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Of Wa-Hubbies and Conspiracies

Coca Cola Conspiracy

If you can read Arabic, you know the person who wrote this does not understand Arabic

There seems to be an obsession with conspiracy theories among young Muslims these days. For some strange reason, Muslims seem to look for secret messages in almost everything. From cartoons to people’s names, nothing is innocent and all seem to be part of a secret plot of some underworld organization.

From an Islamic perspective, it is not proper for Muslims to dwell on conspiracy theories. Islam teaches us to focus our efforts on Ilm-Naafi – knowledge that benefits us and not to get involved in Laghw – useless discussions. For the most part, conspiracy theories are useless discussions in which we cannot prove the conspiracy to be true or not, and even if you can, the information gained can seldom help you gain closeness to Allah or benefit you in anyway. Conspiracy theories in general fall into the category of Laghw and waste precious time that could be spent in more beneficial activities.

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I have identified a few reasons why Muslims seem to be obsessed with conspiracy theories:

1. To find somebody else to blame for our mistakes:

Some Muslims don’t want to accept the fact that we are in the situation we are in because of our disobedience of Allah or deviation from the straight path. Such Muslims tend to look for a scapegoat to blame for their mistakes, and conspiracy theories provide enough of these. If you look at the people who tend to be obsessed with conspiracy theories, many of them are generally not knowledgable or practicing Muslims. It is not uncommon to find Muslims discussing how the Jews or Illuminati are the cause of all their problems and miss a salah due to the discussion.

Solution: The Qur’an does not teach us to blame others for our problems. It teaches us to strive to please Allah and then He will assist us in solving our problems. It would be better to utilize our time to watch Islamic lectures instead of a conspiracy documentary, and to pray and strive to implement our knowledge than to sit around discussing who was behind an earthquake or flood and how they caused it.

2. Boredom, not utilizing time properly

Many Muslims try to find ways to kill time, as if time needs killing. You’d think with all the problems in our lives, our own sins and weaknesses, we’d have a lot more important things to do than kill time. Sadly, many Muslims suffer from boredom and thus browse YouTube for something to kill time. It is during these moments in which they wanted to kill ten minutes that they discover a conspiracy theory video which ends up eating up hours and sometimes days of their lives as they watch, rewatch, discuss and obsess over it.

Solution: Utilize your time properly and wisely. There is so much that we need to do that we really should not have time to kill. If you are bored and decide to surf YouTube, then it would be better to spend your time watching Islamic lectures or if you need to relax, a nasheed video. Just don’t give Shaytaan a chance to trap you into an obsession that can waste hours of precious time.

3. Lack of understanding of the religion

Some Muslims are sincere and trying to practice their religion, but due to ignorance, they mistake conspiracy theory videos for Islamic videos. I often find Islamic DVD stalls stocked with almost only conspiracy theory videos, most of them by Non-Muslims too. This shows a lack of understanding as to what is Islamic knowledge and also what is beneficial knowledge.

Solution: Consult scholars and learn from them what constitutes beneficial knowledge. Oh, and make sure the Islamic DVDs you buy are really Islamic.

I am sure there are many other reasons why Muslims love conspiracy theories, maybe someone else can help me understand this obsession.

Some of these conspiracy theories can be very funny. Take a look at the following examples:

1. Coca Cola backwards is ‘Laa Muhammad, Laa Makkah’ which means ‘No Muhamammad, No Makkah’.

This one circulates a lot via email and it seems that many Muslims seem to believe it (why else would they forward the email), yet it is extremely illogical. Why would someone when naming a soft drink, try and decide what is ‘No Muhammad, No Makkah’ backwards with the backwards word being Arabic and the forward word being English? Furthermore, even if you squint and twist the letters, you still can’t see it. The closest you get is maybe ‘Lee Muhammad, Lee Makkah’, meaning ‘for Muhammad, For Makkah’, which makes me wonder why conspiracy theories are never pro-Muslim or positive?

Looking at words backwards to find secret messages can be very dangerous as then one can find hidden messages in good words like god and live. In fact, one can even deduce that Godzilla is a Muslim’s pet as Godzilla backwards is Alliz dog.

2. Zakumi is named after a tree in Hell

Before the World Cup occurred, I heard during a Jumu’ah lecture that one of the reasons the World Cup is haraam is because its mascot is named after a tree in Hellfire, Shajaratuz-Zaqqum. Firstly, Zaqqum and Zakumi are not the same word. Secondly, nobody names their mascot after a tree in Hell in any language; I doubt the people who named him even know Arabic or what Zaqqum is. Finally, Zakumi means SA2010, that is all it means, No hidden messages, no hidden agendas, except to sell more World Cup merchandise.

3. Pokemon means Poke Imaan

Firstly, Pokemon means pocket monsters. Secondly, what does poke Imaan mean? Is it a good thing or a bad thing? And finally, how do you poke Imaan if it does not have a Facebook account?

Can splitting a name really expose hidden messages? If thats the case, let us look at the word Wahhabi and I’ll show you how easy it is to invent a conspiracy theory and get caught up in it. Note the following is fictional humor:

Wahhabi is actually two words Wa and Hubby, Wa is the Arabic for ‘and’ while hubby is English slang for husband, so wahhabies actually means ‘and husbands’ this is because the Wahabbi movement is actually a cover for polygamous Muslim men wanting to take multiple wives. This also explains why many Westerners dislike wa-hubbies, because they are anti-polygamy!

So what do we learn from this? Lets not waste our lives looking at words backwards, or splitting names to find secret messages. Let us focus our brain power on learning, understanding and implementing Islam our lives. This will be more beneficial for us in this world and the Afterlife.

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Ismail Kamdar, a.k.a Abu Muawiyah, is the Head Tutorial Assistant of the Islamic Online University, and the host of Living Islam on Radio Al-Ansaar. He began his study of Islam at the age of thirteen, and has completed both the Alim course and a BA in Islamic Studies. He is the author of multiple books including Having Fun the Halal Way: Entertainment in Islam, Getting The Barakah: An Islamic Guide to Time Management and Best of Creation: An Islamic Guide to Self-Confidence.

96 Comments

96 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Cartoon M

    March 23, 2011 at 12:28 AM

    “3. Pokemon means Poke Imaan”

    Is this really a conspiracy theory? Tell me who believes this and I will gladly take their pokemon cards off their hands.

    • Avatar

      Ismail Kamdar

      March 23, 2011 at 1:15 AM

      This was common in my area when I was a teenager. The Moulana in our area started it because he felt Pokemon was evil and needed a reason to make people stop watching it.

      Thus, this became the common reason given by people in our area who were against it, which did not make any sense to me even though I never liked Pokemon :)

    • Avatar

      Arif Kabir

      March 23, 2011 at 1:32 PM

      Oh, it’s real all right. Sh. Al-Munajjad had to issue a Fatwa to set the record straight :)
      http://www.islamqa.com/en/ref/21179/pokemon

      • Avatar

        Cartoon M

        March 23, 2011 at 2:20 PM

        Good thing our scholars cleared that one up. My childhood would have been empty if this rumor spread lol

      • Avatar

        Ismail Kamdar

        March 23, 2011 at 4:06 PM

        Did we really need a fatwa on this? Seriously!

      • Avatar

        Zaynab

        March 24, 2011 at 11:57 PM

        +1

        this is so funny and so crushingly pathetic for our community.

        Allahul Musta’an

  2. Avatar

    Rafa

    March 23, 2011 at 12:56 AM

    Humorous conspiracies, but it’s quite unfortunate to find that so many people will easily believe in them.
    I have to wonder though, at the nitpickers that actually go out of their way to find this stuff. I mean, Poke Imaan? Really? I used to love that show as a kid, and Subhanallah, if my Imaan was ever ‘poked’ it sure wasn’t because of that.

    • Avatar

      Ismail Kamdar

      March 23, 2011 at 4:08 PM

      We also haven’t come to Ijma yet as to whether poking is a good or bad thing, so maybe poking your Iman might be good for you.

    • Avatar

      Abdus Sabur

      March 25, 2011 at 1:46 PM

      I worked with a woman who’s grandfather designed the coca-cola logo. There is no hidden message there. Anyone who knows anything about design can see this.

