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On Mice, Mashaayikh, and the Media

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mickeymouse.jpg Sheikh Saleh Muhammad al-Munajjid calls for the extermination of all mice, including Mickey Mouse. The world’s response: Absolute outrage. Cries of indignition. Furious rants about this is why the Ummah is in such a sad state, because instead of focusing on real issues like crippling poverty and racism, we’re obsessed over rodents. Non-Muslim journalists are having a field day mocking Muslim scholars, especially “radically anti-Western” and “extremist” Sunni leaders.

But hold on a minute! As a (metaphorical) member of the mouse community (although I’m still waiting for my Minnie Mouse ears), I took it upon myself to look more deeply into the issue and see if it’s really what it’s cracked up to be.

In short: It’s not.

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First and foremost, I find it sad that we’re so quick to believe what the mass media – which we already know to be disgustingly and blatantly biased, prejudiced, and downright twisted against Muslims – have to say in regards to us. Why is it that when a Muslim comes to us with news about something, we’re skeptical and won’t believe it ’till we see it… but we readily believe what the headlines of CNN or the New York Times tell us? Have we forgotten Allah’s command:

“O you who have believed, if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful.” [49:6]

What’s worse is that it’s bad enough when an “average” member of the community is slandered and blacklisted – the unfortunate brother or sister is liable to shunned at every Masjid and Islamic centre within a ten-mile radius (and sometimes more, depending on the situation), and practically excommunicated from the community at large, wa na’oodhu billaah – but when our own scholars are treated this way, our true colours show. Our disrespect for the people of knowledge, our arrogance and condescending attitudes towards them because “they don’t know English” (which in our eyes appears to equal backwardness and ignorance) and “they don’t know what they’re talking about,” becomes evident. The years that these amazing people spent studying the Deen, the knowledge and wisdom that they have accumulated, the level of which we can only dream of achieving, are entirely disregarded. Have we forgotten that the shuyookh who issue fataawah recieve two rewards if they are correct, and still recieve a reward from Allah even if they made a mistake? Then how dare we, the laypeople who haven’t even recieved this news directly from an authentic source (I hardly consider CNN, Fox, or other major media outlets as authentic sources), jump to conclusions and be swift in disparaging the ‘Ulamaa of this Ummah? Do we not fear Allah in slandering and backbiting, in speaking without knowledge of those whom we are supposed to respect and look up to?

It never fails to disappoint me when, over and over again, the same scenarios are replayed and we collectively fall into the same trap. When will we learn our lesson? When will we remember to not believe everything we see and hear without verifying the facts, to not jump to pick sides simply based on what is being broadcast by corporations whose only interest is to generate money, not spread the truth?

May Allah forgive us for our shortcomings and for what our tongues have spoken without knowledge and heedlessly, and may He elevate our scholars in knowledge, wisdom, and understanding and grant them Jannat al-Firdaws, ameen.

[youtube BmgFQiaYEdk]

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Zainab bint Younus (AnonyMouse) is a Canadian Muslim woman who writes on Muslim women's issues, gender related injustice in the Muslim community, and Muslim women in Islamic history. She holds a diploma in Islamic Studies from Arees University, a diploma in History of Female Scholarship from Cambridge Islamic College, and has spent the last fifteen years involved in grassroots da'wah. She was also an original founder of MuslimMatters.org.

31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. muslim

    September 25, 2008 at 1:10 AM

    mashallah bro..great article…may Allah give you strength and guide all of us to the right path….I totally agree with you….

  2. islam blog

    September 25, 2008 at 4:38 AM

    Jazakallah for this piece. Indeed respecting the ulama is a sign of virtue and people must guard their tongues when it comes to criticizing them.

    Can more insight be laid on what was actually said and how things were taken out of context?

  3. ans

    September 25, 2008 at 7:13 AM

    I can’t help myself but thinking about the ‘absurdity’ (i’m sorry, but that what I really felt) of the fatwa, the first time I read the article. Alhamdulillah, your nasiha really brought me back to the straight path. Never ever condescend the ulama and has no zann towards what they have said, although it does not make any sense the first time you come across it. There is probably wisdom that will materialize afterwards, wallahua’lam.

    However, out of my curiosity. What is it that causes the ulama to come up with such fatwa? I really want to know the context on how the proposition that ‘mice were “agents of Satan” and should be killed’ came about.

  4. Hamdi

    September 25, 2008 at 8:56 AM

    I’ve seen the clip. The statement that “mice are the agents of shaytan” refers to the diseases they spread and other problems they may cause. The Mickey Mouse remark was said with a kind of sarcastic undertone.

  5. Qas

    September 25, 2008 at 9:07 AM

    This written answer will elaborate on that:
    http://www.islamqa.com/en/ref/2896/mice

  6. Gohar

    September 25, 2008 at 10:39 AM

    Good title…

    It is clear that the sheikh is speaking metaphorically here. Killing Mickie mouse means removing its imagery from muslim society. Whats so strange about that? Only a retard or trouble-stirrer would misinterpret this. I doubt anyone would find a story if the fatwa had been in regard to the importance of not glamourising pigs.

