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The Lal Masjid Fiasco – Thoughts & Questions

Abu Reem

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lalmasjid.JPGI would like to prelude our friend Irtiza’s thoughts on this issue (below my notes) with some food for thought:

Instead of approaching the issue in terms of whether the vigilante actions of the Masjid people prior to the government action was justified or not, I would instead raise a few questions as to the consequences (benefits vs. harms) of what transpired and people judge for themselves whether ultimately the goods trumpeted the nags or vice-versa. At the same time, I condemn the loss of life and the hard-handed techniques of Musharraf, who continues to establish himself as Pakistan’s new Ataturk. I have to add that I don’t know what the alternative technique could have been… but where there is a will, there is always a way.

I think the consequences speak for themselves:

The “Benefits”:

  • A few (1?) spots for immoral activities shutdown and possibly others afraid to enter this “service”
  • People asking more questions about Islam and who “runs” Islam as Irtiza highlights below.

The “Harms”:

  • Public boost in image for Musharraf, who was otherwise faltering significantly and deservedly in terms of public opinion due to his handling of the Supreme Court Chief Justice.
  • The fact that this became a boost for Musharraf’s image also is pointed, in that most of Pakistan’s population seems to be supporting the government action.
  • “Mullahs” who already suffer terrible credibility and image among Pakistan’s masses (a lot of it deserved), have had their image crushed yet again. The action of the chief-Mullah of the Lal Masjid, who tried to escape in a burqah, has caused this Mullah and clerics in general to become the laughing-stock for the average person. This of course is extremely dangerous because you take away the respect of the people of knowledge from the hearts of the people, ultimately you will also take away their respect for the knowledge itself.

 

maulanaaziz-in-custody.jpg

 

  • The use of the burqa to attempt escape also further tarnishes the image of the burqah/niqab, etc. in world opinion. It will be quite justifiable for someone in UK to assert that the burqah is a security concern due to its use for such brazen escape attempts
  • Images flashing around the world were of men in beards carrying weapons and women in burqas brandishing sticks. Hmm… is there a more frightening and stereotype-strengthening visual than this?
  • A center that seemingly was teaching Quran and other Islamic studies to thousands of students may forever be closed and hopefully, transferred into the hands of education-minded authorities. Of course, based on the actions of the students, it seems that there was more than just seminary education being imparted. So, this significant “harm” would result if the seminary was closed completely, or it could turn into a positive if the education curriculum was shifted into being more religious and less political.

——————————————–

Irtiza sends the following thoughts:

In the US Muslims are often disappointed when they see anything about Islam, Muslims or events involving Muslims on television. Sometimes, this is because the Muslim watching television at home is sick of his fellow Muslims doing terrible things to make the breaking news update, and other times probably more often the Muslim watching television at home feels stereotyped and attacked by what has been shown or said about his/her religion and fellow people.

Been there, seen that.

Watching this current Lal Masjid fiasco on television here in Islamabad has been quite interesting for me. Firstly it has raised many questions and issues ranging from the common man in Pakistan to the elites who are the movers and shakers here:

1) Is violent rebellion against the government permissible?

2) Who represents the Muslims in a city, in a country, in today’s world?

3) Who can decide when Jihad is to be declared, and against whom and which people have to participate in that?

4) What is the role of Muslim woman in Islam, in their community and in politics?

These are all old questions which have old and new answers. The problem in Islamabad was that nobody was even asking questions like these before. The problem now is finding the answers which people are trying to do… mostly by means of books, television, talking to an elder in the family, discussing the issue with the “Maulvi sahib” (Imam) or anyone who attends the masjid regularly… and of course there is the internet!

As a Muslim I believe there is something good, some blessing in everything that happens, and while I may not be able to understand it or comprehend it, I know that what happens or the result of what happens will always have some good in it. I wanted to contemplate on that “good” in light of the Lal Masjid debacle and I believe at least one of the blessings from this tragedy is that people are now discussing these Islamic issues.

Now we need to work on a way to help them get answers… maybe I will suggest Munnajid’s Islam Q&A website.

———————-

Is it Permissible to Cross-Dress to Escape from the Authorities?
I knew from this episode sooner or later someone would ask about the “permissibility of cross-dressing to evade authorities during a hostile stand off” and it happened today, sort of…

So ”Maulana” Abdul-Aziz appeared on PTV (Pakistan’s pro-government TV station) today and he was still in the burka actually (at least the robe, he had remove the niqab) and the reporter asked him (in Urdu):

“You try to convince so many young people to go for martyrdom (shahaadat) and to sacrifice their lives and yet you tried to escape pretending to be a girl in a cowardly fashion. How can you justify that? Was this reasonable for you to do?”

He said (a bit surprised perhaps from the question), “What I did, wearing the burka is permissible (jaa’iz) since I was trying to escape out of fear for the lives of so many of our students and young people.”

A researcher at the International Islamic University says, “Maybe in his mind it was some sort of daroorah (necessity) where he thought saving those student’s lives really was at stake and the ultimate purpose of the shariah would be to protect them so dressing like a woman for a short while would be acceptable.

These people (Lal Masjid) clearly have lots of issues and him dressing as a woman is probably not the biggest of them, but it will make nice pictures for the media, and it is rather funny too.”

It should be noteworthy that there have been massive demonstrations against Lal Masjid in Pakistan, the biggest in Karachi earlier this year.

I think one local Imam in Islamabad said it best, “We tell people about the Shariah under Abu Bakr and Umar and about justice and tolerance and how great it was. Sometimes they look at us as if they do not really believe us, and you can see that people hate even the mention of this word today (shariah) because of people like the ones at Lal Masjid.”

Abu Reem is one of the founders of MuslimMatters, Inc. His identity is shaped by his religion (Islam), place of birth (Pakistan), and nationality (American). By education, he is a ChemE, topped off with an MBA from Wharton. He has been involved with Texas Dawah, Clear Lake Islamic Center and MSA. His interests include politics, cricket, and media interactions. Career-wise, Abu Reem is in management in the oil & gas industry (but one who still appreciates the "green revolution").

71 Comments

71 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Hassan

    July 9, 2007 at 6:03 AM

    If Maulana Abdul Aziz was concerned for lives of students, he should not have bragged for months of his power and tried to confront authorities to start with. Even if he did that, he should not have tried to escape in burqa, rather than just given up (if it was to save lives of women and children inside). Moreover, government is already saying, let women and children leave, so whose lives he was trying to protect.

    Its plain sad events, but as Irtiza said, there may be some good out of it.

  2. Avatar

    Mujahideen Ryder

    July 9, 2007 at 8:51 AM

    I really don’t know what to say. I don’t understand what goes through the minds of these people.

  3. Avatar

    Abu Muhammad

    July 9, 2007 at 12:13 PM

    Just some thoughts:

    1. Those who we sometimes see as scholars are not really so. They may have rote memorised principles of fiqh and other sciences in a madrasah but have no real knowledge as they are drowning in blind imitation, not knowing how to apply Islam to the current age.

    This is just a general observation of the Pakistan madrasah system. Not really aimed at one person.

    2. No understanding of reality?

    How on earth do you intend to establish sharia within a state with its own leader and army?

    3. Self deception. Delusions of grandeur perhaps?

    4. Obviously the secularists got their goals out of this situation.

    5. Can we go back to Tasfiyyah and Tarbiyyah now?

    When we deserve a state of Sharia, Allah will bless us with it. But we should forever remain in our call to the worship of Allah alone.

  4. Pingback: The Red Mosque at Ijtema

  5. Avatar

    AnonyMouse

    July 9, 2007 at 2:32 PM

    I’ve found this whole issue pretty confusing and sad…. in fact, I’m afraid I’m not quite sure what the basis of this whole issue is!
    I know that some people (allegedly from the masjid/ madrasah) were going around attacking others for not being “Islamic” enough, but other than that I have noooooo idea.

  6. Avatar

    Yasir Qadhi

    July 9, 2007 at 3:23 PM

    One of the main problems of the ulama in many parts of the world, and in particular India/Pakistan, is that they are typically from lower social and economic classes. This results in them behaving and acting (and giving fatwas) in a manner that those of higher classes simply cannot connect to, and, in all honestly, look down upon. It also means that most of the time such ulama are disconnected from world reality and simply do not understand the ramifications of their actions in the eyes of the international media. They have no understanding of their public image and how it is misused to cast a negative light on all ulama, and thus on the religion of Islam.

    On the flip side, some ulama who really are intellectually above most others are simply not understood by most of the ‘average’ ulama and the masses that follow them. When a scholar does indeed start thinking outside of the box, this leads to great consternation amongst his supposed peers. There are some perfect examples of this in the fitna that occurred in the ranks of the Saudi ulama a decade ago – one could really state that a certain group were more in tune with the world situation and another group were still clinging on to an older, more constricted vision of the world…

    The dire need for educated, intelligent ulama is become more and more apparent in every situation the ummah finds itself in.

