WHILE we are breaking fast at the plentiful tables of Ramadan, which inspires tranquillity in our hearts with its profound spirituality particular to it and is enjoyed by about 1.5 billion Muslims, we must not fail to recall our brothers of faith who are being oppressed in every corner of the world.
Without a doubt, the Rohingya Muslims are among our brothers we call to mind in every bite.
The world has come to such a state that innocent people are amassed in boats and left to die on the high seas on one hand, while millions of people are attending meetings in their offices during the day, messaging each other via social media, watching television, eating with friends at a restaurant or sipping their coffee.
These people, who are struggling to stay alive for years and have been on the international agenda time and again, are the Rohingyas, one of the most persecuted communities in the world.
The Rohingyas have been denied citizenship since 1982 in their own countries and were given refugee status on that account. They have been living as stateless persons ever since and taking shelter in camps where eight to 10 families are forced to reside one within the other.
Recently, the Rohingya people were impelled to set out on a dreadful journey to save their lives due to the overwhelming oppression by the Buddhist Myanmar administration; hundreds of them have been set on fire alive, beaten by the dozens, their wives and daughters raped and their property seized.
As a consequence, scores of Rohingyas crammed onto rickety boats were towed out to sea to an unknown destination with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
The entire world bore witness to the humanitarian plight of these unguarded human beings in the 21st century in a way beyond words while they remained stranded at sea for two months on the brink of hunger and starvation.
What is more, the number of Rohingyas that were tortured by the human traffickers and lost their lives on these boats is estimated to reach over one thousand. Reactions from the international arena grew and Malaysia and Indonesia agreed to take in the Rohingyas adrift and offer shelter to them.
The Rohingyas, who were given temporary shelter and provided with clothing and food aid, have expressed their gratitude to the Indonesians and Malaysians for their support and how delighted they were to be able to worship freely and fast during Ramadan. Nevertheless, their concern and their longing for their families they left behind are read in their faces.
One of the rescued Rohingya migrants stated that they were taken out of Myanmar by force in a group of 450 people, not given food most of the time and stayed alive on only 10kg of rice.
Another one, a 35-year-old teacher, explained they were rescued off the coast with around 580 other migrants, and were thankful to God because a Muslim country accepted them.
Others, such as 16-year-old Muhammad Shorif, said he missed his mother’s cooking while he was in the refugee camp but added that he was very happy to be in Aceh.
The 13-year-old Muhammad Abdul, who came ashore by jumping from a boat, described the horror he encountered with the following words: “They kept us under the deck in the boat. We asked for water, but they did not fetch it.
“We were beaten by the guards. Some were even beaten to death. I saw that the dead bodies of children and adults were thrown into the sea.”
One of the most intense concerns of all the Rohingya rescued off the boats is being sent back to Myanmar again.
Abdul Razik recounts why he does not want to go back to his homeland: “I never want to go back to my country again. My home was set afire. The houses of all my friends here were set on fire. My mother was burnt alive. We want to stay here.”
On this basis, we have to be mindful of the fact that Islam is a religion commanding all Muslims who have faith in God, a love of God and who act in the way of God to come together in unity like “a well-built wall” and be guardians of one another.
Therefore, it is the responsibility of all Muslims in the world to protect and take care of the Rohingyas who are so ruthlessly persecuted in their own land, whose villages and homes are set on fire, and mothers, fathers and children are tortured, whose men are slain in cold blood, and who are forced to take shelter in other countries in difficult conditions.
The Rohingyas held high-ranking offices as grand viziers, scribes, governors, generals and ministers and contributed significantly to the political history of their country for more than 350 years.
However, their Muslim identities were denied following the 1962 coup, and they were declared to be “foreigners” by means of various propaganda methods, expelled from their offices and all their rights and freedoms were restricted. Turning a blind eye to the plight of our Rohingya brothers, whose very right to exist has been denied to them, would mean assenting to the oppression of ruthless rulers.
For that reason, the responsibility falling upon all believers with good conscience in every part of the world is to defend the rights of our brothers of the Rohingya Muslims just like all the other innocents who suffer at the hands of oppression and tyranny and we must make the utmost effort in order to put a halt to their maltreatment and improve their living conditions.
It is obvious that taking a step to that end in order to establish public opinion so that they may win their rights and carry out the most influential efforts in that regard is an obligation for all Muslims.
We are gratified with joy as our love and devotion to God, our Lord, is strengthened by means of this holy month of Ramadan, and we pray and ask from God for the salvation of all persecuted Muslims and our Rohingya brothers during our fast.
Thus, we must never fail to remember that we need to make utmost effort to hasten the Islamic Union, which is the essential principle for the serenity and security of the Islamic world. This is how our prayers must be so that we can put behind us the separation and resentment between Muslims and establish unity as soon as possible.
Adnan Oktar's piece on New Straits Times: