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Letter from Ismail Royer to all MM Readers; Feedback Requested

I participated in the campaign to send eid cards to Muslim prisoners started by Umar Lee. A few weeks ago I received a response from Maaz Shah, which I plan to also type up soon. And one from Br. Ismail Royer.

As I read the letter from Royer, I could not but feel for the loss that the Muslim Ummah has suffered with Royer’s imprisonment, which is at least disproportionate, if not unjust. Royer was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment after he plead guilty to some of the charges. The alternative was to fight the charges and be imprisoned for life, like what occurred with others indicted along with him. To understand the background of the charges against Royer, and his side of the story (including his love of America and his rigid stance against Al-Qaeda and any terrorist operations that target civilians), one has to read the beautiful letter that Royer wrote to the presiding Judge in the case. Such intellect, such a mind… only to be shackled by the government.

But with all trials, there is reward in it for the believing soul. I am sure inshallah that Br. Ismail is making full use of his imprisonment to increase his personal knowledge and become a better human being and a better Muslim.

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A special request to all readers: Please provide your feedback to the article. Also, feel free to use the comments space to send any other greetings and messages to your brother. We will print out the comments and send them to him inshallah; probably those that get in in the next couple of weeks. Please note that the contents of the letter are Br. Ismail’s personal opinions, and like all opinion pieces on MM, are not necessarily endorsed by all MM writers. JazakumAllahkhair

Dear Br. Amad,

royer.jpgAssaslam Alaikum wa rahmatullah.

I’m really sorry for not having responded to your kind letter earlier. I set it aside for a bit, waiting until I thought I had something perhaps beneficial to write. Some thoughts eventually came to mind and I started writing you. The letter got longer until I transformed it from an informal letter into an essay, which I typed. I gave it to a brother had to hear his feedback, and he told me to fill in some blanks, add other perspectives, etc. So I did that and gave it to another brother (at this point 6 pages longer). He returned it with several pages of commentary and critique, which was extremely valuable and insightful. His main point was that I needed to expand on many of the assumption in my essay to explain to the reader what their basis was, etc. among many other valid objections, which I realized I needed to answer; more of which could be done without turning the essay into a book.

To that end, I asked my father to order me some books so I could do further research and deepen my understanding about some issues I had written about rather superficially. So he did and now I’m digging into them.

Anyway, at that point I realized I should try again to write Br. Amad, hence the letter you are now insha’Allah reading.

I was very happy to hear about Muslimmatters.org. It sounds like its filling a void. Often we don’t realize the extent of the influence we can have, and this should motivate us to spread beneficial words and knowledge and not to abandon the field to the ignorant and deluded, may Allah guide us all.

I feel self-conscious when I write letters because I feel like I’m always writing about myself. It is truly said that prison tends to make people self-centered. But, since others may be interested and benefit form the information, I’ll mention a few things that are on my mind, and that I’ve been up to.

As to the book I’m writing (that was originally the letter to you Br. Amad) the topic is so-called modernity, that is, the post-reformation, post-Enlightenment, post-scientific revolution world; how the modern world is poisonous to the human soul; how it is undermining Western Civilization, and how it distorts Muslim’ understanding of the realities of their religion and the world. And finally, what can be done about it.

My main theme is that, just as many of Islam’s critics allege, it is true that Islam is incompatible with the modern world. That’s because the modern world is itself incompatible with the human soul, whereas Islam is the natural state of the human soul. Modernity is the product of the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, and related development, which were for the most part conscious revolts against God.

It is therefore impossible to coherently be a Muslim and at the same time have a mindset rooted in Enlightenment assumptions-just as it is impossible to be in submission to Allah while being in revolt against Him.

Allah did not create man with two hearts in his chest.”

This can create a sort of schizophrenia or dissonance, where in one part of his soul a man sincerely wants to submit to Allah, and in another part he sincerely holds views that, while they may not appear on the surface to negate or contradict his submission, may be premised on Enlightenment principles—principles like moral relativism, humanism, and materialism. A synthesis of this is not possible, anymore than it is between Biblical religion and such principles, the only consistent alternatives being rejectionism in the manner of the Jacobins, neoconservatives, and a certain Former Dutch M.P., or a heart free of any taint of modernist heresy, however subtle, to the extent possible.

Incidentally, it is the latter position that cures the western Muslim’s soul of the schizophrenia arising from being a Western Muslim, for it is not the fact of being Western in heritage or language or culture that gives him schizophrenia, but it is in trying to synthesize Islam and Enlightenment ideology that does so. We reject the worship of other than Allah alone and what necessarily follows from that, but we do not reject being Western anymore than Bilal rejected being Ethiopian, or Salman rejected being Persian, or the Malay rejected being Malay when they embraced Islam.

In fact Islamic and Western culture overlap to a great extent, so aside from the issue of the recent hedonistic and other harmful elements in Western culture, the matter viewed in this light is no longer very intelligible. And even our rejection of any unjust actions of our people does not change who we are: “O my people! Yours is the kingdom this day!” cautioned the believing Egyptian.

I also want to show that there is a growing realization among a core of Western thinkers that with these historical developments, the West has pointed itself into a corner of spiritual decay, social disorder, and impending ecological breakdown. These thinkers realize that, far from producing a triumph for the West and “the end of history” the Enlightenment and what followed undermined Western civilization. I argue that, rather than trying on the one hand to square our religion with modernity, or, on the other, agitating for an ill-conceived war against the West, we Muslims should make common cause with those in the West who want a return to sanity, and see restoration of belief and tradition to their rightful place in the heart and the public arena. It is part of our religion that we celebrate a Christian victory over polytheism, in their case atheism and secularism. And certainly in an environment of heightened attention to man’s spiritual dimension, Islam can that much more readily perform its natural role in healing a damaged people.

Finally, I will insha’Allah give some advice as to how we can develop ourselves, our families, and our communities to be better worshippers and thus what Ibn Taymiyya called “Keys of goodness”: purification of our souls, authentic knowledge, and action flowing from those, that we may become, by Allah’s permission, beacons of light in a land that is searching for meaning and hope.

