Section: Religion

An eye for an eye, or save the lives of mankind?

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by Shahindha Ismail

“…whereas, if anyone saves a life, it shall be as though he had saved the lives of all mankind” (Al-Mai’dah – 5:32)[1]

Some few of us have spoken on the penalty of death in the Maldives. We have discovered many, many flaws in the trials and processes of criminal justice that have led to the verdicts to kill. Those of us who spoke against implementing the sentence have faced some heavy criticism, if not harassment, for having spoken against it. We have been called anti-Islamic, defenders of criminals, and we have been labelled as disbelievers. It is quite interesting, the rigour with which some of us have defended the death sentence with Islam here in our small nation. A 100% Islamic state – at least according to the Constitution.

The first person to comment on my previous article about killing Humaam, Kirudhooni, concluded, “until a relative of the writer is brutally killed the voice is justified”. Allah forbid that a relative of anyone face such an end. I cannot speak for those who have lost loved ones to brutal murders, but I can certainly understand their pain. Little do you know, Kirudhooni, that I have had my relatives face some unimaginable pain and brutality around here. I don’t see any benefit in putting those perpetrators through the same pain. The benefit I do see, however, is to prevent them from causing further injustice to another, and it does not have to be through violent means. I do not believe in taking an eye for an eye – what would I do with that third eye anyway? The two that Allah blessed me with are just fine as they are.

وَجَزَاء سَيِّئَةٍ سَيِّئَةٌ مِّثْلُهَا فَمَنْ عَفَا وَأَصْلَحَ فَأَجْرُهُ عَلَى اللَّهِ إِنَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ الظَّالِمِين 42:40

“But [remember that an attempt at] requiting evil may, too, become an evil: hence, whoever par­dons [his foe] and makes peace, his reward rests with God – for, verily, He does not love evildoers” (Ash-Shura)[2]

Thus the question that has burned a hole in my world of late: When did we become such a rancorous, unforgiving society?

It makes me wonder if our nation has always been like this. The answer I get every time is that no, we were a much gentler people. There were, of course, times when the whole country have shaken with the shock of those few events that we still hear of to this day – about the darkness, the iniquity of it. I do not believe it is our culture. It is what we call atrocities – what few people commit and the rest cannot relate with. There is the story of when Ibn Batuta, the Moroccan missionary who became a judge in the Maldives, first sentenced to cut the hands of a man, the people in the court fainted.[3]

Let us think about it. We have so much to think about, to do in a day, let alone a lifetime. Why should we resort to taking the life of another? I do not believe any of us have that right.

We, or at least many of us, have been raised with a common value. Forgiveness. As children our parents tell us to “let it go” many times. We carry that value close to heart through life, and eventually teach our children that vengeance serves no purpose, that bitterness is only a reflection of ourselves, and that forgiveness leads to peace. I wonder how many of the families who lost someone to brutal murders were reminded by the State of the concept of forgiveness in qisas. It appears to me that the notion of forgiveness associated with qisas in the Qur’an was deliberately omitted from the discourse. Why have our renowned sheikhs not spoken out about this issue? Not raised the aspect of forgiveness in these very trying times where a woman who lost her husband to a vicious slaying, the mother and father who lost a son in a blood bath, have faced the decision of whether they would like to have the man who is believed to have killed their loved one, killed in return? What state of mind are these families in when they are handed the fate of a man held captive? Was anyone asked if they would choose any other form of qisas?

وَكَتَبْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ فِيهَا أَنَّ النَّفْسَ بِالنَّفْسِ وَالْعَيْنَ بِالْعَيْنِ وَالأَنفَ بِالأَنفِ وَالأُذُنَ بِالأُذُنِ وَالسِّنَّ بِالسِّنِّ وَالْجُرُوحَ قِصَاصٌ فَمَن تَصَدَّقَ بِهِ فَهُوَ كَفَّارَةٌ لَّهُ وَمَن لَّمْ يَحْكُم بِمَا أنزَلَ اللّهُ فَأُوْلَـئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ 5:45

“And We ordained for them in that [Torah]: A life for a life, and an eye for an eye, and a nose for a nose, and an ear for an ear, and a tooth for a tooth, and a [similar] retribution for wounds; but he who shall forgo it out of charity will atone thereby for some of his past sins. And they who do not judge in accordance with what God has revealed – they, they are the evildoers!” (Al-Mai’dah)[4]