  7. Avatar

    abdul

    July 9, 2007 at 6:45 PM

    Please stick with your American Muslims, you have alot of work to do there. Pakistan does not need your opinions and ignorance. You live in a Kafir land, helping the kuffar increase in resources to kill us, so what Iman do you have anyways?

  8. Avatar

    Hassan

    July 9, 2007 at 7:17 PM

    Abdul, your molvi Abdul Aziz seems to be of very high imaan, not only he is keeping beard, he is also wearing hijaab. Masha’Allah

  9. Avatar

    Omer

    July 10, 2007 at 4:23 AM

    Assalamualaikum

    This article (and some comments) seems a little harsh and disrespectful. There isnt a need to make such a huge issue of the burka incident.

    Sh. Yasir explained it best.

    These maulanas at the lal masjid demanded that shariah be established in Pakistan. Their cause is noble, but the means to it arent. They created a state within a state and thats what led to what happened.

    Were their actions right? Was Government’s reaction just? There’s right and wrong on both sides. Allahu Alam.

    Unfortunately, blood of our brothers and sisters was shed. May Allah forgive them and have mercy on them. ameen.

  10. Avatar

    DrM

    July 10, 2007 at 5:23 AM

    This whole fiasco is Mush’s latest political power play. Many of you are simply misinformed about the Lal Masjid scenario. The tinpot tyrant has been using them for months to claim that he is the only thing stopping them from “taking over” Pakistan. All they ever did was shut down a couple of brothels, which bribed the local cops to look the other way. Next thing you know, the usual suspects claimed that the Taliban was taking over Pakistan.
    Mush also ordered attacks on the press, and weakened the judiciary by firing the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

  11. Amad

    Amad

    July 10, 2007 at 8:34 AM

    Dr. M, as I mentioned in my post, unfortunately what happened in the mosque ultimately strengthened the tinpot tyrant’s hand. Busharraf likes to play politics with peoples’ lives… he let the situation brew and cook for months, and the clerics in the Mosque became his willing pawns… it was like he was holding these cards, ready to play them when the opportune time came. As the Chief Justice problem started to creep in, and the Red Mosque admin. had done enough damage to their own public reputation, it was the perfect storm for Busharraf to ride, and so he did!

    How unfortunate to have bloodshed in the Mosque. What a precedent for the rest of the world to witness. Next time, any other occupation army wants to storm a Masjid because of alleged militants, they can always point to Pakistan, a “Muslim” country that did so. Of course we cannot take away the blame for this from the tinpot tyrant, as you aptly describe this machiavellian dictator, but we cannot forget that the Masjid admin. had a huge role in leading to this fiasco.

  12. Avatar

    Suhail

    July 10, 2007 at 10:23 AM

    Yeah it was unfortunate. May Allah have mercy on those who died and may Allah give musharraf what he deserve.

    Jazakallah Khair
    Suhail

  13. Avatar

    Yasir Qadhi

    July 10, 2007 at 10:48 AM

    I JUST read that Maulvi Ghazi was killed, along with fifty others in the masjid.

    Subhan Allah – how sad. I simply cannot understand how Muslim soldiers can attack a masjid and fire weapons upon the people trapped inside it.
    May Allah forgive all those who were killed in this dastardly operation – even if we disagreed with the methods of those Muslims, there is no doubt that such violence from the Musharraf government was totally uncalled for.

    For me, the saddest part of this whole operation is not that these people were killed (hopefully their reward is with their Lord), or that the government attacked the masjid (worse has indeed occurred in our history!). No, what is really and truly sad – pathetic actually – is that it appears that Musharraf’s ratings have soared due to this incident, and his popularity renewed.

    What a sad state of affairs, when barricading and then storming a masjid in a Muslim land, and massacring the people inside, actually makes you more popular….

  14. Avatar

    abu ameerah

    July 10, 2007 at 11:48 AM

    This attack makes WACO look like a field day. Even, then Attorney General Janet Reno, gave the Brach Davidians 51 (yes 51) days before making the decision for a final assault on their compound.

    NOTHING the Administration of the Lal Masjid did warranted such heavy handed military action on the part of Pakistani Government. The Masjid was already under seige. Why not just wait ’em out?

    I wonder if all of the “hijab” and “burqa” jokes are funny now?

  15. Amad

    Amad

    July 10, 2007 at 12:24 PM

    From Joy to despair
    Seems that there was a negotiated settlement at hand, but just like Bush did with Iraq, Busharraf did not want to let the opportunity of free publicity pass by, so he went in doing the “macho” thing, killing people within the Masjid. Apparently, much of what I have read in the news argues that Musharraf’s biggest benefit out of this would be his image in the West. So that the West can continue to ignore his excesses and his non-democratic government. Image and power over spilled blood… what an evil choice to make!

    A tragedy indeed.

    P.S. I maintain though that the people of knowledge have to measure the benefits and harms of any action. They cannot allow themselves to be put in a situation where the opportunist evil-doers like Busharraf can take advantage.

  16. Avatar

    Niqaabis

    July 10, 2007 at 1:25 PM

    Inna lillaahi wa inna ilayhi raji’oon

    May Allaah shower His mercy upon the deceased aameen

    really saddening news…

  17. Avatar

    Salafiya

    July 10, 2007 at 1:45 PM

    Assalam Alaikum Wa Rahmatullah

    That was not cool…mocking the hijaab….(or not the hijaab, but making jokes about it).

    There have been reports that Abdul ‘Aziz was not trying to escape, rather he was told to wear the burqa by the army so that they could make it seem like HE was the one who tried to escape. Think about it…why would he leave his students in there, not to mention his mother and brother?

    And yeah, I’m not trying to defend any mistakes that they (Jami’ah Hafsa) made, but I’m getting sick of people just attacking them and making them seem worse than the Pakistani army.

    And I think the death tolls are in their hundreds. 50 people is a gross understatement.

    My mom was saying that the Lal Masjid (Red Masjid) is truly red now (because of the blood that marks it)

    Anyhow, may Allaah grant them shahada, Ameen.

  18. Avatar

    Salafiya

    July 10, 2007 at 2:12 PM

    *When I mentioned the escaping part, I’m not saying it’s necessarily true….but my point was to give excuses and not be so rude towards the brother. Even if they made mistakes, they are still our brothers and sisters. Nothing they did justifies them being killed by other Muslims.

    Allaahul Musta’an.

  19. Avatar

    abdul

    July 10, 2007 at 3:21 PM

    I find it praiseworthy to be attacked by westerners who believe think they have Islam. Keep in mind you Western “Muslims” are also part of the problem and we see you people as our enemies who have betrayed Islam and Muslims.

    You call us ignorant yet we are the one’s who are fighting to liberate the Muslim countries and bringing the Islamic state back inshallah soon. You live in haram, you have no wala wal bara, you work to destroy the islamic state and mock the Muslims who are out in Allahs way.

    You dont even know how to give dawah the right way, so what do you criminals equal to the zionists O Amad and Hassan do? Do you mock our sincere while we chose to die instead of living in kufr like your people do? Are you enjoying the stolen resources from the Muslims? Do you enjoy paying tax money to kill Muslims? Or is it “my intention is not that” yet your actions are the opposite?

    You will be disgraced inshallah if you dont support Islam with your sword, tongue and wealth.

  20. Avatar

    ...

    July 10, 2007 at 3:33 PM

    its interesting that soldiers who are dying are being called ‘martyr’…i dont think if either side would be martyr in this case since its muslims killing muslims and the whole things sounds political rather then religious

  21. Amad

    Amad

    July 10, 2007 at 3:37 PM

    Our friend, Abdul, has already put us among the enemies, i.e. an underhand “takfir”. The comment reminds me of the Khawarij-style… The rhetoric is so self-grandizing, self-righteous, and ultimately self-deceiving that it almost refutes its own self. For now I’ll just add this:

    “Brave” Abdul is so brave that he decides to anonymize his comments, sitting behind a proxy… so what are you so afraid of?

    About IP 85.195.123.22

  22. Avatar

    Hassan

    July 10, 2007 at 4:26 PM

    Salafiya, I truly repent to Allah if I crossed my limits.

    You must see I did not make fun of hijaab at all, I was replying to Abdul who doubted our imaan in the post, and yet you did not defend us either, and later he called me and Amad kafir. Anyway, this is sad. I have to worry now, this is first time somebody did takfir against me, may Allah give me death while I am on state of iman and muslim, and worshipping none but Allah alone.

  23. Avatar

    Salafiya

    July 10, 2007 at 4:47 PM

    Ameen to your du’aa

    I didn’t say you made fun of the hijaab itself. Actually, notice I put in parenthesis “(not the hijaab, but making jokes about it)”

    And by ‘making jokes about it’, I meant making jokes about the brother who came out in the burqa (and none of us knows the reason).

