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Sons of the Sanussi



A violent and unhinged dictator has used overwhelming air power and foreign mercenaries to mow down Libyans who dare protest against his tyranny. Teachers, lawyers, and peasants have taken up arms in a rag-tag rebellion against the dictator. Egyptians vow to help their brothers and sisters in Libya but can do little due to their own difficult political situation. There are a great many similarities between the genocide perpetrated by the forces of Mussolini in his vain attempt to re-enact the Roman conquest of Libya and the actions of Gaddafi today.

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Back then, the Libyan people faced seemingly insurmountable odds against victory. They were armed with ancient rifles and swords whilst the Italian army faced them down with all the resources available of a modern state, everything from tanks to fighter planes. Despite the desperate situation, Libyans continued their struggle against their oppressors with persistence.

A large explanation of the will and resolve of the Libya people was exemplified in their leader – the Grand Sanussi. Although a native of Algeria, he studied in Morocco and developed his Sufi order in Makkah thereafter, before finally settling in Eastern Libya. the Grand Sanussi was the very embodiment of Muslim unity to his followers. From his base in Zawia Baida (the White Monastery) he called people back towards an Islam free of sectarianism and superstition. His message reverberated around the world, but nowhere more than his adopted homeland of Libya. Within his lifetime it was estimated that a third of all Libyans were part of his movement.

When Libya was invaded, the Grand Sanussi did not retreat back into the mosque but instead became the leader of the resistance. For years the Libyan people suffered but did not surrender. The Grand Sanussi died before he could achieve victory, but his son Muhammad Al-Mahdi Sanussi took up his mantle and continued the struggle throughout his adult life. At a particularly difficult moment, he travelled to Istanbul to discuss the deteriorating situation in Libya with the Ottoman Caliph. However, when he attempted to return home he found that he was prevented from doing so by the army of the oppressors. He would never see his beloved Libya again, instead spending his last days in Medina.

Muhammad Al-Mahdi left behind one of his followers to continue the struggle – his name was Omar Mukhtar. A Quran teacher from near Tobruk, Omar led the Libyans in their seemingly impossible struggle. Through a combination of faith and excellent military strategy, he managed to keep the hopes of victory alive. The oppressors showed no mercy, however, imprisoning large sections of the Libyan population in concentration camps attempting to starve them into submission. Over half a Million died before Omar Mukhtar was captured by the Italians. Three days later, he was hanged in front of his people as a warning to all those who dared believe that they could overthrow the oppression of tyrants.

The Grand Sanussi had died, Muhammad Al-Mahdi was exiled and Omar Mukhtar was martyred but the spirit of the Libyan resistance remained alive. Eventually, Libya would be granted independence but it was not the kind of independence that they had dreamed of. Instead, one of the grandchildren of the Grand Sanussi was appointed King of Libya with the help of the same colonial powers that had decimated his people and fought against his grandfather, uncle and mentor. Although pious, King Idris was little more than a puppet in the hand of outside powers. In 1969, King Idris was overthrown by a military coup led by a young captain called Muammar Gaddafi.

For a brief moment, the people of Libya allowed themselves to dream that they may have achieved victory. Unfortunately, their hopes were dashed as they watched the ambitious young Captain quickly take on the persona of the tyrants that they had been fighting and becoming ever more repressive. For the next 42 years, freedom was put on hold. Until now. The majority of the Libyan people have risen up once more, refusing to give up even when Gaddafi brought his vengeance to the gates of Benghazi. As NATO and the West implement a No-Fly Zone and launch air strikes to prevent a massacre on the scale of Rwanda, the fate of Libya still rests in the balance between the armies of a murderous dictator and the true sons of the Sanussi.

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Dr. Muhammad Wajid Akhter - National Council Member, Muslim Council of Britain | - Lead, National Muslim Covid Response Group | - Council Member, British Islamic Medical Association | - Founder, Charity Week for Orphans and children in need | - Co-Founder, Islamic History Channel | - International Director, FIMA Lifesavers



  1. Cartoon M

    June 2, 2011 at 3:15 PM

    Good article. I guess this isn’t the first time our Libyan brothers and sisters fought against an oppressor. May Allah make them successful and give them pious, sincere leaders.

  2. mofw

    June 2, 2011 at 9:06 PM

    With all due respect, this reads like a propaganda piece. It is ironic that the legacy of the great anti-colonialist freedom fighters of Libya are being invoked as the predecessors of the current rebels. This while these rebels ally themselves with neo-colonial powers that are currently bombing Libya, exceeding the limits of the UN resolution authorizing a no-fly zone.

    The situation in Libya now is complex, ambiguous if not downright dubious. This article does not add to our understanding, nor does it give us any kind of historical context for this rebellion. It could have been written in the same exact way in support of Qaddafi as a courageous freedom fighter following in the footsteps of the heroic ancestors of Libya.

    I have no love for Qaddafi but I also don’t trust the rebels and their Western backers. Remember Saddam Hussein? No one had anything good to say about him but if you ask an Iraqi now, they would concede his rule was better than the current chaos.

    This article falls far below Muslim Matters publication standards. I think it should be removed in favor of an article by an expert who can give this an objective and informative treatment.

    • Not saying

      June 23, 2011 at 2:09 AM

      The situation is not the same. We didn’t invade Iraq while rebels were in the midst of a massive war did we>

  3. WAJiD

    June 3, 2011 at 5:30 PM


    mofw – I respect your right to disagree with the gist of the article, but I think it is unfair (and a touch arrogant) of you to pre-judge my qualifications or to call for its removal simply because you disagree with the point of view I’m putting across. Silencing someone you disagree with is just so… well, Gaddafiesque.