Out of fear that this letter will turn into a book, I’ll stop here. I hope that you can post this on Muslimmatters; I’d like to hear some feedback, positive or negative. If you could, dear brother, please print out any comments to this post and mail them to me.

Oh–in closing, I do indeed remember you and I have an interesting story to tell you about the good things that resulted from that situation, even if I wasn’t able to help you in your case.

Salaam to you, your family, and all reading this, and all praise is due to Allah the Lord of the worlds, and peace and blessings be on our Prophet [sallallahu alaihi wasalam].
Wasalaam
Ismail Royer
(please use “Ismail Royer” when you post it-J.A.K)

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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").

22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. Amad

    Amad

    January 31, 2008 at 11:36 AM

    “I do remember you… the good things that resulted from that situation”… Br. Ismail is talking about a workplace complaint that I worked with CAIR/Royer on.

  2. Avatar

    Musa Maguire

    January 31, 2008 at 12:00 PM

    As Salaamu Alaikum

    I would encourage everyone to read the brother’s letter to Judge Brinkema, both for its balance and insight, and to realize exactly what this brother is facing.

    I also encourage everyone to make du’a that he doesn’t have to miss the entire childhood of his four kids.

    May Allah release him and all unjustly imprisoned Muslims.

    As for this article, I have to disagree with the blanket condemnation of moderinty and Enlightenment. Not that moral relativism, humanism, materialism, etc. are consistent with Islam. They are not. However, the broader concepts of modernity and Enlightenment are so contested, and their histories so complex, that it is hard to make such a definitive statement.

    Of course, the schizophrenia that he identifies is real, and something that we all feel at some level. That said, I don’t see “tradition” as synonymous with belief, or as innocent, balanced and virtuous. Indeed, it was very much the ills of tradition that inspired the bitter pill of modernity (as Ismail defines and describes it).

  3. Avatar

    Suhail

    January 31, 2008 at 12:00 PM

    Brother I am soo saddened to see the brother suffer like this. With him his family is sufferring too. Is there way to help his family?

  4. Amad

    Amad

    January 31, 2008 at 12:40 PM

    Br. Suhail, I am not sure… I think the community in Virginia is helping out… he will get your comment, but I am not sure if he will reach out for something like that.

    Correspondence with prisoners is one of the best ways to help our brothers right now… because if you think about it, that is the only way to escape the 4 walls of the prison, even if it is with your thoughts and words.

    I also want people to compare and contrast Royer’s actions and the actions of the soldiers who raped and murdered Abeer, the 14-yr old Iraqi girl, and then killed all her family. Those guys are eligible for parole in 10 years…. Royer, who probably hasn’t hurt a soul in his life is not eligible for any parole (to the best of my knowledge). Injustice? Yes, you can say that again.

  5. Avatar

    Hidayah

    January 31, 2008 at 1:03 PM

    Asslamu Alikum Warehmatullah,

    I read Br. Ismail’ letter and i must say that my eyes were filled with tears and heart filled with Dua for him and his family. Alhamdulillah we as muslims believe in concept of predestination (otherwise all these calamities/trials would make one so pessimistic)

    I pray that Allah swt grants him and his family patience and steadfastness during this time of difficulty and make this trial a means of purification for them. *Ameen*

  6. Avatar

    Abu Noor Al-Irlandee

    January 31, 2008 at 1:35 PM

    Jazzak Allaah for posting to the letter and May Allaah reward Bro. Ismail for sharing his thoughts.

    I look forward to seeing Brother Ismail’s thoughts outlined further inshAllaah.

    I have to say as someone who has recently started to devote more time to studying seriously the intellectual history that is “modernity” and the “englightenment” that I tend to agree with the thoughts of Brother Musa. Indeed, one cannot deny that the enormous deficiencies of both religious belief and social/political/economic/intellectual realities in pre-modern Europe must be understood in order to understand the Enligtenment. Now, as Muslims it is convenient for us to simply blame these things on the perversities of Christianity, and indeed the extent to which Christianity was astray from true faith contributed to many of the problems and made it much harder for Christianity to provide a true defense against the attacks that came upon it. However, we cannot stop there and feel comfortable. Many of the despicable aspects of pre-modern European society are still present in Muslim communities around the globe. The consistent and persistent refusal of us as Muslims to actually live according to Islam make it almost ridiculous for us to present Islam as a solution to others and make it truly impossible for us to hold up any large scale examples of a possible alternative to modernity.

    Now this is not to say that the so-called West does not have many of the same problems and neither to say that modernity has not brought its own nightmares of previously unimagined scope as witnessed in the wars and genocides of the 20th century which resulted in on the order of 200 million human deaths.

    Many of us who are “of the West” often try to join the best of both worlds and sometimes that seems to be a beautiful thing. But the schizophrenia referred to by both Brother Ismail and brother Musa always gnaws at us, (some more than others) and I think as a result of that our sincere efforts are often internally contradictory and perhaps doomed to failure of one type or another.

    I don’t claim to have the answers, at this point what I really want to put forward is that I think the questions are really difficult and I am extremely skeptical of those on whatever side who present the way forward as easy and clear. At the same time I have confidence in Allaah (swt) that He is Merciful on us and that He has provided us with clear guidance and I am certainly open to being proven wrong on anything I tend to think about these issues now.

    Wa Allaahu ta’ ‘ala ‘Alam.

  7. Avatar

    Sakeena

    January 31, 2008 at 4:47 PM

    Asalaamu Alaikum,
    After reading this letter, I attended a class I am taking called “Mysticism: West”. The professor started the lecture by discussing the different dimensions in which we approach our lives and experience the world. He was specifically addressing those of us that would be considered, “religious”. And he was speaking, of course, of the post-Enlightnment, post-scientific era that we were all raised in and how this way of understanding the world interacts with our our religious teachings. He talked about the internal and spiritual conflict that this causes. . . and then he changed topics, so I will never know how his thought-process would have ended, but this encouraged me to think more about this letter.
    As a convert to Islam and an American, I find myself in a perpetual balancing act in which I must constantly check my motivations and actions. I have read many articles in which the author states strongly that the reality of being a Muslim need not contradict with the reality of being American. And on certain days, I feel that this could be the case. At other times I wholeheartedly agree that it is nearly impossible to reconcile Islam and Western culture. So, as I have yet to formulate my own opinion, my reply to this is more a curious wandering through the topic than anything else.
    But I much appreciate your reasoning that the difficulty lies in the basic foundation and assumptions of this culture that bring us away from our sense of God. However, I did notice that in the letter sent to the Judge, you express the opposite sentiment; there are essentially no contradictions in being a American Muslim – Muslim American. Why the change of heart?
    Peace be with you and your family. I will make du’a for you.

