The Arabic word for trial is fitna, which has the connotation of purifying a useless external shell and leaving the useful inner core. A goldsmith in classical Arabic is called a fattan, meaning one who causes fitna, because his actions cause the outer layer of impurities present in gold ore to fall away, and leaves the pure gold underneath. Similarly, a fitna exposes the reality of a person: the veneer of false mannerisms intended to show off a façade of falsehood disappears, and one's core level of God-consciousness, integrity, and commitment to truth are displayed for all to see. For me, that is exactly what this latest online fitna has done.

Everyone who is connected to the Western world's blogosphere is painfully aware of the internet fury that is abuzz for the last week, involving a very dear friend of mine, Ustadh Abu Eesa Niamatullah, who has come under fire for some jokes posted on his Facebook page. I have not gotten involved until now for two primary reasons. Firstly, because I try to concentrate on that which is beneficial to the Ummah, and leave controversy as much as possible; and, secondly, because I was waiting for AlMaghrib Institute's official response, since I did not want to cause more confusion for AlMaghrib by releasing a personal statement from me before they released an official one from them. Now that the situation has reached such unprecedented levels, with all and sundry feeling the need to comment and write, and now that AlMaghrib has officially released its response (here), I feel that it is beneficial to offer some thoughts from someone who is directly involved with AlMaghrib, and is a friend to Abu Eesa.

Here are my thoughts, summarized in seven points:

(Disclaimer: if you are unaware of this controversy, and don't wish to expose yourself to that which will not benefit you, PLEASE, stop reading now, and read some Qur'an or do some dhikr or support some useful charity or make du'a for Palestine/Syria/Guantanamo instead!)

Firstly, what amazed me most about this whole debacle was the power of the Internet to generate such a movement and stir up such controversy. In all my years of blogging and using this social media, I have never seen any issue taken up so rapidly and passionately by the Islamic blogosphere. Quite literally overnight, the world witnessed thousands of Facebook messages and tweets about this issue; dozens of articles; half a dozen petitions – all involving tens of thousands of people. For me, such power was simultaneously astounding and terrifying: astounding because it demonstrates the sheer clout of this tool to highlight one cause and hijack all others, and dominate every other news item; terrifying for exactly the same reasons. Abu Eesa's controversy quickly spiraled out of control and escalated to a global online topic in less than 48 hours; it was as if this was the only subject of conversation around the online globe for an entire week.

I wish that, in the future, even a fraction of this power could be utilized to highlight other projects and causes that we can all agree about.

Secondly, while nothing new, the harm of casual conversation and useless chatter and made-up gossip was demonstrated once again. Allah warns against such casual smearing in the Qur'an ('Why did you speak with your tongues that which you have no knowledge of?'), and informs us that when any news comes from an untrustworthy source, we must verify it directly. Yet, it appears that people simply lose the ability to think critically when all of their friends say the same thing. It is as if the human situation is such that groupthink is the default. Democrats and Republicans. Blacks and Jews. Mexicans and Southerners. It doesn't matter what the actual facts are: what matters is how 'my people' are interpreting the facts, and if 'my group' says something then I must see the world in the same way.

Abu Eesa never made any jokes about rape, or FGM, or domestic violence. Anyone who thinks otherwise, after reading the entire conversation, either does not speak English as a mother language, or is blinded by rage. The context of his words clearly indicates this. (Yes, there were jokes about the role of women and IWD, which will be discussed in a later point, but there was not a single joke about violence towards women). Yet, the flagrant lie that he joked about such vicious topics continued (and continues) to be perpetrated, even by respectable bloggers and academics online.

Be truthful, and criticize him for the jokes that he actually said, not ones that you've heard others assume him to have said.

Thirdly, one of the main problems of this controversy was that there were multiple truths at play here. Each party had some legitimate issues and real concerns, and the supporters of both sides took on Abu Eesa's case as symbolic of their grievances with the other group. From my perspective, Abu Eesa and his jokes became a pawn that played out between far larger and antagonistic forces within the Ummah.

And it was interesting and useful to see the dynamics play out between two camps. For many on the (for lack of better term) liberal side of the spectrum, Abu Eesa became the stereotypical bogeyman radical fundamentalist misogynistic Mawli/imam/Shaykh figure. By examining the criticism leveled against Abu Eesa, one could even more tellingly examine the psychological mindset of some critics and their perception of most traditional Islamic scholarship. What these critics failed to realize that this bogeyman was largely a figment of their own imagination, and not the real Abu Eesa.

Similarly, on the (again for lack of a better term) conservative side of the spectrum, the knee-jerk reaction of complete defense also revealed the extreme anger that this group feels towards the tactics of the other group. It was as if no criticism of Abu Eesa was valid, or even allowed, merely because some critics were coming from a 'liberal feminist' paradigm, intent on (allegedly) challenging the authority of Allah and His Messenger and wishing to destroy the very foundations of the faith. Hence, to point out any fault with such jokes, however politely and Islamicly, automatically caused one to be labeled as 'the Other'.

The world is not monochromatic, and every real picture is multifaceted. The critics had some legitimate concerns, and the supporters also had some legitimate concerns, and very few people realized that.

Fourthly, regarding the actual content of the jokes themselves. I believe that jokes, and even the occasional sarcasm, are permitted in Islam, but with certain conditions. And of those conditions is that people's sensitivities not be unnecessarily provoked, especially when those sensitivities involve the rights of an already oppressed and marginalized segment of our community.

Jokes are like salt to one's food, and should be used in miniscule quantities, with great wisdom. One of the first pieces of advice that a dear mentor, Ustadh Yusuf Estess, gave to me before I started preaching, was the following, “If a joke offends one person, then you've offended one too many.”

I do not believe joking about women's issues, or their intelligence, or belittling their role in society, helps anyone. I do not believe such joking is in accordance with the Sunnah of our Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). I do not believe it is befitting of a scholar and an Islamic activist to make light of such a delicate subject. And Abu Eesa knows this of me and from me – he can testify that I have expressed this to him and to others who joke in such a manner multiple times.

Our Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), when his servant `Anjasha urged the camels his wives were riding to hurry up, said, “O `Anjasha! Be careful with the fragile vessels!” Words can hurt more than the jostling of a camel, and I believe that Muslim men need to follow this advice with their tongues, and their actions, and be careful of harming society's fragile vessels if they wish to achieve the pleasure of Allah.

It is true that cultural differences also played a minor role here. It's not a coincidence that most detractors came from North America, whereas most supporters came from England. The genres and styles of British humor are completely different than its American counterpart (they even spell it differently!), and the Brits are more accustomed at 'taking the mic' than Americans are.

Still, even taking into account British humo(u)r, I believe Abu Eesa's jokes went too far. I believe that when he was confronted about this, he initially acted stubbornly, which exponentially compounded the entire situation to the nth degree. I believe he took too long to apologize the first time. I believe that the first apology was unnecessarily worded, with too many caveats and qualifications. But I'm happy to see that he's finally realized all of the above and issued a much better apology (although not quite perfect in my opinion). I pray that he learns from his mistakes and does not repeat this behavior again. And I say all of the above regardless of who his critics are, for the truth is independent of which side you happen to be on.

Fifthly, it was extremely distressing as well to see the complete lack of adab shown by many of his critics. To me, it was reminiscent of scenes portraying a Salem witch hunt, in which crazed mobs go banging door to door to increase their numbers, chanting slogans of 'Burn the witch! Off with her head!' The sheer lack of compassion and mercy – of Islamic manners – was very depressing. Even if one believed Abu Eesa behaved in an inappropriate manner, surely there are better ways to get one's point across than by calling for his firing?

Those who criticize others for lacking proper manners must be the first to demonstrate it. In this regard, I say loudly and clearly: most of the critics themselves failed this test.

Sixthly, it was surprising to see so many peers from amongst the scholarly and activist community commenting on this issue so brashly. Scholars and Islamic activists should rise up above emotional, knee-jerk responses, and work to minimize tensions amongst Muslim groups, not exacerbate them. This point was especially disappointing for me to see. I can excuse the masses and activists who don't have an Islamic studies background, but for someone who claims to speak on behalf of the religion to act in such a manner was disheartening. Although a few activists did write leveled and fair responses, I feel that most of them wished to portray themselves as 'heroes' for a cause that all of us wish to champion, viz., women's rights in Islam, but they did this by furthering tensions between groups of Muslims. Rather than working to solve the tension, many activists only wanted to jump on the bandwagon and raise banners calling for revenge without studying the issue thoroughly.

Additionally, at the human level, I believe it is almost impossible to look into the recesses of one's own heart and be completely sure that one is criticizing a peer, or someone from an alternative theology, or a scholar from competing Institute, sincerely for the sake of Allah. Can one be so sure that the heart is absolutely pure in such criticism, and that there are no personal, selfish motivations as well? It is for this reason that scholars of hadith have unanimously agreed that criticism of contemporaries and peers against one another needs to be taken with a grain of salt. There are numerous examples of this in our books of the narrators of hadith.

When a problem is created in a community that is not your own, Islamic activists should reach out to someone in that community and express their frustrations to him first, rather than tweeting about it and airing dirty laundry in public immediately. And even if you deem public criticism necessary, attempt to heal wounds through your comments rather than rip them apart more. And one final reminder to them (and the ones that I reference know exactly who they are): know that as just as you were eager to pounce on and display the faults of your brother, so too shall others even more eagerly pounce on and publicize your faults.

Seventhly, I want to make my position on 'feminism' explicitly clear. The term itself is almost useless, since there is no clear, well-defined, agreed-upon definition. Hence, when a term becomes meaningless, it makes little sense to either use it or refute it. Rather, the word is discarded, and the realities and concepts underlying it are discussed specifically.

I firmly believe that the sacred texts of Islam, the Qur'an and the authentic Sunnah of our Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), are the ultimate sources of our theology, legal code, and ethics. Hence, any attempt to discredit these sources is one that I will oppose in every way possible. I will not and cannot accept that men and women are physically, physiologically, emotionally, biologically, and psychologically the same. Any claims of this nature contradict known facts, lived experiences, and explicit Scripture. Hence, the Shariah views men and women as having complementary roles in society and in family, not identical. While men and women are spiritually equal, and both have equal opportunities to earn Allah's Pleasure and Paradise, in this world, the Shariah takes these differences into account, and does have different sets of laws for them in some arenas (not all). Any attempt to claim otherwise is simply wrong and untenable in light of the Islamic tradition, and I will oppose it as a Muslim scholar and theologian.

That having been said, I also recognize that historically, many Muslim societies have gone too far in depriving women of their legitimate rights, and in relegating women to a second-class status that I do not view our religion as sanctioning. We need to differentiate what the religion ordains, and what culture has sanctioned. Merely because a practice is culturally acceptable in a Muslim context does not equate to religious endorsement of that practice. There is no denying that women in many Muslim societies are physically and mentally abused and molested, and that Muslim culture has turned an increasing blind eye to such blatantly un-Islamic abuse. I consider it my religious duty to combat such abuse and to expose any such un-Islamic practice as being opposed to the teachings of this pristine religion.

I also recognize that the Shariah allows for change and reform in some areas, and I feel it is imperative that religious scholars, duly trained in the sacred sciences, take the lead in such reform. Historical traditions are not necessarily sacred and immutable, and I welcome changes that the Shariah allows.[1] It is of little concern to me whether one wishes to call these types of reforms 'Islamic feminism' or not. What matters is meaningful change that the Law allows and which betters the lives of Muslim women, not cheap slogans devoid of meaning. Yet, I would be unwilling to call for reform in, say, the Islamic laws of inheritance, since these have been explicitly laid out in the Sacred Texts. If some people consider rejecting the explicit texts of the Qur'an to be 'Islamic feminism', then I view it as being a manifestation of kufr, and you count me an ardent opponent of any such endeavor.

Anyone who wishes to supplant the Sacred Texts with another ideology does so because of a simultaneous lack of faith in the Divine Revelation of Allah, and an inferiority complex to another system of laws and culture.

