The Islamic faith requires Muslims to believe in and practice five pillars. In our day and age, condemning terrorism committed by extremists seems to have become the sixth pillar.
There is an online video of a Muslim commentator on Australian television giving an interview to a national news station. In spite of the terrorism committed in the name of Islam, his firm stance in building a progressive case for the role of Muslims in western societies was captivating. He could have spoken from a weak, defensive, apologetic stance that is adopted by some commentators speaking on behalf of Muslims.
One thing he said was particularly striking:
If you ask me do I condemn the attack, I would say no, not because I condone it or I justify it, but because I reject this discourse which puts the focus on disempowered individuals and let’s those in powerful institutions get away scot free. The entire Muslim community is [made out to be] responsible [by] asking them to condemn and apologize and distance [themselves] and ignores the greater injustice. I reject the discourse. It’s not the act that I justify, it’s not, but it’s the focus that is unfair and unjustified.
I contrasted this with what transpired a few weeks back. In the aftermath of the assassination of UK parliamentarian Jo Cox, some conservative Muslim organizations local to her Batley constituency went out of their way to condemn the act. It was as if they were forcing themselves to take ownership of the crime and then disassociating themselves from it. Though everybody else in society had expressed their outrage, I found this wording strange given that nobody else had issued such a statement of condemnation. The Muslims organizations could have taken advantage of this opportunity to call it what it was: right-wing extremism culminating in terrorism. But they did not possess the foresight to highlight this.
I believe this was an inadvertent spillover from what can be described as the ‘condemnation culture’ of Muslims against the terrorism that is done in their name. It is a trend that has burdened Muslims for 15 years, ever since the 9/11 attacks, in which Muslims genuinely felt Islam’s name could have been tarnished by not speaking out. Now, it is a phenomenon that Muslims – especially in the West – have allowed themselves to be consumed by, either willingly or unsuspectingly.
The Jo Cox affair was not the first issuance of a condemnation by a Muslim organization. Following the Paris attacks late last year, the Muslim Council of Britain purchased ad space in The Daily Telegraph and Mail Online to publish a condemnation. Additionally, online fatwas with multiple signatories from global Muslim leaders have appeared on numerous occasions, all to the same effect.
Even then, the right-wing press condemned Muslim organizations for not condemning vociferously or quickly enough.
It now seems that Muslim organizations feel the need to raise the ante of apologies anytime there is a terrorist attack committed by a Muslim, lest the denunciations do not register with non-Muslims. Nowadays, whenever there is a Muslim attack, you can count on some Muslims to condemn it, even prematurely before the full facts are established, and in progressively stronger language.
But we, as Muslims, need to change the script, and I would offer as follows: First, until we find out more, I urge all Muslims not to rush to “defend”, or send press releases or blog posts that dish the same, scripted narrative of insecurity: “We Muslims condemn terror.” These kinds of comments play to our (supposed) collective insecurity and it’s not clear to me they have any real impact. Fight the urge to write anything at all that says anything about “condemning terrorism”, “Islam is a religion of peace”, or the like.
Video:Muslims Are Victims of Terrorism
It is almost like the Muslims have become ‘condemnation dealers’, dispensing the opium of Muslim condemnation to western politicians and media, who have been made so addicted to it they need to have a higher dosage anytime there is a terrorist attack. It is time the Muslims grew a backbone, stopped condemning terrorist, and put the right-wing media through cold turkey. There is no need – in fact it is counterproductive – to pander to governments’ security crackdowns and the media’s sensationalist news headlines. Enough is enough.
This bend-over-backwards approach to condemning Muslim terrorists is at odds with the approach adopted in aforementioned Australian Muslim commentator’s quote. Of course, only one of these two approaches can be the correct route: to condemn or not to condemn. As Muslims need to have a strong, united voice on this, only one should be promoted and considered worthy for adoption; the other must be discarded.
To this end, Muslim organizations, leaders and activists should take an honest assessment on whether the race to condemning almost every act of terrorism in the past decade and a half has yielded any fruitful results for the western and global Muslim communities.
I was already firm in my conviction that Muslims must stop condemning terrorism. As I researched this matter, this belief was made absolute; instead, they should focus on making positive cases for the role and place of Muslims in the West. The unhealthy obsession of Muslim organizations and leaders with condemnations has snowballed into a type of self-flagellation.
But how much longer are we to continue doing this? How can we live as a healthy community if we become overwhelmed with guilt and fear every time a lunatic decides to commit a barbaric crime? How much longer should we pander to the unfair expectations laid out for us to meet?
Analyzing what both Muslim and non-Muslim commentators have said thus far in rejection of the condemnation culture, I have collated those insights in one piece, so it may be consulted whenever Muslims are inevitably be put in the spotlight and are called to condemn Muslim terrorists. Whereas some items in the following list are of my own observations, I hereby give credit to the many political analysts on various platforms who have shared their thoughts on this pertinent subject, all of whom have been referenced. This piece has also been designed to be as comprehensive as possible, casting the widest net possible in the acquisition of the best and most distinctive insights supporting the theme of this piece.
The Muslim community should not condemn terrorist crimes by Muslims, not because Muslims condone or justify the act of crime, but because of the disproportionate focus on their disempowered community at the expense of those in power who have the same, similar or even greater crimes to their name, which go either unreported or underreported.
Condemnations cannot be a healthy entry point into the ideological fight against terrorism and the discussion on its causes, which is where the focus of the debate should be.
Condemning implies Muslims are in need to lift themselves as a faith community from sub-human barbarism to humanness – a negative by-product of the being in a state of perpetual condemnation.
The killing of innocent civilians is a monstrosity. To be suspected of condoning something as monstrous and being asked or expected to disassociate oneself from it, simply because of one’s faith, is grossly unfair. Muslims are bearing the brunt of this.
Peoples of other religions and no religion are assumed to be innocent and outraged when one of their affiliates perpetrates acts of crime and terrorism. Until the same presumption of innocence is not afforded to Muslims, there would be no reason for Muslims to persist in condemnations when they could clearly be futile – the very assumption of guilt leveled at Muslims is destructive.
Condemnations are not proven to shield the Muslim community and its prominent figures from accusations of extremism. BBC presenter Andrew Neil, the UK’s ex-Prime Minister David Cameron and the UK defense secretary Michael Fallon all grotesquely implicated a prominent Imam in the UK, Suliman Gani, with extremism and supporting ISIS and put his family in danger by doing so, even though this Imam is on the record of rejecting ISIS, terrorism, extremism and violence.
As per the prophetic tradition, Muslims believe in assisting Muslim criminals out of their criminality, not disassociating themselves from them or disowning them.
The corpus of Quran and prophetic tradition is sufficient in condemning all acts of criminality and terrorist atrocities. This is immutable and will remain unchanged from crime to crime. The Quran and prophetic tradition do not have a shelf life, nor do they expire or are in need of being refreshed or updated. Muslims must refuse to be trapped in the condemnation cycle on behalf of their faith. Most non-Muslims would have probably memorized the relevant passages from the Quran and prophetic tradition in this regard.
Habitual condemnation against Muslim terrorist outfits has resulted in Muslims criminals being anathematized from Islam altogether, which in itself is a grave matter from the Islamic perspective, especially given that perpetrators are many a time said to be suffering from mental and psychological problems and cannot even be properly declared as deviants. Furthermore, condemnations oftentimes accompany salvific supplications (e.g. “RIP” or “May God rest their souls”) for non-Muslim victims of terrorism, which from the theological perspective are impermissible.
Pushing entire groups of people outside the fold of Islam – in other words doing exactly what it is that forms the basis of the ideologies we want to reject – is not a productive foundation on which we can heal our faith and build ourselves. It is not how we deal with the problems we’ve yet to even diagnose despite their tangible presence. Aside from the legal conditions necessary to declare someone outside the fold of Islam – sorry, President Barack Obama does not suffice – we cannot deny that groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda are part of Islam. Islam beyond just a religion, that is. They may not be representative of the faith, its principles and creed but they are working within the framework of Islam as they understand it and interact with it. And they are also part of a long tradition of similar groups, ideologies and individuals who ultimately were met with defeat because they just were not sustainable because they were not representative of the principles, beliefs and spirit of Islam.
Muslims should not fall into the trap of become mouthpiece and tool of western governments, their agencies and right-wing ideologues that possess ulterior anti-Muslim motives through the medium of Muslims issuing such condemnations. Those who have these ulterior motives tend to brandish words like ‘Islamism’ in response to Muslim terrorism. Just as anti-Zionism is sometimes used to disguise Judeophobia, attacks on ‘Islamism’ are used as a front to attack Islam itself, and by extension the Muslims. Condemnations perpetuate the exploitation of these ulterior motives.
Zaid Shakir on the importance of living Islam for Islam and the media silence on domestic terrorism
Muslims protest at how people of other ethnicities, religions and orientations are not implicated, or are asked to condemn crimes, when one of their affiliates perpetrates an act of criminality or terrorism. Nay, those acts are actively shielded by media many outlets and politicians from the label of terrorism, demonstrating the West’s selective application of the terrorism label, or the bar of terrorism being lowered in the case of Muslims. The case of the Chapel Hill shootings is an example of this, which can be contrasted with Francois Hollande’s hasty judgement on the Nice event as an act of terrorism even before investigations had started on the killer and his motives.
In my job in the communications department at the Chicago office of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago), I have witnessed the public reaction to many horrific crimes involving Muslims around the world. After the murders at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, public demand forced CAIR representatives to make media appearances and release statements explaining that the criminals that murdered the 12 staffers were not representative of Islam.We live in an unfortunate media climate where this has become expected. Muslim leaders condemn terrorism only to be labeled apologists or spin doctors, yet still western dialog demands this ritual of condemnation each and every time some nutjob, who just so happens to be Muslim, commits a violent act. On Tuesday night it was Muslims who were killed by a white male atheist. I am white and male and my spiritual beliefs float somewhere between atheist and agnostic. When I woke up Wednesday morning, after the Chapel Hill story broke, my phone didn’t ring. CNN didn’t call asking me to explain how not all white atheists are murderers. Richard Dawkins didn’t have to draft a press release condemning atheist extremism and no one gives me nervous glances when they try to find parking near my house.- Renner Larson -CAIR Chicago
Extant Muslim condemnations, as well as western media coverage of terrorist attacks across the world, are lopsided. Terrorism in Bangladesh, Burma, Central African Republic, Indian-administered Kashmir, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Yemen, Saudi Arabia etc., in which tens or even hundreds of people die at once, do not attract the same condemnations or media coverage as a police shooting incident in the United States, an airport attack in Western Europe or a hostage situation in Australia would do. Even al-Azhar, the GCC, Egypt, the Arab League and Turkey publish their condemnations, most recently for the Nice attack. The level of condemnations from Muslim organizations, not only in the West but across the world, seems only to mirror the level media coverage in the western media for terrorism that occurs in the West, which – according to John Simpson of the BBC – is ‘grotesquely selective.’ The selective expression of outrage is antithetical to Muslim values, especially given that the first victims of terrorism are Muslims in Muslim countries; and many a time, Muslims have endangered their own lives in trying to stop terrorist acts in their tracks, but this does not as much coverage as the spilled blood of Americans and Europeans does.
Live from the @islamophobia16 ex FM Jack Straw sinking in a lake of ignorance. still asking “Muslims to be more loud in condemning 9/11”
Condemnations only work when facts remain the cornerstone of the media and society, when society is not bound by the shackles of despondence and fear. When facts no longer remain relevant and are substituted by irrational anti-Muslim bigotry, issuing condemnations is a luxury that Muslims – with their backs against the wall – can no longer afford, as there would be more immediate priorities than insisting on issuing condemnations whenever a terrorist crime is committed.
The media disproportionately focuses on the vocal fringe that claims to represent Islam. It does not give fair coverage to Muslims who are opposed to that fringe. This breeds the unfair accusation that Muslims have not been vocal enough. As the western media has been relatively uninterested, or already satisfied, with the condemnations of mainstream Muslims, there is not much point in further condemning anytime a crime by a Muslim is committed. The little coverage that Muslims have gained in opposing the fringe should be considered sufficient and Muslims should fall back on that instead of wasting more of their time and resources in issuing denunciations.
There is a perception that those wanting Muslims to condemn are indirectly subjugating Muslims into accepting the particular values or lifestyles of victims that may run contrary to Islamic values. The attack on the LGBT community in Orlando is an example, having triggered an intense discussion on Islam’s stance on homosexuality, even though Islam’s position on homosexuality was irrelevant to the crime committed. Another example was free speech and Charlie Hebdo: Muslims make no apologies for opposing for what the paper stands for and profoundly disagree with its xenophobic material that results in the demonization of entire Muslim underclass of France (and elsewhere) – and this is at a time when Muslims in the crosshairs of the corporate media and are the main victims of the western war on terror. Muslims do not have to agree with Charlie Hebdo’s material in order to be trusted when they say that a crime was perpetrated against its offices.
There is a bizarre phenomenon of non-conservative Muslims demanding from conservative Muslim leaders to condemn terrorism, yet still blame them for the terrorism that the conservatives would have condemned. In other words, liberals hold their very conservatism responsible as the basis for the crime. It has reached the point where Muslims are expected to condemn their own sources of faith. It is disturbing that the culture of condemnation is now being used to attack Islam itself. It is even more concerning that gullible Muslims are falling into this trap or questioning the tenets of their faith.
16. Given that every single major Muslim leader and organization in the West has repeatedly denounced terrorism – which is now demonstrably insufficient for governments and the media as they crave for more from Muslims – it is evident that this is less to do with terrorism and more to do with the position of the Muslims themselves. The Muslim community is in effect being told to accept responsibility for a problem that has been of the western governments’ own creation.
Answering the call to condemn is akin to answering the subliminally-posed question on the allegiances of Muslims in the countries they are citizens of.
Non-mainstream Muslims such as liberalists and Ahmadis – but also a number of mainstream non-Ahmadi Muslims – who wholeheartedly remain enslaved in the condemnation ritual tend to reflex towards the attempt to craft some universally acceptable version of Islam. This may buy time, but it is highly unlikely to translate into credibility in the long term.
Muslims need to be a transformative group that imbibes courage, commitment to justice both internal to themselves and externally with non-Muslims, character and principle, not for some positive publicity, self-interest, or to deflect some negative press. Making up for the present credibility deficit is key for Muslims in the West as that is the only way to enlist the respect and trust of non-Muslims, many of whom want to genuinely work with and help Muslims but feel there are barriers of the Muslims’ own making. If Muslims show they are being affected by Islamophobia by constantly condemning terrorism, the perception of Islam will have been further damaged in the eyes of non-Muslims who have to endure both Muslim terrorism and Muslims condemning. Islamophobia doubly affects them as it affects Muslims. There can be no real coalition building without respect and mutual trust. The condemnation ritual is a form of a subconsciously self-imposed colonialism in the post-colonial era, which strips Muslims of credibility and erodes trust.[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdJHgKYPSRg[/youtube]
Contentious fringe sects like the Ahmadis at the forefront of the condemnation game, and have in fact gone as far as dictating to mainstream Muslims to unite with them in condemning Muslim terrorists. Mainstream Muslims should refuse to do so and must not acknowledge leadership for them on anything pertaining to religio-politics. It is rich that they ask mainstream Muslims to join them, but when mainstream traditional Muslims issue a statement of their own with hundreds of signatories, no Ahmadi leader signs it.
Muslim criminals generally are not dealt with in a manner that non-Muslim criminals and terrorists are. Whereas the latter are afforded a light-touch mention after careful deliberation of their right-wing tendencies, or a sympathetic inquisition into their mental health, the former are heavily scrutinized and almost solely investigated for their religion, political motivation and Muslim ideology. The global media’s attention falls on their background, origins, and local Muslim community. The right-wing Britain First murderer of the British parliamentarian Jo Cox is a case in point, in which the mass media made brazen its hypocrisy by failing to label its perpetrator as a terrorist, even though the right-wing political motives and affiliation of her murderer, Thomas Mair, were evident. Neutral analysts have agreed that that the media discourse would have been radically different had the murderer been a Muslim, with the entire Batley Muslim community subject to intense global media scrutiny had the killer been a Muslim. Other obvious examples are Dylan Roof, Robert Dear and Anders Breivik. According to US statistics, between (and excluding) 9/11 and the June 2016 Orlando shooting, there were more incidents and deaths caused by right-wing extremists than by ‘violent jihadists.’
