“So do not weaken and do not grieve, and you will be superior if you are (true) believers.” 
It is with sadness and regret that we hear the news of the extrajudicial and unlawful killing of ‘Abdul Qader Mullah (Raḥimullah)  who was one of the leaders of the largest Islāmic party in Bangladesh, Jamaat-e- Islāmi (the Jamaat).
In order to make sense of the present, we must seek to understand the past.
What happened on Thursday 12th December 2013, allegedly finds its roots in what took place in 1971 in the conflict between the then West Pakistan (present day Pakistan) and East Pakistan (present day Bangladesh) in what was known as the ‘War of Independence’ or to Bangladeshis ‘the War’.
The war was waged by Indian-backed guerrilla forces of East Pakistan against the Pakistani army when Shaikh Mujibur Rahman, who was head of the leading political party in East Pakistan, the Awami League (A.L.), was detained by the ruling Pakistani President, Yahya Khan in 1970. In these years, there was rising discontent in East Pakistan over the atrocities committed by the Pakistani army against Bengalis and the neglect of the issues and needs of East Pakistan by the ruling regime. Despite forming a majority of the population, the Bengalis in East Pakistan were poorly represented in Pakistan’s civil services, police and military. There were also conflicts between the allocation of revenues and taxation.
Yahya Khan ordered the arrest of Mujibur Rahman and initiated ‘Operation Searchlight’ on 25 March 1971. The Operation included plans to murder Bengali intellectual, cultural, and political elite in order to eradicate the challenge to its rule. The conflict lasted for 9 months during which it is estimated by the government of Bangladesh that up to 3 million people were killed – this figure is in dispute and there is no way of verifying the actual number of how many perished.
The Jamaat party which was originally set up by Syed Ab’ul ‘Ala Maududi (Raḥimullah) in India in 1941 as a movement to promote Socio-Political Islām in India and later in West and East Pakistan, strongly opposed an independent Bangladesh during the War, which it considered to be against the teachings of Islām – to be fighting a fellow Muslim on the basis of nationalism.
Upon the independence of Bangladesh, the new government banned Jamaat from political participation and its leaders went into exile in Pakistan. The Constitution of Bangladesh proclaimed a secular democracy with freedom of religion, expression and conscience as its fundamental tenets.
On 15 August 1975, a group of junior army officers invaded the presidential residence and killed Mujib, his family and personal staff. Only his daughters, Sheik Hasina Wajed and Sheikh Rehana survived.
Following a period of turmoil, General Ziaur Rahman came to power in 1977 and reinstated multi-party politics and founded the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) . This was also the period when the ban on Jamaat was lifted and its leaders were allowed to return to Bangladesh.
The Arrests and the Trial
Hasina Wajed, the daughter of Mujib became the leader of A.L. in 1981. She held position as Prime Minister between 1996 – 2001. In 2009, A.L. once again returned to government. Despite a 40 year delay and lack of any previous allegations concerning the conduct of the those accused of war crimes, Hasina resurrected the obsolete International Criminal Tribunal (ICT) for the first time since 1973 to bring alleged perpetrators of crimes committed in the war to justice. The ICT, when it was founded was supposed to be modeled on the Nuremberg Tribunals which were set up in Europe following the Second World War to bring Germany’s Nazis to justice.
On 26 July 2010, the ICT issued arrest warrants against four Jamaat leaders, its Ameer, Motiur Rahman Nizami; its Secretary General, Ali Ahsan Muhammed Mujahid and Senior Assistant Secretary Generals, Muhammad Kamarauzzaman and Abdul Qader Mullah (Raḥimullah). Another leader and renowned scholar, Dilwar Hussain Saydee was also later arrested. The charges brought against them can broadly be categorised as (i) Crimes against Humanity; (ii) Genocide and (iii) War Crimes. 
