Image from the International Purple Ribbon Project here
(NOTE: Some of the comments re-posted below came quite a bit after this letter was written)
By Shaykh Haitham Al-Haddad (Cross-posted from justiceforaafia.org)
It is well known that the War on Terror waged by the United States and its allies led to aggression and injustice against countries, organizations, groups and individuals. Perhaps the worst example of this brutality against individuals was that meted out to our Muslim sister in Islam, Aafia Siddiqui and her three small children.
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.
Allah has enjoined upon the believers, in innumerable commandments, to support the believers who are being oppressed, irrespective of where they may be. Allah says in the Qur’an:
“The believers, men and women, are auliya (helpers, supporters, friends, protectors) of one another; they enjoin good and forbid from evil; they establish prayers, and give the zakat, and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah will have His Mercy on them. Surely Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.”
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“A Muslim is a brother of another Muslim, so he should not oppress him, nor should he hand him over to an oppressor. Whoever fulfilled the needs of his brother, Allah will fulfil his needs; whoever brought his (Muslim) brother out of a discomfort, Allah will bring him out of the discomforts of the Day of Resurrection.”
He (peace be upon him) also said:
“Whoever is present while a Muslim is humiliated before him, and is able to assist him [and yet does not], Allah will humiliate him before all of creation on the Day of Judgment.” And in another narration, “No man forsakes a Muslim when his rights are being violated or his honour is being belittled except that Allah will forsake him at a place in which he would love to have His help. And no man helps a Muslim at a time when his honour is being belittled or his rights violated except that Allah will help him at a place in which he loves to have His help.”
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.”
In spite of this, the Muslim ummah, whose followers surpass that of any other world religion, have shamefully failed in our duty to defend this Muslim woman.
Obligation to aid in the emancipation of Muslim captives
Allah has admonished and reproached the believers for allowing the weak to remain under the clutches of the enemy and their torture. Allah says:
“And what is wrong with you that you fight not in the Cause of Allah, and for those weak, ill-treated and oppressed among men, women, and children, whose cry is: “Our Lord! Rescue us from this town whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from You one who will protect, and raise for us from You one who will help.””
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.”
An incident that shows the great concern for freeing Muslim captives is when the Caliph ‘Umar bin ‘Abdul Aziz (may Allah be pleased with him) sent ‘Abdul Rahman bin ‘Amrah to free some Muslim captives. He said, “Give them whatever they ask for every Muslim! By Allah, a Muslim is dearer to me than all the polytheists in my state! Indeed, you win any Muslim you pay the ransom for. Indeed you are buying Islam (by ensuring their release from prison and torture).”
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.”
Ibn Qudamah, may Allah have mercy on him, said: “It is permissible for a Muslim to use his zakat to buy back a Muslim prisoner from the captivity of polytheists. This is because the emancipation of a Muslim captive is similar to emancipating someone from slavery, as well as it bringing glory to Islam. Spending zakah in this cause is like spending it to soften people’s hearts towards Islam, and since it is given to the prisoner to free himself from captivity it is like giving money to an indebted person for ridding himself of the debt.”
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.
The least that is enjoined upon us is to supplicate to Allah for her as well other Muslim prisoners, as supplication is the weapon of a Muslim; it is incumbent upon every believer to supplicate for them as if we were supplicating on behalf of ourselves and our families.
“O Allah, deliver our sister and her children from this humiliation and torture at the hands of those who do not believe in You.”
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.
 Surah Taubah 9:71
 Sahih Al-Bukhari
 Surah Al-Nisa’ 4:75
 Sahih Al-Bukhari
 Narrated by Sa’eed Bin Mansur in his Sunan
Also find Comments follwoing this same open letter here along with quite a debate in terms of Comments (some which appear to be highly informed and helpful - especially those by Amad Sahib and Andy Purcell Sahib)
Open Letter: Supporting Aafia Siddiqui | MuslimMatters.org
Mar 22, 2010 ... By Shaykh Haitham Al-Haddad (Cross-posted from justiceforaafia.org)
I've here re-posted the following Comments from the MuslimMatters dot org site in response to the above letter:
March 22, 2010
Ameen, Thumma Ameen. If this can happen to Sister Aafia, it can happen to anyone of us. The sister I remember was the heart behind the MSA of Greater Boston. I was a first year in college and my future husband a sophomore at the same university where she was completing her undergrad. She was one who would make hundreds of samosas to sell at MSA fundraisers. A passionate activist who struggled to find Muslim homes for the hundreds of Bosnian orphans who were brought in to the U.S. I could relate to her then, I spent my childhood in Africa too and like her had come to study in the US from Pakistan, I was barely 17. She was one of the first women I had met who was brilliant, educated, ‘religious’ and a hijabi- not many those around in the 1990s. What happened to her is so twisted, so heart wrenching, WHY? HOW? And what crime have her children committed? Azilumantasha’a wa tuzillu mantasha- biyadikalkhair wa huwaa’al kulli shayin kadeer.
TWO: Amad (In response to the "Africa Theory" - that Aafia went to Liberia Africa in the year 2000 to take money off of poor Africans.)
March 22, 2010 • 3:33 am
Your information needs updating. Please refer to the many articles debunking your “africa” theory and other misinformation here
(See the comments about the "night goggles" and following clarification
THREE: Muslim Stranger
March 23, 2010 • 3:45 am
1) Dr. Aafia’s husband bought those night vision goggles & body armour. Not Her.
