I’m not on social media, but I do have LinkedIn. These past few days, when I log on and scroll through my feed I find one-sided narratives of the current events in Palestine, executive leadership standing in support of Israel, posts calling upon employers to fire individuals who have criticized the media headlines, and so much more.
Truthfully, it’s exhausting. It’s disheartening, angering, annoying, blood boiling – call it whatever you want. And amongst it all, a slight feeling of helplessness. How do you cope with the constant tragedy engulfing our holy land, the imagery of innocent children dying, and news of increasing death count? How do you not shut down completely?
I spoke to Malak Berro, a licensed clinical therapist, to understand how to not let fear, sadness, or any emotion slow you down to a point of inaction. Palestine needs us more than ever right now as false propaganda spreads. We must continue to use our voices for the sake of Allah (swt).
How can Muslims effectively overcome the sensation of being trapped? What are proven coping strategies for navigating such feelings of stagnation and frustration?
First thing I would like to mention, which is important in any crisis situation, is for us to stop and validate our feelings. I say us, because I am working on processing my own emotions as well during this horrific time. Our emotions are real and rational. We feel powerless, angry, hurt, sad, and frustrated. It is our right to feel this way not just because we are witnessing LIVE mass genocide, but because no one can dictate what we can or cannot feel. We should never have to justify our feelings to anyone.
Second, feeling stuck is a difficult emotional response. As humans we don't like to feel out of control. It is our natural instinct to want to control our surroundings because it prevents chaos and "bad things from happening". What's happening in Palestine is our worst case scenario coming to life. It's the bear in the forest, it's the house on fire. Our body's response to crises is the same. It can trigger fight or flight, which causes our nervous system to be anxious and hyper vigilant. What should we do about it? Stop and name what you're feeling. Say it to yourself. Tell your mind that it's okay to feel this way. Give yourself permission. If you feel like your feelings are overwhelming you and causing you distress, then remove yourself from the situation. If you are on social media, get off the app. It's okay, it doesn't mean you are careless or non-empathetic. It means you are aware of your threshold and should not try to push those limits. Talk about your frustration with friends and family. We all want to be seen and heard, so find a safe place to do that. Tap into your coping mechanisms. They are there, we just need to pull those tools out of the tool box. Go for a walk, listen to some Quran, recite a quick prayer for those who are hurting. Write in a journal. Release your sorrows out on paper. Exercising or stretching while implementing deep breathing is a great coping mechanism. Remind yourself that you are safe and in control. Make a mental list of the things that are in your control, and focus on those. Focusing on the things we cannot control will only make you feel more anxious. Mindful meditation can help distract some intrusive thoughts.
In times of feeling stuck or overwhelmed, what reliable and accessible resources are available for individuals to seek assistance or support from? Who can they reach out to in order to overcome their current challenges?
If you have a therapist, reach out to him/her. Even if they are not Muslim, you can still share your emotions and they can help guide you and remind you of effective coping mechanisms. If you feel like your emotions are affecting your day to day activities then find a therapist that is a good fit for you. If you are part of a group at school or at the mosque, reach out to them and ask for support. Create a support group, or programs where people can share their distress. Don't underestimate the power of being heard and understood.
In the context of Islam, what are the ways in which the Muslim community can unite to find solace and strength? What guidance does Islam provide for moving forward in the face of adversity within the Ummah?
I feel like your local sheikh or imam would be a better person to answer this question, but I would like to say that we Muslims are blessed to have tawakkul. At the end of the day we confidently know that Allah is the Best of Planners, and that only He can change what happens next. This thought should give us peace and comfort. This thought should remind us that as much as we care or worry about the Palestinian people, Allah cares more. Like us, they are His creations, and like He tells us in the Quran, He is closer to us than our jugular vein. This puts my heart at ease, and reminds me that He hears their cries, and hears our prayers.
What are some valuable recommendations for parents seeking to connect with their children and address their heightened emotional states? How can parents effectively check in with their children during times of distress or turmoil?
Talk to your children about what is happening, don't shield them. This is a historical moment and they are part of it. Model empathy in front of your child, even if you have to shed some tears. Let them know that emotions are okay, as long as you express them in a healthy manner. Validate their feelings, don't let them feel alone in their thoughts and don't dismiss what they're saying with solutions. Create a safe space for them and for yourself. Sometimes when such catastrophic things happen, we question our fate in this world, and ask ourselves "why them and not us". This can seem like survivor's guilt. Guilt for having your children safe under your roof, and guilt for not having to face Israeli oppressors. Your children might be feeling the same way. Talk about what you're thankful for in your life, and how you can give back. Practice being thankful and grateful without guilt. This is a blessing from Allah that we shouldn't deny.
Pray for the Palestinian people, pray for their souls, pray for their future, and pray for yourself.
So I ask myself the following question: How can we proactively engage and take action with the prevailing circumstances? What concrete and practical steps can we take to effectively navigate the complex challenges of the present moment? I sincerely ask our strong community of VELA girlies to engage in the following collective actions:
Du’a and Dhikr:Don’t underestimate the power of supplication and remembrance of Allah (swt). Call upon Him (swt) sincerely to liberate Palestine. Incorporate Palestine and its people into your prayers. This profound act serves as a potent means of beseeching divine intervention and support for those enduring profound hardships. Please listen here for Shaykh Omar Sulaiman’s reflection and dua for Palestine.
Local Initiatives:Taking direct and impactful action by participating in events, protests, demonstrations, and campaigns dedicated to advocating for justice in Palestine. This proactive involvement is a powerful means of demonstrating solidarity and increasing awareness of the Palestinian cause in your immediate community. By uniting as one Ummah, our collective voices become a formidable force.
Awareness and Education:Our religious obligation to champion justice and support the oppressed is achieved through educating both ourselves and those around us. The illegitimate occupation of Palestine stems from decades-long conflict and war. We urge all VELA girlies to learn about the realities of Palestinians through American Muslims for Palestine and Decolonize Palestine, and reach out to CAIR or Palestine Legal for legal assistance.
Sadaqah and Support:Donating charity to humanitarian organizations helping to provide relief and aid to Palestinians. Please continue contributing to reputable charities and efforts focused on the Palestinian cause, including the following: Islamic Relief, Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, MATW Project, and Healing our Homeland.
VELA affirms our unequivocal support for Palestine, for the Palestine people, and their right to a free, unoccupied home. We express our deepest solidarity and condolences to the Palestinians in Gaza and additional occupied territories. We urge you to keep donating and using your voices for the cause. At VELA, we commit to doing the same always and forever.
100% of profits from the Kuffiyeh Prints will go towards Islamic Relief’s program to provide Palestinians with immediate emergency relief. Prints restock Oct. 17th.
The Kuffiyeh is a symbol of resistance and solidarity, while also representing culture and heritage for the Palestinian people. Wear it to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people and to raise awareness of their struggle.
Free Palestine Hoodies
Free Palestine until Palestine is free. This oversized hoodie has Free Palestine emblazoned in statement-making rhinestones.
“If Allah (swt) is with you, who cares who’s against you.” Through this powerful statement, I wholeheartedly know that Allah (swt) will take care of the affairs of Palestinians. His Promise is always true and He stands with them through recent and historical turbulent events.
Allah (swt) promises victory for those with tawakkul. So, use everything that is at your disposal to take a stand no matter the consequence.
Aisha Patel is a YouTuber and marketing professional passionate about storytelling. She is also a Digital Content Specialist at VELA.