    Why not be constructive and write your own counter-article instead putting forward your views about Libyan history vis-a-vis the current situation there since you clearly have some quite strong ideas on this?


    • mofw

      June 3, 2011 at 6:50 PM

      Dr. Akhter,

      I respect you for replying to my criticism.

      I must further disagree that my comment was about pre-judging your qualifications, it had nothing to say about your qualifications. Also, I did not call for the removal of the article because I disagreed with it, I did so because it lionizes these rebels without telling us anything about them. There is literally no concrete information about these rebels in this article.

      As for your invitation to write an article, I do not believe I am qualified to do so. While I have been following the situation closely, there are several conflicting reports, ambiguities and outright propaganda on all sides. You believe that if I were to write an article, it would be constructive behavior. I believe that describing the deficiencies of this article and calling for expert treatment of the subject is constructive.

      Furthermore, comparing me to Gaddafi is an ad hominem attack and also misplaced. I don’t mind you attacking me in this way, I thrive on it (and I AM arrogant, too), however, it is misplaced because I am not calling for censorship, I am calling for tighter editorial standards. By your definition, every time the MM editors decide that an article is unfit to be published, for whatever reason, they are being “Gaddafiesque.”

      I believe that the best course of action is to perhaps attach an addendum to this article that provides a solid background that supports your assertion that these rebels are indeed noble freedom fighters in the spirit of Mukhtar and Sanussi.

      • Umar

        June 4, 2011 at 7:43 PM

        Squibbling much?

        Thanks for the informative article WAJid, and mowf, yes of course there are huge ambiguities regarding the rebels and even’s Gadiffi’s role, but what’s with the refutation thesis above? Calling yourself arrogant? Forgive, if I’m assuming wrongly, but a Muslim calling himself arrongant…?!

        May Allah help us.

      • Brother

        June 5, 2011 at 8:44 PM

        Being arrogant is a sin. Also, publicizing your sins, as far as I know, is another sin. If you are in fact arrogant, don’t publicize it but rather work to eliminate it, for we humans have nothing to be arrogant about.

  4. Sulekha

    June 3, 2011 at 5:33 PM

    Wow, where do you start with this article? Much has been said by ‘mofw’ and I pretty much agree. Libya is far more complex than any of us imagine, the situation there is not analogous to Egypt or Tunisia and we can disregard the dramatic comparison with Rwanda! Libya is a moral dilemma for me because whilst I support all revolutions against tyranny, the involvement of NATO is nothing to applaud, the rebels are not pleasant protestors waving banners instead finding time to lynch dark skinned African migrants and what do we actually know about them? The fact that its proving so hard to dislodge Ghaddafi tells us much, maybe he has far more support than many of us think?

    • Not saying

      June 23, 2011 at 2:15 AM

      Woa, woa, it’s not as if the situation is as complex as you think. Yes, black Africans came from the south as mercenaries and, I believe, were killed I, may Allah have mercy and prevent murders over color. However to say the situation is complex is unfounded. It’s quite clear the rebel movement started to kick Gaddafi out, just as movements in other countries occurred and Gaddafi went way to far in attempting to quel the rebels. It isn’t that complicated at all.

      What does it matter if he has so much support? If he is a murderer, he is a murderer. Nazis supported Hitler. Americans still bombed them. It’s unjustified completely to kill civilians. But it’s also unjustified to just sit while people are being murdered.

  5. Mushood

    June 3, 2011 at 8:17 PM

    What a simplistic article on a complex conflict. To start let me make clear I am no fan of Gaddafi but I just see the rebels as worse and representing many things but certainly not freedom for Libyans.

    So who are the rebels? This is what As As’ad AbuKhalil a fierce critic of Gaddafi had to say about Jalil:

    ‘The Libyan people have been betrayed. Their revolution against the Libyan tyrant has been hijacked by US and Saudi Arabia. That lousy henchman for Qadhdhafi, Mustafa Abd-Al-Jali [leader of the rebel’s Libyan National Transition Council], is now a Saudi stooge who hijacked the uprising on behalf of a foreign agenda. I mean, what do you expect from a man who until the other day held the position of Minister of Justice in Qadhdhafi’s regime, for potato’s sake? And don’t you like it when Western media constantly refer to him as “the respected Libyan minister of Justice.” Respected by who? By Western governments.’

    Quite similar to their hero Idris who was a favourite of the colonialists. Its shameful that you even utter Omar Mukhtar’s name when discussing these rebels. He fought THE colonialists. These rebels fight FOR the colonialists.

    Jibril has been mentioned as being understanding of US interests also and is a favourite of the West. Back in 2007 in a West Point study the US mentioned that the disenfranchised in Eastern Libya could be used against Gaddafi which they ultimately have. They are fulfilling a Western agenda of destablising Libya. The rebels of course will look to benefit. The rebels have stated already that those who help them during this conflict will have access to Libya’s oil and resources. But let me state that the fact that Libyans have taken the kuffar as their ally is not even the main issue.

    More important is the fact that the TNC represent the Eastern part of Libya so it is incorrect to state that the people of Libya are fighting to remove Gaddafi. They are not representative of the whole country. They are not representative of all the tribes of Libya. they are a minority supported by the West to rule over the majority.

    If there is one thing everyone SHOULD have learned by now is minorities often gain support from the West in rule as they are often the most marginalised and therefore can guarantee rule for the benefit of their minority at the expense of the people as a whole. You guarantee a tyrant who will look after Western interests at the expense of the people. It is worth noting that there is also friction in the East due to the unequal makeup of the TNC with the majority of its members being members of the Harabi tribe. It isn’t even clear therefore if the TNC represent the East.

