Justice for Children
Blog Post 44
October 20, 2021
"WHY CAN'T YOU ALWAYS REMEMBER THIS?!"
(The following speech was given by Sister Laila Hasib at the Arbaeen Imam Hussain (a.s.) Conference: Justice for Hosseini Children that was held on-line on October 2-3, 2021, hosted by the Hosseini Movement in Toronto.)
Arbaeen Hosseini (a.s.) Conference
Justice for Children
In the Name of Allah, The Compassionate, The Merciful
As-Salaamu Alaikum Dear Sisters and Brothers.
“Why can’t you always remember this?”
When asked why Native people in Canada can’t just get over what happened to them, this is the answer Indigenous Justice Murray Sinclair, the chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee (TRC), said on March 29, 2017. (Historica Canada, 2020) It is always the right answer.
Imam Khomeini, may Allah be pleased with him, outlines simple enough for a small child to understand the distinction between justice and injustice. There are the mustakbereen, the oppressors and arrogant powers, also called the taghut, and the mustazafeen, the oppressed and downtrodden. The oppressors always commit injustices against the mustazafeen. They are incapable of being just. They are incapable of putting things in the right places, where they belong, because they want all the things and they want the mustazafeen to make all the things so they can take them. They want all the things the mustazafeen have, including their land, their resources, their power, their bodies, their lives.
“Why can’t you always remember this?”
Justice on Earth will only be achieved through Islamic governance by the guardianship of an Islamic jurist who is committed on the line of the Prophets (a.s.) and Imam Husayn’s (a.s.) example of resistance against the oppressors. Ordinary people can, of course, try to be just towards themselves and their family, friends, neighbours and people throughout the world. We can also try to stand up for justice and the rights of the oppressed everywhere, inshallah.
Imam Khamenei (1995), may Allah protect him, explicitly tells us, “The ugliest face throughout human history reveals a life without justice for humankind…All the misfortunes you see, in various societies, are due to oppression and injustice.” He explains that the oppressors rearrange it so people think the misfortunes are caused by some other reason, such as children dying from hunger because of the lack of rainfall that caused drought. Imam Khamenei says that if there was justice, if people were just towards each other, we could create an environment in which we could live with less difficulties and hardships. Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala sent Prophets to us with two goals: remembrance of Allah and establishment of justice.
The forgetting of Allah, The Most High, is the root of injustice.
And that injustice is the lies they tell, the lip-service they boast of, the miseries they inflict on the world. Those who forget Allah cannot and will never provide justice, social justice, fairness, equity to others, rather as Imam Khamenei (1995) points out, they provide such things as “human space flights” and “intercontinental ballistic missiles.” And as it says in “Inner City Blues,” also known as “Make Me Wanna Holler,” “rockets, moon shots, spend it on the have-nots…the way they do my life…this ain’t livin’…send that boy off to die…trigger happy policing.” (Lyrics.com)
Through the remembrance of Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala, awareness is heightened and justice can prevail, even if only in a limited circle. That circle, that country, that world is where no one is oppressed nor taken advantage of by the powerful, no one is failed to be taken care of and there is no war, Imam Khamenei (1995) explains. He further tells us that
the fact that people “fight for justice” means that
justice is “more valuable and more important than peace.”
Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala tells us clearly in the Holy Qur’an: “Say: I advise you of only one thing: that you stand up for Allah’s sake in pairs and singly. Then reflect. There is no madness in your companion. He is only a warner to you before a severe chastisement.” (Holy Qur’an, 34:46)
In our commemorations of Ashura and Arbaeen, the 40th day after the massacre of Imam Husayn (a.s.), his family and companions on the plains of Karbala, we are expected to have learned the lessons they wrote on the sand with their precious blood - lessons of faith, love, justice and resistance. Those lessons must be learned for we are called upon today to implement them, each and every day, inshallah. Without having learned those lessons, we would not be able to talk about and resist against injustices now. Without having learned those lessons, the lessons of the children, and their mothers, upon the plains of Karbala, on the day of Ashura, the lessons of Sakinah and Ali Akbar, of Ali Asghar, of Aun and Muhammad, of Qasim, we would not be able to confront the enemies of humankind, the enemies of Allah Subhanaha wa ta’ala. We wouldn’t have the courage or the inclination to do so.
