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2 UPDATES! Suhaib Webb’s “Departure” from “Traditionalism”


lngrd1.jpgUpdate: I know that this is not the “latest news”, but Imam Suhaib is not the target of GF Haddad’s “refutations”. Here (Sunniforum link) you see Haddad launching into a virulent assault on Shaykh Qaradawi, a personality with whom some Muslims may differ, but who is widely respected by the Ummah. GF spares no punches, and he doesn’t spare disrespect to the same people he uses to attack Qaradawi, frequently and relentlessly using pejoratives and sarcasm. This style is very similar to what we have seen from one camp in the “opposite side” to GF. Some examples from this lengthy “refutation” of Shaykh Qaradawi:

  • [Qaradawi] doffed the strictures of the juridical Schools and adopted the high-exposure pulpits of satellite television
  • Al-Qaradawi struck gold as the foremost vulgarizer of the “Do-It-Yourself Islam” initiated by the Egyptian-founded Ikhwan
  • Al-Qaradawi prefaced the work…al-Halal wal-Haram fil-Islam (“The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam”, first English edition 1994), with an espousal of la-madhhabiyya that is both pompous and tendentious.
  • Al-Qaradawi’s lingering success in Europe and Australia (while he was banned from entry to the US since 1999) is also partly due to a “post-terror” tactic of the Ikhwan, Hizb al-Tahrir, Muhajirun, and other modernist offshoots, consisting in hiding the Qutbian face in the West under the mask of ultra-moderation, inter-faith hobnobbing, and amorphous flexibility in order to pass for neutral, pacific, modern, and progressive by Western standards


I added a comment on Shaykh Suhaib’s post “Saying So Long To a Dear Friend: Traditional Islam Ust. Suhaib Webb (SW)”. This post has now been removed, and SW has added a clarifying position in this new post). This new post is actually consistent, alhamdulilah, with what I mention below as well as my comments, so I see no reason to modify it at this time.

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As I was reading Shaykh Suhaib’s words,

I’ve been wanting to write this for a number of months but struggled to find the words that would reflect the pain, sorrow and sadness in my heart…

[more– removed as SW removed his original post]

I pondered on how at one point in my life, this post from SW would have “thrilled me”. I would have rejoiced in how SW finally realized the “follies” of the “other side”.

But, no longer.

Wallahi, I was saddened to read SW’s words, which I felt emanated from deep anguish and emotions. Those of us who left the “super-salafi-nightmare” saw SW as a bridge between the Muslims, who differ in some matters but agree on most. We were in the process of “cleaning up” our hearts from the despise of other Muslims, simply because they differed from us in a few matters– important matters no doubt, but still a FEW matters, important matters no less, but still of low priority compared to all the fitan that is facing us.

Over the past several months, I have been watching how the slightest criticism (or perceived criticism) of the “traditionalist methodology” is blown up into tragic proportions. While the “traditionalists” were attacking the most minor of “inferences” in SW’s articles, they closed to their eyes to the rampant sufi extremism within their own ranks with people defending/praising kabbani’sh style “sufi shaykhs” right here in NY and their “mureeds”.

Wallahi, the “traditionalists” are not perfect, and wallahi, the “salafis” are not perfect. So, why not discuss these issues of differences in a soft, amiable way instead of name-calling, hate-mongering and the like? I saw you and Abu Yusuf being thus… soft with words, “open-minded”, tolerant, humble and full of adaab. Yet, this behavior was not reciprocated. See this response of Abu Yusuf to GF Haddad’s original article that was replete with personal attacks. It reminds me, as SW stated in his post, that the same behavior we saw from some of the hard-line “salafi” shayookh, whose entire wala wal bara was related to a person’s knowledge of where Allah is, is now becoming apparent in the “other” side. And similarly, the hard-liners’ entire jarh wa ta’deel was related to Asharism as opposed to some other sects that were much further away from them in methodology and ideology. Now, many among our “traditionalist” brothers find this to be the most productive topic.

As I contemplated SW’s post, I thought about how far I have come alhamdulilah in my love for brothers who quite don’t agree with everything I believe in. I have been working with many other bloggers of the “traditional” variety and I have nothing but love for them. When the laymen like me and these other bloggers with more knowledge than me that I am referring to (special mention MR, JZ :) ) can have differences, yet we can cooperate on most matters, why couldn’t the people of knowledge amongst the so-called “traditionalists” feel obliged in prioritizing unity over hatred, adaab over arguments, and honesty over “victory”?