  7. Yasir Qadhi

    September 25, 2008 at 11:27 AM

    This is what he said

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmgFQiaYEdk

    Its obvious in the Arabic that’s he’s referring to the fact that mice are allowed to be killed according to Islamic law. He’s not calling for the assassination of Mickey Mouse (!) but rather referring to mice tongue-in-cheek as ‘the Mickey Mouse character’.

  8. Mezba

    September 25, 2008 at 11:33 AM

    Didn’t he also ask for TV producers or some people producing TV shows to be killed?

  9. Ahmad AlFarsi

    September 25, 2008 at 11:44 AM

    Didn’t he also ask for TV producers or some people producing TV shows to be killed?

    bro, u are mixing up facts and causing rumors to be spread… please don’t heedlessly ask questions like that…

    the article which was linked to claimed that another (unnamed) Saudi cleric (not Sh. Munajjid) said “owners of satellite television channels that broadcast “immoral” content deserved to die.” Again, it is quite likely that the words of this unnamed cleric were taken out of context as well…

  10. Umimran

    September 25, 2008 at 12:01 PM

    A nice article and a good reminder. Actually, it makes me think that we are so entrenched in western icons and ideals that we neglect to see the Haqq. Whenever a scholar points out to us how much we have lost our track, instead of taking time to digest what he says and ponder upon it, we ridicule and belittle it, trying to point out how “outdated” and “backward” the scholar is.

    I’m a mother and my children watched cartoons when they were young. In fact, sometimes I enjoyed watching with them. But, I promose you that if a mouse entered our home, they didn’t hesitate to try to kill it.

    Yet, if my chldren were given the choice of a free ticket to Disneyland or Makkah Shareef, I would be very worried which one they would really want to go see from bottom of their heart. Our culture and our priorities are cock-eyed. We should re-evaluate ourselves before we are taken account of.

  11. Mezba

    September 25, 2008 at 12:04 PM

  12. Asim

    September 25, 2008 at 1:02 PM

    Bismillah Ar-Rahman Ar-Raheem

    The YouTube video that Shaykh Yasir linked is titled “Memri TV”. To understand what exactly MEMRI is, please read the below article from the British newspaper Guardian:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/aug/12/worlddispatch.brianwhitaker

    This article will make it clear what motivates the MEMRI folks to disseminate such material.

    Wassalam

  13. usman

    September 25, 2008 at 1:57 PM

    Salaam, i was funny i was having this same conversation wit a brother…he was saying pretty bad things about our dear shaykh Yusuf Qardawi…my point was respecting and honoring the shayookh… mashallah well written and powerful article…may allah reward u. amen

  14. UmmAbdullah

    September 25, 2008 at 2:14 PM

    Jazakillah Khair for the reminder. Indeed, we forget the respect our Scholars deserve.

  15. AnonyMouse

    September 25, 2008 at 2:46 PM

    As-salaamu ‘alaikum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh,

    @ Muslim
    JazakAllahu khairan, although I’m a sister, not a brother.

    @ Islam Blog
    Please check out the link Sheikh Yasir posted (my apologies for the incompleteness of the post, I was in a rush but wanted to get the message out immediately). As others pointed out, it’s obvious that Sheikh Munajjid was referring to the well-known harms of rodents (come on – would YOU like to live in a mouse-infested home?!) and used Mickey Mouse as a sarcastic example.

    @ Mezba
    Please read my post over again. And then do some research to double-check (and triple-check) the facts. Sheikh Saleh al-Luhaidan is the one you’re referring to, and what happened to him is almost exactly what happened to Sheikh Munajjid.
    He was emphasizing the obvious haraam-ness of various TV shows and the channels that broadcast them, and while he mentioned his view that according to the Shari’ah, those who propogate and support such things are deserving of the death penalty, he did not say that it’s up to vigilantes to go out and execute TV producers. Rather, it is up to the Islamic State to pursue them and try them under a Shari’ah court with due judicial process.

    Really, it’s can be compared to when a khateeb here in the West talks about adultery and fornication and says that the Shari’ah commands that the punishment for zina is stoning to death/ lashing. It’s true, isn’t it? Allah DID command it. But does that mean that the khateeb is telling us that we, the average layman, should be going around stoning and lashing all those guilty of zina? Obviously not. Every intelligent person knows that when the scholars discuss Hadd punishments and the like, they mean that such punishments can only be carried out after due judicial process by the authorities and NOT by the average person.

  16. aarij

    September 25, 2008 at 4:17 PM

    The youtube link needs to be put in the post. Without it, the post is incomplete.

