Originally published in On Faith
To Abubakar Shekau and all members of Jama’at Ahl-e-Sunnah Lidda’awa wal-Jihad:
I begin with the Islamic greeting of peace – Asalaamo Alaikum (may peace be on you). I have watched for nearly a month as your group (most commonly known as Boko Haram) has been gaining more international attention. Of course, this is not the first I have heard about you — while watching you perpetrate reprehensible crimes for many years (kidnappings, suicide attacks, murders, bombings and prison breaks), I felt powerless to do anything that would resolve the chaos you create thousands of miles away. I thus have focused my energy on prayers. But your latest crime of kidnapping more than 200 girls from the boarding school in Chibok and promising to sell them as child brides and slaves compels me to write this letter to you in the name of Islam.
I write not only as a father of a young daughter but — more importantly — as a devout Muslim deeply grounded in the teachings of Islam. And to say I find your actions troubling is a gross understatement. You spit in the face of Islam and its noble Prophet Muhammad by claiming that your barbaric actions have any connection with Islamic beliefs. I am proud that my brothers in Nigeria have already loudly voiced our condemnation of your actions. If you have any conscience, pick up and read the Quran, turn to Allah in humility, and stop the ruthless transgressions you have spread across Nigeria.
You commonly invoke the name of Allah and Prophet Muhammad to justify violence, death and crime. But Allah has repeatedly instructed in the Quran “Create not disorder on the earth,” “commit not iniquity in the earth, creating disorder,” “Allah loves not disorder,” and “Allah loves not those who create disorder.” I cannot imagine the kind of punishment you will receive not only for destroying the innocent lives of these girls but then falsely claiming to do so under the commandment of Allah.
The only thing more disgusting than your treatment of girls is your repulsive threat to sell these girls and treat them as slaves. Do you not reflect on the words of Allah when He states in the Quran, “And the believers, men and women, are friends one of another?” The Quran requires you to be a wali (helper, protector, ally) of women. What kind of a protector enslaves his friend or ally? Preventing girls from obtaining education is a gross violation of Islamic teachings. Do you not reflect on Muhammad’s commandment that obtaining “knowledge is the duty of every Muslim man and woman?” You are single-handedly barring these girls from fulfilling their religious obligation of obtaining education.
Further, your claim of being at war with all Christians and your attacks against their churches are a direct violation of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. For the sake of your own soul, reflect on the Charter of Privileges that Prophet Muhammad had written down, which states,
I have caused this document to be written for Christians of the East and the West . . . for the Christians living at present and for those who will come after. . . . Any Muslim violating and abusing what is therein ordered would be regarded as violator of God’s testament and would be the breaker of His promise and would make himself deserving of God’s curse, be he a king or a subject. . . . None of their churches and other places of worship will be desolated or destroyed or demolished. No material of their churches will be used for building mosques or houses for the Muslims, any Muslim so doing will be regarded as recalcitrant to God and His Prophet
Your crimes against humanity hurt me deeply — both as a human and as a Muslim. Our prophet was sent to be a mercy for mankind, but you yourselves have become a curse. Yes, this letter is a warning but not a threat — Islam commands that our obligation is to warn and admonish. I do so today with the hope that you have something inside of you that may realize the severity of your crime and desire to change your life before it is too late for your soul. As a Muslim, I pray for justice in all matters, which includes the prayer that you are brought to justice for the heinous crimes you have perpetrated in this world.
In the name of the one God that we both call Allah, and in the name of the faith of Islam you claim adherence to, I call on you to bring back the girls — return them to their families and homes — and halt your aggression and disorder. Turn yourself in for the sake of peace and justice, and perhaps you may have a chance of being forgiven. May Allah have mercy on us all.