    I didn’t read Abdul’s whole comment. Actually, all I read were his first two sentences…something about western Muslims I think. Also, I didn’t even know who I was replying to when I said that it wasn’t cool to mock. I thought there were a couple of other comments about it, which is why I got so angry because it’s the brother who is being attacked, not Musharraf. Though AbdulAziz may have been wrong in several things, he is still trying to do good. What’s Busharraf trying to do?

  24. Amad

    Amad

    July 10, 2007 at 4:53 PM

    One suggestion to everyone: please read the information and comments carefully, if you have a specific issue to reply to. Don’t be hasty otherwise you may say something that you wouldn’t have if you had read the information properly.

    I found Hassan’s comment very humorous… it was tongue-in-cheek and was a justifiable response to abdul. How anyone could assume that to be mockery of hijab is beyond me. Salafiya, your point on mocking the man is well-taken.

  25. Avatar

    Salafiya

    July 10, 2007 at 6:30 PM

    How anyone could assume that to be mockery of hijab is beyond me.

    ( )…again, they’re ‘( )’ there for a reason.

    maybe I should’ve clarified what I meant by “it” in my first comment, but I thought it was pretty self-explanatory since I immediately said “or not the hijaab.” If anyone still hasn’t figured this out, I meant the situation (AbdulAziz in a burqa) when I said ‘it’.

    anyways, I think I am done. barakAllaahu feekum.

  26. Amad

    Amad

    July 11, 2007 at 12:09 AM

    May Allah forgive me if it came out as mocking of the Imam. We got caught up in the brazenness of Abdul’s comment. And Abdul, if you wish to engage with us, I am sure we can do that in a moderate, gentle manner. The Prophet (S) was kind and gentle even with those he disagreed with.

  27. Avatar

    nuqtah

    July 11, 2007 at 3:55 AM

    [quote]One of the main problems of the ulama in many parts of the world, and in particular India/Pakistan, is that they are typically from lower social and economic classes. This results in them behaving and acting (and giving fatwas) in a manner that those of higher classes simply cannot connect to, and, in all honestly, look down upon. It also means that most of the time such ulama are disconnected from world reality and simply do not understand the ramifications of their actions in the eyes of the international media. They have no understanding of their public image and how it is misused to cast a negative light on all ulama, and thus on the religion of Islam.

    [/quote]

    This is a brash generalization. Actually it really is a slap in the face of muslims in Indo-Pak by our brothers residing cosily in the west, who like to gloat about how educated they are. In fact this is quite a deep rooted phenomena, people in west tend to look down upon Ulema in the east, but this is a topic for another time.

    Getting back to the point, this point is actually quite irrelevant in the context of Lal masjid clerics. Because, Maulana Abdul rashid Ghazi was actually well educated, and was fluent in english. In fact he was once seen as a moderate compared to his older brother. He was pursuing degree in International Studies when his father was assassinated and he was appointed assisstant Khateeb at Lal Masjid. It is said this where he started radicalizing.

    As for the Lal Masjid scenario, I can honestly say that I never expected it to turn violent. It seems that both the govt. and the extremists who later besieged Lal Masjid (it is said they had also besieged Maulana Abdul rashid) saw an opportunity to further their agenda. I think this was the crucial factor in turning the situation bloody.

    The demands of establishing Shari’ah were valid, and I do believe that the poor students of Jamiah Hafsa and Jamiah Faridiah were sincere. However, their approach was erronous and degenerated into violence.

    Having said this, I fully agree with what Dr. M said.

    And Allah knows best.

  28. Avatar

    Osman

    July 11, 2007 at 4:54 AM

    assalaamu`alaikum all

    im a bro from singapore, born and bred here. akhee abdul – the muslims in the west are doing alot of good and i admire them for that. the zeal they have is something those in muslim countries should emulate. i understand where you are coming from and that is subject to further discussion – about muslims leaving the west and returning ‘home’. they are sincere and concerned about the situation of the ummah, as we all are. Muslims everywhere should correct their approach in doing things and brother, on your part, you should open your arms and ask Amad and Hassan to return, where is your magnanimity, instead of asking them to be disgraced.

    Hassan – your comment absolutely cracked me up!

  29. Amad

    Amad

    July 11, 2007 at 8:59 AM

    One of the main problems of the ulama in many parts of the world, and in particular India/Pakistan, is that they are typically from lower social and economic classes.

    There is nothing brash about this, Nuqtah. It is well known that back home (I am from there, my parents still live there) that the non-bright (in secular studies) students are usually sent to memorize Quran and become moulvis. And having been there, I saw plenty of proof of that. That is why you have so much ignorance and so much innovation as well such as grave-worshipping, etc. As you said, that is a matter for another time.

    Of course, there have been stars and will always be stars and beacons of light that emanated from the sub-continent. Sh. Syed Sabiq, Shah Ismail Shaheed, Sh. Mawdudi, Sh. Thanvi, Sh. Zaheer Elahi, Sh. Abdul Ghaffar Hasan and his sons, Sh. Taqi Uthmani and so on. A general statement does not preclude many exceptions to it.

  30. Avatar

    nuqtah

    July 11, 2007 at 11:38 AM

    [quote]There is nothing brash about this, Nuqtah. It is well known that back home (I am from there, my parents still live there) that the non-bright (in secular studies) students are usually sent to memorize Quran and become moulvis. And having been there, I saw plenty of proof of that. That is why you have so much ignorance and so much innovation as well such as grave-worshipping, etc. As you said, that is a matter for another time.

    Of course, there have been stars and will always be stars and beacons of light that emanated from the sub-continent. Sh. Syed Sabiq, Shah Ismail Shaheed, Sh. Mawdudi, Sh. Thanvi, Sh. Zaheer Elahi, Sh. Abdul Ghaffar Hasan and his sons, Sh. Taqi Uthmani and so on. A general statement does not preclude many exceptions to it.
    [/quote]

    If you or anyone has lived in Pakistan and are impartial and sincere in their observations, it is not hard to realize that in the sub-continent there’s a fine difference between an ‘aalim and a ‘maulvi’. While it is literally possible for anyone to be a Maulvi, it is not exactly true for an ‘aalim. It also shows the ignorance of actual curricula thought in the madressah, it includes mantiq and literature (urdu and farsi). Even if we suppose that most scholars are backward Jaahils (wal iyadhubillah), it would be quite hard to digest that they didn’t change their mentalities and manner of thinking after learning the noble sciences of fiqh, mantiq, and even literature.

    Anyway, as long as you dont have empirical data to back up your claim, you have no proof.

    Let’s suppose even if most of the Ulema (not just ‘maulvis’) come form lower class of the society? What is being implied here? Are you suggesting that people from lower class lack critical thinking abilities? This is yet again another insidious implication without a basis.

    Really it is quite easy for you or me, who have had the ‘honor’ of living in West to condemn Muslims of Indo-Pak as being backward, grave worshipping mubtadee3s.

    As if we are suggesting that they failed to see the true light of Islam when it had been present in Subcontinent for centuries. Yet, us being in West for 20 years? 30 years? 40 years? Were able to see the ‘true’ Islam.

    I hope you realize how absurd this sounds.

    In all honesty such comments are quite insulting (especially when Ulema are implicated), and smell of arrogance and a snobbish attitude.

    (btw Sayed Sabiq was egyptian).

    Wassalam.

  31. ibnabeeomar

    ibnabeeomar

    July 11, 2007 at 12:02 PM

    “What is being implied here? ”

    the answer (as was posted by sh. yasir) is:

    [quote]This results in them behaving and acting (and giving fatwas) in a manner that those of higher classes simply cannot connect to, and, in all honestly, look down upon. It also means that most of the time such ulama are disconnected from world reality and simply do not understand the ramifications of their actions in the eyes of the international media. They have no understanding of their public image and how it is misused to cast a negative light on all ulama, and thus on the religion of Islam.[/quote]

    that’s the REALITY of the situation. i dont see from this that he is ‘dissing’ their intellectual abilities, its just that they operate in different circles and thus there is a disconnect.

    br. nuqtah please tone down your comments and try to be a bit amiable as br. amad mentioned, if you keep up with the acerbic/condescending stuff we will moderate the comments.

  32. Avatar

    Mujahideen Ryder

    July 11, 2007 at 12:18 PM

    “ATol: Maulana Abdul Aziz has been arrested. Many people believe the way in which he was arrested does not match the actions of a person who preaches to others to sacrifice their lives for the cause.