Let me conclude with a final anecdote from the recent annals of American history. When President Obama was first running for office, and the Right was desperate to find anything to smear him with, they used the tactic of smearing his cleric and mentor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. They found, from amongst the Reverend's thousands of sermons, snippets of fiery rhetoric that made him appear anti-American. Now, everyone who knows anything about the African-American experience, and the type of rhetoric typically heard in their churches, would have immediately understood such rhetoric and put it in its proper place. But the Right persisted in attacking the Reverend and succeeding in portraying him a most unpleasant and evil person, which he clearly was not. Initially, Obama tried to defend the Reverend, and even went so far as to drag his grandmother into the picture by claiming that his own grandmother had also made racist remarks, but that doesn't deny the overall good in her. However, as the Right increased the savagery of their attacks, Obama buckled under pressure, and simply cut off all ties with the Reverend. That was the first sign for me that Obama was a politician like all other politicians, and that he had no stamina or backbone to stand up for the very principles he won his campaign on. I think I speak for most of our readers when I say that we have no respect for the morality and principles of our current President; his handing of Reverend Wright's issue is symptomatic of why we have lost all respect for this man. When his own popularity was at stake, Obama was willing to throw a close friend and ally under the bus merely to pander to people who didn't even care about him in the first place. In so doing, he lost a good friend, and he lost his integrity.

I seek refuge in Allah from pandering to anyone's threats and from sacrificing what I believe to be the truth for the sake of popularity. I pray that Allah always give me the courage to speak what I believe is the truth and not fear the criticism of the critic.

Abu Eesa is a dear friend to me because he is a loving, caring, gentle, sincere scholar. I would trust my life and my family's life to him – and I don't say that merely as a figure of speech. He is no misogynist, he is no woman-hater, he is no racist. If he truly were any of these, I would not be a friend to him. I know that he will not like me saying this, but as a family friend I know that he treats his wife like a queen, that he is a loving and caring father to his daughters, and that he is a dutiful son to his mother. And that is the actions of 'feminism' that Islam calls for, and Abu Eesa lives up to (even if he despises the word!).

In his time of need, when he has been improperly smeared, made into a bogeyman scapegoat and charged with false accusations by people who do not know him personally, I cannot abandon him for the sake of my own popularity. It is true, he made a major mistake in this incident (and will continue to make other mistakes), and God knows he has faults (the primary one being his stubbornness!) but in my eyes, he is one of the most God-fearing, God-conscious and merciful people that I have the honor and privilege of befriending. I would rather allow my reputation to be sullied, and all of my critics to continue criticizing and defaming me, before I jump on the bandwagon of popularity and smear him or dissociate from him. He has faults (don't we all?), but these faults drown in the good that exists in him, and this is a matter that his family, his friends, and his students can all testify to.

And in the end, true success lies with Allah alone.

“And patiently persevere in the company of those who call upon their Lord, morning and evening, desiring His Pleasure; and do not allow your gaze to stray beyond them merely to acquire the luxuries of this world. And do not follow those whose hearts We have deprived of remembering Us, and follow their whims, and their entire affairs are in disarray.” [Sura al-Kahf; 28]


[1] For example, an area of reform that I personally am very interested in leading and being a part of is the Islamic laws of alimony. Historically, a divorced lady only received her mahr – nothing more and nothing less (although the Qur'an encourages an adequate 'gift'). And pre-modern Muslim societies dealt with divorcees in an appropriate manner: large-family and tribal systems provided adequate means to absorb the care and maintenance of such ladies; divorcees didn't have the type of stigma that is attached to them today; and polygyny was commonly practiced. All of these conditions (and more) allowed divorced women the freedom to continue living in somewhat normal conditions after a divorce. However, in our times, all of these conditions have changed, and all too often, divorcees have little recourse to maintenance and living expenses, putting them in undue hardship. It is simply unfair that a man can divorce a woman after many decades of marriage, and leave her stranded in a strange land and country, without any means to take care of herself, after she has given him her youth and support for most of her life. The mahr dating back half a century, might be a thousand rupees (thirty dollars?), yet she is now stranded in America, after her husband's newly-acquired wealth allows him access to a younger and prettier woman. I have no qualms in saying that the goals of Islamic law would not allow for such injustice. Let us bring about reform and put conditions in the marriage contract that would obligate a prorated alimony percentage depending on the years of marriage. This is but one example; many more can be made. Such reform is long overdue in my opinion, and the Shariah allows for and encourages it.

About The Author

Sh. Dr. Yasir Qadhi is someone that believes that one's life should be judged by more than just academic degrees and scholastic accomplishments. Friends and foe alike acknowledge that one of his main weaknesses is ice-cream, which he seems to enjoy with a rather sinister passion. The highlight of his day is twirling his little girl (a.k.a. "my little princess") round and round in the air and watching her squeal with joy. A few tid-bits from his mundane life: Sh. Yasir has a Bachelors in Hadith and a Masters in Theology from Islamic University of Madinah, and a PhD in Islamic Studies from Yale University. He is an instructor and Dean of Academic Affairs at AlMaghrib, and the Resident Scholar of the Memphis Islamic Center.

180 Responses

  1. Shabana

    This is the most balanced, fair and accurate response to this controversy. JazaakAllah Khair a million times over for this, Shaykh.

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    • Fritz

      (analogy)

      AE: “I love Kansas burgers, vegetarians eat your heart out!”
      Facebooker: “Eating so much meat is bidah! what about the poor animals? You have no concerns for the hungry in Syria!”
      AE: “Ok so so this tasty bidah means I’m eating right out the hands of the poor Syrian refugees. Blame me not Assad….thats whats really happening. Got it.”

      Social media: “WAAAA Abu Eesa is a bidah loving burger monster who hates the innocent syrians and has sided with Assad! Fire him now!”

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    • Pollyanna

      trying to justify the mistakes of those who err is not Islamic

      “You are the best community ever brought forth for mankind (in that) you command the proper and forbid the improper and believe in God.” (3:110)

      “Let there among you be a group that summon to all that is beneficial commands what is proper and forbids what is improper; they are the ones who will prosper.” (3:104)

      “(Believers) who repent, serve and glorify God…command the proper and forbid the improper…” (9:112)

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  2. Anila Nakrawala

    I don’t think I have read a better or more concise article written on this topic yet, masha Allah, tabarak Allah..
    Every point was touched on and my heart feels at ease, alhamdulilah. I feel this is a result of a well thought out response, versus one based on emotions and mere hastiness. All and every response previous to this one was in one way or another bias and not reflecting of the true aspects of the situation. This, however touched on every aspect of haqq!
    Jazak Allahukhairn katheeran!!!

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  3. Ahmed Khan

    Simply beautiful… mashallah an exemplary response that rises above the filth which has clogged so many minds in the last few days….

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  4. Ambiguity

    So glad you talked of the alimony issue. Reminded me of the Shah Bano case in India and the division of Muslims with the clergy accusing the government of interfering in its ‘personal laws’. A reform is definitely needed there and is what ‘Muslim feminists’ or in other words, Muslims who demanded rights for divorced Muslim women, have been seeking. Regarding this whole issue of women and men being ‘equal’ or not, I am genuinely interested in knowing why equal rights is unIslamic??? You talked of responsibilities and roles, and sure one can agree that there can be differences, but surely the rights of men and women are equal? Rights are after all what one cant take away from them-eg equal right to pay, right to life, right to education, right to choose etc. How are equal rights unIslamic?

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  5. AbdurRahman Ibn Mas'ood

    As a student of the Shafii madhhab with a very strong interest in usool ul fiqh, I am not a follower of the methodology in fatwa as stated by Sheikh Yasir, and a firm believer in the classical usool of fatwa, I also disagree quite strongly with some of the postions that Al-Maghrib and it’s instructors take on a few modern issues, and even it’s strong and perhaps blind partisanship to one line of thought whether you want to call it Hanbali/Imam Ibn Taymiyyah/Salafi/Orthodox etc.

    And yet I agree with the rest of this article, and I was very disappointed to see multitudes of du’aat and respected figures in Islamic knowledge (especially from a line of thought that I follow) absolutely fall for shaytaan’s greater goal of fracturing the ummah in such difficult times. It’s as if we learn nothing from the manners of our teachers and from our experiences.

    Anyone who sees the mistakes of du’aat or scholars as a cloak instead of a small handkerchief in his pocket hasn’t understood talab-ul-ilm and hasn’t understood the world we live in, and perhaps even a part of the deen.

    I left social media to focus on my studies and subhanAllah I felt a strong urge to rejoin it to write such a piece for the people I know personally. May Allah swt reward Sheikh Yasir for his adherence to the truth in this (even if we disagree in other matters).

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  6. AbdurRahman Ibn Mas'ood

    Sorry I should have said firm believer Of classical Shafii usool.

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    • Mahmud

      Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  7. Mahmud

    Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

    Hands down the best response I’ve read ever to this debacle……jazzakAllahu khair

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  8. Rafe Qureshi

    Jazakhallah Khair Shaykh for the well written piece. I have followed Sh. Abu Eesa for a while and although I highly respect him as a teacher and scholar, I cant help but admit sometimes I find his humor a bit off color (even if it is a british thing). I think we can all agree he might have taken the jokes too far the past few days and the reaction it caused was warranted (to an extent) but the complete lack of adab amongst many on both “sides” just added more fuel to the fire. I can emphasize with those women (and men) that were highly offended due to the jokes and an initial seemingly stubborn unapologetic apology. Your article touched on all these points and I hope everyone can learn a lesson for the future. Our scholars and teachers are held to a higher caliber of behavior. I do believe Sh. AE is sincerely sorry for offending those people that he did and that he is not an actual misogynistic. I don’t think we have seen something go this viral in the online muslim community since the whole ‘mipsterz’ “controversy”. May Allah swt guide us all and instill mercy in our hearts.

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    • Saddened

      Muslims teachers should be held to a to higher standard than secular public teachers in the West. But, Al Maghrib’s response shows that it is not even matching the same level.

      Public schools investigate such lapses in judgement and at the very least give the teacher several days of uncomfortable uncertainty as their employment is evaluated. Al Maghrib’s teachers and the institution posted in AE’s defense.

      Just today, a public school teacher got in hot water over a tongue-in-cheek FB post like AEs. The secular teacher is being investigated. http://newsandsentinel.com/page/content.detail/id/585028/School-system-investigating-teacher-apos-s-FB-post.html?nav=5061

      The National Education Association posted a blog warning teachers to mind their comments on social media and cited several cases where teachers were terminated. http://www.nea.org/home/38324.htm

      In the case of Jeffrey Spanierman, a federal court ruled that his termination didn’t violate the First Amendment because his speech “was likely to disrupt school activities.” The court faulted the teacher for failing “to maintain a professional, respectful association with students” and for communicating with students “as if he were their peer, not their teacher.” Such conduct, “could very well disrupt the learning atmosphere of a school,” the court said.

      AE communicated with students as if they were peers, and from the comments, petitions and blogs, it looks like it is disruptive to the learning atmosphere. A federal court knows teachers should rise above the level of friendly banter and jokes. Al Maghrib should too.

      Akron public schools said they won’t tolerate certain behaviors from their teachers and staff. Why will Al Maghrib?

      http://archive.firstcoastnews.com/news/strange/article/338011/82/Teacher-fired-over-racially-charged-Facebook-post-

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  9. Hassan

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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    • Abu Milk Sheikh (@AbuMilkSheikh)

      “That is a myth, specially in west. Men are the oppressed.”

      There is a popular and rapidly growing “Men’s Rights” movement (MRA) in the West because of this and the inequality caused due to the extremism of the feminist movement.

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      • Joseph

        Are you sure MRA doesn’t stand for Men’r Right Always?

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      • Abu yusuf

        As a man who has been victimized by the ultra feminist western court system, I can tell you that the men’s rights movement is a natural response to western feminism.

        Western style feminism preaches female superiority over men and the laws reflect this. A woman calls an abuse hotline, the cops show up lights flashing. A man calls an abuse hotline and he’s laughed at. Read the statistics, us men are abused at a level on par with women in the West but no one cares.

        My ex wife left Islam and cheated on me with several men, the latest of whom she moved in with. She allowed him to beat my young son, confessed to a family member that she no longer wishes to be a mother, got very drunk in front of our children several times and on and on and on.

        Child protective services did nothing, they saw nothing in her behaviour that warranted concern in their eyes. She’s mommy, so guess what? I pay extortionate amounts of child support while she neglects my children. I fear for my children because they’re now enrolled in a christian school being taught that Jesus is god. The boyfriend teaches my children that Muslims are stupid and Islam is evil.

