New Islamic Directions

By Imam Zaid Shakir

Why I Oppose the US-led Intervention in Libya

Posted in articles by Imam Zaid Shakir on 2011-03-24 Thumb

Some days before the U.S.-led intervention in Libya began; I was forwarded a copy of an open letter directed to President Barack Obama urging him to work in concert with U.S. allies, NATO, and the United Nations to immediately impose a no-fly zone over Libya. The organizers, a group of courageous individuals risking their lives to assist the rebel cause, were collecting the signatures of scholars and academics from the around the world, especially those studying Islam and the Middle East.

After considerable deliberation, I decided not to add my signature to the letter because I could not lend my support to this particular plea to President Obama. I believed that even a limited U.S.-led intervention would still be an intervention, and I was troubled that it would take on a life of its own once it began—something that the League of Arab States, whose vote helped legitimize western intervention, now realizes.

Still, my decision may be perceived as an unpopular one, not least because the Libyan rebels themselves called for - and have now received - military assistance from the West. This call has been consistently echoed since the initial gains of the rebels were rolled back by a punishing counteroffensive by pro-Qaddafi forces. It was further intensified as Libyan government forces were poised to attack the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

One constant refrain accompanying this rebel call has been the insistence that, “We do not want any boots on the ground.” This qualification is understandable as “boots on the ground” could imply that the forces battling the Qaddafi loyalists, far from being revolutionaries ushering in a new dawn for their country, are nothing more than the junior partners in a US-led invasion of another Muslim country. I contend that the bombs we see today raining down upon Libya could well serve the purpose of boots in this regard. They could serve to delegitimize the Libyan revolutionaries.


The Inconsistent Pattern of US Interventions

Should the U.S.-led bombing campaign accomplish its objective, a result that is far from certain, the rebels will not be credited with saving Benghazi. Rather, U.S., French, and British bombs and missiles will have saved the city, possibly only temporarily. The history books will not record a Stalingrad-like rebel defense of Benghazi. They may well record the U.S.-led intervention as the event that consolidated the idea that the United States, under the legality provided by a United Nations resolution, can, unilaterally, or in collaboration with its western allies, militarily intervene in the affairs of a sovereign nation that poses no military threat to America in order to stave off a humanitarian disaster.

This idea would be welcomed by many were not its implementation to date so tellingly inconsistent. There has been no direct western intervention in the Congo, the scene of the world’s greatest humanitarian disaster in recent history. When the people of Gaza were being pulverized by the Israeli Defense Forces, there was no intervention. Even in Darfur, the scene of an awful humanitarian crisis where the rebel forces once enjoyed immense popular support in the West, there has been no western military intervention. Similarly, in Somalia, which three years ago was the scene of a grave humanitarian catastrophe, there was no intervention. In fact, the American-encouraged Ethiopian invasion of Somalia helped precipitate that disaster. It should be clear from these examples that the protection of civilian life is not an operative principle in US foreign policy.

The current intervention in Libya establishes a dangerous precedent in the context of the popular uprisings sweeping North Africa and the Middle East. If we accept intervention in Libya, what prevents us from accepting intervention in places like Iran? If demonstrators in Iran are violently suppressed by the regime tomorrow, what consistent moral argument can we forward to prevent an American or Israeli-led attack to pacify an Iranian regime deemed to be threatening its civilian population? The assessment of the circumstances of what qualifies for intervention will become arbitrary and will make a mockery of international law.

Moreover, direct foreign intervention in Libya will likely lead to far more civilian deaths than would have occurred had the conflict remain a strictly Libyan affair. The ongoing bombing has already resulted in civilian deaths. This number will likely rise dramatically as the campaign is expanded to include civilian infrastructure deemed critical to the survival of Qaddafi’s regime, such as electrical generation stations, communication infrastructure, factories, and other installations more likely to be located near civilian neighborhoods.

Yet more civilian casualties could result in the aftermath of the bombing campaign, when the desire for revenge by Qaddafi loyalists will likely lead to blind and bitter reprisals against civilians thought to be supportive of the rebels. The columns of burned out tanks, personnel carriers, pickup trucks, and other vehicles conveying Qaddafi loyalists towards Benghazi were not driven by robots. They were manned by human beings with friends, relatives, and tribesmen who will not take kindly to their deaths via western projectiles.

Finally, there is no guarantee that Qaddafi’s forces will be repulsed by the rebels, even with western assistance. If a lengthy stalemate ensues, we can easily see Libya follow in the footsteps of the Congo, Darfur, and Somalia as it experiences its own war-related humanitarian crisis. Should such a stalemate be broken by a full-fledged western invasion and occupation of Libya? No one claims to want that. However, it is a prospect that has to now be realistically entertained in aftermath of the ongoing western intervention.

If Not for the People, Then Why?

If, as I am arguing, the U.S.-led intervention in Libya is not ultimately intended to protect civilians then what might the real motive be? For the United States, the answer is clear. President Obama said unequivocally that Qaddafi must go, making regime change the ultimate American objective. It is clear that way the conflict in Libya has unfolded provides an avenue for the United States to initiate a policy calling for the ouster of Qaddafi.

Why would the ouster of Qaddafi be such a high priority for the United States? One reason could be that Qaddafi has been leading a Pan-African movement under the auspices of the African Union, similar to the unification effort spearheaded by Hugo Chavez in South America. Libya’s oil revenues have played a large role in supporting Qaddafi’s African initiative, which aims for Africa’s economic empowerment by breaking the vestiges of European economic control of Africa. This is a key reason why Qaddafi enjoys varying degrees of popularity in what is sometimes called “Black Africa.”

Qaddafi’s Pan-African effort coincides with the rising economic role of China in Africa. Since 2001, trade between Africa and China has increased from $10 billion to more than $110 billion. The United States has noticed the growing influence of Libya and China in Africa and has responded, in part, by establishing a new American military command for Africa (AFRICOM) in 2006. A critical objective of AFRICOM is to unite the continent’s 53 countries into a unified, pro-American strategic and economic zone, which would involve both regime changes and “humanitarian” interventions to stabilize the continent. Some critics of U.S. policy in Africa say the ultimate objective of AFRICOM is to ensure that America—and not China—becomes the principal foreign beneficiary of Africa’s tremendous wealth.

To date, no African nation has agreed to serve as the hosting country for AFRICOM’s primary base. All of that could change with the emergence of a post-Qaddafi regime in Libya that owes its existence to the US-led intervention. It should be noted that Libya was the home of Wheelus Air Base, the largest American military installation in Africa, before the coup orchestrated by Qaddafi against King Idris in 1969.

While nationalization significantly curtailed the development of Libya’s petroleum and gas resources, Qaddafi has sought to expand exploration and production in partnership with major western oil companies in recent years. The Libyan national oil company, however, still controls the terms of trade, which most western companies view as prohibitive. Western energy companies consider Libya a risky investment climate and are seeking better terms from the Libyan regime. Optimal terms could only be obtained by something similar to an “Iraq oil law,” which remains unlikely in Libya while the Qaddafi-led regime is in power. A regime change is likely viewed by many foreign firms as a means to completely opening up access to Libya’s petrochemical resources.

For France, the conflict in Libya offers an opportunity to reassert its control over Niger’s uranium deposits, a critical goal for a country that relies on nuclear power as its primary source of electricity. For decades, France had a monopoly over Niger’s uranium production. Today, France still imports 40% of its uranium from Niger, where it is currently completing the world’s largest uranium mine.

A recent development that has raised the concern of the French and the Americans has been an effort on the part of Iran to gain access to Niger’s uranium. Although this Iranian initiative was terminated in 2010, the current conflict in Libya provides France with an opportunity to reestablish its control over Niger’s uranium, and to rekindle its neocolonial ambitions elsewhere in Central Africa, particularly in Chad, which like Niger, is a former French colony.

Libya, which has lengthy borders with both Niger and Chad, has been steadily seeking to expand its influence to the south. The French have always been wary of Qaddafi’s ambitions in the region, and have intervened to save anti-Qaddafi forces in Chad, Libya’s southern neighbor, several times between 1978 and 1986. Hence, we should not be surprised to see France eagerly intervening in Libya. One could also see the French intervention as a means to gain easy access to Chad’s proven oil reserves of 1 billion barrels, although this likely would not be the most important factor motivating the French. In any case, with the elimination of Qaddafi, France would have an unhindered hand in the region.

For Britain, intervention in Libya can be seen as no more than a repetition of her involvement in Iraq - tagging along to lend an aura of multilateralism to what is essentially a US-led initiative - and the possibility of an expanded role for BP in the energy sector of a post-Qaddafi Libya. Britain could also use Libya as a springboard for expanded trade relations in Africa. However, it is difficult to argue that such a prospect would be a major consideration in undertaking a risky intervention.

British Prime Minister, David Cameron, and his French counterpart, President Nicolas Sarkozy, who have both vocally echoed Obama’s call for the ouster of Qaddafi, can be viewed as using military action as a means to bolster their waning popularity. Sarkozy is the least popular French president since the founding of the Fifth Republic in 1958, and Cameron has orchestrated the deepest budget cuts in modern British history. Both have received a boost in the polls in the immediate aftermath of the western intervention in Libya, but if the conflict is a prolonged one, they may both suffer politically.

Finally, one of the unspoken motivations for European intervention in Libya is xenophobic. The faster Libya becomes stable, the less chance there will be of a massive flow of brown-skinned North African refugees streaming into Europe, especially the southern European nations such as Italy and France.