Right from its inception, the ICT has been widely condemned as politically motivated and lacking in basic safeguards of the rights of the accused and viewed as a Kangaroo Court.  The government of Hasina has also amended the Constitution and passed new laws known as the Amendment Act 2009 to curtail the rights of accused persons facing ‘war crimes’ allegations.  Just as it is relatively silent on fair trial rights, the Act is silent on the definitions of war crimes and crimes against humanity, rendering it impossible for the defense to address core elements whilst giving the government-appointed prosecution and judges apparently free reign to mould the law as they go along in proceedings that expressly provide for the death penalty. There has been severe curtailment of the defense’s right to call witnesses. 
In December 2012, The Economist published contents of leaked communication evidencing communication between the chief justice of the ICT and the government.  In February 2013, all those accused were given death sentences. Following this, further criticism was made once again by The Economist in March 2013 mentioning government interference, restrictions on public discussion, not enough time allocated for the defense, the kidnapping of a defense witness and a judge resigning over his impartiality all brought into question the findings from the ICT. 
The Human Rights Watch (Asia branch) said in November 2012 that “the trials against the alleged war criminals are riddled with questions about the independence and impartiality of the judges and fairness of the process”.  Toby Cadman, an international law expert and advisor to the Jamaat stated that “the international community should take immediate action to stop the injustice.”  Speaking for the British Government, Sayeeda Warsi of the Conservative Party said of the verdicts “we remain strongly opposed to the application of the death penalty in all circumstances”. Amnesty International said in February 2013 “The government must not simply use their majority in Parliament to change the law so that they can ask the Supreme Court to impose a death sentence. We urge the government to resist this. The death penalty is the ultimate cruel and inhuman form of punishment, and the government should abolish it altogether, not call for it”. 
A War on Islām
Whilst it is clear that mass killings did take place in Bangladesh during the War at the hands of the Pakistani army and their sympathisers, there is no proof that those who are accused were ever involved in this. It is of course feasible that some members of Jamaat had participated in perpetrating some of these acts but ultimately, the Jamaat are collectively held responsible primarily because they were opposed to the creation of another state. What the A.L. have done however is to exploit this in order to maintain their grip on power and have been using the art of propaganda for years on end vilifying and demonising the Jamaat with the use of degrading and demeaning words such as Rezakars and Shibir – traitors and enemies of the state. As the author George Orwell stated, “He who controls the present, controls the past”. 
The genuine hurt, pain and grievances felt by Bangladeshis concerning the War should not be underestimated – you will often find in households within the UK and beyond families being vehemently divided over this issue – father on side of A.L. whilst the son/daughter on the side of Jaamat. It is for this reason that you see many rejoicing in the streets a few days ago in Bangladesh at the announcement of the death of Abdul Qader Mullah and celebrating by treating one another to sweets, a custom associated in Asia with joyous festivities.
Bangladesh was founded on nationalistic principles where allegiance to one’s nationality and land is the principal mantra running through the DNA of the country and therein lays the problem. At the time of the Messengership of Muhammad (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam), the Arabs had no power. In the north, Syria was under the Romans who appointed local Arab rulers. Similarly, in the south, Yemen was under the tutelage of the Persian Empire and was ruled by Arabs under its domination. Arabs were masters only of Hijaz, Tihama and Naid, which were waterless deserts with a few oasis’s here and there. Here it is also well-known that the Prophet (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam) was called ‘al-Amīn as- Sādiq’, (The Trustworthy and Truthful) by his people. His lineage was from the Banu Hashim, which was the noblest branch of the Quraish. It can therefore be said that the Messenger of Allāh (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam) was quite easily capable of kindling among his compatriots the fire of Arab nationalism and would thereby have united them. They would have responded gladly to this call for they were weary of continual tribal warfare and blood feuds. He would then have been able to free the Arab lands from the domination of Roman and Persian imperialism and would have been able to establish a united Arab state. But nationalism is not the Sunnah (the way) of Allāh (Subḥanahu wa ta’āla). The ‘grouping’ of men which Islām proclaims is based on the Deen alone, the faith in which all peoples of any race or colour are equal under the declaration of “Lā ilāha illAllāh” – it was this declaration which brought together a community of the first generation of which there was Abu Bakr (RaḍiAllāhu ‘anhu) from Arabia, Bilal (RaḍiAllāhu ‘anhu) from Abyssinia, Shuaib (RaḍiAllāhu ‘anhu) from Syria and Salman (RaḍiAllāhu ‘anhu) from Persia all as brothers in faith.
