Innocent until proven Muslim… so what now?
The recent case of Babar Ahmad, Talha Ahsan and the rest of those who have been extradited is unprecedented and a turning point in not just British Muslim history but also British history in general. From now on students and professors of law, politics as well as history and other disciplines will muse over this issue with great interest. Some will surely wonder how such things could happen in 21st century Britain, the oldest democracy in the world, others will see it as a triumph, probably out of prejudice. Now, we have the case of computer hacker Gary Mckinnon who will not be extradited because of Home Secretary Theresa May’s intervention under the Human Rights Act (which her government plan to repeal), even though, unlike Babar and co, Mckinnon pleaded guilty. Innocent, until proven Muslim.
Amongst the Muslims, Babar Ahmad was the bigger highlight. The media on the other hand would try to blight this by focusing the public’s lenses on the villainous caricature of Abu Hamza, moulded by the media. It takes a great deal of patience to even write, even briefly, about the case of Babar Ahmad. After enduring beatings, taunts and provocative remarks like ‘Where is your God now?’, sexual abuse, there were no prosecutions. What followed was eight long years of detention without being charged and the not so secret cooperation between the Courts, judges, British law enforcement, CPS, FBI and other governmental bodies all with the prearranged intent of extraditing the lot. The rest not need be retold. But why so much preparation? Because of the increasing pressure from the public and civil organisations. Some of who, sympathised with Babar and Co’s cause, others simply hated the extradition treaty between the UK and the US. We signed one of the biggest petitions in the internet, we blogged, we facebooked, we twittered, we made du’aa… and now we are left wondering was it all worth it?
Yes it was!
It exposed our government, our legal system and those who occupy and run the system. It exposed them as hypocrites. It is paving the way for UK- US extradition treaty like in the case of Gary Mckinnon case and the treaty was previously was debated in parliament, which showed unanimity amongst MPs for the need to change the treaty. But above all, many Muslims came together for a cause to help their brothers for the sake of the Almighty. It also made many Muslims engage in political activism, in which many Muslims were not engaged in before – So it was well worth it!
Instead of becoming too angry and frustrated, we should reevaluate ourselves in the light of what has happened. It has become clear, that Muslims have not firmly established themselves in the UK, and the West. By this I mean, we are not in a strong position to fight back against prejudice. Babar Ahmad isn’t the only thing that has happened to Muslims in the UK. It will not stop with him. So what now? We should increase in our political activism. We focus much on spiritual and Fiqhi issues. Praiseworthy as they might be, politics is something which many Muslims, ISoc’s and others neglect. Many of us don’t understand politics and not willing to learn about it. If this were the case of every Muslim, than we’d probably long be kicked out from this country. We should aspire to become lawyers, politicians, journalists, academics, intellectuals of the highest caliber. If we can do this we will become people of enormous influence. How? All of the above are some of the most highly respected and esteemed people in our society. The media simply cannot ignore them. We need media moguls, the likes of Rupert Murdoch (although, phone hacking isn’t a very good idea). The situation of the early Muslims eased due to the conversion of the likes of Hamza and Umar Ibn Al Khattab. Businessmen and entrepreneur’s, also have a role to play in the field of politics. Perhaps they can fund pro- Muslim media outlets? Wealthy Muslims spend a lot on Masaajid. This is praiseworthy and something that cannot be discouraged, but how many Muslims come together, spend and form something like a think tank which can influence government policies and party manifestos in favour of the Muslims? And I am not ashamed to say, that Muslims need to learn much from the Jewish community, who after suffering from centuries of anti Semitism, managed to pretty much silence all anti semites, by achieving such positions of influence. In other words, we should go a step further, and not just be content with petitioning and lobbying. Indeed ‘The believer does not allow to be stung twice from one (and the same) hole.’ 1
Finally, we should take solace in the stories of the Qur’aan. When the Prophet (peace be upon him) was going through the early difficult periods (and we are having it easy so far), Allaah would reveal to him stories of the Prophets and other stories such as the Boy and the King, giving him hope. One story we can take in this case, is Yusuf (AS). After being thrown in the well, sold as a slave, and imprisoned unjustly, just like Babar and co, he would later occupy a position of authority in Egypt. So perhaps, if Babar and co were ever to be released… what would be awaiting them? But if they spent the rest of their lives in prison, what would await them in the hereafter? We can only imagine.
- Muslim ↩