  8. Avatar

    Muslimah

    January 31, 2008 at 5:38 PM

    Assalamu alaikum Br.Ismail

    Insha Allah you are in peace and good health by the grace of Allah Subhanaataala, the Lord of the worlds, the creator of this beautiful universe, the master of the day of judgement.

    I didnt get a chance to read your above posted article as today was the first time I heard about u in MM and immediately I went and did google search to find more information about you. Read few articles and got some glimpses and finally I came to MM to complete your letter to the judge.

    SubhanaAllah! Your letter was very true and I was able to feel that it came from your heart. Your letter wouldnt have affected me that much(made me cry) if you didnt have a family. The fact that you have a wonderful wife with small children and old parents. Your inability to be with them when they need you most, just this fact itself affected me so much.

    Khair. Still at this moment I am making dua to Allah Subhanaataala to ease your and your family’s difficulties.

    Alhamdulilah! You accepted it with respect and patience. May Allah reward you immensely for your patience and honesty.

    Yes. for everybody your case is over and you r in the jail forthe remaining 17 years without any parole.

    As you stated at the end of your letter, never loose hope. Insha Allah I will keep on making dua for you and your family. Dua is the weapon of the belivers. Allah Subhanaatala will definitely hear the dua of His slaves and especially the dua of the ones who are being oppressed.

    The prophet sallAllaahu alayhi wasallam said: “Protect yourselves from the duaa of the oppressed, for their is no veil between it and Allaah.”

    Please keep up your duas and continue to be patient. May be Allah Subhanaatala has got something else for you. Change your focus and by the time now I believe you must have changed.

    Your thoughts and writings are sharp and they are golden ink that this ummah needs the most at these times.

    I dont know what facitlies are there for you in the jail for you to increase your knowledge, and keep up your writting, and to keep up with whats going on around the world.

    May Allah provide you with all you need so each and every moment that you spend there will seed to your contributions to this ummah. Ameen.

    This life is surely a test. Our whole life would be just few moments on the day of judgement which is 50,000 years long.

    Please make sure each and every moment that you spend now in the prison, you reap rewards for your patience, as well as your contribution.

    May these rewards from your writing contribution grow and grow and be a huge mountain of good deeds for you on the day of judgement.

    May Allah guide your parents to the truth.

    May Allah make your loving wife sr.Mirsada strong and give her patience to raise all your kids as excellent muslims.

    May Allah ease the hardship of your family and increase the support of your family.

    May Allah protect and raise your four loving children Fatima, Hamza, Aisha, and Hasan as pious, strong muslims.

    “But give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere. Those who say, when afflicted with calamity, ‘To Allah we belong, and to Him is our return.’ They are those on whom descend blessings from their Lord,
    and mercy. They are the ones who receive guidance.” (2:155-157)

    Your sister in this beautiful deen.

    Muslimah

  9. Avatar

    Musa Maguire

    January 31, 2008 at 8:09 PM

    Sakeena,

    I do not think Ismail is contradicting himself in these documents. In this post, he is addressing the ideologies that conflict with Islam. It does not mean that one cannot be culturally Western, or live and interact with people who have different beliefs. It just means that the ailments of the human soul will not be cured through secularism or its outgrowths.

    I am culturally American and have no delusions that I will ever escape that. Nor do I want to. Nor does Islam command it. That does not mean that there are no cultural practices that I need to leave behind. But the fact is that every culture, including those from the historically Muslim world, have the same dilemma.

    If someone feels that they must abandon their culture, or adopt someone else’s, to be a good Muslim, they will likely travel a long and painful path that will ultimatley land them back at sqaure one. At least that’s what I’ve seen, and Allah knows best!

  10. Avatar

    bubaker

    January 31, 2008 at 11:48 PM

    As Salaamu `aleykum wa Rahmatullah

    Dear Br. Ismail,

    Alhamdulillah it was a blessing to read your letter to Br. Amad. I used to live in Maryland and had the pleasure of meeting you while you were with CAIR and attending your and other brothers’ trials a few times. I pray that Allah(SWT) Give you and your family comfort, release, and high Iman.

    If I understand you correctly, you aren’t arguing that there is anything against being American (Western, or any culture).

    The issue with “modernity” understood in the context of the “Enlightenment” was that its particular response to the tyrannical and immoral Church yielded an alternative dogma and principles around which to organize society which undermine the way of life of Muslims, and even Christians.

    I think that the “balance” is one that is struck in a personal and practical context, but I don’t see how the secular humanism, naturalism, and outright monism of the Enlightenment can ever be squared within an Islamic conscience.

    For an interesting read on evolution and it’s Enlightenment origin, read “Algeny” by Jeremy Rifkin. Lewis Mumford in “Myth of the Machine” talks about a strange resurrection of sun worship during the Enlightenment – particularly evident in the writings of Kepler.

    Now, I hope this isn’t taken as an attack on the West, America, or anything except Kufr, whether it’s in Europe, the Muslim World, wherever. The principles we understand from what Allah(SWT) Revealed in the Qur’an, give us a Furqan to tell Guidance from Error and it should be applied to everything, including “tradition”.

    The fact that success will once again be `Ala Minhaj an-Nubuwwah, whenever and wherever it will take place, is a reminder that modernity may not contain the solution, but it will be solved moving forward.

    May Allah(SWT) Bring it about through our faith and deeds.

    w’Salaamu `aleykum,
    Hanif

  11. Avatar

    Hamdi

    February 1, 2008 at 1:10 PM

    I’m so glad that someone is addressing this issue because it is such an important one.
    Being an 18-year old living in a Swedish society where I receive my education, this is a huge issue for me that I struggle with since I am surrounded be the values of the enlightenment as they are taken to be universal truths.
    I really recognise myself in the part where you mention the schizophrenia/dissonance it creates.
    I really look forward to reading your work when you finish it inshaAllah.