Yet the government of Bangladesh lives off nationalism just as a leech lives off blood – by doing so, Hasina is able to continuously remind the people of her link to someone who the country regards as the father of the nation, Mujib and thereby tightening her grip on power. A.L is determined to destroy, weaken and eliminate its opponents and what better way to do this then accuse them of war crimes for siding with the Pakistanis which touches the nerve of many Bangladeshis. They are playing with people’s feelings and this is gutter politics of the worse kind.
It could be argued that Hasina has waged a clear war on Islām and has been descending the country further and further into secularism. Since she came into power, there have been many reports of women being detained, harassed, and expelled from their student dorms solely for wearing the ḥijab or carrying religious books. Many others have been forced into having illicit sexual relations with leaders of the ruling government, refusal to comply resulting in detention, harassment, and assault after being branded as ‘fundamentalists’ by the government. Bangladesh is the only Muslim country where prostitution, although prohibited by the constitution, is legal. The current secular government is targeting Islām in a majority-Muslim country.
It should not be forgotten that Hasina said of the oppressed Muslim refugees of Burma in August 2012 that they were not “her problem” as Bangladesh was already an overpopulated country. In addition, earlier this year we saw the government sponsored Shabagh movement, a group of students, writers and bloggers made up of atheists, agnostics, secularist and nationalists to curb the influence in Islām as never seen before. They were instrumental in whipping the country into a frenzy, calling for the death sentence of the Jamaat leaders during which many Muslims were killed when there was an outpouring of rage, after the Shabagh were making a mockery of Allāh and his Rasūl (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam) blogging statements such as:“Allāh lovers are sleeping, there are no slaves of Allāh to counter the attack against Him. Everyone who replies in objection to my post is screwing Allāh”; another said “Allāh is taking drugs now [hence why he is not dealing with us]” whilst another said “If Allāh comes down [to help the Jamaat leaders], we will hang him too” Laa hawla wa la quwata illa billah.
A Wikileaks leaked cable in November 2010 from the US State Department said: “There is little doubt that the hard-line elements within the A.L. party believe that the time is right to crush the Jamaat and other Islāmic parties”. 
All the leaders have been given death sentences and Jaamat has been banned once more and will not be able to participate in the forthcoming elections on 5th January 2014. Abdul Qader’s family were arrested a few days ago soon after his death preventing them from being able to pray the janazah and bury him.
This, my brothers and sisters is the situation of Islām in Bangladesh which has culminated in the murder and killing of an innocent man today with no due process being followed. Hasina is sowing the seeds of hatred which will divide and destabilise the country for years to come. There is no doubt that the country will now descend into chaos, particularly as today is the day of Jumm’ah and we pray that Allāh protects them and keeps them safe.
As for the oppression taking place, Allāh is not unaware of what is taking place: “And think not that Allāh is unaware of what the oppressors do, He only grants them respite until the day the eyes will stare in horror.”  But the Sunnah of Allāh is such that everything is done in stages and with patience. Indeed, Allāh (Subḥanahu wa ta’āla) created the earth in six days and in this is a sign because we know He needs to simply say “be” and it is. The response to the actions taking place in Bangladesh is with Allāh. For He said: “Whosoever acts with enmity towards a close servant of Mine (wali), I will indeed declare war against him…” 
Triumph is not limited to immediate victory, which is but one of the many forms of triumph. So for those who are joyous today with the news of the death, know “There is no laughter except that it is eventually followed up with weeping.” 