But terrorism experts caution that because the Islamic State seems to have broad appeal to the mentally unbalanced, the displaced and others on the fringes of society, there are limits to how much any military campaign in Syria and Iraq can reduce violence carried out in other countries on the group’s behalf.
Islam does not subscribe to the West’s notion of guilt by association or collective punishment; philosophy and international law is on their side of this argument. Muslims, by their moral code and ethics, do not consider themselves responsible or accountable for unjustified acts of violence done in their name, as their faith itself rejects it. When Muslims do honestly condemn, it still comes off as somewhat unnatural due to this precise reason. Whereas clarifications on Islam’s stance on terrorism and crime are welcome, the condemnation game is inherently alien to the Islamic tradition. The western media, however, routinely concocts false links and connections that are simply non-existent, based on some views shared between mainstream Muslims and Muslim terrorists. Regarding the Orlando killer, one respected news reporter and journalist in the UK, Jon Snow of Channel 4 News, tweeted that Omar Mateen visited Saudi Arabia twice, from which he inferred that this had an influence on his criminality, and in turn implicated the entirety of Saudi Arabia in the process. Saudi Arabia happens to be visited by millions of Muslims annually from across the world and there was no justification for such a tweet.
Orlando mass murderer Omar Mateen, visited Saudi Arabia (home base of radical Wahhabism) in 2011,2012 (Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman)
The Islamophobic segments of western society will never accept Muslim condemnations, and even falsely accuse Muslims as liars, apologists and spin doctors when they condemn. They are now so sophisticated and deeply advanced in their Islamophobia they now use Arabic terms like Taqiyyah as a slur.
Condemnations have become reflex actions that seek to distance Muslims from negative press. Instead of achieving this goal, the opposite seems to be taking place: Keeping Muslims in the limelight through the medium of condemnation is effectively bad press. Routinely issuing condemnations does not make any Muslims safer than before. In fact, they make them more vulnerable to Islamophobia.
Constantly condemning leads to the immunization of non-Muslims from empathizing with Muslims, which in turn normalizes bigotry against Muslims. Normalized, systemic, institutionalized bigotry is worse than sporadic violence. The UK Conservative peer Baroness Warsi stated that prejudice against Muslims is so normal that it has now “passed the dinner-table test.” Keeping Muslims in the spotlight through the medium of condemnation is partly responsible for this.
To be absolutely clear, it is evident that Islamophobia has become the accepted form of racist xenophobic bigotry in America today. Unlike Anti-Semitism or homophobia, which are roundly (and rightfully) condemned by every corner of American society, we are seeing increasing levels of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim rhetoric growing around the country… 
Constant condemnations against Muslim terrorists contribute to the climate manufactured by Islamophobic zealots and feral anti-Muslim think tanks such as Quilliam and neoconservative think tank The Henry Jackson Society, among others, who thrive off and profiteer from fear-mongering and hate generated by demonizing the entire Muslim faith community.
There is an imposition of unrealistic demands on the Muslims community to be more vocal in its condemnations. One UK newspaper, browbeating Muslims, proposed that Muslims denounce ISIS by marching through London in massive numbers with placards saying ‘not in our name’, arguing that Muslims had “done too little in public to express solidarity with the victims in Paris and the civilised, tolerant democracies in which they live and which IS want to destroy.” Right-wing media outlets frequently complain that Muslims are not vocal enough when condemning, or do not speak out altogether. This is proof that the condemnation panacea has failed. The acceptance of the right-wing media should not be considered the standard for the acceptable level of noise required to condemn terrorism. It is highly likely that Muslims shout out their condemnations from the hilltops and the media will still not consider this adequate.
Despite this avalanche of condemnations, it’s clearly not reaching—or not persuading—many of my fellow Americans. In fact, a Zogby poll released just last month found alarmingly that the favorability ratings for Muslims in the United States had fallen from 36 percent in 2010 to 27 percent.
There is no empirical evidence that condemning or government-sanctioned programs like Prevent has had any impact on the ground with Muslim criminals who are already radicalized or Muslims who would potentially be radicalized.
Islam encourages pre-emptive education, and high standards in general in which honesty and integrity and vital. Condemnations by nature are PR stunts, not education, and represent a very low standard that does not assist in building integrity. Radicalized or potential radical Muslims are not foolish to pay heed to condemnations. Condemning is not a card that saves the Muslim from radicalization.
Condemnations are part of the ‘politics of respectability’, whereby minorities try to show they are compatible with the existing order of things. The problem with this is it places the focus on the minority, rather than the conditions which create the imbalance and unfairness in society.
Terrorists do not pay any heed to statements of condemnation. To the contrary, they thrive off denunciations and would not hesitate in branding those who condemn them as sellouts, Uncle Toms, hypocrites and apostates who themselves deserve to be killed. The kill-list of prominent Muslim scholars and activists published by ISIS confirms this.
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Condemnations tend to be issued by Muslims in authority. Radicals are by nature rebellious to such authorities. Statements of condemnation are bound to exacerbate their radicalism further than quell it. In essence, those condemning are in effect preaching to the choir.
No number of condemnations can prevent terrorism that is rooted in alienation caused by governments, such as the cases of Jihadi John and structural Islamophobia in France causing radicalization in the local Muslim population. Muslims believe that radicalization rooted in unjust foreign policy, acts of political expediency and double standards of governments has not been sufficiently addressed in media discourse, or by Muslims perpetually condemning terrorist acts for that matter. Condemnations of these terrorists are merely a distraction from the real debate that needs to take place.
Part of the distraction that the condemnation culture brings is the lack of discussion on the erosion of civil liberties, not only against Muslims (who are disproportionately affected), but all of society. Muslims should use the attention to highlight this, instead of wasting the opportunity by condemning acts they are not responsible for and making scapegoats out of themselves.
Condemning has become a synonym for apology. Denunciation of terrorism is a form of apology – for Islam itself and for being Muslim. Muslims must refuse to apologize for the crimes of others, even though they may be their co-religionists who are associated with them through shared, universally-recognized aspects of the faith. Muslims have apologized far too often for a cancer they are victims of. Muslims do not need to disavow or apologize for what is killing them.
Being constantly on the defensive by pretending to accept one’s status as a pilloried and psychologically battered community turns away Muslim prospects, which is against one of the objectives of the faith. Condemnations by nature are not statements of positivity. If condemnations are going to be face of Islam, then it is the faith that will invariably be associated with the very crime of terrorism that Islam has disassociated itself from. Not every truth needs spelling out. There is a reason why believers in God do not say “God is the creator of apes, dogs and pigs.” There is a reason why Islam’s laws on capital punishment are not the first thing presented to persons interested in Islam but happen to disagree with the concept of capital punishment. There is a reason why Muslim dietary laws on meat, game and slaughter are not the first items that are presented to a vegetarian interested in the religion.
37. In zones of conflict, more Muslims have died than anybody else at both the hands of Muslim terrorist organizations and the military/sanction interventions of western governments in Muslim countries, which have destabilized an entire region. Likewise, Muslims in the West are bearing the brunt of anti-Muslim rhetoric of politicians, draconian legislation disproportionately targeted at them, and a security apparatus in which Muslims are considered guilty before proven innocent.
It therefore makes no sense for Muslims to condemn global terrorism when they are the primary target of terrorism – both vigilante and state-backed. Examples of ‘collateral damage’ – a euphemism for state-backed acts of violence and terrorism, which in turn breed vigilante terrorism – are too numerous to mention.
This anxiety has varying sources and manifests itself in different ways. From Muslims feeling compelled to apologise for crimes they neither condone or have any part in, to being publically compelled to condemn such attacks. The anxiety is exasperated when Muslims witness the hypocrisy in such calls and take a principled stand in order to avoid political exploitation. Muslims are witnesses to similar atrocities against people of other faiths, geography and race, yet privileged elite in Parliament are not seen to issue a condemnation against such regular terrorism – as a matter of principle, why should public and vocal condemnation be forcibly extracted on certain violence as the state eye is rendered blind when the violence is born from Western policy? I am yet to see mass condemnatory statements for Palestinian babies being burned to death by Jewish settler terrorism, or Palestinian civilians shot to death “intentionally and unlawfully” by IDF terrorists (who also happen to run over two year old toddlers), from the Cameron government or the various state-authorized counter extremism organizations for that matter. And indeed, I do not see the Jewish community being asked to condemn or apologize. This suggests such calls are ideologically and politically driven rather than rooted in humanity. Only white/Westernized power-structures are worthy of solidarity. –The Coolness of Hind 
Being expected to condemn constitutes othering, which Muslims in the West must reject for themselves. Muslims are being increasingly treated in a similar way as European Jews were in the early-to-mid-20th century, and how Bosnian Muslims were treated in the run up to the war and genocide there during the 1990s. Expecting disenfranchised segments of the population to condemn criminal acts carried out by a few individuals in their midst is no doubt based on the rejection of Muslims being citizens of western nations equal to their non-Muslim neighbors.
We are told that Muslims are equal citizens in this country but the reality is something very different. If we say we don’t drink, we are labelled anti-social or not willing to integrate, if we drink we are labelled moderate, if a Muslim wears a hijab, she is oppressed, if she doesn’t she is liberated, if we express an opinion outside of the mainstream narrative, we are angry, if we join a mainstream political party we are passionate, if we sing the praises of the British establishment we are liberals, if we object to foreign policy we are extremists or Islamists.- Assed Baig
Muslims as a faith community do not believe in faith-based ideology being the only factor in radicalization and extremism. There are mental health issues, societal alienation, economic difficulties, grievances based on unethical foreign policy and political motivations at play as well. These factors must always be properly and satisfactorily explored and investigated before the Muslims community is singled out and expected to continue issuing statements of condemnation ad nauseum.
Condemnations of terrorism are only a result of the authorities’ failure of establishing pragmatic and practical intelligence measures, and of government promoting community cohesion and economic prosperity in the underclass that is lacking in these aspects, especially in Europe. The condemnation culture in effect covers up those failures by diverting attention to the Muslim community to own up to the crime and condemn the ideological drivers behind the terrorist. In the aftermath of the November 2015 bombings in Paris, CNN anchors interviewing French activist Yasser Louati effectively demanded French Muslims to assume the responsibility of spy agencies, and blamed French Muslims for not doing anything about the attacks.
Muslims must refuse to condemn because they should not allow extremists to define the Muslim mainstream. That caricature of Muslims is the description unjustly painted by extremism think tanks and western corporate right-wing media, like in a recent alarmist poll that suggested one in five British Muslims sympathized with ISIS.
Condemnations are a form of self-imposed indignation, and a self-deprecation that perpetuates the psychology of guilt in Muslims. Western Muslims must demonstrate a sincere drive – similar to that of the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself – for a dignified and permanent existence in lands they are citizens of, no matter what difficulties may lie ahead. The condemnation fetish is an indignity that detaches Muslims from their responsibilities as citizens of their respective countries.
Malcolm X hit a turning point when he stopped seeing himself as a member of a maligned minority. He took his dignity into his own hands and refused to be at the mercy of the opinion of others – ‘ni–er’ became a slur too small and meaningless for him. Western Muslims need to collectively do the same. We need to get over our insecurities, stop pandering to the double standards others have constructed for us and demand our place as full-fledged citizens of this society.
We have to be very, very careful about being psychologically bullied into this position where we feel that all we can do as Muslims is apologise, is adjust, is accept our status as a ‘problem people’ – a ‘problem people’ is people about whom it is said – and I know little a bit about being considered a ‘problem people’, I know a little bit about that – a ‘problem people’ about whom it is said, “Something is wrong with you, and if you would just change that something everything would be alright.” And you know what happens, typically? That something is changed, and then what happens? The goalpost moves. And what you end up as is a modern slave. You end up dominated. You have had your story taken away from you, and you have been given a supporting role in somebody else’s story. And yet you turn around and say, “This is my country.” If this is my country, then I have a right to my story, and let our stories come together, and let us produce a symphony, let us produce some harmony, not a single voice, many voices, but mine a certainly identifiable part…One of the services that we can render to American society is, instead of constantly trying to appease bigotry and prejudice, to hold up to America’s psyche so it can see what it is doing in terms of another chapter in trying to create a problem people…Back in 1963… James Baldwin, a famous African American writer, made a very poignant, pungent statement… Baldwin said this: “I am not a nigger, and America needs to figure out why it needs me to be a nigger. Does that make it easier for you to act on your prejudice? Does that make it easier for you to have a higher dignified raised sense of self? Does that make it easier for you to carry out acts of indiscriminate violence? Does that make it easier for you to do that?” And what we have to do as Muslims is say, “We are not those people who you say we are, and what you have to figure out is why you need us to be that. Why do you need us to be terrorists? Why do you need us to be security threats?” And we have to help America by helping America see that, and when we’re constantly trying to appease those prejudices, all we do ultimately is strengthen them. This is not service to American society. This is not the type of service that American society needs… because if we allow these prejudices to run rampant, they will know no end, and it can happen. –Dr Sherman Jackson
Condemnations tend to be on platforms not in control of the Muslims. In essence, Muslim condemnations are at the mercy of how they are spun by the corporate media. Muslims (and other minorities) need to come together to establish their own media platforms to provide a comprehensive narrative about the role of Islam and Muslims in the West, instead of giving the right-wing media the attention it demands only when it is to put already beleaguered and embattled Muslim community in a weaker position.
But my experiences lead me to believe that the key is the media. It possesses the power to both humanize and demonize minority groups. Plus, it enables smaller minority groups to share their own story on their own terms with millions of people across the country.
Being asked to apologize for and condemn violence that has orphaned and victimized a generation of Muslims has the perverse effect of re-victimizing Muslims by dehumanizing them and stripping them of their own experiences and history. The dehumanization process renders the human condemnations an aberration. Every patronizing demand for a fresh condemnation is equal to a demand to prove humanness. Until Muslims do not feel they are worthy of being treated as fully human by all institutional segments of society, it will give rise to a generation of Muslims harboring a siege mentality, which will be totally apathetic to all but themselves.
If I condemn ISIS, I am – in essence – condemning myself: I am condemning myself and my communities to the continuation of the never-ending onslaught of suspicion, dehumanization and interrogation that is far from unique to us (especially when living as minorities) but is the most public. – Sana Saeed
Never-ending condemnations validate the dangerous trend and false notion that unless Muslims do not publicly condemn every event perpetrated by a co-religionist, the default assumption should be that they must endorse it, and that any silence from Muslims automatically denotes support and agreement. When that is assumed to be the default, the condemnation is assumed to be the exception to what may be construed as the Muslim evil standard.
It is inherently Islamophobic to be expected to condemn only when a Muslim commits a crime. Muslims appearing on the media are never asked when a non-Muslim commits an act of violence. An example of blatant Islamophobic questioning was on CNN, when Don Lemon asked American Muslim human rights lawyer Arsalan Iftikhar whether he supports ISIS. Another example of an atrociously Islamophobic interview was Kay Burley speaking to human rights campaigner Cerie Bullivant on Sky News.
The condemnation game has been wholly unproductive in the sense that it has not yielded the desired effect of taking heat off Muslim communities.
Short of branding all newborn Muslims with an “I condemn all past, present and future violent acts committed by Muslims” tattoo at birth, there is not much else Muslims can offer. –Faisal Kutty
The negative image of Muslims whipped up by politicians and mass media effectively drowns out the Muslim voice, even when they are condemning. Muslims should stop wasting their time, breath and ink in the pursuit of condemnations.
Condemnations against terrorism and disclaimers such as “Islam is a religion of peace” to prove Muslims’ commitment to non-violence are puerile. The right-wing corporate media tends to give a disproportionate amount of airtime and coverage to so-called ‘moderate’ Muslim voices that have zero grassroots support among observant Muslims, Islamophobes, and extremists are on the fringes of extremism – all of which ostracize the already suffocated mainstream Muslim community. In doing so, the media unnecessarily prolongs the fight of combating the destructive hype surrounding the overwhelming majority of Muslims.