      Now, the dollar bill is another whole story……look up Last Poets – E Pluribus Unum http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XY1gtyzxAGw

      (it’s Halal …only percussion and vocals: Jalal Mansur Nurridin)

  3. Avatar

    Abu Hamzah

    March 23, 2011 at 4:25 AM

    I agree that a lot of these conspiracy theories are garbage. For exmaple, in New York the Apple store is underground and the entrance is a big glass cube. I have heard Muslims say that they did this to insult Muslims. Or even take Nike with Air Allah shoes. It clearly reads air. However….. there are some so-called conspiracy theories that make more sense than that of the official story: September 11.

  4. Avatar

    shoaib

    March 23, 2011 at 6:28 AM

    MASHAALLAH, these things are pretty common here, infact even i believd the la muhammad la makkah thng to be true.. But all thanks to ALLAH(s.w.t) 4 making me aware of this absurd theory

  5. Avatar

    ghabe

    March 23, 2011 at 6:31 AM

    sihtekilI – I like this

  6. Avatar

    Dreamlife

    March 23, 2011 at 7:53 AM

    You might like this :)

    http://maniacmuslim.com/?p=959

  7. Avatar

    iMuslim

    March 23, 2011 at 8:43 AM

    Poke Imaan… that’s hilarious! May Allah help us. Sometimes we do get carried away. :)

  8. Amad

    Amad

    March 23, 2011 at 9:14 AM

    There’s another one on youtube… where it shows the mosque’s minaret in Madinah being replicated by a cloud above (you have to really stare hard at the clouds, and sometimes you’ll see a lion too if you try), and then a lightning strike in slow motion writes the kalima in the sky.

    It was more hilarious since my cousin put it up so i had a good opp to have fun with him :)

    I’ll have to find that one!

  9. Avatar

    Mezba

    March 23, 2011 at 10:10 AM

    Usually in my experience the most ardent believers of conspiracy theories tend to be “hardcore Muslims” who are very anti-Western. I agree that you can find a conspiracy in anything. The worst are those that believe in Jews being root of all evil and still believe in the elders of Zion – terrible stuff! If they hate the West so much why don’t they leave? If you look at islamqa website, any time they mention the Jews they call Allah’s curses on them – shameful!

    • Avatar

      b.e

      March 23, 2011 at 12:30 PM

      Zionism is a reality …but what do you mean by elders of Zion?

      • Avatar

        Khaled

        March 23, 2011 at 12:45 PM

        Its a book that has been/hasn’t been (depending on who you ask) discredited which is supposedly written by Jews which states that they are planning on taking over the world.

        If we go back to what the excellent article says, we really shouldn’t care whether this is true or not. Remember the hadeeth narrated by Abu Hurayra may Allah be pleased with him, that the Prophet (Blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “There will be tribulations during which one who sitting is better than one who is standing, and one who standing is better than one who is walking, and one who is walking is better than one who is running. He who exposes himself to them will be drawn to them and whoever find a refuge from them, let him seek protection therein.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (3601) and Muslim (2886).

        Al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar (may Allah have mercy on him) said, commenting on the meaning of this hadeeth):

        The words “He who exposes himself to them” mean, the one who wants to find out about them and does not want to ignore them.

        “will be drawn to them” means: they will destroy him, because he will expose himself to destruction because of them.

        “whoever find a refuge from them” means a place where he may seek refuge from the evil (of these turmoils).

        “let him seek protection therein” means: let him withdraw to that place so that he may be safe from the evil of the turmoil.

    • Avatar

      Khaled

      March 23, 2011 at 12:40 PM

      Completely disagree, my experience has been a lot more with foreigners and non-practicing converts. As far as calling Allah’s curse on the Jews, thats a conspiracy theory?

    • Avatar

      R47

      February 13, 2018 at 3:41 AM

      No conspiracies are usually not discussed among practicing typical Muslims. The ideas presented in the article are jokes. The real conspiracies are happening all over the world there is no denying how devoid the Muslim world has become of anything influential spiritually or materially. So they did the coke symbol. And u idiots still drink it, along with dasaani fluoride water.
      U think by dismissing Pokemon, you can also sweep Palestine and Jerusalem under a rug. Pathetic excuse. Wake up!

  10. Avatar

    forever a student of Islam

    March 23, 2011 at 12:05 PM

    this is one of the best articles on setting Muslims and Islam in perspective. I really enjoyed reading it. jazkaAllah kul khair for writing it :) indeed, we waste too much of our precious time over garbage like this. one day we shall regret it deeply.

  11. Avatar

    Amman AA

    March 23, 2011 at 12:29 PM

    After reading this article, I felt ashamed of myself. Not because of these conspiracy theories, but how people are simply in denial. The world is against ISLAM! Everything that is in the media, let it be pokemon or american products are all there to put you off the straight path.

    Pokemon above all others is promoting a cartoon which is obviously haraarm. The content is about evolution and the animators are trying to create creatures that don’t exist i.e. trying to mimic Allah’s power. It it absolute shirk. And thats with all cartoons and comic books. (Power Rangers, Superman, etc.) It has been designed to corrupt our children’s minds with fantasy. Look at most of the american muslims…always fantasizing.

    Coca Cola and other American soft drinks are trying to take away bussiness from other Muslim companies. No one is going crazy over Muslim soft drinks or foods. Its a conspiracy that makes absolute sense. Fine, the “La Muhammad and La Mecca” is a stretch, but these companies are attacking Islam from within by taking away the market from Muslim companies. Look at Saudi Arabia…McDonalds and Starbucks in our land where no kaafir has the right settle in.

    This article is simply trying to say “Why would these people try to discredit Islam through hidden messages”. The world is against Islam. We should never underestimate what the kaafirs are up to.

    Its true that we shouldn’t waste our times with all of this but we shouldn’t keep ourselves in the dark about it either.

    May Allah set our affairs straight. We need to wake up…

    • Amad

      Amad

      March 23, 2011 at 2:40 PM

      Are u for real bro or just taking us for a ride?

      • Avatar

        Amman AA

        March 23, 2011 at 5:44 PM

        Salaam brother…

        i am serious, have I said anything which is not plausible or outlandish?

        • Avatar

          forever a student of Islam

          March 24, 2011 at 10:56 AM

          I completely agree with what you said Amman. The way I see it, yes the whole world with most what is in it is set to put us off our imaan and away from Siratul Mustaqeem. We should not waste time on talking about conspiracy theories as this is “laghw” but in the same time we should be on our guard and knowledgeable about what these anti-islamists maybe thinking of doing.

    • Avatar

      Ismail Kamdar

      March 23, 2011 at 4:01 PM

      I knew I’d get a comment like this :D

    • Amad

      Amad

      March 24, 2011 at 2:39 AM

      . Look at Saudi Arabia…McDonalds and Starbucks in our land where no kaafir has the right settle in.

      Yes, your comments are outlandish.

      Who gave us the right to decide where “kaafirs” can settle or not. In fact without the “kaafirs”, most of our Muslim countries, esp in the Middle East, would be still third-world countries. It is the “kaafir” technology that brought petroleum wealth to Saudi for example. Without Aramco, Saudi would be like Yemen.

      Conspiracy theories make us move our reliance from on our own action and leaving results to Allah, towards worrying about how everything is controlled.

      Don’t worry about McDonald and Starbucks. Worry about what you can do to contribute to society. Why don’t you start a “Muslim” starbucks and compete on quality and service.

      • Avatar

        forever a student of Islam

        March 24, 2011 at 11:01 AM

        ” Conspiracy theories make us move our reliance from on our own action and leaving results to Allah, towards worrying about how everything is controlled. ”

        I thought all results and state of affairs should be left for Allah…? We are only here to do what we can and what benefits us but the ultimate result is by Allah. We cannot decide anything on our own.

      • Avatar

        Concerned

        March 24, 2011 at 5:23 PM

        -Comment removed. This post is not about wala wal baraa and the “kuffaar”.

      • Avatar

        Junny

        March 25, 2011 at 8:17 PM

        In fact, about a year and a half ago, the price of American soft drinks in Saudi Arabia has risen from 1 to 1.50 riyals. The 0.50 is an inconvenience, and the American soft drinks have lost out to the locally produced soft drinks which cost 1 riyal. The American boycott of ’02 still has its committed boycotters. The likes of KFC are losing out to local fast food chains.

        I am someone who lived most of my life in KSA, and have recently returned from a visit.

    • Avatar

      Really

      March 24, 2011 at 11:35 AM

      AOA
      What about Clifford and Calliou ? They are ok ? Please tell me!!!