The oppression and injustice towards children all over the world is particularly difficult to talk about. It is difficult to hear. It is difficult to watch. The trauma that is inflicted upon children is horrific. It is arguably the most horrific to even think about. The oppressors hope that we won’t - that we’ll not go there.
I remember telling my mother so many years ago that even if all the American government had done was to exterminate the Native people and enslave the Black people, I would still hate them. But of course, that is not all the American government has done in America. That is not all the American government has done in the world. And it is not just the government that did and does all these injustices, all these oppressions. And it is not just the Americans.
We are responsible for our children. They have been entrusted to us. We must guide them towards Allah Subhanhua wa’tala and help them obey Him. We must inculcate good conduct in children. Our children must know that they are from us and that their good and bad actions will not only be ascribed to them but also to us. These are the rights of the child as expounded by Imam Zain al-Abideen (a.s.) in his Treatise on Rights.
It seems unnecessary to lay out the rights of the child since the love of children is a natural and Allah-Given characteristic of human beings and, in fact, many animals. And yet, we find that it is very necessary because there is evil in the world and
those who forget Allah, The Most High, prey upon the innocent,
the most weak, the most vulnerable, the children, and their mothers.
The United Nations wrote the “Convention on the Rights of the Child” in late 1989. Almost twenty centuries after Prophet Isa (a.s.)! The “Convention” mentions numerous UN declarations on human rights and the rights of the child and women and juveniles that have been declared by them since 1924. (OHCHR, 1990) All of these declarations, covenants, rules and statues! And children continue to suffer and die at the hands of the oppressors. And, of course, the United States is the only country in the world that has not ratified the “Convention”! (Mehta, 2015) They claim it would limit US sovereignty and/or “cause unlimited interference in family life.” (Minasyan, 2018) The US presidents from Clinton to Biden never submitted the “Convention” for ratification. The reason is because the US treats children inhumanely and does not protect them, whether through police brutality, especially of Black children, Native children and children of colour, the juvenile justice system, trafficking for sex, poverty, homelessness, lack of medical care, inferior education, lack of mental health support, etc.
Don’t think Canada is any better. While their 1982 “Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom” lays out the rights of people, their treatment of children is abysmal, especially of the First Nations, the Inuit and the Metis peoples. Unless you live under a rock,
you must have heard of the recent uncovering of mass unmarked graves
of Native children in British Columbia (B.C.) and Saskatchewan.
This uncovering was exposed six years after the 2015 recommendations of the TRC. Why it took so long for the uncoverings to occur is a testament to how the Canadian government doesn’t care since they did not provide the funds to do the job. (Dangerfield, June 1, 2021) Native people have known all along that the Canadian government and the Catholic, Anglican, United and Presbyterian churches perpetuated genocide on them and the survivors’ stories tell of the horrors of neglect and abuse, the sicknesses and the murders in the residential schools. It is what “indigenous elders in the Canadian province of British Columbia call the ‘Knowing.’” (Newton, July 16, 2021)
Chief Bobby Cameron of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous First Nations said,
“The world is watching Canada as we unearth the findings of genocide.
We had concentration camps here, we had them here in Canada, in Saskatchewan.
They were called Indian residential schools. Canada will be known as a nation
who tried to exterminate the First Nations, now we have evidence.”
