[Response to Sh. Ahmad Jibril’s article ‘A Benefit from Prison – When They Turn Their Backs on You!‘]
SubhaanAllaah, I am not a scholar, but this is very true and I have seen it myself. The number of brothers I used to know closely who have written me since my arrest around three years ago is just one. A couple other brothers visited me as well as this one. As for the brother who wrote me, then he certainly took good care of me and I cannot say anything against him. He helped me in many ways which I can only make Du’a to Allaah in hopes of repaying him.
Another brother and his family, whom I did not know terribly well before my arrest also helped me in some major ways. When my wife was forced to leave the country, he volunteered to take care of her in Jordan and to help her get by. This brother was also the only person I have found since my arrest who was willing and able to get fataawa answered for me. For me, this is maybe the most important thing anyone can do, because I am not able to access any shaykh for help.
However, and I swear by Allaah that this is a heavy burden on the backs of the scholars who are heedless, when I tell you who was the only scholar we were able to find to answer certain questions, it will amaze you and only add to the things which Shaykh Ahmad Jibril has mentioned. This brother sent some of my questions to numerous individuals and posted some publicly. However, almost none of these were answered. The few that I did receive answers on were from perhaps the single scholar on the face of the earth with the greatest excuse not to answer my questions.
The brother had my questions sent to the imprisoned scholar Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi (may hasten his release). Why is it that my questions had to travel half-way around the world to a brother in Jordan, through a few people, then to a shaykh who is in prison himself before they could be answered? To put in perspective the difficulty of this situation, the prison in America blocked some of the responses after learning that this shaykh was in prison himself, so I did not even get all of these answers. I have written publicly and privately seeking help in this regard. Finally, I found a masjid in a magazine which I just randomly wrote to, and I hope they are going to respond as they suggested they might.
Unfortunately, the brother who was helping me and my family went through some very hard times himself. This caused the prison to block me from contacting him for a long time. They have finally re-approved him, but I think now he does not have as much ability to communicate with me and he has not seen the request for communications in his inbox, because of this.
As for what the shaykh said about brothers testifying against others, then there is a duty on those on the outside too. This is not a simple issue where brothers all know the rulings on the matters. It is upon those on the outside to rush to educate brothers who are arrested on the fact that this is still impermissible in almost every situation, even when their families are being threatened. This is a very confusing situation, and I am saying this from the perspective of experience. In fact, probably the most beneficial thing people on the outside could do for Muslim prisoners is to educate them on this issue.
This will literally save many brothers from being arrested in the first place, in shaa-Allaah. It would also reduce the sentences of others, by Allaah’s Will. Is it not better to free a brother than to just write to him? Of course, he will not be able to thank you, because neither he nor you will know that he is free because of you, but on Yawm il-Qiyaamah you will have your reward.
You will also be doing the brothers to whom you are writing a major favor by helping them protect their religion. Many brothers fall prey to Shaytaan in this regard only to later regret it and try to repent from it. Some of them do it out of ignorance of rulings and others do it because they are weak in some regard. Shaytaan comes to brothers with every interpretation they could possibly come up with to justify such a thing. In shaa-Allaah, I will briefly go over my own situation to explain how difficult things become in this regard, so that brothers and sisters get a full picture. And I still do not know the exact ruling on what I did, because of my problem in trying to get in touch with a shaykh. I am only explaining this to help others, and I would conceal such a thing if it were not already known and it were not of such benefit to disclose.
When I was arrested, the Kuffaar quickly began threatening my wife with serious charges unless I pled guilty and cooperated. They also threatened me with life in prison, but that was not nearly as big of a concern as the issue with my wife. Also, if my wife went to prison, then either her mother or my mother would take our one-year-old child, Talhah, and they were both Kuffaar, so I was trying to protect him from something which was even worse than prison. The way I understood things was that I was actually doing less damage to the Muslims by cooperating than by cooperating due to this. Thus, I initially agreed.
I also thought I could deceive them and maybe phrase things in such a way as to harm them and mislead them. I thought I could help keep them away from certain brothers and also help Muslims in this way. This made it seem lighter to me as well. There was also an issue that the two brothers I thought I was likely to possibly harm were seemingly safe from what I knew. I knew that one had made it to a country which did not have an extradition treaty with the United States, and I had been falsely informed (due to a misunderstanding of the code words I was using) that the other brother had made it to a safe place.