    It is the East with the help of NATO who are fighting their war against the rest of Libya. Now why do the East hate Gaddafi? It was the tribes in the East that benefited under the scoundrel Idris who as a result of their opposition towards his removal found themselves marginalised under Gaddafi’s regime.

    In a nation of 130 tribes Gaddafi provided resources and land to tribes he deemed loyal. The tribes in the East were especially hostile to the Fezzan tribe who strongly support Gaddafi and benefited under him at their expense.. This has been an uprising based on improving social standing by those from the East at the expense of the tribes who have benefited under Gaddafi. Therefore even those pragmatists who do not like Gaddafi are aware of the fact that the East is running a revolution for their own needs and not for the Libyan people. Those tribes who benefit under Gaddafi will not want to relinquish their position and are therefore opposed to the TNC.

    Evidence of this is the fact that the tribes of Libya including the Warfallah (the largest) have requested dialogue to bring an end to conflict but the TNC has stated they are not interested in dialogue. They have rejected dialogue with the tribes because the only interests they have are in their own needs and objectives.

    “We reject the fighting in Libya…we strongly reject foreign intervention,” declared Abed Abu Hamada , leader of the Megharbah tribe, in a speech to the televised gathering of white-robed elders. “We call on our brothers in the eastern regions – the armed ones, the misled ones – we call them to peaceful dialogue.”

    ‘Mansour Khalaf, who heads Libya’s largest tribe, the Warfalla, told reporters during the conference that although he denounces the uprising and supports Col. Gadhafi’s leadership, he would not send armed followers to join the Libyan army’s fight against the rebels, as some other tribes have vowed to do.’

    The rebels didn’t even appear at this meeting. But who needs the support of tribes when you have NATO? I mentioned earlier that the Fezzan tribe are huge beneficiaries of the Gaddafi regime and this has led to a lot of racial tension. This in addition to what some see as pro-Africa policies of Gaddafi has led to some additional resentment. There are 1million indigenous blacks in Libya and 1.5million foreign black workers including many from Niger and Chad who now live and are part of Libyan society. Those in the East essentially committed war crime after war crime against the black community in what was essentially a cleansing mission. Peter Bouckaert of HRW stated there is no evidence that mercenaries were being used by Gaddafi’s regime, but this was the justification provided for attacking anyone of black origin.

    Ali Abd-al-Aziz al-Isawi a senior member of the rebel council had the following to say about the blacks community.

    “They are a burden on health care, they spread disease, crime. They are illegal.”

    “They [the mercenaries] are from Africa, and speak French and other languages.”

    Many indigenous blacks do not speak Arabic, neither do some from Chad and Niger, and neither do foreign workers. This was an incitement to kill based on nothing.

    The following is from Time Magazine

    “A group of men from al-Baida executed 15 of the suspected mercenaries on Friday and Saturday in front of the town’s court house. They were hanged, says the country’s former Justice Minister Mustafa Mohamed Abd Al-Jalil. Indeed, many of the prisoners at the Aruba School are dual nationals — Libyans with roots in Chad or Niger.”

    “These are the people who came to kill us,” said Col. Ahmed Omar Bani, a military spokesman for the council, gazing on the detainees with contempt.

    Asked whether some of the accused might indeed be foreign construction workers, Bani replied: “We are not in paradise here. Do you think they’re going to admit they are mercenaries? We know they are, of course.”

    The irony is that British mercenaries are now on the ground helping the rebels. The rebels moaned about foreign mercenaries killing Libyans yet they themselves begged for NATO intervention and now have mercenaries on the ground. How heroic of them.

    Who do you think these 2.5million blacks want in power?

    Its worth noting that not only does the opinion of the tribal leaders not matter to the rebels, the opinion of the AU and the Libyan people as a whole does not matter either. The Libyan government has requested elections and the AU agreed on that plan. One aspect of democracy is that surely the people should have a chance to KEEP their leader. However it seems that no opinions matter other than those of the rebels and NATO when discussing the future for the Libyan people.

    718 dead civilians so far as a result of NATO bombing, and 4097 injured and for what? So a few disadvantaged tribes can regain the status they had under their puppet hero Idris and serve their new Western masters in every which way to say thank you for their support. It really is shameful that a site that claims to represent ‘Muslim Matters’ is endorsing a tribal conflict and taking the side of racist, Western backed insurgents.

    My stance is like that of many Libyans. They do not want the rebel rule as that is a guarantee of future tyranny and perpetual civil conflict. Gaddafi for all his faults ran a steady ship and once again the West has used destabilised a nation, and guaranteed itself a financial piece of the aftermath. Libyans do not want Iraq, Afghanistan or Somalia.

    Your article unfortunately in terms of its depiction of these rebels as heroes could not be further from the truth. I suppose you thought the Contras and Pinochet were good guys too.

  6. wade

    June 3, 2011 at 8:17 PM


  7. ahmad10

    June 3, 2011 at 9:46 PM

    Alhamdulillah, what a wonderful article. May Allah bless you for having written this. While some may disagree about the role of the Libyan rebels, such as mofw – it is imperative to understand who Ghaddafi is. If we understand who he is, then we understand the rebels. Ghaddafi is known to be a “tyrannous dictator” who kept his people under his fist. What he wanted was done. If he said this, it was so. And in this power, he corrupted much of the good in Libya. It was under this oppression that those who were fed up living under the dictator, decided to fight for what was innately theirs – basic human rights, and a Libya free of such tyranny. So one should not criticize simply based on what one has beenn seeing in the media for the past couple of months. To judge based on that is simply put, ignorant.