As Shaykh Yasir told me sometime ago, during his own personal metamorphosis of his inner thoughts, that human beings tend to migrate away from extremism in any matter. The Muslims among the humans are no different. Many of us slowly but surely distanced ourselves from the extremism of the “Philly-dawah”, and inshallah, many will distance themselves from the extremism of the “GF dawah”. Wallahualam.

P.S. As most of you know, at MM, we try to stay away from sectarian arguments that have no benefit… because of the vast area of priorities that we can all agree on. So, the comments on this post will be highly moderated, even to the exclusion of ones that may be otherwise acceptable in terms of our “house rules”.

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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").



  1. Nuqtah

    August 22, 2007 at 2:46 PM

    deobandiyyah plus Mauritanian scholars is the answer. :p

    On a more serious note: why not just be muslim?

  2. Yunus Yakoub Islam

    August 22, 2007 at 3:38 PM

    I see myself as being completely at sea in embracing any kind of Islam and a lack of sensible, balanced discussion on key issues doesn’t help.

  3. hema

    August 22, 2007 at 6:32 PM

    that whole post made me feel really sad.
    as you said if the laypeople can focus on the common ground, it’s upsetting and frightning when our scholars can’t.

    on a more positive note this:
    “As most of you know, at MM, we try to stay away from sectarian arguments that have no benefit”
    is one of the many things i love about MM!

  4. Hassan

    August 22, 2007 at 6:36 PM

    Referring back to Quran and Sunnah of prophet Muhammad PBUH and understanding of his companions is the answer.

  5. Faraz

    August 22, 2007 at 9:25 PM

    The wording of all this is rather unfortunate, and I’m sure some people will use it as fodder for increasing their attacks.

    If we were to compare traditionalism with “non-traditionalism”, against all the other fitnas that are out there today, we’d find agreement 99% of the time.

    At the same time, we’d find bigots on both sides who would focus on that 1% of difference, and make a big deal out of it. They frustrate me to no end.

    The statement that “I’m washing my hands of traditional Islam”, I find, is rather demeaning, in that traditionalism is implied to be something which sullies the essence of Islam, when really it is those bigots on both sides that we should be “washing our hands of”. Or rather, we should be inviting those bigots to a more balanced approach.

    The more I read about these things, the more I realize how much the differences have so been thoroughly exaggerated. And we can’t blame anyone else but ourselves for this; we’ve created this mess by going on and on with this “Us versus them” mentality. We fail to see beyond simple binary logic – this group quoted this scholar, so they’re all Salafis! This other group quoted this other scholar, so they’re all Sufis! And we’ve stigmatized these labels, subtly causing us to hate whichever one we don’t follow.

    Back to the basics – a Salafi seeks to follow the Salaf-us-saliheen, the pious predecessors and early generations who were the vanguard of Islamic thought and reason. The Sufis, according to one etymological opinion, are followers of the Ashab-us-suffah, the poor Sahabah who remained in the suffah of Masjid Nabawi. Both seek to follow individuals who were universally acknowledged to be among the greatest Muslims who ever lived. Really, how different can they be?

    I suspect my comment won’t make it through moderation. Oh well.

    Why not? -MM

  6. ibnmasood

    August 23, 2007 at 12:01 AM

    I applaud Faraz’s response. I share his sentiments completely.

  7. Omar

    August 23, 2007 at 6:55 AM

    Well, they say that mice and humans share 99% of their DNA. The lesson? It’s the differences that count.

  8. MR

    August 23, 2007 at 9:03 AM

    This is my reflection here. It’s really short, but you’ll get the point.

    [Keeping with the House Rules]
    In other news, I got a haircut and I can’t wait for Ramadan to come.

  9. Faiez

    August 23, 2007 at 3:43 PM

    I don’t think Imam Suhaib “hates” the traditionalists now. He still has love and respect for them as brothers in Islam (from what I understood of his post).

    I’m guessing his post was more of a “I can’t work in this way” kind of thing rather than a full fledged switch to a different side to go against the traditionalists. He doesn’t have a side and he never had a side. He has always been, as he said, just a Muslim.

    I don’t think we can sit here and judge what he did because we don’t really know his circumstances and what he has experienced.