Because no one asks where the moderates of anything else are but I need to constantly provide a Rolodex of names in a futile attempt to satiate not a sincere curiosity but, often, just a rhetorical question with a poor point. Sana Saeed 
An additional tendency of the media, which fuels the myth that Muslims do not condemn terrorism, is to focus on Islamophobes as spokespersons on issues. That means individuals who have made a career out of spreading hate and outright misinformation about Islam and Muslims are given ample air time to share their hateful views. This is akin to giving large amounts of air time to former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke to spout his hatred of Jews. In the case of Muslims, hate-mongers like David [should be Robert] Spencer and Pamela Geller are featured prominently in news items about Islam and Muslims without being challenged or another view being presented for balance. –Samana Siddiqui (SoundVision)
Of course, some will still say they don’t hear these condemnations. I don’t doubt those people. The mainstream media is about ratings, meaning that bloodshed will be covered 24/7 while denunciations by Muslims will get little to no press. Dean Obeidullah
First, media outlets are not interested in reporting the Muslim side of a breaking news story. It is neither in their own interest, nor do they feel that their audience will care what Muslims have to say about a crime committed in their name. This is why most of the time, journalists and their editors will not include a quote or statement from the many that Muslim individuals and organizations immediately send out. Second, it is the nature of the news media to report on that which is an aberration, not the norm. In practical terms, that means they will never show the law-abiding, tax-paying Muslim. They will hone in on the exception. Such bias is nothing new. In the past, this same prejudice was exercised against other minority communities by the American media, from African-Americans to Jews to Japanese-Americans. Muslims are the current scapegoat being singled out for such unethical journalistic treatment. Samana Siddiqui (SoundVision)
Now comes the hard part: How to convince media outlets to be more inclusive when it comes to Muslim-Americans? Some already have been very embracing, especially online media publications that have made it a priority to present diverse voices because it yields content that’s both more nuanced and distinctive. But on TV news, both network and cable, there are few Muslims who are a regular part of that media landscape. Take a moment and count the Muslim anchors or Muslim network contributors you’ve seen. (That shouldn’t take long.) Dean Obeidullah
Muslims believe the bar of scrutiny is set artificially high for them, and the bar for accusing a Muslim with extremism is set low. Furthermore, the margin of error for Muslims appearing on the media to defend their community is very thin, where any error or problematic statement is single out to highlight the problematic nature of Muslims. In this climate, highlighting and exposing the causes that incubate radicalism in disenfranchised Muslims, rather than merely staying safe by disassociating oneself from Muslim terrorism, is a discussion only the brave will be willing to undertake. As the saying goes: “It is better to die on one’s feet than live on one’s knees”; or, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The best form of Jihad is a word of truth in front of a tyrannical ruler.”
Muslims do not need to demonstrate their law-abidingness via condemnations, nor should they feel that patriotic flag-waving or nationalistic loyalty is a manner in which a Muslim should behave. Muslims should not need to prove they can condemn in the sternest language possible.
A downside to the condemnation ritual is that it becomes a cliché, losing value over time and is drowned in its own banality, so when the exceptional case of a condemnation is required, it does not sound as effective. Oft-repeated condemnations thus become inadequate to showcase the Muslims’ abhorrence with terrorism.
Condemnations, and being asked to condemn terrorism, ignore the many condemnations Muslims have already issued. In the age of the Internet, pleading ignorance to this reality is nothing short of lazy Islamophobia. Evidence of Muslims already having condemned terrorism is overwhelming. Failure to locate and accept this evidence is tantamount to promoting an atmosphere of hostility and suspicion toward Muslims.
Condemnations are part of a growing western culture of political correctness. Not to be confused with wisdom, it is a hindrance to the Quranic concept of speaking and behaving in a manner that is considered right, just and fair. Muslims should understand the external and internal harms that the lip service of politically-correct condemnations bring upon their communities, and should instead focus on the real issues that face overwhelming majority of Muslims in the wake of attacks perpetrated by isolated Muslim criminals.
Mainstream Muslims do not have a papal structure, not a caliph to speak on their behalf, like the Pope or the Qadiyani Caliph. As mainstream Muslims are a number of fragmented communities across the world and – barring religious practice – are not homogenous by any standard, they are expected to all individually issue condemnations, which is impossible. Yet, they are treated as one, homogenized community that can easily issue condemnations on behalf of all as the Vatican does on behalf of all Catholics. This is not the case for Muslims.
Myriam Francois: You seem to see a contradiction between the need to hide one’s faith, as a “moderate Muslim” and the need to publicly denounce attacks on the other hand. Are French Muslims in a lose-lose scenario?
Olivier Roy: Exactly, it is a double bind. On one hand they are criticized for being communitarian (communautarize)–-and on the other hand because we perceive them as communitarian, we demand of them that they respond as a community to condemn terrorism. But because there is no “Muslim community,” nobody can speak on behalf of it to condemn terrorism, [but then] they are told they do not condemn terrorism. It is a trap Muslims are placed in.
The condemnation culture is based partly on the fanciful notion that anti-Muslim rhetoric and abuse will cease. This will not happen; the opposite has happened with the rise of Donald Trump and half of the United States in favour of supporting him for the country’s presidency, and right-wing parties emerging across Europe and in Australia. The climate Islamophobia actually increases the threat of terrorism.
Condemning is a tacit admission of guilt by indirectly conceding that terror is borne from Muslims, and therefore Muslims should atone by condoning policies that criminalize them. As such, Muslims are forced to go out of their way to prove they have nothing to hide, as they would be considered guilty until proven innocent.
The implication is that if Muslims are not constantly shouting out their opposition from the rooftops, they support militants and are therefore a potential threat, one that warrants suspicion and retribution – in other words, guilty until proven innocent. – Sharif Nashashibi 
The ritual of condemnation has resulted in a crippling case of inferiority complex plaguing Muslims, many of whom have been internalizing the belief that, somehow, the Muslim community is responsible for the crimes of those who have Muslim names.
Islam requires Muslims to speak the truth with strength and courage to those in power. They are also responsible for bringing peace and security among communities both locally and abroad. This means they must reject politically-motivated violence, whether that may be that of ISIS or of the governments that rule over them. If Muslims do not feel the need to condemn the government’s acts of violence against civilian population (and rightly so) whenever it happens, then likewise with ISIS. Muslims are not responsible for either, nor do they encourage or endorse it. These acts condemn themselves. If Muslims are required to condemn, they must condemn governments as much as ISIS is condemned. By the same token of consistency, if Muslims are obligated to condemn terrorists, it should be because they oppose their abuses as human beings, not because they are Muslim. In that sense, they have no more of an obligation to do so than any other community. Muslims may denounce attacks on civilians, but only as citizens of a diverse integrated populace, not as a suspicious ‘other’ trying to prove their place in western society.
So it is patronizing for Muslims to be told to reject those who target their own communities. Imagine the reaction you would receive if you told someone that they should condemn the murder of a family member. It is insulting to be told of the need to condemn something that should be a given. If people do not “explicitly, forcefully and consistently” condemn murder, rape, child abuse, racism etc, are they suspected of condoning these acts? Of course not. Sharif Nashashibi
Token condemnations strike of a selfish, myopic self-preservation attempt that is done more out fear than conviction, usually at the expense of Muslims who refuse to do so out of the principle of trying to underscore more pressing issues, such as throwing light on the proper context of crimes committed by some Muslims. Muslims need to be united in the message they send to the western media, governments and their agencies. Continuing to feed into the cycle of denouncements unabated is thus a disservice to Islam and the Muslims in the West and globally. Furthermore, crimes at which condemnations are targeted at are carefully curated by those who practice condemning. This leads to self-division within Muslims, even before being divided, conquered and rendered subservient by external forces, as certain acts of violence are overlooked. Proportionate to the amount of condemnations that are issued, there are relatively a very few number of attempts by many Muslim organizations to discuss the root causes of attacks, and little effort is invested to question the mainstream media narrative that imposes generic labels on Muslims. Whereas there are many other Muslims who refuse to participate in the condemnation game, the disunity of strategy in tackling how terrorism needs to be addressed is harming Muslims. Western countries, not where the forefathers emigrated from, are the homes of its Muslims citizens. They thus need to assert not only their rights but also their responsibilities as citizens. They cannot treat themselves as immigrants and second-class citizens who speak up only when it is convenient for them to do so (i.e. condemning only when required to do so), remaining silent the rest of the time.
Because doing so only feeds the ubiquitous floating distrust of Muslims. Because when you ask Muslims to condemn or denounce heinous actions, ideologies or groups what you’re saying is that you don’t trust any Muslim. Because you’re saying that I can’t be trusted until and unless I vocalize dissent against an individual, an action, an ideology or a group that claims to do something in the name of a shared identity. Sana Saeed 
For starters, we need to stop thinking like immigrant minorities and demand that people treat us like we belong here. On a day following some national tragedy, or any day for that matter, we must firmly stand up to anything that falls short of dignified treatment—instead of bracing up for hate speech or snide remarks at the office. When we do encounter hate crimes, we too have to be strong and recognize that the perpetrators represent a fringe minority – instead of becoming disillusioned with society at large. We must start holding others to a higher standard and assume they’re also intelligent enough to distinguish fringe Muslim extremists from the normative majority. If they fail to do so, we need to strongly point out their lunacy – instead of getting into apologetics. We can no longer entertain ludicrous questions about whether we condone honor killings, FGM or domestic violence – would a catholic ever be asked whether they condone pedophilia and child molestation?… We need stop issuing condemnations of terrorism and declarations of heresy when our fanatical brethren have run-ins with the law. Like other faith groups, we should instead offer public prayers, statements of condolences and expressions of solidarity. We must express equal outrage when people outside our community commit heinous crimes – not doing so hints at our disingenuousness and self-interest.Waleed Ahmed 
It sounded like they were apologizing for something they haven’t done, like they were running for cover… Dr. King said we are all caught up in a network of mutuality — whatever affects one directly will indirectly affect the other. If I speak up against ISIS, it’s because I’m a human being, not because I’m a Muslim… When you ask Muslims to condemn or denounce heinous actions, ideologies or groups what you’re saying is that you don’t trust any Muslim.
A decade of condemning terrorism and participating in public relation exercises has done us little good. The events of this past summer have put us back to square-one; our image in the public eye is the same as it was on 9/11 – arguably worse. Our current strategies have clearly failed; it is evident we need to take a new path forward. Waleed Ahmed 
This brings me to a question I often ask myself: What can we do to reach out to more of our fellow Americans to make it clear we despise these terrorists and they don’t represent Islam? There’s no easy answer. And this issue is made more complicated by the fact that within the American Muslim community there’s a difference of opinion on how to approach it. Some say we should publicly increase condemnations of the terrorists. Other say we already have, so what can we do more? Another faction says why should we denounce people who we have zero connection with? We don’t call on other religious groups in the United States to denounce their worst examples. My suggestion is a multi-faceted approach. One is increasing the interfaith work that many in our community employ in hopes of reaching more people of other faiths. I’d love to start an “Adopt a Muslim” program so everyone can have a Muslim friend!
Sensible Christians realize that condemnations by Muslims in the West mask Christendom’s own violent history and present. Muslim condemnations enable the Christian world to project their faults onto the “Muslim Other” so that they do not take seriously their own complicity in a violent world order.
We routinely and rightly condemn the terrorism that kills civilians in the name of God but we cannot claim the high moral ground if we dismiss the suffering and death of the many thousands of civilians who die in our wars as ‘collateral damage’. Ancient religious mythologies helped people to face up to the dilemma of state violence, but our current nationalist ideologies seem by contrast to promote a retreat into denial or hardening of our hearts. Nothing shows this more clearly than a remark of Madeleine Albright when she was still Bill Clinton’s ambassador to the United Nations. Later she retracted it, but among people around the world it has never been forgotten. In 1996, in CBS’s 60 Minutes, Lesley Stahl asked her whether the cost of international sanctions against Iraq was justified: ‘We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean that’s more children than died in Hiroshima … Is the price worth it?’ ‘I think this is a very hard choice,’ Albright replied ‘but the price, we think the price is worth it.- Karen Armstrong
It appears that many of those Muslims at the forefront in promoting condemnation rituals are those in positions of power, are relatively privileged, and fear jeopardizing their precarious position and fragile legitimacy in the eyes of western governments.
The trade-off mentality – Muslim leaders as a minority sacrificing speaking their mind in the pursuit of societal inclusion and belonging – leads to a conflicting strategy when dealing with terrorism. A conflict in strategy in this vital issue leads to a sense of self-division within Muslims.
Muslim leaders have been scared into silence. Prevent officers visiting mosques and community leaders frighten them. They are told that if Muslims display any political opinions outside the mainstream then they are extremists, that if they do not inform on them, that their bank accounts can be frozen, mosques closed and they could face prison. Muslims are afraid. Muslim organizations and leaders are subservient to the state, scared to mention foreign policy as a radicalizing factor just in case they are harangued for justifying the murder. It has got to such a state that we do not even realize that our minds have been conditioned through years of media misrepresentation and widespread Islamophobia. Questioning the reason for a murder does not mean condoning or justifying it. Condemning something that has nothing to do with you feeds into the narrative that this is a Muslim problem, that this is something that the Muslim community are responsible for, at least in part. In turn so-called Muslim leaders stifled debate and discussion in mosques, too afraid to discuss anything political. For too long they have played a subservient role to the state, asking for a seat at the table and hoping for crumbs to be passed to them.-Assed Baig 
Instead of condemning, Muslims should learn how to reverse the question of condemnation back at those who patronisingly demand it from Muslims. If anything, then Muslims should spare their condemnations for when Muslims are under attack at home and across the world, and for when non-Muslims are unfairly targeted by governments and security forces, in solidarity with those victims.
Obama cannot be blamed for his predecessor’s actions, but his own actions in the region have only made the issue worse. Therefore, Obama has far more explaining to do in regard to ISIL than almost any individual Muslim. This is especially true since ISIL’s victims are largely Muslim. Muslims don’t need non-Muslims to tell them that a group primarily killing Muslims deserves to be condemned. But they do deserve an explanation from figures involved in fostering the conditions for this group’s emergence. As such, I call on Muslims to ignore Obama’s request for further condemnation. Muslims have already made their stance on ISIL clear, and those who don’t believe it likely never will. If any attention is to be given to those who demand condemnation from Muslims, it should be in order to turn the tables. To point out that supporting foreign policy like Obama’s creates more complicity in ISIL’s emergence than simply calling oneself Muslim. This is the conversation that needs to be had, and Muslims should insist that it takes place.
However, this is not something thrust upon other communities when extremists commit abuses in their name. For example, I do not assume that my English friends support far-right groups such as the English Defence League, the UK Independence Party or the British National Party, just because they do not constantly condemn them. I do not demand it, nor should I. Doing so with Muslims often has the opposite from the intended effect. While many will acknowledge among themselves that certain community issues require attention, a wall comes up when calls are made by those who are hostile to Muslims, or by politicians whose countries have caused a great deal of death and destruction in the Muslim world, or in countries where Muslims face discrimination as a minority. As such, American presidents, British prime ministers and Islamophobic media commentators are not the best-placed figures to tell Muslims what they should and should not reject- Shareef Nashabishi.
As a Muslim American, living in a post 9-11 United States, I have continuously asked myself why I should be responsible for condemning such acts when I, like the majority of Muslims around the globe am in no way, shape or form involved with and/or privy to any of the acts of violence that have been committed by other Muslims. As a Muslim, can I explain the acts of violence by other Muslims based on our shared identity? NO. But can I work to explain this violence through a scholarly endeavor that undertakes an understanding through the a socio-political lens that actually investigates the myriad of factors including war and occupation that lead to the rise of such groups? Absolutely. While politicians and Islamophobes alike continue to pressure the Muslim community into nonsensical apologies based on a homogenized identity, many Muslims have, unfortunately, internalized the narrative of collective responsibility, leading them to issue condemnations of acts of violence and terrorism based only on the fact that we share one piece of our identity. Coupled with the ever present voice of those calling for Muslims to speak out against Muslim terrorists, those who have stepped up to this plate, have not presented a counter-narrative as they purport, but rather an internalization of the dominant narrative where Muslims are guilty until proven innocent. Most ripe in this sense is Frantz Fanon’s quote in which he states the following: “The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”
In Western culture, condemnations and apologies are hard to come by. Governments and their institutions acknowledge grievances years and even decades after of cover-ups, and issue graduated responses – starting from acknowledgements, through to condemnations, and finally apologies – long after the crimes were perpetrated. In the UK, The Hillsborough Disaster, The Battle of Orgreave and Jimmy Savile are a few examples of many. This is because condemnations are considered an acknowledgement of guilt – by association.
