Aafia is a hafidhah of the Qur’an, a devoted mother and practising Muslim, who dedicated her life to spreading the religion of God and assisting fellow Muslims. It is believed that she was abducted at the behest of American intelligence from Pakistan, her home country along with her children in 2003, the youngest of whom was just six months old at that time. Aafia Siddiqui and her lawyers maintain that she was held in secret US detention and tortured and abused in this time, along with her children – a claim that is corroborated by former prisoners at Bagram. After five years of denying knowledge of her whereabouts, the US claims that she allegedly emerged in Afghanistan. She was shot by US soldiers and then tried and convicted despite the absence of any physical evidence against her and the conflicting testimonies presented during the trial. She now faces life in prison. Only one of her children has been released, while the whereabouts of the two youngest remain unknown. From the time she was transferred to the US to date she has been subject to humiliating and degrading strip and cavity searches in prison and is now being denied jail visits and communication with the outside world, including her immediate family.
When we merely hear the plight of our sister, we should feel restless and tormented as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The similitude of believers in regard to mutual love and affection is that of one body; when any limb of it aches, the whole body aches, because of sleeplessness and fever.”
Explaining this verse, Imam Al-Qurtubi said, “Freeing the prisoners is obligatory on the Muslim, whether by war or wealth.” Imam Malik said, “It is obligatory on (Muslim) people to ransom the prisoners with all their wealth.” There is no difference of opinion among the scholars over this, since the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Free the prisoners.” Our scholars say that ransoming prisoners is obligatory, even if not a single penny is left. Ibn Khuwaizimandad said, “This verse contains the obligations to free prisoners. There are reports from the Prophet (peace be upon him) to this effect: he freed prisoners and ordered them to be freed. This was practiced by Muslims throughout the ages and the scholars are unanimous about it. It is obligatory to free (Muslim) prisoners from the state’s treasury, and if the amount does not suffice, then it is obligatory upon all the Muslims to contribute. If one Muslim frees him, the others are absolved of this duty.”
Ibn Taymiyyah said, “Freeing Muslim prisoners is one of the greatest obligations. Spending money from endowments (waqf) and other sources is one of the best deeds.”
Therefore, it is obligatory upon every single Muslim, wherever they reside, to work, directly or indirectly, towards the release of the Muslim captives irrespective of wherever they may be. Any Muslim with the capability to aid others yet fails to do so will be sinful. Everyone is responsible according to their ability; the greatest responsibility lies with those in authority, followed by the scholars, and so on – although the failure of those who bear greater responsibility to act does not absolve individuals of their own individual responsibilities.If the captive is a Muslim woman, like our sister Aafia, the obligation becomes even greater, given the elevated status of women in Islam. The scholars of Islam are unanimous that a Muslim woman cannot be handed over to non-Muslims in any case. This Ummah has a glorious heritage of protecting Muslim women that we must endeavour to restore. Amongst the incidents narrated to this effect, is that of the honour of a believing woman attacked by members of the tribe of Quraydhah, and so, a believer fought to defend her until he was killed and an army was dispatched against the perpetrators.
As a nation, we have not fulfilled our obligation towards our sister, Aafia Siddiqui, as well as her children. We must exhaust every lawful means for her release and for the recovery of her children without fearing anyone but Allah. This may include, but is not limited to, direct involvement with organisations that work for this cause, donating money for it, raising awareness and actively speaking about her plight, writing in support of her and her family, and pressuring those governments complicit in her ordeal to end this injustice.
May Allah ease the affairs of our sister Aafia and hasten her release from captivity. May He break free her shackles and the shackles of all of our oppressed prisoners. May Allah give them the strength to deal with their ordeal. May Allah punish those who have oppressed our sister Aafia and continue to oppress her, may He defeat them and smite them, and may Allah forgive us for being negligent towards our Muslim brothers and sisters. May Allah unite the hearts of the Muslims and grant us victory over our oppressors.
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