  10. Amad

    August 23, 2007 at 4:24 PM

    Right Faiez. I believe that Imam Suhaib is simply washing his hands only off the “traditional” Islam represented by people who have been at him for sometime now, like GF and others. I think his joining of AlMaghrib was something that the “haters” could not swallow, so it led to an increase in their hatred.

    What I saw in his message is that he is not going to engage and try to prove anything to this particular strain of “tradionalists”…. that he believes that there is more important work ahead. This would be very similar to what a lot of “salafis” did when they distanced themselves from the extremists within them, in order to concentrate on the more important work for the Ummah.

    I am not expecting to see any changes in his dawah or style… The “departure” announcement may be a strategic move to get those off his back who he felt were weighing him down and wasting his time. And I think this crowd will now leave him alone. For the rest of us, we can enjoy his knowledge without worrying about camps.

    Khair, alhamdulillah ala kulay haal.

  11. Umm Layth

    August 23, 2007 at 5:33 PM

    Brother Amad, your statement of ‘is not the only victim’ is ridiculous. You most likely have not seen the debate that took place between Suhaib Webb and Shaykh Haddad. You didn’t even bother to respond to the points Shaykh Haddad made about Shaykh Qaradawi. Look into the history of the scholars and see how many debated, criticised each other, attacked each other. The issues Shaykh Haddad criticised Qaradawi are not ‘minor’, atleast some really stand out!

    It is unfair for you to say this. And I hate to even post this because what is being said online is pretty disheartening! But brother, you make a post about the unity issue and then you go around finding the faults in others. You can say well it’s public, but listen, you aren’t at their level to go around criticising them. If you have issues with their adab, keep it to yourself. Some out there had no problems with it, and we also acknowledge that we are human beings, capable of getting a little frustrated/angry with another human. La ilaha illa Allah!

  12. Umm Layth

    August 23, 2007 at 5:37 PM

    And when I say criticising them, I simply mean in terms of finding little itty bitty faults that you and I both have, and at worse levels. Fine, disagree with the points, but also understand that to some what Shaykh Qaradawi has said isn’t a minor thing.

  13. Amad

    August 23, 2007 at 6:36 PM

    salam Sr. Umm Layth,

    I have seen and read it all… trust me, things get around very fast.

    IF Shaykh Qaradawi had written the same vitriol about GF Haddad, the post would be about that. As I said, no scholar is perfect… my “ulema” disagree with Shaykh Qaradawi in many matters… and to be honest, I was one of those who used to really have “big issues” with him as well. BUT, then as with other things, in the bigger picture, he has done a lot for the Ummah and has earned the respect of the majority of the Ummah. That is sufficient in itself for us to show him the highest respect.

    I have no problem in scholars pointing out the mistakes of others with evidence. But this
    personal style of attacking, using pejoratives, sarcasm, etc. is not the style that should be employed by people of knowledge, from ANY SIDE. I saw enough of it in the PDFs on TROID. So, my point concerns the way and the style. Whether it should be done at all is a different matter that is not the purpose of my post on this incident.

    Yes, we will talk about those who are disuniting… talking about unity also means pointing out those who are doing the opposite. It is amazing that you believe that I am not at the level of GF (which is true), yet you are willing to accept that GF is at the level of Qaradawi. The vast majority of the Ummah will vehemently disagree with you on that.

    Finally, would you ever expect Hamza Yusuf or Zaid Shakir to engage in such character assasinations? Or Ibn al Bayyah? NEVER. I mention them because they are “traditionists” so that you don’t think this is a “salafi” vs “traditionalist” thing. Before engaging in herd mentality to defend one click or the other, do wudhu and then consider what my issue with GF’s “refutations” actually is.

  14. abu ameerah

    August 23, 2007 at 7:55 PM

    @ RYDER:

    “In other news, I got a haircut …”


    My prayers have been answered! Allah Paak Parwardigar-e-Alam!

    MujahideenRyder finally got a Haircut!

    (Everyone say it with me…)

    T-A-K-B-I-R … Allahuakbar!
    T-A-K-B-I-R … Allahuakbar!

  15. AnonyMouse

    August 23, 2007 at 8:04 PM

    Takbeer in unison?!

  16. Ardit

    August 23, 2007 at 9:45 PM

    I would like to see the outcome of this.