In Western culture, those issuing apologies are many a time not those who perpetrated the crime in the first place. A recent example is the current leader of the UK Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, who apologized for the 2003 invasion of Iraq which was spearheaded by his party (the then UK government), even though he himself was opposed to the war at the time and it was Tony Blair who led the war. The politics of condemnation is ultimately an act of self-cannibalism. This premise for condemnation and apology-issuing is alien to Islam, even though it is perfectly acceptable, nay recommended, from a western perspective.
Muslims should be able to grieve as human beings for human loss without being expected to condemn it first.
Instead of condemning, Muslims should fight for the right of not becoming the secondary victims of terrorist atrocities.
Condemnations issued by Muslims have the effect of underplaying the fact that the victims of many western terrorist atrocities are Muslims themselves. One third of the Bastille Day attack victims in Nice were Muslims. Proportionately, this did not get as much media coverage as the religious identity of the attacker. In fact, the media went to lengths to point out he had grown a beard a week before the attack, and even went as far as saying ISIS claimed responsibility of the attack even though there were no obvious links between the attacker and ISIS. Amidst the Islamophobic hysteria, the mayor of Béziers in Southern France, Robert Ménard, tweeted an image of a Muslim child tugging at his veiled mother while pointing to a shop window wanting a white truck as a toy. In this climate, condemnations are a senseless, pointless exercise.
How can anyone believe that small groups of terrorists accurately represent Islam or Muslims worldwide? If, let’s say, half of the 1.5 billion Muslims in the world were killing innocent people like ISIS is, it would be pretty hard for me to deny that those actions represent the faith on some level. But we don’t see that. What do we see? ISIS slaughtering Muslims on a daily basis. ISIS is also despicably attacking Christians and of course the Yazidis, but the reality is that over the past five years, close to 90 percent of the victims of these “Islamic” terrorists are Muslims. ISIS even killed a Muslim professor in Iraq who publicly opposed the group’s persecution of Christians. Denounce them? I need to be protected from them.
Those who tend to make clichéd complaints about Muslims not condemning, or not condemning enough, tend to be the sort of people who do not make the effort to look hard at the painstaking efforts mainstream Muslims undertake to combat radicalism. They appear to be of the type that does not have many Muslim friends. Condemnations are not an appropriate method to teach non-Muslims about Islam. The leader of Australia’s One Nation political party Pauline Hanson, and Australian TV host Sonia Kruger, are two examples (out of many) where condemnations would simply fall on deaf ears as they are unacquainted with the local and global Muslim community at a personal level. The responsibility of reaching out falls on their shoulders, not Muslims. Non-Muslims who oppose their bigotry are also responsible for reversing their ignorance. They need to understand how white fears are being exploited. They should not for them to wait for Muslims to alleviate their insidious prejudices that have been nurtured by government and right-wing media.
Condemnations mask the Islamophobes’ sense of responsibility for addressing their own bias by unjustifiably offloading that burden to Muslims as a whole, painting them as the source of many of the world’s problems, one of which is terrorism. The condemnation culture is a burden that Muslims must shrug off their shoulders.
Muslims should not condemn because terrorism by nature is antithetical to Islamic law and the observant Muslim’s identity. All Sunni schools of Muslim law explicitly classify brigandage – which includes terrorism –as a major sin, punishable by a Muslim judge by capital punishment and even crucifixion. Terrorist and criminals do not represent normative Islam. Muslims should not take ownership of any crime on the account that he/she is a Muslim, not even through a condemnation, let alone an apology.
Reputable non-Muslim journalists, commentators have stated that Muslims do not need to, and preferably should not, condemn terrorism committed by Muslims. Even sensible parts of the general public understand this and do not make it a requirement on Muslim to condemn terrorist attacks by Muslims every time it occurs.
Unfortunately non-Muslims in the public sphere represent my views more than our so-called Muslim leaders.- Assed Baig
Muslims need to be cognizant of the political agenda behind the need for Muslims to condemn. Condemnations – if they are ever to be issued – must be based on principle and not political expediency.
Asking why Muslims are not condemning terrorism is no longer an innocent question. At best, it is a lazy question, the answer of which lies at everybody’s fingertips. At worst, it denotes a willingness to turn a blind eye to the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, and is telling more of those putting the question forward than Muslims themselves.
(Tangential note: The bulk of this piece was written between two major right-wing terrorist attacks. The first draft of this piece was written after the murder of Jo Cox MP; it was developed as news of other attacks filtered through. As the piece went into editorial, the Munich attack hit the headlines, occurring a quinquennium to the day of Anders Breivik’s killing spree. After much confusion, speculation and obfuscation by the global media again regarding the numbers of attackers, alleged chants of “Allahu Akbar” and the attacker’s Iranian background, it transpired that this ‘lone wolf’ terrorist, Ali David Sonboly, was a committed German nationalist – whose Shi’i-Iranian ancestry was as irrelevant as the UK foreign minister Boris Johnson’s Sunni-Turkish ancestry (the former allegedly abandoned Islam to join the Christian faith; the latter won a competition insulting Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan) – celebrating none other than his predecessor and spiritual mentor, Anders Breivik. Three of Sonboly’s victims were Turks, and another three were of Kosovo-Albanian descent – all six were probably Muslims. I decided not to incorporate the relevant commentaries assessing the fallout from the Munich shootings, and the ensuing hypocrisy of right-wing media burying the news and politicians’ social media vitriol crawling into its shell, let alone not expecting condemnations from the relevant persons ever since the terrorist turned out not to be an ‘Islamist.’ No right-wing organization has condemned or been asked to condemn either attack. Having said that, a cursory search on the Internet reveals the usual suspect rushing to condemn the Munich attack.)
The condemnation ritual is palpably counterproductive. It is a sad reality that some Muslims feel compelled to doggedly condemn terrorism carried out by Muslims, many a time without even being prompted. Muslims need to work to get to the point where they don’t have to worry about being blamed as a collective when terrorism occurs.
I dare to include the congregational public fatwas that carry open invites for signatures from all and sundry condemning the barbarism of groups like ISIS.
American Muslim communities are so diverse they even have a Brother "Kya Bakwas" who signed the Orlando Statement. pic.twitter.com/0MLKcqdyk9
One was more than enough – I hope that no such open-invite fatwa is ever issued again. They come off more as political statements – which is what condemnations are by nature – than they do as edicts explaining the religion’s position. If anything, efforts behind congregational fatwas should be channelled to condemn media, politicians and legislation that have unscrupulously targeted the Muslim community, all of which have eroded the human and civil rights of the general society. Nowadays, the ordinary Muslim is exhausted of hearing and reading about condemnations against Muslim terrorists being issued on their behalf.
And while I’m tired of people in my communities constantly partaking in and creating public campaigns to put up a good face of our religion, condemn this group or that action and issuing this statement and that letter – I can’t actually be angry with them. I can’t blame them for wanting, so badly, to not have to hear the same questions again and again, day in and day out. I can’t blame them for trying to show how they practice, envision and know Islam to an audience that only sees in black banners and white script. But while I can’t be angry with them, I am angry. At something I can’t always articulate but it never leaves my mind. What we need is not the pacification of Islam vis a vis campaigns and rhetoric that are antithetical to our tradition and propel Jihad as only and primarily an internal struggle. What we need are not hashtags, videos, social media campaigns and signs that make it clear that whatever the current Muslim boogeyman in the news is doing has nothing to do with the rest of us who share belief in the same religion. What we need is not an ever-changing litmus test of who is Muslim and who isn’t Muslim enough based on what makes our religion and us look bad. What we need are not open letters to questionable groups that serve maybe more as a public relations strategy than any actual engagement and debate meant to thwart unfettered violence. What we do need are internal campaigns to fix the broken parts of our communities; to reach those who feel disenfranchised, angry and powerless when they see their kin in their cities and around the world under fire, under surveillance, under suspicion and under clouds of blood and bombs. This isn’t about so-called “counter-radicalism” but about making sure the particulars of our community are healthy so that the whole can be healthy. If one part hurts, the whole feels the pain. And we need more than publicly, poorly slapped on bandages. Sana Saeed
I for one am fed up of this apologetic and subservient tone. I have nothing to apologise for, I should not be asked to condemn the actions of two men that had nothing to do with me just as a white man should not be asked to condemn the murders committed by Anders Breivik or for the violent actions of the English Defence League. Assed Baig 
The situation has become so preposterous that it is now the domain of satirists, which is precisely where it should be relegated to and kept; satire should actually emancipate Muslims from the condemnation game.
@evanchill@emilylhauser I strenuously condemn not condemning with adequate vociferousness,& I condemn those who condemn condemnation.
So, next time you are asked to condemn? Refuse at point blank – and explain why you don’t condemn, lest your refusal isn’t misconstrued as condoning terrorism.
The innately regressive nature of condemnations in the manner that is transpiring today is not recognised in Islam. It is high time for the condemnation game’s failed venture to be assigned to the annals of history. In its place, a fresh approach that is rooted in proactivity, renegotiating the social order for Muslims in western societies and traditional Islamic education is what is needed, away from the PR stunt and entertainment flash that the essence of condemnation is.
Do Muslims want to spend their efforts and energy trying to get a seat at the table of economic injustice, imperialism and structural injustice by condemning what everyone else knows to be condemnable, or do they want to take the brave, principled stance in committing themselves to proving that the status quo is unacceptable?
The wake of the bombings on 7th July, the further attempted bombings on 21st July, and the murder of Jean Charles de Menezes on 22nd July have seen a great outpouring of outrage and condemnation. At the time of writing it is hard not to believe that there will be further violence and further condemnation on London’s tubes, buses and perhaps elsewhere. The purpose of this communiqué is not to add our voice to this condemnation. It should not need to be stated that we neither sympathise with nor support the attackers on either side, and we feel nothing but grief for the pain of those killed, maimed or bereaved by them. But the mass acts of condemnation and commemoration, epitomised by the two minutes’ silence on 14th July, is of a piece with a wider long-term trend in public life which expresses dissent on a mass scale only to neutralize it. From the two minutes’ silence to Live 8, the mystique of participation turns political emotion into a public spectacle and thereby ‘raises awareness’ or ‘expresses solidarity’ while leaving the world around us unchanged. In short, the ritual of condemnation is all about business as usual.
Instead of internalizing a perpetual state of victimhood, Muslims in the West must channel their frustrations into championing law and order, and actively work alongside other groups where there is a convergence of interests. As Yasser Louati said in his presentation at the European Islamophobia Summit 2016 in Sarajevo, “Muslims have a great responsibility to guarantee that the state of law and democracy remain alive in western democracies… Muslims are the barometer of democracy and the rule of law in western democracies.” This is because it is now the Muslims who understand better than anybody else what it means when human rights and civil liberties are violated. Muslims must take a leadership role in this and take a large share of ownership in this regard, instead of outsourcing the fight to contemporary Abu Talibs and letting them and the extreme right-wing fight it out in defining Muslims.
Dear Muslims & supporters, do not continue to trouble yourself looking for the best counterarguments within false frames – that’s a lose-lose. If you really wish to challenge the hysteria our world is falling into, challenge the damn false frames themselves – that’s a win-win. -Ahmed Rehab -CAIR 
So, I will not condemn ISIS and I will not name, to whoever asks, the names of the moderates. I will not issue letters in the papers explaining this and lauding that and I will not sit at a table where the host with one hand praises my attendance and with the other denigrates my position in my society. I will, however, speak on my own terms and not with the neatly placed talking points meant to pacify and remind me of where I should sit and where I should stand. -Sana Saeed 
Important Note: For the purposes of this write-up, this excludes Ahmadis, self-confessed apostates, radical extremists, terrorists, extreme liberals, and Muslim deformers – a non-exhaustive list of which can be found later in the footnotes. The theme of this article is not directed at them. They may continue condemning ‘Jihadist terrorism by extreme fundamentalist radical Islamists’ at will.
Ismail Ibrahim is an independent Muslim researcher based in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, England. He specialises in Hanafi law and has a keen interest in the application of Ijtihad and Taqlid in the modern era and its evolution over history. He has written a book on Arabic morphology in Urdu, and translated the legal manual of al-Quduri in English. He is presently writing on a variety of topics including the legal nature of the Ramadan vigil prayer, the concept and scope of usability for weak prophetic narrations, and assessing the arguments both for and against vis-a-vis adherence to one school of law. Above all, Ismail takes great pleasure in being able to network with students of knowledge and linking graduates of the western Darul Ulum background and of the Arab Jamiah background with each other. In addition, he is a strong advocate in Huffaz memorising the Quran in other canonical recitations. Ismail studied in Darul Ulum Dewsbury for six years, before moving to Madinah and graduating from the Faculty of Shariah at the Islamic University. He has an LLM degree from the School of Oriental & African Studies in London.
 A town in West Yorkshire, England, with a Muslim population of 15,930 – 41.3% of its total. (UK Census 2011)
 “We are all extremely stunned by the horrible murder of Jo Cox. We wanted her so much to pull through after the dreadful shooting. We utterly condemn terrible violence of this sort regardless of who perpetrated it.” (The Press, 24/6/16; pg. 9; retrieved 8/7/16)
 Although condemnations are praiseworthy to a degree when Muslim terrorism occurs – such as how Muslims in war-torn Libya came out after the 2012 Benghazi US Consulate to protest, seemingly to educate obtuse but powerful Americans about how Libyans felt about the attack, trying to potentially escape their wrath, though the tone of some was problematic (15 Photos Of Libyans Apologizing To Americans | Buzzfeed; retrieved 8/7/16) – it can be safely assumed that the condemnation phenomenon is now exhausted and is no longer an educational measure. The Prophet (peace be upon him) did condemn wrongdoing by some of his Companions and criticised the errant actions of his Companions, and that was part of their education. However, condemnations by Muslims nowadays that are issued in the media are purely political, designed to appease the non-Muslim media and political establishment are in no way analogous to prophetic criticisms of his Companions. The message that mainstream Muslims do not condone terrorism has undoubtedly reached non-Muslims at all levels. Unfortunately, it seems that the shelf life of politically-charged condemnations tends to reduce dramatically fast.
 Every effort has been made to ensure the listed points are distinct from each other. However, there may still potentially be some overlap in the list. Due to subtle expressive variances and the different sources from where items on this list are referenced, I consciously decided to preserve mutually similar listed reasons as distinct from one another, rather than subsuming multiple points into one and potentially missing out on the of nuances of each.
The responses by Wassim Doureihi caused a furore in Australia at the time. In light of this article, however, his approach was absolutely correct. The classic media tactic was employed here, in which a question on security and terrorism is asked in a decontextualized manner that gives the impression that the issue is in a vacuum and hence the answer must be straightforward, binary and simplistic: the answerer is not allowed to discuss the agenda and/or the wider context of the question without being accused of evading the question.
 In the case of the fascist right-wing terrorism that was inflicted on Jo Cox, a Gujarati Batley taxi driver – who happens to be the a leader on a local mosque committee and a regular on a local Muslim radio station – sang a song to this effect and uploaded it online, and followed it up with a ridiculously layman-like theological defence after he was rebuked for the song. In spite of his embarrassing lack of sophistication as is evident to anyone who takes a cursory look at his YouTube channel, local Muslim scholars have just started to complain about him, yet have proven themselves to be utterly toothless in preventing this person from having direct line of media into each and every local Muslim home. This, as ever, goes back to: a lack of prioritising the needs of the Muslim community, a lack of activism and education beyond traditional Muslim rituals, and the lack of leadership, allowing laymen such as this person to take a role whereby they can not only influence the Muslim community at large in the domain they are unqualified to speak about, but can also boldly challenge local scholars. Some local scholarly bodies were also the same ones who jumped to condemn the Jo Cox murder – even when nobody asked them to.
 ‘Islamism’ and ‘Islamists’ are meaningless terms popularized by the much loathed and detested extremist think tank Quilliam. It has no correct rendition in the Arabic language other than إسلام سياسي, which does not carry the sinister undertones that are attached to its English counterpart. One of the contradictions of non-Muslim politicians and analysts is they reject the Islamic nature of ISIS, referring to them as ‘Daesh’ or ‘so-called Islamic State’, but have no qualms in utilizing the terms ‘Islamism’, ‘Islamists’ and ‘Islamist extremists’ for whomever they consider fit.
