5 Things I’m Reflecting On As A Black Muslim “Influencer” During the Israeli-Palestinian ConflictOct 15, 2023
#1. You Cannot Shame People Into Activism
This point is significant for me. Last week, I faced bullying for two days via WhatsApp and Instagram from my Jewish neighbors (Yes, my LITERAL neighbors in my neighborhood) for sharing TV interviews and a meme about the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They accused me of supporting Hamas, agreeing with the killing of women and children because I had not joined in the chorus of “I Stand with Israel” that was apparently being shared in what is supposed to be a non-political community chat. I actually had not checked our community WhatsApp chat in over a month, and another neighbor sent me a screenshot to tell me someone had posted my profile, and she was sorry they were bullying me. Over the next two days, I had to block five people on Instagram from sending me harassing messages. I WILL NOT BE BULLIED.
I recognize that not everyone has the strength and resolve to stand up for themselves. Trying to shame someone into action is self-centered, insulting, and disrespectful. We cannot champion humanity by stripping others of theirs. Their right to their feelings, opinions, and actions.
#2. You Do Not Know What Type of Trauma People Are Dealing With.
What we refer to as “influencers” online are HUMAN BEINGS, first and foremost. I was reminded of this over the weekend at a business event. I connected with a fellow coach who shared her traumatic experience of domestic violence with me. It was a stark reminder of the importance of kindness; you never know what someone is going through despite their public face.
Each person has their own story, which may include a history of trauma, and everyone's response to trauma is different. Sometimes, public posts can do more harm than good because they lead to a barrage of comments and shares, which compounds the harm. Not everyone can deal with the mental and emotional toll of public scrutiny.
#3. Everyone Has Their Own Form of Activism
A respected community elder defended me when I faced criticism for not attending Black Lives Matter rallies at a community meeting. She said, “Let the walkers walk, let the talkers talk; everyone has their own way.” This wisdom echoes what Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) conveyed when he said, as narrated by Abū Saʿīd al-Khuḍrī, “Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.”
The form of advocacy a person chooses is a very personal decision. People may engage in forms of advocacy that they prefer not to publicize, and that’s okay. It could be based on their knowledge or lack thereof. Their mental and emotional state. Or just in a season of weakened Iman. The Prophet (ﷺ) reminded us: “Indeed, iman gets worn out inside of you as a piece of clothing gets worn out. So ask Allah to renew iman in your hearts.”
#4. Sometimes, Silence is Safer
Many individuals, even Muslims, are still unaware of the complex history between Israel and Palestine. Speaking on current issues with incomplete information can cause more harm than good. This problem was highlighted when celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber shared support for Israel using pictures of Palestinians and Palestine. Taking the time of educate one’s self privately is far more important and impactful than meaningless public displays of support just to avoid criticism or get likes.
#5. FREE PALESTINE
As a Black Muslim woman with over half a million followers across my social media profiles, my timeline is NOT filled with “FREE PALESTINE” posts. I prefer sharing content that is more meaningful to me in my stories. This doesn't make me (or anyone else) less Muslim, or less compassionate. My choice not to post certain topics on my profile is a personal decision, one I feel no obligation to justify to ANYONE, be they Jew or Muslim.
May Allah have mercy on the Palestinian people, granting them freedom from oppression, victory over their enemies, and justice in this world and the next. Ameen, Ameen, Ya Rabb al-'Alameen.
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