The counter-terrorism policies that are being suggested in the wake of the attempted attack by Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalib are indicative of a return to the Bush/Blair style policies that have led to the intense criminalisation and marginalisation of Muslims around the world. Instead of the question ‘why?’ being put forward, we are all dragooned into an iron fist response. Already motions have been made towards an ‘intervention’ in Yemen as well as an assault on our collective privacy with body scanners and techniques such as profiling, to be used in order to try and catch suspected terrorists.
The rationale or the ‘why?’, however perverted, that led to the tragic decisions by Abdulmuttalib has once again been ignored completely. Despite his own admission that foreign policy has played a crucial role in his decision making process, this factor has been put aside as governments and the media seek to present ‘how’ he came to take such actions.
Predictably, with slim evidence on the ‘how’ of his actions, the media in particular have turned to any possible avenue in order to present the picture of ‘radicalisation’. In this circumstance, the one piece of information available online from the statements of Abdulmuttalib himself was that the University College London student Islamic Society had arranged for a one week conference on the War on Terror and its impact. Among the speakers were Sir Geoffrey Bindman, Victoria Brittain, Phil Shiner, Moazzam Begg, Yvonne Ridley and I. In the same way that we are all used to speaking across the country in relation to issues to do with human rights and the War on Terror, we all attended in our various capacities.
The lecture that the student Islamic Society requested I do was entitled Jihad v Terrorism – the title in itself explaining much of the content. The basic position being that jihad as the concept of the conduct of hostilities from classical Islamic law is distinct from the modernist actions that have been taken by individuals and how Islam finds no room for terrorism.
Had Abdulmuttalib attended my talk (which I am told by the UCL Islamic society president at the time, Qasim Rafiq, that he did not) or had he the opportunity to listen to Moazzam Begg, he would have realized, like the way so many others do, that he had the opportunity to try and effect change with the issues that plagued him by working within the system. In fact, this is pretty much the legacy of Cageprisoners, that the organisation has provided a safe and open space for Muslims to speak about issues that impact on them all the while remaining within the processes that are recognised within the country.
From this perspective, Cageprisoners remains at the forefront of challenging detention without trial, torture and human rights violations as we try our hardest to convince Muslims that they should remain part of the process and get involved. However this process can only work if the affected community are given a true space in order to discuss the issues that affect them. The reason why the Jihad v Terrorism talk at UCL was arranged, was because it was felt that the time had come to really address an issue that young Muslims are very much struggling with – it was something that needed to be spoken about in order to help clarify the differences without simplistic statements of condemnation that do not convince anyone.
Cageprisoners has also opened a very unique space for dialogue, not just in the UK but across the world. For the first time we invited a former guard from Guantanamo Bay to speak on a platform with former prisoners. Rather than being a moment of accusations and condemnation, it was an exercise in reconciliation in the truest form. The Two Sides – One Story tour was well received all over the UK as each event was oversubscribed due to their unprecedented nature.
Wider than these conferences -it is important for Muslims in the UK to be given the space to speak about jihad at conferences, in the mosques and at demonstrations. There has been much misunderstanding as to its meaning, far too often the concept is mischievously misinterpreted for nefarious purposes. As a concept it is extremely important for Muslims as it is used as the term that defines the defence of Muslim countries/people against foreign occupying forces. Only by opening up the debate about jihad in the mosques will Islamic scholars find the space to really begin challenging the ideas of Muslims who are confused of the rights and wrongs.
The response of the UK to this whole episode has been to suggest attacks against Yemen and also to bring in profiling as a counter-terrorism measure – policies which will only further increase the frustrations of young Muslims and increase the feeling of marginalisation and criminalisation.
Cageprisoners feel that by promoting more dialogue and debate on various issues such as jihad, there can only be benefit in understanding, even where various parties or individuals do not agree with one another. It is our desire that we try and keep avenues of dialogue open with as many individuals that we can, hence why we keep strong ties with various Islamic thinkers, organisations, politicians and even celebrities. We believe that by keeping channels open with all, we can act as a conduit to reversing some of the trends in counter-terrorism policies that have been nothing but counter-productive to the stability of this and other countries. It is not a victim mentality, but a strategy seeking to salvage basic civil liberties and protect the society for us all.