(Newton and Chavez, 2021)
The search of less than two acres of the 160 acres of the Kamloops Indian Residential School in B.C. uncovered 215 Native children’s bodies. Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation Chief Rosanne Casimir said, “We are loath to put the responsibility of identifying those lost on the survivors of Kamloops Indian Residential School, who have been traumatized and re-traumatized already.” She called on prime minister Justin Trudeau, the Canadian government and the Roman Catholic Church to disclose and share the attendance records of the schools. (Newton, July 16, 2021) “Evelyn Camille, a survivor of Kamloops, spoke about the abuse and neglect, about how many died trying to run away from the school, either drowning in a nearby river or freezing to death after they tried to escape in winter.” (Newton, July 16, 2021)
The Penelakut tribe in B.C. “found more than 160 ‘undocumented and unmarked’ graves” at the Kuper Island Residential School on the Southern Gulf Islands. “Survivors…describe it as ‘Canada’s Alcatraz.’” (Newton, July 13, 2021) At the Kootenay Indian Residential School (renamed as St. Eugene’s Mission School) in Cranbrook, B.C., “182 unmarked graves” were found when people of the “Aqam…[of] the Ktunaxa nation went looking for unmarked graves in the cemetery...” (The Globe and Mail)
Near Broadview, Saskatchewan, the Cowessess First Nation reported that at least 750 unmarked graves were found at the Marieval Indian Residential School. Florence Sparvier, a Cowessess First Nation Elder and Knowledge Keeper, “said her parents were threatened with jail time if they did not send their children to the Marieval School. She said that children were expected to learn how to assimilate and become Roman Catholics…while rejecting their own spirituality and culture.” “We learned, and they pounded it into us, and really they were very mean, when I say pounding, I mean pounding,” she said. (Newton and Chavez) Cowessess First Nation Chief Cadmus Delorme said, “The truth is there. Everybody has to reset ... the ignorance or the accidental racism that the [Canadian] education system has told before.” (Porterfield, 2021)
The brutality in the mostly Catholic-run, and especially by the Roman Catholic Oblates of Mary Immaculate, residential schools is described as overwhelming “haunting loneliness” and “perpetual hunger.” The threat of and frequent use of force, including physical, emotional and sexual abuse, resulting in injury and death was the environment of the schools. (Paperny, 2021; Newton, July 16, 2021)
The TRC’s “Missing Children Project has so far
documented more than 4,100 deaths in the schools,
but the full tally could be as high as 6,000.”
(The Globe and Mail, 2021)
There are “huge gaps in the available records of deceased students’ names, genders or even causes of death.” Six TRC calls to action are about “missing children and burials, and demand a clear plan to tell families where their lost loved ones are buried and make sure cemeteries are well maintained.” (The Globe and Mail)
While the Anglican, Presbyterian and United churches and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) have apologized for their role in the residential schools, and even former prime minister Stephen Harper said “sorry” in 2008, it does not erase the fact that systemic racism, settler colonial mentality, white supremacy, hatred and evilness for anyone other than them, even if they call themselves Christians, are the branches of their injustice and oppression, the root of which is forgetting Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala. Separating and isolating Native children from their parents and families, effectively cutting off all ties to their cultures, and tormenting and traumatizing to assimilate them into western European culture is evil incarnate. But to murder the children and bury them in unmarked graves is a crime that they should rot in hell for, especially since those responsible pretended they were Christians, knowing full well that Prophet Isa (a.s.) would never do that.
So “Why can’t you always remember this?”
Because if you remember, then you’ll know. And you’ll know always. And you’ll have to take a stand. And you’ll have to do something about your knowing, your remembering.
And don’t think that it’s not still going on. It is. The mustakbareen will always be oppressive and unjust to the mustazafeen. Make sure you’re on the right side. As Kanahus Manuel, an Indigenous activist from Kamloops, B.C., said, “Stop crying on the shoulder of the man who stole your land.” (ATPN News, 2017)
Just crying for Imam Husayn (a.s.) and beating your chest is not enough. We are representatives of Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala on Earth. You should know what to do. Imam Husayn (a.s.) didn’t ask “Is there anyone to help me?” because he needed help. He repeatedly asked that to make sure you have the opportunity to get on the right side and do something pleasing to Allah and helpful to the mustazafeen. There are plenty of opportunities to help out, to work on justice, to lend a hand and a heart to children and their families – Native lives, Black lives, Palestinian lives, Yemeni lives, Muslim lives... Just as the past 150+ years have been filled with oppression against Native people in the Americas, Imam Khamenei in his 2021 Hajj message states:
“Over the last 150 years, Muslim nations have not had any role in deciding the fate of their countries and their governments. Apart from a few exceptions, they have all been led and governed by transgressing western governments while being subject to their greed, interference and malevolence. Scientific backwardness and political dependence in many countries is the product of that passivity and incompetence. Today, our nations, our youth, our scientists, our religious scholars, our civic intellectuals, our politicians, our political parties and our people must make up for that dishonorable, embarrassing past. They must stand firm and ‘resist’ the aggression, interference and wickedness of western powers. All that the Islamic Republic of Iran is saying that has caused the global arrogance to become despondent and infuriated is actually an invitation to this kind of resistance. This is a resistance in the face of the interference and evil of America and other transgressing countries so as to take the fate of the world of Islam in one’s own hands by relying on Islamic teachings. Naturally, America and its cohorts are sensitive about the word ‘resistance’ and have decided to show all kinds of hostility to the ‘Islamic Resistance Front.’ Some regional governments’ cooperation with them is a bitter reality that strengthens those malicious acts as well.”