No Easy Answers

Whatever the motivation, the western military intervention has already gone beyond the establishment of a no-fly zone, and Libya has already suffered civilian casualties as a result of the ongoing bombing. The experience in Iraq has shown that a no-fly zone can actually strengthen the targeted regime. In some eyes, the presence of western bombs raining down on Libyan targets has already transformed Qaddafi from villain to victim, further shoring up the support he has among certain segments of the Libyan population.

To assume that Qaddafi has no support in Libya, an assertion we have heard frequently in recent weeks, is false and potentially deadly. Qaddafi has support among ideologically motivated Arab nationalists, socialists, and many anti-Muslim “progressives.” Many of the poorest segments of Libya’s society, although not attaining a lifestyle anywhere close to that found in some of the oil-rich Persian Gulf Emirates, have experienced improving living standards under Qaddafi and support him. Furthermore, he can mobilize an army of supporters from neighboring African states to the south where many have benefited from his largess.

We should expect that Qaddafi will see the western attack as an existential threat, not just to his regime, but to his very life, and we should expect him to fight doggedly to the end. Under such circumstances history has taught us to expect the unexpected. Libya will likely prove no exception in this regard.

For these reasons, I do not believe western intervention in Libya is solely motivated by humanitarian concerns, nor do I believe it will succeed. I cannot support it. However, I do not want my lack of support for the U.S.-led intervention to be viewed as a lack of support for those segments of the Libyan population who have suffered from Qaddafi’s abuses. It is not constructive to frame the conflict in draconian, zero sum terms, where opposition to the US-led intervention automatically translates into support for Qaddafi.

I have many close friends with family members who are living in abject fear while barricaded in their homes in Tripoli and other Libyan cities. I am well aware of the grave danger they and many other people in Libya face. Still, I reiterate that I am against the current wars and interventions of the American military. These campaigns do not enhance the security of the United States. Rather, they create the conditions that lead more people to desire to harm America, and as has been demonstrated in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and elsewhere, they create conditions that eventually lead to great loss of civilian life and widespread suffering.

So what about the segments of the population in Libya facing the fury of Qaddafi’s loyalists? Now that much of the regime’s armor and aircraft have been destroyed, there should be an immediate call for the cessation of all bombing missions by western powers. All warring parties in Libya should accept an immediate ceasefire. The United Nations, League of Arab States and the African Union should send in a joint peacekeeping force to maintain the ceasefire. Furthermore, the countries that are currently spending millions of dollars to bomb Libya should be be encouraged to make equal or exceeding commitments in humanitarian aid to assist the growing number of displaced individuals. Finally, a national referendum could either affirm Qaddafi’s “Jamahiriyya” or create a constitutional committee charged with drafting a new constitution. If the support for Qaddafi is as weak as it is claimed, the rebels should welcome such a proposal.

Many will argue that these proposed measures are unrealistic. That may well be the case. But, I believe it is unrealistic to expect positive results from the intervention of western powers that have long histories of pursuing goals, objectives, and strategies that first and foremost serve their own interests. I hope that I am wrong.

Comments


By Daughter of Libya on March 24, 2011 at 5:37pm

Asalamu alaykum wr wb Jazak Allahu khayr Imam Zaid. I hold you in high regard. However, I respectfully disagree. Your article proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Western powers have their own agenda. No one is doubting this. No one is naive enough to think that the Western powers are intervening for purely altruistic reasons. Unfortunately, this article like all those with similar views, fails to answer the most important question: what other option do we have to save the Libyans??? If there was another alternative, it surely would have been pursued by the Libyan people and all those who support the Libyan people. Libyans came out in a peaceful demonstration and were attacked with machine guns, anti-tank ammunition, mercenaries, air raids, etc.??? Where was the Muslim intervention to assist Libyans? Where were the Arab leaders who should have intervened? Does this article imply that since there was no intervention in Rwanda there should be no intervention in Libya? The only realistic option was to have the U.N. intervene! It's not a perfect solution, but more importantly, it is NOT an unrealistic and idealistic solution such as the option to stand by idly. It is a realistic solution which offers the most hope for our brothers and sisters in Libya!!! Furthermore, this article does not address the fact that the regime is loathed and feared by the VAST MAJORITY of Libyans with only a very small portion in support of the regime. They appear to have a loud voice solely b/c they have been given all the money and ammunition whereas the average Libyan lacks these. With this being said, another important point is that Libya differs greatly from Iraq in that this has been and continues to be an uprising initiated and maintained by the Libyan people. The entrance of coalition forces was not forced upon Libyans as was the case in Iraq! Jazak Allahu khayr once again Imam. Your opinions are always valuable as well as your contribution to our ummah. I just respectfully disagree with you on this issue and encourage all those who read this article to first discuss the issue with a Libyan who can give a more comprehensive understanding of conditions in Libya under the regime and during the revolution. Believe me when I say speaking to Libyan will give you greater insight and very important before you form an opinion of U.N. interventions. Asalamu alaykum wr wb

By Omar Kelani on March 24, 2011 at 6:31pm

Salaam Sheikh, As an American Libyan, I have a question for you. You have stated, ". If the support for Qaddafi is as weak as it is claimed, the rebels should welcome such a proposal." What about the thousands of mercenaries in Libya from neighboring african countries that have been hired to kill Libyans. Although support for Gaddafi is weak, he still has hired killers from all over the world, from Columbia, Syria to Algeria. What can we say about that? How are the rebels supposed to peacefully create a constitutional committee with that threat? Here is the begining of the comittee: http://ntclibya.org/

By Sharif on March 24, 2011 at 7:40pm

Thanks for the article, it so eloquently articulated the numerous reservations many of us have about this situation.

By Hussam Barbour on March 24, 2011 at 8:35pm

All the oil in the world is not worth the loss of a single life at by the hands of Gaddafi. 40 years of him not enough? Speculation of what intentions the world might..might.. have does not pass the thresh hold of what we seen Gaddafi do...no need to speculate on Gaddafi's intentions. Burns my soul.

By Nazim Ali on March 24, 2011 at 9:28pm

Salam Alaykoum, As Muslims we are ordered by Allah (SWT) and his Messenger (SAWS) to stand up against oppression throughout the Earth. We as a Muslim body have not done this. Speculating the intention of the American and Western forces is not relevent while there is a dictator who is killing, torturing, oppressing, and putting down his own people. The core Islamic stance in this case is to be against oppression and injustice, even if it goes against the fears of our nafs. It is cowardly if we say let the dictator massacre his people because of speculation. Where is the justice? I'd rather let them take the oil if it means my life and freedom to live as how I want is protected. When Saddam attacked us, I'm Kurdish, and if the U.S. wanted all the oil to prevent the genocide, wallahi we would happily forfeit it. Allah (SWT) commanded us: "Fight in the cause of God those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for God loves not transgressors. And slay them wherever you catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter... But if they cease, God is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful... If they cease, let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression" (Quran Surah 2:190-193) The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is oppressed.” The Prophet was asked: “It is right to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor?” He replied: “By preventing him from oppressing others.” {Sahih Bukhari, Volume 3, Hadith 624}

By Hamza on March 24, 2011 at 9:35pm

Assalamu Alaikum Imam Zaid Shakir, You have brought up a lot of critical points about this No Fly Zone, and I highly respect your opinion. However, I do disagree. First of all, to date there has been no deaths from the coalition bombing, these claims were by Libyan State Television, and when reporters in Tripoli asked to see the houses or people in the hospitals, they were either taken to destroyed arms warehouses or driven around in circles. Doctors in all of the other cities have stated that so far (and insha'Allah this will continue) there have been no civilian casualties, which further supports that no one has died yet. On the other hand, if the No Fly Zone was not put into place, there would have been a massacre in Benghazi. Furthermore, each and every day Masrata and Zintan have been pummeled, and the coalition forces were able to eliminate most of the tanks attacking those cities. Masrata was able to open a bakery for the first time yesterday in over a week. Today, Gaddafi's forces in Ajdabiya said they wanted to surrender because of the No Fly Zone, and insha'Allah that will also work out. It is for these reason I believe lives WILL be saved, which is the most important reason why the people in Libya have been asking for it. They do after all know the condition there better than all of us on the outside. Also you state the foreign interests in the region and all over Africa. You talked of Gaddafi's support for Africa and the money he spends on it. However, you failed to mention Gaddafi's own interests in the region, supporting his fellow dictators with money to kill their own people, or trying to manipulate their politics. Maybe its because I am a Libyan, but I see Gaddafi as a much more evil person than Sarkozy or Obama. So although they may have bad intentions with the country of Libya or Africa, Gaddafi has much worse. As many Libyans say now, the only person occupying Libya is Gaddafi, and the only person stealing the wealth of the Libyans is Gaddafi. And speaking of wealth, I believe you had your statement backward with who is supporting Gaddafi. It is an important point though, Gaddafi does have support, and people did underestimate it. It is however, in the tens of thousands, and not hundreds of thousands. They are the ones with the guns, which as the Aztecs learned, is what really matters. But these supporters are not the poor, but the rich. The ones who have benefited from Gaddafi being in power. The poor hate Gaddafi, because they know they shouldn't have to work two jobs in order to just guy by in an oil rich nation. They know they shouldn't have to send their sick to Tunisia if they want proper health care. The ones fighting for Gaddafi are the rich, or the ones who have family threatened. Militarily, the importance of the No Fly Zone came when they were trying to push west. One of my friends was on the front lines in Ras Lanuf, and he also said that what pushed people back was the bombings done by the airplanes. With desert warfare, they are sitting ducks against the planes, and traveling west was almost impossible. Now, insha'Allah, they will be able to push west again in a similar speed. I don't know if you will get a chance to read this, but I do believe your remarks have held the strongest arguments I've seen against the No Fly Zone. As you have said, there is no clear solution. It would have been nice if this revolution, a righteous revolution, would have been fought without any foreign aid (if only Egypt wasn't done washing out its corruption, I wouldn't have minded if Egypt and East Libya became one country and they pushed Gaddafi out). But the people on the ground in Libya, after much discussion and debate like you stated here, decided that without a No Fly Zone, this conflict could prolong into a long and extremely deadly one, with everything in the country essentially destroyed. Gaddafi will fight to the death with or without a No Fly Zone, and he would unleash everything he had if he ever felt close to losing. With that in mind, the Libyan revolutionaries decided in the gray area to ask for assistance. Insha'Allah it will come out to be a good choice, as I have hope of the future in the Middle East. The hadith of the Prophet (SAW) states: "There shall be Prophethood (nubuwwa) among you for as long as Allah wishes it to be among you. Then it shall be lifted up when Allah wishes to lift it up. Then there shall be successorship (khil

