When Only God Can See: The Faith of Muslim Political Prisoners (Paperback)

When Only God Can See: The Faith of Muslim Political Prisoners By Walaa Quisay, Asim Qureshi Cover Image

When Only God Can See: The Faith of Muslim Political Prisoners (Paperback)


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Delving into the extraordinary experiences of Muslim political prisoners held in Egypt and under US custody at Guantanamo Bay, this groundbreaking book explores the intricate interplay between their religious beliefs, practices of ritual purity, prayer, and modes of resistance in the face of adversity. Highlighting the experiences of these prisoners, faith is revealed to be not only a personal spiritual connection to God but also a means of contestation against prison and state authorities, reflecting more significant societal struggles.

Written by Walaa Quisay, who has worked closely with prisoners in Egypt, and Asim Qureshi, with years of experience supporting detainees at Guantanamo Bay, the authors' deep connections with prisoner communities and their emphasis on the power of resistance shine through.

By capturing how faith is practiced and modified behind bars, juxtaposing experiences from different regions, and presenting narratives of resistance When Only God Can See offers a compelling and original exploration of the intersection between faith, incarceration, and resistance.
Walaa Quisay is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the School of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh. She has worked at numerous academic institutions, including the University of Manchester, the University of Birmingham and Istanbul Sehir University. She is the author of Neo-Traditionalism in Islam in the West: Orthodoxy, Spirituality, and Politics.

Asim Qureshi is Research Director at CAGE, an independent advocacy group working to empower communities impacted by The War On Terror. He specializes in investigating the impact of counterterrorism practices worldwide, and advises legal teams involved in defending terrorism trials in the US and at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He is the author of A Virtue of Disobedience.
Product Details ISBN: 9780745348957
ISBN-10: 0745348955
Publisher: Pluto Press
Publication Date: April 20th, 2024
Pages: 240
Language: English
'This beautifully written and harrowing book does several things magisterially: it bears witness to the devastating experience of imprisonment in Egypt and the carceral houses-of-horror devised by the US in its War on Terror; it shows the centrality of faith in the lives of the Muslim prisoners whose stories are so sensitively rendered here; and tenderly details the dreams, prayers, communities and acts of resistance that sustained these prisoners when faced with forced disappearance, punishment, and torture.'
Laleh Khalili, author of Time in the Shadows: Confinement in Counterinsurgencies

'This is no easy read - but, for anyone who wants to understand the story of Muslim political prisoners in the 21st century and their unique connection to faith, it's essential reading. Qureshi and Quisay have welded together the experiences and reflections of prisoners held in torturous conditions across continents and given life to their inner strengths and sensitivities. In giving a substantive voice to Egyptian women prisoners as much as it does to Muslim men imprisoned in Bagram and Guantanamo, this book opens a holistic door into the very heart and soul of how we all survived some of the most brutal prisons in the world.'
Moazzam Begg, former Guantanamo Bay detainee and author of Enemy Combatant

'After working for thirty years with survivors of brutal torture in Egyptian prisons and while watching with the rest of the world the horrors suffered by Palestinians in the war on the Gaza strip and the West Bank, When Only God Can See comes as a passionate revelation of the secret of endurance of people suffering extraordinary trauma. The secret is as simple as  well as complicated as is Faith. An integral part of the self, which while the perpetrator seeks to use as tool of humiliation and punishment, is not aware that this same punishment, unintentionally, tests, sharpens and mobilizes a mechanism of resilience, solace, subversion and resistance that instills endurance, defiance and hope in the person harboring it. A passionately written work which tenderly investigates the limitless resources of human beings who when subjected to horrors committed by other human beings, seek refuge and power in a realm that belongs to them alone, a conviction that comes as a rescue when all other forms of rescue are unattainable. A must read to understand the limitless potential of a human spirit.'
Aida Seif El-Dawla, Psychiatrist and co-founder of El Nadeem Centre for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture

'When Only God Can See presents the victims of a global “War on Terror” as protagonist in their own stories - despite suffering unspeakable traumas. In the midst of their incarceration, they turn back and speak to the One who created them with dignity. In examining the faith of Muslim political prisoners outside of a narrative of radicalization, we not only see how powerful Islam is as a spiritual source of enlightenment, but how pervasive the cruel narrative surrounding Muslim political prisoners is.'
Imam Omar Suleiman, author of 40 on Justice: The Prophetic Voice on Social Reform

'Profoundly illuminating work that looks at how faith and prayer become acts of radical resistance.
By bearing witness to the lives and stories of Muslim political prisoners at the putrefying heart of the American empire, this book is a record of both repression and resistance to it.'
Suchitra Vijayan, co-author of How Long Can the Moon Be Caged?: Voices of Indian Political Prisoners