  12. Avatar

    Anonymous

    February 1, 2008 at 3:17 PM

    As salaam aleikum! :)

    In regards to this discussion, the conflict may there between Western society and Islam, but the mere existence of brothers and sisters such as you and I, who find the balance and equilibrium in troubling times…is proof that Islam also has the capacity to adapt and will continue to until we overcome. Perhaps its a consequence of our negative thinking that we see this conflict to be unsurmountable to the point that we cannot imagine how the Western can become Islamic. The brother wears a basketball jersey trying to look like `tuff`but that same jersey has the name of Abdul-Jabbar on it`s back. On one level yes, we can call it schizophrenic, but the first Muslims had to bear the same trials and were in their own way schizophrenic and if Abu Bakr (ra) were here today, even us Muslims would diagnose him as depressed, emotional and majnun…but that`s only if we look through the glasses of the kuffar…

    But in regards to modernity, scientific advancement and the Muslim future in the West, Muslims have forgotten the nature of Islam. Just as you mentioned that Islam is the natural state of the soul, it will always remain no matter how unusual it may seem at that moment. Anything can be Islamicized. We have Allah`s promise and the American giant is losing it`s balance. When it falls the ground might rumble but the giant that has always stood will remain standing: Islam.

    What I would like to ask you my dear brother is something that you most likely have contemplated and if you haven`t I would definitely like to hear your thoughts and ideas, especially from where you are:

    Activism has grown as a result of historical events. But we write, protest, `fight`for the rights of our imprisoned or hungry or dying brothers, but only as long as we do it from the comfort of our air-conditioned homes, at ease in front of our wide computer monitors.
    This In-Activism is obvious and almost blatantly hypocritical but we still do it almost because it`s easy and gives us an arrogance for performing a `good deed`…it is not getting us anywhere and so I ask:

    If anything, what can we do about it? What sort of `new and innovative`methods should we try? How might we affect true change?

    Jazaka Allahu khayran for your time and May Allah free you.

  13. Avatar

    Irtiza

    February 2, 2008 at 7:05 PM

    My thoughts are that it is a shame to see someone that bright do something so uncalculated and unwise. I hope this serves as a lesson to others and that people learn from Royer’s mistakes. “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

  14. Avatar

    Ahmad AlFarsi

    February 3, 2008 at 3:09 PM

    Assalaamu alaykum Br. Ismail,

    May Allah grant you strength and patience during your trials and allow you to use this time to draw nearer to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.

    Your brother in Islam,
    Ahmad

  15. Avatar

    ummfatima

    May 14, 2008 at 10:52 PM

    SELLAM

    I would like to say JKH for kind words to Br. Ismail and his family. Ismail is wrily happy to read all your responds, and thank you for all the dua’s that you are macking for him and his family. JKH Esselamu Aleikum

    ummfatima

  16. Pingback: Clipped Wings: Musings on Faith & Philosophy | MuslimMatters.org

  17. Avatar

    Hamdi

    February 7, 2009 at 10:27 PM

    I’m reading Muhammad Asad’s book “Islam at the crossroads”; I’ve only read the first couple of chapters so far but they reminded me of this text by Ismail Royer. The ideas he expresses here seem identical to what Asad was trying to say in his book. It’s striking. Does anyone who may have read Asad’s book agree?

  18. Avatar

    abu abdAllah, the Houstonian

    February 8, 2009 at 1:28 AM

    innalhamdolillah, wa bismillah. jazak Allah khayr, Hamdi for your comment — it caused me to find this article and to read this moving letter.

    I was very happy to hear about Muslimmatters.org. It sounds like its filling a void.

    when a person who has been incarcerated, sentenced without justice to such a long sentence, rights such words about MM… it really moves my heart. may Allah make his time in prison easy, may He soften the hearts of those who can pardon him, parole him, or reverse the judgment against him. may Allah make MM worthy of such hope and praise.

    as for Muhammad Asad… Muhammad Asad did recognize the kind of intellectual dissonance that Ismail Royer describes. but i would say, especially in light of Asad’s Message of the Qur’an, that the two men took divergent paths from that nexus. Asad all but completely denies the miracles of Allah, the angels, the Jinn, and more facts for a Muslim — for Asad all are more or less allegorical devices or mere means to explain the wisdom that less-developed minds could not otherwise grasp.

    i have read Asad’s opus-translation of the Qur’an cover-to-cover including every footnote and appendix, and i have read his Road to Mecca. i have islam at the crossroads but never studied it in depth. correct me if i am wrong, please, but crossroads was written while he was fresh from Saudi Arabia, and i believe even before he became Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN? that would place the book much earlier than either of the two much longer works. it’s possible that Asad’s deviation in aqeedah had not yet taken as firm a root in his mind at the time he wrote crossroads… though that book, if i am not mistaken, had a profound impact on the Muslim League, and even fomented (or fermented) the drive to partition… to create a state whose founders had very modernist ideals…

  19. Avatar

    Hamdi

    February 8, 2009 at 12:22 PM

    abu AbdAllah

    I know that it first came out in 1934, and it has been modified by Muhammad Asad over the years. The most popular Swedish translation – I live in Sweden – of the meaning of the Qur’an comes with Asad’s notes from his own translation, so I am aware of some of the bizarre aqeedah. I also have his Road to Mecca but I haven’t read it yet. I agree with you that Ismail Royer – walhamdulillah – takes the position of ahl al-Sunnah wal-Jama’ah so I wouldn’t compare him to Asad in that sense. Actually, I was sceptical when I first picked up “Islam at the Crossroads” and didn’t expect to get much out of it, exactly because of what I knew of Muhammad Asad’s aqeedah. But as I read it I was reminded of this text by Ismail Royer since the message is very similar. I wouldn’t describe him as a modernist, even in the later part of his life, since he still stood by what he wrote in his “Islam at the crossroads” later in life.