By Rob Tomorrow on March 24, 2011 at 10:13pm

I am an American who opposed the invasion of Iraq and marched in many protests trying to stop it. The intervention in Libya is not in the same vein, the Obama Administration was very reluctant to get involved, the potential massacre of the residents of Benghazi is what precipitated action, and then only after it was authorized by the Arab League and the U.N. Security Council. If access to oil was the motivation then keeping Qaddafi in power would of been the best course. Qaddafi had no qualms about selling his country's assets to the highest bidder. In my opinion, for the world to sit back and watch the carnage being wrought by the diffusional despot Qaddafi and do nothing would of been unconscionable.

By Imam Zaid Shakir on March 24, 2011 at 10:14pm

I appreciate all of the comments above. I would only add here that my article was an endeavor to explain why I oppose the US intervention. Had that intervention not occurred I would have nothing to say. Qaddafi's crimes are clear, both in terms of his oppression and his squandering the wealth of the Libyan people in the Wall Street casino, on financing elections in Europe,etc. The Libyan opposition has done a good enough job exposing Qaddafi's crimes. There is nothing for me to add in that regard. However, one cannot situate the struggle of the Libyan people in the context of the revolutions sweeping the region and expect that the US will be a counter revolutionary force in Bahrain, Yemen, and elsewhere and yet be a pro-revolutionary force in Libya. The recent history of US military intervention in the Muslim world indicates that in the long term it creates more problems than it solves, usually with a price tag that includes tremendous loss of life and human suffering. To imagine that there is no larger strategic calculus at work at work in the US choosing to not intervene in Bahrain, etc., and to intervene in Libya is misguided. By calling for a direct western military intervention in Africa, extremely destructive forces have been unleashed. Will the sum total of the ensuing death and destruction in the long run be more than would have ensued had the West not intervened remains to be seen. I believe it will be. However, as I mentioned in the article I hope I am wrong. Talk of a threshold of violence to justify a US intervention burns my soul also, so I am taking it out of the article and just state that I am against the US-led intervention, period. 40 years of Qaddafi is indeed enough I am not arguing otherwise. But 40 years of constantly escalating US militarism is also enough. Qaddafi took over Libya in 1969. In 1968 Dr. King proclaimed that the US is the greatest purveyor of violence on earth. Since then millions of people from Viet Nam to Central America, from Iraq to Afghanistan have died. The wars and intervention of our country have left scores of ripped apart societies in its wake, and they are systematically destroying both the fiscal viability and the moral fabric of America. When do the we draw the line and say no more wars and interventions? After Libya? After Iran? After another 40 years? This article was one of the most difficult pieces I have ever written because the situation in Libya is so complicated and tragic. May Allah bring peace there by whatever means He chooses. May you all be blessed.

By Ibn Tarabulus on March 24, 2011 at 10:30pm

With all due respect, but looks like you forgot to cite your sources Libyan State tv, Fox news and Dick Cheney. I am very very disappointed and upset at this post. Please refrain from talking about Libya again unless we ask you to. Signed: A Libyan American Muslim who worked to hard to have you try to destroy our hard work.

By Mohammed Kelani on March 25, 2011 at 3:14am

Salam Imam Zaid, As a Libyan American, who is directly affected by this conflict, I will also have to respectfully disagree with you. One should never rigidly condemn something in all circumstances no matter what. Islam itself teaches us that even swine can be allowed in certain circumstances. If even with something that clearly haram and Islam allows us to make our own judgment based on the circumstance, how can we rigidly say that intervention is wrong, no matter what. How do you explain that to the people of Benghazi who were on the verge of a massacre that would have been another embarrassment to humanity? In Ajdabiya, they weren

By reno larue teasley on March 25, 2011 at 4:58am

I think I'm starting to respect your opinion again. Excellent observations, that Allah will (Insha-Allah) manifest as true.

By Zak Elyazgi on March 25, 2011 at 5:19am

Assalamu alaikum Imam Zaid, It's unfortunate that although I'm sure your intentions are good, the tone of your article makes it sound like you are defending Gaddafi's right to rule Libya. It also doesn't sound like it comes out in overwhelming support of the Libyan people who are dying for their freedom, and for the freedom of their children. Frankly, saying things like "...segments of the Libyan population... have suffered from Qaddafi

By N Libya on March 25, 2011 at 9:44am

Dear respected Imam Zaid, Assalaamu alaikum wa rahmat Allah, Had not the western forces intervened in Libya, my family would be dead. There was an immediate need for international assistance and Libyans are so relieved that they received it. We have no doubt in our minds that Benghazi would have been completely demolished (as you mentioned, gaddaffi's forces were surrounding the city) and every life would have been taken by his thugs. In this juncture, we should not be so concerned with the West's intentions as we are with the saving of innocent lives. In the coming days, the loss of life due to int'l intervention is a possibility, but mass death due to Gaddaffi's unchallenged force would have been certain. I hope that you will reconsider your stance as your voice is heard by many. The lives of my loved ones depend on it. Barek Allahu feek ya Shaykh. fi'amanilah,

By obaid on March 25, 2011 at 2:56pm

Muslims, specially sunnis/sufis should not support the libyan rebels. They are like the pseudo-talibans in Pakistan trying to divide the muslim lands. The libyan rebel leader has confessed to being member of the alqaeda and he was caught in Pakistan in 2002 in the anti-terror campaign. He was handed over to the U.S. They have trained him and released him to do the dirty work of weakening and destroying muslim lands. http://www.infowars.com/libyan-rebel-leader-admits-links-to-al-qaeda-fighters/

By Yara on March 25, 2011 at 7:02pm

There have been many polite and reasoned replies, including by Libyans in the comments above. Reading the Imam's reply, I felt nothing but disgust. I am too upset to write coherently and I won't even try, I just heard of another relatives death and I am just enraged at the hypocricsy of claiming the moral highground while arguing for Gaddafi to be left alone to get on with the bloody pacifying of my country as he has done to all previous uprising. Benghazi was saved by the French bombing of an advancing army, Gaddafi said if you drop your weapons and stay home you will be safe and we will respect the sanctity of homes, his next sentence was we will search for you even in your wardrobes. His son said those traitors don't belong here anymore, this is no longer their country, they can leave to Egypt before we come and get them. For this family Libya =them, Gaddafi the eternal brother leader and his sons the only opposition. Misrata and Zintan have been besiged for a month and are being shelled right now, we have heard of 100s of young men kidnapped and rapes in Ajdabiya, Zawiya and Tripoli after the regime restablished control in those cities. Yet this IMAM says 'Had that intervention not occurred I would have nothing to say', a perfect example of an excuse that is worse than the sin. How does this square with 'the greatest Jihad is a word of truth spoken in the face of an oppressive Sultan'? You stay quiet as Libyans protested peacefully and were shot at with heavy artillery, when freed cities were bombarded with tanks (just in the last few days 2 videos have emerged of children literally blown to pieces in Misrata, 4 kids from one family in a car and a family with 3 kids in their own home), but when Libyan calls for help are finally heard you write a long article about your reasons for opposing an intervention that saves Libyan lives, and shamelessly to 'strenghten' your argument you are even ready to polish a dictators image. You praise Gaddafi's economic policies (=crazy + insanely corrupt), Libyan living standards (our education and healthcare system is in shambles, majority lives on 2 dollars a day yet we are aa rcih country of only 6 million), his bloody and expensive African adventures, and are even ready to argue that he has significant support in the country! I have a friend whose family is divided bewtween Sirte and Sabha, his homebases, she tell me both towns are boiling protests led to many young men arrested and many officers have been executed. In the Arab world they have more humaanity, Jazeera polls show support for the intervention as do the overwhelming majority of calls to Jazeera Live and to BBC Arabic, including from those in Tripoli who take an incredible risk calling and asking for the airstrikes to continue. Their only criticism is that Arabs and Muslims are not leading this. Only 2 small Gulf states, and UAE dithered and bargained to send planes to patrol, Gaddafi was at stopped at the gates of Benghazi while Turkey did nothing but try to block intervention and now thinks it is noble to stand against airstrikes which save the lives of 'our libyan brothers' as they like to call us. I am sickened by the double-speak and by the lack of concern for Libyan's lives andd their aspirations, the countyr had 42 years as a chaotic non-state wiht a brutal clown as a leader instead of development, we tried coups and assasination, 70s and 80s student protests, 90s armed rebellion all ending with oppositon execution on live TV, schoolkids and victims' family forced to cheer while gaddafi's women swung on the legs of the hanging men whose bodies were later dragged through streets behind cars and dumped in trash. The hypocrisy of watching Libyans killed in their hundreds by their government, but only raising you voice when the killing lessens to object about the targeting of the military that is killing the people they are supposed to protect. My cousins in the West are defending their town sharing 2 old hinting rifles, the rest have kitchen knives and sticks and molotov cocktails. My cousin in the East was killed by mercenaries who are suppsoedly a figment of the racist Libyan imagination, but who Gaddafi boasted of using 'I and millions with me will cleanse libya inch by inch, street by street...I and millions not from inside the borders, millions from other nations'.

