Dr. Mohammad Najeeb Qasmi
The war in Syria started in 2011 and so far, has claimed more than five hundred thousand lives, whereas more than ten hundred thousand have sustained injuries or are missing. In this country that is populated by merely twenty million people, seven million have become homeless. This means that 35 percent of the country’s overall population is wandering from one place to another. Along with the massive destruction borne by the country, the country is facing numerous economic, educational and social problems. These problems are of such magnitude that once the war is over, solving these problems will take more than fifty years. In the refugee camps, countless people belonging to the middle class can be seen queuing for bread. Those who provided for other’s children earlier are now begging so as to provide for their own children. People, who were landlords at a time in the past, cannot even get an extremely small piece of land today (even a piece of land measuring the size of a cot). Farmers who used to cultivate thousands of tonnes of olive are now dependent on others for consumption of olives. Those who cultivated something as nutritious pistachios are these days complaining of physical weakness because they have not been able to feed themselves properly. Regions that produced individuals who aided in the spread of Islam, inhabitants of those very regions are these days spending precious time of their worldly lives in training centres that belong to others. The results of this recent development are hidden from none and can be comprehended easily. In a country where 80 percent of the population is educated, people have become utterly dependent on the mercy and benevolence of others in relation to providing basic education to their children. Countless women who observe hijab are these days left with no option but to spend nights at places that are not safe for them. What are these if not oppressive acts carried out against ordinary people by the unsuccessful government of Bashar Al-Assad. In the year 2011, there were revolutionary uprisings against governments in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria. The president of Tunisia, Zainul Abidin, saved the country from getting ruined by quitting his 24 year old rule. After the massive protests carried out by the public followed by the intervention of the military, the president of Egypt, Hossani Mubarak, left quitted his 30 year old rule and saved the country from getting further destroyed. In Libya, the massive rebellion against the country’s ruler Muammar Al-Gaddafi ended his 42 year old rule but the country was saved from further damage and destruction. Bashar Al-Assad could have very well presented a case similar to Tunisia and Egypt by abandoning the authority and power he had. By doing so he could have very well saved the country from getting ruined. However, Bashar al-Assad joined hands with his supporters and bombed the people, fired bullets, got innocent people murdered, compelled many to bid farewell to their country and so on. The consequence of all this is in front of our eyes; the present government of Bashar Al-Assad, supported by Russia, does not rule over people but on dilapidated buildings and ruins.
While on the one hand people who are genuinely concerned about global peace and security are quite worried about the way ordinary people are massively killed in Syria and the national life has increasingly got paralysed, on the other hand, in the light of the teachings of the Holy Quran and Hadith, Muslims of the world are like one large fraternity and are akin to parts of a body. It is due to the latter that Muslims from every nook and corner of the world are expressing their sympathy and solidarity with the Muslims of Syria. May Almighty Allah bring peace to this land, guide the oppressors onto the path of righteousness and in case it is not in their fate to be guided onto the righteous path, then they should be rooted out so that common people could live peacefully and freely; a fundamental right of every individual.
The special virtue of this land is mentioned in the Holy Quran. This is the holy land to which Imam Mahdi will migrate from Hejaz. He will stay there and lead the Muslim community. Eesaa (AS) too will appear in this area i.e. on a white minaret in the Eastern side of Damascus. Suffice it to say that before the Day of Judgement this region will become a strong citadel and centre of Islam. If there is any other country outside the Arabian Peninsula to which Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has travelled it is Syria. According to Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) saying resurrection will commence from Syria.
In the verses of the Holy Quran and sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), wherever there is any reference to Syria it implies the present region that comprises four countries i.e. Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan. The full name of present-day Syria is the Syrian Arab Republic. To its west is Lebanon, Palestine and Israel are to its South West, Jordan to its South, Iraq to its east and Turkey to its North. The present-day Syria gained independence from France in 1946. The majority of inhabitants are Sunni Arabs. Syrians, Kurds, Turks and Druze are also present in small proportions. The capital city Damascus is the oldest city of this region. Muslims had conquered this region during the rule of Caliph Umar (RZA). Within 26 years of its conquest, Damascus became the capital of the Islamic kingdom. Till the end of the rule of Umayyad dynasty (132 AH), Damascus remained the capital of Islamic kingdom. In the year 132 AH, when the Abbasids took over, Baghdad (Iraq) became the capital of Islamic kingdom. Till the time Islam entered the lands of Syria, for as long as 1500 years people of that region spoke Syrian language. However, with utmost sincerity and love, the inhabitants of Syria welcomed the arrival of the religion of Islam and in an extremely short span of time Arabic became their mother tongue. Iconic and pioneering scholars of Hadith, jurists and learned scholars were born in this land. More than 92 percent of Syrian population is Muslim and Christians, Alvi and Druze are about 8 percent. In terms of language, 85 percent people are Arabs whereas Kurds are 10 percent and others are 5 percent.
Syria remained under the rule of Ottoman Empire till the beginning of the 19th century. However, within a short span of time most of the regions of Syria were conquered by the French. France and Britain had become quite weak after the Second World War. Therefore, given their position in the erstwhile global world, they decided to withdraw their forces from Syria. This is how on April 17, 1946 Syria became independent. From 1946 to 2011 the country passed through numerous ups and downs. In 1948 and 1967, Syria joined hands with other Arab nations and fought against Israel. In 1973, Syria joined hands with Egypt and fought against Israel. On November 13, 1970, the erstwhile Minister of Defence Hafiz al-Assad seized power. As a result of the sudden death of Hafiz al-Assad on June 20, 2000, his thirty year rule came to an end. Following him, his son Bashar Al-Assad took over as the head of the state, though, as per the constitution of the country, he was not eligible to become the president of the country because of being underage. Therefore, an amendment was made in the constitution so as to let the son succeed his father and Bashar Al-Assad’s actual age was documented as minimum age requirement to be the president of the country. As a result, only at the age of 34 he occupied the highest office of the country.
Since the great powers of the world are involved in this war, directly or indirectly, on the face of it the solution to this war is not easy. Six years have passed since this war began. Just the way in the case of Iraq-Iran war, in this war too various countries have spent an enormous amount of money, though, as is always the case, those involved in this war are only to incur losses and nothing else. To an extent, the solution to this war is seen in Bashar Al-Assad quitting as the ruler of the country. Recently, a learned Shia scholar from Iraq, Muqtada Al-Sadr has urged Bashar Al-Assad to quit as the head of the country so that there is some possibility of seeking political solutions to the severe crisis Syria is going through.
It is possible to compensate for the monetary loss but this war, other than completely ruining the country, resulted in thousands of women becoming widows, thousands of children getting orphaned, countless people lost the basic support that they had, millions went homeless, hundreds of educational institutions were shut, thousands of boys and girls could not complete their education, and businesses and employments of thousands of people got over. Countless people have been deprived of the blessed supervision of the learned scholars. Many people cannot even feed themselves with a single meal per day. To compensate for the loss of this great magnitude we may need centuries. Therefore, keeping into consideration what is required from us in the name of humanity and brotherhood, is to provide some help to some widow or orphan of that country, in this period, this would be the best of all the acts of ceaseless charity of this age. Moreover, we firmly believe that it is Almighty Allah who solves all the problems which is why we should pray to Almighty Allah as much as we can for the peace and safety of those living in this country.