  20. Avatar

    MM Associates

    February 8, 2009 at 1:19 PM

    bismillah. jazak Allah khayr, Hamdi. yeah, i may be wrong in my use of the term modernist. it’s as much bandied and as inappropriately-so as salafi. but i am using the broad dictionary meaning of modernism: “a movement toward modifying traditional beliefs in accordance with modern ideas.”

    in that sense, Asad may not seem modernist, in that his aqeedah has more to do with an all-but-extinct-1000+years-ago philosopher-approach to Islam. but at least in Road and Message he expressed that the problem with Muslim leaders with whom he dealt was that they were too satisfied with the status quo. to that point it could be easy to find his arguments compelling. but when it comes to what guidance to seek from Islam, he would have said, i believe, that there is a sphere for religion and one that religion has no place in. to me that challenges (wrongly) the traditional assertion that every aspect of life is within Islam (though obviously many aspects of life have no ruling associated with them other than simply “mubah”). and taking all of his writings which can be characterized thus, i think of him as modernist.

    but alhamdolillah, i am not his judge, nor anyone else’s. :) and Judgment is only for Allah.

  21. Avatar

    Hamdi

    February 8, 2009 at 7:44 PM

    I don’t know that much about him, so I wont say much either but I would recommend that you read “Islam at the Crossroads”. I think you may be surprised, let’s just leave it at that ;)

  22. Avatar

    Musliman

    April 21, 2014 at 4:47 PM

    How to write to br. İsmail? İf possible?

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SaveUighur.org is a campaign to raise awareness about this human rights tragedy.

Clothing is specifically being targeted for boycott because experts say 80% of cotton used in Chinese clothing comes from East Turkestan, where forced labor is routinely used. As well, 30% of all U.S. clothing comes from China.

“Americans must send a message to the Chinese government that its horrific abuse of Uighurs will not be tolerated,” said Aydin Anwar, an Uighur-American activist with SaveUighur.org. “We must avoid buying clothing made in China because it would mean tacit approval of the Chinese government’s genocide of Uighurs. Boycotting products made in the country will send a strong message.”

Since April 2017, the Chinese government has thrown about 800,000 to two million Uighurs and other Muslims into the largest concentration camps since those of Nazi Germany during World War II. Prisoners have been subjected to torture, gang rape, and medical experimentation. It has also forcibly separated families, sending children to state-run child welfare institutions and boarding schools without access to their parents, and without parental consent.

Outside of the camps, Uighurs are subjected to strict surveillance of all communication within and outside of China, and spies are sent to live in Uighur homes.

SaveUighur.org is calling for the Muslim community to support this campaign and to encourage family, friends, and followers on social media to do the same using hashtags like #SaveUighur #BoycottMadeInChina #boycottchina #china #uighurs #uighur #FastFromChina

(1) Take a picture of the Made In China item.

(2) Write a message saying you are NOT buying it since it comes from China.

(3) Mention you are supporting the people of East Turkestan. Tag the manufacturer and shop, if possible.

(4) Use the hashtags #SaveUighur #BoycottMadeInChina #boycottchina #china #uighurs #uighur #FreeEastTurkestan

For more information about the campaign, please visit SaveUighur.org

CONTACT: Aydin Anwar, C: 571-344-3885

“We must avoid buying clothing made in China because it would mean tacit approval of the Chinese government's genocide of Uighurs. Boycotting products made in the country will send a strong message.”Click To Tweet
SaveUighur.org is calling for the Muslim community to boycott Made in China clothing, using hashtags like #SaveUighur #BoycottMadeInChina #boycottchina #china #uyghur #uighur #FastFromChina Click To Tweet
(1) Take a picture of the Made In China item. (2) Write a message saying you are NOT buying it since it comes from China. (3) Mention you are supporting the people of East Turkestan. Tag the manufacturer and shop, if possible. (4) Use the hashtags #SaveUighur #BoycottMadeInChina #boycottchina #china #uighurs #uighur #FreeEastTurkestan For more information about the campaign, please visit SaveUighur.orgClick To Tweet

 

“The South China Morning Post reports that U.S.-based scholars and experts spoke before legislators about how Uighurs who have been forcibly held in detention centers have been put to work in factory jobs. Companies that used these factories staffed by Uighurs and other Turkic minorities would receive government subsidies for each individual trained and employed, along with shipping subsidies. This cheap labor along with the government subsidies would result in very low manufacturing costs, “undercutting global prices,” according to testimony presented at the hearing by the Center of Strategic and International Studies. This could turn Xinjiang into a hub for low-cost manufacturing.

According to reliable sources such as the agricultural research company Gro Intelligence, a vast cotton-producing industry has been developed in Xinjiang which supplies 80 percent of the country’s total cotton output. This would mean that any cotton clothing sourced from China would be suspect of containing cotton grown using slave labor.

Furthermore, the Chinese Communist Party is transferring Uighur and other Turkic people to other parts of China forcibly, so the task of tracking forced labor of Uighur is no longer limited to Xinjiang (East Turkestan) but to the rest of the country, making it virtually impossible to track the forced labor of prisoners. How can third-party auditors ensure that the workers in these factories are not Uighurs removed from Xinjiang (East Turkestan)?”

Open Letter to Costco On Chinese Products Made by Forced Labor

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A Closer Look At The Congressional Hearing on Human Rights in South Asia

Kashmir hearing in Congress

Expectations on Capitol Hill were pretty low going into the House Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and Nonproliferation’s historic hearing on “Human Rights in South Asia”. Previously, hearings on India have not been critical and the Kashmiri Muslim point of view has not been discussed.

Chairman of the sub-committee Brad Sherman (D-CA) wasted no time setting the stage for where he wanted to go with this hearing, stating, ”the entire world is focused today on what is happening in Kashmir.” He also pointed to the state of the 2 million-minority population in Assam. Missing from his opening statements were remarks on the state of the rest of the minorities in India, esp. Christians, Sikhs, Dalits, and Muslims. Ranking member Ted Yoho (R-FL) was soft on the gross realities of the occupation, highlighting one case of a Kashmiri constituent, and referred to the abrogation of Article 370 as an internal matter of India. He also brought up the Indian talking point of economic progress in the region but this concept was thoroughly dismissed by later testimony and Q&A.