By Henry on March 25, 2011 at 7:33pm

You present very interesting information in particular about the French motivations. It's hard to believe that AFRICOM, which is now directing U.S. operations against Libya, does not expect to be welcomed by the new Libya to set up its base there as payback. What can you tell us about Hillary Clinton's contacts with rebel leader Mahmoud Jibril before the NATO attack? Apparently he worked within Gaddafi's government and was responsible for selling off publicly-owned industries, the kind of neoliberal policy that has bankrupted so many countries and is being practiced in the U.S. today. What do you know about him and other rebel leaders? What can you say about the African Union and other's attempts to mediate the civil war, thwarted by NATO's invasion? To ascribe U.S. and NATO intervention to humanitarianism is to entirely ignore history. It ignores the current killings of civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan that are first denied then occasionally apologized for. It ignores the support given to Saddam Hussein in the 1980's war against Iran, or dumping him when it suited the U.S. rulers. It ignores their sales of hundreds of millions of dollars of military weapons to Gaddafi. To claim that the bombing does not kill civilians ignores all reality. Smart bombs do not exist. What is the probability that this imperial intervention will just feed indiscriminate sectarian killing in Libya as the Bush invasion created with the Iraqi people? What probability that if the NATO intervention succeeds Libya's oil wealth will not benefit Libyans, but rather the giant oil corporations? Civilian lives are the last consideration of the empire.

By Tariq Ibrahim Mohamed on March 25, 2011 at 10:36pm

I have lost a lot of respect for the author of this piece, someone for whom I used to have a fair amount. The piece reads (whether intended or not) just like a propaganda piece from Libyan State TV. As a Libyan-American and son of a 30+ year exile, the current crisis in my country is something with which I am intimately familiar. To spend paragraphs on end talking about the great ambitions of Gaddafi's independent Africa and to mention, almost as if in passing, the thousands of innocent lives being taken with ease is appalling to say the least. Although I agree with some of the sentiments about the hidden agenda of the West in its military involvement in Libya (it's horrifying that it took just about a month of pointless and merciless slaughter for them to step in and "help" and, even then, only once their demands had been met), I am deeply disturbed by the reaction, or lack thereof, of my Muslim scholars in the United States. The same scholars that preach to us about our beloved prophet Muhammad pbuh are failing terribly to live up to the hadith about the Ummah being one body. That body is being abused and tortured and our scholars make little to no mention of it. Extremely saddened and disappointed.

By Ali on March 26, 2011 at 12:27am

Salams, I totally agree with Imam Zaid on this.Only brave and honest people can come to such views. He is far sighted and is not letting emotion get in the way of his views. Anyone who thinks American intervention is going to save the day is blind and needs to wake up and smell the coffee. Just look at the distruction it has caused in the last 40 years. Can anyone show me where they have succeded in the "third world"?

By Eman Saad on March 26, 2011 at 2:50am

Assalamu-alikum, I have always had a high regard for you and your onion, but this time you are wrong. If the intervention did not happen and all of the Libyans were slaughter then what would you to have say. He was determined to kill every Libyan and he can do it. He has already brought to the ground many cities. Even if the Libyans stopped fighting they would be dead because he has no mercy in his heart. We Libyans don't really care about our oil as much as our peoples lives. The Libyans have lived without it for 42 years. This will not be another Iraq every nation has its own situation. Libya is a United Country all we need is to get rid of the one causing this disastrous. This kind of man does not negotiate he is a lair and if he went under the raider he would have had not an ounce of mercy. Also if the international community just sat back an watch Gaddafi slaughter his own nation what will it tell other dictator. I suggest next time you talk to the people of the country before you make a drastic decision as you did not to be a part of saving lives. Every Libyan that we've talked to in Libya wants it they said even if some of us have to die in the process this is our only option for survival. How can you tell them no I think you should die just because of my onion. This was the lesser of two evils and we picked the right one just in time. If you had no other choice to save lives of your family and friends what would you do. This is a blessing we will deal with what might happen in the future we chose this and you should have respected our choice because we know what is better for us and our people because we are living it. I am heart broken and disappointed that a very prominent Muslim brother did not support his brothers and sisters as they were being killed. I pray my image of you is not damaged for ever. A heartbroken Libyan women.

By khadim on March 26, 2011 at 11:51am

as salam alaykum, I agree with Imam Zaid's position and analysis of the matter. I believe it is very important to look beyond the immediate situation and reflect upon the bigger implications of Western intervention in Libya. One just has to reflect upon Iraq and Afghanistan, and see the disaster that has been been wrought in both countries because of Western intervention. An oppressive leader is bad enough, but fitna, strife, and civil war are far worse. May Allah bless and protect all the Muslims. Ameen.

By faten on March 26, 2011 at 1:52pm

asalamu alaikum imam zaid, i want to thank you very much for this article because really people need to see scholars write and to say opinion about these events. actually i want to say that arabs and muslims know very well that america and europe just interfere in arab world just for their interests, not for a humanitarian causes, we know that very well, but at the other side if i want to encourage a no-fly zone on libya, i will encourage an interfere from an arab country, but unfortunately no one offer himself before america and europe, why not? egypt can do it, we know that they have an internal issues nowadays, but they can do it, they have the abilities. the main thing that i know that america and europe just interfering in arab countries just for their own good, and not for anything else, for them arab and muslim`s blood is very cheap.

By Mohammed Yaseen on March 26, 2011 at 4:44pm

Assalamualikum Imam Zaid, Jazkallah Khair for speaking up against evil of your own country for that is truly a hard task. I fully understand where you are coming from and just wish that these same people who are happy for U.S intervention in thier country do not cry in a couple of years time when they see the aftermath of the U.S forces.