        I did enormous amounts of research on the likelihood of me being able to save my children from their mentally ill mother and have since realized there is nothing I can do but be patient and trust Allah.

        Men have been vilified in the West as predators of women and children. I am 35 years old and was raised in Western Canada, about as liberal a place as you can get. The discourse in school was that men are evil and women are perennial victims of the salacious male. I internalized many of these messages and l found myself hating myself. I was terrified that I would one day hurt a woman simply because I was a man.

        We have to make a distinction between western style feminism which seeks to make women superior to men and Islamic “feminism” which seeks to give women their due Islamic rights. I sincerely disagree with the use of the term feminist because of the connotation it has.

        So many men in the West are rightfully afraid of the term because of what it has done to us over the years. There is a backlash occurring because of the evil effects. Men are now victimized in real and scary ways. We have few rights if any especially in divorce situations. A woman merely says “abuse” and we are the ones on whom the burden of proof lays.

        I apologize if my reply seems a bit all over the place, I’m not much of a writer but I would ask that people sincerely read it before condemning what I have to say.

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      • Mahmud

        Ya Abu Yusuf what a horrific story!!! This is enough for everyone to know the evils of feminism.

        May Allah never give those disbelievers a moments rest so long as they haven’t submitted to him.

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      • Umm ZAKAriyya

        Whoa ! I never saw it that way . May Allah make it easy for you .

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  10. Omar Ahmedmia

    SubhanAllah! A fair well-mannered & just scholarly response. This is why you’re the Don of Western Da’wah bismillahi mashaAllah!

    Reminded me of this ayah…

    “O you who have believed, stand out firmly for justice as witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. So follow not (personal) inclination, lest you not be just.” ~ [Surah an-Nisa’ verse 135]

    May Allah preserve you Shaykh, Allahumma ameen!

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  11. Maryam

    I swear by Allah that this is THE most balanced and fair response to this whole fiasco.
    May Allah preserve you Shaikh.

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    • Mahmud B.

      There is no need to Swear by Allah dear sister. It cant be the “most balanaced response” because you have not read all of the responses. So no need for swearing and getting emotionally excited

      Yes, it was an amazing response mashallah

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  12. Arqam Shaikh

    As always Shaykh, eloquently handled response from a multifaceted mitigation approach . جزاك اللهُ خيراً

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  13. Wan Yuzareen

    I was not aware of the controversy as you had prewarned, but decided to continue reading anyway and Alhamdulillah, believe I have benefitted from it, In Shaa Allah. Please allow me to humbly commend you on the above, in particular your principles, beliefs and the manner in which you had expressed them and yourself. My dua is for Muslims (especially myself) to be as steadfast in their faith and stand (and mine as well) especially in matters relating to our religion and in defense of it. May Allah continue to bless us (and you) with the ability of mind, fluency of thought and eloquence of words in spreading and glorifying our Deen, as well as strengthen our belief and keep us on the path that pleases Him towards ultimate success.

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  14. mg

    The world is not monochromatic, and every real picture is multifaceted. The critics had some legitimate concerns, and the supporters also had some legitimate concerns, and very few people realized that.

    Well said… Dr. Qadhi. …We are much too casual in what we say !!! But I do believe this AE incident opened a much needed dialogue, which hopefully will continue. Women of the Ummah have been marginalized long enough.

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  15. Abu Milk Sheikh (@AbuMilkSheikh)

    “And one final reminder to them (and the ones that I reference know exactly who they are): know that as just as you were eager to pounce on and display the faults of your brother, so too shall others even more eagerly pounce on and publicize your faults.”

    Indeed.

    Just to contrast, there are examples of Abu Eesa unequivocally defending one of those preachers, who was blatantly excacerbating this fitna on social media, when said preacher made some extremely problematic creedal statements of a khaariji nature.

    Responding to a comment about twitter being problematic for including proper context, Abu Eesa said “I blame Muslims, with only 140 characters you can always show extra husn al-dhann considering the context.”

    When asked to comment on the controversy, Abu Eesa said “…I don’t make judgements based on what I read on Twitter of Facebook or during heightened emotions and tensions when no one knows what on Earth’s going on. Judgements are based on sitting down with people, carefully and properly, and understanding exactly what they mean. Wallahu a’lam.”

    Compare the above with the white knight-ery and opportunism demonstrated by some preachers during this farce, some of whom are (allegedly) guardians of our scholarly tradition.

    May Allah guide us all to that which pleases Him.

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    • Mahmud

      Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

      Please change your name from Milk Sheikh to something else….

      And I would shake your hand, hard for this comment. You hit the nail in the head.

      Mashaa Allah

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  16. Hamza

    Jazakallah Khairain Sheikh. May Allah increase you in honour and believe when I say this I will be making duaa throughout the day on this Friday for Al Maghrib and its staff. But enough emotionalisms, this is truly a well written piece, though I must express my dire concern regarding your countrymen and your countrywomen. There are a lot of great things about America, food, landscape, generally friendly, and laborious people. The obvious is its State’s privilege and power. There is an old Judeo-Christian saying (even its place in the Scriptures is at best dubious), ‘pride cometh before the fall’. When the Ottoman Empire was on the demise, the worst kind of Turkish arrogance and nationalism came to surface within its privileged Turkish peoples. Similarly, when America was great it explored cultures and took them for what they were, different. They didn’t seek conformity from everyone else they encountered. Fast forward, to today’s world with the social media shrinking the world down to the size of your cell phone. To Americans (maybe other Westerners are guilty of this as well) this shrinking of the world has meant that they when see something foreign on their phones, they can’t distinguish between it being local or not. So they set about judging it through their cultural and societal norms. We know that Americans are hyper sensitive when it comes to issues of race and gender, and rightly so as they have a horrendous history dealing with both, but they should keep their judgement to themselves. Couple this with the arrogance of seeing everyone as subject to their standards, because well, Americans know better than the savages. I humbly request my American neighbours to keep it to themselves, if you can’t say something good about us then don’t say anything. We are not your loyal subjects, and you are no longer the sole power on Earth, as proven thoroughly and equivocally in Crimea.

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  17. blesseddawns

    JazakAllah khayr for this article.

    When a number of highly esteemed scholars/preachers all defended AE without actually pointing out and accepting what he did was wrong, it was hurtful and frustrating. I don’t agree with going overboard in attacking him, but I am glad to read that you agree that it was wrong.

    Since we look up to scholars who are very active on social media (such as AE), people might begin to think ‘if they’re doing/saying this, then it must be acceptable/right!’ (as was seen on the comment section of the posts on AE’s fb).

    Reading this balanced post has made me feel better about this. JazakAllah khayr. We all make mistakes.. May Allah swt forgive us all =)

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    • Ismail

      To me, your comment came out as, “This was too long and complicated for me to read and since he’s a Muslim scholar, I’m gonna disagree with him anyway.”

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  18. Ariba

    Beautiful mashaAllah sheikh Yasir…may Allah bless you with the best of the best of this life and the hereafter and may He continue to guide us towards what pleases Him through you. Ameen

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  19. Tuqa

    “In all my years of blogging and using this social media, I have never seen any issue taken up so rapidly and passionately by the Islamic blogosphere.” With all due respect Shaykh, did you not read about the controversy a few weeks ago about the #Mipsters video? It made its way to hundreds of thousands of Facebook pages, tweets, Buzzfeed piece, etc. Saying that Abu Esa’s case was taken way beyond it needed to go is somewhat naive understanding of the power of the Internet and social media nowadays. We don’t have control over it.

    One thing I’m disappointed you didn’t mention was the “supporters” of AE and how they “came out of the woodwork” so to speak, using crass, violent, and abhorrent language to attack those who criticized AE. A scholar should encourage the good to come out of people, not the disgusting sexist remarks that we saw on AE’s Facebook page from his supporters (not that he’s responsible for what they say).

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    • Mahmud

      You explicitly, intentionally or not, took a quote out of a context and made it seem like he was joking about it.

      He wasn’t-it was a sarcastic response to someone else.

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      • PJ

        Sarcasm is a device used in “jokes”. It just isn’t funny, and neither are Abu Eesa’s. That would be that “dry, British wit” as he describes it.

        So his “sarcastic comment” was just as much of a “joke” as his main posts.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joke

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      • Muadh

        Rape, FGM, etc. was mentioned not as a joke, but sarcastically. The person he was replying to was accusing him of supporting those things, so in exasperation he affirmed her position.

        He did not joke about it, if anything the sister who so casually assumed such from his jokes alone that he was for such things is to be blamed.

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    • Jareer

      In case you missed it while reading the article:

      “Anyone who thinks otherwise, after reading the entire conversation, either does not speak English as a mother language, or is blinded by rage. The context of his words clearly indicates this.”

      Please read the comments in the screenshots by going to the following link (as the reply option does not allow attachment of images) to have some idea about the context:

      https://www.dropbox.com/sh/azbw8j8w56hf525/6876MDoZMd

      Wassalam.

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      • Laila

        I loved this response from Sheikh Yasir but it bothered me too that he doesn’t see the second picture on your link where AE is clearly, albeit sarcastically, making a mockery (I won’t even use the term joking because he was mocking) using violent and sexist remarks.

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      • Maryam

        Whether it’s a joke or sarcasm, they’re both equally wrong. There is no place for such language in a Muslim or non Muslim community. AE warranted the attention and criticism that he got. Everything happens in God’s will and this is a good reminder for him being an arrogant scholar. Friend or relative or favourite scholar, one should not condone such ill behaviour.

        If AE was a western or non Muslim who made comments like this about Muslim women, for sure many Muslims will be bashing this person and probably attack his embassy and what not. Proper behaviour is expected on all as humans. Not just cos he is Muslim, he gets off easily of all the hurt he has caused.

        Everyone may deserve second chances, but the trust that was broken will never be mended perfectly. It will be difficult to see him in a better light as a scholar, without remembering the hurtful words he has uttered.

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    • Zainab

      Jazak Allahu Khairun for your article. While it’ll be nice for Muslims to try to not “spread” these kind of things around, and I do understand that you might trust him with your life or children, it’s sad that the this is the kind of humor that Muslim scholars have been reduced to. Doesn’t matter British or Amercian, aren’t we all Muslims? Scholars have a greater test than the rest of Ummah, I should think scholars need to be more careful of what they say or write, since any and every thing that leaves our mouth an ever ready angel is there to record it. + Prophet Muhammad (peace & blessings of Allah be upon him)’s hadith regarding house in the middle of Jannah for one who gives up lying even for fun.
      Although you did say you think he made a mistake, but your latter support kind of cancelled it out. I personally would be afraid to study from Al Maghrib which did boast of a large number of female students, but if these kind of jokes are the face we don’t get to see, and their colleagues think it’s just Britsh wit, + he’s a really nice guy….
      I would once again say, please remember scholars have a greater test than anyone else. Even if his response was just because he was goaded and he was being sarcastic, PLEASE! You are supposed to be an Imam, teacher, scholar, and supposed to be above these kind of things.
      I’m seriously getting concerned about this age of social media and what it’s doing not only to the Ummah but to the scholars as well. Imagine Ibn Taimiyyah in a fight of words with an average lay man person, or Hasan Al Basri going off on a rampage about women because other women who might not be on the right path are celebrating something?
      While I can understand a person is no angel, allowances can and should be made for mistakes. However, please remember not saying anything at all is better than saying something which can become a cause of fitnah. I personally would not only not want to study under such teachers (who’re supposed to have such sense of humor) , but also would be scared to take seriously people who think he’s an alright guy just went out of control.
      I wish there was some way to get this to you through private message, as I feel it’s not much of a sincere advice if done publicly.

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  20. Riz Khan

    Agreed we need work to ensure their rights. I would like to point out that the extreme gender segregation found in the muslim community is one of the major cause of the present women position. This was never the intent of Islam.

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  21. Shahnawaz Baig

    May Allah (swt) give you the reward that HE has promised in HIS book

    “The only saying of the faithful believers, when they are called to Allâh (His Words, the Qur’ân) and His Messenger, to judge between them, is that they say: “We hear and we obey.” And such are the successful (who will live forever in Paradise). Sura An-Nur:51 (24:51)”

    Ameen..