    • Avatar

      Unlce tom

      March 24, 2011 at 11:46 AM

      maybe, you should tell the saudi’s to stop eating so many burgers and sipping coke. That way the “kuffar” businesses will leave the pure muslim lands.

    • Avatar

      Bushra

      March 24, 2011 at 12:20 PM

      Troll.

  12. AnonyMouse

    AnonyMouse

    March 23, 2011 at 1:03 PM

    Haha, this reminds me of the days when people used to email me the most absurd conspiracy theories and urban legends – once there was a mass email warning that corn flakes gives you cancer. I replied the mass email (which was sent out to about a billion people, and by someone who apparently didn’t know about BCCing) berating everyone’s lack of intelligence for believing idiocy without even bothering to check.

    Anyyyywayyyy… since I moved to the Arab world I’ve heard way more of these conspiracy theories. The most embarrassing thing is when a da’ee or someone who looks sheikh-like actually believes it and talks about it on TV… so far the most memorable one was about how the Jews and Shi’a have a conspiracy to take over the world, and Hillary Clinton was in on it.
    *Sigh*

    • Amad

      Amad

      March 23, 2011 at 2:42 PM

      But Hilary isn’t jewish or Shia or is she doing taqiyya?? Hmm….

      • AnonyMouse

        AnonyMouse

        March 24, 2011 at 3:41 AM

        Well, that’s the thing, innit… we don’t know whose side she’s really on… and that’s what we really need to be concerned about :O

    • Avatar

      F

      March 23, 2011 at 6:09 PM

      Yeah, I’ve also found the conspiracy theories to be rampant in the Muslim world. I usually attribute it to a lack of education and critical thinking.

      • Avatar

        Khaled

        March 23, 2011 at 6:12 PM

        No disrespect, but the conspiracy theorists say the same thing about the non-conspiracy theorists!

        I’m on the fence personally :)

  13. Avatar

    anonymous

    March 23, 2011 at 1:33 PM

    Don’t forget PEPSI stands for “Pay Every Penny Support Israel”….alhamdulillah I don’t drink soda, but if I did, I guess it’d be a hard-choice b/w Coke and Pepsi then…

    • Avatar

      Ismail Kamdar

      March 24, 2011 at 2:50 AM

      This really makes me wonder why conspiracy theories are never pro-Islam? Why didn’t anybody spread the rumor that PEPSI stands for “Pay Every Penny Support Islam!” :D

  14. Avatar

    LM

    March 23, 2011 at 2:52 PM

    “Wahhabi” has nothing to do with conspiracy theory, so I think your mentioning of it here is misplaced. The word describes Muslims who follow Muhammad ibn Abdal-Wahhab (or who think they do but actually don’t). Whether you agree with this description or not is up to you, but it cannot be called a “conspiracy” theory because the term describes the teachings of a particular person who actually lived — not in some imaginary planet but planet earth, which is a historical fact. Similarly, there are Hanafis, Shafis, Hanbalis, Malikis, Surooris, Ikhwanis, etc. None of them are conspiracy theories, I assure you, but terms that describe the teachings and ways of particular people, whether you agree with them or not.. ;-)

    Wassalam,
    LM

    • Avatar

      Khaled

      March 23, 2011 at 2:59 PM

      Salaam Alykum,

      It actually is because the term is not used by anyone who supposedly follows it nor does it refer to anything other than a political movement. Shaykh Muhammad ibn Abdel Wahhaab رحمه الله doesn’t have a particular school and no one thinks they are following him. As opposed to the Hanbali, Shaafi`ee, or Ahl al Hadeeth schools of thought, which the people who are accused of being “wahhaabi” usually follow.

      Hanbali=Real Madhhab
      Wahhaabi=Catch all term for what the person is using it hates about Islam.

      • Avatar

        LM

        March 23, 2011 at 3:14 PM

        Wassalam,

        Because people who follow a particular person don’t call themselves by a specific term but by other terms, doesn’t mean the unused term is a “conspiracy theory”. It is just a different term, that’s all. Putting it differently, if I call a follower of Einstein Einsteinien, it is not a conspiracy theory if the follower doesn’t describe himself or other followers of Einstein in that way. Also, the term “Wahhabi” doesn’t refer to a “political” movement but to a theological movement. Muhammad ibn Abdal Wahhab was actually mainly Hanbali in fiqh and this is well known. Though other Muslims had disagreements with him in fiqh, they mainly disagreed with him on matters of `aqeedah.

        Wassalam,
        LM

        • Avatar

          Ismail Kamdar

          March 23, 2011 at 4:03 PM

          I knew I’d get a comment like this despite writing the following line:

          “Note the following is fictional humor”

          But I did not expect it to turn into a fullblown discussion of Wahhabism!

          Personally, I prefer discussing Wa-hubbies instead. :D

        • Avatar

          Khaled

          March 23, 2011 at 4:16 PM

          as-Salaamu alykum,

          The followers of Muhammad bin Abd al-Wahhaab (as you like to call them) are Hanbali in aqeedah as well akhi. There is a group called the Hanbalis in aqeedah, and Muhammad bin Abd al-Wahhaab was hanbali in fiqh and aqeedah. Wahhaabi refers to a “boogyman” Muslim that everyone doesn’t like, i.e., Ahl as-Sunnah. How would you explain non-Saudis who don’t study his works (like the Jordanians and Egyptian salafis for example) being called Wahhaabi?

          • Avatar

            LM

            March 23, 2011 at 5:24 PM

            Wa alaikum assalaam,

            Sorry, I realize this isn’t the right place to have this discussion, and I thank Ismail for specifying that he meant it as fictional humor — a clear oversight by me. I’ll end by saying that I said Muhammad ibn Abdal-Wahhab was Hanbali in fiqh to counter your statement that “Shaykh Muhammad ibn Abdel Wahhaab رحمه الله doesn’t have a particular school”.

            Nice discussing. Wassalam,
            LM

          • Avatar

            Khaled

            March 23, 2011 at 5:30 PM

            Ya akhi, he doesn’t have a particular school named after him, he’s hanbali in fiqh and aqeedah, I already said that twice.

    • Avatar

      St1ngR

      March 24, 2011 at 1:17 AM

      Agree LM, why is the author only clarifying the Wahhabi or Salafi movement, all Muslims face stereotypes.

      • Avatar

        Ismail Kamdar

        March 24, 2011 at 2:52 AM

        What author and article is this referring to?

        I’m confused as this piece had nothing to do with clarifying Wahhabism or Salafism, it was a lighthearted article dealing with conspiracy theories.

  15. Avatar

    halima

    March 23, 2011 at 8:37 PM

    This article was on point! I’m tired of conspiracy theorists. We all need to seriously spend our time more usefully.

  16. Avatar

    Deema

    March 23, 2011 at 10:23 PM

    Very relevant topic that is not often discussed. Jazaakum Allahu khayran…and LOL @ “how do you poke Imaan if it does not have a Facebook account?”

  17. Avatar

    Olivia

    March 24, 2011 at 4:00 AM

    wow, Zaqqumi and Poke Imaan?

    laaaaaame.

  18. Avatar

    Muslimah.

    March 24, 2011 at 5:01 AM

    What happening to MM? Finding Islam in movies and now conspiracy theories….
    I miss the old MM articles…
    :(
    But hey…. that’s just me. :P
    :)

    • Avatar

      anonymous

      March 25, 2011 at 11:11 AM

      i’d like to see more of the old-school IbnAbeeOmar articles, they were my favorite.

  19. Avatar

    Saba

    March 24, 2011 at 9:16 AM

    Salam,

    Itz a useful article..MashaAllah.

    i hav personally witnessed ppl wastin deir precious tym in useless discussions such as dese conspiracy theories, etc. So , d article makes a lotta sense 2 me. Alhamdulillah.

    JazakAllahu khairan.

    :D

  20. Avatar

    Bilal

    March 24, 2011 at 11:43 AM

    Have you guys heard the one about why all Swiss watches (or maybe some other brand) always have the default time set to 10:10. This is because that was the year the MUSLIMS were DEFEATED (moors).

    Btw, to all these people complaining about muslims buying coke and pepsi over muslim drinks….really?
    There is no such thing as a MUSLIM DRINK !!
    just because a muslim person starts a cola company, doesn’t give the drink any magical Islamic properties.
    All soft drinks are bad for you, hence un-islamic in my scholarly opinion.

  21. Avatar

    Amatullah

    March 24, 2011 at 3:47 PM

    This was very funny, lol @ poke Iman and wa-hubbies.