    To realize the true situation one must keep decades of information in mind, and see the truth of those years in ones eyes. One will realize that youth were killed just because they grew beards, and women were never seen again just because they put on the headscarf….Ghaddafi has purged all those whom he felt were a threat, or those that he did not even like. So to judge those fighting against him to be as bad, or worse than him by what is shown in the media for the last couple of months is a blatantly stupid way of thinking. It is the muslims of Libya, our brothers, who are fighting against tyranny. They want what is rightfully their, and to try and put a blemish on their characters is hypocritical and wrong.

    I cannot stress enough what I think to be the importance of one sentence in the article…

    “the fate of Libya and Libyans still rests in the balance between the armies of a murderous dictator and the true sons of the Sanussi.”

    May Allah give victory to our brothers in Libya. May Allah destroy the madman, the dictator, the oppressor – which is Muammar Ghaddafi.

  8. BrownS

    June 4, 2011 at 10:19 AM

    Thank you for a historically illuminating article.

    No love for Qaddafi, I’ve met enough everyday Libyans who describe him as an insane megalomaniac.
    At the same time, those fighting him (especially in Benghazi) may not necessarily be better alternatives. Financial imperialists have a history of co-opting these types of groups so that if they win, they get a foothold with which to rob the country blind. And apparently there is some evidence that this could be going on here as well. Wallahu a’lam, I’m in no position to evaluate such evidence.

    It’s a complex situation and I’m no expert, but I was hoping to see at least some such nuance in an MM article.

  9. WAJiD

    June 4, 2011 at 1:45 PM


    Thank you for your kind comments and your criticisms.

    1. I completely agree with you about being weary of the rebel ranks having their agenda and goals hijacked by NATO and other powers that are there to “help.” In fact, I wrote this article in the first days of the uprising back in February and the delay in getting it published here means that it is out of sync with the events that have taken place subsequently.

    2. Regarding the need for more nuance in the article, this is a historical piece primarily and not a news article. I fully support one side (those struggling against Gaddafi) and believe truth and justice to overwhelmingly be with them. Therefore, I am not a dispassionate and impartial observer delivering a report and this is not written as such.

    JazakAllah khairun,

    • BrownS

      June 4, 2011 at 11:31 PM

      Thank you for taking the time to respond. The delay in publishing this explains a lot, and so does your angle (historical vs. current events editorial). I guess it was just the ending of your article that I was sensitive to :) it just makes it seem like such a clearcut evil vs. good fight, and once you touch that aspect of things, I thought it would be natural to talk some more and dispel this simplistic view.

      Anyway, again, I appreciate the historical context. Jazakallahu khair.

  10. Zainab

    June 4, 2011 at 2:26 PM

    Assalamu alaykum wr wb…


    The article seems to be relevant for indeed it speaks about something that is a ‘Muslim Matter’…

    And Allah knows best each and everything!!

    The article must have come after some research which is subject to the availability of information at the time of research and constraints over space and time…

    On trying to look at the bigger picture, one may reflect upon certain points such as- One must not paint people belonging to a particular group with the same brush, i.e. not all the rebels can be of the same type or holding the same view…
    For example, everyone voting for a particular party in a certain election may not be having the exact same understanding and expectations from that party!

    This is to say that not ALL the rebels may have the same INTENTIONS and not ALL Western people may support what we vaguely call ‘Western’ propaganda…i mean, what really defines what is ‘Western propaganda’ now-a-days anyways?… seriously.

    As per Islam , ‘actions’ are judged by ‘intentions’ and NONE of us is in a position to judge ANYone’s intentions.

    As far as the involvement of the NATO forces is concerned, who knows whether the rebels asked for it or not? and whether ALL rebels entertain the same ideas?

    What we Muslims must do however, is to try to gain Knowledge about matters that may concern the UMMAH , all the while aiming at the implementation of JUSTICE and PEACE …

    Our concern is how to bring about an end or at least a reduction in the oppression faced by the common Muslim,
    all the while putting our expectations in Allah ta’ala and by not acting without proper knowledge.

    Moreover, those of us who are not even in Libya or any similar placxe for that matter, must simply try to use the weapon of Dua’a…to The Best Disposer of Affairs, Allah Ta’ala, alongwith some ammunition of wanting to help our brothers and sisters, in the most appropriate of ways, ways of justice and peace, seeking to please Our Lord.

    In all situations, Sabr and Shukr must be our companions and Tawakkal in Allah!…

    Veriiy, all good is from Allah Ta’ala alone ald all errors are my own (and from the accursed satan, audhubillah!)

    May Allah Ta’ala protect us from following the satan, even in small things, and
    May Allah Ta’ala facilitate all our affairs for us and help us to help each other…ameen.


  11. Junaid

    June 4, 2011 at 3:00 PM

    When King Idris was in power – The Libyans had a rallying cry of sorts , and it went something like ‘Iblees is acceptable and not Idris’ and that is exactly what they got in Gaddafi be careful what you ask for this time my Libyan brothers.
    I did not find much History in this article and this is a propaganda piece and the author has clearly stated and has not made an attempt to hide where his feelings and biases are and I do not think anyone should mind either.

  12. Tariq Nisar Ahmed

    June 5, 2011 at 2:42 AM

    Jazakum Allahu khayran to all those who posted comments, especially those who were polite and respectful to each other in their tone.

    After reading the comments, especially the author’s statement that he had not attempted to write a balanced piece, I have suggested to the editors that articles like this one come with disclaimers, even though MM readers alhamdolillah were smart enough to have seen for themselves that the piece was one-sided.