    The most commendable and noteworthy point, amongst many, you have displayed is that you had the Hikma’ah of not posting this on a Social media site like FaceBook – so as to give a platform for fellow Muslims to debate, who will again get passionate and carried away when they don’t see what they like, and then Loose All Adab, and then accuse and counter accuse each other and again we will see more dissension and this conflict will get another lease of life. I thank you so much for not POSTING this on your FaceBook Page – Because that’s the Platform Many seem to be using.and Many who have such pages – Followed by thousands are using it to seek Popularity of a much different nature. Alhamdullillah – You are not one of them

    JazaKAllah for calling a spade a spade and I, amongst Many Muslims trully support the assessment you have made Sheikh. But I do have a very humble request. In Light of this Debacle – Do we have any Safebacks, any contingencies, any set of Practical Rules and Measures that such a thing does not happen again?

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  22. Z

    Well this is disappointing.

    Abu Eesa is touted by Maghrib as a scholar and as such this lack of adab is not something trivial at all. It’s a very sad commentary to read Maghrib and Sh Yasir’s statements (who spills more ink on the people who responded than Abu Esa).

    I’m no fan of ‘feminism’, and recasting this issue as primarily about feminism (or the response to him) is a smoke screen; this is a cut and dry case of poor adab from someone who has religious authority and claims to uphold the sunnah. Immature/childish jokes about any topic are out of place, and his non-apology would seem to indicate he doesnt even realize what the fuss is about, perhaps the 15 year olds who egg him on with ‘you’re the coolest shaykh!!’ are blurring his judgment.

    Should he be burned at the stake? No, of course not people make mistakes. But this does belie a serious lack of understanding of Islamic etiquette and its disconcerting to read the tepid responses from his employer and friend. He brought this upon himself with his sophomoric statements, and based on his latest FB bio (The Precariat Playa – how’s that?) and twitter description (Imam. Scholar. Writer. Alpha-Male. Comedian. Superstar. Thin. And that’s just what THEY say. Ok, perhaps not the last one, but surely I’m allowed ONE word…) one gets the impression that its just another example of ‘shaykhs’ trying to hard to be cool, while they think this will keep them approachable it has the opposite effect and dumbs down this deen and strips it of its immense beauty….

    Sh Yasir as a friend you are absolutely right, be there for him and dont abandon, and more importantly help him get a better understanding of basic Islamic adab. One could never imagine you doing something like this…

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    • Abu Asiyah

      This.

      Yasir Qadhi’s article made it sound even worse for me: so he was warned about his humo(u)r multiple times by a senior scholar of the institution where he teaches, and he still made the comments, and STILL has not admitted to being wrong in writing them? This is 10x worse, since he has been receiving sincere advice from a close friend all this time and yet he is unable to admit a mistake, even after seeing the repercussions of the actions he has been warned against.

      I’m really amazed at the complete lack of adab, coming from a TEACHER. What’s worse, there are already comments on facebook from enamoured teenagers praising him – so if there suddenly emerges a generation of young Muslims who tout hijabs/beards while screaming insults at others, don’t be surprised. They have role models among the shuyookh for that now.

      I agree with Z, don’t burn him at the stake. But at the same time, should we be taking such people as scholars of the religion, since a Muslim scholar should emulate the Prophet (saws), and the Prophet (saws) said that he was only sent to perfect good manners?

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    • Muadh

      If you looked at that comment in context, you’d see it wasn’t a joke, but sarcasm. The others in that thread were accusing him of supporting such things based on his jokes, and he responded affirming their ridiculous slander.

      Anyone with a basic understanding of language knows he didn’t joke saying that. Those with an agenda continue to insist his sarcasm be taken as a joke or even seriously. Talk about bad adab.

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      • Mahmud

        Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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      • thuglyamerican

        Perhaps. But I find it interesting that we are parsing sarcasm from jokes. Actually, I find it absurd. The connotation of the criticism clearly is not that Abu Eesa is looking for a punchline, but that by “joking”, he is indulging in language he knows to be untrue for effect. You can draw an arbitrary line between jokes and sarcasm if you like, but it doesn’t apply here.

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      • Muadh

        No one is parsing jokes and criticism.It has been obvious from the first that AE was speaking sarcastically in response to the hyperbolic and overinflated accusations being made against him. A falsehood was not intended, nor conveyed. No one except the slanderers took that for a serious statement or even a joke.

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  23. Anila Ansari

    BaarikAllaahufeek for this was well needed. May Allaah reward you.

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  24. Hayaah

    Salamalaykum, and thank you for this. It moved me to tears towards the end. This is why I love my teachers. May Allah swt bless you and yours with the best of both worlds – Ameen… and keep us forever illuminated in our teachers light – benefiting from whatever knowledge we can gain of our Maker, through them – Ameen! JazakumAllahu khairan katheeran.

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  25. Maheen

    I think this all boils down to semantics, on a large level, as well. “Feminism” to a Salafi versus to an abused Muslim woman who was raised in a Western context mean different things. I am not an Al-Maghrib adherent, nor am I a feminist, just an average struggling Muslim. But I can see how this word played a role in confusing scholars and the masses as well. Perhaps there needs to be a scholarly discussion about whether or not the use of the word helps or hinders women’s rights.

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  26. Maria Moreira

    Don’t know or read any thing from a sheikh trying to benefit from Abu Eesa comments, although one I know who rightfully criticized him while others prefered to remain silent is being accused of this. But I have read many posts from Abu Eesa himself stubbornly triying to go out of this mess as a victim, which he certainly is not. Since he made his statements publically, he couldn’t expect to be admonished in private. However, your article is very balanced and it’s even more important because you admit being his friend and, yet, didn’t try to deny he was wrong in his behavior. May Allah bless you.

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  27. معين الإسلام

    Adh-Dhahabee in Siyar A’lam An-Nubala’ reports Al-Awza’ee as saying:
    “We used to joke and laugh, then when we became looked at as role models I was afraid that even smiling would not be suitable for us.” *

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    • Mahmud

      Don’t you remember the narration of the Messenger of Allah sallahualayhiwasalam constantly smiling?

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      • Umm Anas

        It’s an exaggerated way of saying how careful they were so that they would not fall into something like this. Allahu A’lam

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  28. wael77

    Your article lost credibility when you stated, “Abu Eesa never made any jokes about rape, or FGM, or domestic violence. Anyone who thinks otherwise, after reading the entire conversation, either does not speak English as a mother language, or is blinded by rage.”

    In fact, he did joke about these things. I saw his comment on his own page, with my own eyes. He wrote:

    “You’re right, I apologize. I don’t understand women and tell the guys not to bother either, and we make jokes about them too. The aforementioned two crimes power my thirst and desire to rape women, beat them black and blue, harass them, abuse them, lock them in the boiler room at home and in the Masjid, belittle their hijab and niqab and tell everyone to mutilate their girls’ private parts and then marry them off whilst they’re still at Nursery. Right. Got it. Lads, feel free to do all of the above. I give you the fatwa to do it dammit!”

    Perhaps you are not aware that Abu Easa made this comment, or you believe that someone else hacked his account and wrote it in his name. However, that’s unlikely.

    AE says he was being sarcastic. What is sarcasm but a form of contemptuous or ironical joking? And you know what, no matter how you take his comment, it’s still sick. What kind of mind says such things, even in sarcasm? English is my native language – I am a writer – and I’m not filled with rage, yet I find it offensive.

    I don’t know the brother. I have nothing invested. I am going only by his own words, and on that level I find it shocking that he is in a position to influence young Muslim minds. I know that many people think and behave like this, but they do not normally teach at respected Islamic institutions, at least not in the West.

    What about that last line? “Lads, feel free to do all of the above. I give you the fatwa to do it dammit!”

    You don’t think there are any impressionable or foolish young men who will take that as a license to do exactly as AE says?

    People keep saying he apologized three times. I saw not one sincere, unequivocal apology on his page. In fact, on March 11th he wrote:

    “For my final comment on IWD-gate (we’re going to be running out of -gates soon on this page), I apologised and *only* apologised for the #IWD jokes if any of our good sisters had been upset by them. Yet let me make it clear: I don’t accept that I did anything wrong, or made a mistake, and neither do I retract any of those jokes. There was nothing haram or makruh done. Sensitive, edgy, perhaps. But my ego isn’t that big that I can’t apologise to those who genuinely want one because they felt insulted somehow.”

    That’s an apology?

    It’s disappointing to see intelligent Muslim scholars lining up to defend this behavior. Anyone who defends these comments is someone who does not “get” the reality of violence against women.

    I admire the fact that you stand by your friend, ma-sha-Allah. I do not suggest that he should be ostracized, or that you should denounce him as a human being. But he does not belong in a teaching position. Compare AE’s words and behavior to that of Shaykh Ali Al-Timimi:

    “In the early 1990’s, Al-Timimi heard in the news about the coming UN 4th World Conference on Women to be held in Beijing, China. He quickly contacted the Islamic Assembly of North America (IANA), and was able to convince them to participate in the conference to represent the Islamic point of view. IANA assigned a delegation led by Al-Timimi. His visionary abilities were used to the fullest. Al-Timimi contacted Shaykh ‘Abdur-Rahman ‘Abdul-Khaliq, who wrote a book about women in Islam. Al-Timimi translated that book into English and secured translators for German, French, Swahili, and Chinese translations. In Beijing with a small staff of five persons, Al-Timimi was able to direct the focus on the Muslim participation to his own group. They used to fax press releases daily in Arabic and English from Beijing to the IANA office in the US. The press group in the US would then fax it to over 500 masajid, leading personalities, and the Arabic press.”

    That’s a true scholar and teacher. May Allah aid him and reward him.

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    • Amad

      Wael, I don’t know if you have seen the full context of this comment
      https://scontent-a-dfw.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn2/t1/1904160_278506325645875_1406892888_n.jpg

      When I first read that comment, I was similarly disturbed. In fact, if you read my article, I referred to it and how it affected one particular sister who suffered physical abuse. However, when both she and I were given the full context, it changed the entire picture.

      It would be similar to this:
      “Amad, it is because of people like you wasting time on facebook that we don’t have any real solutions for the murders and rapes in Syria”

      and I reply
      “Yeah, I apologize, indeed I am indeed happy to see rape and murder of women”

      It is a hyperbole and to be read the reverse of the literal meaning. An exasperated response– yeah blame me for it. Now I don’t use this type of argumentation and I am not saying it is acceptable to do so. But I hope you can see that it is not what some people are making it out, that AE jokes about rapes…

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      • Nisi

        I get your point but to me, the disturbing part is that he was able to even list those things one by one. In other words, he took a general accusation and took the time to write out such disgusting and specific things that weren’t even detailed by the sister that was accusing him. I take AE at his word and I’m sure he didn’t mean it in a bad way, but I don’t expect that kind of filth to come out of an average Muslim’s mouth, let alone someone who calls himself and imam and scholar. And the fact that it is “hyperbole” doesn’t make it any better.

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      • Waqar

        If you did say something of that nature, then you are a) lying to make a joke which is sinful and b) are mentioning rape in a sarcastic/ joking manner. I find it intellectually dishonest to state that making a sarcastic remark about rape is not a joke. Your intellectual dishonesty is disappointing, Amad, and Shaikh Yasir Qadhi.

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    • Ibn Zia

      The first comment that you quote was in response to another comment made by a sister whose claims were completely out of context itself. That sarcasm was harsh, but YOU are the one taking it out of context. I see pure sarcasm for that sister’s foolish, irrelevant comment.

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      • Nisi

        Yes, that sister went too far in what she was saying but as a teacher and “imam”, he should know better on how to deal with the public. He should be wiser. A simple “that is absurd and I won’t entertain your comment” would have been better. No need to stoop down to someone’s level.

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    • Khadijah

      Alhamdulillaah for Sh Yasir Qadhi and a balanced reply to the fitna. I agree with the fact that what Ustadh Abu Eesa said that was so bad was blatant sarcasm but I am 64 and thru this fitna have come to understand AE better and how he works. Alhamdulillaah. However it is very wrong to use such form of sarcasm or any sarcasm with young minds who may not understand it for what it is. I wish theis fitna would end. It’s very disturbing to see so much. Talk. Opinions. Should that be disturbing. ??? Jazaak Allaah khayran Sh Yasir Qadhi for your letter. I did feel some relief and peace at least until I read all the following posts. Perhaps the gold isn’t pure yet.

