Asif Ghayaz, Pakistani artist
From Gaza to Jerusalem. We won’t be stopped.
‘Do you really believe that God expects you to show Him your respect by repeated bowing and kneeling and prostration? Might it not be better only to look into oneself and to pray to Him in the stillness of one’s heart? Why all these movements of your body?’
As soon as I had uttered these words I felt remorse, for I had not intended to injure the old man’s religious feelings. But the hajji did not appear in the least offended. He smiled with his toothless mouth and replied:
‘How else then should we worship God? Did He not create both, soul and body, together? And this being so, should man not pray with his body as well as with his soul? Listen, I will tell you why we Muslims pray as we pray. We turn toward the Kaaba, God’s holy temple in Mecca, knowing that the faces of all Muslims, wherever they may be, are turned to it in prayer, and that we are like one body, with Him as the centre of our thoughts. First we stand upright and recite from the Holy Koran, remembering that it is His Word, given to man that he may be upright and steadfast in life. Then we say, “God is the Greatest,” reminding ourselves that no one deserves to be worshipped but Him; and bow down deep because we honour Him above all, and praise His power and glory. Thereafter we prostrate ourselves on our foreheads because we feel that we are but dust and nothingness before Him, and that He is our Creator and Sustainer on high. Then we lift our faces from the ground and remain sitting, praying that He forgives our sins and bestow His grace upon us, and guide us aright, and give us health and sustenance. Then we again prostrate ourselves on the ground and touch the dust with our foreheads before the might and the glory of the One. After that, we remain sitting and pray that He bless the Prophet Muhammad who brought His message to us, just as He blessed the earlier Prophets; and that He bless us as well, and all those who follow the right guidance; and we ask Him to give us of the good of this world and of the good of the world to come. In the end we turn our heads to the right and to the left, saying, “Peace and the grace of God be upon you” - and thus greet all who are righteous, wherever they may be.
‘It was thus that our Prophet used to pray and taught his followers to pray for all times, so that they might willingly surrender themselves to God - which is what Islam means - and so be at peace with Him and with their own destiny.’
But prostrate and draw near [to Allah ]. 96:19
The Beauty of Prayer
This is a photo I shot right after the completion of my sister’s nikah, or Islamic marriage, while she was making a supplication to God. Although it seems like such a simple action, it is so valuable for every Muslim. It is simply raising your hands to ask your wishes from God, to pray for yourself and everyone around you. In essence it’s a simple action, but there is so much beauty involved. It is form of a connection one can have with God by praying and making dua, or supplication. It is especially important for Muslims to continue making dua during the last few nights of Ramadan. For Muslims, Ramadan is a time for spiritual connection with God, and self reflection. And what better way to both assess yourself and connect with God than by simply raising your hands and asking. Muslims believe that God is the Most Merciful, and what better way to ask for his mercy than to raise your hands in his honor and ask.
To argue that Israel is employing legitimate “self-defense” when it militarily attacks Gaza affords the occupying power the right to use both police and military force in occupied territory. An occupying power cannot justify military force as self-defense in territory for which it is responsible as the occupant. The problem is that Israel has never regulated its own behavior in the West Bank and Gaza as in accordance with Occupation Law. […] Israel’s refusal to recognize the occupied status of the territory, bolstered by the US’ resilient and intransigent opposition to international accountability within the UN Security Council, has resulted in the condition that exists today: prolonged military occupation. Whereas the remedy to occupation is its cessation, such recourse will not suffice to remedy prolonged military occupation. By virtue of its decades of military rule, Israel has characterized all Palestinians as a security threat and Jewish nationals as their potential victims, thereby justifying the differential, and violent, treatment of Palestinians. In its 2012 session, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination described current conditions following decades of occupation and attendant repression as tantamount to Apartheid.