How unfortunate and unfair that the most beautiful and powerful portion of the verse has not been talked of in our society. “but he who shall forgo it out of charity will atone thereby for some of his past sins

وَإِنْ عَاقَبْتُمْ فَعَاقِبُواْ بِمِثْلِ مَا عُوقِبْتُم بِهِ وَلَئِن صَبَرْتُمْ لَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لِّلصَّابِرينَ 16:126

“Hence, if you have to respond to an attack (in argument], respond only to the extent of the attack levelled against you; but to bear yourselves with patience is indeed far better for you, since God is with] those who are patient in adversity” (An-Nahl)[5]

Did the courts ever remind a family that Allah is with those who are patient in adversity? That patience is better for them? More importantly, why have we, as a community, looked on when men and women, in their moment of great weakness and sorrow over the unjust killing of a loved one, have been fed with the tools to do away with another life, been fed more bitterness and vengeance in the face of that calamity that will have changed them forever from the gentle souls they were raised to be? I fear it may be too late if we look on.

ذَلِكَ وَمَنْ عَاقَبَ بِمِثْلِ مَا عُوقِبَ بِهِ ثُمَّ بُغِيَ عَلَيْهِ لَيَنصُرَنَّهُ اللَّهُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَعَفُوٌّ غَفُورٌ 22:60

“Thus shall it be. And as for him who responds to aggression only to the extent of the attack levelled against him, and is thereupon [again] treacherously attacked – God will most certainly succour him: for, behold, God is indeed an absolver of sins, much-forgiving” (Al-Hajj)[6]

وَلَكُمْ فِي الْقِصَاصِ حَيَاةٌ يَاْ أُولِيْ الأَلْبَابِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ 2:179

“for, in [the law of] just retribution, O you who are endowed with insight, there is life for you, so that you might remain conscious of God!” (Al-Baqara)[7]

Why have we not spoken of forgiveness entirely?

Have we been fooled to believe that Islam only teaches to take an eye for an eye? If this is so we will have a completely unforgiving nation a few generations down the line, would we not? Which turns my thoughts to the future. The generations that we will groom to lead us to peace and the right path – our children. Will we raise them to lead that dark life of hatred and vengeance?

No. The culture, the Islam, the identity of this small nation that our ancestors left us was something peaceful and gentle. We do not want to leave a legacy of blood for our children. We want them to learn that Allah is the ultimate owner of our souls, and that a life can only be given and taken by Him. Not on the streets and not by a state. We want them to have faith in truth and justice, and learn patience and forgiveness.

[1] www.islamicity.com

[2] www.islamicity.com

[3] Ibn Batuta in the Maldives and Ceylon, Albert Grey

[4] www.islamicity.com

[5] www.islamicity.com

[6] www.islamicity.com

[7] www.islamicity.com


 

Related:

Are we all going to kill Humaam?

Maldives state ready to kill Humam, and a way of life

Stop the death penalty, speak up

Shari’a and the death penalty: how Islamic is Marah Maru?

No sympathy for people like us

A tightening of the noose

Not in our name

Maldives state ready to kill Humam, and a way of life

HumamDeath

by Azra Naseem

In the early hours of the morning on the 19th day of Ramadan, as most of the country slept, the Maldives Supreme Court upheld the verdict by lower courts to kill Hussein Humam Ahmed. The 22-year-old man was convicted of killing MP Dr Afrasheem Ali on 2 October 2012 in a trial laden with irregularities.

Regulations introduced recently say the sentence must be carried out within 30 days. Umar Naseer, Home Minister until a sudden resignation on Tuesday this week, has said the State is now ready to kill by hanging - the only thing missing was someone’s neck to put the noose around and squeeze the life out of. The Supreme Court delivered that last night in the shape of Humam.

Humam’s killing will be the first in the Maldives since 1953, even then a rare thing. Moroccan traveller Ibn Batuta wrote of the Maldives in the 14th Century:

The inhabitants of the Maldive islands are honest and pious people, sincere in good faith and of a strong will…In body they are weak and have no aptitude for combat or for war, and their arms their prayers. One day in this country, I ordered the right hand of a robber to be cut off; upon which many of the natives in the hall of audience fainted away.

Today’s Maldives could not be more different. Crime is rife. Murders are commonplace. Stabbings are almost a daily occurrence. Robbery is regular. Corruption is widespread. Deception is natural. Violence is culture.