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  29. Syed Fateh Alam

    It is interesting to see how Shaitan works. May Allah keep us steadfast.
    Few days back, the whole social media arena was taken into storm by a beautiful lecture by Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan about Robert Davila. Almost all appreciated the effort and sincerity of Brother Robert and the Muslims were seen united on praising someone’s effort to come close to Allah.
    Suddenly, another story came about “Feminism” which tore Our Ummah into pieces as though we were never together. I am not commenting “What is right or what is wrong” (I am not qualified to), but merely on the paradox of events and our lack of judgement on the basis of self superiority.
    May Allah helps us all from the deceiving of Shaitan.
    Aameen, Ya Rab-ul-Aalameen.

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  30. Saifuddin Rekoj

    Not being a scholar or knowledgeable person of any sort, I am afraid whether I should comment like this. I, despite my absolute love and respect to Sheikh Qadhi, doubt that he could exactly catch the point of the “Knee Jerking” criticism against Ustad AE’s jokes.

    The point was not being hurt or terrified to a possible uprise of Extreme-Fundamentalism. The reason, many scholars responded so fiercely against AE, is the sorrow and horror they felt in themselves that may be AE (and in this case YQ) doesn’t understand our responsibility towards our women. May be they are completely failing to understand the seriousness of the issue, just because its not victimizing enough ‘Number’ of persons. (very much similar to mentality concerning minority issue)

    We are routinely hearing lectures after lectures about the Virtues and Rights that Islam gave to it’s women. But, in practice we are not showing any kind of initiative (by the mainstream) to address the numerous oppressive cases related to them.

    As for response to this article, firstly, yes, we are glad, YQ has called for discussion on reform of the divorce rule, but, I am not sure, whether it would be the case, if there were not this AE-gate incident. In the contrary, we would see the persons, who regularly address such kind of injustice against women as their prime concern, are blatantly labelled as ‘Faminists’ and put away from the mainstream.and are subjected to foolish jokes, which is another type of injustice for sure.

    Secondly, We cannot just ignore the matter of equality by blaming it to be an western idea. As for the law and order is involved in this notion, we must deal with it face to face, as a school of critical minds. We hope some other ProActive initiatives for this.

    JzkAllah. May Allah save us from any kind of Fitnah and the big Fitnah of Dajjal that is prophesied by our Rasool (sm).

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    • Mahmud

      “The point was not being hurt or terrified to a possible uprise of Extreme-Fundamentalism. The reason, many scholars responded so fiercely against AE, is the sorrow and horror they felt in themselves that may be AE (and in this case YQ) doesn’t understand our responsibility towards our women. May be they are completely failing to understand the seriousness of the issue, just because its not victimizing enough ‘Number’ of persons. (very much similar to mentality concerning minority issue)”

      I certainly don’t know any scholars who “so fiercely responded against AE”.

      If you know AE, you know he absolutely takes women seriously and that his isn’t misogynist in the slightest.

      “Secondly, We cannot just ignore the matter of equality by blaming it to be an western idea.”

      Superiority is based on taqwa. Feminism and all other isms are unneeded.

      Allah and His Messenger have already told us whatever we need to know about women’s rights and obligations.

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  31. shereen

    I am British. I moved to America. I’d like to think I have a sense of humo(ur) but I could be wrong. I understand that jokes do not translate well over the Atlantic and anyone who works- albeit part-time- for a U.S, organization would know that by now. Everyone makes mistakes. Feminists and shayukh alike. One apologizes sincerely and then moves on. Just because someone is a personal friend does not mean they are exempt from common courtesy. There STILL has not been a proper apology in this case. What has prolonged the injury is the nonchalance and the flippancy displayed.

    Feeling insulted,humiliated and ignored and asking for an apology does not add up to a witch hunt. The articles written on this topic by those who have been hurt by AEs comments have stuck to the facts and these people have not stooped to the level of personal attack.

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  32. Amatullah Hill

    Masha’Allah Sheikh!!!! JAK for sharing your wisdom!!!! The nur from your response is lighting up my heart!!!! Allahu Alam but I am sure that this response was not meant to have me place you with the TOP Scholars that I follow. However, it did just that!!!! May Allah swt continuously increase your wisdom and knowledge, may he guide your tongue to present that wisdom and knowledge in an easy way for the Ummah to hear and understand, may he soften hearts that read this, guide us and protect us all. Ameen

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  33. Rabya

    Salam aleikum! BarakAllahu feek! The article was a great end to the awful week the Islamic blogosphere went through. I was appalled to see that we couldn’t rise above the drama often seen in Hollywood. For a week, anytime I logged into FB I had to bob and weave all the posts about this issue! Hopefully this is the LAST we will hear from this “GATE”…and I urge everyone to return to the more important things in the Ummah! May Allah forgive for our actions this past week at least we see that we still have a lot of work to do to purify our hearts. Wasalam

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  34. Guest

    This isn’t about British humour v’s American humour. The fact is I am British and I don’t find his humour funny and I was deeply offended. This is about Pakistani type Imams (from less privileged immigrant backgrounds- UK) V’s Intellectual type Muslims (from a high class of immigrant background -USA). Those from a less deprived upbringing do not understand the crass humour of AE because this humour is a type of street humour, think Ali G, unfortunately we are a product of our upbringing. These jokes are typical of the Muslim types you find growing up in and around Barking. We should never laugh at injustices against fellow Muslims because it simply isn’t funny! I respect the fact that British non-Muslim scholars will never entertain this type of behavior therefore we as Muslims should expect better from our Scholars.

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    • Fatima

      I believe your comment is more offensive than anything AE ever said.

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  35. Abid

    A fair piece that is balanced, although can anyone look upon the heart and say there is no interest. However the so called humour is not akin to the British but that of a western taste – for me that viewpoint is missed!

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  36. Mahmud

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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    • shereen

      Ali G is not an Islamic scholar as far as I know. He also does not work for Al Maghrib.

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  37. Salma

    A great balanced article highlighting the issues from both sides. I have seen the ‘controversy’ surrounding the issue of Sh Abu Eesa play out over this week and it seriously made me question the state of our Ummah especially the reponse of well known leaders, scholars, shaykhs who jumped on the bandwagon.
    JazakaAllah for this much needed response.

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  38. Humaira

    ASA. While I fully respect your choice to speak in defense of your friend and I’m sure he has good character a majority of the time, his actions this week are INDEFENSIBLE. Let’s be clear about that. Almaghrib’s statement was better than nothing and is appreciated by many for showing that the institution can separate itself from the misconduct of a teacher. That’s a step in the right direction. Please do not categorize his critics, scholars and lay people, as a mob of witch hunters. This is no better than AE calling the women feminazis.

    At the heart of the escalation is as you dubbed it “his stubborness”. He chose sarcasm over simple apology and modeled for his students that labeling and name calling is appropriate when you feel you are under scrutiny. Is this the example his thousands of students are to follow? Should we not expect better from a teacher of adab and siyasa as well as his students? There is enough blame to go around on the matter of adab and neither side is exempt. That is the point,

    When a scholar breaches good adab on a public platform, it is incumbent on his peers to rectify him publicly. Scholarship is not a fraternity, bound by promises to stand by each other regardless of wrong. Please note that the circles of shuyukh did not respond immediately. He was given ample time to redress his wrongs. When he publicly REFUSED to do so (“I’ve done nothing wrong, I stand by my words, etc., etc.), statements were issued. It is the obligation of sound scholars to refute him publicly for the benefit of the community. I for one am so grateful to them for having done so. They showed the courage of their convictions and my prayers are for them this Jumu’ah.

    Every one of us is flawed. Stubborness is born out of arrogance. May this be the event that helps Abu Eesa rectify this weakness and be the scholar we can all look up to. Our times truly need leaders. May the two of you be among the sound leaders of our era with humility before the community. As I stated in my tweet to you, my sincere advice to almaghrib instructors is to volunteer at a rape crisis center or DV shelter for a month instead of teaching. Let’s then have a conversation about context.

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  39. Mehnaz Kafray

    Thank you for putting this issue into perspective for a lot of people. This has grown unnecessarily large, bringing out evil character in the name of fighting for what’s right. I too am disheartened at how far people went with their reactions and pray Allah guides us toward compassion and His mercy.

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  40. Yasi Sho

    Assalamu Aleikom Wa Rahmatullah wa barakato,
    Sadly enough the most clear thing out of this whole story is that still a lot of Muslims need to work very, very hard on their good akhlak. Because in a result of that they lack good manners and sincerity. Yes, the lack of sincerity in their actions is pretty clear – it’s not about being offended or hurt by a word or whatever, it is about – my EGO which needs to be fed.
    Demanding an apology from somebody and mind you – doing it publicly, only speaks to that. If you were hurt or insulted by someone but at the end of the day you are not ready to forgive from your heart then you are only kidding yourself that you need an apology to do so, truth is you only need it to feed your ego and lack of attention that’s all, there is no sincerity in your actions any more. A truly hurt person would approach the one who caused them that distress in person and solve the matters like a MUSLIM SHOULD DO!
    Really this issue needs no more discussions as they only make the fly grow in to an elephant.

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  41. J.Fan

    Next time a non Muslim politician puts an anti-muslim statement out there, I want you to think in the way you are suggesting we do in this instance. Just forgive him bro. don`t call him out on it, don`t object to such things being acceptable views to put on display in public discourse, don`t ask for his resignation. Just have good akhlaq and turn the other cheek, bro.

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    • Nisi

      Exactly! If people could only see the bigger picture of what they are implying.

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    • tired of doublespeak

      Burn.

      Dear yasir qadhi as a scholar of faith and keeper of a sacred position you should consider this. What are you asking women to do that you and other men as a collective would not?

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  42. Y. A. Warren

    “I think I speak for most of our readers when I say that we have no respect for the morality and principles of our current President; his handing of Reverend Wright’s issue is symptomatic of why we have lost all respect for this man. When his own popularity was at stake, Obama was willing to throw a close friend and ally under the bus merely to pander to people who didn’t even care about him in the first place. In so doing, he lost a good friend, and he lost his integrity.”

    Please remind me. I don’t believe that rev. Wright, unlike your friend, apologized for what he had said.

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    • Muadh

      Shaykh AE has apologized several times in public, and several hundreds of times in private, to people who took offense, as that was not his intention.

      Consider yourself reminded.

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      • Sharon

        I read YA as saying that Rev. Wright didn’t apologize whereas AE did. He wasn’t attacking AE.

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  43. Y. A. Warren

    I would like the laws in the USA to reflect amounts put into trust for the wife each year of marriage and for each child for each year of life of the child. This way, there is no way that wife or child will be subject to the whims of the judicial system in the event of the marriage dissolving.

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  44. Shahin Munshi

    So calculated. So orderly. So measured. So lucky to have you in town Shaykh.

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  45. Jean

    Salaam thank you for your response. I agree that although what he said was insensitive /wrong, doesn’t mean people should slander his character. We are all human. None of us is perfect. Mah Allah guide us all

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  46. Imam Muhammad Abuelezz

    This is a wonderful article. I liked the idea of reform in alimony law however I know it is not the theme of the article. It is the first time to read someone talks about that problem of Muslim women especially those who live in the west. A Muslim woman feels guilty by taking a spousal support after divorce even if she is in need and has no other relatives to support and men consider that to be unjust due to going to a non-Muslim court. That reform makes it possible that a spousal support could be legitimize especially if it is conditioned in the marriage contract from the beginning. Anyway thst matter may need more study and regulations.

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  47. Hisham

    An observation if I may… Sheikh. You’re trying to do two things from what i read in this article:

    1) Abou eesa and the issue; generally apologetics.
    2) behaviour and relationships online in the face of disagreement, etc; a much needed discussion.

