Faithful & Fearless: Why Are Palestinians Still Smiling?

7 min readNov 12, 2023

Laughing in an ambulance over a cup of juice while surrounded by death and destruction, rejoicing on the occasion of the death of loved ones: what is the psychology behind Palestinian resilience?

Similar to the aftermath of 9/11, many realise that in a time of the sale of polarising narratives to capitalise on the shock of tragedy, there is a lack of sincerity in representing ‘the other’. As a result, many wake up to their own ignorance about Islam and Muslims and investigate for themselves about the religion surrounded by misinformation. This article in particular is one of the topics I was most eager to write about in this series, and is even more poignant as several famous TikTokers embraced Islam within the last week, and social media is awash with admiration for Islam’s teachings.

Photo of a placard from a protest with text surrounded by Palestinian keffiyeh material reading ‘Our faith is stronger than your bombs. Our prayers are stronger than your army’.
Photo of a placard from a protest with text surrounded by Palestinian keffiyeh material reading ‘Our faith is stronger than your bombs. Our prayers are stronger than your army’.

Since the latest bout of Israeli aggression in October 2023, there has been a noticeable collective awe we have experienced from witnessing the iron-clad faith of the Palestinian people. It takes many of us aback to witness a people who define solidarity, humanity, resilience and trust in God’s mercy and justice in the most unbelievable, hell-like scenarios of living under constant bombing and bombardment.

The people still rescue cats and take care of turtles. They still smile and make jokes with one another. They are thankful when their loved ones pass, relieved of the suffering they survive to endure, while continuing to grieve unspeakably for their loved ones, their land, their freedom and dignity and right to live as Palestinians.

Videos emerge when they send messages to the world, and the Arab Muslim world in particular, reminding us that they are content with the decree of Allah and patient in the face of all that befalls them, while many world powers have turned their backs on their suffering, or indeed, directly aided their oppression.

With the poetic lyricism of their Levant Arabic dialect, they mourn with a deep and almost bewildering contentment, as though you could easily peel back our worldly layer of perception of tragedy to unearth a treasure trove of blessings and wisdom in the Bigger Picture.

There is little more to say to describe this immense bravery, so I encourage you to watch these videos emerging straight from Gaza, particularly from on-the-ground accounts on social media, to see it for yourself.

Once you witness some of the hope amidst the horror, your most natural questions will be ‘why?’ and ‘how?’ This is some of what this article seeks to explore.


Naturally, this superhuman resilience means that people are astounded by how Palestinians can continue to smile and love while the world watches them die. They are amazed by the faith that teaches them to hold on to hope and to have their own backs when no one else does. So now, people are reading the Qur’an, to learn for themselves what God teaches, and un-learn most of what they were taught about Islam and what it means to be Muslim.

In honesty, to quote the verses of the Qur’an that inspire hope, resilience, and belief in Divine Justice would be to paste the majority of the Qur’an into this article that was intended to be brief. To share some of people’s most striking observations, there is a deep appreciation for:

  • female empowerment, the protection of women’s rights, and the measurement of a woman’s worth in relation to God instead of man.
  • social justice, which seeks the elevation and dignity of the most downtrodden groups of society.
  • dignity against oppression, the right to proportionate self-defence and not ‘turning the other cheek’ when being blatantly abused, not in contradiction with extolling the virtues of forgiveness and generosity.
  • the matter-of-fact confidence with which claims are stated about a clear and objective Truth and the reality of this life and the afterlife.
  • the exposition of the human condition, our strengths and weaknesses, and our true potential, as well as respect for critical thinking, curiosity and intelligence.
  • the lyrical beauty of the Qur’an being recited and the magnificence of the Qur’an read as prose.
  • vivid references to nature.
  • the timelessness and wisdom that touches the hearts of readers across the world, who, despite living completely different lives and facing unique circumstances, still resonate with the same messages.
  • the combination and interconnectedness of the ethical and moral, spiritual, social, legal, historical, economic and everything in between.
  • the theological simplicity of belief in the one, true God with no partners or aides, Whom one can have a direct and personal relationship with no intermediaries.

A Stark Comparison

“It’s on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way. So we must dig and delve unceasingly.”

~ Claude Monet

It is one thing to witness Palestinian faith as a phenomenon unique to people who need an emotional and psychological safety blanket to get them through hard times. It is easy to conclude that believing in justice can be a form of convenient transcendence from an existence as bleak as Palestinians’.

