Open Letter to the People of Knowledge
Group of Authors
Article ID: 1202 | 191 Reads
All praise if to Allaah Alone, Cherisher and Sustainer of the universe and Peace and Blessings be upon His Messenger, his Family, His Companions and all who follow them in righteousness until the Last Day.
"Indeed those who fear Allaah from amongst His slaves, they are the (true) scholars." (Al-Faatir:28)
This is an open letter from your Muslim brothers imprisoned in British prisons for the sake of their deen...
To the scholar and student of theoretical knowledge...
To the student of Islamic universities and Arabic language institutes...
To the author and translator of glossy books...
To the worshipper of the books of fiqh and Arabic lexicology
To the orator, teacher, speaker and lecturer...
To the one whose opinion is sought and lectures are listened to...
To the one whose name lives on posters, leaflets, books and magazines...
As-Salaamu Alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.
Praise be to Allah who said "so remind, for indeed the reminder is of benefit to the believers..." (Adh-Dhaariyaat: 55). Peace and Blessings be upon His Messenger (saas) who said: "The Scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets..." May Allah be pleased with Ali bin Abi Taalib, who is reported to have said: "We do not judge the truth by the people but we judge the people by the truth."
In what state does this letter reach you? Is your stomach full and posture comfortable? Is your garment soft and perfumed? Are your wives and children near you to bring coolness to your hearts? Do you feel at ease in the expanse of your dwelling? Is your skin supple and smooth?
We write to you from a cold, bare cell that has a toilet in one corner. We write to you seated upon wooden chairs and hard beds. We write to you with hungry stomachs awaiting our next meal at the wings of our captors. We write to you clothed in coarse prison garments with unperfumed bodies and rough, chapped skin. We write to you whilst we are far estranged from our families, children and loved ones. We write to you from behind bars...
The bars behind which Ibn Taymeeyah recited when he was imprisoned: "And a wall is placed between them with a door, on the inside of which is mercy and on the outside of which is punishment." (Al-Hadeed: 13)
What is your perception of us behind these bars, who have been imprisoned for the sake of Islaam and no other crime? Maybe you picture a citadel of knowledge and learning as there was during Ibn Taymeeyah's time when prisoners would prefer to remain in prison with him rather than be released? Maybe you imagine brothers studying during the day and weeping during prayers in the pre-dawn hours? Maybe you perceive tongues moist with Allah's remembrance and sleep willed with beautiful dreams of Prophets and miracles? Maybe you think of Quranic recitation and Islamic lecture recordings being heard from the cells? If this is the case, then you have cause for disappointment.
Some of us imprisoned for the sake of Islaam awake for tahajjud prayers and weep in the pre-dawn hours. While others of us stay up late watching movie after movie, sometimes missing salatul-fajr in the process. Some of us memorise the Quran and listen to Islamic lecture recordings. Whilst others of us only memorise the lyrics of music that is listened to day and night. Some of us regularly fast. While others of us smoke cigarettes that are shared with other, non-Muslim prisoners. Some of us spend the days studying and learning. Whilst others of us spend the time playing games, sometimes even missing congregational salah in the process. Some of us frequently see some of the most beautiful dreams that one can imagine. Whilst others of us see nothing except dreams of day-to-day thoughts. Yet all of us are Muslims, in prison for the sake of Allaah, not for ay other crime.
Are you shocked and surprised?
You might say "lack of tarbiyyah," or "these are the consequences of action without knowledge," or "this is what happens when you leave the guidance of the people of knowledge," or "This is typical of such people." However, perhaps there are some questions that you might like to address to your own selves, first. Ask yourself:
Why am I NOT in prison for the sake of Allaah? Why are ignorant, sinning Muslims in prison for the deen and not a 'pious', 'knowledgeable' student of 'knowledge,' such as myself? Why has Allaah chosen smokers and music addicts to be in prison for Islaam and not a reciter, teacher and propagator like myself? Why have these people been given the privilege of treading the path of Yusuf (saas), Imaam Ahmad, Ibn Al-Qayyim, Ibn Taymeeyah, etc. rather than myself? Maybe there are shortcomings in myself, my deen and my knowledge that Allaah has filled with sinners instead of scholars?