By Obaid Rahman on March 26, 2011 at 7:09pm

We should all ponder over the fiqh of instigation (fitna) and submit to the messenger of Allah's advice. Change is good but the it should be done in a way that doesn't weaken and destroy the unity and defences of a country. The best action for people right now is to sit at home and lock their doors and follow the government or the middle east will be divided into smaller pieces left at the mercy of Israel. 29- I N S T I G AT I O N ( F I T N A ) Causing human beings to sufferdistress and troubles or acting such a way to cause a militaryjunta takeover of the civilian government comes to mean causinginstigation (Fitna). In one hadith, Rasulullah, peace beupon him, said, "Fitna is sleeping. May Allahu ta'ala'scurse be upon those who awaken it." Promoting rebellionagainst the laws of the land and against the government isconsidered as raising instigation. Raising instigation isforbidden. It is a greater sin than killing a man withoutproper justification. It is also forbidden to rebel against thecruel and oppressive governments. If the oppressed people rebelagainst the government, helping them is also forbidden.The harm of the rebellion is a greater sin than the harm and sinof the cruelty. An Imam's reading more thannecessary amounts during the "salat" prayer and thusextending the prayer is considered as raising fitna. If all theparticipants of the congregation consent to his long reading thenit would not be instigation but would be permissible. Preachers'and men of religious posts' speaking or writing on subjects whichare beyond the comprehension of their audiences or readers isconsidered as raising instigation. We should speak to others in alevel they can understand. No one should order Muslims with theworships they cannot perform. Instead, they should be advised toperform the worships which they can carry out even if that advicedepends on a weak proof of Jurisprudence (Fiqh). We shouldalso be careful not to raise fitna while doing Amr al-maruf.We are not ordered to put ourselves into danger in order to doAmr al-maruf. We should neither cause instigation with respect toreligion nor ever cause any instigation with respect to worldlyaffairs (Dunya) by harming others. Doing Amr al-marufwould be permissible in which the individual who performs the Amral-maruf suffers worldly losses. His actions would be fight(Jihad.) But if one cannot be patient with the results whichwould be produced by doing Amr al-maruf, one should not do it.One should not depart from one's house and should not see anyoneduring the time of fitna. If one is caught in fitna despite allof the precautions, one should be patient with it. Imam ar-Rabbani, may Allahuta'ala be well pleased with him, says in the 68th letter of thesecond volume of his Maktubat: Oh my dear son! I amwriting over and over again to emphasize that right now is a timefor repentance for our sin and is a time for asking forgivenessfrom Allahu ta'ala. During times like this when instigations areincreasing, we should lock ourselves into our homes and shouldnot see anyone. Instigations increased so much so that it lookslike they will pour down like a rain to cover everywhere. In onehadith, Rasulullah, peace be upon him, said, "instigationswill spread everywhere before the time of Doomsday. Theoppression of the instigations will turn the daylight into thedarkness of the night. At that time, a person who leaves his homeas a believer will return to his home in the evening as adisbeliever. The one who returns to his home as a believer in theevening will get up in the morning as a disbeliever. At thattime, sitting is better than standing. The walking person isbetter than the runner. Break your arrows, cut your bows andstrike your sword to the stones at that time. When someone comesto your home at that time, become like the good one of the twosons of Adam." Upon hearing all of these, thecompanions, may Allahu ta'ala be well pleased with them, askedRasulullah, peace be upon him, as to how the Muslims of that timeshould behave. In response he said, "Become like afurniture of your house!" In another narration he said,"At such instigation times, do not depart from yourhomes!" [This hadith exists in the hadith books AbuDawud and Tirmuzi.] You probably heard that presently"Dar-ul-harb" disbelievers inflicting oppression (Zulm)and torture on Muslims in Islamic countries, e.g., Nagrakutcities. They made unprecedented insults to Muslims. These type oflowly and base actions will increase during the time of the laterera (Akhir zaman). [The translation from the 68th letteris finished here.] The following is written in the Muhtasarof Tazkira-i Qurtubi: Rasulullah, peace be upon him, said, "Donot raise instigation (Fitna!) Raising instigation by speeches orconversation is like raising instigation through the sword.Instigations caused by sinners (Fajirs) and tyrants (Zalims)through backbiting, lying, and slandering of others are moreharmful than the instigation caused through the sword."Almost all of the scholars are informing us unanimously that eventhose who are compelled into very difficult circumstances by theauthorities, i.e., they have left no other choice than onlysaving their lives and properties, should not rebel against thegovernment and laws of the land. Because, the hadiths areordering us to be patient against the oppressive governments.Imam al-Muhammad Ash-Shaybani, may Allahu ta'ala be pleased withhim, informs us that Rasulullah, peace be upon him, read thefollowing prayer (Dua), "Allahumma innee as'alukafi'lal hayrat wa tarkalmunkarat wa hubbalmasakin wa iza aradtafitnatan fee kawmee fa-tawaffani gayra maftun." Themeaning of this prayer (Dua) is: "Oh my Lord!Decree for me so that I may be able to perform good deeds, avoiddoing harmful things, and love poor persons. When You decide toraise instigation(Fitna) among my nation, take my soul before Ibecome involved in that instigation!" Imam al-Qurtubi,may Allahu ta'ala be pleased with him, points out to this hadithand says that it is necessary to avoid instigation so much sothat it is better to die instead of getting involved in theinstigation. Following hadiths cited in thebook Mishkat say, "Follow the Muslims and theirleaders during the time of instigation. If there is no one in theway of truth, do not join to the people who involves withinstigation and rebellion. Do not involve with instigation untilyou die!" And "Follow the orders of thegovernment during the time of instigation (Fitna). Even if ittreats you with oppression and even it takes away yourproperties, still obey orders of the government!" And "Followthe orders of Islam during the time of instigation (Fitna). Saveyourselves. Do not give advice to others! Do not get out of yourhouse. Hold your tong!" And "Many people will bekilled during the time of instigation (Fitna). Those who do notparticipate in the instigation will be saved!" And "Thosewho do not join to the people who raise instigation (Fitna) willobtain happiness. Those who are caught in the instigation but putup with it by being patient will also obtain happiness."And finally "Allahu ta'ala during the day of Judgement(Qiyamat) will ask someone why he did not stop a sinner when hewitnessed him committing the sin. That person will answer bysaying that he was afraid of the danger that might be inflictedby the sinner upon him and he will further say that he trustedupon the forgiving attribute of Allahu ta'ala." Thishadith indicates that when the enemy is very powerful, not doingthe Amr al-maruf and Nahy anil al-munkar ispermissible. It is written in the explanationof the book Shir'atul-Islam that doing Amr al-marufand Nahy anil al-munkar is "Fard al-kifaya". Itis Sunnat to order others to do the Sunnats and notto commit Makruhs. The person who is committing prohibitedactions should be advised by explaining to him the ugliness ofcommitting the forbidden actions and that he should stopcommitting them. We should not use force to stop him. On theother hand, a person who is getting ready to commit a prohibitedaction should be stopped by using force. We should be careful notto raise instigation while doing the Amr al-maruf eitherthrough using words or force. We should know ahead of the timethat doing Amr al-maruf and Nahy anil al-munkarwill produce useful results. Having a really strong feeling abouta thing comes to mean knowing that thing. If one does not have Hubb-u-fillahand Bugd-u-fillah, one's worships will not produce usefulresults. If Amr al-maruf is not carried out without anyexcuse, the prayers will not be accepted. Goodness and blessings (Barakat)will disappear. Jihad and difficult matters would not becompleted and resolved successfully. A secretly committed sinwill hurt the one who commits that sin. If that sin is carriedout openly, it will hurt everyone. We should not presume someoneas evil because of somebody else's ill talk about him. His illtalk about him would be backbiting (Gibat) and listeningto him would be forbidden (Haram.) In order to label someone assinner (Fasik), one either personally see him committing aforbidden (Haram) act openly or two just (Adil) Muslimsshould inform about him to that effect. When one sees someonecommitting a forbidden action and does not stop him while havingthe power to do so, his action is considered as giving in orcompromising (Mudahana) the religion. It is reported in ahadith that those who compromise their religion (doing"Mudahana") will rise from their graves in the nextworld as monkeys and pigs. A person who does Amr al-maruf won'tbe liked by his friends. Those who compromise their religion willbe liked by their friends. Making Amr al-maruf to oppressivegovernment officials by advising them is the best kind of jihad.If one does not have the power to give advice to the oppressiveofficials but one hates them through his heart, it is stillconsidered as jihad. Government officials through force, scholarsthrough giving advice and other Muslims through heart shouldperform Amr al-maruf. It is necessary to do Amr al-maruf for thesake of Allahu ta'ala as well as it is necessary to know theproofs of the given advice from the book and not to causeinstigation while doing Amr al-maruf. If one perceives that doingAmr al-maruf will not produce any effect and will also causeinstigation then, one should not do it, i.e., doing it won't benecessary (Wajib). Even, doing it under some circumstanceswould be forbidden. During such times one should not get out ofhis house in order not to be involved with the instigation.If instigation rises in a country or the government conspires togenerate mischief in order to oppress the people then, it will benecessary to immigrate to another country. While thepossibility exists for migrating to another country, thegovernment's forcing one to commit sin would not be an acceptableexcuse for one to commit the sin. When immigration is notpossible, one should keep away from others and should notassociate with anyone. If one understands that doing Amr al-marufwill not show any effect but also will not cause instigation,doing it won't be necessary (Wajib) but will be"Mustahab." If one knows that his advice will beeffective but it will also cause instigation then, it won't benecessary (Wajib) to give that advice. If the instigation issomething small like being beaten up then giving advice is"Mustahab". On the contrary, if giving advice willcause a big and dangerous instigation then giving advice would beforbidden. Doing Amr al-maruf in a soft manner isnecessary (Wajib). Doing in a harsh manner will causeinstigation. Muslims and disbeliever citizens of the Islamicstate should not be threatened through guns and should not beoppressed or tortured. [Translation from the book Shir'atulIslam is finished.] HizmetBooks

By Gregory Abdur Rahman on March 26, 2011 at 7:23pm

as salaam alaikum, To my Libyan brothers and sisters I ask that Allah eases your burden lightens your loss. Imam speaks as an African American and we have seen the bad that comes from US polices. Often the policy looks nice on the surface, but has sinister motives and outcomes in the long run. The goal for us as Muslims should be to see free and fair elections in Libya. We should stand against oppression, especially if the oppressor is a Muslim. From the religious side, there should be a world statement from religious leaders asking Qadaffi to hold elections in which the opposition is not under threat of attack or retaliation. Freedom and revolution are not instant soup. True reform can't happen in one day or one month. The idea solution for all is along the lines of which the Imam speaks. We should do all we can to see a bloodless revolution" where the battle takes place at the ballot box. Politically and militarily this should be the clear goal of the West. It is wrong for Obama or anyone else who is not Libyan to decide who leads Libya. The people of Libya should pick their leaders and fire their leaders, not President Obama. To be fair to the critics who comment here, sometimes we American minorities do let our cynicism of the US cause us to move away from US policies, even when people benefit from them. This reaction is by extreme experience. You are dealing with a people who are extremely smart and sharp and greedy. The help you think you are getting may not be the help you thought when you look back at it. Libyans are desperate for help and let's agree that what has happened so far is okay and good. But this cannot be a policy that goes on for years. The US will not just fly over Libya and bomb and let Libyans not pay a dime of national wealth in repayment for US largess. Libyans have to free and run Libya. The strongest group of Libyans will run Libya or the West will run Libya, just as is the case in the US. And in the US, the white man will die before he lets foreigners run his country. Beware of Greeks bearing gifts. Politically, militarily and by the rules of Islam, we should all be demanding elections, not that the West depose of foreign leaders. When the present leadership in Libya and elsewhere refuses to put forth those elections, then we can talk quickly move on to how to force elections. Insha Allah that becomes our mantra instead of "regime change" generated from Christians in America.