  22. Avatar

    Abu Ibrahim

    March 24, 2011 at 5:18 PM

    JazakAllahu khayran, Asalamu Aleikoum Wa Rahmatolah wa Barakatoho

    Thank you so much for writing a much needed article! When I get conspiratorial emails and before I forward them, I always check with http://www.snopes.com

    Abu Ibrahim

  23. Avatar

    AM

    March 24, 2011 at 5:34 PM

    This article is clearly a deceptive trick by the Illuminati working in conjunction with the Freemasons to stop Muslims from searching for the truth.

    Look at the writer’s name ‘Ismail’. It has two i’s. And Illuminati begins with the letter ‘i’ and ends with ‘i’ !!

    And his last name is ‘Kamdar’ – the middle letter is ‘m’, the same as the middle letter in ‘Freemason’ !! AHA!!! This is definite proof that Muslim Matters is part of the Pokemon-Coca Cola axis!!

    So don’t pay attention to this article! Go back to reading some ridiculous fowarded email about the kalimah spontaneously appearing on a pizza.

  24. Avatar

    Abu Ismail

    March 24, 2011 at 6:55 PM

    Finally someone addresses this issue! There also should be an article on fake miracles. (unless there already is one). The sad part is these theories in many cases become mainstream. The coca cola one for example led to a campaign endorsed by Al Azhar higher ups to ban coke from Egypt and to which Coca Cola actually had to address through a press release saying that there is no truth to the rumor. Pretty embarrassing to see Muslims fall into such unintelligible rumors. And we are a nation that’s supposed to verify information!

    Btw 4000 Jews called out sick on 911 from the WTC

  25. Avatar

    Abu Ismail

    March 24, 2011 at 6:58 PM

    And the 4000 jew rumor was even cited as evidence of their involvement in 911 in a published Islamic book that many of you may have even seen.

  26. Avatar

    Nihal Khan

    March 24, 2011 at 8:49 PM

    How do you respond when someone calls you wahhabi? (For the urdu speakers)

    “Mai yahaa bhi hu aur wahaan bhi hu (wahhabi hu)!”

    :)

  27. Avatar

    The Muslim Voice

    March 24, 2011 at 8:57 PM

    Awesome post lol! MashAllah

  28. Avatar

    abu Yunus

    March 24, 2011 at 9:56 PM

    One must distinguish conspiracy theories from conspiracy facts lest one throws the baby with the bathwater.

  29. Avatar

    Student Of Knowledge

    March 24, 2011 at 11:53 PM

    The main cause for all of such things is ignorance. When muslims are ignorant and lack knowledge in Islam they fall for anything. Some “shaykhs” out there are also spreading false theories about the Dajjal and that he is the television or money and all kinds of crazy theories of trying to interpret what the Dajjal is, when in reality the ahadith are very clear and explicit that the Dajjal is an actual person, not a system nor a piece of equipment nor a dollar bill..

    What is even more sad is how some muslims read these conspiracy theories and laugh them off while on the other hand they believe a lot of the stories and ahadith that they have heard from random sources or “shaykhs” even though these stories are not authentic and might be completely fabricated lies. Unfortunately, many “khateebs” (from my experience I would say over 80% of them) use such false stories in their khutbas and lectures, and the majority of people listening usually don’t know any better so they believe what they hear and even start spreading it!

    For those unsuspecting brothers and sisters who have been believing everything they hear I would suggest that you don’t believe anything before you review its authenticity because I would say that probably more than 50% of the stories that you have heard about the seerah or some of the salaf are usually not true at all. I would post a list of the most widespread false stories here but it would be too long and extend into the hundreds or even thousands.

  30. Avatar

    Brother

    March 25, 2011 at 12:02 AM

    Possible Pro-Islam Conspiracy Theories: Some conspiracy theories (hoaxes) are supposed to boost iman, i.e. what happened when the first man landed on the moon. But there is also that one about Aramco covering up giant skeletons and some sort of central radiation coming out of Mecca. But lies tend to do the opposite.

    • Avatar

      Student Of Knowledge

      March 25, 2011 at 12:15 AM

      There are plenty of lies that muslims are spreading themselves about the seerah which look like they are positive and pro-Islam which is why many are unaware that they are lies and spread them without knowing.

    • Avatar

      Ismail Kamdar

      March 29, 2011 at 1:31 AM

      These tend to fall into the category of fake miracles to boost Iman, as opposed to pocket monsters that poke Iman. It requires an article itself.

  31. Avatar

    QasYm

    March 25, 2011 at 12:50 AM

    “Brothers talking about Illuminati, if you want to be Illuminated go pray Fajr in the Masjid”
    – Shaykh Suhaib Webb

  32. Avatar

    maddhater

    March 25, 2011 at 12:00 PM

    I CAUGHT’EM ALL!

    • Avatar

      Ismail Kamdar

      March 29, 2011 at 1:24 AM

      That would mean Iman got a lot of pokes from you.

  33. Avatar

    Junny

    March 25, 2011 at 8:39 PM

    There’s even a notion of ‘Islam’s enemies’ in the Arab world where the ‘enemies of Islam’ are insidiously decaying the morals of youth through alluring dancing girls in music videos. I don’t listen to Arabic pop music (99% of which is worse than the Gaga-Usher-Pitbull billboard nonsense), but in the few occassions that I do, I either hear lyric verses or entire lyrics of songs devoted to attacking traditional norms by infusing curiosity and ‘love-struckness’ in the 12-24 yo demographic or (a’oothubillah) lyrics ripping out words or expressions from the Quran and Hadith and using it in a context of ‘passion’ (hawa – which is the musical buzzword of Arabic pop) or love (‘ishq, hubb).

    Of course, the lyricists work under the two major record labels: Rotana music (mostly Christian Lebanese singers) and Melody music (mostly Lebanese and Egyptian singers) are mostly whitewashed Western-wannabes Christian & Muslim Lebanese folk.

    Personally, I find this ‘insidious enemies of Islam’ thing pure hogwash. Commercialism and corporatism have taken over the Arabsat and Nilesat satellite receivers, and now the raunch culture of the West (although limited) has found its way into the conservative Arab culture milieu.

  34. Avatar

    Abdullah

    March 27, 2011 at 10:23 AM

    “It is the “kaafir” technology that brought petroleum wealth to Saudi for example.” It is Allah that brought them their wealth, not the kuffar.

    • Amad

      Amad

      March 27, 2011 at 12:15 PM

      Man proposes and Allah disposes. Allah is the creator of all actions, nothing happens except by His Will. But that doesn’t mean humans don’t have a role to play. Everyday we thank people. We thank our parents, we thank our bosses, we thank our secretaries, we thank our friends. This doesn’t mean that they did what they did without Allah’s permission.

      “…The one who is not thankful for the few blessings will not be thankful for the many. And the one who is not thankful to the people will not be thankful to Allah…” (Al-Bayhaqi)

      • Avatar

        Everybody's Dad

        March 27, 2011 at 2:53 PM

        Thanks Amad!
        I hate it when people, Muslims in particular, start resorting to a crude form of fatalism to try and side-step the issues which confront them

        :)

    • Avatar

      Ismail Kamdar

      March 29, 2011 at 1:22 AM

      And I suppose you only use “Muslim” technology

  35. Avatar

    Humble Muslim

    March 28, 2011 at 11:45 AM

    Salam

    One thing which really annoys me is when muslims think that evolution is some sort of ‘secret plot’ to destroy religion. I’m sure we’ve all had biology teachers, and it’s pretty clear to me that such people don’t have any kind of ‘hidden agenda’, they simply want to teach what they think is scientifically correct.

  36. Avatar

    Leo

    April 1, 2011 at 3:10 AM

    As-Salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh,

    Dear author, going by the evidence you have provided us about yourself regarding your views, I assume you believe you know better than sheikhs such as Hamza Yusuf or Imran Hosein? Granted, it is apparent you have not heard their lectures regarding these conspiracies. I suppose you also believe that Masih ad-Dajjal will just magically *poof* in existence one day and the end time prophecies of corruption toward Muslims is also a fairy tale to you?

    I do thank you though, because you have made it ever so clear that the Ummah’s worst enemy is itself, albeit, not in the way you proposed. There are those whom Allah subhanahu wa ta’aala Chooses to guide and then the rest who choose to live in ignorance under the deception of a Dajjalic system built on lies and hatred toward the Arab world. Allah subhanahu wa ta’aala Blessed us with a brain for a reason, not to blindly follow what others say.