  13. WAJiD

    June 5, 2011 at 6:07 AM

    Asalaam alaikum my brothers and sisters,

    I must say that I am disheartened and dismayed at the thought that there are Muslims out there who feel that the situation in Libya is so unclear that any article supporting the rebels against Gaddafi is seen as “propaganda” , unbalanced and not worth printing.

    SubhanAllah brothers and sisters, would you say the same about an article regarding the massacre at Sebrenica? Or Chechnya? Or Kashmir? Or Palestine? No. But unfortunately, many are highlighting your own unjustifiable ignorance about the situation in Libya by wanting to equivocate between the two sides when no one aware of the facts could possibly do so.

    On one side are people who are good and pious Muslims (in the majority) who want freedom and have suffered for decades under a tyrant and oppression and on the other side is a dictator who has denied Hadiths and verses in the Quran, a man that has placed his own green book above the Quran, a man that has tortured tens of thousands and executed untold numbers for the simple reason that they were good Muslims and wanted to live by Islam and not Gaddafis pseudo-socialist state. A man who has authorised the rape of over 1000 Muslim sisters in Misurata – gang raped whilst their fathers and brothers watched. A man who is sending his goons around Tripoli, as we speak, searching out families that they believe are sympathetic to the rebels and gang raping their women and imprisoning their young men. A man who the ulemaa have condemned multiple times. A man who has abused the poverty of poor sub-Saharan Africans by paying them to go and kill his opponents or die trying. A man who has decided that his lust for power is worth destroying his entire nation for. What balance do you speak of?

    I have followed events in Libya and the Muslim world for the last two decades. I have read countless books and articles on the situation there – historical, social and political. I have discussed with multiple aid workers who are on the ground as we speak, as well as dozens of colleagues and friends who are from all parts of the country and from all walks of life. I have done my research – I suggest you do yours.

    Below are some views from the Quran and Sunnah regarding oppressors and tyrants. I hope that you will not find them too unbalanced and propaganda like:

    Narrated ‘Abdullah bin Umar: Allah’s Apostle said, “A Muslim is a brother of another Muslim, so he should not oppress him, nor should he hand him over to an oppressor. Whoever fulfilled the needs of his brother, Allah will fulfill his needs; whoever brought his (Muslim) brother out of a discomfort, Allah will bring him out of the discomforts of the Day of Resurrection, and whoever screened a Muslim, Allah will screen him on the Day of Resurrection . ”
    [Sahih Bukahri: Volume 3, Book 43, Number 622.]

    And We desired to show favour unto those who were oppressed in the earth, and to make them examples and to make them the inheritors.
    [Quran 28:5]

    Narrated Abu Ma’bad, that the Prophet said, “… and be afraid of the curse of an oppressed person because there is no screen between his invocation and Allah.”
    [Sahih Bukhari: Volume 2, Book 24, Number 573.]

    Narrated Abu Bakrah: The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: There is no sin more fitted to have punishment meted out by Allah to its perpetrator in advance in this world along with what He stores up for him in the next world than oppression and severing ties of relationship.
    [Sahih Muslim: Book 41, Number 4884:]

    Narrated Anas: Allah’s Apostle said, “Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is an oppressed one. People asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! It is all right to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor?” The Prophet said, “By preventing him from oppressing others.”
    [Sahih Bukhari: Volume 3, Book 43, Number 624.]

    • ahmad10

      June 6, 2011 at 11:54 PM

      Do not get dismayed brother (or Sheikh, I apologize.)

      There are many of us who feel for the pains of our brothers in Libya, and more so overseas.

      Those who see this as a “propaganda” piece have been so entwined into the American Media, that anything which supports any view other than that which is propagated by the News – is either wrong, or misleading, or a propaganda.

      Of course we would be hearing people saying that they the rebels are bad? No really….who are the rebels? Aren’t they all the able muslim men from everywhere in Libya that can get free of Ghaddafi’s grip, and have enough determination to fight the force that has ravaged upon everything they own for the past 42 years?

      So these people blaming them, or question their motives – they should realize that they are talking about every single man (and women in mentality) of Libya. There is no difference of opinion. The only ones supporting Ghaddafi (the kafir, as many many scholars believe) are those who are paid by him, or those who have the House Negro mentalities in Libya.

      That being said, one must also realize the audience that Muslim Matters propagates to. Judging from Facebook fans, to reading general responses – I think most are American, or Western…many non muslims, as well more “liberal” muslims. (liberal not in the sense that they are wrong, rather they are more flexible in some issues…not meant to be demeaning at all)…so thus one can see many responses such as ones that are being seen here.

      And there are many “strict” muslims here as well. (again, strict in not a demeaning way)…but they would form a minority in my opinion (from what I have seen in the past 4 years I have been reading)

      Keeping all of this in consideration, I just want you to realize that there are many who feel the same way as you do, Sheikh. But many times our views are undermined by the majority. I remember the hadeeth of this Ummah being a body. When one part feels pain, the whole body does too. That’s why fever is so harsh. But as a society here in the West, we have become so desensitized that instead of feeling pain, we act like it does not exist. We are like the cancer patient who cannot see the cancer…and we as an ummah (in the west, especially) are in a state of denial. We refuse to see the cancer – and feel the pain. The cancer which are these oppressors, and such.