When the Sahaabah were being persecuted in Makkah during the early years of Prophethood, did not those suffering no harm in Allaah's faith feel that their own Deen must be lacking since they had not been persecuted for it? When Uthmaan bin Madhoon (RA) saw his Companions suffering in Allaah's way whilst he was safe and secure under the protection of Al-Waleed bin Al-Mugheerah, he (RA) said: "By Allaah! Indeed my coming and going is safe under the protection of a polytheist, whilst my companions and people of my deen are suffering harm and persecution that I am not suffering due to a great shortcoming in myself." After uthmaan bin Madhoon (RA) publicaly renounced his protection of Al-Waleed bin Al-Mugheerah, one of the polytheists of Quraish struck him and gave him a black eye whereupon Al-Waleed said to him: "By Allah, O son of my brother! Had you remained under my protection, your eye would not have suffered like that!" To this Uthmaan (RA) replied: "No, by Allaah! My eye that is unhurt weeps longing to be afflicted by that which afflicted its sister in the path of Allah!" He (RA) then recited his famous poem:
If what inflicted my eyes for the pleasure of my Lord, occurred, At the hand of an atheist in the Deen who was not guided, Then the most gracious has compensated me for it with his Reward, and whoever the most Gracious is pleased with, O people, will be happy.
So if I am, as you say, misled and misguided, A fool on the Deen of the Messenger Muhammad (SAAW), Despite those who harm us and hate us.
Why did some of the early Islamic Scholars spend more time behind bars then they did behind desks and students? Did the Salaf not used to say: "Knowledge does not consist of memorising plenty of narrations, but knowledge is fearing Allah." And then there is the statement of the martyred Shaykh Abdullah Azzam: "Too much amassing of theoretical knowledge without the accompaniment of associated deeds hardens the heart."
These are some of the question that you should pose to your own conscience. Only you can answer these questions not the students that flock around you or the crowds that buy your books and listen to your lectures.
Sinning Muslims are in prison today for the sake of Islam because the people of knowledge have failed in their responsibility of leading the Ummah in upholding the truth. Sinning Muslims are in prison today for the sake of Islam because the scholars and students of knowledge are silent in the face of injustice and oppression. Sinning Muslims are in prison today for the sake of Islam because the guardians of knowledge prefer the comforts of this life compared to the hereafter.
One of the frequently mentioned stones in the Qu'ran is the epic confrontation between Truth and Falsehood personified in the story of Musa (SAAS) and Firoun. On the one hand there was Firoun: the symbol of disbelief, Tyranny and transgression in the world at that time. Supporting him were a group of people with their silence. On the other hand there was Musa (SAAS): the mocked, the ridiculed, the opposed, the banished, the estranged, the hunted, the one with meagre support and paltry resource. There were only two sides, not three. Whose side are you on? Are you with Firoun and his magicians? Or are you with Musa (SAAS) and those who stood up to Firoun?
While the average Muslim may claim the 'excuse of ignorance', you cannot claim this because you are the most knowledge amongst the Muslims. While the ordinary may explain his silence for so-called 'Strategic reasons, you have no explanations or justification for your silence because, as Imaam Ahmed bin Hanbal (RA) said: "If the scholars remain silent at the time of trails, WHO then will speak up for the truth?" You do not have a choice or nor do you have an excuse for your silence, since by acquiring Divine knowledge you have entered into an oath with Allah the Almighty that you will always proclaim the truth even when you are not called upon to do so. As for when you actually asked to proclaim the truth, there is absolutely no question about it.
So to what are we calling you? We are calling you to two things:
Firstly, we are asking for your assistance in line with Allah's verse in the Quran: "And if they seek your help for the Deen, then you must help them..." (Al-Anfaal: 72). Non Muslims and people with whom we share nothing in common except humanity are standing up for us and campaigning passionately for our plight more than the Islamic scholars and students of knowledge. People whom you may write off as alcoholics, adulterers and swine-eaters are, in reality, writing letters for us, organising meetings and events for us and donating money to alleviate our plight. How does that make you feel?
We call upon you to take the initiative, assume responsibility and be at the forefront of discharging your duties towards your imprisoned brothers, who have sacrificed their own freedom so that you can continue to practise your Islam. Al-Bukhaari relates from Abu Musa Al-Ashari (RA) that the Messenger (SAAW) said: "Free the captives...' that is to what we are calling you: to raise your voices, to speak up and condemn the unjust imprisonment and torture of Muslims incarnated unjustly for the sake of Islam, everywhere in the world. We are not calling you to take up arms, condone 'terrorism', instigate violence or break the law. We are only asking for you to fulfil your responsibility towards Allah, His Messenger (SAAS) and the believers and respond to the hadeeth: "Whoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand..."
Secondly, we are calling upon you not to raise another generation of Muslims cowards, sheep and mice, since a strong believer is better than a weak believer. If you are too weak and cowardly to fulfil your obligation towards the prisoners, then we humbly request you not to discourage those who wish to speak out against this injustice. We ask you to lead the way by speaking the truth without fearing the blame of any blamer and to encourage other to do the same. Until when are you going to keep exhorting the people "To be patient" and sit down in silence? Until every Muslim man, woman and child is behind bars? Have you forgotten the fable: "I was eaten the day the white bull was eaten?"