    Aziz: This is all government propaganda. The night Maulana Abdul Aziz was arrested and brought to [state-run television] PTV, I had just finished a talk show and was on the way out with Ejazul Haq [minister for religious affairs] and the anchor of the program. I saw Maulana Aziz along with security officials. He hugged me, but only touched fingers when Ejaz tried to shake hands with him.
    He immediately told me that he had been deceived. He said he was called by a senior official of an intelligence agency with whom he had been in touch for a long time. Since the official could not enter the mosque to meet him [to save his cover and identity] he asked Maulana Aziz to come to Aabpara police station [in walking distance of the mosque] and asked him to dress in a burqa to avoid being identified. [Aziz admitted that he and his brother Ghazi had done this many times before when they were declared wanted by the government]. But as soon as Maulana Aziz left the mosque he was arrested. ”

    Source: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/IG07Df01.html

  33. Avatar

    Hassan

    July 11, 2007 at 12:21 PM

    Funny, there are people in world who claim that Indo-Pak aalims are awsome because islam was there for centuries, yet they hate ulama of Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of islam. I smell racism/sectarianism.

  34. Avatar

    Mujahideen Ryder

    July 11, 2007 at 12:26 PM

    There are many Indo-Pak aalims who are very similar to the ulama of Saudi Arabia.

  35. Avatar

    Yasir Qadhi

    July 11, 2007 at 12:29 PM

    Salam

    Br. Nuqtah you have read your own prejudices and misconceptions into my statements. I believe IbnAbeeOmar has tried to clarify what my post so clearly says – hence there is no need to go in circles.

    Also I was not referring to any one particular person, but rather the general trend in our countries. Children who go to the best schools and univeristies typically do not end up as scholars, whereas those of lower social backgrounds disproportionately make up the ranks of those studying in madrasahs and seminaries. I am honestly surprised if you believe this trend is otherwise.

    What that translates into is that those from higher social backgrounds (and it is indeed these people who typically end up in positions of power, politics and media) simply cannot connect with the mentality of many religous leaders (both maulvi and alim). Not all, but many…

    I believe scholars need to come from all backgrounds. Someone educated in the West, regardless of how much he knows of Islam, would be a terrible person to put in charge of an average masjid in the East, and vice versa.

    It is the Sunnah of Allah that He sent prophets to the people of their civilization and culture (with some very few exceptions); the elite of Pakistan, for the most part, do not have an alim of ‘their’ mentality that they can truly look up to and admire.

    It is for this simple reason that some modern figures, such as Dr. Hashimi, have had such a powerful impact on certain circles in Pakistan. Its not that these individuals are ‘more’ scholarly than those trained in madrasahs or seminaries, its just that they know how to connect to the people and teach them matters that are of more relevance to them, in a manner that is more condusive to their psyche.

    And BTW, I have spent ten years in one of the most prestigious seminaries in the world. I can assure you – from first hand observation – that a mere exposure to Islamic sciences does not automatically convert anyone into an intellectual genius. In the end of the day, all you need to do is pass the exam to move on, and as we all know, taking and passing an exam is an art that is typically semi-independant of the subject matter actually being tested :)

    Yasir

  36. Avatar

    Hassan

    July 11, 2007 at 12:46 PM

    Mujahideen Ryder, you are right, and I respect all ulama regardless of race, as long as they are talking from Quran and Sunnah. But I have seen an attitude rampant among Pakistanis (I am Pakistani, so i deal them with more, I do not know about arabs) that they say, forget that scholar he is an arab, what does he know! May be there are arabs who would just reject truth just because its not coming from an arab mouth, I do not know, since I do not know arabic, and I hang out with Pakistanis mostly.

  37. Avatar

    A non mouse

    July 11, 2007 at 1:06 PM

    FYI:

    The Ghazi brother who was killed was not a Maulana or an Alim or a Mullah or a scholar of Islam. He graduated from the university in Islamabad. He had a masters. He never graduated from any Madrasah. The Lal Masjid became what it was after he took over.

  38. Avatar

    nuqtah

    July 11, 2007 at 1:15 PM

    Perhaps I did read into your words, no harm intended though. I have no hidden agenda.

    [quote]It is for this simple reason that some modern figures, such as Dr. Hashimi, have had such a powerful impact on certain circles in Pakistan. Its not that these individuals are ‘more’ scholarly than those trained in madrasahs or seminaries, its just that they know how to connect to the people and teach them matters that are of more relevance to them, in a manner that is more condusive to their psyche.

    [/quote]

    I do agree with this bit. Jzak Allahu khair.

  39. Amad

    Amad

    July 11, 2007 at 2:55 PM

    Nuqtah: “(btw Sayed Sabiq was egyptian).”

    Oops, I meant Siddiq Hasan Khan.

  40. Avatar

    Yus from the Nati

    July 11, 2007 at 7:30 PM

    In my experience, what Sh.Yasir says is what I hear all the time from the older Indo-Pak crowd. Meaning even some of the “progressives” (hate labeling but don’t want to write a thesis of some people’s views) are saying that it’s sad that the Islamic education over there is the default or secondary when it comes to the secular education. Meaning you fail your tests and do bad in school, can’t pay for school, WHATEVER…your DEFAULT is the “madrassas”/ “Islamic education” etc. In general I guess that’s where the class-sim / disconnect starts. UNFORTUNATELY, there’s always 2 extremes to the situation. Both ends seem to forgo many crucial Islamic ideologies/rulings due to ignorance. (We got to meet somewhere in the middle)

    It comes to the point where you’ll have discussions over here of “why believe in hadith”, “you don’t have to do this or that (fast all the days, pray 5 times a day if you work)”, “Quran is open for EVERYBODY’s interpretation” May Allah guide us all.

    I feel because of the Islamic education being taught as a “default”, the other enders want to reevaluate Islam since they’re academically smarter/educated.

    These ideas have had such an effect on many families in my community. I mean my own father thinks I’m going to blow myself up or get arrested and locked up for life because I have a beard and long hair.

    I mean yesterday my dad said that I’m an extremist and should go to the “Lal Masjid” because I said it might be better for him to perform wudu before handling the Quran. (Really I didn’t even know what the Lal Masjid fiasco was until I looked on this post). The view of Islam has just been SO distorted among so many Muslims (forget Non-Muslims)! It’s like everybody is just wandering doing their own thing it’s crazy! This post is probably not making any sense, I think I’m just heated.

    PS Sh. Waleed Basyouni told us a funny story of Siddiq Hasan Khan and Jinn.

  41. ibnabeeomar

    ibnabeeomar

    July 11, 2007 at 9:50 PM

    what was the story

  42. Avatar

    Yus from the Nati

    July 11, 2007 at 11:20 PM

    Forgive me for the details because I’m going from memory but it goes like this (paraphrased)….

    One day a snake appeared in his house. So he asked it to leave 3 times (b/c of the Hadith) It didn’t leave so he killed it. So later that night he wakes up finding himself being carried to a “Jinn court”! There was an actual Jinn judge and everything. So the judge was telling him “you killed one of us” etc. Siddiq Hasan Khan responded with “I only did what I heard from a Hadith in Bukhari” And I guess they were disputing whether or not the story was true (meaning there is a hadith of asking a snake 3 times, etc.) So then the Jinn bring out an OLLD OLD “man”, so old that the Jinn were carrying him. And the Judge asked whether or not this is true. And the “old man” responded “Yes! I heard it from Abu Hurayrah” (meaning that’s one super old jinn)

    THE END

    Ok maybe this story wasn’t so funny but more so interesting as hell. He told us other Jinn stories/magic stories as well. If you’re interested you can hit me up.

  43. Avatar

    Yasir Qadhi

    July 11, 2007 at 11:39 PM

    This article, despite its length, is a MUST read – absolutely amazing….

    http://www.counterpunch.org/khan07072007.html

  44. Avatar

    Ibrahim

    July 12, 2007 at 1:22 AM

    I live in the US but wasn’t born or raised here and am very much in tune with what goes on in Pakistan. The problem with Lal Masjid is that they allowed their students to take the implementation of shariah in their own hands, and as far as I know, there is ijema of scholars that this cannot be done. Shyakh Yasir Qadhi please correct me if I’m mistaken.

    SubhanAllah, I wanted to make a very similar point that Shaykh Yasir Qadhi made, but didn’t because I was afraid of slandering the scholarship of ulema if I chose the wrong words. Please correct me if I say something wrong. The point Shaykh Yasir Qadhi made is very true. But, I want to clarify or add to what Shaykh Qadhi said. It is not the lower economic status and not really “social” either. The fact is that in every single Muslim country, and this has been documented in speeches I’ve heard, for the past few centuries the scholarship has come from village or village-like environment (yes this would include lower economic and social status but not necessarily)—from cocoon-like thinking per se. And, this “cocoon-like” is a word a scholar used in his speech.