      That’s why when we are confronted with issues such as why the muslims are suffering overseas, we jump to blame the eman (which I am not denying could be a problem)…we jump to blame muslims for not waking up for fajr…do we realize that in many countries if you wake for fajr, and are caught – you will never be seen again? We are blaming our shortcoming on our brothers and sisters overseas…

      But alas, as a community we pride ourselves on something that has no base, no foundation. And I am first and foremost responsible in that. It is not difficult for anyone with a clean and pure heart to wake for Fajr. Or to recite the Words of Allah…but how can we have a pure heart when we feel no mercy for our brothers and sisters overseas? How can we be clean in our hearts when we read ayaat and hadeeth such as

      Narrated ‘Abdullah bin Umar: Allah’s Apostle said, “A Muslim is a brother of another Muslim, so he should not oppress him, nor should he hand him over to an oppressor. Whoever fulfilled the needs of his brother, Allah will fulfill his needs; whoever brought his (Muslim) brother out of a discomfort, Allah will bring him out of the discomforts of the Day of Resurrection, and whoever screened a Muslim, Allah will screen him on the Day of Resurrection . ”
      [Sahih Bukahri: Volume 3, Book 43, Number 622.]

      …and feel no sorrow for allowing them to be handed over to the tyrants. Tell me, how can we be clean in our niyyah, when our mindset is not clean? The Mind and the Heart cannot work independently, leave alone the action which is a culmination of the two. Forget about following the sunnah or even the fard when your mind does not comprehend it, and your heart does not accept and yearn for it.

      But their concern is not ours correct? That is what we have been told? We should not worry about it?…

      That is not even worth answering, such a low and pathetic argument.

      In the end, Allah will judge between us. Let us keep wasting our times turning the alarm clocks on for 5AM but never turning our hearts on for 5AM.

      May Allah forgive me for any mistakes I have written. I pray that Allah grants Jannah to every one of his submitting slaves. May Allah protect you Sheikh (or brother) and grant you all that is good.

  14. WAJiD

    June 5, 2011 at 6:23 AM

    Here is a list of just some of the scholars who openly back the rebels against Gaddafi. Again, I hope you will not accuse them of being biased propagandists who have done no research:

    1. Hamza Yusuf calls Gaddafi an oppressor and tells Muslims to pray for the victory of his opponents:
    “I hope Ghaddafi’s reign comes to an end soon for the sake of Libya’s beautiful people. They deserve much better and, in sha Allah, they will get better. In each of our daily prayers, we should all pray for their succor and divine aid. God answers prayers, and there is no barrier between the oppressed and God.”

    2. A coalition of Libyan Islamic Scholars issue a fatwa to rebel against Gaddafi:
    A coalition of Libyan Islamic leaders has issued a fatwa telling all Muslims it is their duty to rebel against the Libyan leadership and demanding the release of all jailed protesters. Regarding the Government they said it is “…undeserving of any obedience or support, and makes rebelling against them by all means possible a divinely ordained duty.”

    3. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi issues fatwa authorising the assassination of Gaddafi:
    “Whoever in the Libyan Army is able to shoot a bullet at Mr. Gaddafi should do so.”

    4. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi calling on the Sons of Omar Mukhtar to rise up i.e. drawing the same analogy as I have that the rebels are the true heirs of Omar Mukhtar and his Sanussi roots:
    “O sons of Omar Al Mukhtar, rise up against this despot. Stand up & bring Libya to what it was from this despot.”

    5. Aid Al-Qarni calling the struggle against Gaddafi a religious obligation and those who died doing so were martyrs:
    Instead of supporting Colonel Qaddafi, the cleric issued a fatwa against him, saying it was “a religious obligation” to fight oppressors and to provide medical and humanitarian help for the protesters. Those who died trying to liberate their country from dictators were “martyrs,” he said. “This is, in fact, a blessed revolution against tyranny.”

    6. Mufti of Al-Azhar calls Gaddafi an oppressor:
    Sheik Ahmed el-Tayeb, head of al-Azhar University in Cairo, one of the most prominent seats of Sunni learning, condemned Colonel Qaddafi as an “oppressor.” The Grand Sheikh of al-Azhar called on army officers and heads of the police force in Libya “not to take orders” from the Qaddafi regime to shoot at the protesters. “A leader has no justification in Islam to shed blood to keep his worldly reign against the will of the people,” Sheik Tayeb said.

    7. Scholars of Gaza endorse fatwa against Gaddafi:
    A group of Palestinian experts in Islamic doctrine agreed in Gaza today to join the fatwa issued by the well-known Sheikh and preacher, Yussef Qaradawi, who yesterday called for Libyan army officials and soldiers to kill the country’s leader Muammar Gaddafi if presented with the opportunity.

    8. Sheikh Mohammed Shaheem of Maldives calls against Gaddafi:
    Former State Islamic Minister and member of the Adhaalath Party Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed has called on the international community to help stop the “violent inhumane actions” of Muammar-al-Gaddafi. ”Gaddafi is wicked evil man whose cruelty has reached to an extreme level,” said Sheikh Shaheem in a statement. ”He has used excessive force over the citizens of Libya.” Sheikh Shaheem said that today all the Muslims should pray for the citizens of Libya, ”and should pray that he gets destroyed by his own evil actions.”

    9. Prominent Libyan Islamic Scholar, Ahmed Al-Salabi, supports rebels against Gaddafi:
    He said Islamist scholars and groups backed the council, based in the traditional Libyan opposition bastion of Benghazi and headed by ex-Justice Minister Mustafa Abdel Jalil. “All these accusations by the Libyan regime that these young men are linked to al Qaeda are lies. I was supervising the dialogue with these young men. They want a modern civic state with an independent judiciary, the rule of law and government of institutions with a new constitution agreed on by all Libyans.”

    10. Sheikh Saleh Al-Lehaydan of the Supreme council of religious scholars in Saudi Arabia condemned Gaddafi:
    “The bloodshed should be stopped. Qaddafi’s government is not Islamic. He is an usurper who rebelled against the Sanusi king about four decades ago and never received the oath of allegiance of the people,” said Al-Lehaydan. The scholar added that Qaddafi is an evil conqueror who rejected the sayings of the Last Prophet (peace be upon him). “He is not a leader, but a vulgar ignorant Bedouin, an arrogant man with military power,” he added.