“The Fallacy of the Term ‘Islamism’ – The second fallacy is the Western invented term ‘Islamist’, which the West uses to distinguish between colonialized ‘spiritual-only’ Muslims and pre-colonialized holistic-Islam Muslims. Ironically, the term ‘Islamisme’ was invented by the French philosopher Voltaire as a label for ISLAM. He was one of the first Western thinkers to stop using the term ‘Muhammadanism’. The West continued to use ‘Islamisme’ until it fell out of favor during the 20th century (around the time many Muslim [secular] countries were created by the West. Considering that Islam has for 1400 years consistently been associated with a holistic system, which includes ruling, economics and political affairs, the word ‘Islamism’ adds nothing to the word ‘Islam’ and is therefore irrelevant and mostly used to mislead non-Muslims (and Muslims alike), in order to make a distinction without a difference. According to Maajid’s ‘criteria’ of what an ‘Islamist’ is, the Prophet Muhammed (saaw), who ruled Madinah according to revealed divine law, would himself fall into Maajid’s definition of an Islamist! Seeing as Muhammed’s teachings constitute what we call Islam, ‘Islamism’ is a useless modern description at best, and harmful Western invented deception at worst.” (Maajid Nawaz, ‘Islamism’ and the Fallacious ‘You Share the Same Ideology as ISIS’ argument | Abdullah al Andalusi; retrieved 8/7/16)
 ISIS even took credit for this attack as well as the Orlando attack. It seems that they will take credit for any attack wherever it may happen, no matter how much of a loner the criminal was, regardless of his/her past (lack of) observance and religiosity, and so long that the perpetrator was a non-Shi’i Muslim.
Contrast this appalling behavior with how honorable Americans Sikhs refuse to disassociate themselves from Muslims in the aftermath of Muslim terrorist attacks because, as one says, “It’s just not an option for us to throw another community under the bus, even if it means things are harder for us.”
Another American Sikh adds, “We need to be better than that as Americans, and that is what our Sikh values teach as well.”
A third – Waris Ahluwalia, an American Sikh actor and designer – says, “That’s not the way I was raised. That’s why I wear this turban, to treat humanity with care and kindness. I’m not here to point fingers… You need to lead with love… When you [disassociate yourself from Muslims], you’re part of the problem… [as] you [would] be only thinking about yourself.” (Confused Islamophobes Target American Sikhs | The Daily Show (YouTube); retrieved 8/7/16)
This echoes the similar treatment received by a Nigerian Christian, who was forcibly removed from a plane because he was assumed to be Muslim by a fellow passenger who had read a message about prayer off his mobile. In defence of Muslims, he said, “Even if I was a Muslim, it was pretty unfair the way I was treated. I don’t think anyone, irrespective of their religion should be treated in such a way. If we keep on giving into this kind of bigotry and irrational fear, I dare say that the terrorists will have achieved their aim.” (Man removed from UK flight over ‘prayer’ message on phone | The Guardian; retrieved 8/7/16)
The topic of Muslims on flights was perfectly satirized on The Daily Show:
Timothy McVeigh does not qualify on to be on this list as he was identified as an example of a domestic terrorist. Having said that, the 1995 Oklahoma Bombing happened in the pre-9/11 era: It would not be false to suggest that McVeigh would have been labelled and treated differently had it occurred in recent years, since media stations nowadays are reticent in labelling non-Muslim acts of brutality as terrorism. Other examples are the Atlanta Olympics bomber Eric Rudolph, ‘Unabomber’ Ted Kaczynski. 9/11-like suicide attacker Joseph Stack, who used a plane to launch an assault on Austin’s IRS offices in 2010, was identified as a domestic terrorist by some outlets.
 These shared views are one of the pillars of the (now academically-discredited and utterly falsified) conveyor belt theory (though still routinely) promoted by extremism think tanks, which theorises that religious conservatism leads to religious extremism, which in turn leads to religious terrorism.
This is opposed to what some have advanced, that consistently condemning ISIS will make it lose its appeal: “It might persist as a counter-culture for years, if not decades, to come. But as long as Muslims around the world consistently condemn, contradict, resist, and combat ISISism, it will stay on the fringe, a counter-culture movement that will eventually lose its appeal.” (10 overlooked dimensions of ISIS | The Islamic Monthly; retrieved 8/7/16)
Regarding Asim Qureshi, it was incredibly revealing that he was asked to condemn terrorism on Channel 4 News twice. The first was in an interview with Matt Frei in August 2014; the second was a few months later in an interview with Jon Snow in February 2015. This alone is very telling and reveals the necessity of Muslims not allowing themselves to be browbeaten into condemning the extremism and terrorism that they are not party to.
But that was not the last time Jon Snow persisted with this line of questioning – this time with Tariq Ramadan, in July 2016: “One of the things which perplexes people is that if something is being done in the name of Islam, and is not even remotely Islamic, why do not the Islamic authorities across the land and in every land condemn it and indeed maybe even declare fatwas against those who do it?” (Channel 4 News (UK); retrieved 26/7/16)
This, however, does not mean that anything goes. Engaging with the wider public must be done with maturity and an understanding of the wider political context and agenda. The video showing UK Muslims dancing around to Pharrell William’s ‘Happy’ soundtrack was an example of where prominent Muslims failed to understand that their actions would be inevitably used as an exception to the rule, to divide Muslims, and to brand those who didn’t agree with it as extreme (To be #happy Muslim or not to be – #anthroislam | Allegra Lab; retrieved 8/7/16). Unfortunately, this – which utterly fails in dispelling stereotypes – was replicated by Muslims in other countries like blind sheep being herded into a slaughterhouse. Another good example of this was video made by some Muslims in the US, trying to prove they are normal (I’m Muslim, and I’m Tired of Proving My Humanity | The Islamic Monthly; retrieved 8/7/16).
In response to Rana Elmir, so-called ‘Muslim reformist’ Zuhdi Jasser appeared on Fox News to denounce her article. Part of his usual diatribe included that Muslims should take ownership of terrorism, as this sits with his deformist agenda. Amusingly, he asked Elmir – whom he accused of being oppressed by ‘Islamists’ – to consider joining his so-called ‘Muslim reform movement.’ Falsely speaking on half of most Muslims, he suggested that they are tired of ‘press-release condemnations’ (which is the main thrust of this article, albeit from a different perspective) and want theological deform. To cap it off, he implied his reformist movement is equivalent to the reformist movement of the American Founding Fathers.
But that was not the only time Fox News invited masochists to refute Elmir’s article. In another episode, it invited Brigitte Gabriel and Mike Ghouse to refute her. Ghouse talked about being bullied into silence and not condemning, when it can be proven that Muslims are being bullied into condemning; and Gabriel claimed that ISIS is wholly Islamic and following the teaching of the Prophet (peace be upon him), forcing even Ghouse to embarrassingly disassociate himself from her!
 To name a few: Zuhdi Jasser, Ayaan Ali Hirsi, Maajid Nawaz, Maryam Namazie, Usama Hassan, Ed Husain, Tarek Fatah, Mike Ghouse, Tarek El Gawhary, Taj Hargey, Asra Nomani, Irshad Manji, Tawfiq Hamid, Hakan Cerrah, Haras Rafiq (Note: This is not a kill list). Ironically, these deformists are united with ISIS terrorists in that both want to deform Islam from within. As Hamza Yusuf put it, Muslims need a counter-movement to this. These are the type of individuals who would have no qualms in throwing Muslims under the bus to prove their credentials to western governments. Their wars with the Muslim community are as dangerous and damaging as western governments’ wars in Muslim countries.
“In the film, Namazie from the Council of ex-Muslims, claimed that emphasising Islam as one’s main or only identity was “part and parcel of the effort to hand them over to the islamists” which sounds like a conspiracy if I ever heard one… Why are Islamophobes like Namazie being given a platform to espouse erroneous and stigmatising nonsense under the guise of, according to Maajid’s introduction, giving a voice to an “increasing number of Muslims using their faith identity to advance a progressive agenda.” What is progressive exactly about stigmatising those who identify first and foremost with their religious identity as somehow ‘extreme’? By that token surely the Pope, Dalai Lama and Chief Rabbi are all ‘extremists’!” (What I Might Have Said If I Had Been on Newsnight… | The Huffington Post; retrieved 8/7/16)
“What people don’t realize is that the reason the Brigitte Gabriel, Steven Emerson, Frank Gaffney (to name a few steamers) have been trying to have the Muslim Brotherhood declared a terrorist organization for years is because it would, quite unjustifiably, facilitate “linking” almost every Muslim intellectual, activist and organization to a “terrorist org.” The reality is that the term “Muslim Brotherhood” is like “the conservative movement” – it’s broad, amorphous, internally linked and with elements of consistency but also extremely ideologically and organizationally diverse and not bounded by any single institution. At the same time the MB is a discrete institution in Egypt. So islamophobes try to pass a rule for the discrete organization (nonsense btw, as the US gov has repeatedly confirmed) and then have that rule apply to the amorphous trend. Re: below… Tarek El Gawhary throwing Egyptians under the bus in the name of Sisi and his noxious regime.” (Jonathan AC Brown | Facebook; retrieved 23/7/16)
 The Henry Jackson Society is another example of an organisation run by prominent Islamophobes. At a time when Shaker Aamer, the last Briton held at Guantanamo was being released, HJS were invited onto various media outlets to give their view. Instead of supporting his release, they all questioned what would happen next in terms of the security threat posed by Shaker Aamer. (No need to reference this, all available via a simple google search and on the HJS webpage; in fact, HJS is so proud about this they even have video stating this on its YouTube channel). Related to this, an ex-White House legal advisor was able to spout his anti-human rights rhetoric on BBC Newsnight, justifying Aamer’s detention without charge, over which ex-Guantanamo detainee Moazzam Begg took him to task for.
Not every case of ludicrous Islamophobia is absorbable even for the right-wing media. The now infamous Steven Emerson, a regular on right-wing media outlets in the United States, is a name most people would know for claiming parts of the UK are Muslim-only and are no-go zones for non-Muslims.
Even when praising Muslims, politicians nowadays are seemingly unable to phrase themselves without dropping a word or two that can be aptly described as ‘polite Islamophobia.’ At the 2016 Democratic Convention, Bill Clinton offended Muslims by saying, “If you’re a Muslim and you love America and freedom and you hate terror, stay here and help us win and make a future together, we want you.” This was expertly broken down by Peter Beinart in The Atlantic for the Islamophobia it implied.
 The numerous times in which Anjem Choudary, who is on the fringes of the Muslim community, has been invited to speak on British and American (and other) TV platforms demonstrates the corporate media is interested only in headlines and not community cohesion.
 Even when this does happen, the average Muslims who is supposedly patriotic to his/her country is a victim of the right-wing corporate media’s wilful disregard. At the DNC 2016, the parents of an American Muslim soldier who died in Iraq were speaking on stage, but Fox News decided cut away to advertisements. There is something deeply cynical and sinister about this.
 On Israel’s 2009 bombardment of Gaza: “The harshest critics are found in the frontline of demonstrations. Unlike previous politically charged events – the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – there are fewer condemnations from the mosques. Imams, burned by accusations of inciting violence, have remained low-key, encouraging their congregations to return to the teachings of the Qur’an and Hadith, and seek spiritual comfort.” (Reaction from British Muslims | The Guardian; retrieved 8/7/16)
 There are exceptions: “My parents still fear that I will be arrested for writing and expressing an opinion as a journalist. I have been inundated with calls since the attack from Muslims that are afraid of a backlash, one even asked me if there would be ethnic cleansing. I told them not to be afraid because I had faith in the British people to see through the fog that politicians and mainstream media perpetuate.” (Woolwich and the Muslim response | Assed Baig; retrieved 8/7/16)
 A case in point would be the black community in the United States, which is at present suffering from immense brutality at the hands of white police officers. Furthering the imposition of the condemnation ritual, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings demanded a condemnation from black protestors: “Reports out of Baton Rouge this morning of three officers killed and others wounded are deeply disturbing. This must stop. Violence against our police officers under any circumstances is not acceptable and poses a grave threat to all of us. Those peacefully protesting police across the country must swiftly condemn this type of violence against law enforcement.” (Mayor Mike Rawlings | Facebook; retrieved 21/7/16)
 This was from the Orlando Statement (retrieved 8/7/16), which does not utilise the word condemnation. However, it has all the hallmarks of a condemnation: The fact that a website link was registered and is dedicated to Muslims denouncing the Orlando attack is problematic for all the reasons highlighted in this piece.
 Explaining with wisdom means Muslims should continue expressing their condolences to victims and their families and expressing empathy. Wisdom does not mean nothing is to be said after a terrorist attack. It would also not be of wisdom to sound like a broken record anytime there is an attack or compromising on fundamental aspects of Muslim theology.
One Muslim Danish politician said that not speaking out means condoning terrorism, and that terrorists think they have a lot of support in the West if Muslims not coming out in their droves to condemn. This is an absurd proposition that should be called out for what it is. The calamity here is this politician is a Muslim.
*** The following is a non-exhaustive list of people who have been cited in this article in support of its thesis:
Marvin Abbey, Johari Abdul-Malik, Waleed S Ahmed, Hiba Akhtar, Abdullah al Andalusi, Shabir Ally, Waleed Aly, Karen Armstrong, Uthman Badar, Assed Baig, Moazzam Begg, Jonathan Brown, Amina Chaudary, Jonathan Cook, Jeremy Corbyn, Wassem Doureihi, George Eaton, Rana Elmir, Max Fisher, Myriam Francois, Suliman Gani, Roy Gleenslade, Amy Goodman, Glenn Greenwald, Mehdi Hasan, HA Hellyer, Dilly Hussain, Arsalan Iftikhar, Sherman Jackson, Jason Jones, Nazia Kazi, Imran A Khan, Ziaullah Khan, Renner Larson, Yasser Louati, Hind Makki, Aasif Mandvi, Davide Mastracci, Hasan Minhaj, Dalia Mogahed, Marwan Muhammad, Yousef Munayyer, Sharif Nashashibi, Dean Obeidallah, Peter Oborne, Kamran Pasha, Yasir Qadhi, Asim Qureshi,Tariq Ramadan, Ahmed Rehab, Olivier Roy, Rizwaan Sabir, Marc Scarcelli, Zaid Shakir, Samana Siddiqui, Usaid Siddiqui, Mark Steel, Jon Stewart, Aman Wadud, Sayeeda Warsi, Jessica Williams, Hamza Yusuf
**** The following is a non-exhaustive list of people who have been cited in this article as antagonists to Islam and/or mainstream Muslims in various aspects discussed in this piece:
Emma Alberici, Kay Burley, David Cameron, Hakan Cerrah, Bill Clinton, Tarek El Gawhary, Steven Emerson, Michael Fallon, Tarek Fatah, Matt Frei, Brigitte Gabriel, Mike Ghouse, Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Tawfiq Hamid, Sean Hannity, Pauline Hanson, Taj Hargey, Usama Hassan, Ayaan Hirsi, Ed Husain, Naser Khader, Sonia Kruger, Don Lemon, Asad Majeeb, Irshad Manji, Robert Ménard, Maryam Namazie, Andrew Neill, Asra Nomani, Barack Obama, Bill O’Reilly, Tahir al-Qadri, Haras Rafiq, David Rivkin, Jon Snow, Erick Stackelbeck, Jack Straw, Isha Susay, John Vause
British Board Scholars & Imams is a national assembly of Imams, Scholars & Islamically literate Muslim Academics formed to facilitate intra Muslim dialogue on theology, jurisprudence and community welfare. The need for this has been recognised for many years, with the first informal gathering having taken place in 2013.
The current circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic will require a collective response from the Muslim community, working with health services and local authorities, to manage the volume of deaths.
There are certain mandatory funerary rites afforded to the Muslim deceased.
In such circumstances, the Divine law permits certain relaxations of these rites.
Families should be comforted that their loved ones receive the deaths of martyrs, and that any short-comings in normal funerary rites will not affect this.
NHS and emergency workers (including funeral workers) should not forget their own physical and mental health, nor that of their families, in caring for others.
The risk of transmission of COVID-19 from a deceased body is low and should not be feared, provided adequate precautions are taken.