However, the essence of wise reflection necessitates the ability to apply and compare what we observe to ourselves and to the world around us.

Look inside:

Many of us are certain of the every man for himself mindset. We must ask ourselves, in that situation, would we be the ones to pull people out of the rubble? To adopt the children left behind? To share what little we have amid tragedy and disaster?

And how alive are our hearts? Are we still controlled by a preoccupation with our image when it comes to standing up for what is right when our opinions are unfashionable? Are our souls governed by selfishness when it comes to parting with our time and money to donate and advocate, or the minor inconvenience of switching coffee shops to aid a boycott?

Look around:

What are the values that guide the people who lead us and control our public lives? What is the general state of the masses? Apathy and indifference? Superiority and self-righteousness?

Look deeper:

How do we judge right and wrong? What makes the actions of the oppressor wrong? Under what metric do we allocate sanctity to human life?

And the most fundamental question of all: how will it end, for them and for us all? If we do not have full conviction in the justice of a court beyond our own realms, there is no answer to the meaning of life other than senseless suffering that strikes some and others based on an arbitrary lottery of birth in time and place.

There is no retribution, repercussions, or moral code that restrains the individuals who inflate themselves with ego and violence and strip away the lives and rights of others.

In this case, what do we live for?

In Conclusion

Go, read the Qur’an for yourself. Understand the hype, and see for yourself why this wave of curiosity has swept the world. Find out what has been taught to divide you into ‘us’ and ‘them’. See for yourself the way of life to which 1.8 billion of the world’s population from Mali to Malaysia clings.
Understand why there is a global brotherhood between people who have never met, and tongues that do not speak the same languages, but hearts that share the same faith and truth across countries and continents. Find out all you have been told about the religion and compare notes. Read with an open mind and open heart, about the way of life that affirms living with compassion, mercy and justice. That teaches us about the simple and pure oneness of the God who sees, hears, protects, guides and provides for all of His creation.

Then, you will start to understand why the Palestinians and Muslims are the way they are. You will begin to understand that the end is when the side of truth prospers. You will begin to understand the comfort of accountability that has evaded so many courts and judges throughout history, only to end up in the court of God, who will judge with a fairness and compassion that we have never witnessed in this small and vulgar world.

‘Do not think ˹O Prophet˺ that Allah is unaware of what the wrongdoers do. He only delays them until a day when their eyes will stare in horror…’ — Qur’an, Chapter 14, verse 42

‘O believers! Stand firm for Allah and bear true testimony. Do not let the hatred of people lead you to injustice. Be just! That is closer to righteousness. And be mindful of Allah. Surely Allah is All-Aware of what you do.’ — Qur’an, Chapter 5, verse 8.

‘O believers! Patiently endure, persevere, stand on guard, and be mindful of Allah, so you may be successful.’ — Qur’an, Chapter 3, verse 200.

‘When the victory of Allah has come and the conquest
And you see the people entering into the religion of Allah in multitudes,
Then exalt [Him] with praise of your Lord and ask forgiveness of Him. Indeed, He is ever Accepting of repentance.’
— Qur’an, Chapter 110

Thank you for reading. This article is part of a series. Read the first article here, and follow this list to see all articles.

This series is intended to counter the inhumane media coverage of the current genocide in Palestine. My articles are written in the hopes of simplifying, humanising, and rationalising the discourse around this topic.

In the interest of contributing to traffic, I am attempting to write as many articles as possible. As stated, I do not aim to provide in-depth historical/political academic analyses of these matters, but to discuss these in a conversational manner.

For this reason, the articles in this series do not contain extensive references, but this does NOT mean that the information cited is baseless. Kindly reach out in the comments if there is anything that you would like to read further on or view a source for, and I would be happy to share.

Peace to a land that was created for peace and never saw a peaceful day. Peace to your martyrs and survivors, and peace to your blessed land. We pray for your ultimate victory, recovery, joy and peace. In your honour, Palestine, we will mourn for the dead and fight for the living.

Stand on the right side of history. Stand for truth, justice, and freedom. Stand for Palestine, from the river to the sea…

Said Moses to his people, “Seek help through Allah and be patient. Indeed, the earth belongs to Allah. He causes to inherit it whom He wills of His servants. And the [best] outcome is for the righteous.” (7:128)




Muslim. Attempting to seek and express reflections of knowledge and truth.