It is reported that the last Messenger of ALLAH (peace be upon him) said: “By The One in whose hand rests my soul, you must surely enjoin the good and forbid the evil, otherwise it is expected that ALLAH will send against you a punishment from Him, and you will supplicate Him but your supplication will not be answered.”
Last Sunday The Peace Thru Justice Foundation organized a very important event (at significant expense for our modest budget) at The Carnegie Library in Washington, DC. Why? To make it easy for some of America’s most prominent Muslim leaders – who were gathered in the nation’s capitol for the annual Islamic Society of North America convention - to be educated, and hopefully conscientized, on what arguably ranks as the most tragic and precedent-setting case involving a victimized Muslim, Post-9/11; the case of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui!
On the Friday and Saturday before the event was held, I personally handed a flyer on the event to Nihad Awad (executive director of CAIR-Natl.); Imam Mohamad Magid (president of ISNA); Dr. Zahid Bukhari (president of ICNA); to one or more ranking members of the Muslim American Society (MAS) and Muslim Students Association (MSA); and to a number of other high profile leaders in the Muslim-American community. Neither Awad, Magid, or Bukhari bothered to show up, nor did they deem it necessary to send anyone to represent their respective organizations. As far as I know MAS and MSA were no-shows as well.
Of the nationally known imams who received notice, only Imam Mohammad al-Asi considered the event important enough for him to be present, and to speak a word in defense of our sister! Imam Abdullah Faaruuq of the Mosque for the Praising of ALLAH (Roxbury, MA) would have been present were it not for a health-related issue (may ALLAH cure him), and so he sent a statement instead (see below).
Of the roughly 100 plus persons who were seated in The Carnegie Library auditorium at the height of the four hour program, one notable, Abdul Malik Mujahid (“Sound Vision,” Chicago, IL.) emotionally lamented the fact that a highly respected figure in the U.S. establishment – such as former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark – had to speak in a small auditorium in a building across the street from where a national convention was taking place.
The real crying shame, however, was that Professor Clark could travel all the way to Pakistan in defense of an oppressed Muslim woman, but her own prominent brethren in the fold of Islam could not travel across the street! It is also a crying shame that a program on Dr. Aafia Siddiqui – one of the most gifted, committed and abused young Muslims to ever grace America’s shores as a visiting immigrant – had to be held across the street from a nationally organized Muslim convention, in the very capitol of the country that has her wrongfully and brutally imprisoned!
The purpose of this open letter is to publicly appeal to the individual and collective conscience of America’s Muslim establishment. Unless and until we begin doing the things that we are commanded to do by ALLAH and His Messenger (i.e. “Stand firmly for justice as witnesses to ALLAH even if it be against yourselves…” – Al’Qur’an) we will never get the respect that so many of us crave. Until we learn how to STAND UP as men we will forever be burdened by the mental chains of neo-colonialism and psychological slavery. Until we begin defending our women, our children, and our communities we will forever confine ourselves to the dungeons of fear and spiritual stagnation!
What YOU Can Do
The case of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is a litmus test for Muslims in America - esp. for Muslim “leadership.” If we collectively fail to rise to the challenge of Aafia’s unjust imprisonment (under blatant unconstitutional conditions) the growing number of preemptively prosecuted young Muslim males do not stand a snowballs chance in hell of getting relief. We must understand this reality and respond accordingly.
From this point on, for as long as Aafia is imprisoned in America, every Muslim conference convened in the U.S. should have a segment dedicated to the plight of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui (and the campaign for her release) in one of its main sessions. MSA National should send out a directive urging all of its chapters to organize forums on campuses around the country geared toward educating the public (esp. fellow students) on who she is. (For the record, Aafia Siddiqui was a valued student leader of the MSA at both MIT and Brandeis; that should count for something!)
To any local MSA leaders who read this message, if your national leadership is too apathetic or intimidated to respond to this challenge, you should respond on a local and regional level.
The national organizations that have masajid and centers connected to them throughout the country (such as ISNA, ICNA and MAS) should encourage these centers to at least talk about the case of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, and do whatever else they can to help mobilize material support for her. If large centers can roll out the red carpet for occasional visits from representatives of the FBI, the US Military, or local and state politicians - or to local bigots who attempt to exercise a kind of veto power over the center via their occasional visits – than these centers should be willing to welcome the occasional visit of a defender of a fellow Muslim!
Organizations and individual leaders with ties to the political establishment should be putting “friendly politicians” on point regarding this sister's plight. It is a shame that not even the two Muslim congressmen on Capitol Hill (Ellison and Carson) have raised the issue of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui in their high profile representation of Muslims in America.
Nationally renowned men [and women] of knowledge should also be raising the issue of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui (and other political prisoners/prisoners of war) with their students, while conveying the message that responding to the plight of such persons is as binding upon the truly committed Muslim as are the five salat! Shu’yuuk who ignore this responsibility relegate themselves to the status of being nothing more than celebrity sheikhs – who TALK much, but are of very little relevance on the major issues of the day!
While I could say more, I think I’ve said enough. May ALLAH fortify, purify and preserve us in the never ending struggles ahead. Ameen.
Your brother in the fold of Islam,
El-Hajj Mauri’ Saalakhan
Director of Operations
The Peace Thru Justice Foundation