    As shaykh Qadhi said the problem is disconnect between scholars who come from different background and those who are urban. And, the fact of the matter is this distinction between city dwellers and ‘arabi (villager) has always been there, and I deliberately used the word ‘arabi for people who have knowledge. For example, the dawah that started from Saudi would have been not as effective or good had it not been that Saudi society would generally become “worldly” due to money and force scholars there to become worldly as well. I used Saudi example because people here would be generally aware of them. You take the same scholars, ibn Baz or ibn Uthaymeen, place them in pre-1950’s Saudi Arabia and see the results, Allahu A’lam. And, this won’t detract from their scholarship. It’s about being savvy and not if someone is a great muhaddith or faqih or not.

    As Yasir Qadhi mentioned, this problem is more so in Pakistan, and it is mainly due to the fact that Pakistan is much more poorer and “backward” than most other Muslim country (check income pre capita—I think only Yemen, Sudan and Mauritania would have lower numbers but this is my guess). And, I am talking about “backward” in terms of economy and social awareness only—not intellect or religious scholarship. Secondly, unlike most Muslim countries Pakistan has never had a very strong central government/dictatorship. And, although there is a lot of benefit in this (like no restriction on doing a talk after a salat unlike Saudi and other places) there are cons as well such as any, literally any, Tom, Dick and Harry can open and run a madrassah if he can raise funds. There is no quality control of madaaris. And, although I’m not endorsing al-Azhar, at least they provide uniformity in Egypt because its awqaaf controls much of religious education (which has its own pros and cons). On top of that, almost all such dime-a-dozen madaaris are run by semi-literate mawlanas with no ijaazah and ‘arabi thinking/ways of implementation.

    You take the ground realities in Pakistan, economic and political, and export it to another country, Saudi or otherwise, and you will have the exact same results, Allahu Alam.

    So, for people to think that ulema’s village-based background and not being worldly has nothing to do with anything (Nuqtah), then that’s very wrong. And, similarly for some to think that it is due to generally no real scholarship in Pakistan (some others), then that is extremely wrong too.

  45. Avatar

    Ibrahim

    July 12, 2007 at 2:25 AM

    Shaykh Qadhi, Musharraf’s popularity soared among the elite liberals who run the newspapers, blogs and forums. Ground realities are much different. Most are cursing him. I’m assuming your info is through internet and thus liberal sources??

    As br. Amad said, these people should know what type of people rule over them. The situation is somewhat similar to what the Saudi government did to Juhayman al-Utaybi and al-Jama‘ as-Salafiyyah al-Muhtasiba, but that was more serious as that involved Kaa’ba.

  46. Avatar

    Mercy towards the Believers

    July 12, 2007 at 3:47 AM

    Asalamu alaykum to all.

    Instead of commenting on the Lal Masjid issue, i just want to comment on the comments i have read here.

    I think it is really said that it seems that people do not think before they speak. From Yasirs writing a comment

    “One of the main problems of the ulama in many parts of the world, and in particular India/Pakistan, is that they are typically from lower social and economic classes. This results in them behaving and acting (and giving fatwas) in a manner that those of higher classes simply cannot connect to, and, in all honestly, look down upon.”

    And then trying say that he was not speaking of the Lal Masjid issue by saying later “Also I was not referring to any one particular person, but rather the general trend in our countries.”

    Well Yasir, when you write statements like these in response to a certain article about a certain Masjid and imam, what are people supposed to think? And then of course you find out that you are blatantly wrong contradicted yourself when you posted the article from counterpunch

    “http://www.counterpunch.org/khan07072007.html”.

    Well, I think more people read your first comments where you seem to attack Ghazi and an ignorant Maulwi who has no foresight and knowledge of present issues, and of lower class.

    And then of course other people attacking Abdul-Aziz when he wore the burqah, and making disgracing comments, only to find out they have been wrong about what actually happened?

    Let me ask this,,, how many people who were so bold to write actually knew what was going on other than what they heard on Big Brother’s News?

    Shame on you! At least I would have expected better from some of the Bloggers here, as they claim to have such knowledge.

    And of course, instead of trying to focus on the many valid points on Abdul, you choose to attack his statements which may have been wrong. What a good way to justify a persons on guilt and wrongs.. attack the other!

    And the article in itself.. Since when is the writer of the main article now qualified to write about advantages and harms! As if he is a mujtahid. Have you read their opinion of the masaalih and mafaasid? SubhanAllah! We seek Allah’s protection from ghuroor and from being amongst the ruwaiybidah.

    How sad it is to see that some Muslims, turn their back on our brothers. I am not saying that you have to agree to what happened, if it did the way the news portrayed it, but read the comments and see how many people attacked our brothers and sisters who died, on contrast to how many even dared to speak on the evil of Musharraf and the hukm of what he did… of course the sin of what he did, if it is not kufr, is definitely worse that what the Lal Masjid did (if it was a misjudgment).

    Remember the following points:
    1) Verification of news before speaking on the issue
    2) Protecting the honor of our brothers and sisters, especially those who have given their lives for Allah (even if they may have been mistaken)
    3) Being qualified to speak on issues and not taking it upon themselves to speak ion these issues when they may not even know many of the basics.
    4) Trying to address all issues to a post, and not merely hiding behind labeling others as “khawarij”

    It would have been so much better if we had made duas for those who were affected by this ordeal, and to stick to those issues which everyone is sure of.

    I have so much more to say. but the sorrow I feel in my heart now from these comments is blurring my ability to write.

  47. Avatar

    Mercy towards the Believers

    July 12, 2007 at 3:50 AM

    “And of course, instead of trying to focus on the many valid points on Abdul”

    Meant “by Abdul”

  48. Pingback: Naeem's Blog

  49. Pingback: Lal Masjid Postmortem : Muslim Bloggers Alliance

  50. Avatar

    Suhail

    July 12, 2007 at 1:15 PM

    really it was heart aching the whole incident. May Allah shower his mercy on the shuhadaa and give busharraf what he deserves. This guy busharraf goes one step ahead in his excesses towards the muslim whenever he gets a chance. I am amazed at those liberal secular muslims who are supporting busharraf and backing him on this. I mean what goes on in there mind when they are happy about this kind of operation. This incident is indeed tragic.

    Suhail

  51. Avatar

    Hassan

    July 12, 2007 at 2:13 PM

    Another very good article in counterpunch:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/jensen07122007.html

  52. Avatar

    Hassan

    July 12, 2007 at 3:13 PM

    For those who can read urdu, its very interesting, I never knew it:

    http://www.jang.com.pk/jang/jul2007-daily/12-07-2007/col4.htm

  53. Avatar

    nuqtah

    July 12, 2007 at 4:28 PM

    Subhan Allah,

    Hamid Mir’s article has put everything in perspective.

    Inna lilahi wa inna ilayhi raji’oon.

  54. Avatar

    Hassan

    July 12, 2007 at 4:46 PM

    Yeah it truly did, may Allah have mercy on shuhda, and may bring something positive out of it for muslims.

  55. Amad

    Amad

    July 12, 2007 at 5:43 PM

    For those who don’t read urdu of w/great difficulty, can someone summarize Hamid Mir’s article in English??

  56. Avatar

    Hassan

    July 13, 2007 at 10:03 AM

    Salaam. Here is more in Urdu, this one is really really sad, and made me cry:

    http://www.jang.com.pk/jang/jul2007-daily/13-07-2007/col3.htm

    Sorry, both articles are big, and I think translation would not do justice to them.

    (BTW Amad bhai you have difficulty reading urdu?? If yes, then you should not belong to our prestigious FOB club)

  57. Avatar

    Ibrahim

    July 14, 2007 at 3:33 AM

    Allahu Akbar, can’t believe at the timing. The day Abdur Rasheed Ghazi died, his wife gave birth to his son, who was named after his father. I think this most probably is his second wife because his first wife Umm Hassaan, I believe, was in the masjid and was arrested, Allahu Alam

  58. Avatar

    Abu Osman

    July 15, 2007 at 11:27 AM

    I think that the issue is that the self appointed Attaturk of Pakistan wanted to destroy this madarsa which had over 6000 students, a huge security risk for the modern Pakistani state. Who know who started the fiasco, but no one deserved to be killed for allegely not following the process and takings the law in their own hand. Pakistani autorities had full capability to simply arrest these people and try them in a court of law but as I said earlier, they did not want to resolve this issue peacfully. If you look into the details, you will see that very high level government officials were advicing the mullahs also. As far as the issue of “escaping” is concerned, I think that you guys have been watching too much TV and paying way too much attention to what media spins. Why can’t we believe the “mullah” who said he was invited by some very influential people for discussions? Do you know that senior fedral minister has agreed to take care of the family of the deceased mullah? Any chance this close associate of Mush was advicing the mullahs?
    Bottom line is that this who incident is sad and unfortunate and will create problems for all of us especially the bearded/niqabi ones.
    Mush and the Pakistani autorities deserve 200% of the blame for the operation as they had the ultimate control and made the final call.