Finally, I concluded that even if the ruling of the lesser of two evils did not apply, then the ruling of Ikraah (compulsion) probably applied, so that made things more comfortable to me.
However, as things went on, I began to learn more about the rulings related to Ikraah and choosing the lesser of two evils. For example, under Ikraah, one can say or do Kufr, but they still cannot harm a Muslim. I did not know that at the time I made this decision. Also, when one is choosing between the lesser of two evils, they are not allowed to weigh things the same way when the supposed lesser evil is going to affect them or their family.
Also, Allaah willed that despite this misguided decision, the Kuffaar still took my son. In fact, they went to extreme lengths to do this. My mother filed for custody and won, and she won with the help of the FBI and Secret Service who prevented my little boy from being able to leave the country to go to where his mom would be staying in Jordan and they disclosed lots of information to my mother (much of it completely false) in order to help her take our child. So, my main factor in determining the lesser of two evils turned out not to be correct, and it came about through such bizarre circumstances that I have concluded that this was probably Allaah’s way of showing me that I should have had more trust in Him.
Al-hamdu Lillaah, I am not aware of any Muslim having actually been harmed by me, but this does not mean it was the case. For example, even though I had resolved that no matter what I would not go into court against anyone even if the consequences were as bad as could be, but sometimes cases do not always go to court and one cannot learn if they contributed to harming a brother or not. There is a brother named Yunus ‘AbdUllaah Muhammad whom I think my mere agreement might have harmed even though I did not actually even have any information the FBI did not already have on him. Actually, when they asked me about him, I told them much of the opposite of what they would have wanted to hear.
However, they could have been relying on thinking I would testify against him in court when they arrested him. If they did not think I would do this, they might not have arrested him, so my mere agreement might have harmed him. I do not have any real way of knowing this, but it is certainly troubling and I ask Allaah to help him and to forgive me.
After I learned more about this issue, I quit helping the FBI in any way whatsoever. They came to me and begged me to testify against one of my friends that he was with Al-Shabaab. They offered to cut up to fifteen years off of my sentence, and all they were requesting was that I testify at a hearing which would not even be public, so the brother would not even know if I did this. However, I refused. I told them that the reason was that they did what they did to steal my child from my wife, but this had very little to do with the reason. I just wanted them to write that down, so that in the future they would not do that to other Muslims. Really, the issue was that I did not want to meet Allaah with that burden on my shoulders.
Al-hamdu Lillaah, I have since heard that this brother made it to a very safe location where it would be extremely difficult for the Kuffaar to do anything about him. As this is the main brother the Kuffaar were interested in with me, this is a particular relief.
Since then, I made sure I sent off affidavits to prosecutors saying that everything I ever told the FBI was a lie, but I am sure they do not care. This opens me up to further prosecution, but Allaah’s judgment is much more of a concern to me than the judgment of some old Kaafir wearing an ugly black robe who goes home and drinks himself to sleep every night. Al-hamdu Lillaah, the twenty-five years I do have instead of the ten I could have had are much easier on me. Even if they gave me life, it would be easier.
However, Even if nobody actually wound up being hurt by my decision. My only real issue now is getting in touch with a shaykh to find out how incorrect it was in my specific situation, because that is a major concern for me. It is impossible to really know the exact harm I caused, but in shaa-Allaah, I will keep doing everything I can to fix it.
Also, I can have more hope that I will gain victory over my mother in order to get my son back to my wife now that I have this off of my shoulders. It is better to rely on Allaah than to rely on anything else, and that is the only path to success.
Had someone sent me something explaining some of these things, or even if they simply sent a letter encouraging me to stay away from that type of thing and remain patient, maybe this would have helped. Thus, even if someone does not know the rulings or the situations which prisoners face specifically, they can still help in this regard. And my actions are not the fault of anyone but myself. I am just mentioning something which people can do to help others who might be similarly situated.
May Allaah help all of the brothers and sisters who are imprisoned around the world. May Allaah reward this shaykh and grant him the strength to keep helping those who are in prison. The rights of the prisoners over the Ummah go far beyond writing to them. In fact, the people who are truly fulfilling their rights are unable to write to them. However, most people do not have that kind of courage.
Abu Talhah Al-Amriiki
Guantanamo North, U.S.A.
15 Jumaad ath-Thaani, 1434
Zachary Adam Chesser #76715-083 USP Marion U.S. Penitentiary PO Box 1000 Marion, IL 62959 USA