Something has gone seriously awry with the society’s moral compass.

Dr Afrasheem’s murder was one of the most brutal and violent the country had ever seen. Afrasheem left behind young children, a wife, parents, siblings. They all deserve justice, like everyone else. But there’s too much doubt about whether or not Humam is his killer. Afrasheem’s murder was a contract killing, that much everyone agrees on. Did Humam do it? If he did, who gave the orders? His conviction is based on confessions, retracted as many times as they were given. The legal apparatus will not let a psychiatrist judge his state of mind despite an insanity plea.

And, too many people—Umar Naseer, former Commissioner of Police and current JP MP Abdulla Riyaz, former police and military intelligence officers to indicate just a few—have pointed fingers at people other than Humam, ranging from the very top of government and various political parties to religious extremists, for this verdict to sit well with any right thinking member of society. Today all of them are holding their tongues as Humam is readied for the noose.

The Supreme Court’s decision is political. And so is Afrasheem’s murder said to be.

Many offer informed speculation that the MP could have been murdered for his seat in parliament or for his intentions to contest in then forthcoming presidential elections. He would have given other members of his party a run for their money. He was a popular man. Some reports say there was involvement of radicalised religious elements in Afrasheem’s murder – but, even if so, not without a political connection.

The Supreme Court is controlled by the very same people interested in hiding who really killed Afrasheem, if the informed speculation is based on truth. The court has long since placed itself above the law, ensconced inside the pockets of political leaders. As those awake waited tensely for the ruling on Humam last night–which came over three hours later than billed–the court issued a press release warning potential critics of serious repercussions if they openly disagreed with the court’s rulings.

The Supreme Court’s decision is political in another way. It panders to the strict Salafi clerics and their philosophy of ‘progression through regression’ that now dominate Maldives society. It caters to their demands for a legal system in the Maldives based on Sharia alone. This is a demand expressed by the whole spectrum of Salafis in the Maldives from the apolitical to the radicals and the violent ‘Jihadists’ who have emigrated to SyriaThe Supreme Court decision will appease them.

It also panders to the overlords who facilitate, finance and continue to groom Maldivian Muslims to become Salafis: Saudi Arabia.

The noose around Humam’s neck will put an end to not just his life but to two problems the government encounters: rumours of President Yameen’s involvement in Afrasheem’s murder that just won’t die; and accusations that it is not following the path of ‘true Islam’, i.e, Saudi-led Salafi Islam.

There is still a significant part of Maldivian society today, like me, horrified by the Supreme Court decision which ignored even the last-minute pleas by the murdered victim’s family for a temporary reprieve. Without the Sharia concept of Qisas, which is what the entire case is based on, was lost. Yet the Supreme Court went ahead, making a mockery even of Sharia.

We should understand this verdict is a harbinger of things to come: a society characterised by injustice, faux piety, and appeasement of the radical. There was a time when none of us could have imagined life in Maldives dominated by strict Salafi ideology. Today it is a lived truth. Tomorrow seems likely to be totally ruled by it.

At death’s door is not just Humam, but what is left of the long-lived Maldivian identity as a peace-loving non-violent society of Muslims who practise their religion without committing violence and human rights abuses in its name.


Correction: This article previously said “When the Sharia concept of Qisas became unavailable, the court opted for Ta’zir.” This was not the case. The bench simply chose to ignore plea by Dr Afrasheem’s family for a temporary reprieve, and went ahead with the ruling, flouting the concept of Qisas.

Photo: Humam being brought to court, Raajje.mv

Maldives fighters in Syria warns government & leaders

by Azra Naseem

Bilad Al Sham, the media section of Maldivians fighting in Syria, has released a YouTube video describing the country’s leaders as Taghut – unjust tyrants, opponents of the Prophet, or evil powers—they are at war with. Makers of the video describe it as ‘a small warning.’

The video is accompanied by a nasheed – a piece of music sung a cappella, popular among fighters in Syria and Iraq. The words are said to have been written by Abu Nuh, a young Maldivian who died in Syria in 2014.

AbuNuh

The video shows clips of all recent Maldivian presidents—Maumoon Abdul Gayoom (1978-2008), Mohamed Nasheed (2008-2012), Mohamed Waheed (2012-2013), and Abdulla Yameen (2013-present). In one clip Gayoom is shown in front of a group of school children who appear to be bowing to him.

