The Case of Babar Ahmad and the Politically ‘Puritanical’ Muslims

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Babar Ahmad, a computer programmer from South London, was initially arrested back in 2003. In the middle of the night, the British police stormed in. By the time he was dragged to the police station, his body had sustained over 70 injuries. Only six days later, he was released without charge; however, in August 2004, he was rearrested by Scotland Yard acting on a US extradition warrant, which he has been fighting ever since. Almost 88 months have expired, and he is still locked up without conviction and the US has presented very little credible evidence. Otherwise, he would have been tried in the British courts, especially given the large amount of anti-terror legislation that has come into existence post 9/11.

The mainstream Muslims in the UK campaigned hard and successfully secured 100,000 signatures, for the e-petition “Put Babar Ahmad on Trial in the UK”; hence, passing the mark required to start a parliamentary debate. And hopefully, a favourable outcome will create enough pressure to prevent extradition of Babar Ahmad to the US, where he faces the prospect of being tried in a kangaroo court and incarcerated.

It’s a glimmer of hope that a genuine debate will take place in line with the spirit of democracy, rather than stifled to suit US interest. The Tory leader of the Commons, Sir George Young, is already plotting to muzzle this issue. Such a situation should make the Muslims in the UK think about ways to exert greater influence on the MPs (Members of Parliament); lobbying, voting, and liaising with them, so that they represent the voice of the British Muslim citizens. Often, we see the angry youths complain that the media and the MPs are biased towards Israel and hostile towards the Muslims; that is because the Zionists in collusion with the Islamophobes are actively working with them in various ways, and are reaping the rewards of their effort, unlike the Muslims.

The politically puritanical groups scoff at the non-Islamic political system, argue against political participation, refuse to partake in the election process to elect an MP, but yet, they see no problem in liaising with MPs to persuade them to take a more favourable stance towards the Muslims, and consequentially they would exercise their powers as MPs to achieve that. This is a bizarre argument, how can you argue that it is un-Islamic to participate in electing the MPs, but it is acceptable to seek benefit from the MPs exercising their powers in parliament to prevent a ban on a Muslim group, or in this case, prevent an extradition of a fellow Muslim. Why would the MPs listen in the first place, if they knew you would abstain from voting or providing any other types of support to them?

Moreover, if you permit anti-Islamic MPs to get elected, they are unlikely to listen even in cases where injustice is blatant. Is it not better to ensure they are stopped in the first place, rather than remain placid, permit them to get elected and then try to convince them of your case?

If the argument is that Babar Ahmad should not be tried by the un-Islamic man-made laws, then why are they supporting the petition that is calling for Babar Ahmad to be tried by the non-Islamic man-made British Laws? Accordingly, a more radically fringe group refused to participate in this campaign, the argument being Babar Ahmad should not be tried by a non-Islamic court; therefore, either Babar Ahmad should break out of jail or a special task force of Mujahideen should free him, otherwise he has to be patient, and if he dies, he will reap the rewards in the afterlife. It’s unlikely that Babar Ahmad the victim sees the case from this point of view.

Commonsense dictates the US and the British legal systems are not equal in this matter; surely the one likely to give a fairer hearing is the one that should be pursued. The example of the Prophet also illustrates this simple point; he could have sent his Companions to the Roman territories to escape persecution, but instead opted for Abyssinia; because he knew the Christian King was just and informed the early Muslims that they would get a fair treatment, according to their non-Islamic laws. Indeed, this is what happened subsequently, when the delegates of the pagan Arabs tried to get them extradited back to Mecca, and the King refused.

The issue of non-participation in the non-Islamic political system is often heard from fringe groups, who have provided no alternatives, other than an idealistic hope, wait for a super Caliphate or an army of Mujahideen to rescue the situation. There are no explicit instructions in the Quran and the Sunnah, which forbids the Muslim communities living in a non-Muslim country to participate in the political process, with a view to protecting and furthering their interests. Surely, everyone recognises that to prevent the extradition of Babar Ahmad, political participation is unavoidable, as only the MPs (the legislators) and the courts can halt this process.

Islam places an obligation on all of us to be good to our neighbours wherever we are; this would encompass our duty to play a more active and constructive role in any society. It clearly implies that we should participate with a view to prevent injustice in general, and protect our interests. To abstain from the political process and then to moan about the MPs and the system being biased makes little sense; likewise, to argue that it is prohibited to elect an MP but yet permitted to seek help from the MPs in their capacity as MPs, is hypocritical.

Over the years, the only ‘contribution’ these fringe groups have made is to hold back the rest of the community and create discord. Almost all the Mosques, Schools, Charity organisations and various other institutions have been built in the UK by the ordinary Muslims, liaising with the MPs and Counsellors. Where the MPs were not involved, their contribution was in the form of silence as they could have led an active campaign to halt many of these projects, like many have done in other European countries. Had the Muslims been sufficiently active like the tiny number of Zionists, Babar Ahmad would have been freed sometime back.

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