In one of her famous advices, Ayesha (may Allah be pleased with her) has asked Muslim leaders to avert the Hudood (Islamic punishments) as best as they could. “If you find a way out for a Muslim in a certain fault, release him. It is better for the leader to make mistakes in pardoning than to make them in punishment”.
Therefore it is kind of foolishness to advocate the imprisonment of people. Al-Hayat newspaper recently published a report about the release of the notorious “Al-Qaeda lady”. It said the judicial committee decided that the woman should complete her remaining jail term at her home on condition that she should not be allowed to travel. This is the punishment of a woman who was charged with collecting money for the Al-Qaeda organization, facilitating recruitment of a number of youths and getting them in touch with other Al-Qaeda members.
The woman married a number of Al-Qaeda members. One of her husbands was killed in Saudi Arabia during confrontations with the security forces. The release of the woman was a constant demand by the Al-Qaeda organization during negotiations.
I do not want to go deeper. As the famous Arab pre-Islam poet Zuhair Bin Abi Sulmah said: “war is what you have learnt and tasted”, Al-Qaeda is what we have actually learnt and experienced. Saddam Hussein and Bashar Al-Assad inflicted on their own people harms which were similar to those made by Al-Qaeda. They killed more of their own people than their actual enemies. Saddam tried to convince us that the liberation of Al-Quds (Jerusalem) could only be made through the occupation of Kuwait.
News about the release of some Al-Qaeda members and prisoners from Guantanamo including some women who were linked to Al-Qaeda such as the “Al-Qaeda lady”, were indicators of pardoning some of the citizens who had adopted the Al-Qaeda ideology. This pardoning came after the judicial committees, comprising of a number of prominent Muslim scholars who announced that they had succeeded in correcting the thought of some of the detainees and made them repentant. Some of the released prisoners left the country to rejoin Al-Qaeda but these were isolated cases.
What is surprising is that the judicial committees do not cater to citizens who are imprisoned for less serious cases. These detainees did not carry arms against the state or terror in their minds. These include the young columnist Hamza Kashgari who is in desperate condition according to the writer and journalist Abdulazi Al-Qasim who recently visited him in his prison. His mother’s heart has been bleeding while she pleads for his release and pardon. His crime was a tweet for which he apologized and declared repentance. Is it fair to keep Kashgari, a religious young man, behind bars for more than a year for a mistake for which he has already apologized?
The writer Turki Al-Hamad made a mistake when he believed that those who were after him for more than 20 years would welcome another tweet in which he would say that he did not mean to correct the creed of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) but the understanding of people to it. So was the case with blogger Raif Badawi and other people. Where are the concerns of judicial committees regarding these people behind bars? Why do not they advice them and correct their thoughts as they did with Al-Qaeda members?
Can we compare between those who innocently wrote some erroneous tweets which were deviated by some of their adversaries and those who carried arms and killed innocent people? I am alarmed that some scholars claim that the tweeters stabbed the Prophet (pbuh), so their mistakes were greater while the mistakes of the Al-Qaeda were less harmful because they were against human beings.