    I can write a novel here, but really, how does one debate with another whom has his/her sight blinded by their own ignorance and arrogance? This article deeply troubled me not for writing what you did, as I’ve seen much criticism from non-Muslims or non-Arabs regarding the same issue, but that you as a Muslim (I assume you are, correct?) have decided to further brain wash the minds of an already enslaved population.

    Before I conclude my message, I’d like to point out that it’s incredibly ironic that you brought up the point about Muslims not studying enough Islamic history, yet you yourself are completely contradicting lectures by one of the greatest sheikhs of our time Hamza Yusuf. Have you even done any research yourself or have you simply read the Noble Qur’an in Arabic once or twice without even bothering to study it?

    Oh well, I suppose Qiyammah is supposed to just magically appear one day with no signs to precede it, rather that we are not even experiencing any of them now. Brother, you can continue to write about such topics and live gleefully with your apologetic stance toward Islam with Western culture, but insh’Allah ta’aala, the truth will be revealed one day.

    Salaam

    • Avatar

      Student Of Knowledge

      April 4, 2011 at 1:47 AM

      Dear brother Leo,

      These interpretations of the Dajjal not only contradict what the hadiths clearly mention, but such interpretation of things has many implications which I don’t think you have thought them through, neither have any of these ‘shaykhs’ that are coming up with these random theories.

      Just to give you one example, Imran Hosein says that the sun has already risen from the west! Sure he tries to justify it by providing a twisted argument, but if you believe that then you also have to accept the implications of such a statement. If the sun had already risen from the west (according to his own interpretation), then the door for repentance is already closed as this is clearly mentioned in hadiths that when the sun rises from the west the truth is known and no one can repent after that. Imran Hosein also argues that the Dajjal was already released and so were Gog and Magog, and the implications to that is we all know that Jesus will come down and kill the Dajjal before Gog and Magog are released, so where is he if Imran Hosein is claiming that Gog and Magog have already been released?

      As for your question about the Dajjal magically coming into existence, the reality is that the Dajjal already exists on earth and has been in existence since the time of the Prophet because one of the companions actually saw him tied up on an island, refer to the hadith in Saheeh Muslim if you want to read the whole story in details. So the Dajjal already exists but he has not been released yet.

      As for your justification of such theories just because there is a corrupt system, then that argument is not a strong one. Sure a certain system might be corrupt, but that does not mean it is the Dajjal. Who said that the only corrupt thing or evil thing that exists has to be the Dajjal or part of his system?

      It seems that you just heard these lectures of random “shaykhs” about different theories on the Dajjal, and believed those twisted interpretations because the way they were presented as the obvious truth. I would ecourage you to do your own research and read all the authentic hadiths about the Dajjal, Gog and Magog, the sun rising from the west, and the other signs so that you are able to better understand why such theories are clearly not valid and go against what the Prophet had mentioned.

  37. Avatar

    Ahsan

    May 29, 2011 at 3:20 AM

    conspiracy theories discussion is common in my workplace…it brings no solution. Though muslims should be aware of the dangers the ummah faces, but conspiracy theories are a bit extreme as my teacher very well explained.
    I want to emphaise brother ismails message, that we really need to spend our time in learning islam, implementing it and calling others to it.

  38. Avatar

    Khai

    May 30, 2011 at 2:23 PM

    Salam to all,
    After reading most of the comments,I want to know more about these conspiracy theories basically because I want to find out the truth..What is the purpose of these conspiracy theories??

    From my point of view,we cannot just take videos or lectures without researching more on them..I checked on WakeUp Project.com,I looked at Harun Yahya’s videos and I read several Islamic history back from how the Khilafah was built and destroyed.The temple of Solomon,The Knights of Templar,Freemasonry…so are these also conspiracy theories or facts?Am I also obsessed in these theories?
    You see,in order for us to distinguish the good and the bad,you need to have knowledge…but,what kind of knowledge?Quran and Hadith..

    Let us follow the akhlak of the great early scholars like Imam Bukhari who rationalise during discussions not based on nafs..for the sake of sharing knowledge and attaining truth..

    In conjuction with these theories,we also have to learn Islam by studying the Quran and hadiths so as to increase our faith…What do we learn from the Battle of Badr?

    My fellow Muslim bros,I am a Muslim bro to you so as you are to me…Its just very sad that we Muslims still are not united,and based from all of the comments given,am I right to say that we are shooting each other off???We need to know our common enemy!!
    Wallah wua’lam..Whatever good comes from ALLAH and whatever bad comes from my mistakes..
    (Oh ALLAH,guide us all)

  39. Avatar

    Me

    July 5, 2011 at 12:56 PM

    [comment removed by illuminati]

  40. Avatar

    ahsan fuzail

    June 28, 2012 at 9:05 AM

    highly enlightening message.subhanallah. however we must realise that todays world is not completely innocent. true that many theories are fabricated but just as many theories exist that have now been proven to be true. the anti-islamism in this world is highly profane and that we all should pray to allah for forgiveness. the world may be bad but there are many good things within it. look at the good things multiply the good things and to hell with the bad ones.

  41. Avatar

    Johnny Blaze

    December 20, 2012 at 7:03 AM

    Masha’Allah brother, an excellent read! Got a good chuckle out of Zakumi!

    JazakAllahu Khairun for sharing this beneficial reminder

  42. Avatar

    Saad jamshaid

    January 17, 2014 at 9:58 PM

    We talk about the authenticated truth. So therefore the word conspiracy isn’t relevant here. See you have not addressed any such knowledge of truth. Your words don’t hold weight. As a few brothers said, we want to be aware if the truth which is knowledge from logic and Ultimately Allah. You obviously are not knowledgable to speak on such a topic and definitely not enough to debate. Let me ask u this. Do aliens exist? Is that a conspiracy? Because my eyes were counting 6 u f o s in the night sky a few days back. This isn’t necessary either but u get my point. The time for the arrival has never been closer and decreases year by year. But obviously you have not read the Quran in depth and the Hadith in depth. I apologize for the disrespect towards the people in here like the starter of this topic who are actually the ones creating the useless arguments and misguiding those who are already misguided or anyone else as the brother said earlier. We must understand of the time we live in today. And apparently you don’t have that knowledge.

  43. Avatar

    Anon

    August 22, 2014 at 8:49 PM

    Comment removed due to Anon name and incorrect email address. This is a violation of the Comments Policy

    Aly
    CommentsTeam Lead

  44. Avatar

    Qasim tushabe

    October 31, 2015 at 4:15 AM

    Jazaaka LLAH khayran

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#Islam

Identity Scholarship: Ideological Assabiya And Double Standards

The Prophet helped the Arabs overcome their asabiya (tribalism) and enter a new defining bond of Islam. The criterion for right and wrong was no longer clan membership, but rooted in the religion of Islam. Muslims were instructed to defend the truth, command good, and forbid evil regardless of tribal affiliation. Asabiya does not just relate to kin-based tribes.  One of the resurging traces of jahilya affecting our discourse is ideological tribalism. In ideological tribalism, we hold double standards between our tribe and other tribes, and overlook fallacies in our group that we would not for other groups. Just as we protect an idea that represents our identity, when a personality reflects our group identity, there is a personal reason to defend the personality. It then becomes instinctual then to double-down in discussions even when wrong to show group strength, which at this point is a survival mechanism and not a true dialectic. Abandoning a quest for truth and succumbing to an in-group vs. out-group dichotomy leaves us to defend falsehood and dislike truth. Refusing to accept truth is one way the Prophet described arrogance. 

Group belonging

One of the main drivers of identity scholarship is group belonging. When we focus on defending our group rather than principles which extend beyond group delineations we prove false our claims of wanting the truth.  The burden of moral responsibility is not offset by finding someone to follow [1]. Charismatic leaders have an ability to tap into latent desires of individuals and awaken in them the desire to be part of something greater than themselves. Their own identities are often validated by following the charismatic figure, and they then work hard to preserve the group as they would to preserve their own selves.

