. There is also a humanitarian crisis taking place with basic food and water shortages now happening and a lack of medical supplies and other basic human necessities. So right now, what do you see as the biggest challenge to achieving social justice for these innocent?
Mahreen: So, what is happening in Palestine is genocide, and dehumanisation is one of the 10 stages of genocide. But it starts with classification, making them the other. And we saw that very clearly when Prime Prime Minister Netanyahu, said in a now-deleted Twitter post that, and I quote ‘this is a struggle between children of light and children, of darkness between humanity and the law of the jungle’ (end quote). So, it starts with symbolisation. You know, he is putting the Palestinians away and classifying them as the other and Israel has set the stage to dehumanise them further by calling themselves light and calling Palestine, or anyone who believes to be a Palestinian, as dark. And we’ve seen the danger of that rhetoric when the six-year-old child in Chicago was killed because he’s Palestinian and Muslim.
The type of reporting that is done on this plays a significant role in setting perceptions in people’s minds. The language that the Western media is using plays a huge role in how certain things and ideologies are planted in the audience.
I noted, for example, that journalists would say over 1000 Palestinians have died, but when they referred to Israeli casualties, they would say this many have been killed. The language is absolutely critical when you are reporting on an injustice being taken place.
Bushra: So, what’s your take on this response from the world, from global leaders and also everyday people in our communities? Do you think more needs to be done?
Mahreen: It’s been quite disappointing to really see the response from the current worldly leaders and even many spiritual leaders have refrained from saying anything until very recently. But there is one global leader, the leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, who has for the past two months in his weekly Friday Sermons and in any of his other interviews and any other media clips that you see, he has constantly asked for us for all to pray for Palestine and constantly been raising awareness and calling for global peace and you know, to put an end to the genocide for the past many, many years, even before 7th October.
And I remember in one of his recent Friday Sermons, on the 13th of October 2003, he urged Muslim nations that they must act prudently. We must set aside our differences and unite as one to help our fellow brothers and sisters in Palestine, and there must be a cease-fire. And if we follow the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, his guidance has said that we should help not just the oppressed, but also the oppressor.
I think it’s really important that we should use our spiritual weapons more now than ever. To pray for Palestine, truly from the heart.
And so, it’s just when you see other Western leaders and what they’re doing, it hasn’t met the standard that the head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has set. In another Friday Sermon on the 28th of October, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad said, and I quote, “as long as the world leaders do not courageously strive for a ceasefire, they are invariably responsible for taking the world towards destruction.” End Quote. And we see how true that is. World leaders are either watching the injustices and war crimes take place or they are complicit in them. So, the lack of justice and the lack of courage in the leaders is something very evident you see now. So, I believe we can learn so much from what Islam teaches in matters of injustices like those that are taking place currently in Palestine.
Islam promotes a pragmatic way to deal with these injustices, rather than raise hatred against certain people in protests and what that means is that we support the oppressed, but also take more practical steps against the oppressor and raise our voices for peace.
His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad had urged everyone to pray earnestly for Palestine, to pray for the injustices to end and to pray for global peace. We can also donate to charities such as Humanity First, which with other trusted partners are responding with medical relief, food, shelter, and sanitation.
Bushra: And I think when injustices and conflicts like these happen where there are two distinct religious groups. In this case, the Muslims and the Jews, people often automatically conflict this as a religious war as well, especially when you have organisations who claim to be practicing Islam in their actions. And for clarification for our non-Muslim audience, the actions of organisations like Hamas are in no way aligned with the teachings of Islam. Islam is a religion of peace and absolutely does not promote violence, war, or injustices of any kind. In fact, Islam teaches absolute justice and equality in all matters, and we find a lot of crucial guidelines around this in the Holy Quran. For example, a verse states that to fully comply with the requirements of justice, it is necessary to treat even those people who go beyond all limits in their hatred and enmity in fairness and equity.
And so when global attention on situations like these happens, we see many incidences taking place, but we also feel the impact all the way even here in Australia. I was reading the other day, that the Islamophobia Register in Australia indicated that reports of incidents across the nation have increased many folds since this Israel-Palestine conflict started. So, my question is mainstream media and other information outlets, they relay information about religions, about Islam, that is untrue. So, what can we do?
Mahreen: As Muslims, whenever and wherever the opportunity arises, we openly express and declare our view that there is only one way to save the world from destruction and devastation, and that is that we must all endeavour to spread love and affection, and a sense of community. That there should be tolerance for the differences between us. And that there should be respect.
We should constantly raise our voices calling for peace in the world. And it is the pain and anguish that we feel in our hearts to make the world we live in a better place because indeed very function is one of the many efforts towards achieving this goal.
Bushra: But on a practical individual level, one more can be done. You know, whether you’re a Muslim or not. What else do we need to be doing to remove hatred, remove prejudices, and unite against all forms of oppression and unjust actions against the innocent? What can we do to be a part of changing the narrative around social injustices? And what practical steps can be taken to speak up against social injustices?
Mahreen: With so much happening around us, good and bad, the only way we can change the world for the better is to be better human beings, in my opinion. Ask yourself, are you just in all of your dealings, whether that’s at work or in your relationships? Do you fulfill the rights of your fellow beings? One of my favorite quotes is by Gandhi actually, and he says ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’. What I understand from that is that it starts with you. It starts with raising your children to grow up to be adults who will be compassionate, and respectful, and giving, but also who are confident and courageous and can stand up and use their voice for those who have been silenced. But then this also starts with setting an example as well. So parents must be all of these things too, and lead by example.
So it really does start at the micro level and that will gradually impact on the larger scales, hopefully in the generations to come. It is a slow process. But I think this process is the most reliable way to actually give us results. When we specifically talk about Palestine, I think the best way we can help is to earnestly pray for them, but also pray for Israel so that they also realise that in their act of revenge, they are committing war crimes and innocent civilians, and children who are as young as a few days old and not even that, actually, recently as I saw a post, and it was a child that was still in the womb, and they’re killing them. They are disabling and dismembering little children who have a whole life ahead of them. So, we can also write to our MPs, and our foreign affairs Minister, Penny Wong.
We can also make the time and effort to become more educated and, you know, raise our own awareness about these situations as well and then spread this knowledge with others as well. I think education is so fundamental, especially when it when the amount of misinformation and propaganda that so easily spreads these days on social media.
It is even more important, I think, to reach out to those who know and ask them questions and find the correct answers. But there are also many influential voices across the world speaking about what has been going on in Israel and Palestine over the last 7 decades, and to actually listen to them and spread their voices on your platforms as well.
Bushra: Absolutely. And I do hope our podcast, and specifically this episode, actually serves this purpose. That it can shed a bit of light and maybe encourage you to reach out to us or others in your communities, to become more educated and raise that awareness. Also, I think writing is a very powerful tool. The Promised Messiah and Mahdi, His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad came in this era to encourage jihad. He came to encourage a jihad of the pen, as he called it – to use your pens or these days, your computers, your words, to write and raise awareness and educate the public.
And we have so many excellent unbiased channels and magazines and newspapers doing just this. We’ll link them in the transcript of this podcast if you want to go and have a read.
Also, I’ve seen on social media recently so many people becoming inspired by the resilience and the patience of fathers of mothers of children, in the face of very deep atrocities.
Having lost everything they have in this world, they are still so grounded, so at peace, and have so much patience knowing that God is on their side, knowing that God is just, and if not in this world, or if not in the immediate time, that they will find their justice. And in seeing this, the world is witnessing their faith, their deep spiritual connection with God, and as a result other people are wanting to know more about their faith.