As I think of the sentence of our sister Aafia Siddiqui and indeed all the other prisoners, so many of them are people who lived their lives for the sake of Allah alone and were amongst the best of us, and thus do the promises of Allah come true.
The first opinion piece I ever wrote was directly after Babar Ahmad’s case in Bow Street Magistrates Court. The original Heart for the Fight piece was to remind myself first and all that the work that we do to help the plight of unlawfully detained prisoners is not one that is easily won – it is wrought with hardships that at times may seem too unbearable to take.
However, we should know this already from the promise that Allah SWT has given us in the Qur’an in Surah Al-Taubah, “Do you think that you shall be left alone while Allah has not yet tested those among you who have striven hard and fought and had not taken helpers besides Allah and His Messenger, and the believers. Allah is Well-Acquainted with what you do.”
Allah SWT further states in Surah al-Ankaboot, “And We indeed tested those who were before them. And Allah will certainly make (it) known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars.”
The above two verses establish that we will all be tested, but particularly those who Allah SWT loves and are working towards righteousness. As I think of the sentence of our sister Aafia Siddiqui and indeed all the other prisoners, so many of them are people who lived their lives for the sake of Allah alone and were amongst the best of us, and thus do the promises of Allah come true.
There are some who have said to me directly, that they feel that there is no hope when sentences such as 86 years are dished out without any kind of compassion or justice – but it is precisely in this circumstance that we need to reflect on the words of Allah – do we honestly believe that we will not be tested, when those before us were tested?
It is precisely because of the example of those who came before us that we know there is hope, bi’idhni ta’ala, in what we are facing today. There are particularly two incidents in the Qur’an that remind me of how easy this struggle is compared to what Muslims of the past faced. When I think to the verses in Surah al-Burooj, Allah SWT specifically states that the only fault of the believers for which they were burned alive, was that they professed the unity of Allah. The believers at the time willingly threw themselves into the fire, rather than to utter a word that would disbelieve in Allah SWT. Although they were burned alive, it is they who were victorious in the end and inshallah will be given the respite that is eternal.
The other incident relates to the magicians of Fir’aon. When Musa AS defeated the magicians in the contest between the two, those very magicians immediately professed their belief in Allah SWT. When Fir’aon threatened to have their opposite hands and feet cut off and crucified in that state, they remained true to Allah and were martyred. Their mass execution was solely due to their belief, this was their test and they chose to face the ultimate difficulty of this world, rather than to face damnation in the hereafter.
When I consider the stories above, then I know that Allah SWT sent them to us in order to give us glad tidings that the pain that we face in this life is not the end, this world is only transient, as we work towards something which is far greater.
Thus, we should consider the War on Terror and all of the abuse and suffering that we face in the course of it as a test that has been sent to us. How will we stand before what we see and what we face? For those of us living in the western world, our test is not that of a farmer whose sole responsibility is to cultivate crops to feed his family - with access to educational institutions, media, the internet, resources and members of Parliament, we have been given plentiful opportunities by Allah to try and make a difference to the lives of those who are impacted in the worst of ways. Our obligation is to try and free these prisoners in whatever way we can, not thinking that our own actions will result in the release but, rather with the knowledge that if we do our best and Allah SWT places barakah in those actions, that maybe Allah SWT will choose to release the individual. Our obligation is to fulfil the burden of freeing the prisoners on the entire community of Muslims, and it is a burden that we will be accounted for on the Day of Resurrection, particularly when our role will be balanced against the resources we were given.
As Muslims we believe in la hawlawala quwwata illa billah – that there is no power greater than that of Allah’s – we know that no matter how many weapons, tanks, rockets, jets, etc that our enemies invent, they will never be able to defeat Allah and the promises that He has made. We can take assurance in that and proceed with the hope that whatever we do, even if we do not succeed in our lifetime, will not be wasted as the ultimate justice is with our Lord.
It is the power and decree of Allah that has sometimes struck me so much in my work. I remember working on the cases of some British brothers who were detained unlawfully in Kenya without charge and were being interrogated by MI5. As my colleague from Reprieve and I worked on the cases she said to me by the end, “Asim, I have to say that the way all of this has happened, can only be through the Providence of God.” Subhanallah, it was so true to literally see the plans of Allah unfold before us and how we were guided by Him to help those brothers.
To recount just one incident from this set of cases: One of the detained brothers in Kenya managed to get a hold of a phone after having bribed a Kenyan guard. I was able to speak with the brother and he gave me the contact details of all the others with the exception of one who had been separated from them – all they had was a surname and address. My colleague and I travelled to north London in order to find the family. Except the address we had been given was a series of housing estates and so the no. 8 house we were looking for could have been anywhere. We proceeded to make our way through every single estate knocking on the doors of each house until it got too late to continue this exercise. We left dejected that we would not be able to contact the family.
The next day we needed to return to same area for a meeting with someone else, and so we gave the door knocking a further try. Again we walked through a number of estates, failing at every turn to find any information about where this family could be. All of a sudden a car pulled up next to us with a family inside who were overtly Muslim. I thought I would ask if they knew the family in the hope I would be able to illicit some information. Unfortunately they were not from the area and just as we turned to walk away a sister in hijab came out to meet these guests. On questioning who we were, we explained that we were looking for a certain family. Subhanallah, it turned out that they were neighbours in the same building. She took my card to give to the sister of our client who ran out of the home to check my identity with our client’s friend. He explained to her that she should not trust us as he did not know who we were...except that his friend, who had been studying abroad, was with him that day and is someone I had travelled on Umrah with! Alhamdulillah!
Allah tests us all in many ways, some with more difficult tests than others. However we already know that the greater the test that is passed, then the greater the reward will be in the jannah. Our sister Aafia Siddiqui has faced some of the most difficult tests so far in the last 10 years yet she continues to confront them with complete dignity and honour as a Muslimah. When we think of her we should think of the tests that were given to Aasiya RA, the wife of Fir’aon and the adopted mother of Musa AS. Indeed Allah SWT presents her story as an example to the Muslims in Surah at-Tahreem to remind us that despite the punishment and torture she endured by one of the most oppressive human beings in our history, she was given the reward of seeing her home in Paradise before she died. It is these stories that have been given to us in the Qur’an to remind us all of the tests that have been given before, and the way we should respond to them now.
We need to have heart for this fight – in reality it is not round 2, but rather round 200,000. Regardless of how far we have come or lost, we will not be judged according to what we actually achieved, but rather the efforts that we expended through the course of our efforts. Allah SWT will surely judge us on our efforts, the result is alone with Him bi’idhni ta’ala.