Prisoners’ Plight and Our Collective Responsibility

By Asma Rahim
Without going into the genesis of the conflict that our valley is entangled in, I would like to point out to the harrowing trail of destruction that the strife is leaving behind: corpses, disappearances, mangled eyes, half widows, orphans, handicaps, tortured bodies, bruised souls and the list goes on and on. However, according to my opinion, one of the most important issues which largely remains unaddressed and to which we mostly remain oblivious is the issue of our prisoners. Whether it is our conscious or unconscious behaviour, our callousness and insensitivity towards our incarcerated fellow Kashmiris is a matter of our collective guilt, for which we will have to pay in this world and in the Hereafter as well. Our insensitivity towards our prisoners is a blot on our Muslim identity as well. How many times do we visit them? How many times do we visit their families? Do we take the responsibility of their children’s education and their overall well-being? Perhaps never. Islamic history is replete with the stories of men, women and children being the victims of abuse and torture but it is our obligation towards such people.
Abu Dawud mentions the hadith narrated by Abu Talha Al-Ansari and Jabir Bin Abdullah, that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “No man forsakes a Muslim when his rights are being violated or his honour is being belittled except that Allah will forsake him at a place in which he would love to have His help. And , no man helps a Muslim at a time when his honour is being belittled or his rights violated except that Allah will help him at a place in which he loves to have His help.”
Many Muslim scholars have come clear regarding the issue of financial obligation vis a vis freeing the prisoners.
Ibn Taymiyyah ( Rahimahulla)said: “Freeing the prisoners is one of the greatest compulsory deeds and spending ransom money and other means towards that, is one of the greatest ways to come close to Allah.” Imam Malik(Rahimahulla) said: “It is obligatory on the people to redeem prisoners with their money. There is no contention on this point”.
It is evidently not possible for us to secure the release of our incarcerated fellow Kashmiris but this does not absolve us of our other obligations towards them and their families. A good number of these prisoners are those who have never been able to contact their families, thus leaving them at the mercy of their fate. And, if the back broken and hapless parents of other prisoners manage to get a access to their beloveds, they have to spend their hard earned money for this purpose. Morally speaking, it’s our duty to take care of their financial and emotional wellbeing but , on the contrary, neither they not their caged family members get anything from us- except in a few isolated cases. Here comes an opportunity for us to play our part wherein we can offer financial assistance to them. We can also provide legal assistance to them. Even sharing a smile with the children and family members of our prisoners can go a long way in removing the bitterness of separation. At the same time, we need to remember that we are not giving them any kind of favour but are rather performing our duty enjoined upon us by our religion .
As Muslims we comprehend the concept of zakah well, but, many a times ignore the true recipients of zakah. In surah Tawbah, verse number 60, Allah says:
“Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect [zakah] and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the [stranded] traveler – an obligation [imposed] by Allah . And Allah is Knowing and Wise”
This is the obligatory part of Zakah, but a believer knows that his/her duties are far beyond that in the wealth that Almighty Allah has bestowed upon him.
In Sahih Bukhari and Muslim, Abu Hurairah(RA) narrated that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that “whoever looks to help a widow and a poor person, he is like a man fighting for the cause of Allah”.
Regarding the interpretation of the term ‘widow’, Ibn Qutaibiya and many other scholars’ opinion is that the term ‘widow’ includes any woman whose husband has died or does not have a man to support her. So here again we can assist the families of our prisoners.
And, then a believer has the most powerful and effective weapon and that is ‘dua’ , which everyone of us can do.
Let’s remind ourselves that over the years our prisoners have been side tracked by none but by their own Muslim community. Let us repent and take the pledge to spare some time for them and their families. We should remember that the more obedience is neglected, the more rewards it gives to those who revive it. Now, the only question for us is who among us has such an elevated level of Taqwa that he wants to lend a loan to Almighty Allah: Who is he that will loan to Allah a beautiful loan, which Allah will double unto his credit and multiply many times? (Al Quran 2:224)
Instead of being apologists let’s be the revivers of our Ummah.

—The author is a PG student of English literature from IGNOU and a part time Arabic student. She can be reached at: sofiasma0294@gmail.com