All such precautions must be taken by those handling the deceased’s body, whilst ensuring dignity is maintained. The needs of the living take priority over the needs of the deceased.
There are several options for ritual cleansing from: full ghusl, minimal ghusl, tayammum, wiping over the body bag. Each should be considered in sequence, but if none can be done, burial without ghusl is permissible. [Please note: the ghusl is not compulsory according to a classical opinion found in the Maliki school – we are not recommending following this opinion unless it is necessary according to the health risks involved.]
The body bag may be considered to fulfil the role of the burial shroud (kafan).
Funeral (janaza) prayers should be performed by a minimum of people; alternatives include the absentee funeral prayer (salat al-gha’ib).
A number of options for burial can be considered, including shared graves, transferral to other sites, and delay in burial. Preparations should be made in advance, especially in areas with a large Muslim population. Cremation must be avoided at all costs.
The BBSI emphatically exhorts community organisations, mosques, and charities to mobilise the community so that they might get trained in funerary rites. Local communities are advised to take decisions on the basis of this guidance whilst factoring in local circumstances.
We are all returning to our Lord, and should pray for those who have passed away collectively and individually, remembering always the life to come.
The BBSI is an apolitical national assembly of imams, traditional scholars and Islamically literate Muslim academics formed to facilitate scholarly intra-Muslim research and dialogue. Our aim is to provide authoritative ethico-theological guidance and leadership on matters relevant to Muslims, whilst promoting wider community welfare. It primarily seeks to do this by developing theological leadership that can authentically represent the rich scholarly inheritance of Islam, whilst responding flexibly to the context of modern times. Its ultimate aim is to both serve and represent the Muslim community in an ethical, inclusive, professional and scholar-led way. The BBSI especially takes seriously the responsibility to provide theologically grounded, practically focussed, holistic and – above all – cool-headed and far-sighted guidance to the community in times of generalised anxiety and panic.
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, in consultation with community organisations, health and medical experts, the BBSI has been providing ethico-religious guidance to the community. With an increase in death rates inevitable due to COVID-19, Muslim communities in the UK are advised to work with their local authorities in assembling a volunteer group of individuals. These individuals must be (i) aware of Islamic burial rites, (ii) properly trained in the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and (iii) suitable to safely carry out the burial procedures.
This document provides guidance on the burial procedures: storing, collecting, transporting, washing (ghusl), prayer (salat al-janaza), and interring the body (dafan) to ensure that they accord with both Islamic and Public Health England (PHE) guidelines, taking into account the latitude of approaches in Islamic law and the principles of standard infection control precautions (SICPs) and transmission-based precautions (TBPs).
As with all BBSI guidance, it is directed primarily at imams, scholars and funeral workers, to help guide their decision-making processes, but equally is produced for the benefit of the general public. It should not be considered a religious verdict (fatwa), but rather comprises a comprehensive guidance that draws on the classical traditions of Islam to provide an overview of options available. We encourage those who read it to consult with their local scholars and utilise it to help their decision-making processes. We pray that it will be of benefit and consolation during this extremely difficult time for the British and international community.
2. The Significance of Funerary Rights
For Muslims, death is a transition between one stage of life and another. The act of burial marks this passage and carries profound meaning for the dead as well as the living. Burying the dead is a communal obligation upon Muslims and it is a means through which dignity and respect are afforded to our fellow humans who have departed onto the next stage of their existence.
Dignity – God has bestowed a special status upon all humans, granting them dignity of the highest form in their bodies and honoring them amongst the rest of creation. Muslims believe that their bodies are a gift (amana) from God and will be returned to God. They take care to treat their bodies with respect during their lives, and to respect the bodies of those who have died. The funerary rites are designed to respect and maintain the dignity of the human form.
Desecration, harm, mutilation, disfiguring – Muslims are prohibited from causing or allowing any harm or mutilation to the human body both during life or after death. The funerary rites, such as washing, shrouding and praying are performed in order to honour the deceased, and burial acts to protect them from future harm.
Body and soul as a composite – for Muslims, the soul and body are inextricably connected from the womb of the mother to the womb of the grave and beyond. The human is understood as being a composite of body and soul, even after their physical separation at death. Hence Muslims do not distinguish between the bodies of the living or the dead, in that both are afforded the highest levels of respect and care. There is a deep metaphysical commitment that the soul is still aware of and able to experience what the physical body undergoes after death. Prophetic traditions further state that the dead can hear the greetings of those who visit them at their graves. Muslims are thus obliged to treat the dead with gentleness and care.
Rights of the dead – One of the rights that Muslims have over each other is that of funerary rites. It is a collective obligation on the living to wash, shroud, pray over and bury the dead, through respectful completion of the necessary rites and rituals as described in the primary sources of scripture and elaborated upon in the classical schools of law. These form part of a continuous tradition in Islam and carries deep religious, spiritual, historical and cultural significance for Muslims. These rituals may remind the wider public of other faith traditions who have similar beliefs around our final gifts to those who have passed. Alternatives to burial are unacceptable in Islam.
3. Counsel to the Bereaved
As a community, we are going through very difficult times. The death of a loved one is never easy. Despite the comfort of knowing that they are returning to their Lord in accordance with His divine Decree, grief at one’s loss is a perfectly normal response. This is even more the case in our current circumstance, where we may lose community members in large numbers. We may not also have the opportunity to bid them farewell in the traditional manner, due to fear of transmitting the virus, or adhering appropriately to government guidelines around isolating and lockdown.
Nonetheless, we take solace from the words of the Prophet (s) when he said: ‘The one who dies in a plague … dies as a martyr in the path of God.’ (Al-Bukhari, Muslim). In every distress we go through there is a divine blessing and wisdom. This narration indicates that the one who dies from an infectious disease receives the reward of a martyr, which is a tremendous rank.
By scholarly agreement, such people are still afforded all the funerary rites, but families may be concerned about those rites not being performed properly during this very difficult period. There is a lot of confusion around what can and cannot be done, and also what might happen to the deceased if the funerary rites are not fully performed. This is understandable given the situation; however, we assure you that the Islamic tradition makes it abundantly clear that the souls of your loved ones will suffer no ill effects from any shortfall in this regard arising out of these circumstances. Furthermore, the tradition is clear that in such situations the community is not considered to be held accountable for what is beyond their ability to manage.
Rest assured: our and your prayers reach the Lord who hears all and answers every supplicant who calls unto Him. We beseech Him for His mercy and pray in this time, as in all times, for His Grace and Beneficence.
4. Counsel to Health Professionals and Chaplains
The BBSI recognises and tremendously appreciates the tireless and selfless work that all of our NHS workers – from medics to cleaners – are doing to keep us all safe and healthy. We want you to know that our membership is supplicating for all of you; praying that God rewards you with the best of rewards for this noble service you are engaged in; beseeching Him to keep you and your families safe.
It should be noted that, notwithstanding the various narrations about avoiding places of contagion, we know that the Prophet (upon whom be blessings and peace) treated a leper by placing his blessed hand in the same bowl as that of the afflicted (Al-Tirmidhi). Please, therefore, be aware that what you are doing is fulfilling a specific sunna as well as the general Sunna of assisting those in need. We pray that this work be a means for you to be drawn nearer to Him, in accordance with His Wisdom.
We would also advise you to take all precautions necessary to keep yourselves and your families safe during this very difficult period, especially if you have elderly parents, in which case you should consider quarantining yourself from them as far as possible.
Given the lockdown measures currently in place, it may well be that those who pass away from COVID-19 will do so alone, in a hospital bed, not surrounded by family or loved ones. Whatever your field but especially if you have access to such patients in their last stages, you are their family. Please take a little time, if possible, to minister to their spiritual needs at this critical stage of end of life. If possible, and if safe to do so:
Comfort them and counsel them to hope in God’s mercy and turn to Him, seeking His pardon, for they are returning to their Lord as martyrs, beloved in His presence
Encourage them gently to recite the shahada and occupy their time in:
Prayer (in the hospital bed, in any direction, with any slight head movement)
Vocal remembrance (if possible given their breathing difficulties) or
Silent dhikr (of the mind or heart, with a tasbih/sibha if that helps).
For those in their very last stages, recite the shahadawithout encouraging or exhorting them to do so, and if you are able, recite Surah Yasin to ease their passing
Tayammum: It may be that, as the rate of death increases, funeral services will be overwhelmed and ghusl will not be performed for the deceased. Only if it is possible:
Keep a small, clean stone (about palm size ideally) with you.
Once the patient has passed away, make the intention of tayammum.
Rub your gloved hands on the stone and pass once over their face,
Then rub again and pass over their forearms. Make sure to discard the gloves and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
This will fulfil the responsibility of ghusl of the deceased if it is impossible for it to be done later on, and will be a means of you single-handedly lifting the burden of this responsibility from the community.
Lastly, the BBSI recognises that this period is going to be emotionally and psychologically very difficult for all those working on the front line of dealing with this crisis. It may be that you are transferred out of your comfort zone, need to work additional hours to cover unwell or isolating colleagues, and be confronted with a significant amount of death. This can be extremely stressful for anyone, even healthcare professionals who often feel that they should be able to deal with such situations. We have a number of doctors in the BBSI, and can assure you that nothing equips you for the experience of disaster medicine.
If you find yourself nearing breaking point, please reach out to services that are available, whether psychological or spiritual, and seek help. We will work with other organisations to try and ensure that this service is available to you, and assist you in whatever way we can, with our prayers if nothing else.
5. Fulfilling the Rights of the Deceased
There are general rights that the deceased have over the living: to pray for their forgiveness and acceptance; fulfilling their wishes and bequests as laid out in their wills; performing acts of worship, such as recitation of the Qur’an and asking God for the reward to be granted to them; and doing acts of lasting charity on their behalf.
There are also specific rights that the deceased have over the living, which are communal obligations. These largely revolve around the funerary rites, and which this guidance details. There are several stages of interring the deceased’s body, each of which will be explained in detail: (1) storage, collection and transportation, (2) ritual cleansing (ghusl), (3) shrouding (kafan), (4) performance of the funeral prayer (janaza), and (5) burial of the deceased.
The BBSI emphatically exhorts community organisations, mosques, and charities to mobilise the community so that they might get trained in funerary rites. There are several online resources available for this.
The BBSI recognises the very courageous work being done by funeral workers, who will largely be on the front line of dealing with the deceased. We also understand that you have a great deal of anxiety about handling the bodies and the risks of contracting COVID-19 yourselves. There is a lot of uncertainty about this issue in the public, though top health experts and medical professionals have officially assured us that there is little to fear provided adequate PPE is utilised. This guidance takes as its priority the safety and health of those entrusted to perform the funerary rights of the deceased, and we ask Allah to reward you tremendously for the service you are providing: you are as those who guard the frontiers of the land from attack.
For these specific funerary rites, given the still-contagious nature of the virus and the possibility of contracting it from the body of the deceased, we strongly advise that there are those who should not be involved. This excludes presence at the funeral prayer and the site of the burial itself.
There are certain categories of people who should avoid performing any of the funerary rites with the exception of the funeral prayer.
Anyone elderly (over 60)
Anyone with an underlying health condition (See Appendix A).
Those who are in frequent contact with the above mentioned individuals
Those who have not been properly instructed in the risks of dealing with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 positive bodies
Those who have not received basic training in dealing with infectious bodies, which includes methods of handling the deceased, safe working procedures, donning and removing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), personal hygiene, and steps to be taken if something goes wrong.
In the course of work, individuals involved in burial-tasks should carefully monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19. Any individual who fits the description of those the government has advised to self-quarantine or self-isolate should not participate in these burial tasks. (See Appendix B)
It is very important, and possibly obligatory, under Islamic law for those vulnerable to the virus to act so as to avoid contracting it, especially in the situation where others are able to fulfil the rights of the deceased. We recognise that family members, under normal circumstances, play a leading role in these funerary rites, which also allow us to process our grief. However, the circumstance of the pandemic is different: it is a religious principle that one must avoid exposing oneself to, and exposing others to harm (la darar wa la dirar).
A. Collecting & Transferring the Deceased
It is of utmost importance to treat the deceased with dignity and care at all times.
The burial team should be the minimum number of people required to carry out the task safely and effectively. They should gather all appropriate information regarding the deceased prior to collection, his/her condition, potential infection risks, and any other information relevant to those who will be handling the body.
A hazard notification sheet is often provided detailing this information. It should be read and consulted carefully. Due to the sensitive nature of the information contained in the hazard notification sheet, it should only be shared with those who require information to safely handle the deceased. Burial teams should wherever applicable take the duty of confidentiality seriously.
To minimize risk, the deceased may be placed in a body bag during collection and transfer. Individuals should avoid directly touching the deceased and minimize moving the body.
At the time of writing this guidance, Public Health England (PHE) has NOT mandated the use of body bags for COVID-19 victims, though it is standard practice in some hospitals for all the deceased during this pandemic.
The BBSI recommends precaution and strongly advises burial teams to consult the medical personnel on call regarding the use of body bags if the deceased is not already placed in one.
In cases of likely risk of bodily leakage or delays leading to bodily decay, a body bag MUST be used.
During collection and transfer, individuals should abstain from activities that increase the risk of contracting the virus. They should:
Not bring their hands into contact with their mouth, nose, or eyes
Cover all abrasions and cuts, especially on the hands, with waterproof dressings,
Have available disinfectant material;
Wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
PPE equipment includes: gloves, eye protection, face masks, waterproof gowns and sleeves, and, in some cases, respiratory protective equipment (RPE).
Equipment should be stored properly, fit for purpose, worn properly, correctly fitted, and disposed of after use.
Individuals should be trained in the donning and removal of such equipment.
For more on this see the guidance from Public Health England. (See Appendix C and D)
Burial teams should pay attention to the equipment they use. They should have dedicated equipment (vehicles, trolleys, etc.) for use with infected bodies. Equipment used should be of a type easy to decontaminate and disinfect.
Equipment that has come into contact with the deceased should be disinfected regularly and after every use, such that the vehicle, tables or stretchers, surfaces and reusable PPE. Single-use items should be discarded safely and immediately after first use.
After collecting and transferring the deceased, members of the burial team should: remove any protective clothing; dispose of such clothing safely; and wash their hands with soap thoroughly.
B. Washing (ghusl)
Who should perform the washing?
Washing of the deceased is a part of the Islamic ritual of honouring the deceased and a communal obligation on the Muslim community. Although this would ordinarily start with the family members, in this context those properly trained in PPE and with access to the appropriate equipment would need to take the lead.
Minimally, two people of the same sex as the deceased should be available for the washing, though more would ordinarily be required. Those selected to carry out the ritual cleansing should be from the ‘safe list’ noted above. Importantly, they should be aware of the Islamic rules on washing the deceased. Those on the exclusion list should not participate in the cleansing of the body.
What is the procedure for washing the COVID-suspected deceased?
Provided the funeral washers take precautions, washing the COVID-suspected deceased is safe. As of the writing of this guidance, it should be noted that Public Health England has NOT made it a requirement for the COVID-suspected deceased to be sealed in a body bag and have deemed hygienic preparations and even post-mortem to be permitted for those positively diagnosed with COVID-19. This is in line with their guidance for infectious diseases in general; it should be noted that COVID-19 is less infectious from deceased bodies than HIV, SARS, and Ebola, as well as other such similar serious diseases. The concern with COVID-19 is the likely volume and rate of funerals that will be required. Family and washers should be assured that all of the following guidance is both safe and in accordance with Islamic law.
A COVID-suspected body may be received from the morgue in one of two circumstances: with or without a ‘DO NOT OPEN’ tag.
In the case of a DO NOT OPEN tag, those performing the cleansing rite should don PPE and wipe over the sealed body bag from head to toe, after having applied some water to their gloved hands.
In the case where there is NO ‘do not open’ tag, and in light of PHE guidelines, it is possible for the deceased to be given a minimal washing with the following conditions:
that those washing the body wear all the appropriate PPE and are properly trained in its donning/removal,
that all reasonable means are taken to minimize risk of transmission, such as avoiding procedures that are aerosol-generating (like moving the body around),
that the deceased does not suffer from any other condition that creates a significantly higher-risk of transmitting disease, and
that those in charge of burial are able to provide a safe and dedicated space for washing that is properly disinfected/decontaminated after every washing procedure.
