Incredible! Unbelievable! Shocking! Dramatic! Heartless! Barbaric! Unimaginable! Perplexing! Callous! Beastly! One can ceaselessly go on and on to list, and to find the exact words to describe events leading up to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the fugitive Saudi Arabian journalist, and a columnist of the Washington Post who was recently murdered in cold blood at the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul.
From Saudi Arabia’s denial and lies, to its admission of knowledge of Khashoggi’s mysterious death, shows how dramatic Khashoggi’s death was.
Equally, based on the Kingdom’s unintelligent response to Khashoggi’s death, showcases the possible culpability of the Kingdom’s leadership. To add impetus to this, Khashoggi was critical of the Kingdom’s leaders, and had thus became a fugitive as a result. The simple fact is that it is very difficult to delink Kingdom’s leadership from this beastly action.
Should drastic punitive actions not taken, this could set precedence for like-minded Kingdoms, and even modern democratic states, to kill journalists with impunity. This could further expose journalists to other ‘criminal’ national elements, especially those bent at milking national coffers. This growing trend is heavy for journalists to bear/carry given existing problematic and challenging conditions most journalists across the world work.
As the international community is still puzzled with Khashoggi’s demise, I briefly outline a religious/Islam’s angle to this unfortunate incident. This is grounded on Islam’s position as a peaceful religion, and a religion dictated by laid down values/rules.
A caveat should however be made here. I am not a religious scholar. This short article is hence based on my basic understanding of the religion of Islam as laid down by the Holy Quran and the Hadiths of the Holy Prophet Mohammed (SAW).
Generally, Khashoggi’s death shows disconnect between religion and religious-based leadership. Undoubtedly, Saudi Arabia is the centrepiece of the Islamic world. It is the religious capital of the Islamic world. Its influence on the Islamic world is common knowledge, beside its economic influence across the globe. Because of the Kingdom’s central and fundamental position and function, many Muslims across the world draw inspiration from it.
A number of rhetorical questions arise. What signal is the Kingdom sending with this callous murder? That others can behave and act same? That Islam accepts and welcomes murder without due process based on the dictates of Islam? That is acceptable to kill and dismember bodies? That burial of the murdered is immaterial?
What is indeed clear is that Islamic law frowns on needless murder, and bodily harm of the murdered. The fundamental question is was Khashoggi tried based on the Kingdom’s laws (Islamic laws), and found culpable? We need to know all the details, including the whereabouts of Khashoggi’s body?
What is clear is that murder not sanctioned by Islamic jurisprudence is one of the greatest sins in Islam. The Holy Quran in Surah an-Nisā’ makes it clear that “And whoever kills a believer intentionally, his punishment is Hell; he shall abide in it, and Allah will send His wrath on him and curse him and prepare for him a painful chastisement” (Surah an-Nisā’ 4:93). Somewhere, the Holy Quran only establishes that unsanctioned murder is concomitant to the murder of entire humanity. Thus, “Whoever slays a soul, unless it be for a manslaughter or for mischief in the land, it is as though he slew all men; and whoever keeps it alive, it is as though he kept alive all men.” (Surah al-Mā’ida 5:32). What happened to all these provisions? Set aside? Needless? Heedless?
Besides murder, Islam frowns on lies. The Holy Quran has numerous verses in relation to lies, lying and liars. For example, the Holy Quran notes that “Surely Allah does not guide him aright who is a liar, ungrateful” (Surah az-Zumar 39:3), “... the curse of Allah be on him if he is one of the liars” (Surah an-Nūr 24:8), “... and pray for the curse of Allah on the liars” (Surah Āli- Imrān 3:61), “...the curse of Allah be on him if he is one of the liars” (Surah an-Nūr 24:8), among others. Also, throughout the entire life of Prophet Mohammed (SAW), He spoke against lies, lying and liars.
He is noted to have mentioned that “falsehood is absolutely an evil and a sin” “You must be truthful, for truthfulness leads to righteousness and righteousness leads to Paradise….”. The Holy Prophet is also noted to have said that “when a believer utters a lie without a valid excuse, he is cursed by seventy thousand angels.
Such a stench emanates from his heart that it reaches the sky and because of this single lie Allah writes for him a sin equivalent to that of committing seventy fornications…”. For Saudi authorities to have lied that Khashoggi walked out of the consulate, when indeed he was assassinated and his body allegedly cut into pieces, is unbelievably unacceptable.
The Kingdom’s admission of his death at its Istanbul consulate after almost three weeks of denial and lies partially establishes the Kingdom’s knowledge of Khasshoggi murder. The flimsy reason that Khashoggi died after an altercation with the consulate’s authorities is one the unintelligent lies of the millennium, and indeed of all time. The presence of a bone saw which was ostensibly used to dismember/disfigure Khashoggi’s body further exposes the lies of the Kingdom. Was is by coincidence?
People are interested in knowing the whereabouts of Khashoggi’s body. The Kingdom’s report that Khashoggi’s body was given out to a local ‘collaborator’ is indeed inconceivable. This assertion shows that the Kingdom was uninterested in what happens to the victim’s body. Meanwhile Islam have strict laws in relation to handling corpses, and to burial.
For example, washing of the body, burial as soon as possible, especially within 24 hours (based on certain conditions), prayers on the body (Janaza), and burial without a coffin with the face facing the Qibla are all fundamental processes after death. In all these processes, the role of deceased family is a prerequisite, even though there could be exceptions.
What is clear is that the Kingdom’s position aptly shows that these requirements could have been sidestepped.
The reason was to dispose Khashoggi’s body off as soon as possible in order to perhaps evade traces of Khashoggi’s slaying, and to avoid public backlash. Interesting indeed! Happily, it is hoped that Turkish authorities will be able to find answers to the ‘why’, ‘how’, ‘who’ and ‘to what extent’ questions regarding Khashoggi’s death. Imagine this had occurred in my part of the world. Your guesses are good as mine.
Also, only God knows the fate of other journalists languishing in Saudi jails. Questions need to be asked about the whereabouts of these journalists.
As the international continue to struggle with events leading up to Khashoggi’s death, especially Turkey’s commendable efforts to unravel this incredible mystery, people should delink Islam’s standard practices from the actions and activities of Muslims, including the leadership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Islam is a peaceful religion, and its adherence are expected to showcase this in deeds or practices.
It is clear that unravelling events show that Khashoggi may after all not get justice in this world. However, Allah, the ultimate guarantor of justice is watching over all of us. Nothing escapes His attention. Justice for Khashoggi may delay, but will ultimately be guaranteed. May Allah have mercies on the soul of slain Khashoggi.
May Allah give Khashoggi’s family, including his fiancée Hatiz Cengiz, the strength to withstand this. Hatiz Cengiz should particularly be inspired by her own words “they took your bodily presence from my world. But your beautiful laugh will remain in my soul forever. My darling”.
May what befell Khashoggi not befall other journalists. Never again!