By Hamzah Wald Maqbul on March 26, 2011 at 11:47pm

Assalamu`alaykum. I would like to remind those reading this article, that although you are free to disagree with Imam Zaid's opinion, you should know that complex matters like these have no easy right or wrong answers. To those who say, "My family is dying and we have no other choice," one could say that bringing the country under colonial occupation is worth saving your family, as harsh as that sounds. To those who say, "Imam Zaid is spouting pro-Gaddafi propaganda," you should fear a bad end for yourself for having slandered an `alim. It would have been sufficient for you to say, "I wholeheartedly and strenuously disagree with Imam Zaid on this issue." This brings me to the point of this comment; it is something that the learned ones understand and that the hyper-emotional unlearned do not. That is that one should not allow their political ideas impinge on their `aqidah; if there was a clear directive from the Qur'an or Sunnah on a political matter then no one would be arguing. The fact is that these are complex matters in which there is no clearly right or wrong answer that can be decisively proven textually; only interpretations and inferences. This doesn't mean that one answer is not better than the other. What it does mean, is that if another person holds an opinion contrary to one's own, you should not hold that against that person's Islam.

By Ahmed on March 27, 2011 at 6:02am

Jazakallah khair. I believe this article was necessary in that people become aware of the possibilities and take precaution. Divide & rule is the hallmark of western colonization. And how is this invasion different from First Gulf war ? I was always a skeptic of the intervention. But i am also a obvious skeptic towards conspiracy theories. I took a step back from directly pointing fingers at US, for it was indeed muslims who asked for US help. So any blame would be on muslims. But what is destined will happen. So lets now look towards making use of US help for true Libyan muslim benefit, and at the same time be prepared to thwart any supposed sinister plans. Learn from these events the need for muslims to have their own international coalition force. And Allah SWT is the best of plotters and the best of guide!

By Gregory Abdur Rahman on March 27, 2011 at 10:11am

as salaam alaikum, I am not a Muslim scholar like Imam Zaid, but I think the our weakness as an Ummah is we should, who have well-known, good credentials, should get together and Shura and then come up with a statement as a single Muslim community that reflects Islam, the Quran and the Sunnah when speaking on major world events. When we disagree openly on basic matters like Libya, it creates confusion in the West about what Islam actually stands for. Islam is not inherently anti American. But black America is very much inherently anti American US policy when it comes to invasions and military actions because the underclass in the US sees billions spent overseas conquering others while the poor in America are left with the crumbs after the White House is finished spending for it's always ongoing wars. But that anti American position is not at all Islam. At my mosque, we have Muslims who complain they don't get help while the board sends money overseas. So from that I gather that we help outsiders even when people close to us are saying they need more help. We all are Muslim and something else (culture) and the something never will go away from us just because we take Shahada (Imam Jackson says). Terrorist are Muslims whose something else is random violence for a political cause. For us not to confuse outsiders and liars about what Islam really is, the learned and public Muslims among us should shura and develop ISLAMIC positions on these issues so that then if someone decides to speak from the something else part of him or her, it is clear to all what Muslims leaders have agreed upon as the Islamic position on the matter. Shura with Muslims first and publish a shura position, then you can go and do your black American politics. I personally have changed my mind and am for the invasion strictly because Farrakhan has spoken against it and I think the worst thing in the world for me is to be tied to black racist fake Muslims.

By Hussam Barbour on March 27, 2011 at 7:00pm

We have in front of us in the region an open battle between Haqq and Baatil. We must clarify things not confuse things. Gaddafi has all the attributes of the Dajjal, he kills people who say NO to him, he buys people off with money from all over the world to kill innocent people in sport, and they gladly oblige. How can we stand by? Allah swt save us from not coming to action in trying times! Verily we will stand up to this Dajjal and the others, and the bigger ones that will rise after! As you said, to be against intervention, does not mean being for Gaddafi. Does being for intervention mean you are for imperialism? We must speak/act against what we see is wrong, one at a time, its not a combo package. The Rasul PBUH asked for intervention/protection from non muslim tribes after Quraish removed their protection of him and the muslims prelude to Hijrah. Afala tathakaroon, do you not remember the sunnah? The Rasul PBUH treated the Jews of Medina with respect until they broke their covenants. Afala, tathakaroon, do you not remember the sunnah? The Rasul PBUH said Help your brother oppressed or oppressor! The sahaba said Oh messenger, we understand to help the opressed, but how do we help the opressor? He replied, by restraining (binding his hands). The West so far have done this, they are binding him limb by limb. Afala, tathakaroon, do you not remember the sunnah? We see the regimes lying and killing in all the arab countries, and we must speak out for each death and each injustice.

By Sundiata on March 28, 2011 at 12:45am

Assalam Alaykum, I am not Libyan or a Libyan American and i do not think that should matter. Just because a person's family is from Libya does not give their statements any more or less credence on this subject. Each statement should be judged by the strength of the argument made. Many of the remarks in response to Imam Zaid's article sound quite bias and unfair to the Imam's stance. In fact, they seem to be beating the drums for war. May Allah protect the people of Libya because they are in a desperate situation. However anyone who attempts to the defend the indefensible by painting the Western World's military aggression in the Muslim World as a savior to the Libyan cause is beyond naive. The West will back satan himself if it helps them achieve their goals and policy objectives and that is what is truly behind the so called No Fly Zone. As it has been pointed out America's last concern is Libya's or any other nation's civilian population. If they really cared about civilian casualties they would have enforce a No Fly Zone over Pakistan and Afghanistan where their routine drone attacks and night raids have been condemned by the American backed regimes of those nations in recent weeks. If they were so opposed to civilian casualties then why did they turn down the African Union's attempt to negotiate a peaceful settlement in Libya. If they cared about civilians than why are they using the same depleted uranium rounds that have already caused a humanitarian an ecologic disaster in Iraq. If they cared about civilians than why do they remain quiet about the Black Africans in Libya that have been massacred because the media has been fanning the flames of prejudice against Blacks in Libya since this whole thing began. Question--Why is it wrong for Gaddafi to use Africans in his army but it is okay for the French, British and Americans to be used by the Rebels? These are the questions that the cheerleaders for aggression should start asking. Just because the media is simplifying this conflict doesn't mean we have to fall for the okie doke. It doesn't surprise me that the media has framed this issue as Bomb or Stand by and Do Nothing!--as they did in Iraq and Afghanistan--but why do the people have to buy that line of thinking. All that I am saying is give peace a chance. Rush to negotiate instead of bomb. And Allah knows Best

By Naser Mustafa on March 28, 2011 at 5:13am

The interesting part of this discussion is that if the no fly zone was not implemented, you will not find any Libyan disagree with you. As they all will be dead. The sad part is that American Muslims like many Muslims around the world for many years talking about the conspiracy, Strategically, Future etc and losing focus on basic values of protecting human life. History is written by survivor not the dead and in Libya we say those who's hand in the fire are not the same as those who are not. With Respect

By Faith Hanson on March 28, 2011 at 11:37am

Extremely complex issue - thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with us. No doubt, it must have been difficult to write about. May God help us recognise truth as truth and help us follow it, and may He help us recognise falsehood as falsehood and help us avoid it. I hope that you will not be discouraged from writing on current issues again due to the feedback you have received and that you will excuse those who have reacted with emotion as simply behaving as human beings tend to when wronged. I for one definitely do not know what should have or could have happened, and what is right or wrong in this situation. But I am really appreciative that you have shared your thoughts as we often wonder where our scholars stand. I certainly have not understood from your article that you are pro-Gaddafi or completely decided against the western intervention - but rather that you have merely pointed our the multiple facets of the scenarios in play - God bless you too. Thank you again.

By Ashraf on March 28, 2011 at 3:04pm

Dearest imam Zaid, Thank you for sharing your insights. I believe I speak for many when I say their is much shock and awe at your position. Please see the following articulations which would seem to be what has it "right" on the issue: http://liam-theactivist.blogspot.com/2011/03/srebrenica-to-benghazi.html http://www.juancole.com/2011/03/an-open-letter-to-the-left-on-libya.html

By Abu Umamah on March 28, 2011 at 6:53pm

Very valid and insightful points from Imam Zaid Shakir. The West has no business in Libya. It's not something that difficult to understand. May Allah grant the Imam istiqama. To hold an unpopular but correct view in times like these is quite a feat and extremely encouraging for the rest of us. Imam Zaid is following in the footsteps of those who came before him. Speaking haqq (truth) is a quality of the Ahl al-Haqq.

By hasan on March 28, 2011 at 10:58pm

As-Salaamu Alaikum Ikwan,

By AGM on March 29, 2011 at 7:44am

Spot on!

By AGM on March 29, 2011 at 10:02am

Libyan activists themselves said they wanted intervention by the international community. But what they got may have far different results than they sought. Despite their exultation over the first destroyed tanks, questions loom. The United Nations' intent is to protect civilians from those tanks. But according to The New York Times, "many of the tanks seemed to have been retreating"--just what the UN resolution required. That happened in 1991, too, when a column of retreating Iraqi tanks and troops leaving Kuwait was attacked by U.S. warplanes whose pilots called it "a turkey shoot." http://www.fpif.org/articles/attack_on_libya_may_unleash_a_long_war

By Tamoor on March 29, 2011 at 10:54am

As an American Muslim I support this post and the Sheik's views. To the Libyans disagreeing with the sheikh with slogans like "they can take all the oil, as long as people live" People are going to die either way. To abandon your country's resources that it needs to function properly in the future will bring even more strife. You people need to look past your emotions. Military intervention is a short term bandaid solution. A people who need foreign intervention to shape their destiny do not deserve independence and will always be under someone's heel, Western or otherwise.