The minimal washing consists of:
Minimal movement of the deceased’s body
Avoiding removing the disinfectant covering from the face
Pouring water over the deceased’s body from neck down
Flowing hair may be washed or wiped
Avoiding performance of istinja or pressing the abdomen to extrude contents
If any of the steps above cannot be safely undertaken, including not having access to adequate PPE, then the option to wipe over the body bag should be utilised.
If one is either (1) advised by morgue staff that the risk of infection is extremely high, or (2) the rate of then – as a last resort – the deceased can be buried without either ghusl or wiping.
Ordinarily, shrouding is carried out immediately after ghusl, and it is recommended to use three white sheets (cotton or partly synthetic) for men and five for women. This is unlikely to be possible for a COVID-suspected deceased. In this case, the BBSI affirms that the body bag will fulfill the religious requirement of shrouding. An additional shroud may be wrapped over the body bag, though this is not required, and the body then placed in the casket. The outer part of the casket should be wiped with the appropriate disinfectant as part of transfer procedures.
Funeral Prayer (janaza)
Who should pray and where?
The ideal in our tradition is that there be a large gathering of people, including family members, to pray over the deceased following the ritual washing (ghusl) of the body. However, the communal obligation is also fulfilled even if only one Muslim (male or female) prays over the deceased.
It is envisaged that there may well be significant restrictions on gatherings, and that mosques may be closed for some time to come. In such a case, the funeral prayer may be performed in the cemetery, even though this is not ideal. The options are as follows:
Group performance of the janaza prayer with the family, whilst maintaining appropriate social distancing strategies, at the cemetery prior to burial.
Performance of the janaza prayer by a very small number of individuals (such as the washers), in the presence of the deceased’s body. One individual praying over the deceased fulfils the community obligation (fard kifaya).
Performance of the funeral prayer in absentia (salat al-janaza ‘ala al-gha’ibin) by other family members and well-wishers, which is valid in the Shafi’i and Hanbali schools of law. [This does not remove the communal obligation mentioned in (2) above – at least one person should fulfil that, if possible.] Hanafis and Malikis should consult their local scholars about following this option.
Muslims should always be aware that actions are in accordance with their intentions, and that ‘one who intends a virtuous deed but does not perform it is like one who performed it.’ If you would have gone to the funeral had you been able to do so, but were unable owing to your health, the need to socially isolate or community lockdown, you will be rewarded as though you had gone. For further details on how to perform the funeral prayer, please refer to Appendix E.
Burying the Deceased
Who should not perform the burial?
The burial may be attended by anyone, bearing in mind government guidelines about social distancing and community lockdown. The actual burial of the COVID-suspected deceased’s body should not be performed by those on the exclusion list, as noted previously.
Where is the deceased to be buried?
In the shari’a, the minimal burial is for a body to be placed in the earth in such a manner where:
The living are protected from the effects of bodily decay, such as the smell of the body
The deceased’s body is protected from mutilation or damage, such as by animals.
The basis is that a Muslim is buried:
in a Muslim graveyard, or the section demarcated for Muslims within cemetery grounds,
in his/her own individual grave,
without transferring the body an excessive distance from one area to another, and
without an undue delay.
The COVID-19 crisis is unprecedented. Given the higher rates of deaths occurring from this illness, Muslim communities will be forced to make decisions regarding burial procedures that are non-ideal. It should be noted, however, that classical jurists have given significant scope to depart from the ideal funerary rites in cases of need and necessity. Below, we provide guidance on a few issues pertaining to burials that will likely be pertinent to Muslim communities in the coming weeks.
(a) Mass Burials:
A Muslim’s body should ideally be buried in his/her individual grave.
In times of general need (defined as any situation in which burying bodies individually in their own separate graves creates undue difficulty or harm), the shariah explicitly permits burial of multiple bodies in the same grave.
For a mass burial, it is ideal that:
Men are buried in one shared grave and women in another, or, if they are placed in a single shared grave, men to one side and women to the other. If this is difficult, it is permitted to bury them in one grave intermixed.
It is advised that each body be separated from the other with a barrier, even a small one formed with dirt, whenever possible without undue difficulty.
Muslims are buried together in their own cemetery, or, if not possible, in a grave separate to those from other faith traditions.
Burying the deceased in a shared grave is preferable to an excessive delay in burying them in their own grave. See further related points in ‘Burial in a non-Muslim cemetery’ and ‘Delaying Burial’.
(b) Burial in a non-Muslim cemetery
Muslims should ideally be buried in a Muslim cemetery.
If this is not possible for a valid reason such as lack of space, it would be permitted to bury a Muslim in a non-Muslim cemetery
When possible, a shared grave in a Muslim cemetery is to be given preference over an individual grave in a non-Muslim one. See related points below in ‘Transferring the Body’ and ‘Delaying Burial’.
(c) Transferring the Body
It is permitted to transfer the deceased in cases of need or for a valid purpose, such as lack of space or capacity locally, or a bequest to be buried in one’s hometown.
Decisions to transfer the body should be made in close consultation with the family of the deceased, relevant authorities, and the communities/sites to whom/where the deceased will be transferred to.
When possible, transferring the body for burial without delay, even a long distance, is preferable to an excessive delay.
When possible, transferring the deceased to a Muslim cemetery, even if a long distance, is to be given preference over a nearby burial in a non-Muslim cemetery.
(d) Delaying Burial
The default is to carry out the burial procedure as quickly as possible.
Slight delays are permitted if there is need, such as when the burial team is seeing to the funerary rites of others or when waiting for a space to be allocated for the deceased in a Muslim cemetery.
When possible, a slight delay to ensure burial in a Muslim cemetery is to be given preference over an immediate burial in a non-Muslim cemetery provided the deceased can be safely stored.
Excessive delays should be absolutely avoided.
It is preferable to transfer the deceased elsewhere, or bury him in a shared Muslim grave, than to excessively delay funerary rites and burial. This is a matter that requires sensitive consultation with the family of the deceased.
In cases where there are no other options and it is not possible to bury without delay, it would be permitted to delay the burial and other funerary rites. The deceased in this case should be kept stored in a manner that prevents bodily decay, is safe, and upholds their dignity. For this, the relevant authorities and experts should be consulted and communities should anticipate and plan for scenarios where this will be likely.
How is the COVID-suspected deceased to be buried?
The burial and any activities associated with it should proceed as normal, but it should be restricted to the gravesite.
Before transfer to the gravesite, the outside of the casket should be disinfected. Individuals tasked with carrying the casket to and from the transport vehicle should don the appropriate PPE, such as suitable single-use gloves. They should dispose of this equipment after first use and thoroughly wash their hands with water and soap or hand sanitizer.
While transporting the deceased, it is recommended to engage in dhikr and supplication for the deceased.
The funeral should be attended by a minimal number of people given current government guidance.
Some councils have set limits on the maximum number of people that may attend a funeral. As such, those arranging the funeral should consult their relevant local authorities regarding this.
If there is no set maximum set by the government or local authorities but only a general instruction to keep funerals small, it is recommended to follow the guidance of the Deceased Management Advisory Group (DMAG), which has advised that funerals only be attended by immediate family or a few individuals.
It may give some solace to those unable to physically attend the actual burial to have it live-streamed, though one cannot actually join the funeral prayer via live-stream. For those who wish, the absentia funeral prayer remains an option.
Attendees should be told to observe all social distancing, self-isolation, and personal hygiene guidelines advised by the government.
This means that for the time being the elderly, those with underlying health conditions, and those required to observe 14-day self isolation should not come to the funeral site, especially if the service will be attended by several people.
The BBSI understands that this will be extremely difficult for people who were close to the deceased, but wish to reassure them that true proximity is when hearts are entwined, not merely proximity of bodies.
Viewing of the deceased before burial is permitted, including the face provided this is medically permitted, as the risk of infection is very low.
However, the deceased should under no circumstances be touched or kissed.
See the Royal College of Pathologists advice for this (PPE, social distancing).
The deceased should be lowered into the grave as normally done in funeral services.
It is recommended by many jurists that the deceased be given an admonitory address (talqin) after burial, which may be expressed in any manner that conveys a meaning similar to what is related below:
Remember the covenant by which you exited this world; the testification that there is no god but God who has no partners and that Muhammad is the messenger and slave of God. Remember that the Day of Judgment is coming and that God resurrects those in the graves. Say: ‘I have accepted that my Lord is God, that Islam is my religion, that Muhammad is a true Prophet, that the Ka`bah is the true direction for prayer, that the Qur’an is my guide and that all believers in God are brothers.’
It is recommended to recite some Quran over the grave after burial and make a supplication for the forgiveness of the deceased.
Word of Counsel
May God be praised – He is the Maker of the heavens and of the earth; the Creator of all things, and the One who sent His Chosen Messenger, our liege-lord, Muhammad, the most noble of all creation. God is the Eminent, the Forgiving, the Manager of all affairs, the Maker of destinies; who has brought all His creation into being, and makes it thus they change from state to state, and moves from one abode to the next.
God has established that we have not one life, nor even two – but five ‘lives’, in that there are five abodes of existences that we pass through. We all too often forget that, and we are tempted to think that the life of this world, al-dunya, is the life, the only life, when, in fact, it is the most passing and fleeting of all.
Rather, by God’s Mercy and His Grace, we have already lived through the abode of the life before this one, where all the souls were gathered, and we all took the covenant with our Lord, recognising His Unity and his Lordship. And from among those souls include the community of Muhammad – the community that you come from. Wahb ibn Munabbih narrates that when our liege-lord Moses asked his Lord about the community of Muhammad, God replied: “ It is the community of Ahmad (another name for Muhammad), whose people are content with whatever little provision I give them, and I am content with whatever little good works they do. I make each one of them enter the Garden by their testimony that ‘there is no god but God’.”
And then we go through this world that we are in; and then we shall be placed in our graves; and then we leave our graves for the Resurrection and Gathering, until the moment that all of us reach our final abode. Remember of that time in the Gathering that our Prophet (s) declared: “Each Prophet has one prayer which must be answered. They have prayed, but I have concealed my prayer, so that it may be an intercession for my nation, including, God willing, all those who died without partnering anything to God.”
That intercession is for the life to come; that life that is spoken of in the Qur’an (44:51-7) as: “Those who had taqwa will be in a secure place, in gardens and watersprings … a favour from your Lord: that is the supreme triumph.”
The Prophet (s) noted to us: “the Garden comprises one hundred degrees; between each two degrees is like between Heaven and earth. Firdaus is the high degree, from which spring the four rivers of the Garden. Above it is the Highest Throne. When you petition God, therefore, ask for Firdaus!” and, “A herald shall announce: ‘O people of the Garden! It is time for you to be healthy and never fall ill. It is time for you to live and never die. It is time for you to be young and never grow old. And it is time for you to be happy and never be miserable.’”
May God make us all of its people, through His Generosity, His Grace, His Mercy, and Grace.
Abu Bakr al-Kasani. Badaʼiʻ al-sanaʼiʻ fi tartib al-sharaʼiʻ. Edited by ʻAli Muʻawwad and ʻAdil ʻAbd al-Mawjud. Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-ʻIlmiyya, 1997.
ʻAli ibn Sulayman al-Mardawi. al-Insaf fi maʻrifat al-khilaf ʻala madhhab al-Imam Ahmad. Edited by Muhammad Shafiʻi. 12 vols. Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-ʻIlmiyya, 1997.
Mansur ibn Yunus al-Buhuti. Kashshaf al-qinaʻ ʻan matn al-Iqnaʻ. 6 vols. Mecca: Matbaʻat al-Hukuma, 1974.
Muhammad Amin ibn ʿAbidin. Radd al-muhtar ʿala al-Durr al-Mukhtar. 7 vols. Cairo: Bulaq, 1323-26 A.H.
Sulayman ibn Umar al-ʿUjayli. Hashiyat al-Jamal. Edited by ʿAbd al-Razzaq al-Mahdi. 8 vols. Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya, 1996.
Yahya ibn Sharaf al-Nawawi. Rawdat al-talibin wa-ʻumdat al-muftin. Edited by Ishraf Zuhayr al-Shawish. 10 vols. Beirut: al-Maktab al-Islami, 1985.
———-. Kitab al-Majmuʻ. Edited by Najib al-Mutiʻi. 10 vols. Cairo: Dar al-Nasr, 1971.
Health and Safety Executive, Managing infection risks when handling the deceased Guidance for the mortuary, post-mortem room and funeral premises, and during exhumation (2018).
Public Health England, COVID-19: Guidance for infection prevention and control in healthcare settings. Version 1.0. (last updated on March 23rd, 2020).
The Royal College of Pathologists, Transmission-based precautions Guidance for care of deceased during COVID-19 pandemic (issued 25th March, 2020)
The Association of Healthcare Cleaning Professionals’ (AHCP) Revised Healthcare Cleaning Manual. Appendix A – Who is at high risk from coronavirus
Coronavirus can make anyone seriously ill, but there are some people who are at a higher risk. For example, you may be at high risk from coronavirus if you:
have had an organ transplant
are having certain types of cancer treatment
have blood or bone marrow cancer, such as leukaemia
have a severe lung condition, such as cystic fibrosis or severe asthma
have a condition that makes you much more likely to get infections
are taking medicine that weakens your immune system
are pregnant and have a serious heart condition
Source: NHS (last reviewed on 24th March 2020)
Appendix B – Self-isolation if you or someone you live with has symptoms – Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Do not leave your home if you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) or live with someone who does. This is called self-isolation. If you are self-isolating, you must:
not leave your home for any reason, other than to exercise once a day – but stay at least 2 metres (3 steps) away from other people
not go out to buy food or collect medicine – order them by phone or online, or ask someone else to drop them off at your home
not have visitors, such as friends and family, in your home
If you have symptoms of coronavirus, you’ll need to self-isolate for 7 days or until your temperature returns to normal. You do not need to self-isolate if you just have a cough after 7 days. A cough can last for several weeks after the infection has gone.
If you live with someone who has symptoms, you’ll need to self-isolate for 14 days from the day their symptoms started. This is because it can take 14 days for symptoms to appear. If more than 1 person at home has symptoms, self-isolate for 14 days from the day the first person started having symptoms.
If you then get symptoms, self-isolate for 7 days from when your symptoms start, even if it means you’re self-isolating for longer than 14 days. If you do not get symptoms, you can stop self-isolating after 14 days.
Source: NHS (last reviewed on 24th March, 2020)
Source: Public Health England, COVID-19: infection prevention and control guidance (last reviewed 23rd March, 2020)
Appendix E – Performing the Funeral Prayer
The janaza prayer is fard kifaya (communal obligation) – it is fulfilled by a minimum of one (1) person.
It is sunna for the imam to stand in front of the chest of the deceased.
The necessary components of the prayer are the 4 takbirs and standing up.
It is sunna to read the thana after the 1sttakbir, salutations on the Prophet after the 2ndtakbir, dua for the deceased after the 3rd and it is wajib to do the salam after the 4thtakbir.
The hands should only be raised for the 1sttakbir
Sura al-Fatiha can be prayed after the thana with the intention of dua’ and not qira’at
Supplicating for forgiveness is not required for a child or an insane person; on the contrary the dua should be made that the children are a source of salvation for us.
The funeral prayer (salat al-janaza) is a communal obligation, requiring a minimum of 1 person to pray it. For those that are unable to attend the salat al-janaza in person, they may pray the absentee funeral prayer (salat al-gha’ib). The following will apply:
The body of the deceased should be placed between the imam and the qibla, with the head to the right and the feet to the left. The imam should preferably be in front of the head of the body, if the body is a man, or to the midpoint of the body, if the body is a woman. (This condition does not exist for those praying salat al-gha’ib).
One stands, intending to pray an obligatory funeral prayer, with the intention occurring at the time of the opening takbir. (For those praying salat al-gha’ib, they intend to pray a sunna prayer that is salat al-gha’ib.)
The opening takbir (Allahu akbar) is then followed by the reciting of surah al-Fatiha (quietly, to one’s self);
Then this is followed by a second takbir, which is then followed by quietly saying ‘alhamdulillah’, and then (quietly, to one’s self) recitation of the prayer upon the Prophet, upon whom be blessings and peace, in the same way that one would do so in the second half of the tashhahud in the ritual daily prayer;
Which is then followed by a third takbir; which is then followed by (quietly, to one’s self) supplicating for the deceased. It is recommended one says, “Allahumma la tahrimnaajrahu wa la taftina baʿdahu wa-ghfir lana wa lahu” (“O God, do not deprive us of his reward, nor afflict us after him. [O God,] grant us and him forgiveness.”)
