In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate
Praise be to Allah. May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon our master Muhammad and upon his family and companions.
There have been repeated requests for clarifications about my position regarding the injustice against our Uighur brothers and sisters, may Allah relieve their distress and lift harm from them. The requests have been made in the wake of a campaign of lies and distortions propagated by our brothers “who have transgressed against us” from the Brotherhood, the Sururis, some from amongst those who deem themselves to follow the Salaf, as well as other “Islamist” organisations and groups. May Allah rectify us all. Various well-known media platforms have been complicit in this multi-lingual campaign by taking advantage, as is their general habit, of the pain experienced by Muslims and the injustices perpetrated against them for their own side battles.
This issue arose after I answered a question about whether the coronavirus outbreak in China was Allah’s revenge for the treatment of the Uighurs in China. The question was posed in a university forum in Egypt. In my answer, I was clear about acknowledging the injustices perpetrated against our Uighur brothers and sisters while also affirming my refusal to declare it a divine punishment against China. In the course of my answer, I made a mistake about the percentage of Muslims in the East Turkestan region and their percentage among the Uighur population. I corrected this mistake through social media platforms after private correspondence and public remarks from some Turkestani brothers.
In light of the aforementioned campaigns as well as requests for clarification, I will like to restate my position on the issue and hope it suffices for those who want to understand.
1. Our Uighur brothers and sisters have and continue to suffer severe injustices against their rights. These injustices are unacceptable by any religion and unacceptable by humanity. The situation in past decades has been more severe than it is now. Gradual improvements have occurred in comparison to the past and this may allow progress on the issue, but any such improvement is still unsatisfactory and not all injustices have been lifted. This is a view that has been expressed by some non-politically aligned Uighur brothers with whom we have contact and it is one I agree with. In any case, the jurists have a principle: “passing judgment on something is contingent on having a correct conceptualisation of it.” In view of this, it is clear that it is difficult for the one who is honest with himself to claim he has attained a decisive comprehension of an issue in all its details. For this reason, cautious patience is advised in issuing decisive judgments and opinions about the truth of an issue.
2. Among the injustices perpetrated against the Uighurs: violations against their basic religious rights relating to their mosques, prayers, fasting, family commitments, child upbringing, and protecting their Muslim identity.
3. These heinous injustices did not start off as a religious war but a political one. China – despite its official rejection of religions – turns a blind eye to Muslims, Christians and Buddhists of other nationalities practicing their religious rites. It allows mosques to be built and expanded, Islamic schools to be opened, and permits the establishment of religious rites in many provinces where there are no political movements that demand secession or political independence from the state. However, political movements with such political demands are treated with religious repression and tightened security measures, regardless of the religion they belong to. The Chinese experience with Tibetan Buddhists for the last half a century is one example.
4. One of the most important reasons for this political war today is to employ the Uighur grievance in the political and economic battle between the West and China. The East Turkestan region (Xinjiang) is at the centre of China’s global economic endeavour and it presents an opportunity for Western states to take advantage of the Uighur grievance by employing it for their own ends. Some Western countries and international organisations claim to champion human rights in the Uighur case but stop short of providing a real solution to their plight. They only further provoke and encourage the clash between the Uighurs and the state, increasing the Uighur tragedy in the process. These same states and organisations pay no attention to the consequences of their positions. This type of behaviour between states in the international arena is not new. The examples of Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Burma, Syria, Rwanda, and Western and Central African countries are just a few examples. Hundreds of thousands of refugees in camps around the world are living witnesses to the crimes of the countries of the “developed” world.
5. The suffering of our Uighur brothers and sisters has also been amplified through the exploitation of their grievances by Islamist groups and organisations for their own local and regional conflicts. The outcome of this exploitation was many young Uighurs joining the likes of Al-Qaeda, ISIS and other such criminal outfits. Hundreds of these young Uighurs were killed in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq under the banners of these groups. Ironically, these groups who claimed to support the Uighur cause and save their lives from the Chinese persecution were the very same groups pushing Uighurs towards their own death. The leader of the Islamist Turkestan party (Türkistan Islam Partiyisi) Hassan Makhdum, was killed in an Al-Qaeda training camp on the Afghan border after he pledged allegiance to Mullah Omar is only one example of such tampering with the fate of Muslim peoples and their grievances. To Allah we direct our complaints!
6. The exploitation of people’s pain and grievances, trading in their blood, manipulating and employing the umma’s causes in power rivalries and local, regional and international disputes is an abhorrent affair that has neither a religious nor humane basis. This sad reality is recurring in our all our causes by people of our own kind. It has only resulted in harming and destroying those very causes. It is not just the Uighurs’ grievances that are being manipulated. The destruction of the Palestinian cause in the hearts of younger generations is another example. Its manipulation has occurred through it becoming the play of election campaigns of Islamist organisations, and their using it as a tool to apply pressure on governments for decades and a means of youth recruitment. The fate of Afghanistan and Somalia for more than a quarter of a century with all the resulting atrocities is another example. Similar issues of exploitation put the Muslim identity of future generations in the Balkans at risk of disappearing. In Europe and the West, devout Muslim congregations have been used by such organisations as tools in the pursuit of power or as instruments of pressure. The use of humanitarian charities as fronts for ideological organisations has wasted the rights of the destitute and the afflicted and exploited the sincerity of the youth who volunteer in these efforts.
These examples have existed in our umma and were undertaken by our own. They falsely attributed their actions to Allah’s true religion and His merciful law. They were knowingly or unknowingly serving the ummah’s adversaries but not the ummah itself.
In closing, these are the positions that have been distorted and misrepresented in the media efforts of our brothers “who have transgressed against us.” Allah’s help is sought. He is the One we place our hopes in to relieve distress, lift calamity, and rectify the situation we find ourselves in.
May Allah send peace and blessings upon our master Muhammad and upon his family and companions and peace. Praise be to Allah, Lord of the worlds.