  17. Amad

    August 23, 2007 at 10:23 PM

    alhamdulillah, reading the post from SW, I am glad that I did not do injustice to his positions, and that what I mentioned here in my post and comments is in line with what he now has clarified on his positions.

  18. Zubair Khan

    August 23, 2007 at 11:32 PM


    I have a humble request of the author of this post. If you visit, you can see that he took this article down and wrote another one explaining his position. Can you please take the excerpts you have of his article out, as he himself took it out? Inshallah it is for the better of the Muslims.

    Jazakallahu Khair Akhi.

  19. Amad

    August 24, 2007 at 12:04 AM

    waiyakum Zubair… I removed the main excerpt.

    jazakAllahkhair for the excellent suggestion.


  20. Nuqtah

    August 24, 2007 at 2:32 AM

    You know what’s funny? Those who churn out these cyber refutations and act like saviors of Sunni orthodoxy, would they ever act in similar vein if they were to meet some one like Shaykh Qaradawi face to face? And also as Amad pointed out; the real pioneers and upholders of Sunni Islam such as Mufti Taqi Usmani, The Late Mawlana Abul Hassan Nadwi, Bin bayyah and so on never came out with such a vitrolic ‘refutation’ and ‘exposition’, what made GF Haddad do it? Was he running out of victims to refute?

  21. Abdullah

    August 24, 2007 at 3:08 AM

    What is saddening is Suhaib still thinks the Ashariya are sunnis. Ahlul Sunnah wal Jama’h is only one creed, and that is what the Sahaba (ra) and their Successors (rah) were upon – Athari Creed. To claim ashariya and Maturidiya are from Ahlul Sunnah is to attribute lies and falsehood to not only the Sahabah but also the Prophet (saw) who was their teacher.
    No matter how much people will stress this, the truth is clear and it will remain like this, Ahlul Sunnah wal Jamah does NOT have 3 different creeds. Sunni creed is the Athari creed and the Ashariya/Maturidiya creeds are from the 72 of hellfire. This is proven by text and history and it will remain like this until the Day of Judgement even if all the Muftis agree to it today.

  22. Zubair Khan

    August 24, 2007 at 5:56 AM

    Abdullah, fear Allah brother, before labeling someone out of the fold of Islam…

  23. Shama

    August 24, 2007 at 7:53 AM

    “What is saddening is Suhaib still thinks the Ashariya are sunnis.”

    Whats sadder is how we often get restricted by the little bit of knowledge we acquire

  24. ...

    August 24, 2007 at 9:29 AM

    br abdullah, soooo r u a mufti? where did u get ur ijaza from?

  25. Nuqtah

    August 24, 2007 at 11:24 AM

    Imam Safarini divided Ahl as sunnah into 3:




    As for the 72 are in the hellfire…then there is a post on Imam Suhaib’s blog on it. In it he cites Shaykh didou who makes it clear this is a rejected addition to the hadit.

    So as Br Zubair said, I will also reiterate it: Fear Allah brother.

    please refrain from personal attacks -MM

  26. Faraz

    August 24, 2007 at 11:58 AM

    And also as Amad pointed out; the real pioneers and upholders of Sunni Islam such as Mufti Taqi Usmani, The Late Mawlana Abul Hassan Nadwi, Bin bayyah and so on never came out with such a vitrolic ‘refutation’ and ‘exposition’, what made GF Haddad do it?

    JazakAllah for pointing this out. I find that today, most of our ummah has forgotten these great shuyookh in favour of the more “famous” ones with Internet presence.

    The “refuting” and “exposing” game is just pure arrogance and pride. I remember being on a forum a few years ago where one of the level-headed posters wrote something about how Shaikh Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi rahmatullahi’alayh never condemned or refuted taqleed, but rather supported it, so it couldn’t be all bad. A bunch of other posters jumped on him and wrote about how they were going to “expose” Shaikh Abul Hasan, and how he was “no better than a grave worshipper”. Na’audhubillah! Who do these people think they are, that they can hide behind the anonymity of the Internet and attack people of such high esteem!

    Before we say anything or write anything, we should ask ourselves, “does this make me a better Muslim? Does this help the cause of Islam?” If we had even this much diligence, we wouldn’t waste our time attacking one another. Sadly, though, these attacks are never meant to help the cause of Islam, they serve only to boost the already inflated egos of the attackers.