You call for patience without action are not accordance with the Quran or Sunnah or the early scholars. Nowhere is it said that the Muslims must be patient with shirk and injustice and sit silently without acting. Rather, patience is ordered for those that are ALREADY acting, so that they should remain patient and steadfast until the help of Allah arrives. The army of Talut asked Allah for patience after the rows lined up in battle to face the army of Jalut: they did not sit down without acting and asking for patience.
Allah describes three qualities of patience in Al Imran: 146: "And how many a prophet fought and with him fought many religious scholars. But never did they lose assurance due to what afflicted them in the cause of Allah, nor did they weaken or submit. And Allah loves the PATIENT ones." So patience is:
(1) Never losing assurance due to what afflicts you in the course of your details for Allah's path;
(2) Never weakening in the face of the oppressor;
(3) Never submitting to the oppressor. This is patience, not calling people to sit in fear like silent cowards, without speaking a word or lifting a finger.
So these are the two things to which we are calling you. But if you are too cowardly to shoulder responsibility, then it is better that you sit down and be patient rather than hinder those standing up for the truth. If you are a coward, then you will only create more cowards, in which case you should seriously consider stopping or postponing your lessons until Allah cures you of this disease. As Ad bin Zuraarah (RA) of the Ansaar said to his companions just before they were about to pledge allegiance to the Prophet (SAAS) in the Second Pledge of Aqabah that they should stand down now if they will be unable to fulfil this pledge to their utmost; he said: "Then you would be more excusable before Allah."
Therefore, if you cannot fulfil this responsibility due to cowardice then we implore you to admit it and not to stand as an obstacle in the face of those are able to fulfil this responsibility, as then you would be more excusable before Allah. We humbly implore you not to become like those mentioned in the latter part of the hasan saheeh hadith in At-Tirmidhi on the authority of Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-Anas: "Allah will not eradicate knowledge by snatching it away from the people, but He will eradicate knowledge by taking away the (righteous) scholars left, the people will take the ignorant ones as their leaders. They will issue fataawa without knowledge so they themselves will go astray and they will lead others astray."
Verily leadership in this Deen is not always given to the pious and most knowledgeable in religious matters, otherwise Allaah would not have appointed Talut as the leader of the Bani Israeel whilst their prophet was still amongst them and the companions at the battle of Mutah would not have selected Khaalid bin Al-Waleed (RA) as their leader instead of more pious and more knowledge companions. So it is not knowledge or the one who acquires this knowledge without discharging its trust as it should be discharged.
We apologise to you if this humble letter is not as awash with Quraanic verses, ahadeeth and evidences as you may be accustomed to. There are few, if any, people of knowledge in prison and our resources are minimal. We ask Allaah to grant us and you the ability to accompany our knowledge with action. Anything correct in this letter is from Allaah any mistakes are due to our own shortcomings. We end by leaving you with some lines of poetry for your reflection and may they benefit those who read them more than those who have written them...
O Worshipper of the Books of Knowledge
O Worshipper of the books of Knowledge!
If only you could see us, you would know that with your knowledge you are merely playing.
For every page of your book that you turn,
We turn, in its place, a page in the chapter of history.
Whoever fatigues his body in pursuit of theoretical knowledge,
Let him know that our bodies are fatigued by the weight of our shackles.
For every ruling if fiqh that you uncover,
Our enemies uncover our modesty and shame.
Do you preach to others the categories of tawheed,
When your own lives have barely suffered for it?
Do eyes shed tears in your lectures,
Whilst the eyes of our families weep at our absence?
Whoever is pursued by those who seek his opinion,
Let him know that we are pursued by those who bind our hands.
For every drop of ink that leaves your pen,
A drop of our blood from torture leaves our bodies
Does your eloquent speech find no words for us,
When we are the victims of your silence?
Are you still hesitating to take this trust as its bearer,
When every hour passes us by as it is an era?
Whoever of you fears the blame of the blamer,
And whoever of you fears the sword of the oppressor,
Then know that the death of the brave does not come sooner,
And nor is the death of the coward delayed until later.
Do you seek the inheritance of the prophets,
When you refuse to follow in their footsteps?
Then know claim to emulate the predecessors,
When you refuse to pay the price that they paid?
Whoever of you prefers this life to the hereafter,
Then fear the trial of knowledge more than the trial of women.
For while your theories roam with the stars,
We are like lions, caged behind bars.
Let us remind you of one last thing whilst we still live:
The ink of the scholars is not holier than the blood of the captive.
For Allaah spoke the Truth, to Him be Honour:
"It is he who fears Allaah who is the true scholar."
As-Salaamu alaikum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh.
Your Muslim brothers in British prisons