    You did not distinguish between these two strongly enough and that had the result of making you appear soft on any eesa’s sexism. When a white person in a position of leadership makes jokes about black people, without intending to upset them, then it’s not good enough to blame those who are agitated by the jokes or downplay the jokes effects. Centuries of exploitation, oppression and powerlesness lie behind those jokes and in the hearts and memories and, in many instances, still in the lives, of the oppressed. It’s not right to dilute the criticism about the initial acts (Abou eesa’s jokes) and attack his critics for their own isolated slights, though I think the points can be made (not here or now perhaps). It doesn’t do the injustice any justice…

    As for the second point, it’s much needed, but not in the context of watering down Abu eesa’s behaviour which you’ve at least appeared to do. I might suggest you deal with both topics distinctly so as not to confuse them and people reading them. I’d also suggest you haven’t quite fully (un)appreciated the baggage in Abou eesa’s jokes, irrespective of his good intentions towards women. An accidental misogynist, racist or whatever should not be spared and the issue needs to be dealt with properly so others don’t make the same mistake.

    Somewhat related are the principles behind crisis communications which I might refer you to sheikh for your interest, or at least Abou eesa and al magrib.

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  48. Average Muslim

    Enough with the comments. Let’s just move on now, or else this will never stop.

    We ask Allah to guide us all and grant us widsom, including our imams and scholars.

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    • Simple

      Agree with the above comment. This matter should rest here.
      At least something good has come out of this dispute; a real focus on women’s rights and the alimony legislation that YQ mentioned seems like a brilliant initiative that will be welcomed by many women, may Allah swt grant you success in implementing it, ameen.
      Overall, we can learn one crucial lesson from this, and that is to be mindful of our speech, we’re all guilty of saying things we shouldn’t. I’m not going into the details of AE’s debate as I deactivated FB months ago,(being fed up of the chavy Muslim representation, useless lengthy comments and photos of people’s wasteful dining experiences, coupled with the ‘selfie’ pics) I decided I could utilise my time and electric output in beneficial ways and save my eyes and my fragile mind from the nonsense our Ummah has easily drowned it.

      Let us take heed from this golden advice: “To speak less is wisdom, to eat less is healthy, and to mingle less with the people is safe and serene.” -Umar Ibn al-Khattab …

      May Allah swt purify our hearts, ameen!

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    • Hisham

      You can’t really expect people not to comment. They will anyway. The issue is unresolved for many people apparently.

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  49. N. Sultana

    One sh Yasir’s best article till date, a very well written and balanced article . I completely agree with him. Alhamduillah I have been taught by both shayk’s, may allah forgive them preserve them both ,raise their ranks in jannah and enable them to continue their good work. Ameen

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  50. O H

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  51. JD

    This is a horrible response. I’m not sure how you can say Abu Eesa never made those violently misogynistic “jokes”? Did you even read the original Facebook post where he explicitly “joked” about rape, FGM, and “beating” women?

    And comparing the critics to calling for a witch hunt is also horrible. None of these critics have been calling for violence; they are calling for accountability and justice. It’s Abu Eesa’s words that are truly violent. Also, isn’t ironic that you’re using an example of violence against women (witchhunts) to defend a man who was making indefensible and vile remarks about violence against women? Reflect on that.

    I also think it’s horrible how attempts are being made to focus on how Abu Eesa’s critics, notably Muslim women, are responding to his misogyny. Muslim women expressing their outrage are being accused of not behaving “properly” or even of “making a greater mistake” than the initial offensive. This tone policing is all about control, derailing from the main issue, and vilifying these Muslim women who are speaking up.

    As a Muslim man, I find this response, as well as the response from AlMaghrib, to be incredibly shameful. Not only does this lack of accountability reinforce sexism and misogyny, but they also work to destabilize our communities and make us more vulnerable to the white supremacist forces that want to destroy us.

    If you want to talk all about fitna, then look at how much fitna sexist oppression within our communities is causing. Look at the connections between sexism and sexual violence within our communities and how it enables violence against our communities from white supremacy. There is nothing funny about rape, and instead of holding men like Abu Eesa accountable, you are pointing fingers at how Muslim women in particular are responding — even when there have been articles published about how truly harmful and traumatizing Abu Eesa’s vile comments really are.

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    • tired of doublespeak

      Thank you, glad to see some form of intelligence and actual balance here.

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  52. Diah

    This was the most balanced and Honest analysis of the entire incident. I agree with every single word!
    I was, as a women, offended by Abu Eesa’s jokes, but I hoped for an apology. After his first indirect/stubbornly stated apology, I stopped following him because his follow-up reaction to his criticism seemed very arrogant.

    But I have no issues accepting his sincere apology, after all, we all make mistakes.

    Thank You Shiekh Yasir for being honest and stating the truth as it is.

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  53. Zafir

    Salaam – I respect Sh. Yasir and love hearing your input. However, on this issue, I have to disagree. Not every issue requires a nuanced, 7 point response. Let’s not make something academic when it’s pretty cut and dry. Imam Suhaib Webb is right on this one. It’s not “knee-jerk” to condemn something that is obviously wrong. This isn’t to say that Sh. Abu Esa is a bad person or someone who doesn’t have a lot of knowledge. But let’s be very clear. This is *no context* in which the statements he made are okay. This is even more true in his position as a community leader and public figure. I admire your inclination to err on the side of loyalty. But your friend and colleague was simply wrong. To your original point, let’s acknowledge this, and move on.

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  54. Nasir

    I reject all of these pieces/statements that try to make excuse/caveats or blame the people who were offended and outraged(rightfully so) by Abu eesas jokes, sarcasm, hyperbole (However you want to word it) The fact of the matter is that he was WRONG plain and simple. The initial Fitna was caused by Abu Eesa. His stubbornness and his decision to engage in sarcasm to attack the legitimate critics furthered that Fitna! Not the people who criticized Abu Eesa for HIS words and HIS actions! Would Yasir Qadhi make such allowances for someone who spoke to his mother/wife/daughter in such manner? No matter how long he knew that person or how good of a person they were. I highly doubt it. No one is or was asking Yasir Qadhi to abandon his friend and to analogize this situation to the things that Rev Wright said about America and his friendship with Obama is a fallacious argument! What the people who criticize Abu Eesa were asking for was for him to be accountable for his actions. He is a public figure. a sheikh and a scholar and as such he MUST be held to a higher standard because his words are given more weight than the average person on the street. There was no hidden agenda to tear down Abu Eesa by other sheikhs scholars. That smacks of a straw man/red herring. I commend those people who are in the public eye for speaking up and out about this situation when many like Yasir QAdhi and Magrhib were silent. If one wants the honor and prestige of being a scholar/sheikh/imam then one must understand with that comes the duty to behave in a manner that doesn’t alienate or offend. If Sheikh Abu Eesa wants to be a jokester/comedian/alpha male. etc then he should change careers!

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    • Abu Musa

      Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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      • Nasir

        Emotion is part of being human. Unless you are a Vulcan(which last time I checked doesn’t exist). Abu Musa, please point out where did I write that i wanted anyone to kiss my feet? where did I write that I wanted to damn Abu Eesa for eternity? if you are going to make an argument please don’t present any strawmen. it’s intellectually lazy and insulting. If Abu Eesa is willing to accept the praise for being a “rockstar”(his words not mine) then he has to be willing to be held accountable when he messes up. it’s that simple.

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  55. Saqib Ali (@SAQ1)

    I think there was an over reaction by the outraged parties but personally, I do tend to stay away from Abu Eesa’s lectures/talks because he does try to be a bit of a comedian a bit too much at times, just a bit of constructive criticism.

    And nice joke by Yasir Qadhi about us Brits spelling ‘humor’ wrong, got a chuckle out of that!
    Never knew he had it in him, Abu Eesa must be rubbing off on him.

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  56. The Salafi Feminist

    Is the alimony issue related to the fatwah of ‘Uthmaan ibn ‘Affaan when he decreed that a woman who was divorced solely to *prevent* her from inheriting, should in fact receive the share of inheritance that she would receive if she were still married?

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  57. Fauzia M

    Like it or not the truth will always prevail. None of us are above making mistakes and quite frankly from the very first day this fiasco began I was very clear in my statement that I didn’t see anything wrong with his jokes. My feelings weren’t hurt and neither did he cross any lines. Especially since it was about international women’s day, a day just like any other day with no religious or symbolic meaning to Muslims. So we all have to be careful in how we approach issues and I’m a firm believer that no matter who the individual is one shoulld speak to and correct them with good manners just as we were taught by our beloved prophet peace and blessings upon him.

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  58. PJ

    In your 2nd point you said that Abu Eesa joked about IWD, but that he never made a single joke about violence toward women, rape, FGM, or domestic violence. You are wrong, but it is an understandable mistake.

    In the comment section below the meme he posted, at 12:29 pm on March 10, Abu Eesa said, “Salahuddin Azad: you’re right, I apologise. I don’t understand women and tell the guys not to bother either, and we make jokes about them too. The aforementioned two crimes power my thirst and desire to rape women, beat them back (sic) and blue, harass them, abuse them, lock them in the boiler room at home and in the Masjid, belittle their hijab and niqab and tell everyone to mutilate their girls’ private parts and then marry them off whils they’re still at Nursery. Right. Got it. Lads, feel free to do all the above. I give you the fatwa to do it dammit!” It was then “liked” by 5 people. I found it by hitting the “View previous comments” button below the meme 2 times which showed comment 102 of 412.

    I’m sure that when you wrote this blog, you believed that Abu Eesa only joked of IWD because those words are buried in 400 comments rather than written in an easy to find post. I’m sure that you read and believed the prominent first sentence in the second paragraph of his second attempt at an apology dated March 11 which said: “I never joked about rape. I never joked about FGM. Anyone who believes otherwise is quoting me completely out of context.”

    Actually, when I read that in Abu Eesa’s second apology coupled with your blog, I began to believe it too. But I couldn’t understand how someone could fabricate such a quote and write in the style and language that seemed like Abu Eesa. (He does use inappropriate language such as “dammit” and short one and two word sentences.) I thought, “How could someone make that up?” Then I read the March 10, 7 point “apology”, In the second paragraph of his 6th point, Abu Eesa admitted saying something to that affect and mentioned that it was in a comment, so I skimmed through the thousands of comments until I found it.

    I understand that you missed it, because you are his friend and are thus prone to believe him when he said he never joked about such things. I, however, am an English major with 15 years experience as an English teacher, and an American convert whose mother-tongue is English. So I took your challenge in point 2 of your blog and decided to read the *entire* conversation.

    In your point 2, you say that people tend to see the world in the same way as their group rather than look at the facts. While, I am sure you meant that women were following feminist “group-think”, I believe you fell into the same trap. You are a good Muslim who does not lie and does not say hurtful things. So you see your friends as being the same as you and give them the benefit of the doubt. I suggest you step back, and look at your friend Abu Eesa with fresh eyes. The company you keep can either help you or harm you.

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      • PJ

        You say I am dedicated to “Vitriol” and refer to me as “you people” which is a way of creating an Us vs.Them dichotomy rather than viewing me as what I am, a fellow Muslim, not an “other”.

        Please detail what in my post you consider “vitriol”. Rather than be harsh, I gave my brother Yasir the benefit of the doubt by suggesting that perhaps he did not see that comment because it was buried in 400 other comments. That is because I am supposed to give my Muslim brother many excuses.

        I will excuse you as well and suggest that perhaps you do not know that vitriol is “harsh and angry words” according to Merriam-Webster. . . Actually, sarcasm is vitriol. They are synonyms. http://thesaurus.com/browse/vitriol

        In addition to the sarcasm and cursing (”dammit”) in Abu Essa’s comment mentioned in my post above, here are some examples of vitriol from Abu Eesa’s 7 point apology which fell into name calling and then some:
        “then you seriously need your head examining”
        “idiot”
        “fool”
        “I hope that your offence burns in your heart and causes you to wither and wiggle in rage.”
        “There is nothing that delights me more by God than making you mad.”

        You keep arguing that Abu Eesa was sarcastic and did not mean what he said. We know that. But he when you don’t mean what you say, that is a type of lie. And sarcasm comes from a Greek word that means to tear the flesh. It is not becoming of our teachers to act is such as way, especially in an global platform.

        Abu Huraira reported: It was said, “O Messenger of Allah, do you joke with us?” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, I do not say anything but the truth.”
        Source: Sunan At-Tirmidhi 1990 Grade: Sahih (authentic) according to At-Tirmidhi

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      • Mahmud

        I said, “some of you people”

        And you are among “you people” that is the group that is bent on keeping this issue alive and not letting it go.

        “I suggest you step back, and look at your friend Abu Eesa with fresh eyes.”

