T Arif Ali
General Secretary, Jamaat e Islami Hind
A translation of a speech delivered at Discurso-Muslimah, a conference organised by GIO Kerala in December 2023.
Translated and transcribed by Ayisha Noureen TK
Dear sisters and daughters,
I want to express my heartfelt appreciation to the organisers of this beautiful gathering of Muslim girl students from different parts of the state. I extend my warmest welcome to all the sisters who have come here from various campuses across the country by accepting the invitation of GIO Kerala. I am inaugurating this program in the name of Almighty Allah, the most compassionate and merciful. I ask each of you to bear witness alongside the angels present here.
The presence of a Muslim girl wearing a hijab has been a topic of discussion in recent times. While it was once viewed as a negative factor, the world is now watching Muslim girls with great curiosity. Their presence is considered very special, thanks to their remarkable achievements in the educational sector over the past decade. Given this context, there are a few critical points that I would like to share with you.
When you look around your university, you might notice a Muslim community in or around the campuses. Unfortunately, you may also feel the presence of people who have been socially polarised with hate and Islamophobic thoughts. This kind of behaviour has sadly become normalised for some individuals. As a Muslim woman, you exist among all of them, and it’s important to remember that they are frequently observing you more than you observe them. The entire world is still curious about Muslim women and how they create history without depending on so-called general norms and ideologies. Remember that you can influence them and help break down stereotypes.
To do so, we need strong self-motivation and a set of ideologies that guide our actions. We should be able to dream big to influence our journey in life. Only a person with such qualities can significantly impact the world. This venue reminds us of Gaza, and we can see numerous metaphors of Gaza in different parts of this hall. The reason for these artworks is Gaza’s inspiration for all of you.
Since October 7th, attention has shifted towards Gaza, which was previously a victim of false narratives. The Palestine Resistance has now become the central topic of global discourse. The people previously neglected by the entire world are currently inspiring the same world. Solidarity marches for Gaza can be seen in almost every country globally. The slogan “Free Palestine” has become a universal chant without borders.
Do you know why Palestine’s resistance influences and inspires people worldwide? It is their values that inspire them: faith, the belief in the afterlife, the pursuit of paradise, fearlessness in the face of death, and more. These values make them unbeatable and have turned them into an inspiration for the world. As a result, they have become a catalyst for changing public opinion and consciousness.
This is a powerful lesson for us to learn. The majority of the media outlets are biased towards Israel, and they have complete control over the dissemination of information, even on social media. Despite being under constant surveillance, Gaza’s resistance is still able to influence the minds of people around the world. They are breaking through the iron domes of pro-Israel Western media’s biased coverage. Gaza is shedding light on their situation and spreading a message of hope and resilience. This is what I meant when I said that if we are moved by strong values, ideologies, or dreams, we have the power to change the world.
The first and foremost value for a Muslim is Imaan (faith). It is important to note that being Muslim and being a Mu’min (believer) are two different things. The Quran (in 49:14) distinguishes between the two and instructs a group of people to say أَسْلَمْنَا (aslamna, we have submitted) instead of ءَامَنَّا (aamanna, we believe). While being Muslim means following the Islamic way of life, being a Mu’min is much more special. To attain that position, we need to understand Allah deeply, and He must reside in our hearts and minds. We need to get closer to Allah to become a Mu’min. The Quran likens it to a giant tree with deep roots in the earth. Similarly, our beliefs should be deeply ingrained in our hearts, becoming a part of our emotions and intertwining with every nerve in our bodies.
That is what we still have to gain: the strength of Imaan! I should achieve it, as well as you. This is an internal strength that we can witness in Gaza, where people still smile despite the ongoing genocide. Have you ever noticed how the remaining humans in Gazza still manage to laugh even after their families have been killed and their homes, schools, hospitals, and buildings have been destroyed in the worst bombing the world has ever seen? Their smiles testify to their inner strength; we should strive to gain that same strength. Let this conference serve as a motivation for that.
Our inner strength comes from investing in our relationship with God. This strength can be cultivated through prayer, even when the rest of the world is asleep. When we gain spiritual strength, it is reflected in our eyes, words, and actions, creating an inspiring aura around us. It is through this strength that we can give strength to the world. This is the most important message that I want to convey to you.
The second thing you must do is to represent Islam with spiritual strength. People interested in learning about anything seriously usually look for two things. First, they look into the authentic texts in that area. That’s why some people ask for the Qur’an instead of Tafseer (exegesis). Second, they observe the followers of that ideology. They are observing each of us, and they are reading Muslim women more than Muslim men because Muslim women are apparent symbols of Islam. Therefore, they are reading Islam through all of us. If we could demonstrate the real essence of Islam through our lives, it would be excellent guidance for those who seek it.
The third and final thing I want to share with you is the importance of dreams. Learning how to dream and set your ambitions in life is crucial. Having aspirations is not limited to just men; women also can dream big. Everyone has dreams. As the Qur’an states, “Indeed, your efforts are diverse” (92:4), highlighting the uniqueness of every individual. It’s essential to embrace your individuality and not try to imitate someone else. Your strength lies in being true to yourself. Therefore, weave your dreams and soar freely towards achieving them. We should cultivate this liberated mindset, which Islam nurtures.
A human being, male or female, is Allah’s Khalifa (vicegerent). According to the Qur’an, the most essential trait of a Khalifa is freedom, which is an Amanat (trust). Amanat implies that humans have responsibilities when they exercise their freedom. Every person has unique abilities and virtues and different roles to play. Therefore, it is crucial to acknowledge and embrace one’s individuality. The Prophet (PBUH) likened people to mines of gold and silver, emphasising the importance of nurturing one’s talents. Humans have been given freedom by their Creator, and believers have decided to dedicate it to their Creator after discovering and nurturing their abilities. Believers use their abilities to implement Allah’s rulings on earth and make it a colourful place.
The world has long cherished the value of family, but today, it faces numerous threats. The Qur’an beautifully emphasises the importance of family ties and encourages us to honour and seek protection in Allah’s name. Allah named the family after His attributes of compassion and mercy – Ar-Rahman and Ar-Raheem, calling it “Rahm,” and also used the same word to refer to the womb. Family is a crucial and valuable institution that serves us in many ways. However, there is an agenda to destroy this system, leading to its replacement with a market-driven approach. It is essential to recognise this danger and take steps to safeguard the family as a fundamental unit of society.
Family is something that must be preserved. We come into this world as a family, and when we leave, we become part of a civilisation with strong families. However, we must consider what happens to our family during difficult times. Gaza provides beautiful examples of selflessness, such as the little girl who told the paramedic team that her siblings and parents were in the same building, asking them to save her family first. This selfless act highlights the importance of putting others before oneself. The mindset of putting others before ourselves is crucial for the new generation. We must remember that we grow bigger by being there for others.
May Allah grant us the opportunity to witness the victorious smiles of the people of Gaza. May we be blessed to perform Sujood in submission to Allah in the revered Masjid al-Aqsa, liberated and free from oppression.