بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) as saying:
حَدَّثَنَا قُتَيْبَةُ بْنُ سَعِيدٍ، حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ الْعَزِيزِ، – يَعْنِي الدَّرَاوَرْدِيَّ – عَنِ الْعَلاَءِ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم “ الدُّنْيَا سِجْنُ الْمُؤْمِنِ وَجَنَّةُ الْكَافِرِ ” .
The world is a prison for a believer and Paradise for a disbeliever.
[Sahih Muslim 2956]
This entire life is a prison for the believers. However, within this prison there is a deeper level of subjugation and oppression – incarceration. Incarceration can take various forms, however, and one of the most insidious forms of unjustifiable incarceration is perpetuated against Muslims under the guise of empty slogans such as “freedom” and “justice.”
Margot Williams writes for The Intercept,
Some 780 Muslim men have been held at Guantánamo since 2002. More than 500 were released during the Bush administration, about 200 under President Barack Obama, one by President Donald Trump, and one so far by President Joe Biden. Many have been repatriated, while others have been transferred to countries that negotiated with the U.S. to accept them. Nine died in custody. Thirty-nine remain at Guantánamo today. Of those, 18 have been approved for transfer to other countries, including five approved by the Biden administration on Tuesday.
After the attacks on September 11th of 2001, the United States and its allies went on an indiscriminate campaign to kidnap anyone associated with anti-American entities across the globe. They stooped to the level of simply targeting all Muslims not belonging to the native ethnicity in certain countries (Arabs in Afghanistan for example), anyone appearing outwardly religious, anyone even accused of anti-American activity, offering rewards, and doing nearly no due diligence to determine whether or not their captives were associated with any militancy whatsoever.
The most notorious prison for Muslims in the war on terror resides on an American military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It is here that hundreds of Muslim men were illegally captured and of which thirty-nine remain. Guantanamo Bay is one of the most egregious violations of human sanctity in the world today.
Regardless of their guilt, of actual crimes or things which are only crimes because they were arbitrarily designated as such – in all developed legal systems major procedural errors can invalidate a case. Some possible reasons a case can be invalidated include: torture, forced confessions, inhumane captivity, lack of charge for extended periods of time, lack of access to counsel, lack or proof, and a myriad of other issues.
In September 2006, President George W. Bush acknowledged the CIA’s secret detention program, saying that 14 “high-value detainees” in CIA black sites had been brought to Guantánamo. (“I want to be absolutely clear with our people and the world: The United States does not torture,” Bush pledged in the same speech. “It’s against our laws, and it’s against our values. I have not authorized it — and I will not authorize it.”)
The United States has no firm transcendental moral anchor to base their worldview on. Whatever is in the interest of their elites or the sadistic desires of people of power is ultimately what prevails. The US military and its intelligence agencies tortured captives from day one. When these gruesome revelations came to light, liberals pushed for closing Guantanamo bay down. However, Guantanamo Bay and the strategies employed against inmates there were originally developed elsewhere:
At NPR, where I had by then joined a new investigative team, I worked with criminal justice reporter Carrie Johnson to expose another secretive prison system right here in the U.S., where convicted terrorists, mostly Muslim, were segregated in facilities known as Communications Management Units. Our editors dubbed these prisons “Guantánamo North.”
Some of the same inhumane conditions and tactics were borrowed from American experience in the Bureau of Prisons then exported to Guantanamo Bay.
Since then, the two prison systems have had a symbiotic relationship; developing more advanced methodologies of oppression. In Guantanamo:
Torture was always the subtext. As months and years of pretrial hearings dragged on, the defense lawyers continued to demand evidence about the conditions under which the captives had been held, details of their “enhanced interrogations,” and the reliability of admissions made while being held underwater, locked in a box, or standing naked and sleep-deprived in Afghanistan, Thailand, Poland, Lithuania, Romania, and Guantánamo.
However, surely these men are terrorists? Surely, despite how totally unjustifiable this is, at least it is being perpetrated against those who were responsible for the cold-blooded murder of thousands?
Detainees who have not yet been charged — despite being held for 15 to 20 years — can make their case to a panel of U.S. defense and intelligence officials as to whether they still “pose a threat.”
Most Guantanamo detainees never faced formal charges. Many inmates never survived the trip to Guantanamo, being killed by torture on the way.
Are those responsible for setting up Guantanamo and its torture regretful? Perhaps the American military was so caught up by the attack on the homeland that they acted rash, before calmer heads prevailed.
Returning in January 2020, I watched as the defense called a reluctant and antagonistic witness, James Mitchell, a psychologist known as the architect of the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” techniques. He testified just yards from the defendants waterboarded under his orders in the black sites. “I felt my moral obligation to protect American lives outweighed the temporary discomfort of terrorists who voluntarily took up arms against us,” Mitchell said, holding back tears. “I’d get up today and do it again.”
