The top most criticism at me is why did I hold this information secret until now? Here is a sample of comments:
What I do not understand is why Zerqa waited until now to expose Hassan. Why did
not she write about him like she is doing now? This could have been prevented. He kept finding girls to marry him even after the previous ones were abused. Aasiya had to pay the price of this silence. Those who remained silent and did not expose Hassan are Blame worthy too.
One Anonymous comment on al-arabia.net says,
you are absolutely right to point fingers and the community needs to reflect. but at the same time, in retrospect, wish you would have put pen to paper, made it your mission and conveyed this same insightful commentary before to the community... may be things would have been different.
Although I mentioned in my article that I was out of the country at the time of Bridges TV’s birth and that at my return I did try to warn people; only few readers like Phyllis Chesler took note of it.
..., Abid, tried, unsuccessfully, to alert the Muslim community to Hassan’s violent nature. This could be true. Most whistleblowers have a hard time alerting communities to the corruption and misogyny of their idealized leaders. But is it true?
Yes, it is true. The Muslim community is not unique in this regard, but our uniqueness lies in the style and rhetoric of the denial.
It’s not just this case. Anything or everything that you would like to blow a whistle upon within the Muslim community, you will hear back the very familiar argument of creating a “Fitna.”
According to Wikipedia, Fitna (فتنة) is an Arabic word, generally regarded as very difficult to translate but at the same time is considered to be an all-encompassing word referring to schism, secession, upheaval and anarchy at once. It is often used to refer to civil war, disagreement and division within Islam...
I was accused for the same. Some advised me, “Sister, please do not create fitna. Do not confuse the community. Look at the cause. He needs our support not the opposition.”
Others said, “Sister, you know how it goes between husband and wife. It does not mean that we condemn him forever. He is a gentleman and working for a noble cause. Sometimes women get upset very quick. Look at his wife now, she is happy with him. It must be your cousin.”
I can go on and on and can do finger pointing with names, but that’s not my intention. What happened is not the point to be stuck on and throwing mud on each other is not the purpose. This is only a point to refer to, to avoid future mistakes. What needs to be done is the actual question, and God willing, the correct answer to this question and its implication may save us from future troubles.
In my humble opinion, this complex question has a multi-layered answer.
The first and foremost is an individual’s role. Understanding of the importance of alerting people in time using all means of communication is crucial. The least we can do to make sure that Aasiya Zubair did not die in vain is that from now on we will blow whistle as long as it needs to be blown to get community’s attention.
This is my lifetime commitment from now on. If you like to call me a fitna creator, that’s fine with me. Regardless of the severity of the titles one may choose for us, we should not give up, unless and until our voice is heard.
The second layer of the answer is comprised of the role of imams and leaders. We need to ignore all those imams and community leaders who misguide us to be quiet. From this episode, we have learned the hard way that it’s important to shed light on our leader’s corruption, mismanagement, lies and fabrication as soon as it is apparent to us. It may cause disruption and chaos on the surface of organization in the short run, but it will save us from embarrassments and bigger disasters in the long run.
Our imams need to understand that superficial unity and “all is well” illusion does not serve the community well. Apparently, all is not well. Let’s face it and take care of it now before it is too late.
While I have been writing these lines, Dr. Parvez Ahmed, former chairman of CAIR national, has just posted a comment on my previous article. It’s a clarification on his part, since I hold national organizations accountable for not vetting Hassan in time. I deeply appreciate his honest sharing of his true feelings in this regard. In one of his points he writes:
The point about Muslim organizations being more diligent about who they associate with or promote or give a platform to is a fair one as a big-picture concept. Muslim organizations in general have a lot of growing up to do. Vetting is just one of many issues for them to address. However, in this particular instance, I do not know how could any organization (CAIR, ISNA etc.) have anticipated that Muzzammil was capable of acting in such a gruesome way especially if they were never alerted to his many personal failings?
This takes me to the third layer of our answer: The role of the Muslim organizations. In response to Dr. Ahmed’s question, I ask, aren't we in America? Do they mind a drug test or background check when they apply for a job at any reputable company? No. Then what’s wrong in doing the same before presenting them on the stage and handing them millions of dollars?
National Muslim organizations, especially those who provided Muzzammil a stage in 2003 and early 2004, had this responsibility to check him out at that time. Bridges TV was a huge financial and social project. It was a call to raise millions of dollars. A background check on this person who did not have any track record of community services on his part, and sending community alerts would have saved us from this bigger disaster now.
Let's admit that we messed up.
And let's move forward with a lesson and commitment to do better in the future.
Let's hear Sister Aasiya's call that is loud and clear now.
To the individuals: Blow the whistle harder and longer until your voice is heard.
To the community: Please pay attention to the whistleblowers and take due actions in time to avoid the damage later.
To our respectable leaders of Islamic organizations: Please take the responsibility and accountability seriously or leave the positions for the sake of the community.
To our Imams and scholars: Please stop promoting bigger fitna by labeling community alerts and whistleblowing a fitna.