With the issue of Palestine as its main concern, what role has International Quds Day – the last Friday of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan declared by the late founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini – played in the Muslim world over the past four decades?
Has the day been merely symbolic or it has resulted in movements in Muslim countries in response to developments in Palestine and the Muslim world? Has the day played a role in the emergence of Palestinian uprising as the main pivot of Islamic resistance in Palestine and other achievements of the Islamic resistance? And finally what tangible and practical messages and outcomes are carried in mass demonstrations held by Muslims across the globe on this day?
To answer these questions, we need to flash back to around 34 years ago. In August 1979, in a historic announcement, the late founder of the Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini, declared the last Friday of Ramadan as International Quds Day, urging a united international front in support of the legitimate rights of Palestinian Muslims.
He also referred to the event as the day of the oppressed against oppressors, the day differentiating the hypocrites from the faithful, the day when oppressed nations rise up against oppressors, the day when nations rise up against roots of corruption, the day of revival of Islam and implementation of Islamic laws in Muslim countries, the day of Islamic government, the day Muslims move out of isolation, the day of rising up against foreigners with utmost might, the day of separation between the right and the wrong.
These terms used by Imam Khomeini show that although the late founder of the Islamic Republic declared the day for international unity among Muslims to back the legitimate rights of Palestinian Muslims, International Quds Day is indeed a prelude to a worldwide movement and international resistance against governments, policies, positions, and attitudes that are based on the suppression of the weak.
The approach disguised in modern literature as ‘realism in international relations’ considers the stronger rightful and does not consider a natural essence for the right.
Imam Khomeini established worldwide resistance and uprising against this attitude by declaring International Quds Day, and the key to the survival of Quds Day over the past 34 years lies in its quest for right.
As a matter of fact, what has formed the Islamic resistance in the Middle East and the Muslim world over the past four decades is the outcome of such an ideology. Here, we take a glance at some of the outcomes of the emergence of Islamic resistance discourse owing to International Quds Day.
1-The victory of Lebanese Hezbollah in liberating southern Lebanon after 20 years of Israeli occupation in 2000
2-Hezbollah’s victory in a 33-day war against Israel in 2006
3-Israel’s defeat in a 22-day war on Islamic resistance forces in the Gaza Strip in 2008
4-Israel’s failed military operation against Gaza in an 8-day war in 2012
5-The victory of Hamas in 2006 general election in Palestine
6- Emergence of Islamic movements against cruel puppet tyrants in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain and Libya over the past few years, leading to a wave of Islamic Awakening (Arab Spring)
7- Emergence of Palestinian uprising in 1987 after the killing of some Palestinians and then Israeli Prime Minister Areal Sharon’s visit to al-Aqsa Mosque in 2000
8- The breakdown of the 1991 talks in Madrid as well as the failure of Oslo Accord in 1993, Camp David Accords in 2000, the Roadmap for Peace in 2002, and Annapolis summit in 2007 due to disregard of the inalienable rights of Palestinians and the subsequent public awareness
So the impact of International Quds Day on the regional and international developments can be studied at two levels:
1. Palestine impact
The story of Palestine since 1917 – the year the Balfour Declaration was issued and Britain formally threw its weight behind the formation of a homeland for Jews – has been a heinous and cruel plot, which is stripping the Palestinians of their legitimate homeland to settle a race scattered across the world.
Over the past century, some Jews have been making attempts under a British scheme and then an American one to exhaust all possible means, ranging from international agreements or war, to make room for their settlement in the homeland of Palestinians.
The course of developments in Palestine after 1948 indicates that the share of land given to the occupiers has been rising, while the real owners of the land (Palestinians) have been left with a shrunken share of less than 15 percent.
Do the figures not clearly indicate abysmal oppression against an oppressed nation? Would it not set a wrong precedence if silence continues on the flagrant violations of human rights in Palestine? This violation of the Palestinian rights is so blatant and cruel that even a number of Jewish movements have taken shape against the greedy Zionists and are demanding the public to distinguish Zionist leaders from Jews.
Having realized this reality, Imam Khomeini declared International Qud Day, which indeed made the greatest contribution to freedom and human rights. This righteous and just stance, which undid all secret schemes plotted by politicians affiliated with Israeli lobbies, has encouraged many independent intellectuals, authors, artists and dent politicians to proudly voice support for the Palestinians and call for the return of millions of Palestinian refugees to their homeland to hold a referendum so that a democratic government based on popular vote could be established in the country.
2. Impact on Muslim world and Middle East
Imam Khomeini view of al-Quds and Palestine reveals a massive global current which tries to protect its interests through coercion and intimidation in a bid to win legitimacy for its acts of aggression.
The expansionist policies of German Nazis in WWII, which took the lives of over 50 million people, serves as a clear example of such unwise policies in the early 20th century, while in the late 20th century, the most outstanding such instance is the plight of Palestinians.
Preventing the formation of a democratic government in the Middle East over the past decade, support for military coups, the latest of which is marked in Egypt, support for radical rulers and ruling families, opposing freedom movements, denying support for independent and committed writers and intellectuals and imposing cruel food and medical sanctions against developing independent nations are the most significant policies adopted by the West over the past decades.
International Quds Day is an opportunity to protest against these policies and establish rather fair, free and progressive relations based on the interest and demands of people in the Middle East and the Muslim world, not those of foreign states.
The annual event prevents these human, Islamic and ethical causes from falling into oblivion throughout the passage of time. Thirty-five years into its declaration, International Quds Day has turned into a global event and serves as a global opportunity to cry out against oppression, aggression and violation and voice support for the downtrodden.