  59. Amad

    Amad

    July 15, 2007 at 6:33 PM

    Please see thoughts from Abu Ameerah on the Masjid carnage aftermath.
    Aftermath

  60. Pingback: muslimmatters.org » Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) Revisited — The Aftermath

  61. Avatar

    Osman

    July 30, 2007 at 11:32 PM

    There are numerous reports in the media about Ghazi grave having a perfume smell. A couple of days ago at the graduation cerenomy at Jamia Usmania in lahore I met two people who swore by Allah that they went to the grave and it had a sweet smell to it. I make this declaration by Allah that I asked both those people to swear by Allah as to this being true.

    Any ways regarding Abdual Aziz making state within a state is in accurate. I had a discussion with a prominent mufti about it. He said the method was doubtful. Then I asked him that when you look at it, the lal masjid people never implement the hadud laws i.e. never gave punishement. At most they did was do amar bil maruf wa nahi al munkar with power so how could that be wrong? And mufti said to me that when you put it that way, there was nothing wrong with their methodology.

  62. Pingback: Inside The Red Mosque (Lal Masjid) - Al Jazeera English | Mujahideen Ryder's Blog

  63. Pingback: muslimmatters.org » US to Invade Pakistan?

  64. Avatar

    Sameera

    August 14, 2007 at 4:16 PM

    Assalam,

    Does anyone believe in that boy’s story who told the press that he “escaped” from Lal masjid and “they” were not letting anyone out of the mosque. And, if anyone tried they shot him??
    I find this very suspicious since all the other Talibaat are saying that they were there on their own will. And this boy has just disappeared after that day.

  65. Avatar

    Osman

    August 15, 2007 at 2:14 PM

    I read in the News newspaper that most of the reporters on the scene did not believe the kid. His clothes were in pretty good shape considering being in there.

    Pakistani govt is prone to lying and propogando, let alone the open kufr they do.

  66. Avatar

    Sameera

    August 15, 2007 at 2:25 PM

    here is a very enlightening article on this issue (in urdu)http://www.ummat.com.pk/Report.ummat.com.pk/09082007-Misc_Reports/InterweuSyeedAhmedAbbsi-09082007.html

  67. Pingback: muslimmatters.org » Chemical Weaponry Used at Lal Masjid (Red Mosque)?

  68. Pingback: Lal Masjid Massacre | Lal Masjid Postmortem | Haqeeqat.Org

  69. Avatar

    Pakistan Web Online

    February 8, 2016 at 7:10 AM

    The Lal Masjid was built in 1965 and is named for its red walls and interiors. According to Capital Development Authority (CDA) records, the Lal Masjid is one of the oldest Mosques in Islamabad. Maulana Muhammad Abdullah was appointed its first imam ….
    Pakistan Web Online

  70. Avatar

    Pakistan Web Online

    February 8, 2016 at 7:12 AM

    The Lal Masjid was built in 1965 and is named for its red walls and interiors. According to Capital Development Authority (CDA) records, the Lal Masjid is one of the oldest Mosques in Islamabad. Maulana Muhammad Abdullah was appointed its first imam …………….
    Pakistan Web Online

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#Current Affairs

Criticism, Accountability and the Exclusion of Quran and Sunnah – Critiquing Ahmed Sheikh’s Critique

Shaykh Tarik Ata

Published

on

Let me begin by making two things clear. First, this article is not seeking to defend the positions of any person nor is it related to the issue of CVE and what it means to the Muslim American community. I am in no way claiming that CVE is not controversial or harmful to the community nor am I suggesting that affiliations with governments are without concern.

Second, this paper is meant to critique the arguments made by the author that encourage holding Islamic scholars accountable. I encourage the reader not to think of this article as an attempt to defend an individual(s) but rather as an attempt to present an important issue through the framework of Islamic discourse – Quran, hadith supported by scholarly opinion. In that spirit, I would love to see articles providing other scholarly views that are contrary to this articles. The goal is to reach the position that is most pleasure to Allah and not the one that best fits our agenda, whims, or world views.

In this article I argue that Islamic scholars in America cannot effectively be held accountable, not because they are above accountability but because (1) accountability in Islam is based on law derived from Quran and hadith and this is the responsibility of Islamic experts not those ignorant of the Islamic sciences. And to be frank, this type of discourse is absent in Muslim America. (2) Muslim Americans have no standard code of law, conduct, or ethics that can be used to judge behavior and decisions of Muslim Americans. I do believe, however, that criticism should be allowed under certain conditions, as I will elaborate in the proceeding paragraphs.

To begin, the evidence used to support the concept of holding leaders accountable is the statement of Abu Bakr upon his appointment to office:

O people, I have been appointed over you, though I am not the best among you. If I do well, then help me; and if I act wrongly, then correct me.

This is a well-known statement of his, and without a doubt part of Islamic discourse applied by the pious companions. However, one should take notice of the context in which Abu Bakr made his statement. Specifically, who he was speaking to. The companions were a generation that embodied and practiced a pristine understanding of Islam and therefore, if anyone were to hold him accountable they would do it in the proper manner. It would be done with pure intentions that they seek to empower Abu Bakr with Quranic and Prophetic principles rather than attack him personally or with ill intentions.

Furthermore, their knowledge of the faith was sufficient to where they understood where and when the boundaries of Allah are transgressed, and therefore understood when he was accountable. However, when these facets of accountability are lost then the validity of accountability is lost as well.

To give an example, during the life of Abu Bakr, prior to appointing Omar (ra) as his successor he took the opinion of several companions. The prospect of Omar’s appointment upset some of the companions because of Omar’s stern character. These companions approached Abu Bakr and asked him “what will you tell Allah when he asks why you appointed the stern and severe (ie Omar).” Abu Bakr replied “I will tell Him that I appointed the best person on earth,” after which Abu Bakr angrily commanded them to turn their backs and leave his presence.

Fast forwarding to the life of Uthman, large groups of Muslims accused Uthman of changing the Sunnah of the Prophet in several manners. Part of this group felt the need to hold Uthman accountable and ended up sieging his home leading to his death. Now, when one researches what this group was criticizing Uthman for, you find that Uthman (ra) did make mistakes in applying the sunnah that even companions such as Ibn Mas’ood expressed concern and disagreement with. However, due to the lack of fiqh and knowledge, these Muslims felt that the actions of Uthman made him guilty of “crimes” against the sunnah and therefore he must be held accountable.

With this I make my first point. A distinction between criticism and accountability must be made. Ibn Mas’ood and others criticized Uthman but, since they were scholars, understood that although Uthman was mistaken his mistakes did not cross the boundaries of Allah, and therefore he was not guilty of anything and thus was not accountable.

Holding Muslim scholars accountable cannot be justified unless evidence from the Quran and hadith indicate transgression against Allah’s law. Thus, before the Muslim American community can call for the accountability of Dr. Jackson, Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, or others, an argument founded in Quran and Sunnah and supplicated by scholarly (classical scholars) research and books must be made.

It is simply against Islamic discourse to claim that a scholar is guilty of unethical decisions or affiliations simply because CVE is a plot against Muslims (as I will detail shortly). Rather, an argument must be made that shows how involvement with CVE is against Quran and sunnah. Again, I emphasize the difference between criticizing their decision because of the potential harms versus accusing them of transgressing Islamic principles.

To further elaborate this distinction I offer the following examples. First, Allah says in context of the battle of Badr and the decision to ransom the prisoners of war,

“It is not fit for a prophet that he should take captives until he has thoroughly subdued the land. You ˹believers˺ settled with the fleeting gains of this world, while Allah’s aim ˹for you˺ is the Hereafter. Allah is Almighty, All-Wise. Had it not been for a prior decree from Allah, you would have certainly been disciplined with a tremendous punishment for whatever ˹ransom˺ you have taken. Now enjoy what you have taken, for it is lawful and good. And be mindful of Allah. Surely Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (8:67-69)

In these verses Allah criticizes the decision taken by the Muslims but then states that ransom money was made permissible by Allah, and therefore they are not guilty of a punishable offense. In other words, Allah criticized their decision because it was a less than ideal choice but did not hold them accountable for their actions since it was permissible.

Another example is the well-known incident of Osama bin Zaid and his killing of the individual who proclaimed shahadah during battle. Despite this, Osama proceeded to slay him. Upon hearing of this the Prophet (s) criticized Osama and said, “did you see what is in his heart?”

Although Osama’s actions resulted in the death of a person the Prophet (s), did not hold Osama accountable for his actions and no punishment was implemented. Similarly, Khalid bin Waleed killed a group of people who accepted Islam accidentally and similarly, the Prophet (s) criticized Khalid but did not hold him accountable.