According to Ann Ruth Willner, charismatic authority “derives from the capacity of a particular person to arouse and maintain belief in himself or herself as the source of legitimacy. Willner says that the charismatic leadership relationship has four characteristics:

  1. The leader is perceived by the followers as somehow superhuman.
  2. The followers blindly believe the leader’s statements.
  3. The followers unconditionally comply with the leader’s directives for action.
  4. The followers give the leader unqualified emotional commitment.
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Charismatic leadership satisfies our desire to be part of something bigger, and paradoxically, to hand all power over to someone else can make us feel more powerful because we think that person is the best version of ourselves. We feel that we have gained ‘agency by proxy.’ We have also dumped all responsibility for decisions onto the leader- what Erich Fromm, the scholar of Nazism, called an ‘escape from freedom.’ When we are in a charismatic leadership relationship, our sense of self-worth attaches attached to the identity of the leader, so that we take personally any criticism of that leader, and have as much difficulty admitting flaws or errors on the leader’s parts as we do on our own. Because we see the leader as us, and we see us as good, we simply can’t believe that he or she might do bad things” (59) [2].

Charismatic leadership is emotional and works on desires. This type of leadership has no relation to truth. It exists and persists due to feelings, hence contradictions, double-standards, and outright hypocrisy aren’t issues for those in the relationship. Even when the leader confidently behaves irresponsibly, followers do not think less of him. What is inconsistent and irresponsible for an out-group observer is charming to members of the in-group.

As Miller points out: 

Followers don’t expect charismatic leaders to be responsible for what they say, nor to behave responsibly; their irresponsible behavior is part of their power. Their use of hyperbole and tendency to be unfiltered in speech are taken to signify their passionate commitment to the in-group (60).

Such loyalty is not specific for charismatic leaders, The Minimal Group Paradigm shows that we have more empathy for our in-group even if that in-group is arbitrarily assigned, and we will act biased in their favor against an arbitrarily assigned out-group. This is a tendency against which we must actively fight to maintain clarity in thinking and fair standards in discussions. When group loyalty is prized there is a fear of opposing the group, which obliterates any chance of scholarly discourse. Questioning a position becomes akin to questioning authority and leaves the questioner ostracized and out-casted. When the out-group is pejoratively labeled, there is an additional fear of thinking like or ending up in that group. 

Identity scholarship

Rather than looking at the argument constructed and judging whether or not it is sound, identity scholarship approves or dismisses arguments based on the person making them. Arguments are then validated by personalities and not standards of scholarship.  This is a dangerous shift from reasoning and evidence to personalities. 

Identity scholarship leverages the need to belong and centers the personality over the argument. However, focusing on the strength of arguments and not the personality is especially important given that the term ‘scholar’ or ‘shaykh’ is applied to vocationally trained Muslims, seminal graduates, preachers, or to those who display a scholarly caliber in Islam alike. This is a sufficient crisis. The term is heavily equivocated, and should never serve to stand in place of standards of scholarship in discourse. 

Ambiguity in the term ‘scholar’ or ‘shaykh’ is exploited by groups to strengthen their influence. Not always pernicious, this is the natural progression of proselytizing via group identity. An in-group who will dismiss dissenting voices for not having studied long enough, not obtaining ijazas, will promote voices of similar or less educated Muslims when those voices are in their ‘in-group.’ Titles like ‘ustadh’ and ‘ustadha’ are quickly conferred upon those who are volunteers or proponents of the ‘in-group’ even with minimal study. Advocating for the correct paradigm is rewarded more than a knowledge based approach to issues. Giving titles to those with social capital in your in-group is also an effective way for brand expansion. For example, loosely affiliated students with avenues into the growing Muslim mental health field are often referred to as ‘ustadha.’  Also, traditionalists will often promote in-group religious figures engaging in no-risk activism like condemning already popularly condemned figures as exemplary ‘scholars and activists’ who should be followed by other activists.  

If a person has been doing this long enough they become ‘shaykh,’ and then eventually a ‘senior scholar’ with assumed wisdom and spiritual insight, worthy of deference. I am well acquainted with the unfortunate irony in traditional circles where those who push a manhaj of studying at the feet of scholars have by and large not done so beyond attending general lectures by visiting scholars.  Many do not even know Arabic, but their zeal and tenure of feel good lectures in a community primarily interested in nasheeds and tea coupled with their promoting the right figures secure for them a scholarly status by generations who venerate the theory of studying at the feet of scholars. 

Thus authority and titles are conferred by virtue of in-group allegiance. 

Slip into demagoguery

When we accept an in-group and out-group dichotomy and don’t argue fairly, we lay the foundation for demagogic discourse. As Patricia Mill-Roberts writes “If people decide to see things as a zero-sum game- the more they succeed, the more we lose, and we should rage about any call made against us, and cheer any call made against them- then democracy loses” (13). The best way to avoid this is by maintaining fair discussions and letting go of double standards. Arguments appealing to in-group or out-group positions rather than being based in fact should not be accepted regardless of which group they are coming from. Several tactics used in these types of arguments are described below. 

Creating a strawman

Falsely representing the out-group is a common tactic in demagogic discourse. One example is portraying out-group critics as only critics. The critic is frozen in time as someone who has accomplished nothing, helped no one, and as only one who sees the faults in others. The in-group then goes on to list what they have accomplished -‘albeit with some faults’- to not seem as braggarts, but insists that those faults are magnified by the arm-chair critics. 

Another example is labeling Muslims more concerned with academic preservation and development as Muslims in ivory towers. This suggests knowledge is only relevant if immediately actionable and discounts the role of theoretical knowledge in both present and future action as well as an intrinsic end.  

Even when it comes to the epitome of practical action, Allah tells the Muslims to not all go out in battle, but to have groups remain behind to study.

Condescending discrediting

One way demagoguery characterizes the out-group is by a “dithering, wavering, impaired masculinity, and weakness…”(66).  Just as Rudy Giuliani dismissed those protesting Trump’s 2016 win as “professional protestors” with nothing else to do in life, so do we dismiss dissenting voices. 

Terms like ‘keyboard warrior’ should be dropped from the vernacular of anyone who uses the internet for Islamic education. If the internet is good enough for theatrical Ramadan reminders and choreographed Islamic reflections, it should also be good enough for dissent and valid critiques.[3] We have to embrace the fact that the internet is not a pretend medium; social media posts are used in newsfeeds, are reacted to on the mimbar, and even prompt live events. If we dismiss valid criticisms made online as the act of ‘keyboard warriors’ we should also call those giving dawah online ‘studio daa’is.’  

Discrediting due to inexperience

Experience is an important element in answering questions and dealing with different scenarios, and, should rightly be considered when one is looking for a teacher, etc. However, frequently, the standards for what constitutes experience are used inconsistently. The same individuals who refer to young teachers as ‘shaykh’ or ‘mufti’ while in their in-group, dismiss ‘shaykhs’ and ‘muftis’ in the out-group of similar age and experience, arguing that a person can’t be a ‘real’ mufti because studying 7 years doesn’t make anyone a scholar. Graduating from a seminary or Islamic university will be the standard for members of an in-group to be called scholars, but the out-group will be ‘immature graduates’ who have not learned wisdom.  Wisdom itself will be defined as the avoidance of actions which challenge the in-group. Likewise an activist saying the right thing and echoing in-group talking points will be called ‘ustadh,’ but if from the ‘out-group’ dismissed as a Godless- activist’ that just hates hierarchy. 

Victimization and Victimology

Demagoguery thrives on the in-group being victimized by the out-group. It is common for religious figures to dismiss valid criticism as nothing but hate, envy, or ignorance [4]. When criticized by activists, it is common to label them as ‘anti-clerical’ activists who only have an issue with Islamic leaders because they are neo-Marxists. 

‘Neo-Marxist’ is used as a catch-all term to discredit those who disagree with the positions of some religious leaders to insinuate the disagreements are rooted in hate for hierarchy or authority thus being illegitimate. Even conservative and practicing Muslims are labeled as ‘leftists’ and ‘Godless activists’ for simple critiques. In Sufi groups, disagreeing with leadership is often said to be the result of being spiritually veiled, or the work of ‘dark forces’ and ‘shayateen’ dividing us. If we can agree that black-magic and evil-eye are real but should not be the first culprit in a failing marriage, let’s also look for practical failures when religious organizations break down before we start blaming the ‘shayateen.’  

On one hand the in-group claims they are victims, on the other they blame the out-group for having a victim mentality.  This may seem like an obvious contradiction, but as Miller explains,  

If condemnation of out-group behavior is performed by a very likable persona, then onlookers are likely to conclude that the rhetor would never engage in the behavior she or he is condemning. This maneuver is especially effective with people who believe that you can know what someone believes by listening to what values he or she claims to espouse, and with people who think you can predict behavior by listening to values talk (who believe that ‘good people- that is, people who say the right things- don’t do ‘bad’ things) (56) 

Another tactic is using terms like ‘victomology’ to belittle legitimate grievances of being wronged and falsely representing those grievances as an attitude of being a victim in life.

