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The Kuwaiti Shaykh Who Told Me A Story

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The Kuwaiti shaykh who told me a story

If you meet Shaykh Fayiz, you’d be mesmerized by his kindness and knowledge – and might even forget that he spent 14 years in Guantanamo. In this episode, Moazzam Begg shares a heartfelt lesson on the true meaning of worship he learnt from Shaykh Fayiz. A fitting and inspiring story for the blessed month of Dhul Hijjah.

[As part of the MuslimMatters x CAGE Dhul Hijjah Activism Drive: Close Guantanamo, we bring you a series, Guantanamo Memories, of stories from behind bars]

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We had the privilege of having Fayiz al-Kandari addressing CAGE’s supporters gathered at our annual iftar.

Fayiz is originally Kuwaiti and spent 14 Ramadans in Guantanamo.

In Guantanamo, he was known as “Shaykh Fayiz” because of his keen pursuit of Islamic knowledge and his beautiful way of preaching.

If you were to meet him for the first time, you would never think he had been released from one of the worst prisons in the world just a year and a half previously. His warmth, his positive spirit and his gentle way of talking about Islam are not only unchanged, they seem to have increased through these 14 years of tests.

I will never forget the words he said to me when I briefly met him in Kandahar prison – where we had been brutalized by the US military.

الفرج قريب; Deliverance is close.

He was right. My deliverance took only three years but he had to wait fourteen years.

During our iftar, he shared a personal story of an incident that happened in Guantanamo during Ramadan.

But this story wasn’t just to pass the time, it was to make us reflect on something deeper. This is something that learned Arabs often do to convey a lesson in a gentle way. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) Himself, the One who cannot be compared to anything else, does this in the Quran. He relates to us the most beautiful stories in order to teach us.

A guard once said to Fayiz: “You are very strong”. Fayiz said: ”No, we are humans. We are tired sometimes. We feel weak sometimes… We are humans… But there is something that keeps us strong.”

The soldier interrupted him and said: “I know… it’s the Quran”.

This guard knew it because he had witnessed the impact of the Quran on all of us.

One guard came to Fayiz and asked: “How do you endure fasting in these terrible circumstances?” He responded: “How do you endure not fasting in these terrible circumstances? This is the correct question.”

Fayiz concluded: “I learnt in Guantanamo that worshipping Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is not a burden on us. On the contrary! It relieves us from the stress of this life. “We derive patience and love from worshiping Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). “It assists us to change our community for the better, and not be changed by our community for the worse.”

Fayiz’s US military lawyers were convinced of his innocence and fought to get him released.

In the picture above I’m with Lt. Commander Bogucki and Col. Barry Winguard discussing the case of Fayiz al Kandari on Islam Channel’s Absent Justice. I campaigned alongside them to make sure his case wasn’t forgotten.

In 2016, he was released and returned home with no charges against him. He continues to teach people wisdom through his beautiful stories.

 

Don’t forget to join MuslimMatters and CAGE this month as we work to Close Guantanamo. Check out how you can act today.

 

 

Reading reading:

 – Dhul Hijjah Global Activism Drive: Close Guantanamo

Dhul Hijjah Global Activism Drive: Close Guantanamo

The Guards Who Became Muslim After Guantanamo

The Guards Who Became Muslim After Guantanamo

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

CAGE advocates for due process, the rule of law and an end to the injustices of the War on Terror. CAGE is an independent grassroots organisation striving for a world free of injustice and oppression. We campaign against discriminatory state policies and advocate for due process and the rule of law. We work closely with survivors of abuse and mistreatment across the globe, documenting their abuse and enabling them to take action and access due process. We carry out cutting edge research and provide a voice for survivors of the war on terror, challenging the dominant narrative of suspect communities and the perceived threat of terrorism. We empower communities through educational workshops, community events and informative seminars.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Wael Abdelgawad

    July 21, 2022 at 4:02 PM

    “How do you endure NOT fasting…” – Powerful.

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