  27. concerned

    August 24, 2007 at 3:11 PM

    salam aleykum

    is the sh. didou that imam suhaib webb mentioned the known sheikh from mauritania sheikh mohammed hassan ibn dido al shanqiti??

    jazakum allah khair who repsonds

  28. Amad

    August 24, 2007 at 5:23 PM

    great points Faraz/Nuqtah: One of the characteristics of an Imam is that the majority of the Ummah adopts love and fondness for him. Like the 4 Imams were scholars that the entire Ummah agreed upon. Even today you will find some great scholars who have this aura about them, and that they don’t engage in lowly arguments and stay aloof above bickering to concentrate on the important stuff. A person cannot become the “Imam” by any amount of effort… the people will just automatically be inclined towards him.

    So you see among the contemporary scholars, as the brothers have pointed out, people like Sh. Qaradawi, Mufti Taqi, Ibn al Bayyah, Sh. Nadwi, Sh Ibn Uthaymeen, Bin Baz, Albani, Awdah (I am SURE I am missing others)…. people that just have this natural “aura” that even if the average person is not in that “camp”, he/she feels this respect for them and fears talking about them. I don’t know what it is, but somehow Imams just “happen to be”.

    And regardless of how much the “Imams-wannabe” attack the “Imams-already”, it just doesn’t faze them… they just keep chugging along! May Allah preserve the living amongst them and shower his mercy on those not with us anymore.

  29. Nuqtah

    August 24, 2007 at 6:11 PM

    wa alaikumussalam,

    [quote]salam aleykum

    is the sh. didou that imam suhaib webb mentioned the known sheikh from mauritania sheikh mohammed hassan ibn dido al shanqiti??

    jazakum allah khair who repsonds [/quote]

    aye brother/sister that’s the one Allamah muhammed al-hassan ould ad didou ( )

    wa iyyakum khair al jzaa.

  30. Amad

    August 24, 2007 at 6:27 PM

    I hear this Allamah Didou is exceptional… if there are english translations of his work available, please let us know…

  31. khaled

    August 24, 2007 at 9:45 PM

    In Every Muslim Land there jewls of shaykhs are there, some of them are in the mountains, deserts of saharah maritania, algeria, tunisia, moroco and yeman etc..
    Knowledge of Rsulullah has been spread around the UMMAH & AALLAH gives accoriding to the need and the time.

  32. Hassan

    August 25, 2007 at 12:35 AM

    Salaam. Which scholars need to be respected? How can we identify them? What are qualities of such sheikh? Can sufis really respect salafi scholars despite disagreements and call them sheikhs? Can salafis really respect sufi scholars despite disagreements and call them sheikhs? Can sunnis respect a shia scholar or vice versa?

    Most of time salafis (commoners) mention sufi scholars like if they are their best buddy (ie no respect) and vice versa.

    I asked these questions to myself, and I think more the differences, lesser would be respect in my heart for the other’s scholars. So the best I can do is to not talk about them, and do not say bad if I can not say good about them. I should focus on making myself better muslim.

    • Not saying

      July 9, 2011 at 2:28 AM

      Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

      It’s cool to stay silent for fear of wronging with your mouth but also keep your ears silent to sufis and innovators.

  33. Siraaj Muhammad

    August 25, 2007 at 8:35 AM

    Big waste of time – spending time talking about scholars, whether attacking or overpraising.

    Better use of time – benefitting from their knowledge to fulfilling your purpose – worshipping Allah subhaana wa ta’aala. Discussing ideas, not specific scholars.

    Finally, from my experience in daw’ah work, the hardcore on either side make up a small portion of all the Muslims out there. Focus your daw’ah on the masses, because they neither know nor care about all these differences, and there is no need to bring it up with them.


  34. ibnabeeomar

    August 25, 2007 at 11:20 AM

    jazakallahu khayr siraaj, good post

  35. concerned

    August 25, 2007 at 12:59 PM

    salam aleykum

    jazaki allah khair sister nuqta…i just had to make sure that its sh. didou cause hes one of my favorite shuyukh, young and knowledgble and a diamond in a bloody world.

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  38. Manas Shaikh

    August 27, 2007 at 2:44 AM

    Thank you for the post, Amad.

  39. AnonyMouse

    August 27, 2007 at 3:41 PM

    Concerned – Nuqtah is a brother, not a sister… :)

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