By Yusuf Parents First on March 29, 2011 at 8:08pm

Well written piece and a good expose of self-serving western interests always hindering third-world progress. Still, our activism is tempered by our conviction that though Uncle Same may be Warlord of the Worlds, Allah {swt} is still Lord of the Worlds, so history is in the best of hands, God's Hands, no less.

By Gregory Abdur Rahman on March 29, 2011 at 10:58pm

as salaam alaikum, I agree we should not attack Imam Zaid. I have only listened to him one khutbah before I knew who he was and since followed him. He is a scholar of great integrity and any ad hominem here aimed at him is wrong. These are my last comments on this. I leave it to others to continue this and for Allah to decide. I only make two points. If you go to someone's house and try to tell them how things are, your truth will not stand on the same ground as the owner of the house. It is very illogical to say that you know what's best for Libya when you can't speak the language and have never set foot there. It defies any sense of basic reason for you to say you know better than the people who are born and raised there. You denigrate their experience and knowledge. I am African American, and I know I consider it demeaning when others try to tell me they know what it's like to be me, when they are not even black. So please let's respect the hurt and the emotions of those whose mother, relatives and loved ones are dying in Libya, as we sit her pontificating. The other point is that Imam Zaid is against invasion, but there are certainly other Imams who disagree, so it is not a requirement of Islam to be against the US involvement in Libya. This is a political question and I will not spend my life bashing America to placate a black American reflex. In fact, I must say one last time, for me, as a African American Muslim, one of the most decisive factors, though certainly not on the level of Obama's speech, is that Louis Farrakhan is supporting Qadafi. I hate standing with Malcolm's killer and I hate standing with black racist fake Muslims. Farrakhan's support of Qadafi shows many of us who refuse to hold hands with racist of any color, exactly on whose side we should be on when it comes to this issue. I stand with President Obama, not Louis Farrakhan...

By Adeel Ahmed on March 29, 2011 at 11:00pm

Salam Imam, Thanks for a very well written argument. To me, America and Saudia Arabia, by direct intervention have tainted the long awaited revolution by the Arab populace, and made sure that it does not spread more. They did it 1) by causing so much violence that people accept the status-quo again 2) by taking away the momentum by forcing people to concentrate and watch horrors in Libya. Some people still believe that although USA was wrong in China 1945-46 Korea 1950-53 China 1950-53 Guatemala 1954 Indonesia 1958 Cuba 1959-60 Guatemala 1960 Belgian Congo 1964 Guatemala 1964 Dominican Republic 1965-66 Peru 1965 Laos 1964-73 Vietnam 1961-73 Cambodia 1969-70 Guatemala 1967-69 Lebanon 1982-84 Grenada 1983-84 Libya 1986 El Salvador 1981-92 Nicaragua 1981-90 Libya 1986 Iran 1987-88 Libya 1989 Panama 1989-90 Iraq 1991- Kuwait 1991 Somalia 1992-94 Croatia 1994 (of Serbs at Krajina) Bosnia 1995 Iran 1998 (airliner) Sudan 1998 Afghanistan 1998 Yugoslavia 1999 Afghanistan 2001- USA is right this time, and think that there would be no civilian casualties when they bomb hospitals, universities, power stations. Only USA supporters would fail to realise that 110 tomahawk missiles the first day would have caused many many casualties among civilians. Secondly a question, are those Libyan army people not human, don't they have families? Should they be killed without thought, or should they be killed with respect that they died defending their country. Why oh why do we celebrate the killing of fellow humans?

By AGM on March 30, 2011 at 8:37am

Obama Raises American Hypocrisy to Higher Level Obama has been using air strikes and drones against civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and probably Somalia. In his March 28 speech, Obama justified his air strikes against Libya on the grounds that the embattled ruler, Gadhafi, was using air strikes to put down a rebellion. http://www.counterpunch.org/roberts03292011.html

By African Mango Plus on March 31, 2011 at 11:13pm

wow i love this article.

By Abu Laith on April 1, 2011 at 4:08am

Salaams It was very courageous for imam zaid to write this piece all to often we find many Muslims simply wanting to follow the crowd so as not to displease nor take political positions. It seems that for some maintaining their standing with muslims is more important than speaking the unpalatable truth. As for the possible solution being presented. The sad fact is that we are entrapped by a set of political circumstances than have been imposed on us by the west hence some of us are unable to see any other path other than the one set out for us. For instance ghaddafi is a creation of the west and for years he was supplied military hardware as well as strategic support particularly from eu. Then when the people are rising up to remove a dictator the western powers move in to try and stabilise their own interests and manufacture a new opposition. There are already reports of CIA operatives in Libya and connects being made to certain favourable opposition leaders. According to one report Egypt is supplying arms to the rebels under the cognisance of the Americans. And we previously heard of the botched sas operation in Libya to contact Libyan opposition. So the west has constructed the problem and are now trying to manipulate the outcome to prevent any independent 'state' emerging. Thus for some the problem is reduced to a simple factor, either we support western intervention or ghaddafi will kill thousands. But we have to question the premises of this debate. Firstly will western intervention save lives? Secondly if western intervention means creating two states is that a satisfactory solution? Thirdly is western intervention only going to create another monster which the ummah will again suffer from? Fourthly why can't neighbouring countries step in with legitimate boots on streets to end the ghaddafi regime? And it's this last point that shows clearly the west is not actually solving the problem If America wanted it could pressure Egypt to enter Libya as it has done with Ethiopia in Somalia or Syria with lebanon. However America knows that in such a delicate situation in the middle east Egyptian forces entering Libya may create a mindset that such lines in the sand are the means to divide and weaken us whereras Arab forces entering Libya would make a mockery of these artificial boarders. Therefore we see America would rather prevent Egyptian forces from defending the libyans than to get involved in the war itself even if a no fly zone isn't a practical way of defending the civilians. We should have come out in our millions for Libya but we should have been calling on Egypt, tunisa and Algeria to intervene. Unforrtunately though we have a nationalist mindset that can only see the west as a solution to our problems.

By teaching degree on April 1, 2011 at 11:38pm

I hate qaddafi dictatorism. But I also hate US interventionism.

By Muslim Brother on April 2, 2011 at 11:29am

assalamu alaikum Those of you who are bad mouthing Imam Zaid, or "lost respect" because you don't agree with (or understand) his opinion need to get a grip. You should lose respect for someone on account of their morals, not because you don't share their opinion. I have close relatives in Libya right now, may Allah be with them and the rest of Libyans. I also don't support US intervention because the US has a track record for putting their interests before the life of civilians. Do you think the US war machine gives a d**n about Libyan civilians? Are you that desperate you can't think anymore? Would you welcome Israeli intervention????? Allahu akbar! But just because I don't trust and want US intervention, THAT DOESN'T MEAN I WANT MY RELATIVES TO DIE WITH NO HELP!!. I want MUSLIMS to help them. And at risk of sounding callous, this type of horrendous situation is precisely why uprisings (especially against tyrants) is looked down upon by many Muslims. It results in fitna and suffering and death to many. May Allah protect them and help them. The US should give humanitarian aid, but not drop bombs or send in CIA agents. We've seen that episode before. Do we ever learn our lesson?

By AGM on April 3, 2011 at 1:04am

It is heartening to see some sense prevail by those commenting. IT was indeed heartbreaking reading some of the comments utterly disrespectful of Shaykh Zaid. A pity indeed. May Allah grant us true understanding and grant us the wisdom to grasp the issues, especially those where differences exist. Ameen

By TRUE.Son.of.Libya on April 14, 2011 at 11:23pm

Asalamu-Alaikum Imam, First, I would like to tell you that I am a Libyan-American who has been watching this terrible nightmare from the beginning. I am disgusted by what is happening in my home country, I take your side and AGREE WITH YOU COMPLETELY. I find it sad that the majority of comments on your article are written by one family from Benghazi who have been banned from Libya since I can remember. The motives behind the actions taking place in Libya are hidden from the normal Joe on the street. Many are unfamiliar with the long history that coincides with Ghaddafi's 42 year rule. Yes, it is true the majority of Libyans HATE Ghaddafi, but at the same time, we DISAGREE with the desecration of our country. The Eastern part of Libya has always betrayed the land and now they are trying to take control -- leaving the Western part of Libya in shambles, uncaring of the people. I hate Ghaddafi, but he was right -- the East and West will be fighting for a long time. Some try to hide the history, but only a Libyan will remember the truth: The people in Misurata are the reason why Omar Al-Mukhtar was found and hung, the people in Benghazi are traitors to their country and aren't even the natives of the land - they attempted multiple suicide missions on Ghaddafi. Now they want to take over our country? If you ask me, these new "leaders," who haven't even lived in Libya for the majority of their lives, are going to be worse tyrants than what we have on our hands now. I was deeply saddened when reading through your comments to find that ONE entire family (brothers, sisters, and cousins), from Benghazi, had to flood your comments with horrible replies. Rather then reading the facts and history, they are deciding to look at the situation in black or white. They choose to deny the fact that we Libyans are not the only ones facing this type of oppression and torture -- MUSLIMS around the world are facing oppression and torture -- PEOPLE around the world are facing oppression and torture. Therefore, who gives the USA the right to intervene solely in LIBYA? If you want intervention, you better be willing to start paying the majority of your salaries to taxes so that we can solve problems around the world. The USA has it's own problems -- why are we still intervening in others relations? If you believe that as Muslims we cannot stand by and watch this, then call your FELLOW MUSLIMS -- Leave the US alone. -- LIBYAN/AMERICAN -- Lover of Libya, USA, and the Muslim world

By Emad El-Haraty on April 16, 2011 at 12:24pm

Fear Allah "TRUE.Son.of.Libya". Fear Allah. Lying will not benefit you now or in the afterlife. You hide behind a pseudonym and lie to the Imam and to the world. Tripoli came out in the early days. They are still under threat of extreme violence if they try to gather. This is not an east vs west thing. Your attempt to create fitnah will be recorded in your deeds. What is your false story against the people of Zintan? What will be your false story against the victims in Zawiyah? Of the imprisoned of Tripoli? Of the Jabl? Of Khums. These are all in the west and the people there are dying en masse at the hand of Gaddafi. If you you really believed your lies, you'd use your real name.