    11. Sheikh Haitham Al-Haddad supports the rebels against Gaddafi:
    “The believers are showing that they can very easily revive the dignity of the ummah and be rid of the clothes of humiliation.” He goes on to say, “Similarly, the Muslims of Libya have had enough of Gaddafi’s tyranny, and just like the Egyptian people, they will march in the streets until the tyrant is gone.”

    12. The family of Umar Mukhtar himself have come out against Gaddafi and have supported the rebels, visited their injured in hospitals etc…

    Apologies if my last 2 posts seemed blunt, but this is no place for complacency. Let me reiterate that I am not in favour of NATO and am as weary of their involvement as anyone else. However, to say that those fighting against Gaddafi are not worthy of our support or to equivocate between them and Gaddafi is to betray the martyrs, the widows, the orphans and the oppressed Muslims.

    • Sulekha

      June 5, 2011 at 7:41 AM

      No one is supporting Ghaddafi! What we are saying is that this is not a clear cut issue, a recent UN report has accused the rebels of war crimes, how funny would it be to see Ghaddafi tried at the ICC with members of the rebel council? It is absolutely misleading to present the Libyan rebels as representatives of a mass national movement even if we support their essential aim of removing Ghaddafi. The conflict has opened up both tribal and racial wounds and we would not see the fall out till well after the event.
      Its nice that you are ‘weary’ of NATO’s involvement but seriously we all marched when the West wanted to invade Iraq, even though Sadaam killed and opressed his own people as well as gassed the Kurds, we would no doubt march if Iran was threatened with the same predicament, how is then that we have no problem with NATO bombing Tripoli because the rebels asked for it…surely not all of Libya want to endure the uncertainty and horror of bombings on a daily basis? Do you suppose that it has alliviated the problems of the opressed Muslims?
      Besides how ironic of the Supreme council of religious scholars in Saudi Arabia to condemn Ghaddfi’s government for not being ‘islamic’, as for Sheik Ahmed el-Tayeb, do you remember any fatwas coming from him vis a vis Mubaraks ‘unislamic’ and tyrranical rule?, are you aware of his complacency and at times endorsement of the regimes policy vis a vis the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt? In relation to Al-Qaradawi, funny how he saw Bahrain as a fight between Sunnis and Shia’s but sees no lines in Libya…in short most of the people you have cited with the exception of Al Haddad who I respect immensely have a few questions of their own to answer.
      The only real hope for Libya is proper dialogue, Ghaddafi’s position is weakened enough for that to happen but it seems as if the rebels with the help of NATO’s airpower and ground troops are in no mood for it.

  15. Brother

    June 5, 2011 at 8:56 PM

    Well, Sadat was assassinated, and Egypt got Mubarak. What was the point in that?

  16. Deen

    June 6, 2011 at 11:06 AM


    Debate is a good thing – people are entitled to their own opinions and this is a complex case. That is to be respected. There is no problem with difference of opinion and debate – that is the diversity of the ummah.

    But we should be very careful about criticising anyone, let alone scholars, so easily without much evidence – Particularly the scholars. These are people who have dedicated their entire lives to the deen, to scholarship and to the service of the ummah. The Prophet (saw) said the scholars are the inheritors of the prophets. We may disagree with some of them, their views, their fatawa, their political stances. But I think we just need to be careful about questioning their integrity. This is their honour that we might be undermining – that is very serious, and they are in no position to defend themselves to any allegations posted up here!

    Does this mean we should never scrutinise people? No, of course not. But it is not fair to criticise and doubt the integrity and credibility of a scholar just because they are not our ‘cup of tea’. Yes they are in a position of leadership and responsibility, so they are more accountable for what they say and do because people will listen to them. But it is just very strange to think that we – who cannot even compare ourselves to their level of knowledge and da’wah – place doubt on their entire status because we happen to not agree with some of their views. Notably scholars themselves do not publicly criticise or accuse one another, even when they have deep disagreements with one another.

    Bear in mind the consequences of the tongue – the Prophet (saw) said: ‘the servant speaks words, the consequences of which he does not realise, and for which he is sent down into the depths of the fire, further than the distance between the east and the west’ (Bukhari). And we should also make 70 excuses for our brother and sister, and not defame them nor do anything that will damage their honour. The one who covers up the faults of a fellow Muslim will have his/ her faults covered by Allah on the Day of Judgment.

    We can make our points and arguments without directly undermining individuals directly by name. We never know who has earned the pleasure and mercy and forgiveness of Allah despite their faults, and we don’t know how many mistakes we may have committed ourselves without even realising it. Please can we maintain the best Adab and Akhlaq when we are debating and disagreeing with one another – there is absolutely nothing wrong with have different views and expressing those forcefully. But we should not defame each other, question each others’ integrity and make allegations. We do not want to slander anyone while we are trying to stand up for the truth – that will cancel out all our efforts. May Allah protect us all.

    • Not saying

      June 23, 2011 at 2:21 AM

      I think the word for “scholars” is “knowledgeable”. I’m not sure we really should be conflating the two.

  17. Abu Kamel

    June 7, 2011 at 3:39 AM


    As salam alaikum

    Wajid, the endorsements of the Libyan rebel alliance by ulama STILL does not authenticate the Libyan ruling council and its decisions.

    Rather, these endorsements could mean a general approval to resist Qaddafi. They may NOT take into account the more recent revelations of who exactly constitute the rebel leadership.

