The death of (another) tyrant

The death of (another) tyrant October 21, 2011

Salaam Alaikum wa Rahmatullah

Yesterday the tyrant Qadhafi was killed, and as the news spread, response to his death lit up the blogosphere and social networks. On my own Facebook page, my wall was flooded with comments ranging from “Whoopie!” to “He’s a martyr!”.  I kept my own response short and simple, commenting that instead of obsessing about his death, we should concentrate on the state of our own souls, because on the Day of Judgment each of us will be worried about ourselves to the exclusion of all others.  We won’t be looking on with smug satisfaction while dictators and murderers get their just desserts.  We’ll be standing, naked and dazed, up to our eyes in sweat, relying on the mercy of Allah and remembering each and every sin we ever committed.  So leave Qadhafi to Allah.

A common thread in many of the responses was disgust in the manner in which his death came about.  According to the emerging picture of events, there was a battle in Sirte, his hometown, and he may have been wounded there.  Then he attempted to flee with some of his supporters, with his convoy coming under attack by a French warplane and a U.S. drone.  Many vehicles were destroyed but he survived this, and made his way to a cement pipe in a drainage ditch, where he was found by rebel forces.  They dragged him out and at some point he was killed.  A forensics specialist on the news who reviewed the footage of him immediately after his death said that it appeared the gunshot wound to the head was a close-quarters shot, perhaps with the tip of the muzzle actually touching the temple.  This would mean that Qadhafi was summariliy executed by one of the rebels.  Currently his body is on display so that Libyans can see that he is well and truly dead.

Forgive me for not being overly emotional about this, but I really don’t care about the circumstances surrounding his death.  Kinda like I don’t care if a disease-carrying rat in the barn gets killed by a trap or gnawed to death by the family cat.  But he was Muslim!, some cry.  It’s a shame for a Muslim to die in such a manner!  The shame, I say, is that a murdering, rapacious, terrorist-supporting nutcase can rule a country for 42 years.  Anyone who knows anything about Qadhafi will know that the litany of his crimes would take a lifetime to list.

But it’s not  Islamic to kill in such a fashion.  Well, actually, we do have precedent for executing and even mutilating people who commit horrendous crimes:

Narrated Abu Qilaba:  Anas said, “Some people of ‘Ukl or ‘Uraina tribe came to Medina and its climate did not suit them. So the Prophet ordered them to go to the herd of (Milch) camels and to drink their milk and urine (as a medicine). So they went as directed and after they became healthy, they killed the shepherd of the Prophet and drove away all the camels. The news reached the Prophet early in the morning and he sent (men) in their pursuit and they were captured and brought at noon. He then ordered to cut their hands and feet (and it was done), and their eyes were branded with heated pieces of iron, They were put in ‘Al-Harra’ and when they asked for water, no water was given to them.” Abu Qilaba said, “Those people committed theft and murder, became infidels after embracing Islam and fought against Allah and His Apostle .”  (Sahih al Bukhari 1:234)

Wow, harsh, you might say.  Bloodthirsty, even.  Sometimes, when a crime is so heinous, you have to make an example of someone, as Prophet Muhammad, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, did with the treacherous tribesmen who spurned Islam and committed murder and theft.  This would have discouraged others from falsely entering Islam only to damage it from within.  Now, I’m not saying that what the rebels did to Qadhafi was permitted in Islam or correct.  Obviously there was one man who decided on his own to execute Qadhafi, and Islamically, his fate should have been left to the leaders of the country, who could have tried him and then decided that his crimes deserved the death penalty.  But I refuse to boo-hoo over this short-circuiting of due process.  Ding, dong, the witch is dead.  The graphic and very public manner of his death might, just might, give pause to dictators in other countries – you hearing me, Bashar? – and persuade them that a quick exit and exile to a semi-friendly Gulf country is preferable to fighting to the death.  If that means fewer dead civilians, then I’m all for it.

So, what now, my Libyan brothers and sisters?  Now that the revolution is over, the hard work of governing begins.  Let me give you some advice:  Any government not based firmly on the Qur’an and Sunnah will fail miserably.  You need to go home, crack open the Book, and learn from it.  I can only pray that you will do the right thing, and do it in the right order.  Remember, start with tauheed and enjoining the prayer, and eliminate shirk and corruption.  If you can start on the right foot, Allah will bless your efforts.  If not, well, you’ll just end up in a situation worse than the one you just left.  Word to the wise.


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