The carnage in Syria is real, is sickening and is on a scale that many of us would have thought could not happen in the 21st century. While we witness some of the worst of mankind, the debate has been ongoing on what the various solutions to end the ongoing conflict could be. In this article we evaluate the top 10 responses, how they stack up and which amongst them is the best choice for the Muslim Ummah to pursue.
1. Let’s put our head in the sand
The butchery in the Muslim world has led to crisis fatigue. Whether it be Iraq, Kashmir, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Palestine or now in Syria, Muslims have become tired of the constant news reports and ongoing tales of death and destruction. This is the default option for those who want bad news to just go away. However this is not the time to get fatigued but energised, not to feel disengaged but more invested, not to bury our heads in the sand but to rise to the occasion. The Muslim Ummah is indeed one body and we must never never forget that.
2. Our Misdeeds
The Syrian conflict in addition to all our other troubles in the Muslim world are a result of our misdeeds, the Ummah is being punished for her sins. This is the default option for those who see every Muslim as their own separate Island. Therefore we must perfect ourselves, improve our deeds as individuals before we can do anything for Syria: Improving oneself must not be seen as prerequisite to action. In fact, supporting the Ummah through the most appropriate action must be seen as a means to improving oneself in the first instance. The Ummah’s cries must not be met with an excuse to perfect oneself, nor is it a means by which the conflict will end, rather it should be met with political action that seeks to directly resolve the issue at hand. The strife of this Muslims should be seen as a test from Allah (swt), and we should respond to it correctly, not by blaming the Ummah! In fact, it is in poor taste to blame the brutal death of our brothers and sisters on our own shortcomings, as opposed to external political forces who are slaughtering them.
3. Dua is the best response to such adversity, we must leave the rest unto Allah
This is the default option of establishment scholars who are too timid to account their own governments. Though dua is of course essential, praying to Allah (swt) for a solution to any crisis must be met with the relevant action towards that very solution. Dua alone is a request to the Almighty to grant us a matter, but this would not be complete, if we made no effort to practically achieve it, thus Dua to resolve any form of adversity must always be met with our actions towards that adversity too. The Prophet (saw) made dua that the deen of Islam should spread but he also engaged in the practical actions whether that involved challenging the status quo, contacting various Arabian tribes for support or sending ambassadors to far flung lands.
The solution is confined to Muslims giving more in charity. This is the default option for those who feel deeply affected about the situation .Though giving charity is always a positive thing, thinking charity will solve the problem is akin to thinking you can suppress a raging fire with a cup of water, it may reduce its heat by a fraction of a centigrade, but the fire will continue to rage. Charity must not be seen as a short term alternative to long term systemic change. It is not a zero-sum game. Our brothers and sisters in Syria want a political shift more than they want our money. Our wallets will not prevent the massacre. Also it’s not an either or, we should hasten to work for a systemic solution with one hand, and give in aid to those who we can help with the other.
5. Individuals fighting
The thinking here goes that we must take this conflict into our own hands and go to fight: That no one is doing anything, so let’s do it ourselves. This is the default option of those who feel deeply frustrated about events, It also does very little to solve the underlying long term issue, which is to implement Islam as political entity that will remove any injustice and bring peace to the land. Going rogue will do little to remove the tyrant Bashar but even if it did, it would not prevent him from being replaced by another, nor will it dismantle the corrupt regime, backed for decades by external powers, that he has maintained over the people like his father before him.
6. Bashar is the lesser of two evils
The theory goes that Bashar al-Assad is better for Syria as under his rule there was relative peace, whereas the revolution has created anarchy and should not be encouraged. However there was no stability in the real sense as Assad’s system was rooted in terror and oppression. Let us not forget the tyranny of Assad; the man who has brutally tortured and killed everyone who dared to stand against him. Resistance is never a peaceful process and those who raise their opposition are doing a great justice to the Syrian people by standing up to one of the world’s worst dictators. Whilst the resistance may have not toppled Assad, it’s certainly not been in vain; and though Assad may consider himself a winner, what kind of victory is it when you have to use chemical weapons, obliterate towns and slaughter hundreds of thousands of your own citizens all with the help of paid mercenaries and foreign backers.
7. Seeking help from the major powers
The default option for those who still naively think governments or the UN will help those in Syria, that their assistance would put an end to the crisis. Seeking the countenance of western governments, the Russians or other global institutions is akin to seeking help from arsonists who started the fire in the first place. Let’s not forget the west’s history of support for dictators in the region but also their current intimate relations. Let’s also not forget the brutality that the West spread in Iraq and Afghanistan and Russia’s involvement in Chechnya along with their many plots and plans to divide the region. We must take our political destiny into our own hands and out of the western elites who are plotting a different shade of the very same system that people have sacrificed so much blood to remove.
8. Muslims are powerless and are unable to act
The default option of those who are innately pessimistic and who follow the fatalistic path. Allah (swt) explicitly says that we are “the best nation produced (as an example) for mankind” (3:110). The Ummah of Muhammad (saw) possesses precious resources, powerful armies, great minds, but we are held back by corrupt regimes and puppet rulers. We are only powerless, if we choose to believe that. If those in Syria can stand up to a brutal dictator day after day, week after week, year after year, then surely we must have it in our capacity to stand up and account those in power.
9. Turkey should not get involved
The default option for those who want to apologise for the inaction of the current Turkish leadership. The theory goes that Erdogan is already doing the best it can, that helping the people of Syria is an external issue and any intervention would place them at great risk. However, contrary to popular belief, Turkey is already involved in this conflict, yet it now stands aside while the people of Syria literally burn. The Turkish government has no qualms about helping Russia, helping Israel but could not bring itself to deploy its mighty army over its border to defeat the weak Assad regime.
10. The Muslim Ummah must call upon their armies, to liberate Bilad al-Sham and to re-establish the Khilafah upon the Prophetic method
Let us be clear, this response, unlike any of the aforementioned ones is the most rooted in our divine texts, the only rational reaction to the ongoing Syrian crisis and the one we must spread widely. It is unequivocal that the people of al-Sham require a military incursion, organised and carried out not by our enemies but by our own Muslim armies – currently shackled by treacherous governments who have clearly abandoned the Syrian people. It must therefore be our duty to call upon those capable armies, the descendants of Khalid bin Al Waleed, Salahadeen and Muhammad Al Fatih to liberate the Muslims from their oppression by establishing a new political leadership under the shade of Islam.