        Am I reading this right? Are you trying to isolate a man and destroy his friendship because of a few comments he made? If so, that is absolutely sick.

        Why don’t you just leave AE alone? No one is putting a bullet to your head and forcing you to listen to him.

        He has ALREADY APOLOGIZED.

        And anyone who knows him knows that he isn’t AT ALL a misogynist. He cares for all Muslims, male and female.

        If you are bent on vilifying him for a few mistakes he made, go ahead and do so. It is shocking how much dedication you seem to have for pressing the issue even after he has apologized.

        I will make dua to Allah aza wa jal to protect him from your attacks and all those like you.

        Salam

        *This comment was edited by the MM Comments Team in order to comply with our Comments Policy*

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      • PJ

        Assalam Alaikum wa Rhamatullahi wa Barakatu Mahmud,

        I want to begin with the salam, because the Prophet (pbuh) told us we should, and because I truly wish nothing but the peace and blessings of Allah for you (and all Muslims), and to remind you (and me) that as I write to you that I intend no harm.

        Your writing suggests you are very close to AE and that you feel personally hurt by any negative comment toward him. I’m sorry you feel pain from this, and pray Allah gives you ease.

        The goal of dialogue (whether through comments and posts or in person conversation) should be to reach the truth together; in which case we all win. It should not be contest where one side wins or loses the debate.

        You don’t know who I am, but you address me as if you think I am some outspoken enemy of Islam. I am not someone who typically posts on blogs or debates with my friends the “issue du juor”. I am not commenting on AE’s FB and attacking him. Plenty of others have given him sound advice on his FB, and rather than reflect on that advice and on himself, he says worse things.

        I am a Sunni Muslim who tries my hardest to follow the Quran and the Sunnah. Part of that is speaking the truth.

        I commented on this article by Yasir Qadhi because he is a well-respected, widely-renowned Shaikh and that comes with the responsibility. He mistakenly said something that was misleading, and he has the responsibility to correct that mistake, and stand firm on truth regardless of whether it hurts his friend.

        Allah said: “O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah , even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted.” 4:135

        You can only hide the faults of someone if they themselves attempt to hide them. AE displayed his faults on a world-wide platform and Yasir increased the reach of that platform with his article. I cannot privately contact Sh. Yasir to inform him of this un-truth he is perpetrating, so I posted the truth here to let the truth be known to others who may read this and think that this bloggers and petition makers made up that quote.

        I hope Yasir reads the comments and edits his post to remove the un-truth.

        It is my Islamic duty to speak the truth, and I have done that. There is nothing more to be gained through continued posting on the issue. This will be my last post, and I will no longer follow this thread. I hope you do the same to distance yourself from the hurt you are feeling.

        Your fellow Muslim,
        PJ

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      • Aly Balagamwala

        Very well stated sir and I think this is how conversations should be at this point … heading for closure.

        *Comment above is posted in a personal capacity and may not reflect the official views of MuslimMatters or its staff*

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      • Mahmud

        wa alayk

        Yes, I agree with Aly on this one….thanks……best to not speak on this issue anymore……and this goes for me as well.

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      • SC

        There is a big difference between saying that someone joked about rape and someone using rape in satirical remarks. The latter can be used in an argument to show the riduculousness of the opponents argument – this is exactly what Abu Eesa did – he neve joked about rape.

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      • PJ

        It does not matter whether Abu Eesa’s comment was a joke or a sarcastic remark. Either way, he said it. Even though he did not mean it, he should not have written it.

        At issue is this: are Abu Eesa and Yasir Qhadi being TRUTHFUL? They wrote statements that would make it appear as if Abu Eesa never even wrote the comment in question and they imply that is fabricated by his enemies.

        Yasir Qhadi’s blog post has far reach. I had never heard of this issue, until Yasir posted this. Most people would not take the time to actually dig into Abu Eesa’s FB page and read all the posts and comments. They would believe what Yasir wrote in his point 2 and think that if they were to take the time, they would find nothing.

        Yet, what Abu Eesa did was not exactly *Lie* but rather deceptively play with words. He said he never *joked*. And I will agree, he did not “joke” about those things. But he did in fact *write* those very exact words himself. Whether you want to call that a sarcastic response or something else is irrelevant. He did, unequivocally, write it.

        Here is what Abu Eesa wrote: “I never joked about rape. I never joked about FGM. Anyone who believes otherwise is quoting me completely out of context.”

        I will give Yasir the benefit of the doubt, and suggest that he was not being deceitful like Abu Eesa, but rather that he believed his friend and failed to see the comment which was buried in a long thread. Still, Yasir wrote this: “(Yes, there were jokes about the role of women and IWD, which will be discussed in a later point, but there was not a single joke about violence towards women). Yet, the flagrant lie that he joked about such vicious topics continued (and continues) to be perpetrated, even by respectable bloggers and academics online.”

        And whether Yasir wrote this misleading statement out of deception or ignorance, it is something he should retract.

        The quibbling over whether we should described Abu Eesa’s comment as joke or sarcasm derails us from the real issue over *what* he wrote. Many of AE’s supporters grab onto the word “sarcasm” and talk as if that can be a defense against saying improper things. Saying something crude sarcastically does not make it alright to say.

        Also, sarcasm is worse than a joke. The intentions behind sarcasm to be biting, mean, harmful; whereas the intention behind a joke is to be funny. Sarcasm is not an acceptable refutation in an argument.

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      • Mahmud

        You won’t cease to vilify him will you? Believers hide the faults of other Muslims. Believers look for an excuse. You literally are doing the exact opposite.

        “At issue is this: are Abu Eesa and Yasir Qhadi being TRUTHFUL? They wrote statements that would make it appear as if Abu Eesa never even wrote the comment in question and they imply that is fabricated by his enemies.
        Yasir Qhadi’s blog post has far reach. I had never heard of this issue, until Yasir posted this. Most people would not take the time to actually dig into Abu Eesa’s FB page and read all the posts and comments. They would believe what Yasir wrote in his point 2 and think that if they were to take the time, they would find nothing.”

        Are you joking??? The picture of Abu Eesa’s comment has been spread EVERYWHERE. Sometimes with a picture of the woman he was responding to and sometimes without. Really, you are trying too hard.

        The fact that you are so bent on letting everyone know he committed an error and getting us to believe that his error was large despite the fact that he ALREADY apologized, despite the fact that this issue is a FITNAH for the Muslims and despite the fact that this fitnah is FINALLY cooling down says FAR MORE more about you then it does about Yasir Qadhi and Abu Eesa.

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    • Tamer

      so I skimmed through the thousands of comments until I found it

      Man… You’ve got a lot of time on your hand! MashaAllah if course :)

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      • Zain

        LOL…Thats what I was thinking when I read the comment haha

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      • PJ

        Haha Tamer! Remember, I am an English major and teacher. How did I get through the massive college reading load and hundreds of student essays? Of course I picked up the ability to speed read with comprehension! :)

        The thing is, most people reading Yasir’s post would just believe what they read in point 2 or what they saw in Abu Eesa’s apology #2. It seems that Yasir and Abu Eesa are not lying when they say he did not joke about those matters. Rather they are mincing words because they claim that Abu Eesa’s comment was sarcasm rather than a joke. Yet, sarcasm is a device used in jokes so that is dangerously deceptive.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jokes

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      • Ibn Ismail

        Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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      • Kobie

        “. . . If ye differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to God and His Apostle, if ye do believe in God and the Last Day: That is best, and most suitable for final determination”. 4:59

        “O ye who believe! let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): Nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame NOR BE SARCASTIC to each other NOR CALL EACH OTHER BY (OFFENSIVE) NICKNAMES: Ill-seeming is a name connoting wickedness (to be used of one) after he has believed: And those who do not desist are (Indeed) doing wrong.” (49:11)

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      • Ayesha

        It is wickedess. Shaytan can dress up Abu Eesa’s jokes in the cloak of him being a scholar of Adhab(!), brother and comedien, but there is nothing funny about enjoining others to honor and mock women. He is a bully!

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      • Mahmud

        Good point Kobie. Also important is to not CONSTANTLY keep bringing the subject of one Muslims mistakes, is to not ENDLESSLY mention it ESPECIALLY after he has given out a sincere apology.

        Also important is to stay away from using a Muslims mistakes to SLANDER HIM, AND DEMONIZE HIM, AND HELP SHAY-TAN AGAINST HIM.

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  59. umaneesa

    Point number 2 in this article needs to address the elephant in the room: what of the hyperbolic comments?

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  60. Mohamed

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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    • Mahmud

      Look at all the thumbs down on your post. Feminists and others will do whatever they will. Allah aza wa jal is enough to protect AE and the believers from all filth.

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  61. Ayesha

    Assalamu ‘Alaykum Shaykh Yasir,

    I just visited Abu Eysa’s Facebook page for the first time. It is rampant with racist, sexist remarks. How can you stand by him?

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      • Tone of speech

        And if We willed, We could show them to you, and you would know them by their mark; but you will surely know them by the tone of [their] speech. And Allah knows your deeds. Quran 47:30

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  62. Fritz

    Definitions are important. For someone who spends their entire career in the field of Aqidah surely this is evident! The reality of feminism is so well known I dont know why you duck the question.

    Feminism is about eliminating the concept of gender roles and views all traditional family roles as oppressive and backward. Under this ideology neither wife nor husband have any obligations to each other. Feminists know what their aims are. The Prophet (saw) advocated womens rights by detailing the balanced rights AND responsibilities given to both men and women in Islam. He didnt need to use “feminism”.

    You’d to well to think twice before taking this unprecedented step of trying to re-write Islamic marraige laws. I mean SERIOUSLY how many women are brought to West and divorced with just their mahr?

    If there is any nation that demonstrates the diastrous effect of unjust alimony laws it is unquestionably America. Does it feel right that under this system your spouse – after the flimiest of excuses/disagreements – could walk away with half your wealth and put her feet up leaving you to toil away for her whilst she relaxes comfortably with full custody of your children?!

    If you want to re-write alimony laws then one must question whether the husband is really obligated to provide for any furture wife. And then we can re-write the inheritance laws. And then you are starting to re-write the whole marriage contract along western secular lines. And that is the feminist victory.

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    • Mahmud

      Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

      I know!!! How on earth can she get half my assets??? Pre-nuptials are a MUST!!!

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      • Fritz

        If this issue affected females in the same way then no doubt we would see an avalanche of articles trying to repeal American divorce laws.

        Break the family. So mothers will drop the kids and chase the money. More economic productivity.

        Interestingly Anse Tamara Gray did say: “Islam does not need feminism”

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    • Mahmud

      In light of this, lets have an article on MM on how men should get a prenup so their wives don’t get half their wealth!!!!!!!!!!

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      • Be generous

        The wealth is a families wealth. Allah (Swt) blesses the FAMILY with the wealth it isn’t a man that brings in the wealth, you get the wealth for your children, wife and for the kindness you do, it’s a gift. I believe the wealth should be shared equally once the marriage falls apart, since the woman has also invested a great deal of her time and energy into making the home a home and teaching the children, and supporting you in your career. Many companies do not hire men into very senior directorial positions if they hear that they aren’t married, because studies show – men are more successful when married. Divorcing a woman in her 30’s, 40’s and 50’s with no career experience or references and no money is putting her in hardship, and it’s also a slap in the face to anyone who believes that Motherhood in Islam is valued as a job in itself.

        I can tell you from experience, when a man leaves a woman and is miserly after divorcing her, he suffers in the end.

        My parents divorced when I was 7 years of age. My Father was very wealthy, and as many men do, started to believe he was the reason for the wealth. My Mother never worked but looked after us all and organised and supported him in the cleaning, shopping, taking care of his appointments. When he divorced her after 20 years of marriage and replaced her for a much younger wife. He was sure that he’d have a happier life. He gave my mother nothing of his wealth, just her gold bracelets (dowry), he confiscated her British passport and as my Mother could not write English she was unable to read up on her rights. He then ‘dumped’ her (as he used to fondly tell us) back ‘home’ where he found her. We were taken from her too, and we grew up in the UK with my Father.

        Sadly, my mother was left to fend for herself, sewing pillows and selling them in her village. She had a hard time, she was the disgraced divorcee and the family member the family didn’t want back.