Of particular note is the criticism that Cageprisoners has received for our association with Imam Anwar al-Awlaki. Our main support for him stems from his status as a prisoner who was detained without charge in Yemen at the behest of the US administration. This is a man who unequivocally condemned the 9/11 attacks after they had taken place, and yet the US administration still chose to try and have him detained having also interrogated him in Yemen despite never being charged with any crime. Cageprisoners does not follow any scholar or thinker, including Anwar al-Awlaki, and often use our broad relationship with Islamic figures from every tradition to help promote dialogue on issues relevant to our remit from all sides. We are not interested in the business of divisive politics by making claims that any one scholar is more or less relevant than another, rather we seek to keep the communities together by focusing on where we can cooperate. Anwar al-Awlaki’s contribution to Cageprisoners has always been positive, particularly when invited to our events he has only spoken from his experiences as a former prisoner.
From all of our travels throughout the UK, a common theme that the team at Cageprisoners has found is that many Muslims believe that our brothers and sisters in faith fighting for their survival in various parts of the world have a legitimate right to do so – that policy of self defence from an Islamic perspective is known as jihad. It is a concept that has already been recognised by the Western world in the 80s through their support for the mujahideen in Afghanistan against Soviet occupation, and again in the 90s as they supported the Bosniaks and Kosovars in their resistance. What this means in practice is that the limitations and justifications require to be clarified and refined in the caldron of public debate between those who have an interest in these issues. Only then can there be a meeting of the opposing views – it is only through this mechanism that we have any hope of persuading, in light of the grievances mentioned by the 7/7 bombers, Abdulmuttalib and others like him, that the ends can never justify the means. It would seem common sense that an open and honest debate about jihad is very much required, indeed, the discussion on jihad is the solution.
SHEIK ANWAR AWLAKI, my mentor!
Sheik Anwal Al-Awlaki is my mentor any day any time. I whole heatedly believe in his teachings. His teachings is the pristine Islam.If going back to the pristine Islam is anybody’s head ache i am more than ready to give such a person more of that head ache.After to the work of Anwal on audio tapes ,cds, DVDs among others, i was moved to tears and i had to quickly make amendments to my ways of life to receive the mercy of ALLAH. Any body who called such a man a terrorist is not only a hypocrite but SATAN PERSONIFIED! May ALLAH in His infinite mercy receive sheik Anwal Aw-laki to His glorious bosom, Ameeeeeen!
I hope Cageprisoners do not feel guilty for having associated with Anwar Al Awlaki-May Allah forgive him and grant him jannahtul firdous, ameen. He was a brother who educated many Muslims across the world of the true Islam and increased our awareness of the sahabah and the life of the Prophet SAW. There are Muslims who brand this brother a terrorist and even support the kufaar against him! We should remember this man was a Muslim, who dedicated much of his adult life to giving dawah and we should remember the good he gave to the Muslim world. I urge Muslims to pray for him and his family, asking Allah to forgive him and grant him jannah. Wasalaam.
We should stop ??????? around the kufaar and be real (to ourselves and to others.) Jihad is a physical struggle or warfare against the kufaar who drive us out of our homes, assist our enemies against us, rape our sisters, imprison and torture our brothers and occupy our land and seek to eradicate Islam. Do we not read the Qur’an or understand the words of Allah? Many of us have bought into watering jihad down to suit the kufar or we avoid this due to fear of the enemy and lack of man power. Yes we should be allowed to speak about jihad in gatherings and mosques and we should be able to form our own armies and go to war with the kufaar who mess with us where we see fit. Note: I am not a member of al muhajiroon or any such group and im not a fanatic-just a Muslim who is honest about jihad and refuses to play on this ‘jihad is an internal struggle thing’. Assalaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu.
working within the system
The reality is that they (the establishment) hate Islam and wish to destroy it. This is why they have the Rand Report and brother Bradleys’ preaching rubbish under the guise of Islam (ie shaking the kufar’s hand with the left – where did that come from? Which hadith?) so to misinform their own public. They have also demonstrated with the bombs in russia (blowing up russia by alexander litvienko), 911 and 7/7 and the bali bombs that they are quite prepared to kill their own populace in order to frame us … in order to pass laws to arrest us, harrass us, and now the new law they want, the reintroduction of capital punishment which i agree with, except when they add ‘terrorist’ offences to that death sentence list. That means arresting brothers who did nothing for a bomb planted by the FRR and then bump them off as the government viewed them as a nuisance.
