Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s plight is a test for the Ummah By 5Pillars (RMS)

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Maria Akbar says the awful plight of Dr Aafia Siddiqui is a test, a burden and a responsibility not only for our dear sister, but also for the entire Ummah.

In recent days we have been reminded of our dear sister, Dr Aaafia Siddiqui, as the news of the prison visit from her sister Dr Fouzia has come to light.

This encounter was the first in 20 years and took place in the U.S. jail where she is completing her 86 year life sentence – the Federal Medical Center, Carswell, Texas.

The sisters met in a room separated by a glass panel and were not allowed to have any physical contact or exchange any gifts.

In various interviews since the meetings, Dr Fouzia described the extremely emotional encounters with her sister. She said it was very painful to see her, her teeth had been taken, her face had been scalded, she couldn’t hear out of her right ear, and she had a facial palsy from head trauma.

Dr Fouzia was not allowed to hug her or even hold her hand. She went on to say she didn’t have the words to express the moment when she met her sister. She said Aafia’s memories were frozen in time, from when she had last seen her family and children. Dr Fouzia had taken pictures of her children to show her, but she was not allowed to take them into the room.

I know I am not alone in feeling deep pain on hearing the account of the visit. The thoughts of everything I have heard and read over the years regarding the mistreatment and suffering of our dear sister came flooding back.

But I am ashamed at myself for only feeling these sensations at this reminder of her. The reality is we are reminded of our dear sister every time she hits the headlines. But other than this, the days go by and the Ummah at large gets on with their lives while Dr Aafia’s sufferings fade into the background. Until she is mentioned once more, and then again we remember her, feel sadness and sorrow at everything she has gone through.

Miscarriage of justice

Dr Aafia Siddiqui is a Pakistani national and neuroscientist, residing in the U.S from 1991-2002. Her family reported that she had disappeared with her three children in Karachi towards the end of March 2003.

There are claims that she was arrested by the Pakistani authorities and handed to the U.S. authorities, although the exact sequence of events from 2003-2008 are unclear. It is speculated that she was held in various sites, including the notorious Bagram Airbase near Kabul.

She was then found in Ghazni, Afghanistan, in 2008. It is here that she was detained by Afghan police in July of that year. It is alleged that she attempted to shoot at U.S. soldiers, although there is no evidence which suggested this at all. In fact, she was the one who was shot at.

She was then transferred to the United States and held in high security custody. She underwent extreme physical and mental torture; then was imprisoned for a crime that she did not commit, for which there was also no evidence, for 86 years.

And not only her, but her child Ahmed was also imprisoned and subjected to physical and sexual abuse. He was later released and her daughter Maryam was also eventually found. The two children were reunited with their grandparents but her youngest baby was not found and is either missing or dead.

Dreams of the Prophet (pbuh)

The trauma alone of all this that a mother would suffer – having her children snatched from her, not knowing of their whereabouts or wellbeing – is enough to make one lose their sanity.

Dr Fouzia mentioned a conversation that Aafia had with her late mother, where she told her that the Prophet (pbuh) visited her in dreams. Aafia asked the Prophet (pbuh) why she was being tested and the Prophet (pbuh) told her: This is not your test; it is the test of the Ummah.

It is also reported from her family that Dr Aafia told her mother to not worry for her, as the Prophet (pbuh) visited her in her dreams every night and told her to tell her mother: Do not be sad as this is temporary. And he gave glad tidings of reward in the hereafter.

I can only imagine the station this woman has with Allah SWT. I also have faith that Allah is granting her strength and patience to get through this test. Nonetheless, her plight and her release is upon us all. We must take collective responsibility as an Ummah. We cannot allow her to be forgotten and then remember her again once her name reaches the headlines.

Aafia Siddiqui

The least we can do is to raise awareness and have her name mentioned and known in every household. We can raise our hands and beg Allah SWT for a miracle for her release. We can assist financially and campaign for her release.

She is just one case that we know of, thankfully due to the work of journalists like Yvonne Ridley and organisations such as CAGE. However, one can only imagine how many other brothers and sisters are in her same situation, being subject to physical and mental torture at the hands of tyrants and oppressors. They are unknown to the world but I am sure they hold a high station with Allah SWT.

Moreover, the obligation of freeing the prisoner seems to be a forgotten one. It is mentioned in the hadith of the Prophet (pbuh) who said: “Feed the hungry, visit the sick, and free the prisoner.” And he (pbuh) also said: “It is upon the Muslim faithful to free their prisoners and to pay their ransom.”

In reports Dr Aafia is described as a polite, shy woman, but nonetheless says what needs to be said. The words of Dr Aafia herself come to mind when I think of her at a Bosnian fundraiser for orphans during which she gave a speech: “Where are the men? Why do I have to be the one standing up here and doing this work?”

And I ask you, where are the men who will stand up for Dr Aafia against all the injustices she has faced?

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Disclaimer: Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s plight is a test for the Ummah By 5Pillars (RMS) - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view

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