Woolwich Killing – Outlines and Reflections…

The Woolwich Killing:

Outlines and Thoughts

Woolwich incident

  • Killing of Lee Rigby in South London by two Muslims on Monday 22, 2013.


  1. Distraught and grieving family.
  2. Physical attacks on Muslims.[1]
  3. Reprisal mosque attacks.[2]
  4. Islam maligned in the media.[3]
  5. Muslim community blamed.[4]
  6. Islam is blamed.[5]
  7. Commentators and their accusatory language against Islam (e.g. pressure to conform, false label of collective guilt).
  8. Discussions about Islam, Islamism, jihad, etc.


  1. Poverty.
  2. Unemployment.
  3. ‘Islamisation’ of the youth.
  4. Disillusionment.
  5. Domestic policies.
  6. Ignorance.
  7. Pathological reasons.
  8. Foreign policy? – (admitted by the killers).

§1. Outlines:


  • Life is sacred in Islam.
  • Killing a person in the manner witnessed in Woolwich = haram; condemnation should not be because the government is pressurising Muslims but because our Sacred Law prohibits it.
  • Imam al-Maturidi’s tafsir on Q.5:32 states: “…whoever deems it permissible to kill a person without a valid legal permission that Allah has forbidden to kill, it is as though he has called the whole of humanity; this is because he has disbelieved by believing it is lawful to kill someone unlawful to kill which is like declaring the killing of all of humanity as lawful in that disbelieving in one verse is like disbelieving in all the verses of Allah’s book […]”[6]

يحتمل قوله – تعالى -: { مَن قَتَلَ نَفْساً بِغَيْرِ نَفْسٍ أَوْ فَسَادٍ فِي ٱلأَرْضِ فَكَأَنَّمَا قَتَلَ ٱلنَّاسَ جَمِيعاً } أي: من استحل قتل نفس حَرَّمَ الله قتلها بغير حق، فكأنما استحل قتل الناس جميعاً؛ لأنه يكفر باستحلاله قتل نفس محرم قتلها، فكان كاستحلال قتل الناس جميعاً؛ لأن من كفر بآية من كتاب الله يصير كافراً بالكل؛ فعلى ذلك الأول، إذا استحل قتل نفس محرمة يصير كأنه استحل قتل الأنفس كلها.

  • Combat has rules (dawabit) and to act contrary to knowing these rules is a major sin (see the sections on Kitab al-Siyar (‘international relations’) in standard Fiqh reference works).

Patience (sabr):

  1. Test: Woolwich incident is another test from Allah because the Muslim community is going to be in further harassment by govt. as well as widespread criticism.
  2. Islam being maligned and attacked: this requires perseverance, firmness and uprightness.
  3. Frustration: Muslims feel frustration at acts of transgression by fellow believers (internally directed anger > this can lead to divisiveness and sectarianism which is something to avoid).
  4. Patience: the need to be patient: “when Allah loves a people, he tests them; whoever accepts he accepts and whoever gets angry he gets angry…”[7]

إذا أحب قوما ابتلاهم فمن رضي فله الرضا ومن سخط فله السخط

  1. Tests help build us as personalities (‘soul-building’ process).
  2. Tests wipe away sins (a means of mercy).
  3. Tests help us examine and reflect; to think correctly; hence allowing us to study our way forward as a community…

§2. Arguments to be Aware of:

[1] Govt. Want to blame Islam and Muslims: [a] Muslim community becomes a ‘punch bag’ for blame; [b] Muslim community construed as the scapegoat for failed UK policies and public discontent; [c] focus on Muslim community and increased pressure as a way to introduce new anti-terror laws that affect Muslims adversely than other faith communities; [d] a pretext to slowly change Islam and strengthen the Govt. secular-liberal agenda or to attack the idea of political Islam.

[2] Govt. Wants to create deflection: UK is not to blame but Muslim community has an inherent problem with its faith. Govt stance is:

  1. It’s valid to have a political grievance but to discuss the cause is a no-go e.g. foreign policy is not to be blamed. This is disingenuous; deceptive; insincere and denial on the part of the govt.

Govt. Argument:

[P1] The UK invades countries.

[P2] The UK props up dictators.

[P3] The UK supports anti-Islamic agenda.

[P4] The UK has a neo-colonial agenda in Muslim world.


[C1] But this foreign policy is not to be blamed for domestic reactionary behaviour for Muslim citizens of Britain.

  • This is very naive and condescending. It’s also very insulting to Muslims who are told to focus attention on themselves only while the UK continues to march to its own tune in the Muslim world. This is also dangerous and self-harming for the Muslim community. It is defeatist and humiliating.

§3. What Muslims should do:

1)      Not to remain silent – however hard that might be: expose foreign policy; expose the plans for Muslim community in the UK; articulate Muslim response and grievances; have no fear:

Imam `Abd Allah Ibn `Alawi al-Haddad says: “Exert utmost effort dear student in eliminating your heart from fear of the people as well as any ambitions, expectations they may have. For that leads to silence over what is false and leads to treachery in the Religion and leads also to abandoning the act of commanding the right and forbidding the wrong and that is enough to humiliate a person because the believer is dear, beloved and precious to his Lord neither fearing nor hoping for anyone other than Him [SWT]…”[8]

وأجتهد أيها المريد في تنزيه قلبك من خوف الخلق و من الطمع فيــــــــهم . فإن ذلك يحمل على السكوت على الباطل و على المداهنة في الديـــــــــن و على ترك الأمر بالمعروف والنهي عن المنكر و كفى به ذًلا لصاحبه لأن المؤمن عزيـــــز بربه لا يخاف ولا يرجو أحدا سواه

  • We must challenge the govt. stigmatisation of Islamic rhetoric of dissent.
  • We must challenge the false narratives sold to the Muslim community.
  • We must be vocal in articulating normative Islam.

2)      Warn against reactionary responses: senseless retaliation is wrong and condemned by our Sacred Law; also agitated emotions that are channelled unproductively serve nothing for the political cause of Muslims – it is counterproductive.

This is caused by:

  • Lack of response by Imams and Muslims to engage frustrated and disaffected youth (‘no politics in the Mosque!’ syndrome).
  • Frustration by the current political integration models (working through the civil system is proving unproductive for Muslim interests).
  • Lack of an Islamic solution offered.

3)      Warn against the extremism narrative: challenge the narrative that is commonly peddled that the more the Muslim community Islamises her call the more dangerous it is; the more she looks to the Islamic alternative the more extremist she is, etc. > this is fallacious, i.e. the more religious someone becomes the more extremist they become (this is intellectually a very bad argument). But what this really means is: anyone calling for Shariah and global Islamic political reunion is extremist and an international threat. In fact, this argument is saying: normative Islam is the problem, i.e. Shariah in the classical understanding is the problem – this no Muslim will accept.[9]

4)      The solution: the need to channel anger, frustration and discontent (grievances) in political and mobilised grass-root activism to change the political reality is the way forward. This mobilised work must reflect the blessed precedence of the Prophet and emulate his example to achieve the desired goal which is: resumption of the Islamic way of life through the restoration of the Caliphate. This will implement Muslim Sacred Law, remove injustice (the Islamic way) and restore Islamic political power.


London, 2013.


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