    For example, there is a group called the National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL). This group has been in existance since 1981. One of its members, Khalifa Hilter, resided in the USA until returning to Libya to head the rebel operations.

    The NFSL enjoyed CIA funding and colloborative support from the Sudanese and Saudi regimes in the 1980s.
    Hifter was the NFSL’s military leader in 1996 when he was training Libyans in exile to fight Qaddafi.
    He called it the Libyan National Army and was considered like a Contra army.

    So a CIA man and a longtime CIA funded organization is likely running the rebel alliance. How can that be endoresed by ulama?

    The reality is: it is forbidden for Muslims to form a military alliance with nonMuslim powers, especially those that are adamantly against Islam and the liberation of Muslims from Western control.
    NATO being such a power that has expressed its resistance to the resumption of an Islamic state and Shariah in Muslim lands supposedly sovereign and separate from Western power.

    Moreover, it was within the grasp of Libyan believers to liberate themselves from nonMuslim and malicious powers when they FIRST declared independence from Tripoli. Ben Ghazi people should have called for Egyptian military intervention to protect them from Qaddafi. The Egyptian military is the largest Muslim military in the region and is fully capable of defending Ben Ghazi and liberating Libya of Qaddafi.
    In order to secure Egyptian military commitment, Muslims of Libya should have called for a unification of Libya and Egypt into a unified state. As a unified state, the resources of Libya could have gone to fuel and assist Egypt’s development while Egypt’s miltiary and manpower could go towards liberating and securing Libya. Such a unification is what Islam mandates in today’s world. And this is what the Shariah requires when a people are unable to defend themselves: the nearest capable Muslim people should move to defend them.

    From a practical economic standpoint, the assurance of Libyan resources into an Egyptian economy would have provided a stabilizing factor for the Egyptian economy. Instead, both Egypt and Libya remained divided by artificial national borders, both subjugated to Western powers, both too weak to resolve and solve their problems.

    But the NFSL, Libyan leadership, and the Egyptian military proved themselves either grossly ignorant of Islam, for which they are unqualified to lead Muslim people, or utterly treacherous of Islam and the cause of Islam, for which they are unqualified to lead Muslim people.

  18. Mushood

    June 7, 2011 at 10:04 AM


    Often a diversion tactic that is used when discussing this conflict is to attack those who oppose the rebels by labeling them supporters of Gaddafi. If the Baluchistan Liberation Army decided they wanted to rule Pakistan with Western support then I would oppose them also as would many Pakistani’s despite their dislike for Zardari. Many in Libya who may dislike Gaddafi may pragmatically believe him to be a better option than to be ruled by a Western led marginalised minority who have been cleansing Libya of black people. This point seems to have eluded you as all your scholastic quotes showed was opposition to Gaddafi amongst the non-partisan scholars.

    I and many others opposed to the rebels are not trying to prove that Gaddafi is a wonderful man. We are showing that the rebels do not represent anything close to an improvement. Pepetual civil war under a Western led tyrannical minority is not what most Libyan’s dream of when they wake up. Gaddafi is not being fought by the sons of Omar Mukhtar nor is he being fought by the ‘people of Libya’. I have written plenty in my original post regarding the identity of the rebels which you did not address but is worth asking, why didn’t Gaddafi fall without intervention?

    If NATO didn’t intervene then the war would be over. The people as a whole did not rise up, the tribes in the East did. Gaddafi himself retains power through support of the major tribes. If they decided to switch sides then Gaddafi would have indeed fell but that did not happen did it? So on what basis do you continue to call this a revolution of the people?

    Gaddafi is being fought by disadvantaged tribes searching for social mobility and have done so through the assistance of the Kuffar whilst promising those who assist them access to Libya’s riches. Gaddafi has called for dialogue and elections, the Libyan tribes outside the East have called for dialogue and elections, the AU have called for dialogue and elections. NATO and the rebels are not interested. The reason being that they both desire regime change regardless of whether the people as a whole desire it. They both know that the rebels are not the popular movement in Libya. The West prefer this setup because minorities make for reliable rulers who place the needs of their minority above those of the people and also place the needs of who provided them power over those of the people.

    Just out of interest did you endorse the Karzai, Chalabi and Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed? Do you honestly believe that the West has endorsed the rebels because the rebels represent the people and will look after the needs of the people over those of the West? Your hatred for Gaddafi has led you to endorse any movement against him, regardless of that movement’s objectives, allegiances or actions.

  19. Mohammed

    June 7, 2011 at 10:02 PM

    Salamu Alekum,

    Just to clarify something I’ve noticed in the discussion. The constant reference to the “Eastern tribes” as being the source of agitation in Libya is incorrect and rather simplistic. The rebellion may have had a strong base of support in Benghazi given a number of reasons, including regional tensions, but one should add that many cities, such as Misurata in the west, also rose up. The whole of the Jabal al-Akhdar region (which is considerable) also rose up. The only areas I believe that did not experiance any open acts of protest was Sirat, which is traditionally the Ghaddafi tribe’s (the Ghadadifa) stronghold. The capital, Tripoli, experianced constant protests from its moques until actual bombardment by artillery was used on the more restive neighbourhoods.

    Another thing. Some readers have suggested that the fact that Ghaddafi’s persistance and survival so far is indicative that he may still possess some form of public support. This is difficult to guage I think, primarly because he never allowed for the establishment of unified government institutions (decentralization to the revolutionary councils/ no unified military command…etc.) Although there have been defections within the military,the most considerable military units are those under the direct command of his sons. This explains I think a good deal of his persistance — his family is fighting for its death, because they know they cant run anywhere.

    These are just some of my thoughts.


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