Which is then followed by a fourth takbir; which is then followed by (quietly, to one’s self) praying for all the Muslims;
Which is then followed by saying aloud ‘as-salam ‘alaykum’ to the right, and then to the left.
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In a new report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian describes the operating manuals for China’s mass internments and arrests of Uighur Muslims in the occupied territory called Xinjiang (East Turkestan). She describes what the world continues to ignore: China’s ethnic genocide—the destruction of culture, traditions, and mosques— the very fabric of Uighur heritage.
This is a shocking attempt at reshaping an entire people’s identity. Once reduced to less than animals, it is no surprise that Chinese Communisty Party’s (CCP) evil is now extending toharvesting organs from Uighurs. There is increasing research such as the findings of the China Tribunal led by Sir Geoffrey Nice, QC, a former chief prosecutor of Slobodan Milosevic,that also leads to assertions of physical genocide.
While the Uighur destruction story has been unfolding for more than a decade and despite courageous reporting to bring it to the attention of the world, the abuse continues unabated. Why?
China’s rampant propaganda machine: Tell China’s story well
The answer lies in China’s propaganda machine, which is unparalleled in its scope and funding. China has committed to spend $6.6 billion on global coverage, emphasizing Chinese power, generosity and centrality to global affairs. While all expenses paid trips, buying airwaves, advertorials, sponsored journalistic coverage and “heavily massaged positive messages from boosters” are no new tactics, unlike other government propaganda machines, China does not accept a plurality of views. The press becomes the eyes, ears, and tongues of the Chinese Communist Party.
The build up of soft power is strategic. A five month investigation by the Guardian reports that, “Beijing has also been patiently increasing its control over the global digital infrastructure through private Chinese companies, which are dominating the switchover from analogue to digital television in parts of Africa, launching television satellites and building networks of fibre-optic cables and data centres – a “digital silk road” – to carry information around the world.Since August 2019.” 10 million of Africa’s 24 million pay-TV subscribers watch low-cost StarTimes, which is CCP-owned. ProPublica has tracked more than 10,000 suspected fake Twitter accounts involved in a coordinated influence campaign with ties to the Chinese government. Remember Twitter is banned in China. A Reuters investigation across four continents found at least 33 radio stations in 14 countries that are part of a global radio web structured in a way that obscures its majority shareholder: state-run China Radio International, or CRI. The carefully scripted content is broadcast worldwide in more than 60 languages and Chinese dialects.
The 480 CCP fundedConfucius Institutes in various universities in six continents are staffed with visiting teachers from China and offer language classes, cultural programming and outreach. They teach that Taiwan, Tibet and East Turkestan are integral parts of China and ignore human rights. However, many see them as a part of the propaganda machine and have been criticized by professors concerned about academic freedom and institutional autonomy. The CCP admits as much, Politburo standing member Li Changchun said. “[Confucius Institute] has made an important contribution toward improving our soft power. The ‘Confucius’ brand has a natural attractiveness. Using the excuse of teaching Chinese language, everything looks reasonable and logical.”
One just needs to look at China’s neighbor Pakistan, home of 4 Confucius Institutes, Xinhua Urdu News channel and a $60 billion CCP investment, to see the effect of wholesale Chinese brainwashing. Like the rest of the Muslim “Ummah”, Pakistanis decry the human rights abuses against Kashmiris, Rohingya, Palestinians, etc., but when it comes to human rightsabuse against Uighur Muslims, a majority of Pakistanis dismiss it as “Western propaganda”.
Much of this is because of a systematic response team run by the China Economic Net, a Beijing-based online news organization, and the Islamabad-based Pakistan China Institute. The system disseminates information to counter “negative” news about the neocolonial Belt and Road initiative. The think tank also runs China-Pakistan Media Forum, and for 5 years has been bringing Pakistani and Chinese journalists together to counter negative news.
Pakistan may be an extreme case, but it is not unique. Most of the world is either unaware or uncertain about the extent of the abuse against Uighurs.
This reflects the extent to which China has been successful in hiding its dirty secrets.
Will there be another cover-up on COVID19?
More than 23,000 people are dead globally from COVID-19. Since the first Dec. 30 announcement of a new disease in Wuhan, the CCP has spun a narrative.
Recently three lawsuits were filed against the CCP government. In one, attorney Robert Eglet claimed that China’s government should have shared more information about the virus but intimidated doctors, scientists, journalists and lawyers while allowing the COVID-19 respiratory illness to spread.
CCP’s propaganda machine is now attempting to cover-up China’s role in the coronavirus pandemic; it has gone into hyper mode.In a must-watch short documentary on New York Times, reporters identify three dominant themes that China wants to promote to the world: spinning optimism, protecting China’s image, and disputing the origin of the virus:
Spinning optimism and protecting China’s image:
Everyday we are hearing stories of Chinese medical goods and medical teams reaching other countries to provide assistance in fighting the virus. This is certainly laudable, but one must not forget the context of these stories that are glowingly reported by Chinese news sources and officials on Twitter. This is part of the government spin to turn the Chinese government from the creator of the problem to the Good Samaritan. It is akin to setting someone’s house on fire and then sending in the fire trucks. One can acknowledge that the fire-trucks are helpful, but should one forget who started the fire?
The source of the COVID-19:
Despite China’s massive attempts at shifting the virus origins outside China, the overwhelming evidence points to Wuhan as the epicenter of the pandemic. If there is one video to watch to understand how this virus came into being,then it is this from Vox.
Everyone remembers SARS from 2003, azoonoses – human infection of animal origin. What most people didn’t know is how SARS came into being. Historically, small farmers in China ate wildlife that they caught on the farms. However, after China designated wildlife as a “natural resource” in the late 1980s, it led to its mass-scale industrialization, worth billions. As it is, China has a poor record in food supply chain controls, and by allowing this unprecedented commercialization of wildlife, it opened the doors for exotic viruses to find their way into humans.
With the breeding industrialization, wildlife markets were established and wildlife started flooding regular wet markets (where meat, fish, and produce is sold) leading to its mixing with staple animals under atrocious conditions. This allowed viruses to move from one animal species to another, eventually leading to the SARS outbreak. The SARS virus was traced to a wet market in Foshan, Guangdong province, most likely passed from masked palm civets and/or bats to humans. This is a wildlife regulation problem.
While China shut down the markets immediately after SARS, it decided to reopen them in a short time. Greed trumped humanity. It was only a matter of time that some new virus would jump species and find its way into humans. And that is exactly what happened. A study found that the novel coronavirus now known as COVID-19 that has been found in patients infected in the outbreak that began in Wuhan, China, is almost totally identical to one that infects bats.
Racism towards people of Chinese heritage
It is important to keep in mind that ordinary Chinese people have faced the brunt of the initial virus outbreak. Their frustrations and anger was captured intweets by New York Times correspondent Amy Qin from Wuhan. There is no excuse and basis for discriminating against the people of China. They are very much part of the common humanity with the rest of the world who are suffering due to the grave and criminal blunders of the Chinese government. It is important to acknowledge that some individuals are promoting racist tropes against the Chinese, and this must be opposed, while not allowing the Chinese government to get away with a cover-up.
Some of the racist tropes making rounds online are about food choices in China. What Chinese people eat is their choice. People all over the world eat all types of animals. Some folks may find the consumption of camel, kangaroo, and desert lizard disgusting, even while Muslim diet permits all three. We may not like what others eat, but we are not in a position to dictate those choices. What we can emphasize though universally is that the meat industry must provide sanitary conditions to animals, and their slaughter should also be conducted in a humane way. For example, cooking animals alive or clubbing them to death are practices that can be universally condemned, but what cannot be allowed is to engage in racist tropes about what people eat.
One must also note that while the Chinese do have a wider spectrum of animals they will eat, “the majority of the people in China do not eat wildlife animals”. As Peter Li points out in the VOX video, “those people who consume these wildlife animals are the rich and the powerful –a small minority.”
The cover-up is harmful
Coronavirus has brought the world to its knees. People have lost their lives and livelihoods. Poor countries are even at greater risk of being completely devastated if the virus takes hold, as it did in Wuhan or Italy.
And it could have been prevented.
AUniversity of Southampton study found that “if interventions in the country [by Beijing] could have been conducted one week, two weeks, or three weeks earlier, cases could have been reduced by 66 percent, 86 percent and 95 percent respectively – significantly limiting the geographical spread of the disease”.
Instead of focusing on controlling the disease, the Chinese government was focused on PR. Instead of managing the disease, President Xi was busy managing WHO’s response,which parroted Chinese government propaganda that “no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus.”
So China not only allowed conditions for the rise of the deadly virus, its actions led to a far more severe outbreak than a transparent and controlled prevention program would have allowed.It co-opted the WHO into its propaganda and we must call China out for its actions.
Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater
Despite the clear evidence of China’s role in both the rise and spread of the virus, there is a severe pushback (some from Chinese propaganda and some from “woke” channels) against calling China out on the pandemic. While calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” is very problematic, it is also not helpful to absolve China of its attempted cover-up and then get out of hand.
Concern for ordinary Chinese people is sincerely intentioned. However, holding China accountable is not racism. The world gave China the benefit of doubt on SARS, but the fact that something similar happened again is inexcusable. China has been getting away with abuse within its boundaries, and if it gets away with the coronavirus cover-up, who knows what other abuses and viruses the world will see in the years to come.
It means that wildlife industrial operations must be stopped permanently.
It means that China must compensate the world for wreaking havoc, especially funding recovery of poor nations with no strings attached
Finally, and most importantly, it means that China’s propaganda machine must be checked and countered. Major news outlets must directly and explicitly fact-check Chinese propaganda. CCP’s bizarre attempts at raising concerns about racism, while it is in the middle of destroying an entire race, should be exposed for what it is: an attempted cover-up. It shouldn’t get away with it this time.
(Hena Zuberi contributed to this piece)
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In the Name of God most Merciful Most Compassionate
Peace Be Upon Prophet Mohammad, His Family, Companions and Brothers. Ameen
“God will never punish them while they are seeking forgiveness” (al-Anfāl, 8:33)
As we observe imposed isolation or social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus that has disrupted life as we know it, maintaining and elevating our faith becomes both a necessity and a great opportunity. The awakened believer is the one who never excludes the hand of God in everything that happens in the world–good or bad. We ask Allah Almighty to show us kindness and mercy in everything that He decrees for us.
“And We have already sent [messengers] to nations before you, [O Muhammad]; then We seized them with poverty and hardship that perhaps they might humble themselves [to Us]. (42) Then why, when Our punishment came to them, did they not humble themselves? But their hearts became hardened, and Satan made attractive to them that which they were doing. (43) So when they forgot that by which they had been reminded, We opened to them the doors of every [good] thing until, when they rejoiced in that which they were given, We seized them suddenly, and they were [then] in despair. (44)” (al-An’ām, 6:42-44)
Now is the time of seeking forgiveness and repenting to Allah. Now is the time we seek the counsel of our rich tradition in how to deal with collective and universal calamities and hardship. The awakened believer looks at what Allah brings about in His universe with a Divine Light and resists the calls of ignorance and heedlessness in any form they appear.
From the pure well of Prophetic guidance we draw thirteen beautiful, practical, and spiritual counsels:
The pandemic that is frightening everyone is the creation of Allah released by His Power for reasons He only knows. Losing sight of this basic fact is a sign of the blindness of our inner eyes. And your Lord creates what He wills and chooses; not for them was the choice. Exalted is Allah and high above what they associate with Him. (Al-Qaṣaṣ, 28:68)
1. When the Masjids are closed and Jumu’ah is suspended and the Honored Ka’bah and the Prophetic Mosque are emptied and there is rampant panic, the guided believer rushes to Istighfār. Let’s repeat and teach our children and households one of these Prophetic expressions of seeking forgiveness:
Astaghfirullāh wa Atūbu ilayhi, at least 100 times a day. (Muslim)
Rabbī Ighfir Lī wa Tub ‘alayya Innaka Anta Attawābu ArRahīm, at least 100 times aday. ( Al-Tirmidhī, Abū Dāwūd, Ibn Mājah)
Let’s be among those who seek the forgiveness before dawn that God praised in the Qur’ān:
“Those who say, “Our Lord, indeed we have believed, so forgive us our sins and protect us from the punishment of the Fire,” the patient, the true, the obedient, those who spend [in the way of Allah], and those who seek forgiveness before dawn.” (Āl-‘Imrān, 3:17)
2. Pray two Rak’āt of repentance often throughout the day.
3. Make our living spaces spiritual abodes by designating a place in the house as a Muṣallā. This is a forgotten Sunnah that the companions of the Prophet, God bless him and grant him peace, established. Let’s revive this Sunnah in our homes.
4. Perform prayers at the beginning of the time in congregation with an Adhān and Iqāma (assign our children to do so). If we can’t pray together while we are all quarantined in our houses then we surely have a bigger problem than coronavirus.
5. Stay after the prayers in your place and make Du’ā’ and Istighfār.
6. Don’t miss any Sunnah prayers before or after the obligatory prayers.
Make it a habit to pray Ḍuḥā prayer after sunrise or by midmorning as 2, 4, 6, or 8 Raka’āt.
The Prophet, God bless him and grant him peace, used to say that the prayer of Ḍuḥā is the prayer of the Awwābīn (repenters). (Muslim, Ibn Abī Shaybah, al-Ḥākim, Ibn Khuzaymah).
4 Raka’at before Dhụhr and 2 after. 2 Raka’āt before Aṣr. 2 Before Maghrib and 6 after. 2 before Ishā’ and 4 after.
Make your Witr a Prophetic Witr: 11 Raka’āt before Fajr. If you can’t wake up, then pray it after Ishā’.
7. Read the Qur’ān every day even if just for 15 minutes.
8. Constant Dhikr and remembrance of Allah Ta’ālā with all kind of expressions while giving precedence to the expression of Tawḥīd لاإلهإلااللهsince it is the best expression of Dhikr as the Prophet said. (Al-Tirmidhī)
9. Be a good subordinate and adhere to your community’s collective decisions and experts regarding gatherings, Jamā’ah prayers, Jumu’ah, social distancing, and cleanliness. Our recalcitrance and selfishness sometimes appears in a religious form. At times of hardship going against the consensus is spiritually damaging even when we realize that we might be partially right. Not all debates have to be won.
من أطاع الأمير فقد أطاعني
“Whoever obeys the leader has indeed obeyed me.” (Muslim, al-Bukhārī)
10. The best among us are those who are the best to their spouses. Spending more time with each other should add to our compassion and respect for each other. Let us understand that everyone going through this situation is experiencing a level of anxiety that might affect their normal behavior. Many of us are not used to staying at home for such a long period. Let this be an opportunity to connect with each other and strengthen the bonds of the family. Let’s Fear The Thieves !! (See point 12.)
11. Attend at least one of the online events that your community is offering even if you know everything that is known about the religion. Showing the sentiments of solidarity by attending these events encourages those who spend time preparing and sacrificing their time to continue their Da’wah work that is necessary for the community.
12. Fear the thieves for yourselves and your loved ones: None of the suggestions above will bear any fruit in advancing our cause with Allah and in bringing us towards a genuine reconciliation with ourselves if we spend all day with WhatsApp, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Netflix and such. In the digital wasteland and on our phones or glued to the TV all day, sharing and re-sharing nonsense makes us lost, nonsensical and trivial people. The last thing we want to find ourselves doing is spreading forgetfulness and heedlessness under the guise of spreading useful information.
Let’s not readily and voluntarily enlist as the agents of Shaytan at the time we have to be servants of God. Think before you send anything shared with you because you will be asked about it. One post a day is too much for those who are busy with all the obligations we all have. By now, everything that needs to be known about the epidemic has probably reached all corners of the globe. Let’s be wary of succumbing to the appeals of our lower selves or nafs and finding ourselves losing this great opportunity with Allah. The same advice goes for our children as it is a great opportunity for them to be creative in how they constructively spend their leisure time.
13. Give in charity, no matter how small, to your local and national Muslim organizations who might be going through difficulty meeting the needs of those who have lost their wages due to the freezing of the economy. This is both a pandemic and an economic crisis and sadaqa is our spiritual remedy to financial matters.
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