In the wake of the attacks on New York and the Pentagon in September 2001, the Republican Administration of George Bush, capitalising on the climate of fear and chaos, introduced a raft of repressive new security measures that undermine civil liberties. The PATRIOT Act 2001 enables the US Government to arrest and detain people in conditions of secrecy for indefinite periods if there are ‘reasonable grounds’ that may constitute a threat to national security. As an aftermath of the ‘war on terror’ many injustices are befalling the Muslim Ummah, and the battle between Truth and Falsehood has transpired, as the world continues to witness the oppression of Muslims whom are stripped of their dignity, their honour, and their freedom of faith.
Throughout history the oppressors have used incarceration as a means to silence the voice of Truth. As Ibn Taymiyyah is known to have stated, “What can my enemies do to me? My paradise and garden are in my chest, and do not leave me. My imprisonment is seclusion with Allāh, and my death is martyrdom, and my expulsion is tourism. If the people who imprisoned me were given the equivalent of this prison in gold, it would not do them as much good as what Allāh has given me with this prison.”
One of the most influential of Muslim writers of recent times, Sayyid Qutb, was executed, and before his execution, he would repeat his famous statement: “Verily, the index finger that testifies to Allāh’s Oneness in the prayer rejects that it be used to write a single letter acknowledging the rule of a tyrant.” (‘Sayyid Qutb: Min al-Milād ilā al-Istishhād’ (p. 61-62, 462, 474, and 481))
The horrendous gulags set up world wide, in order to torture the believers, in an attempt to eradicate the ‘terror’ threat. The current day tyranny dehumanises the oppressed, and terrorises the innocent. If one was to know the duties of the Ummah over the Muslim Captives, then by Allaah, there would not be one single unjust imprisonment of a Muslim anywhere in the world. If one was to know the real meaning of the concept of ‘brotherhood’ in Islam, then by Allaah, the Ummah of Muhammed would not be in the state it is today.
Ibn Abbas reported that Umar (May Allaah pleased be with him) said, “Every Captive who is in the hands of the disbelievers, then the ransom to free him will be paid from the treasury of the Muslims (Narrated by Ibn Abi Shaybah in his ‘Musannaf’; 6/497)
Ibn Abi Shaybah also reported that Umar narrated, “For me to rescue a Muslim from the lands of the disbelievers is more beloved to me than the entire Arabian peninsula.” (Musannaf; 6/496)
Islam has demanded the freeing of the Muslim Captives from the hands of the enemies. It is from the Islamic rights and obligations which must be fulfilled in regard to Muslim Prisoners. Therefore if a Muslim falls into the prisons of the enemies then it becomes incumbent upon the Muslims to do all they can within their capacity to free the Muslim Captives, as the Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) has stated, “free the prisoner, feed the hungry, visit the sick.” (Narrated by Bukhari).
The significance of the Muslim Prisoners is apparent, thus it is our duty to do as much as we can in order to assist them. One can be alone, but not lonely, thereby offering letters of support and keeping in constant communication with the prisoners, allows them to be empowered, and hold onto their sanity. It gives them hope and strengthens their faith. This is the least an individual can do. To ignore the plight of the prisoners is an abhorrent offence. To turn a blind eye whilst our brothers and sisters are kept alone in a cell is in direct violation of Tawheed.
“But, if you remain patient and become pious, not the least harm will their
cunning do to you. Surely, Allāh surrounds all that they do.” (Āl ‘Imrān; 120)
Muslims fear no one but Allaah. Many people neglect the Muslim prisoners because they are either too frightened of the authorities or they are too lazy to act. Such people need to reaffirm their emaan, and study the deen inherently closely. It is the responsibility and duty of every Muslim to defend his brother and sister in Islam. So what of the Muslim Captives? Our incarcerated Muslim brothers and sisters who spend years confined within the same four walls. The obligation of brotherhood in the Qur’an and Sunnah is unmistakably clear. We must be extremely cautious in correctly upholding this concept to prevent transforming this sacred relationship into a superficial bond, thus lacking the true essence of Islamic brotherhood.
The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said: “You will not enter paradise until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another. Shall I not guide you to something which if you carry out you will love one another? Spread salaam amongst yourselves.” [Muslim]
It is necessary to let the Muslim prisoners know that we care for their well-being, that we sincerely love them as we do our own blood brothers, and that we are ready to help them in any way we are able to.
“And they plotted, and Allāh plotted, and Allāh is the best of plotters.” (Āl ‘Imrān; 53)
Surely, victory is with the believers. It has been narrated by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adaabul-Mufrad that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said: “If one of you loves his brother for Allah’s sake, then let him know, since it causes familiarity to endure and firmly establishes love.”
Preserving our Muslim character is both an obligation and a challenge at the same time. It is paramount for Muslims everywhere to remain attentive of the notion of brotherhood as a most critical tool in striving to keep their distinct identity. Therefore, it is an obligation to follow the lead of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and his Companions in this manner and do whatever is required to maintain it.
“Surely, Allāh wrongs not even of the weight of an atom. But, if there is any
good done, He doubles it, and gives from Him a great reward.” (an-Nisā’; 40)
“O you who have believed, when you encounter a company [from the enemy forces] stand firm and remember Allah much that you may be successful.” (Al Anfaal 45)
Verily the reward of the Muslim Captive lies only with Allaah.