Why was there no accountability? Because the decisions of Osama and Khalid were based on reasonable – although incorrect – perspectives which falls under the mistake category of Islamic law “And there is no blame upon you for that in which you have erred but [only for] what your hearts intended. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful” (33:5)

The previous examples, among others, are referred to in Islamic discourse as ta’weel (interpretation). There are many examples in the lives of the companions where decisions were made that lead to misapplications of Islam but were considered mistakes worthy of criticism but not crimes worthy of punishment or accountability.

Ta’weel, as Ibn Taymiyya states, is an aspect of Islam that requires deep understanding of the Islamic sciences. It is the grey area that becomes very difficult to navigate except by scholars as the Prophet (s) states in the hadith, “The halal is clear and the haram is clear and between them is a grey area which most people don’t know (ie the rulings for).”

Scholars have commented stating that the hadith does not negate knowledge of the grey entirely and that the scholars are the ones who know how to navigate that area. The problem arises when those ignorant of Islamic law attempt to navigate the grey area or criticize scholars attempting to navigate it.

Going back to Ibn Taymiyya -skip this part if you believe Ibn Taymiyya was a dancing bear- I would like to discuss his own views on associating oneself with oppressive rulers. In his book “Islamic Political Science” (As Siyaasa ash Shar’iah) he details the nuances of fiqh in regards to working with or for oppressive rulers.

It would be beneficial to quote the entire section, but for space sake I will be concise. Ibn Taymiyya argues that the issue of oppressive rulers should not be approached with a black and white mentality. Rather, one must inquire of the relationship between the person and the ruler.

One can legitimately adhere to the verse “And cooperate in righteousness and piety” (5:2) while working for an unjust ruler such as: “performing jihad, applying penal laws, protecting the rights of others, and giving those who deserve. This is in accordance to what Allah and His messenger have commanded and whoever refrains from those things out of fear of assisting the unjust then they have left an obligation under a false form of asceticism (wara’).”

Likewise, accepting a position under an unjust regime may prevent or reduce the harm of that regime, or prevent someone mischievous from taking the position and inflicting even more harm, then such an association is Islamically valid. Furthermore, someone working in a particular department is not responsible or accountable for the crimes being committed in another department nor are they guilty of “cooperat[ing] in sin and aggression” (5:2). He ascribes these fiqh rulings to the majority of scholars including Abu Hanifa, Malik and Ahmed.

The argument against those who are affiliated with the UAE is simply not grounded in fiqh or supported by clear evidences from the Quran and hadith. How does being part of a peace forum make the participants guilty of the crimes in Yemen? The claim that such participation enhances the influence of these regimes is not necessarily consistent with Quran and hadith.

Dr. Jackson, I argue, is in line with Islamic discourse when he says that being part of such initiatives does not mean he agrees with all they do. The same goes for CVE. As Ibn Taymiyya suggests above, participating in such programs is Islamically justifiable if the goal is to reduce the harm and this is what Dr. Jackson claims. Ibn Taymiyya gives the example of someone working as a tax collector for a ruler who unjustly takes taxes from his citizens. If the individual can reduce the amount being taken then his position is Islamically valid.

One might state that such a claim – reducing the harm – is naïve and an excuse to justify their affiliations. No doubt this is a possibility, however, I once again quote Ibn Taymiyya,

“The obligation is to bring about the benefit to the best of their ability and or prevent the harm or at least reduce it. If there are two possible benefits then the individual should pursue the greater of the two even if it leads to losing the lesser. If there are two possible harms to prevent then they should prevent the greater of the two even if it results in the occurrence of the lesser.”

There are ways of determining whether a persons is clearly excusing himself. At the same time, the debate as to whether the benefits outweigh the harm is almost always within the grey area mentioned above. Thus, it is irresponsible to attack Islamic scholars and call for their accountability for positions that are not clearly against Quran and hadith.

Another rebuttal might claim that the rulers during the time of Ibn Taymiyya were better than present day rulers and that his fiqh was addressing his realities which are inconsistent with ours. My response is that although that is true, Ibn Taymiyya’s teachings are not built on contextual realities that are only effective in those realities. Rather, his teachings are built on principles that are formulated in a way that renders it capable of measuring a particular context. In other words, it acts in a way that considers the realities and context as part of the equation and decision process.

A third rebuttal might claim that Ibn Taymiyya, like many others, warned of the harms of befriending rulers. Again, this is accurate, however, an important distinction must be made and that is between spiritual advice and fiqh rulings. An issue can be spiritually problematic but permissible fiqh-wise and this differentiation is seen in the lives of the companions and spiritualists in general.

For example, the companions rejected many worldly pleasures out of zuhd and wara’ (two forms of asceticism) and not because they are forbidden. To be more specific, a person may restrict themselves from drinking green tea not because it is forbidden by Quran or hadith but because of they view it as a desire that distracts them from the next life.

Similarly, the discouragement scholars expressed towards relationships with rulers was because of the spiritual harms and not because of an unequivocal prohibition against it. This is an important facet of Islamic discourse that should be recognized by the Muslim community. That is, a person can critique an issue from various angles (for example the psychological harms of political rhetoric and how it effects a person’s spirituality) while remaining neutral to Islamic law. What I am trying to say is that legitimate criticisms can be made about a particular issues without having to bring a person’s Islamic credibility into the discussion.

To conclude, I’d like to once again emphasize a distinction between criticism and accountability. Criticism is justified when the criticizer is qualified in the topic and when the one being criticized has made a mistake. Accountability is legitimate when a person has transgressed red lines established by Islam itself. But, in order for such accountability to be valid one must invoke the Quran and hadith and here lies the problem.

In the several articles posted against UAE and CVE, Quran and hadith are excluded and such has become Muslim American discourse – we are Muslims who invoke Allah and His messenger yet exclude their words from the conversation. I remind the Muslim American community and myself of the following verse “And if you disagree over anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you should believe in Allah and the Last Day. That is the best [way] and best in result” (4:59).

I would like to pose the following questions to the Muslim American community:

  • Under what code of law and ethics should scholars be held accountable? In other words, what standards do we use to deem a scholar accountable or guilty? Who determines these laws and principles? Is it other scholars who are well versed in fiqh? Is it American standards or perhaps Muslim American activists and whatever is in line with their agenda?
  • Who or what institution has the authority to hold scholars accountable?
  • To what extent do we consider Quran, hadith, fiqh and scholarly opinions in determining illegal actions, problematic decisions, and or immoral behavior?
  • Are these laws and principles only applicable to scholars or are other Muslim leader figures held to the same standards?
  • Are all scholars “dancing bears” who have no credibility? If not, who, in your opinion, is trustworthy and credible and why do you think so? Is it because they are following Quran and Sunnah, or because they fit activism?
  • Do you believe that certain celebrated Muslim American activists / politicians present theological and moral problems to American Muslims that are corrupting their faith and behavior? Should they be held accountable for their statements and actions? What about the various Muslim organizations that invite them as keynote speakers and continue to show unwavering support?
  • Do you believe it is fair to say that these celebrated activists are not responsible for clarifying to the community their controversial positions and statements because they are not scholars or seen as religious figures?
  • Do you believe that activism is dominating Muslim American discourse and do you believe that there is a serious exclusion of Quran and hadith in that discourse?

I hope the community will acknowledge the concerning reality of the exclusion of Quran and hadith from our affairs. Until we live up to the standards of Quran and sunnah our criticism will only lead to further division and harm.

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#Society

Do You Know Why Uzma Was Killed?

#JusticeForUzma is a campaign that highlights the many terrible ways household help is treated in places around the world. Here, Fatima Asad writes about how she is raising her children to be the change they want to see in their society. 

Fatima Asad

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Last week, Pakistani society was struggling with the story of the horrific murder of Uzma, a teenager, who worked as a house maid in the city of Lahore. The 16-year-old was allegedly tortured for months and then murdered by the woman she worked for…for taking a bite from the daughter’s plate. #JusticeForUzma is a campaign that highlights the many terrible ways household help is treated in places around the world. Here, Fatima Asad writes about how she is raising her children to be the change they want to see in their society. 

By Fatima Asad

Living in Pakistan, my children realize that within the gates of our neighborhood, they will see no littering, they will not experience water or electricity shortages and certainly, no one will be knocking on the door begging for food or money. The reason they have this realization is because I make it the day’s mission to let them know about their privilege, about the ways they have been blessed in comparison to the other, very real, living, breathing little girls and boys outside those gates. Alas, my children come face to face with those very real people as soon as the gates close behind us.

“Why are there so many poor people in Pakistan, Mommy?” they ask, quite regularly now, unsatisfied with the answers I’ve provided so far. The question perpetually makes me nervous, uncomfortable, and I hastily make a lesson plan in my mind to gradually expose this world’s truths to them… ahista, ahista…(slow and steady).

But on days like these, when we find out about the death of yet another underprivilged young girl (they’re becoming redundant, aren’t they?), on days like these, I want to hold them, shake them, scream at them to wake up!

Wake up, my child! Beta jaag jao.

