In 1947 an unnamed Muslim woman in Aleppo stood up against oppression, violence and political fury. This was the year that the United Nations voted to create Israel. Anger and outrage erupted amongst Arabs as they watched in disbelief as the global community decided to turn over an entire nation to another people. That anger rippled through homes and villages. In Aleppo, it erupted in a mad gang of men who stormed toward the Jewish area of town.
Muslims, Jews and Christians had lived together in peace and harmony for centuries, but the political games of western powers had begun to divide and create dissension.
The angry men stormed toward the synagogue. They were chanting and promising death to the Jews. They carried torches, knives and other weapons of destruction. Blinded by rage, they blamed the local Jewish community for the pro-Zionist decisions of the United Nations.
They went forth in fury and suddenly a woman was standing in front of them, blocking their way. She was a Muslim woman. The Jews called her ‘the apostate’ because she had converted from Judaism to Islam a few years previously. She stood strong and sure in their path. She placed herself between the men, who she knew were motivated by irrational conclusions and rage, and the Jewish quarter. She stared them down and shouted, “I beseech you! I beseech you!” In an attempt to wake them from their angry stupor, to bring them back to rational thinking and Islamic ethics, she shouted, “In the name of the Prophet! I beseech you!”
She invoked the Prophet, who had married and empowered Safiyya, mother of the believers, who was of the Jewish tribe of Banī al-Naḍīr, that the crowd might remember their heritage and be tamed.
She stood alone against hundreds of enraged Muslim men.
They pushed past her and burned the synagogue and a few homes and shops. But their destruction, though terrible, stopped there. No one was killed, and it was not the complete decimation they had set out to fulfill.
The unnamed Muslim woman of Aleppo had stood up against rage and irrational behavior and made a difference.
May we all learn from her and have the courage and bravery we need to stand strong in the face of irrational violence, unfounded anger, and prejudiced people.
Happy Women’s History month.