The satanic homosexual pervert freemasons are the theives, murderers and terrorist and a recent police intelligence chief was sacked for saying exactly that in his report. As Mu’Dib put it when arrested, he asked the policeman “have you seen my video (7/7 ripple effect)”. “yes” came the reply. “what did you think of it?”. The policeman gave him a wide-eyed grim look, to which Mu’Dib (John Anthony Hill) said “Dont you think you should be arresting Tony Blair as supposed to me?” and the policeman went to sheepishly reading his newspaper. All the people in my office know the FRR and M15 and Mossad did 911 and 7/7. They all know we are innocent, yet the joke of it is that there they are (Bush, Blair, Peter Powers, etc) and they are free men. There is no real democracy, freedom of speech or fair balanced legal system in this country. Therefore why should people like me, if i beleive this and i sincerely do, work with a system where the perverts and criminals make up the houses of parliament, the police are all on the take, and the soldiers are murderers, torturers and rapists. I have no respect for this foul system, and before some EDL supporter says ‘go back to where you came’, im white and english and all the above mentioned facts that i have written are proven from multiple non-islamic sources including even from BNP, who pointed out the criminal records of the MPs included murderer, paedophilia, rape, extortion, theft, and the list goes on. Scum who back up other scum. You cant work with that. Jihad is the way. Thats how you remove Mubarak, thats how you remove all those dictators they have put there throughout the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and it seems that America and Britain are going a very similar route in regards to dictatorship. Everyone knows Idi Amin, Saddam Hussain and so on were all CIA and MI5 operatives. None of these countries were Islamic but rather oppressively secular run by the Freemasons, and that basically means the Jews as Freemasonry is based on their rules and there are a hundred and one confirming statements to that effect on the net by ex-masons.
If you ignore Jihad, Allah will humilate us.
Ibn Umar narrates: I heard the Messenger of Allah saying, “If you trade in each, and follow the tails of cows, and became content with being farmers, and ignored jihad, Allah will impose on you a humiliation that would not be taken away until you go back to your religion.”
Because we have ignored Jihad, we find our brothers and sisters being humiliated in cages.
Jihad is the solution
Disagree with this statement: “he would have realized, like the way so many others do, that he had the opportunity to try and effect change with the issues that plagued him by working within the system.”
Not one Prophet in the past tried to work within the system. (Please don’t use Yusuf’s alayhisalaam case as evidence, it has been refuted by scholars many times – just search the net).
Just like any system, the kufr democratic system is designed to protect itself. Islam has defense mechanisms as well. The only way to influence the system is to completely uproot it from the outside. If one tries to influence the system from within, one will find themselves compromising their belief.
Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wassallam had many opportunities to work from within, but refused and did not compromise. Just read the reason why Surah alKaafiroon was revealed.
Do you really think the kuffaar will give us what we want even if we abide by their rules?!?! Our Muslim brothers and sisters in jail will continue to be caged if we keep on working within the system. May Allah keep them steadfast and free them.
lack of confidence
Brother Asim makes an important point.
What to do with the people who have crossed the line in terms of warped interpretation of Jihad?
For example this article does not take the necessary step of dissociating itself from Anwar Awlaki’s comments regarding Jihad which are at the extreme.
This shows a lack of confidence in standing on your own 2 feet without the need of personality scholar’s.
Other organisations have taken the necessary step (e.g. JIMAS )
Brother Asim, that is exactly the point. Warped ideas do not come out of thin air, discussion and debate is fundamental to education, without this we fall into the state of ignorance and ignorance breeds all types of evils. I cannot stress enough the importance of reviving Islamic thought, and this means discussing such ‘taboo’ subjects.
Our Stance with those………….
Dear brother Asim,
Many thanks for your kind brave efforts. But I would have to take issue with a point which unfortunately who haven’t tackled.
What does the Muslim community do with those individuals whose ideas of Jihad are warped and very clearly fall outside the “traditional classic” understanding of Jihaad of “self defence” ? (Did the person you mention not have such views????).
What should our stance be with those whose actions have dragged and continue to drag the Muslims in the west and east into battles they clearly aren’t going to win, as happened in Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and now Yemen (in no way is this defending the despotic regimes which rule these respective countries), simply giving the green light to the powers which be to re-occupy and re-colonise the Muslim world. Whose actions have polluted such a noble duty. Should we spend or waste our limited resources defending them?? I look forward to your reply.
I agree these discussions should be allowed for us to gain a deeper and more mature understanding of the issue.
Mosques and organisations are now scared to talk about these issues and it only plays into the hands of underground and less controlled elements who do.
Jazakhallah for writing this. I absolutely agree that there should be a space for Musims to debate Jihad and reclaim the essence of this much misunderstood concept. When people are shunned for discussing such issues, it creates a certain amount of frustration, whilst some are able to get past this, for some it can lead to a road in which you see avenues that allow you to do so. It is not just Jihad that has become taboo, it is very hard to discuss issues such as the Caliphate, when I have wanted to discuss this with people, ive been shunned. The whole point about Liberal democracy is that peole are given a space to debate ideas, concepts and principles fundamental to their faiths.