Do you know why that little girl we see outside, always has dirt on her face and her hair is in visible knots?

It is because, there are too many people who can take a shower anytime they want, who have maids to oil, brush and style their hair.

Do you know why there are children with no clothes on their backs?

It is because, there are too many of us with too many on ours. There are too many of us with walk-in closets for mothers and matching wardrobes for their infant daughters. We obsess about tailors, brands, this collection, last season. How often do we hear or say “can’t repeat that one”, “this one is just not my thing anymore…”

Do you know why there are children with their cheeks sunk deep in their skulls, scraping for our leftovers in our trashcans?

Because there are too many of us, who are overstuffed with biryani, burgers, food deliveries, dinner parties, chai get-togethers, themed birthday cupcakes, and bursting appetites for more, more, more, and different, different, different.

There are too many of us craving the exotic and the western, hoping to impress the next guest that comes to lunch with our useless knowledge of foods that should not be our pride, like lasagna, nuggets, cinnamon rolls, banana bread, pizza, minestrone soup, etc.

There are too many of us who do not want to partake from our outdated, simple traditional cuisines… that is, unless we can put a “cool” twist on them.

Do you know why there are children begging on the streets with their parents? Because there are too many of us driving in luxury cars to our favorite staycation spots, rolling up the windows in the beggars’ faces.

We are rather spent our money of watching the latest movies for family nights, handing out cash allowances to our own kids so they won’t feel left out when going out.

Do you know why there are mothers working during the days and sacrificing their nights sewing clothes for meager coins? Why there are fathers, who sacrifice their sleep and energy to guard empty mansions at the cost of their self-respect? Because there are too many of us attending dance rehearsals for weddings of the friends we backstab and envy. Because there are too many of us binge-watching the latest hot shows on Netflix, hosting ghazal nights to pay tribute to dead musicians and our never-ending devotion for them, and many more of us viciously shaking our heads when the political analyst on TV delivers a breaking report on a millionaire’s private assets.

Do you know why there are people who will never hold a book in their hands or learn to write their own names? Do you know why there will never be proof that some people lived, breathed, smiled, or cried? Because there are too many of us who are given the best education money can buy, yet only end up using that education to improve our own selves – and only our own selves. There are too many of us who wear suits and ties, entrusted with building the country, yet too many of our leaders and politicians just use that opportunity to build their own legacies or secret, off shore accounts.

Do you know why children, yes children, are ripped apart from their parents, forced to provide their bodies and energies so that a stranger’s family can raise their kids? Because, there are too many of us who need a separate maid for each child we birth. Because, there are too many of us who have given the verdict that our children are worth more than others’.

Because, there are too many of us who need a maid to prove to frenemies our monetary worth and showcase a higher social class.

Because, there are too many of us who enslave humans, thinking we cannot possibly spoil our youth, energy and time on our own needs, our own tasks, our own lives.

Because, there are too many of us who need to be comfortable, indulged, privileged, spoiled, educated, satisfied, excited, entertained and happy at the expense of other living souls.

And we do all this, thinking—fooling ourselves into believing— that our comforts are actually a way of providing income for another human being. Too many of us think that by indulging in our self-centered lifestyles, we are providing an ongoing charity for society’s neediest.

Too many of us are sinking into a quicksand that is quite literally killing us. This needs to stop immediately. This accelerating trend of possessing and displaying more isn’t going to slow down on its own- in fact, it’s become deadly. Too many of our hearts have hardened, burnt to char.

More of us need to sacrifice our comforts, our desires, our nafs so others can have basic human rights fulfilled. More of us must say no to blind consumerism, envious materialistic competition and the need for instant gratification so others can live. We may have the potential to turn into monsters, but we have exceedingly greater potential to be empathetic, selfless revolutionaries. Too many of us have been living for the here and now, but more of us need to actively start thinking about the future.

Do we want to raise generations that will break bread with the less fortunate or do we want to end up with vicious monsters who starve and murder those they deem unworthy? The monsters who continue to believe that they have been blessed with more, so others can be given less than they are entitled to.

It is time for change andthe change has to start from within these gates.

#justiceforuzma #justiceformaids

 

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#Life

OpEd: Breaking Leases Into Pieces

Abu Awad

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Ali ibn Talib raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him)once said, “Know the truth and you’ll know who’s speaking the truth.” 

I am based in Canada and was recently having coffee with friends. In the course of the conversation, a friend (who I consider knowledgeable) said that it’s okay to pay interest on a leased car because interest doesn’t apply to lease contracts. This completely caught me off guard, because it made no logical sense that interest would become halal based solely on the nature of the contract.

I asked him how this can be true and his response was that the lease contract is signed with the dealer and the interest transaction is between the dealer and the financing company so it has nothing to do with the buyer. Again, this baffled me because I regularly lease cars and this is an incorrect statement: The lease agreement is signed with a third party financing company who is charging you directly for the interest they pay the car dealership. Therefore, any lease contract that has interest associated with it is haram. This is the same as saying your landlord can charge you interest for his mortgage on a rental contract and this would make it halal. I tried to argue this case and explain to my friend that what he was saying was found on false assumptions and one should seriously look into this matter before treating riba in such a light manner.

Upon going home that night, I pulled out all my lease contracts (negotiated to 0% mind you) and sent them over to my friend. They clearly showed that a bill of sale is signed with the dealer, which is an initial commitment to purchase but the actual lease agreement is signed with a third party financing company which is charging you interest directly. If this interest rate is anything above zero it is haram (anything which is haram in a large quantity is also haram in a small quantity).

To my dismay, instead of acknowledging his mistake, my friend played the “Fatwa Card” and sent me a fatwa from a very large fatwa body in North America, which was also basing their argument on this false assumption. Fortunately for me, my friend pointed out the hotline number and the day and time the mufti who gave the fatwa would be available to answer questions.

I got in touch with the scholar and over a series of text messages proceeded to explain to him that his fatwa was based on a wrong assumption and for this reason people would be misled into leasing cars on interest and signing agreements with financing companies which are haram.
He was nice enough to hear my arguments, but still insisted that “maybe things were different in Canada.” Again this disappointed me because giving fatwa is a big responsibility – by saying “maybe” he was implying that full research has not been done and a blanket fatwa has been given for all of North America.

It also meant that if my point was true (for both Canada and the United States) dozens of Muslims maybe engaging in riba due to this fatwa.

The next week I proceeded to call two large dealerships (Honda and Toyota) in the very city where the Fatwa body is registered in the US and asked them about paperwork related to leasing. They both confirmed that when leasing a new vehicle, the lease contract is signed with a third party financing company which has the lien on the vehicle and the dealer is acting on the financing company’s behalf.

It is only when a vehicle is purchased in cash that a contract is signed with the dealer. This proved my point that both in the US and Canada car lease contracts are signed with the financing company and the interest obligations are directly with the consumer, therefore if the interest rate is anything above 0% it is haram. I sent a final text to the mufti and my friend sharing what I had found and letting him know that it was now between them and Allah.

1. As we will stand in front of Allah alone on Yaum al Qiyamah, in many ways we also stand alone in dunya. You would think that world renowned scholars and an entire institution would be basing their fatwas on fact-checked assumptions but this is not the case. You would also think that friends who you deem knowledgable and you trust would also use logic and critical thinking, but many times judgment is clouded for reasons unbeknownst to us. We must not take things at face value. We must do our research and get to the bottom of the truth. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says to stand up for truth and justice even if it be against our ourselves; although it is difficult to do so in front of friends and scholars who you respect, it is the only way.

2. There are too many discussions, debates and arguments that never reach closure or get resolved. It is important to follow up with each other on proofs and facts to bring things to closure, otherwise our deen will slowly be reduced to a swath of grey areas. Alhamdulillah, I now know enough about this subject to provide a 360 degree view and can share this with others. It is critical to bring these discussions to a close whether the result is for you or against you.

3. Many times we have a very pessimistic and half hearted view towards access to information. When I was calling the dealerships from Canada in the US,  part of me said: Why would these guys give me the information? But if you say Bismillah and have your intentions in the right place Allah makes the path easy. One of the sales managers said “I can see you’re calling from Toronto, are you sure you have the right place?” I replied, “I need the information and if you can’t give it to me I don’t mind hanging up.” He was nice enough to provide me with the detailed process and paperwork that goes into leasing a car.

Finally, I haven’t mentioned any names in this opinion and I want to make clear that I am not doubting the intentions of those who I spoke to; I still respect and admire them greatly in their other works. We have to be able to separate individual cases and actions from the overall person.

May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) guide us to the truth and rid of us any weaknesses or arrogance during the process.

Aameen.

Ed’s Note: The writer is not a religious scholar and is offering his opinion based on his research on leasing contracts in North America.

Suggested reading:

Muslim’s Guide to Debt and Money Management Part 6

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