We must nurture selflessness, love, affection and unity in environments of justice and equity, starting in our homes. It is our responsibility to instill in our children the traits of being friendly, kind and generous to others. We can talk of the plight of the needy, the poor, the orphans, the disabled and the elderly with our children. We can visit these people and invite them to our homes and support and help them. We can talk about the tyranny people experience and how and why they are oppressed and suffering. Setting a good example by caring for others will help our children to do likewise, inshallah. (Ayatullah Amini, 1980) We must engage our children with other Muslims at the masjid, madrassah, conferences, sports, etc., and provide wholesome and enlightening reading materials, for example what our company, Inked Resistance Islamic Publishing is offering, inshallah. We must encourage our children to be activists, writers, journalists, teachers, scientists, and all the helping occupations, inshallah. We must also support our children in their professions as publishers, movie producers, writers, artists, photographers, broadcasting, etc. We must help our children to understand the plight of the mustazafeen all over the world and to care about all of them. Otherwise, what’s the point of living?
Kanahus Manuel said, “Our children are our sovereignty. They inherit that sovereignty from the beginning and we pass that on to them.” (ATPN News)
Make sure your children know whose side you’re on
so they’ll be on the right side too, inshallah.
Remember, “Verily Allah orders the doing of justice and the doing of good and the giving to relatives, and He forbids indecency and evil and rebellion. He admonishes you that you may be mindful.” (Holy Qur’an, 16:90) So “Why can’t you always remember this?”
It is important to connect the Native Peoples’ resistance with the Palestinian people’s resistance and with the resistance of all of the world’s mustazafeen. It is important to know who the enemy is and how they operate. The connection between the Native People and the Palestinian people has been made, Al-Hamdulillah, and it is clear to understand through these following truths taken from the Palestinian Youth Movement’s link to the Decolonize Palestine website, a must read website for all resisters, inshallah:
One: “A colonial system will never serve justice to the very people it oppresses.”
Two: The oppressed are dehumanized so they can never be seen as victims.
Three: The oppressors try to erase the people’s “actual identity.”
Four: The oppressors “cannot even begin to comprehend the humanity of the colonized.”
Five: “Oppressive systems have always accused the oppressed of exaggerating or lying about their lived experience.”
Moe Alqasem of the Palestinian Youth Movement and head of CUPE 4207 said, on the Canada Palestine Association and the BDS Vancouver - Coast Salish Territories webinar on August 3, 2021, that people, corporations and states are “profiting off the suffering of other people.” He reiterates that the zionist state of Israel is a “carceral state.” It is clear that the Canadian government and churches effectively incarcerated Native children in residential schools and continue to oppress and incarcerate Native Peoples, Black people and people of colour and the military-prison-industrial-complex does the same thing to Native Peoples, Black people and people of colour in the US of A.
The Indian Act, reserve system and residential schools
in Canada and the reservation systems in the US were used
as a model for apartheid in South Africa and zionist apartheid.
(Mohawk Nation News, 2013)
"Apartheid is a system of racial segregation against the natural people of the land.” (Mohawk Nation News)
Hanna Kawas of the Canada Palestine Association reminded us on the webinar, “A concrete step is worth more than 1,000 programs.” and “A revolution needs working hours.” So let’s get busy, inshallah. As Imam Khamenei (2021) explains, “On the one hand, we can learn the lesson of gaining power using resistance and fighting against the transgressing aggressors. On the other hand, we can learn that humiliation results from submitting to them and showing weakness. The true, divine promise is assistance for the fighters in the way of Allah, ‘If you aid the cause of Allah, He will aid you and plant your feet firmly.’ (Holy Qur’an, 47:7)”
Imam Husayn (a.s.) told us, “Death with dignity is better than life with humiliation.” (Stand With Dignity, 2005)
So remember this always, inshallah.
You can watch the Arbaeen Imam Hussain (a.s.) Conference: Justice for Hosseini Children - Part 1 (Sister Laila Hasib is in Part 1) @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7htpUaBrxg and Part 2 @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMJFgBKbBFU
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