The pages of history show us that the conditions which the Islāmic Call had to face in its first period of its existence were not too dissimilar than the conditions of today, be it in Bangladesh or elsewhere. It was confined to the valley of Makkah, hounded by the people in power and authority; and, at that time, it was a complete stranger to the whole world. It was surrounded by mighty and proud empires which were against its basic teachings and purposes. In spite of all this, it was a powerful call, as it is powerful today and will remain powerful tomorrow. The source of its real power is hidden in the very nature of this belief; that is why it can operate and has always thrived under the worst conditions and in the face of the most severe opposition and against all the odds through the resolve, striving and sacrifices of its adherents. Certainly many were many were the Martyrs before Abdul Qader Mullah (Raḥimullah) from the very first of them, Summayah (RaḍiAllāhu ‘anha) who remained strong in her resolve against the tyrant Abu Jahl to more contemporary times such as ‘Omar Mukhtar (Raḥimullah) who when he was told by the judge that he would be excused if he called on the Muslims to abandon the resistance in Libya against the Italian invaders, he responded by saying “we do not surrender, we win or die”, or indeed Syed Qutb (Raḥimullah), who when he was asked to say a few good words in support of the oppressors in exchange for being pardoned, he said “Indeed this finger which testifies the Oneness of Allāh in ṣalah [prayer], it refuses to agree on anything – in support – of this oppressive regime”, so too we find that in ‘Abdul Qader Mullah’s last words he said: “If this government kills me unjustly, that will be a death of martyrdom…I am totally innocent.. I have dedicated my whole life to Islām… I have never bowed to injustice and it is out of question to seek clemency to any worldly person”. We see in each of these cases that the believer in this deen of Allāh (Subḥanahu wa ta’āla) may lose his physical power and may be overpowered and conquered even. Yet, so long as his imān does not depart from him, then he is the most superior. He remains certain that this is a temporary condition which will pass away. Even if departure from this dunya is his portion, he will never bow his head. Departing from this dunya comes to all, but for such a soul, there is extra gratification for being in the service of Allāh knowing he will proceed to the Garden, while his oppressors go to the Pit.
And how amazing is it that the enemies of Islām having been seeking to hang ‘Abdul Qadir Mullah for the past two days, but the Qadr of Allāh was that He wanted the soul of this ‘abīd, this servant of his to be taken on a Friday night, a blessed night for it was narrated that ‘Abdullāh ibn ‘Amr (RaḍiAllāhu ‘anhu) said: The Messenger of Allāh (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam) said: “There is no Muslim who during the day of Friday or the night of Friday but Allāh will protect him from the trial of the grave.” 
What an honourable death and how fitting it is that a man from the land of the Green is now in the bird that is Green (InshAllāh) for the Messenger of Allāh (Ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wa salam) said “Their (i.e. the martyrs souls) will live inside green birds that dwell in designated lamps which hang on the throne of Allāh, they will roam freely in Paradise as they please, then return to these lamps” 
We ask Allāh that he accepts him as a martyr and grants his family steadfastness, patience and tranquillity. And remember “do not weaken and do not grieve, and you will be superior if you are (true) believers.”
 Surah ali-Imran 3: 139
 Warrants issued for Bangladeshi Islāmic party leaders on charges of crimes against humanity”, Fox News, 26 July 2010
 Justice in Bangladesh: Another kind of crime”. The Economist. 2013-03-23. Retrieved 2013-04-18
 Watch, Human Rights. “Bangladesh: Government Backtracks on Rights”. Retrieved 1, February 2013
 Ghafour, Abdul (31, October 2012). “International community urged to stop ‘summary executions’ in Bangladesh”. Arab News
 George Orwell, in his book ‘1984’.
 Allchin, Joseph (21, December 2012). “The Midlife Crisis of Bangladesh”. Foreign Policy.
 Surah Ibrahim:42
 Ibn Sirin
Z.A Rahman is a community activist and a member of a large Mosque in the UK. He has a keen interest in politics and history, particularly Islamic history. He also enjoys traveling and has visited numerous countries in the Middle East and North Africa.