Being oppressed (mazlum) does not require living a tough life, being a victim in life, or being part of an oppressed group. We are told by the Prophet that delaying a payment owed while being capable of paying is oppression (Muslim). When our God given rights are transgressed upon, we are mazlum in that situation. It is not uncommon however to see Muslims want to claim their rights and express they have been wronged to be dismissed as those who love to be victims. Ironically, this is even done by organizations that describe themselves with the leftist concept of ‘safe spaces.’  

Disregarding Nuance

“Demagoguery is comfortable because it says the world is very simple, and made up of good people (us) and bad people (them)” (24). 

We must understand that if someone does not see an issue as black or white, it’s not because they are obviously corrupt, willfully ignorant, or stupid.  The word nuance itself triggers cynicism and is treated as an excuse to employ mental gymnastics to deny what is ‘obvious.’  The fact of the matter is when it comes to khilafi issues there is generally a vast scope of acceptable actions, and when it comes personal ijtihaadi matters for policy there is often no clear-cut best answer. Thus in such matters the objective is to come to a best resolution or course of action. In short, we should all take appropriate measures in our decisions to ensure the benefit outweighs the harm. Certain positions are cautioned against due to the likelihood of harm to one’s religion, but that likelihood may not serve as evidence that one has harmed his religion. As the great scholar Muhammad Awama relates in Ma’laam Irshadiya, the way of the scholars is to leave people in what they are following as long as it is correct and has a valid legal perspective [5]

Scholarly discourse

Advice from recognized experts in a field carries weight, but it should not be conflated with a scholarly argument. A common mistake is to confer authority upon an opinion outside the area of one’s authority. Scholarly works must prove themselves to be scholarly as stand-alone works. Even if a great scholar has published many scholarly works, his advice should be taken as advice. For example, Imam al-Ghazali was a great scholar, but Dear Beloved Son is not a scholarly work.  We have a malfoozaat (wisdom-sharing) tradition that is precious, but we must know where to place it in the hierarchy of Islamic knowledge. 

Islamic scholarly discourse should be evidence based, demonstrative of legal proficiency, and cater to Islamic concerns. Those engaging should share the evidence for what they say, the sources of the rulings they share, the difference between the reason for a ruling and the wisdom of a ruling [6], understand contextual fatwas,[7] and understand which rulings are based on urf and which rulings are intrinsic obligations or prohibitions. These are just some elements of Islamic scholarly discourse, and it cannot exist alongside identity scholarship. 

There should be private forums with prerequisites where scholarly discourse can take place. When these discussions move outside of their proper place other issues such as discussing weak or aberrant (shadh) fiqh opinions arise, which to an undiscriminating audience all will seem co-valid on the spectrum of differing opinions in sharia. Promoting aberrant positions caters to our cultural preferences of thinking outside the box and carries the façade of an intellectual approach to Islam. In Maharam al-Lisaan (Prohibitions of the Tongue) Muhammad Mawlud lists both mentioning the conflict between the Sahabah, and mentioning aberrant opinions as prohibitions.  This is not due to the utterance being sinful, but rather to the misconceptions it can lead to for the average Muslim if not properly addressed.  

There may be a need to dismiss open innovators and those spreading misguidance, because there is no end to the possibilities of innovation and it obfuscates what should be self-evident, and can be very difficult for even scholars to refute in ways that resonate with those affected by innovation. The double standard as previously mentioned is when lack of formal credentials is only a problem for out-groups. 

How to have productive discourse

Islamic historical discourse has its share of polemics. There are commentaries, fatwas and treatises which insult valid ijtihad and even refer to the entirety of a madhab with epithets. Some scholars were harsh and had a penchant for polemics. Transgressions into mockery and slander were not condoned, and belligerent attitudes were something scholars sought to check with reminders of adab al-ikhtilaf (the etiquettes of disagreement). While the previously mentioned certainly existed and such an approach may serve to strengthen positions of the in-group to the in-group, it does not make for productive dialogue with the out-group.

Outside of scholarly discourse, when we debate policy and Islamic positions, we need to have sincere, fact based arguments with the goal of arriving at truth. Our ability to accept truth no matter who says it shows we have transcended in-group vs. out-group tribalism and have entered the realm of sincere discourse.  Overcoming in-group tribalism and following the truth, rather than blindly following our ‘fathers’ is a central message in the Quran. 

And when it is said to them, “Follow what Allah has revealed,” they say, “Rather, we will follow that which we found our fathers doing.” Even though their fathers understood nothing, nor were they guided?  2:170 

Arguments on points should never be personal. We should train ourselves to evaluate arguments and understand that people we like can make mistakes, and people we dislike and generally disagree with may be right on certain matters. 

Don’t take cheap shots if you disagree with someone, such as pointing out a typo to insinuate incompetence. 

It’s important to leave double-standards, and to point them out when someone is employing them.  When one side is unfair or uses double standards, it encourages the opposition to act in kind, and the discussion devolves into a fight. When disagreeing with someone, never insult that person.  When a personality is attacked, the response will be defending the personality, and the entire discussion is derailed. 

Sharing a post, or article should not be seen as endorsing an individual or a post. Sometimes it’s a means of opening a discussion, other times to share beneficial points even if the entirety of what is shared is not beneficial. Furthermore, endorsing an individual in one area is not a blanket endorsement, and should never be taken as such.  The Hanafi tradition was able to benefit from legal fatwas while not accepting theology of Mu’tazilite scholars. Likewise, many of our best tafseers are from Mu’tazilite scholars. The widely studied and highly regarded Tafseer al-Baydawi is basically a reworked Mu’tazilite tafseer without the Mu’tazilite aqidah. Scholars have been able to ‘take the good and leave the harm.’ 

“I don’t think you could search America, sir, and find two men who agree on everything.” – Malcolm X

We need to uplift our intellectual level and drop disclaimers like “I don’t agree with everything in this article” or “I don’t agree with everything he said.”  It is only worth stating when you do agree with everything someone says or does.  The common disclaimers should be taken as givens and we shouldn’t capitulate to a cultural push of walking on egg-shells so no one accuses us of supporting the wrong person or idea. 

It is critical we operate under the assumption that sharing a panel with or working with an individual is not an endorsement of that individual. Likewise, working with an organization is not an endorsement of that organization. Such associations are attacked as potentially confusing to the average Muslim, but we must work towards establishing that such actions are not support. 

Here we see an ambivalent conceptualization of the ‘average Muslim’ as someone who both deserves transparency from religious scholars for their actions as well as one who is easily confused or misled by the actions of Muslim scholars. If we can accept both propositions, that a scholar’s actions are not proof, and that working with someone and sharing posts and platforms do not equate support for every particular view or stance of a person, we may set the foundation for being issue focused rather than personality focused. 

In conclusion, it is important we all hold ourselves to high standards of discourse and not support behavior or fallacies from our in-group that we would deride from an out-group. The groups themselves are inevitable and not a problem, but we have to work to overcome the natural ideological tribalism that accompanies group membership.  If we personally transcend in-group bias and reflect it in our discourse, we can overcome the pettiness and hypocrisy that stifles productive discussions. 

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Dawah and Interfaith

10 Lessons I Learned While Serving Those in Need

charity

I have spent about a decade serving the impoverished domestically and recently, abroad. I don’t work for a major charity organization, I work for my community, through grassroots efforts. It was something embedded in me while learning Islam. Before starting a charity organization, I started studying Islam with Dr. Hatem Alhaj (my mentor) and various other scholars. The more I studied, the more I wanted to implement what I was learning. What my community needed at the time was intensive charity work, as it was neglected entirely by our community. From that, I collected 10 lessons from servicing those in need. 

