An open letter to Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri
Dr. al-Zawahiri, many years ago, as a student at University of Cairo Medical School Mosque, when I joined Jammaa Islamia, I sat in front of you, and listened fervently to your sermons. At that time, I looked up to you as my mentor who was going to guide me through the correct path to the divine. I cannot forget your fiery speeches, enthusiastic, extraordinary charisma and your dedication to the cause of Islam.
Once, I remember you placing your hand over my shoulder, telling me that my generation is the hope for Islam. I was truly captivated; I was so young and mislead by your appealing charm as many others were. As I looked deeply into your eyes, I hoped that you would lead me to find my path to spirituality. Instead, you led me into the corridor of hatred and violence. I was deceived by your sharp authoritative look and your powerful speeches, but after all, I was fortunate to recognize early enough that I was on the wrong course.
You taught me and other members of the JI that the West is evil because it does not implement Shariah law. You explained that it allows women to dress as they wish, and provide them full freedom. Back then, I was deceived by your statements. But let me ask you now, which is preferable; the western system that respects basic values of freedom for women or the Salafi Islamic system that you follow that suppresses and justifies beating women, allows polygamy, permits slavery, and still promotes stoning women to death for adultery?
Dr. al-Zawahiri, after all these years, I discovered that the values that you promoted for “modesty” of our Muslim women are not sincerely values of modesty as you claimed, but rather immoral means to enslave them. According to our Shariah system, a Muslim woman engaged sexually with a man on her free will, should be punished by death, yet if a man sold the same woman as a slave to the same man to engage in sex with him — against her free will — it is until now acceptable in our Islamic laws. Do you consider that moral or just? Obviously, the entire issue is not modesty for Muslim women as you claimed but rather a way to control them.
Through your video tapes, you try to sway the West against America, blaming the "evil" U.S. foreign policies against the Islamic world. If the U.S. is truly as wicked as you claim, it could have used its devastating military power to rape the land of Arabia and get its oil for free as our Islamic ancestors did under the banner of spreading Islam! Or probably is it American evil foreign policy that saved millions of Muslims in Kosovo and is trying to do the same in Darfur? Or is it the evil Americans who saved Kuwait from the Iraqi vicious despot, Saddam Hussein?
If it's only the "others" causing the Muslims misery, why then didn't you ever protest against the Pakistani Mullas who issued a fatwa to justify Pakistani Muslim soldiers raping Bangladeshi women as concubines in the name of Allah during the war between the two countries in the 1970s? Is that because of the damage done to Muslims by the West?
Through your publicized videotapes you claim that your Muslim "brothers" suffer in Iraq. Don't your Muslim "brothers" suffer in Iraq primarily because your Sunni Islamic thugs "brothers" are torturing, killing other Muslims and mutilating the dead bodies of their fellow Muslim "brothers" Shia? Maybe if you ordered your Muslim Sunni "brothers" to suspend their barbaric acts, the Iraqi people would enjoy the fruit of democracy that was offered to them with American soldiers' blood, scarifying their lives to provide them with such dignified opportunity.
Dr. al-Zawahiri, in many of your tapes, you maintain that Israel is oppressing the Palestinians. You should know that the Jewish state that you so despise allows Muslims to build Mosques and practice their religion freely. Compare it to Saudi Arabia, which denies basic rights to Christians or other non Muslims to build churches or freely practice their religion. Compare it to your Taliban system, which destroyed the historical statues of Buddha. You are merely lucky that your evil acts against civilized people have not been countered by destroying our sacred places in Mecca and Medina.
I vividly remember you teaching us in our JI Mosque that the Jews are the world's worst enemies; that they are "pigs and monkeys." To my pleasant surprise, I must share with you that I later found out that unlike you and your followers, Jews have brought immense constructive contribution to our civilization.
You repeatedly taught us that the U.S. and the West are oppressing Muslims. I used to believe it when I first met you, but after living in the West and having seen how Muslims are treated in the U.S., I can openly say to you, Dr. al-Zawahiri, that you are a liar! The U.S. has allowed Muslims to build mosques, to practice freely our religion, to enjoy economic opportunities, to thrive in their education as any American citizen does. The U.S. Constitution simply does not allow discrimination against minorities. If this is what you call "oppressed Muslims in the West" then I wish Islamic systems like Saudi Arabia, the Taliban and Iran treat their non-Muslims in the same way U.S. treats its Muslim population.
Dr. al-Zawahiri, your heinous attacks on innocents all over the world have deprived our world of tremendous amount of resources as an attempt to protect ourselves from people like you. So instead of diverting the money of the world to build, to cure disease and to improve the environment, we now need to direct a major portion of our budget to protect our nations from your evil acts.
I am asking you to remember the orphans who lost their parents because of you, the parents who lost their children because of you, and the innocents who still suffer because of you. Use your conscience if it still exists and remember them even for a moment as an opportunity to evaluate your deeds.
After all these years, I tell you vociferously that if "the hope of Islam" is cultivated by the damage you cause to the world then never blame anyone for questioning Islam's nature, genuine motives and criticizing it.
Dr. al-Zawahiri, I must confess that I am not sure whether I should blame only solely you for your crimes or should I also hold responsible the entire culture and our religious system that have been guiding you and millions other to hate the "others". Should I only blame you or also my fellow Muslims who have been passively watching your dreadful actions with minimal expression of dismay over your brutality? Or maybe I should also blame those in the West who still try to find irrational justifications for your terrorist acts instead of confronting its true cause ,which is the ideology that changed an innocent child that you were into a beast who deprived others of their lives.
Dr. al-Zawahiri, as a surgeon your hands were supposed to heal and help reduce suffering. Instead, you caused anguish to thousands if not millions of our human race. Therefore, the blood on your hands is the blood of your victims rather than your patients during surgical operations.
Now, I live too far from you geographically, and more importantly, ideologically. Unlike you, based on fresh interpretation of the Quran, I preach a message of love and respect to all humans; regardless of their religion, race, or nationality. It is a peaceful and non conventional interpretation that attempts to heal the world that you have injured. One day, the Muslim world will have to decide if they should follow my path or your path. Our paths cannot converge.
Dr. al-Zawahiri. . . . Awake before it is too late!
Your old colleague in the JI
Dr. Tawfik Hamid
Dr. Tawfik Hamid is the author of "Inside Jihad." He was a former associate of Dr. al-Zawahiri (second in command of al-Qaida) and currently he is a reformer of Islam. To know more about Hamid please visit www.tawfikhamid.com. Hamid's writings in this blog represent only his thoughts and not the views of the institute where he works.
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