Another clip is of Nasheed giving a speech in which he says, “people do not want amputations, executions, or stoning in the Maldives”. Superimposed onto this is a picture of the Maldivian constitution to time with the singer’s words speaking of their [the fighters'] refusal to obey earthly laws. “We will not approve, even if beaten, we will not approve, even if killed, we will not approve,” he sings.

The number of Maldivians who want Maldives to be governed strictly according to the Shari’a and Shari’a alone has been steadily increasing in the last decade or so.

The clips of Nasheed are followed by a picture of Yameen with the Maldives constitution in hand, at the ceremony in which he was sworn in as President. “We will not obey a human who disobeys the Creator”, says the song. Accompanying this is a video clip of Gayoom welcoming former US President Bill Clinton to a local airport, followed by a video of the Maldives parliament, in a session presided over by Waheed. Video effects show a slow fire spreading across the screen.

“Oh, Allah, Allah, I distance myself from this land of oppression, from this cruelty”, says the singer, accompanied by videos of the violent confrontation between Maldives police and a group of men who laid siege to a mosque on the island of Himandhoo in September 2007. It was the first incident to draw the world’s attention to changing religious practices in what was then considered to be a wholly ‘moderate Muslim country’.

These clips are followed by a video of Waheed and then speaker of parliament Abdulla Shahid during an honour guard. In this video, too, a fire slowly rises to consume the figures on screen. The video then shows pictures and clips of Maldivian fighters in Syria, before cutting back to a celebratory crowd in Male’ who seem to be moving in unison to music. “I distance myself from this infidelity”, says the singer. The video then cuts back to Maldivians in Syria.

“O Taghuts, weak humans, this is a small warning, a war we are waging. O unbelievers, the mobs of Satan; what we want, however much you disapprove, is to free slaves from the slaves”. This part of the song is again accompanied by video clips of the violence between police and the men who laid siege to the mosque in Himandhoo.

The video begins and ends with a man shooting live bullets from a machine gun at a makeshift target, a thin frame holding pictures of three men: former presidents Gayoom, Nasheed and Yameen. The bullets tear through the men, causing the pictures to fall to the ground.

In the last frame, the shooter tramples on them with his boots.

Controversial numbers

The issue of Maldivian fighters in Syria has become a political hot potato with the government accusing the opposition of inflating figures to suit its own agenda, and the opposition accusing the government of deliberately underrating them.

Leader of the opposition, former president Mohamed Nasheed, convicted of terrorism charges in a trial the UN and other international organisations condemned as a travesty of justice, has spoken on various international fora of the large number of Maldivians leaving to fight in the wars in Syria and Iraq. Nasheed has consistently put the number of Maldivian fighters in Syria at over 200.

Yesterday, speaking in London at the launch of a new United Opposition in exile, he put the number at 250, saying Maldives has the world’s highest per capita foreign fighters in the region. On one occasion his international lawyers warned of the likelihood of a Tunisia-like attack on the Maldives’ tourism industry.

The government has, in turn, moved to downplay the issue, variously putting the number of Maldivian fighters at well below hundred, 50, or even 30.

Such low figures are hard to accept given the regular flow of Maldivians leaving for Syria since 2014, sometimes in large groups and quite often as entire families. The government has imposed a policy of blanket silence on the issue, refusing to divulge any information to journalists. Prior to the implementation of this unannounced policy, the country’s largest newspaper Haveeru (now closed down under court orders) and Maldives Independent, along with other news outlets, used to bring regular coverage of Maldivian fighters leaving for Syria and Iraq. This has now come to a virtual standstill.

The government’s policy of denial has made it hard to understand the true extent of the spread of ‘Jihadist ideology’ in the Maldives. Efforts to research, analyse and understand the phenomenon are also hindered by the government’s refusal to publicly share any steps it is taking to address the issue, and what kind of programmes, if any, it has initiated to stem the flow of fighters leaving for Syria.

Nor have the authorities revealed who is behind the undoubtedly highly successful recruitment drives within the Maldives encouraging locals to leave their home ‘country of sin’ to be ‘true Muslims’ waging war in the name of God.


Related links:

Leaving ‘Paradise’ for Jihad: Maldivian Fighters in Syria, and the Internet 

From Paradise Now to Paradise Hereafter

Maldives students are taught that democracy attracts Allah’s wrath

Politics of radicalisation: how the Maldives is failing to stem violent extremism

The Long Road from Islam to Islamism: A Short History

Bilad Al Sham Media