        For my Father, well within a year of their divorce, my Father lost everything, all of his wealth, (he is still shocked to this day about how quickly this came about, considering how wealthy he was). Within 2 years we were reduced to poverty, we lived off benefits for most of our lives. My Father could never understand how this happened. My Mother however patiently persevered, she never re-married (who wants a female divorcees). She scraped and saved and eventually bought a small house for herself.

        It’s amazing how Allah (swt) blesses us in different ways. My Father through his experience is much more humble and has learnt to live off little money. My Mother lives the quiet life she’s always wanted in the safety of her own home.

        When my Father looks back he remembers the subtle pieces of wisdom she would give him. The ways she would guide him to invest money properly, move to the right areas, buy the right clothes. She had an innate gift for knowing how to succeed and she had shared this with my him. After many years, my Father admits that she was a baraka in his life and has much respect for her now.

        I think the advice he would give other men, is to be generous because Allah (swt) watches everything..

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      • Mahmud

        Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

        “I believe the wealth should be shared equally once the marriage falls apart”

        Beyond the required Islamic limit of what a man has to spend, the rest is ENTIRELY optional. He is not compelled in any way shape or form to spend beyond what Allah aza wa jal has commanded him to spend.

        Which means the kaffir law of being forced to hand over half of the wealth Allah aza wa jal provided you is entirely batil and should be negated by a good Islamic pre-nup.

        If I divorce my wife, it’s obviously not without good reason and I certainly don’t intend to give her half my wealth!

        By the way, I know Alhamdulilah my rizq is from Allah aza wa jal, may Allah aza wa hal keep it that way.

        In any case, what matters is not personal beliefs like your own but what Allah aza wa jal has ordained.

        That is final.

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  63. a fiercely gentle approach

    […] ” I firmly believe that the sacred texts of Islam, the Qurʾān and the authentic Sunnah of our Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), are the ultimate sources of our theology, legal code, and ethics. Hence, any attempt to discredit these sources is one that I will oppose in every way possible. I will not and cannot accept that men and women are physically, physiologically, emotionally, biologically, and psychologically the same. Any claims of this nature contradict known facts, lived experiences, and explicit Scripture. Hence, the Shariah views men and women as having complementary roles in society and in family, not identical. While men and women are spiritually equal, and both have equal opportunities to earn Allāh’s Pleasure and Paradise, in this world, the Shariah takes these differences into account, and does have different sets of laws for them in some arenas (not all). Any attempt to claim otherwise is simply wrong and untenable in light of the Islamic tradition, and I will oppose it as a Muslim scholar and theologian.” MuslimMatters […]

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  64. Nasreen Khan

    Assalaamu Alaikum Shaykh Yasir, Jazaakallah Khair for your unbiased article. May Allah SWT always make you rise for the truth. Ameen.

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  65. Madiha

    “Part of the perfection of someone’s Islam is his leaving alone that which does not concern him.”

    Unless he is personally attacking me as an individual woman, my character, reputation or my situation, I should not concern myself with his comments or what he calls jokes. It is very simple.

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      • Umm ZAKAriyya

        Sister, Have mercy on him . He’s a righteous person , otherwise Almaghrib would not have hired him . Everybody makes mistakes .

        He’s a good man in company of good people . So everything will be alright inshAllah . I believe this has been a trial for not just him , but also us .

        He’s one of us . So treat him like your own .
        It’s not him vs us .
        It’s all of us vs fitnah .

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      • Ayesha

        Subhan Allah, Umm ZAKAriyya, I LOVE ALMAGHRIB so much and have taken many seminars with the Shuykh since 2006. As a convert without a Mathhab, ALMAGHRIB IS MY IMAM and Mathhab (I know, that’s not the way it’s supposed to be, but that’s my reality). So that is why I am so disappointed that AlMaghrib and Shaykh Yasir have chosen to keep AE among their esteemed ranks.

        Unfortunately, and I am speaking from the heart, it makes me lose trust in AlMaghrib because I have basically forsaken my non-Muslim family to put myself in the fold of Islam in general and AlMaghrib in particular, becuase I TRUST ALMAGHRIB as representing our beautiful Deen in its finest. AlMaghrib Shyookh are – to me – the best of this generation and the best Muslims on earth, ma sha Allah.

        Now that AlMaghrib and Shaykh Yasir have sided with AE, whose many and sustained remarks are evil and reflect dark spots on his heart, I no longer feel that I can trust AlMaghrib blindly. I no longer see it as a champion of human rights and dignity, but rather an extension of the vague and vast male privilege that Islam — when practiced — rectifies and justly balances.

        Inherent to the growing Fitnah is the refusal of many of us to consider AlMaghrib part of an old boys network, but rather a stalwart beacon of justice and representation of the teachings of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, sal Allahu alayhe wa salam — even it it means asking one of its inner circle to disassociate himself from the inner sanctum — a place of Noor, Rahma and ‘Adala.

        I feel betrayed by the decision to stand with AE. I feel that I have lost my self-appointed Waliyy. I feel that I have lost something so precious as AlMaghrib was my path to the Light and ‘Ilm of Allah.

        I think it would have been better if AlMaghrib and Shaykh Yasir either distanced themselves from AE and let him go quietly, or publically disassociated themselves from him and called for his resignation as did Imam Suhaib Webb (my new #1 Imam who understands reverts and the nuances of sisters willingly submitting to brothers who they trust to defend, protect and honor them). I think there would be a lot less fitnah over this issue had AlMaghrib held AE to the same high standards (the highest standards) that I and many if not most of us hold AlMaghrib.

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      • O H

        Sister Ayesha. Don’t let the Satan deceive you by whispering “never attend anymore al-maghrib courses” because of one perceived shortcoming/mistake. There’s much khair/goodness in them and a person rather attend their courses than not gain any knowledge. Just because of one comment, Al-Maghrib doesn’t suddenly become a terrible organisation nor does Imam Suhaib Webb become the best da’ee (I am not saying anything against him). We have to have some perspective and to fire Shaykh Abu Eesa, who has benefitted the Muslims immensely, on account of a facebook post is an over-reaction. It’s not like we have thousands of shuyookh and scholars to choose from, especially someone of Shaykh Abu Eesa’s level in terms of knowledge and experience. The believers should be merciful towards their believing brothers and sisters and not treat them like enemies of Allaah and His deen. This sort of anger and strictness is applicable elsewhere. May Allaah guide us all to His Pleasure. Ameen

        The part I do agree with you is not to follow Al Maghrib blindly or anyone else for that matter.

        Imaam Malik

        He said: “I am only human, sometimes I make mistakes and sometimes I get things right. Look at my opinion and whatever is in accordance with the Qur’aan and Sunnah, take it, and whatever is not in accordance with the Qur’aan and Sunnah, ignore it.”

        Imam Malik rahimauallah said, ““Everyone’s opinion’s may be accepted or rejected, except the (the statements of) the one buried over there.” – and then he pointed to the grave of the Prophet (sallalahu alaihi wasallam)

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      • Ayesha

        Assalamu ‘Alaykum OH,

        You make the assumption that Shaytan is whispering to me: “don’t take AlMaghrib classes anymore”. Don’t worry, that is not the case. I will continue to take AlMaghrib seminars, in sha Allah, but be more careful to separate what is “Light upon Light” beneficial from that which is not beneficial, and certainly I am not likely to get an “Emaan Rush” attending one of AE’s seminars, so will avoid him completely.

        I make the assumption that Shaytan is whispering to the Brothers, “Subhan Allah, if its ok for our Imam AE to be politically incorrect and insult, slander and disrespect women, then it’s ok for me to do that too,” and he is whispering to the Sisters, “Your mom and grandmother put up with cultural misogyny. It looks like it has Islamic roots too if Imam AE can get away with it.” ‘Aoothoo bilAllhi min a Shaytan ar Rajeem.

        Only Allah knows how much misguidance, misunderstanding, unhappiness, depression and, istaghfiru Allah, divorce and division of the Ummah AE’s fitnah has caused and continues to cause.

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      • Aly Balagamwala

        Alhamdulillah if you have stopped following Al-Maghrib blindly for you should not follow any scholar or organization blindly. You may choose to accept the opinion of one scholar or organization as a matter of convenience and to prevent yourself from following your own desires, but please don’t do it blindly.

        Best Regards
        Aly
        *Comment above is posted in a personal capacity and may not reflect the official views of MuslimMatters or its staff*

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      • O H

        Wa alaykumassalam sister Ayesha.

        The last paragraph is what really scares me. I personally don’t support such jokes but the outrage has been overblown! If only such passion was exhibited by the sisters for their fellow sisters who were imprisoned, assaulted etc in Buraydah KSA (check video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYrEbibExUQ) which is actual physical torture and oppression-far worse than a few words on social media. I am sure many Muslims haven’t heard of it. Or the actual rape of our blessed sisters in Syria, May Allaah protect them-Ameen. Or freeing sister Aafia Siddique. Instead the over zealous feminists are raising such a high level of rage and attention to this which pales in comparison to the incidents I have mentioned. Highlighting error and falsehood is a key part of our deen but so is wisdom, fairness and perspective.

        Taken from Shaykh Yasir Qadhi’s Kitab At Tawheed series in his explanation of chapter 19 (http://forums.almaghrib.org/showthread.php?t=8148) this was mentioned:

        Allah’s Messenger sallahu Alayhi wasalam said; “Those who go to extremes are ruined.” He said it three times.

        Explanation:

        The Prophet sallahu Alayhi wasalam said “ the Muthanathioon have perished, and he said this three times”

        who are the Muthanathioon? They are those who go beyond the level they should. They go to extreme.

        The ahadeeth of exaggeration may apply to various aspects of the deen in which people may exaggerate in as the Shaykh mentioned in his Sharh/explanation.

        He sallahu Alayhi wasalam said; “Beware of exaggeration! For it was only exaggeration that destroyed those before you.” (Ahmad, al Nasa’I, Ibn Majah and other via Ibn Abbas Radhi ala anhum . Sahih in Sahih al Jami, no.2680 and al sahihah no.1283)

        If you don’t wanna attend his courses that is your personal choice…

        May Allaah grant us all success in both worlds, Ameen.

        Peace

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      • Ayesha

        Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  66. RCHOUDH

    Mash’Allah this is a good balanced article. The only issue I have with it is when you mentioned that brother AE never joked about rape, FGM, etc. when in fact he did, if only to make a sarcastic comment about it. Unfortunately such jokes should never be made, even in a sarcastic manner, because such issues are not to be taken lightly by any human being. I hope you acknowledge that brother AE did make this mistake and help him rectify this by promising never to make such jokes again.
    What I found interesting about this incident is how much of Western culture we, who were brought up in the West, have absorbed even without realizing it. I’m not saying this is a bad thing of course, just pointing out how our experiences may differ from that of Muslims from Muslim-majority countries. Here we have scholars who, in order to further endear themselves to their followers, engage in light-hearted jokes and banter pretty much like other public figures in the West (celebrities, politicians, intellectuals, etc) are expected to do. Inevitably said public figure winds up getting themselves into a bit of a mess when starting to joke about taboo subjects (see the many examples of celebrities and politicians getting into trouble for making racist, sexist, classist jokes). Similarly that’s what Br. AE is having to deal with now, since his IWD jokes can mostly be labelled as being sexist at the very least. The public backlash that occurred after said jokes amongst Western Muslims is also one adopted from Western culture, with the start of fierce social media campaigns, calls for public apologies and firings, etc. I think for the future it would be good to analyze such behavior/reactions in order to discover how much of Islam we are actually conforming to (this goes for both scholars and the general Muslim public).
    Finally, I’d like to request that Muslimmatters put up a post (or at least allow for an open thread discussion) about Islam and feminism, just to get some important discussions going on about this and related matters. My hope is that this incident can be used to initiate some much needed discussions about ways to rectify the many gender-related issues and problems prevalent within our society In sha Allah.

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    • O H

      Awesome suggestion regarding an open thread about Islam and feminism-one without the mention of AE or any other specific shaykh!

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      • RCHOUDH

        Yeah we should definitely keep it general so as to start some much needed discussions here In sha Allah.

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  67. RCHOUDH

    My du’as are with you brother. May Allah reward you for your patience, reunite you with your children while keeping them upon the Straight Path, and forgive your ex and help her return to the Right Path Ameen.

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