  17. Faiez

    September 25, 2008 at 5:08 PM

    JazakAllahu khayr for clearing this up

  18. Pasha

    September 25, 2008 at 6:26 PM

    we should have our own cartoons with camels, goats, horses, sheep, :)
    When I was a kid i personally never liked mickey mouse, and always rooted for Tom to kill Jerry..very informative and nice article.

  19. Salafiya

    September 25, 2008 at 7:09 PM

    Hahaha I love Shaykh Munajjid. May Allaah protect him always and grant him all the good that he desires, Ameen.

  20. Muslim brother

    September 25, 2008 at 8:17 PM

    Mezba, get a clue. Seriously.

  21. ilmsummitee

    September 25, 2008 at 9:11 PM

    For all the Ilmsummiteers I still remember Sh. Zoubair’s comment on Tom and Jerry! Hilarious, mA. :p

  22. Kamran

    September 26, 2008 at 2:01 AM

    This article was posted by AnonyMouse…hah! Wallahi I love Shaikh Munajjid and hate FOX.

  23. ar.m

    September 27, 2008 at 1:23 AM

    fantastic, Jzk.

    i for one do not care what the kufaar think.

    our actions should be motivated by seeking the pleasure of Allah and avoiding the wrath of Allah.

    big up the shaykh!!!!!

    many have lost the plot in their efforts to appease the kufaar.

  24. Hamdi

    October 1, 2008 at 10:01 AM

    The shaykh responds in english masha’Allah:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZSz2zEMwZE

  25. Ar-Raheeq

    October 3, 2008 at 10:36 AM

    firstly, it pains to see the muslim ummah arguing on such a small matter.

    In my opinion the sheikh was doing his job. He felt it wrong and he expressed it in words which i feel is his duty. remember, stop wrong with your hand, words or atleasrt denounce it in your heart, hadith??? Now are we doing our duty, which should be either to follow him or keep quite? Have we become more knowledgable to over rule him, call him a man not in “touch with realities” etc etc??? Shame on such people. In fact this is the nature of men, a lillte knowledge Allah bestows on them and they think there is none more knowledgable than them!

    Secondly, what has micky mouse ever contributed to mankind? Has it ever taught our children who their creator is? On the other hand it has taught our children tat giving flowers to minnie mouse on valentines day is being a perfect gentleman(i perfectly remember this particular episode)! SubhanAllah. Yes, these shows do benefit them to a “certain” extent. Those who support micky say our children learn numbers, alphabets etc etc, (dont such people send their children to school??? or is micky better than the teachers in school???)

    Its easy to criticise the sheikh but what isn’t easy is to memorize quran, the huge, volimnous book of fiqh, hadith etc. imagine, if micky mouse was to replace the learned scholars??? subhanAllah.

    Hopefully next time people will learn to respect the scholars who spend their lives, day and night striving to benefit mankind, striving to guide mankind and striving to save them the path that leads to hell!

  26. Ar-Raheeq

    October 3, 2008 at 10:43 AM

    Also, our love for micky mouse has replaced our love for our learned scholars! may Allah preserve them and guide those who have no idea of what acquiring knowledge is all about….

  27. Gohar

    October 3, 2008 at 12:57 PM

    Its easy to criticise the sheikh but what isn’t easy is to memorize quran, the huge, volimnous book of fiqh, hadith etc.

    … well said.

  28. Pingback: Killing Mickey Mouse: Sheikh Al-Munajid Responds « Youth Matters

  29. Ahmad AlFarsi

    November 14, 2008 at 9:07 PM

    mashaAllah, Sh. Munajjid is awesome! check out his even more detailed response he gave to Iqra TV, where he explicitly calls out MEMRI and those who believed them (ironically, MEMRI actually produced the clip on their website)

    http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/1912.htm

  30. Pingback: In the light of Islam can a muslim child play with a stuff toy shaped like a pig ? - LI Islamic Forum

  31. Waqas Ahmad

    August 7, 2009 at 11:39 AM

    Assalamu’Alaikum Brothers and Sisters,

    I recently came across CNN’s “Generation Islam” special and am frustrated by what I see is the American media’s outlet attempt to define Islam for Muslims. You see, they cherry pick people and interview them about their Muslim identity. The thing is, those people don’t really seem to be in touch with the teachings of their own religion. Here are some of the articles:

    http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/08/05/gustavson.afghanistan.aid/index.html

    http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/08/07/generation.islam.tech/index.html

    They just seem to have an infatuation with people, especially the youth, who “challenge traditions” (i.e. challenge true Islam). Gaining knowledge and skills is one thing, but trying to talk to a Jew that believes that Arabs have no right to live in his or her nation is pushing it. They are conversing about serious major topics without having any scholarly input other than their own teenage, immature opinions.

    What can be done to reverse this trend and hold CNN accountable for failing to realize that the constant attempt at changing Islam is what is frustrating the youth of this country, not the Taliban or Al-Qaeda?

    Jazakallah Khair

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