By Trabulsi World on April 16, 2011 at 12:40pm

wow this TRUE.Son.of.Libya needs some slapping so he can get his Libyan history straight, did Gaddafi teach him history or is he suffering from IQ deficiency , what a major 7amaar, the east has always been the source of pride when it comes to resistance against Italian colonialism, Omar Mukthar was from the east and part of the Sunusi movement which HQ was in Jufra (also in the east) as for Misrata well this 7amar forgot to mention that one of our well regarded hero Ramadan AlSuwehlii the leader of the mujahdeen who gave the Italian army a crushing defeat at one battle is from Misrata. And i'm from Trablus btw. Only traitor is TRUE.Son.of.Libya

By Eman Saad on April 16, 2011 at 12:52pm

Who are you, if you are a real Libyan who really knows his history better than millions of Libyans than state your full name. Sounds to me like your a full Gaddafi supporter while Misrata is being slaughtered you put them down. You just said the whole city of Benghazi are not even Libya or native to the land you have obviously been schooled by Gaddafi and his goons $$$$. The reason why they are even intervening in Libya and not other countries is because a whole country of 5 million would be slaughtered while the world watches in a matter of a month but the no fly zone has slowed the process down all though he is still going in that direction. That's why they acted in this situation right away because we on the outside did not let it happen because we fought hard to help our Libyan brothers and sisters to save live. This family you talk of is well know in the bay area and you can't discredit them because all Zaid Shaker has to do is ask people like Hamza Yusef and other people in the community about them and they will know how trust worthy they are. Again I say who are you we Libyans know every Libyan if you are a real Libyan state your full name.

By Eman Saad on April 16, 2011 at 11:27pm

Brother Zaid, May I asks why aren't you speaking about the Ivory Coast those are Muslims and they have Western intervention there does that bother you too. You have yet to answer our question what other options do we have? Please open our eyes maybe you know the answer and we don't. He would have exterminated the whole Libyan population. He was bombing from the skies without a no fly zone we would have been slaughtered in a months time or less. Again what other options do we have the Arab world is full of dictators who don't want Gaddafi to fail. The Muslim countries in General are all dictators so what option do we have. We are suppose to just get slaughter. Since you wrote this piece I say us Libyans as your Muslim brothers and sister have the right to know what other option did we have. You must have an answer to help save the lives of your brothers and sisters since you are a person of influential position and people listen to you. IF you feel that this is bad for the Libyans and Muslims in general you must have an alternative for us to save our lives because you will be held accountable for your part in front of God. You must have a way to help us we would like to know your respected opinion. We Libyans stood up peacefully to protest and were slaughtered and by the grace of Allah and many 1000 suhada later in a few days we were able to kick out Gaddafi from Benghazi and grab some of his weapons and start fighting to save the peoples lives. The other cities kicked him out too after many deaths and what did he do he completely destroy the people and the cities. Other Cities are still fighting for their lives and the coalition forces actually saved lives but because people gave the US so much headache for going in they left and now he is back to killing the civilian population in Huge numbers. The Libyans have never even held a gun because they weren't allowed to own guns the only weapons they had were their bodies. We never asked for soldiers on the ground we asked for weapons to protect ourselves and a no fly zone and that is our right no one should take that away from us . When the Bosnian were being slaughtered what happened we screamed for the world community to help them and they finally did. The reason why this is an urgent situation compared to the other situations like in Yemen and in Bahrain etc. is because he was going to slaughter 5 million people with a months time. No other county is going through the extreme we are going through even Yemen was praying for us that goes to show how desperate our situation is. Even Palestinians from Gaza living in Libyan left saying the situation there is even worse than gaza and you can go look it up on youtube. They said because they are shooting and bombing from everywhere. They said they were going back to Gaza. I must ask have you talked to any Libyans before you made such a decision, for you are not just anyone stating an opinion you are a leader of a Muslim community and that makes a difference.

By Mohammed Kelani on April 18, 2011 at 3:19pm

In reply to: TRUE.Son.of.Libya What a shameful post. Your post is just screaming FINTA all over it. Misrata, the city of citizens bravely fighting gaddafi for weeks, are traitors? Are you talking about the same Misrata that is experiencing the most disgusting medieval atrocities by qaddafi (indiscriminate sniping of children and women from snipers from all over the world, raping of women, cluster bombing, indiscriminate shelling, shut down of basic necessities such as water and sewage) however, still managing to have the bravery to keep fighting against a trained military paid to kill? You are calling these heroes traitors? You are saying Benghazi/Eastern Libya is trying to take over Libya and aren

By Eman Saad on May 1, 2011 at 11:57am

Please read this article its the best from someone who had the same view as you and went to Libya http://www.middleeastmonitor.org.uk/articles/middle-east/2290-the-price-of-freedom

By Pakistani Muslim on June 1, 2011 at 11:55am

Salam All, All the above comments are too accurate and thought provoking. Thanks all. Remember one thing, Allah Subhan sent rulers on a nation, based on their deeds of people. Look at the Muslim uma in general, are they obeying Allah Subhan e Tallah with theory and practice, are they following the teachings of our beloving Prophet Muhammad (peace me upon him)? You will get your answer. One gets what one deserve. In the 200+ history of US,they never love to live in peace and coexistence. We have seen in the Quran, lots of nations disappeared from the history due to their arrogance and kuffr. So wait till Allah Subhan deicides the same for them too. Solution: Must ask HIS (Allah Subhan's) forgiveness and affirm HIS religion as we are those whose ancestors are Salahddin Ayubi, Khalid bin waleed, Tariq bin Zaiyad and many more. Pakistan, is their new target.If they attack, I swear that will be the last nail in their coffin. For those muslims, who believe on the best friends (saints) of Allah Subhan are pious people and they say the truth, then must read this: http://www.scribd.com/doc/17394196/Qaseeda-Shah-Naimat-Predictions-English Jazakullah kahir. May Allah Subhan keep us in HIS peace.

By Travis Shore on August 4, 2011 at 5:33am

Bottom line.. We American's / United Nations need to stay out of Libya. It's not our problem if there is one. Unfortunately in today

By MK on August 7, 2011 at 1:59pm

Travis, what a greedy point of you. so if there is a massacre about to happen, just ignore it? who cares? let them figure it out? are you as mad that NATO protected the muslims of kosovo against the serbs? should they have not gotten involved and let the kosovo muslims get slaughtered? yes intervention in many cases has been bad, but its pretty ignorant when you say it bad in every scenario. by the way, why u bringing religion. I'm getting the feeling you are talking without knowing anything about the conflict. you don't realize you are unconsciously speaking against the oppressed and allowing for the oppressors to slaughter by your statement.

By Travis on August 9, 2011 at 8:24pm

Conflicts and wars have been going on for the life of the planet. There is always two sides to every story and then there is the truth. Unfortunately we never know what the truth really is because the US only cares about money. The US can't even balance the budget.. We have been everyone's babysitter for years and its about time we stop focusing on how the next war will benefit us and start putting our energy into the US. Research the internet and you will find their is two sides to these conflicts. What is really the truth, no one knows but the people at that location. BUSH lied to the american people about the wars in Iraq. You were in the military and should know that over time top secret documents become declassified over time. If you research the first gulf war, you will find some very interesting facts. Why should we trust what they are saying now???Why do I bring in religion, because it separates us... We are all human beings and should all respect the beliefs of others without pushing their beliefs on other people. Its called respect...We don't need wars or religion, just people working together doing the right thing.

By Hamza Yusuf on August 30, 2011 at 2:29am

Naw bro, this article is wack. Next!

By Christian Louboutin Daffodile on November 1, 2011 at 2:43am

Why would the ouster of Qaddafi be such a high priority for the United States? One reason could be that Qaddafi has been leading a Pan-African movement under the auspices of the African Union, similar to the unification effort spearheaded by Hugo Chavez in South America. Libya

By Nike Griffey 2011 on November 1, 2011 at 2:43am

The Rasul PBUH said Help your brother oppressed or oppressor! The sahaba said Oh messenger, we understand to help the opressed, but how do we help the opressor? He replied, by restraining (binding his hands). The West so far have done this, they are binding him limb by limb. Afala, tathakaroon, do you not remember the sunnah?

By Luqmaan Williams on November 26, 2011 at 4:49am

As a critic and brother, Imam Zaid you were correct to not sign on or sign up. May Allah reward you and yours.

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Inside story of the UK's secret mission to beat Gaddafi Special Forces blended in with rebel fighters Please see BBC’s detailed report. URL below http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16573516

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