The State department veteran Alice Wells, Acting Secretary on South and Central Asian Affairs seemed woefully ill-prepared for the critical nature of the hearing. Both Wells and Assistant Secretary for Human Rights Destro could not or did not present solid facts and figures about detention and tried to explain away the oppression as “inconveniences”. They were unable to comment or provide clarity on the situation on the ground in Kashmir, with Destro saying, “we are in the same information blackout as you are.” Some of Sec. Wells’s comments were of direct Indian government persuasion.

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Several of Justice For All’s talking points were raised during the hearing.

There was commentary on the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar asked about the anti-Muslim program. She questioned the panel on the public statements by Indian officials that only Muslims have to prove their birth records. Rejecting the notion that a democratic ally cannot be policed, she said that the United States does that in many situations and “this should not be an exception.”The human rights abuse doesn’t cease to exist even if it is the law. Is it consistent with international human rights?” asked Chairman Sherman, along the same lines.

Destro observed that the appeals process “may disadvantage poor and illiterate populations who lack documentation”. “We are closely following this situation and urge the Government of India to take these issues into consideration,” he added.

”The human rights abuse doesn’t cease to exist even if it is the law. Is it consistent with international human rights?” asked Chairman ShermanClick To Tweet

Wells testified that “violence and discrimination against minorities in India, including cow vigilante attacks against members of the Dalit and Muslim communities, and the existence of anti-conversion laws in nine states” are not in keeping with India’s legal protections for minorities.

Congresswoman Alice Spanberger, (D-VA) a former CIA intelligence officer, asked whether India has shared examples of terror attacks and incidents that have been thwarted due to the communications blockade. When Wells stated that she could not comment, Spanberger asked for a classified hearing so that US officials could give their assessment on the validity of the national security argument of the Indian government. Chair Sherman associated himself with her questioning and vowed to take her suggestion seriously.

Chairman Brad Sherman, as well as several other Congresspeople both on and off the House Foreign Relations Committee, asked several pertinent and critical questions.

Questioning the Indian Government narrative Chairman Sherman asked if the United is “supposed to trust these government of India officials when the government of India doesn’t allow our diplomats to visit?” Representative Sheila Jackson asked if reputable Indian diplomats or journalists had ever been denied entry into any state in the United States?

Indian American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) referred to a report about the detention of dozens of children in Kashmir and said detention without charges is unacceptable. She expressed her concerns about religious freedom in India and said that she proposes to bring a bipartisan resolution in Congress.

Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas and David Cicilline of Rhode Island both had a heavy human rights approach to the questioning. Congresswoman Lee asked Assistant Secretary Destro if he would describe the situation as a “humanitarian crisis,” Mr Destro said, “Yes, it is.” She then went on to call the United States government to stop a potential genocide.

Washington has not changed its stance on the designation of the Line of Control. Chairman Sherman brought up the issue of disputed territory to the State Department.“We consider the Line of Control (LoC) a de facto line separating two parts of Kashmir,” answered Wells. “We recognize de facto administrations on both sides of LoC.”

The subcommittee focused on personal testimonies as well as human rights organization Amnesty’s testimony during the second half of the hearing.

Though no Kashmiri Muslims testified, the panel presented electrifying testimonies from Dr. Nitasha Kaul, a Kashmiri and Dr. Angana Chatterji, an anthropologist at the University of California, Berkeley. Bearing witness to the rising fascism and Hindu nationalism’s grip on India, both witnesses brought up beef lynchings, with Chatterji raising the concern of the genocidal inclinations of the Modi government. 

“Hindu majoritarianism – the cultural nationalism and political assertion of the Hindu majority – sanctifies India as intrinsically Hindu and marks the non-Hindu as its adversary. Race and nation are made synonymous, and Hindus –the formerly colonized, now governing, elite – are depicted as the national race,” said Dr. Chatterji.

Kashmiri witness Dr. Nitisha Kaul stated in her testimony that “human rights defenders, who were already under severe pressure, since August 5 are unable to function in Kashmir. For instance, every year on 30 August, the UN Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance, Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons led by Ms Parveena Ahangar, organises a vigil protest involving hundreds of elderly women and men whose sons had become victims of for instance, in the most recent parliamentary elections, the voters’ turnout was very low and in many booths, not a single vote was cast.”

Kaul emphasized the extension of the oppression, by highlighting that this year the peaceful gathering of elderly parents mourning and waiting for their disappeared sons was not allowed. She shared Ahanga’s quote: “This year we have been strangled, and there was no coming there was no coming together because, through its siege, India has denied us even the right to mourn.”

Ilhan Omar challenged Indian journalist Aarti Tikoo Singh’s take that the siege was in place to save Muslim women from “terrorists.” This is a trope that is often used to wage war and is especially used in the so-called “war on terror.” “It is a very colonial move on the part of the nation-states around it as if they are “liberating Kashmiri women,” said Dr. Kaul.

Chatterji bore witness to the woes of Kashmiri women who bear the brunt of the Indian occupational forces’ sexual brutality. “The woman’s body becomes the battlefield,” she said replying to a question by Congresswoman Houlahan from Pennsylvania. Dr. Kaul stated that the 1944 new Kashmir manifesto contained an entire section on gender rights. She spoke on the equity and equality in Kashmir: “They go to protests. Women become heads of households because of dead husbands.”

She also reminded the committee that BJP’s Amit Shah, also part of the government in 2002 and responsible for the program on Muslim community stated that Western human rights cannot be blindly applied here in India.

Representative Wild from Pennsylvania asked why the Indian government would not allow transparency. When human rights organizations and journalists can work in active war zones, she rejected the anti-terrorism narrative pushed by Ravi Batra, a last-minute BJP addition to the panel. “When there isn’t transparency something is being hidden and this is what really concerns me terribly,” said Wild.

A Sindhi-American witness spoke on minority rights in Pakistan, especially the forced conversion of Hindus. This is a concern that needs to be tackled by Muslims as there is no compulsion in Islam and is antithetical to the religion.

During the hearing, Amnesty International reported thousands in detention under the Public Safety Act while the State Department numbered it at hundreds. Dr. Asif Mahmoud, a key organizer, presented the health situation in Kashmir.