2) She has never re-married. Read following comment by ‘Andrew Purcell’ in the following link: here
Muslim Stranger says here that Andy Purcell had a believable responde to one who stated: “Aafia was married only once, to Mohammed Amjad Khan, the father of their three children." below
1) I have known Aafia and her brother and her sister and their mother for decades. I know this family well enough to know she would not remarry without consulting them, and if their had been a marriage, I would have known about it. She did not consult her family. There was no second marriage.
2) During one of the brief visits she was allowed with her brother he asked
her if she had married anyone during her missing years. She said no.”
3) Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was water boarded 143 times during 1 month, after which he (spoke) Dr. Aafia’s name here
FOUR: Andrew Purcell (shows up in person)
March 23, 2010
(To a previous comment by whom he and we will call "T")
As of a few minutes ago there were over half a million entries for “Dr Aafia” listed on Google. You just read all of them? And that quickly? I am impressed.
But you seemed to have missed a few. For example, any mention of the Pakistani government’s announcement in 2003 that she had been arrested in Karachi and turned over to American agents.
You also seem to have missed all mention of eyewitness reports that put her in Bagram Prison.
Quoting her ex-husband does nothing for the credibility of your research. He is her ex-husband for a reason. And how did you determine that he had access to the roster of undercover operatives for multiple intelligence agencies? You read it on the Internet.
You “think she dabbled in extremist groups, then went to the CIA when she was caught, then worked again for extremist groups.” Because you read it on the Internet. Bravo!
You know that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed named her and that she married his nephew because you read it on the Internet.
About the body armor and the night vision goggles. The story is that her ex-husband is the one who is said to have made those purchases.
You “just read a bunch of stuff about her on the Internet” and you couldn’t find one citation among over half a million entries on Google that indicated any evidence of innocence.
(After T again offers counter-arguments as to Dr. Aafia's guilt, Andy responds again)
FIVE: Andrew Purcell
March 23, 2010
(To"T") once again you are citing as facts statements made without a shred of evidence to back them up because you “just read a bunch of stuff about her on the Internet”.
Aafia was married once, to Amjad Khan, the father of her three children. She stated in court during her testimony that she had not remarried. I was there.
Unnamed sources from unnamed intelligence agencies who are themselves accused of kidnapping Aafia and her children are not paragons of honesty. You will have to do better than that.
And I do not mean Aafia’s uncle. In the past, Uncle has dreamt about events that never happened and then can’t tell the difference between the real and the imaginary. I know this because several years ago one of his little fantasies inadvertently dragged me into it. While he is a skilled storyteller who enjoys the attention of an audience, he is not reliable.
As an example, in his story, he saw through the scarf that Aafia was wearing over her face and determined that she had undergone plastic surgery. Earlier this year I sat for three weeks in a Federal Courthouse in New York City at her trial. While she kept her face covered for most of the trial, there was a moment when she stood up, faced the spectators, removed the scarf covering her face, and made a statement. She was standing right in front of me, maybe twelve feet away. There was no plastic surgery. That was the face of the woman I was introduced to twenty years ago. That was the face I saw many times over the years.
Your hysterical shrieking that Aafia and her family are all liars does not constitute proof or evidence...
SIX: Andrew Purcell (in response to more challenging by "T"
March 25, 2010
I never said she was held at Bagram. I merely stated that among the half million items about Aafia avaialable on the Internet you didn’t manage to find any references to eyewitnesses who identified her as the woman they saw there.
...All I have to go on is the quarter of a century of close friendship with Aafia and her sister and her brother and their mother.
Fowzia and Ismat Siddiqui have made statements that are contradicted by the uncle and the ex-husband. This does not make them liars. Without supporting evidence you cannot make a judgement. Based on what I have witnessed over the last seven years, I believe that the statements made by Fowzia and Ismat Siddiqui are the truth.
Next point. Bearded and devout Muslims are no more or less likely to be imperfect than clean-shaven and devout Christians.
The lack of plastic surgery is important because it contradicts a detail in the uncle’s story. If his description of her basic appearance (is) incorrect, the rest of his story becomes suspect.
If you are going to accuse me of something, use the correct term. Slander is a spoken attack using information known to be false. The term you are looking for is libel, a written attack using information known to be false.
I neither slandered nor libeled the uncle. I merely said that I have been involved in an incident that indicated his inability to recognize the difference between reality and his dreams.
Again, Aafia did not remarry. During her trial she specifically denied marrying a second time. As for the account of the family of the reputed second husband, the only references I have found confirming this are from anonymous sources from unnamed intelligence agencies who are suspected of kidnapping and imprisoning Aafia.
The jury in New York City said nothing about anything or anyone shady that she was involved in. The judge in the case repeated over and over to the jury that they were allowed to consider only the events that occurred on July 18, 2008. The jury found her guilty of picking up a rifle and shooting at a group of Americans in a jail in Afghanistan. Nothing else.
How much money am I receiving form Aafia’s mother and sister? Clearly you do not know these two extraordinary women.
SEVEN: Muslim Stranger
March 27 and 29, 2010 (various YOU Tube links)
Frontline Special Program On Dr.AAFIA SIDDIQUI on Dawn News:
(26 March, 2010):
PART 2: here
PART 3: here
PART 4: here
PART 5: here
JUSTICE FOR AAFIA (New Website): here
Youtube Video: JUSTICE FOR AAFIA: here
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