El-zakzaky’s continued detention: Clerics lament silence of Human Rights Community

…Say, Islam forbids continued detention

In spite of the valid order of the court for the release of Shiite leader, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife Hajia Zeenat, from their illegal and unconstitutional detention, the federal government has continued to keep the couple. El-Zakzaky and his wife have been in detention since a violent confrontation between his Shiite sect and the Nigerian Army in Kaduna in December 2015.

Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky
Reports said the Shiite leader lost one of his eyes in captivity with fears that he might lose the other for lack of medical care. Request by his counsel for his release to enable him travel abroad for medical attention was also turned down by the government.

From the perspective of the Qur’an, human rights are sacrosanct and inviolable. The violation of any right of human beings and even animals, by any ruler is a direct affront to God who created them. Rights created or given by God cannot be abolished by any temporal ruler or human agency. Islam clearly forbids the primitive practice of capturing a free man and put him in captivity. It disallows enslavement; prohibits incarceration of human being and opposes solitary confinement or detention of individual without recourse to the law.

The Prophet (s.a.w) said: “There are three categories of people against whom I shall myself be a plaintiff on the Day of Judgement. Of these three, one is he who enslaves a free man, then sells him and appropriates this money” (al-Bukhari and Ibn Majjah). Saturday Vanguard sought the opinions of various Islamic leaders on the continued detention of El-zakzaky and his wife and expressed their minds on Islamic perspective of human rights violation.

Islam does not support continued detention — Sheikh Ahmad

The National Chief Imam of Ansar-ud-Deen Society of Nigeria, Sheikh Abdurahman Ahmad said: “Islam talks about rights generally be it humans or animals. But when we talk about human rights, it is central. The most honoured of Allah’s creatures on the surface of the earth are human beings. These human rights are sacrosanct and must not be violated.

The violation of this honour generally whether Muslim or non-Muslim, young or old is a direct affront to Allah’s will. It is inalienable and inviolable. Now, if Mallam El Zakzaky has committed an infraction of the law, the appropriate authority to determine that is the law court. It is the court that will pronounce him either innocent or guilty. No man should be held without trial.

It is not for any man to determine that other than the law court. Islam insists that it is even better to err in letting the criminal go than to punish the innocent. Islam does not support indefinite detention or arrest without trial. It is part of the problems of our society. 80-90 percent of prisoners are awaiting trial. This is not fair and it is a general problem. That speaks volume about the justice system in Nigeria.

“Again, it is rather unfortunate that the Human rights community has been rather silent on this issue. I can’t imagine what would have happened if a Christian clergyman had been held without trial. This is not about whether El-Zakzaky has done anything right or wrong. If he has done any wrong, let him face the law and allow the law takes its course, otherwise, the government should release him.

Even animals have right to freedom— Sheikh Balogun

The Secretary of Council of Imams and Alfas in Eti-Osa, Lagos, Sheikh Abdurahman Balogun, said: “Islam emphatically says that individual rights of persons, whether young or old must not be violated. This human right we are talking today was first entrenched in Islam before nations adopted it under the Universal Human Rights Act. Even if you don’t agree with the ideas and idiosyncrasies of the Shiites, that does not mean he should be detained without trial.

If we are talking about rights of people in Islam, even if the person in question is not a Muslim, it is a sin before God to violate his rights to fair trial, freedom and association. Even the law of this country does not allow indefinite detention of an accused person without trial.

He’s kept for a purpose — Akinbode

In his own reaction, Alhaji Abdullahi Abdullahi Akinbode, Chief Imam, Founder of Jamaa’tu Ahli Llahi Society, (Jamahliy) believed that government might be keeping El-Zakzaky to protect his life. According to him, “Islamic law as regards humanity and human rights is clear and unambiguous, same with our laws. Where both of them meet, there is congruency and where they differ, there is conflict. In a multi-religious state, the law of the state will supersede.

And where this happens, the state has right to determine what is right as long as it is not injurious to the sovereign existence of the people. Islam allows us by inference that if something is injurious to the environment or its people, you should remove it or cut it off.

That is the word- ‘qatala’ in the Quran which in this sense does not mean kill. Now, the state has the responsibility to protect its people. My feeling is that El-Zakzaky is being kept to protect his life. He is safe under government custody but if he does not want to be kept by the government, it is his own choice. But suffice to say that Islam is all about moderation, between rigidity and frivolity.

My advice to the government is to make prison environment comfortable, safe and conducive for all inmates. And to El-Zakzaky, he should remember the story of Prophet Yusuf, he should be patient, perhaps Allah has kept him there for a purpose.

This piece first appeared in Vanguard of November 18, 2017


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