The overall situation of the Rohingya was covered and links were made to the start of the genocide in Burma and the parallels in India. The members of the House referred to it as genocide with the State Department still calling it ethnic cleansing.

Although the hearing focused on the current state of Jammu and Kashmir and not much was brought up about self-determination or the plebiscite, Kashmiri-Americans and their supporters left the hearing room satisfied that their voices were heard for the first time in the halls of the US Congress.

What was most concerning point of the entire hearing was that Kashmir was not brought up categorically as disputed territory and the issue was referred to as an integral matter of India. This needs deep, consistent and long-term work by advocates of Kashmir. With the continuous rise of RSS, Indian minority issues need a much sharper focus, and a regular pounding of the pavements of Congress to educate the Foreign Relations committees.

Some action items for American Muslims post-hearing.

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#Current Affairs

An Urgent Call Regarding the Plight of Shaykh Salman al-Ouda, Shaykh Awad al-Qarni, and Dr. Ali al-Omari

Saudi scholars, injustice

دعوة عاجلة بخصوص أزمة الشيخ سلمان العودة، والشيخ عوض القرني، والدكتور علي العمري

الحمد لله، والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله محمد وآله

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السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

لقد تلقينا بقلق بالغ ما يتوارد من أخبار غير مؤكدة حول الإعدام الوشيك للشيخ سلمان العودة، و الشيخ عوض القرني، و الدكتور علي العمري

لقد علمنا الإسلام أن الحياة نعمة من الله و إن أولئك الذين يعملون على حرمان أى أحد من هذه النعمة دون أساس شرعي واضح قد ارتكبوا إثمًا فظيعًا عدّه الله من الكبائر: وَمَن يَقْتُلْ مُؤْمِنًا مُّتَعَمِّدًا فَجَزَاؤُهُ جَهَنَّمُ خَالِدًا فِيهَا وَغَضِبَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَلَعَنَهُ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُ عَذَابًا عَظِيمًا (سورة النساء، 93)

حرمة المؤمن

إن رسول الله ﷺ وصحابته قد اعتبروا حياة كل من نطق الشهادة، وكذا ماله وعرضه حرامًا لا يُقبل انتهاكها ولقد حرصوا كل الحرص على ألا ينتهكوا تلك الحقوق الأصلية حتى في تطبيق الحدود

قال رسول الله ﷺ: ادفَعوا الحدود ما وجدْتم لها مدفعًا (سنن ابن ماجة)، وقال ابن مسعود: ادرءوا الجلد والقتل عن المسلمين ما استطعتم (السنن الكبرى)

إن حرمة دم المسلم عند رسول الله ﷺ عظيمة جدًا، فلزوال الدنيا أهون عنده من قتل امرئٍ مسلم (سنن الترمذي)

ولقد كان السلف يقولون عند طوافهم بالكعبة: ما أعظمك وأعظم حرمتك، والمؤمن أعظم حرمةً عند الله منك (رواه الترمذي)

التماس رأفة

في ضوء الهدي النبوي، وعِظم أمر انتهاك الحقوق الأصلية التي منحها الإسلام للمسلم، فإننا نطالب السلطات المعنية بأن يوقفوا أي خطة مبيتة لإعدام الشيخ سلمان العودة، والشيخ عوض القرني، والدكتور علي العمري، سواءً في المستقبل القريب أو البعيد

نطالب أولئك الذين في السلطة أن يصدروا عفوًا في حقهم في هذا الشهر المبارك

إننا نؤمن بيقين أن هؤلاء العلماء لم يقترفوا أى شيءٍ يبرر التعامل المروع الذي يتعرضون له لمدة عام وأكثر وإننا نطلق هذا النداء كنصيحة صادقة، محققين دورنا كعلماء عليهم واجب بيان الحق، ومستحضرين أن كل واحد فينا سيسأل عن عمله في الآخرة حيث الظلم ظلمات لا تفضي إلا إلى عذاب النار

والله في عون المظلومين واللهم صل وسلم وبارك على سيدنا محمد

17 رمضان 1440 /22 مايو 2019

كتب بواسطة (الشيخ) سلمان يونس

 

An Urgent Call Regarding the Plight of Shaykh Salman al-Ouda, Shaykh Awad al-Qarni, and Dr. Ali al-Omari

All praise belongs to Allah, and blessings upon the Prophet Muhammad and His family.

Peace and mercy be upon you:

It is with great concern and perturbation that we have received unconfirmed reports regarding the imminent execution of Shaykh Salman al-Ouda, Shaykh Awad al-Qarni, and Dr. Ali al-Omari.

Islam teaches us that life is a blessing from Allah. Those who seek to deprive someone of this blessing without a clearly sanctioned religious basis have committed an act that God deems atrocious and a mighty sin: “If anyone kills a believer deliberately, the punishment for him is Hell, and there he will remain: Allah is angry with him, and rejects him, and has prepared a tremendous torment for him.”(Qur’an, 4:93)

The Inviolability of the Believer

The Prophet ﷺ and his Companions viewed the life, wealth, and honor of all who uttered the testimony of faith (shahada) as inviolable. They took immense care not to impede on these basic rights even in the context of enacting punishments.

The Prophet ﷺ said, “Avoid applying punishments as long as you are able to find an excuse to avert them,”(Sunan Ibn Majah) and Ibn Masʿud stated, “Avoid flogging and applying the death penalty upon people as much as you can.”(Sunan al-Kubra)

Indeed, the sanctity of the believer was so great in the eyes of the Prophet ﷺ that he deemed the destruction of the world as a lighter affair than the killing of even a single Muslim. (Sunan al-Tirmidhi)

Similarly, the early Muslims (salaf) would remark when gazing upon the Kaʿba, “The inviolability of a believer is greater with Allah than your inviolability.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhi) There are few statements one can imagine as emphatic as these in affirmation of the rank of the believer.

A Call for Clemency

In light of the guidance of the Prophet ﷺ and the gravity of depriving a Muslim of the fundamental rights granted to him or her by Islam, we urge the authorities in question to immediately cease any plans to execute Shaykh Salman al-Ouda, Shaykh Awad al-Qarni, and Dr. Ali al-Omari in the immediate or distant future.