Allah عز وجل says,
إِنَّ الَّذينَ آمَنوا وَهاجَروا وَجاهَدوا بِأَموالِهِم وَأَنفُسِهِم في سَبيلِ اللَّهِ وَالَّذينَ آوَوا وَنَصَروا أُولٰئِكَ بَعضُهُم أَولِياءُ بَعضٍ ۚ وَالَّذينَ آمَنوا وَلَم يُهاجِروا ما لَكُم مِن وَلايَتِهِم مِن شَيءٍ حَتّىٰ يُهاجِروا ۚ وَإِنِ استَنصَروكُم فِي الدّينِ فَعَلَيكُمُ النَّصرُ إِلّا عَلىٰ قَومٍ بَينَكُم وَبَينَهُم ميثاقٌ ۗ وَاللَّهُ بِما تَعمَلونَ بَصيرٌ
Those who have iman and have made hijra and struggled with their wealth and themselves in the Way of Allah, and those who have given refuge and help, they are the friends and protectors of one another. But as for those who have iman but have not made hijra, you are not in any way responsible for their protection until they make hijra. But if they ask you for help in respect of the deen, it is your duty to help them, except against people you have a treaty with. Allah sees what you do.
[Surah al-Anfal, War Spoils (8):72]
Freeing the captives was such a concern that if a Muslim was incarcerated by the kuffar then RasulAllah ﷺ would supplicate loudly in the prayer:
حَدَّثَنَا مُعَاذُ بْنُ فَضَالَةَ، حَدَّثَنَا هِشَامٌ، عَنْ يَحْيَى، عَنْ أَبِي سَلَمَةَ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم كَانَ إِذَا قَالَ ” سَمِعَ اللَّهُ لِمَنْ حَمِدَهُ ”. فِي الرَّكْعَةِ الآخِرَةِ مِنْ صَلاَةِ الْعِشَاءِ قَنَتَ ” اللَّهُمَّ أَنْجِ عَيَّاشَ بْنَ أَبِي رَبِيعَةَ، اللَّهُمَّ أَنْجِ الْوَلِيدَ بْنَ الْوَلِيدِ، اللَّهُمَّ أَنْجِ سَلَمَةَ بْنَ هِشَامٍ، اللَّهُمَّ أَنْجِ الْمُسْتَضْعَفِينَ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ، اللَّهُمَّ اشْدُدْ وَطْأَتَكَ عَلَى مُضَرَ، اللَّهُمَّ اجْعَلْهَا سِنِينَ كَسِنِي يُوسُفَ ”.
Narrated Abu Huraira:
When the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Sami’ al-lahu liman hamidah (Allah heard him who sent his praises to Him)” in the last rak`a of the `Isha’ prayer, he used to invoke Allah, saying, “O Allah! Save `Aiyash bin Abi Rabi`a; O Allah! Save Al-Walid bin Al-Walid; O Allah! Save the weak people among the believers; O Allah! Be hard on the Tribe of Mudar; O Allah! Inflict years of drought upon them like the years (of drought) of the Prophet (ﷺ) Joseph.”
[Sahih al-Bukhari 6393]
Qadi ibn ‘Arabi al-Maliki said,
قال ابن العربي المالكي: “إلا أن يكونواأسراء مستضعفين: فإنّ الولاية معهم قائمة, والنصرة لهم واجبة بالبدن بألاّيبقى منا عين تطرف حتى نخرج إلى استنقاذهم. إن كان عدواناًَ يحتمل ذلك, أونبذل جميع أموالنا في استخراجهم, حتى لا يبقى لأحد درهم, كذلك قال مالكوجميع العلماء, فإنا لله وإنا إليه راجعون على ما حلَّ بالخلق في تركهمإخوانهم في أمر العدو, وبأيديهم خزائن الأموال, وفضول الأحوال, والعدةوالعدد, والقوة والجلد”
“The leadership [must be] with them, and giving them victory is obligatory upon the body so long as there remains an eye which can blink, until it is sent forth to free them – if possible then by force, [if not then] all of our [the Ummah’s] wealth must be gathered to free them, until there does not remain a single dirham. This is what the masters of all the scholars have said. To Allah we belong and to Him we all returning, as to what has happened to the creation in their abandoning their brothers to the enemies’ affairs: while in their hands are treasures of wealth, good circumstances, forces, numbers, strength, and fortitude.”
Shaykh al-Islam Taqi al-Din Ahmad b. Taymiyyah said:
قال شيخ الإسلام ابنتيمية رحمه الله: “فكاك الأسارى من أعظم الواجبات, وبذل المال الموقوفوغيره في ذلك من أعظم القربات”
“Freeing the [Muslim] captives is from the greatest obligations, and discharging wealth which was endowed for other than it is the best of deeds (bringing you close to Allah).” [Majmu’ al-Fatawa]
Whatever the Muslims remaining at Guantanamo did is irrelevant. It is impossible now for them to have a fair trial, and irreparable damage has been done to them due to torture. What remains is the obligation upon the Muslim community to free itself from sin by doing its best to advocate for their freedom.