The Woolwich attack and making takfir on Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale

Yesterday the trial of Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale began and again we are reminded of the attack that took place in Woolwich, London.

The reactions of some to the killing were astounding and a real embarrassment. All of a sudden average Muslims turned into sheikhs and scholars, issuing fatwas about the attack and some stooped so low as to apologise for it. Some Muslim organisations took the opportunity to publicly slate imams and blame mosques for the killing.

However, the real let down was Muslims publicly declaring that Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale were non-Muslims; that somehow they couldn’t be within the fold of Islam because they committed murder.

This nonsensical argument is weak and there is no evidence for it in the deen. Did we forget the hadith about the man who killed 99 people but was admitted to jannah because of his sincere repentance? It goes like this:

“Among those who came before you was a man who killed 99 people. He then asked to be guided to the most prolific worshipper from the inhabitants of the earth, and he was directed to a monk. He went to him and told him that he had killed 99 people, and he asked whether it was possible for him to repent. The monk said, ‘No.’ The man killed him, thus making him the 100th victim. He then asked to be directed to the most knowledgeable of the Earth’s inhabitants, and he was guided to a scholar. He went to him and told him that he had killed 100 people, and he asked whether it was possible for him to repent. The scholar said, ‘Yes, and who will stand between you and repentance. Go to such and such land, for in it dwell a people who worship Allah, so go and worship Allah with them. And do not return to your land, for it is indeed a land of evil.’ He left, and when he reached the halfway point of his journey, he died. The angels of Mercy and the angels of Punishment disputed with one another [in regard to his case]. The angels of Mercy said, ‘He came to us repentant, advancing with his heart towards Allah.’ The angels of Punishment said, ‘Indeed, he never performed any good deeds.’ Then an angel came in the form of a human being, and both groups of angels asked him to be the judge between them. He said, ‘Measure the distance between the two lands. Whichever land he is closer to is the land that he is closer to [in terms of being of its people]. They then measured the distance and found that he was closer to the land that he was heading towards, and so it was the angels of Mercy who then took his soul.” (al-Bukhaari: 3470 ; Muslim: 2766)

This confirms, no matter how great a person’s sins are, the doors of Allah’s forgiveness are always open to the sinner. For all we know, Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale could have repented for the attack and their repentance could be accepted and more sincere than our own. It’s important for us to know that Ar-Rahman (The Most Merciful) forgives all sins, except shirk (associating partners with him), so a believer should not despair in Allah’s mercy, if he has committed sins other than that. Allah said:

“Indeed Allah does not forgive shirk (that you associate any partners with Him), but He forgives other than that to whom He pleases.” (An Nisaa 4:48)

Many of us are guilty of not making excuses for our brothers and sisters in Islam. Despite the severity of a Muslims sins we should refrain from looking down on one another and being hasty to perform takfir (decalring others non-Muslim.)

Accusing a Muslim of disbelief if he is innocent of this is a major sin, so much so, that it is said that the kufr or takfir could return to him, since one passed the judgement on one who is like him (a Muslim.) The Messenger, upon whom be peace, said,

“He who says to his brother ‘O disbeliever’, then it returns upon one of them.”  He also said,”And he who accuses a believer of kufr (disbelief) then it is like killing him.”

We find from this hadith, that the sin of calling another Muslim a disbeliever is similar to killing him; therefore those who made takfir on Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale may have committed the same sin as the pair themselves!

Another big disappointment is that many of us failed to investigate the reasons why the two Micheals had killed Lee Rigby. Weeks after the attack it came to light that Micheal Adebolajo had undergone torture and sexual abuse at the hands of Kenyan authorities with the knowledge of the British government. He was also constantly harassed by the MI5 to become an informant and he became increasingly paranoid.

Abu nus

Abu Nusaybah

The man who made these revelations was Abu Nusaybah, (Ibrahim Abdullah-Hassan) who also claimed his friend was struggling to cope with the torture and sexual abuse he suffered. All of these burdens must of had an effect on Michael Adebolajo’s mental state,not to mention the anger and resentment he feels about British foreign policy and the killings and occupation of Muslim lands. He is quoted as saying,

“These solders go to our land, kill our people, so an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,’ he said. ‘You will never be safe until you leave us alone.”

Michael Adebowale on the other hand seems to be somewhat of a mystery. Even the images of him in the media are unclear and there has been relatively little news about him or what could have motivated him to partake in the attack. Never the less, both Muslims and the media failed to question the mens motives and some of us were too busy apologising for their actions and condemning the attack.

Of course, all sins and acts of murder should be abhorred, but think about it; how many random Christians publicly condemn murder committed by other Christians? How many Priests or vicars give interviews in the media pleading that Christianity doesn’t condone murder?

The point is that in Islam, Muslims are not accountable for the actions of other Muslims. Everyone is answerable to Allah for their own deeds and at such a devastating time as the murder of Lee Rigby, we should have come together to make excuses for the brothers, especially those who knew him and what he had been through.

Maashallah, brother (Abu Rumaysah) did exactly that and although he has been jailed for exposing the truth he stood for integrity and justice. Insha’Allah he helped the family of Lee Rigby understand what caused the actions of the men.

Despite our opinions of the brothers, what is apparent is that the event has now worsened the situation for us all. The number of Islamaphobic attacks has drastically increased despite the condemnation of Muslim leaders. Mosques have been fire bombed and sisters have been attacked in the street and i’m sure black brothers are now being scrutinised more than before, wallahu allem.

It is incumbent on us to seek knowledge of our deen in order to practice it properly, giving the correct dawah and refraining from speaking without  knowledge.

“Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is [rightly] guided.” (An-Nahl:125)






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