We urge those in the leadership to grant them clemency in this blessed month of Ramadan.

It is our firm belief that the actions of these scholars do not in any way justify the appalling treatment they have been subjected to over the past year and more. We make this call in the spirit of providing sincere counsel, realizing our role as scholars duty-bound to the expression of truth, and recognizing that each of us will be held accountable for our actions in the next life where oppression will be nothing but darkness leading to perdition.

And Allah is in the aid of His oppressed servants. May the blessings and peace of Allah be upon His Prophet.

Ramadan 17th, 1440

May 22nd, 2019

Drafted by Shaykh Salman Younas

Signatories (v. 2)

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

SeekersGuidance

Dr. Yasir Qadhi

Islamic Seminary of America

Shaykh Omer Suleiman

USA

Dr. Ingrid Mattson

Canada

 

Dr. Omar Qureshi

USA

 

 

Dr. Abdullah Hamid Ali

USA

 

Shaykh Mustapha Elturk

Amir, Islamic Organization of North America

 

Shaykh Rami Nsour

Tayba Foundation

Dr. Shadee Elmasry

Safina Society

Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari

Director of Darul Iftaa Leicester

 

Shaykh Azhar Nasser

Tasneem Institute

 

 

Professor John Esposito

Georgetown University

 

 

Mufti Abdur-Rahman ibn Yusuf

London

 

Dr. Jonathan Brown

Georgetown University

Professor Mohammad Fadel

University of Toronto

Imam Suhaib Webb

Scholar in Residence, ICNYU

Shaykh Shams ad-Duha

Ebrahim College

 

Ustadha Zaynab Ansari

Tayseer Seminary

 

Dalia Mogahed

ISPU

 

Imam Dawud Walid

Member of Michigan Imams Council

 

 

Dr. Asim Yusuf

UK

 

 

Dr. Ovamir Anjum

University of Toledo

 

Dr. Abdullah Hakim Quick

USA

 

Shaykh Hani Saleem

Islamic Center of Detroit

Dr. Shabbir Ally

Toronto

Shaykh Furhan Zubairi

Dean of IOK Seminary

 

Dr. Ihsan Bagby

University of Kentucky

 

Shaykh Mohammed Faqih

Islamic Institute of Orange County

 

Shaykh Bilal Ali Ansari

Khalil Center

Mohammad Elshinawy

Yaqeen Institute

 

Shaykh Abdur Rahman Khan

Co-Chair of National Catholic-Muslim Dialogue

 

Shaykh Sulaiman Gani

London

 

Dr. Hamid Slimi

USA

 

Mufti Taha Karaan

South Africa

Shaykh Sadullah Khan

South Africa

Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi

Chairman of Fiqh Council of America

 

 

Shaykh Taha Abdul-Basser

USA

Imam Ibrahim Hindy

Dar al-Tawheed Islamic Center

 

 

Dr. Basma Abdelgafar

Vice President of Maqasid Institute Global

 

Prof. Jasser Auda

President of Maqasid Institute Global

 

Laila Mehar

Former President of UConn SJP

Hartford

Dr. Osman Latiff

Jamia Masjid and Islamic Center

 

Imam Abdul-Malik Ryan

DePaul University

 

Imam John Ederer

Muslim Community Center of Charlotte

 

Shaykh Amer Jamil

Scotland

 

Shaykh Bilal Ismail

Imam Development Project

 

Shaykh Muhammad Mustaqeem Shah

Walsall

 

Dr. Bekim Hasani

Imam and Activist

Australia

 

Imam Imran Salha

ICA

 

Dr. Tajul Islam University of Leeds

 

Dr. Mustapha Sheikh

University of Leeds

 

Dr. Ahmed Soboh

Religious Director of Chino Valley Islamic Center

 

Dr. Rafaqat Rashid

Al Balagh Academy

 

Imam Shafi Chowdhury

Leicester

 

Buthaina Hawas-Neveln

Iraqi Journalist

 

Shaykh Salmaan Parkar Australian Islamic College

 

Muslema Purmul

The Majlis

Dr. Mohammad Ilyas,

University of Florida

 

Dr. Asif Hirani

Imam and Resident Scholar of Worcester Islamic Center

 

Shaykh Ahmad Kutty

Resident Scholar of Islamic Institute of Toronto

 

Shaykh Mohammad Aman Haque

Norway

 

Imam Mazhar Mahmood

Director of Islamic Foundation of Peoria

 

Ishraq Ali

Organizing Director of MPower Change

 

Usman Qamar

Muslim Chaplaincy of Waterloo

 

Mawlana Zakariyah Harneker

 

Shaykh Shahinur Rahman

al-Rahma, UK

 

Shaykh Abdul Wahab Saleem

Salik Academy

Dr. Usaama Al-Azami

Markfield Institute

Ustadh Samir Hussain

ISNA High School

 

Shaykh Tariq AtaDr. Zaid alBarzinji

Maqasid Institute

Shaykh Abdur Rahim Reasat

SeekersGuidance

Mufti Liaquat Zaman

Birmingham, UK

 

Imam Salim Astewani

Cheshire, UK

 

 

Shaykh Tabraze Azam

SeekersGuidance

 

Dr. Sharif El-Tobgui

Brandeis University

 

 

Ismail Royer

USA

Imam Qasim Rashid

Al-Khayr Foundation

 

Dr. Yvonne Haddad

Georgetown University

Omar Usman

Executive Director, MuslimMatters

 

Shaykh Muhammad Abuelezz

Muslim Association of Canada

 

Mufti Ismail Syed

London

Mawlana Safwaan Navlakhi

Al-Ma’aly Institute

South Africa

 

Dr. Ildus Rafikov

ISTAC

Aamir Ansari

ICNA

Shaykh Hassan Rabbani

Zia-Ul-Quran Mosque

Scotland

Ustadha Umm Jamaal ud-Din

Islamic College of Australia

Dr. Munir Elkassem

President, Islamic Institute of Interfaith Dialogue

Dr. Yusuf Salah

Khalil Foundation

 

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