1. My bubble burst

One of the first things I experienced was the bursting of my bubble, a sense of realization. I, like many others, was unaware of the hardship in my own community. Yes, we know the hadith and see the events unfold on the news and social media, but when a father of three cried before me because a bag of groceries was made available for him to take home, that moment changed me. We tend to forget how little it takes, to make a huge difference in someone’s life. This experience, made me understand the following hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): “Every Muslim has to give in charity.” The people then asked: “(But what) if someone has nothing to give, what should he do?” The Prophet replied: “He should work with his hands and benefit himself and also give in charity (from what he earns).” The people further asked: “If he cannot find even that?” He replied: “He should help the needy, who appeal for help.” Then the people asked: “If he cannot do (even) that?” The Prophet said finally: “Then he should perform good deeds and keep away from evil deeds, and that will be regarded as charitable deeds.” – Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 524. I

t is simply an obligation, due to the amount of good it generates after you do this one action. I then realized even more how beautiful Islam is for commanding this deed. 

2. Friendships were developed on good deeds

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Serving the poor is a great reward in itself. The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “Save yourself from hellfire by giving even half a date-fruit in charity.” – Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 498. But it is better done with a team, I began building a team of people with similar objectives in serving the needy. These people later became some of my closest friends, who better to keep close to you than one that serves Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) by helping the neediest in the same community you reside in. Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “A person is likely to follow the faith of his friend, so look whom you befriend.” [reported by Abu Dawood & Tirmidhee] This is turn kept me on the right path of pleasing Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Working with a team removes a lot of the burden as well and the depression that might occur seeing the saddest stories on a daily basis. Allah says in the Qur’ān, “Indeed the believers are brothers.” (49:10). Sometimes there is a misconception that you have to have a huge office or a large masjid in order to get work done. But honestly, all you need is a dedicated group of people with the right intention and things take off from there. 

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: 'If you love the poor and bring them near you. . .God will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection.' - Al-Tirmidhi,Click To Tweet

3. Made me thankful

This made me thankful for whatever I had, serving the less fortunate reminded me daily to turn to Allah and ask for forgiveness and so be thankful. This kind of service also puts things into perspective. What is truly important in life? I stepped further and further away from a materialistic lifestyle and allowed me to value things that can’t be valued by money. I learned this from the poorest of people in my community, who strived daily for their family regardless of their situation — parents who did what they can to shield their children from their harsh reality. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “If you love the poor and bring them near you. . .God will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection.” – Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1376. They had a quality about them, despite their poverty status. They were always some of the kindest people I have known. 

dardir

4. People want to do Good

I learned that people want to do good; they want to improve their community and society. I began to see the impact on a communal level, people were being more engaged. We were the only Muslim group helping indiscriminately in our county. Even the people we helped, gave back by volunteering at our food pantry. We have schools where small kids (under adult supervision) partake in preparing meals for the needy, local masajids, churches, and temples, high school kids from public schools, and college organizations (Muslim and nonMuslim) visit frequently from several cities in neighboring counties, cities, and states. The good spreads a lot easier and faster than evil. People want to do good, we just need more opportunities for them to join in. United we can rock this world.

“We need more light about each other. Light creates understanding, understanding creates love, love creates patience, and patience creates unity.” Malcolm X. Click To Tweet

5. Smiles

Smiles, I have seen the wealthiest smiles on the poorest people. Despite being on the brink of homelessness, when I saw them they had the best smile on their faces. This wasn’t all of them, but then I would smile back and that changed the environment we were in. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Charity is prescribed for each descendant of Adam every day the sun rises.” He was then asked: “From what do we give charity every day?” The Prophet answered: “The doors of goodness are many…enjoining good, forbidding evil, removing harm from the road, listening to the deaf, leading the blind, guiding one to the object of his need, hurrying with the strength of one’s legs to one in sorrow who is asking for help, and supporting the feeble with the strength of one’s arms–all of these are charity prescribed for you.” He also said: “Your smile for your brother is charity.” – Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 3, Number 98. Smiles are truly universal.

6. It’s ok to cry

It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah said: “A man who weeps for fear of Allah will not enter Hell until the milk goes back into the udder, and dust produced (when fighting) for the sake of Allah and the smoke of Hell will never coexist.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi and al-Nasaa’i. There are situations you see that hit you hard; they fill your heart with emotions, but that never swayed my concrete belief in Allah’s wisdom. Crying before Allah, not just out of fear, but to be thankful for His Mercy upon you is a relief.

7. Learning to say no

It was one of the hardest things I had to do, a lot (if not all) of the requests I received for help were extremely reasonable. I do not think anyone asked for anything outrageous. Our organization started becoming the go-to organization in our area for help, but we are one organization, with limited resources, and a few times we were restricted on when or how we could help. This is where learning to say no became a learned skill. Wedid do our best to follow up with a plan or an alternative resource.

8. It is part of raising a family and finding yourself

How so? Being involved in your community doesn’t take away from raising your family, it is part of it. I can’t watch and do nothing and expect my children to be heroes. I have to lead by example. Helping others is good for my family’s health. Many people living in our country are consumed with their busy lives. Running out the door, getting to work, driving the kids to their after school activities, spending weekends taking care of their families, etc. So people have a fear of investing hours in doing this type of work. But in reality, this work puts more blessings in your time.

One may feel they are taking time away from their family, but in reality, when one comes back home, they find more peace in their home then they left it with. By helping others, I improve the health and culture of my community, this in turn positively impacts my family.

I enjoy being a softie with my family and friends. I am a tall bearded man, and that image suited me better. I am not sure what made me softer, having kids or serving the poor. Either way, it was rewarding and defined my role and purpose in my community.

I learned that you make your own situation. You can be a spectator, or you can get in there and do the best you can to help. It gave me an opportunity to be a role model for my own children, to show them the benefit of doing good and helping when you can.

It came with a lot of humility. Soon after starting I realized that all I am is a facilitator, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is giving an opportunity of a lifetime to do this work, a line of work very little people get to engage in regularly. My advice to my readers, if you can serve the poor do so immediately before you get occupied or busy with life.

Helping others is good for my family’s health.Click To Tweet

9. Dawah through action

As I mentioned before I did spend time studying, and at one point developed one of the top dawah initiatives in the country (according to IERA). But the reality is, helping the less fortunate is my type of dawah, people started to associate our food pantry and helping others with Islam. As an organization with one of the most diverse groups of volunteers, people from various religious backgrounds found the environment comfortable and hospitable. I began working with people I never would have worked before if I had stuck to traditional dawah, studying, or masjid involvement, all of which are critical. This became a symbol of Islam in our community, and while serving, we became those that embodied the Quran and Sunnah. For a lot of those we served, we were the first Muslims they encountered, and Alhamdulilah for the team we have. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) also says in the Quran: “So by mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you” (3:159). It is our actions that can turn people away or towards Islam.

10. Once you serve the needy, you do this for life

I wasn’t volunteering on occasion,— this was an unpaid job that was done regularly. I got requests and calls for emergencies daily at times. It took up hours upon hours every week. As a charity worker, I developed experience and insight in this field. I learned that this was one of the best ways I could serve Allah [swt. “They ask you (O Muhammad) what they should spend in charity. Say: ‘Whatever you spend with a good heart, give it to parents, relatives, orphans, the helpless, and travelers in need. Whatever good you do, God is aware of it.'” – The Holy Quran, 2:215

I believe the work I do with the countless people that do the same is the best work that can be done in our current political climate and globalization. My views and thoughts have evolved over the years seeing situations develop to what they are today. This gave me a comprehensive outlook on our needs as a society and allowed me to venture off and meet people top in their fields like in social activism, environmentalism, labor, etc.

I want to end with three sectors in society that Muslims prosper in and three that Muslims can improve on. We strive on individual education (noncommunal), distributing and organizing charity, and more recently being politically engaged. What we need to improve on is our environmental awareness, working with and understanding unions and labor rights, and organizing anti-war movements. 

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#Islam

Swallowing Your Pride For A Moment Is Harder Than Praying All Night | Imam Omar Suleiman

Iblees was no ordinary worshipper. He worshipped Allah for thousands of years with thousands of prayers. He ascended the ranks until he accompanied the angels with his noteworthy worship. Performing good deeds was no issue for him. He thanked Allah with his prayers, and Allah rewarded him with a lofty station in Paradise. But when Adam was created and given the station that he was, suddenly Iblees was overcome by pride. He couldn’t bear to see this new creation occupy the place that he did. And as he was commanded to prostrate to him, his pride would overcome him and doom him for eternity. Alas, swallowing his pride for one prostration of respect to Adam was more difficult to him than thousands of prostrations of worship to Allah.

In that is a cautionary lesson for us especially in moments of intense worship. When we exert ourselves in worship, we eventually start to enjoy it and seek peace in it. But sometimes we become deluded by that worship. We may define our religiosity exclusively in accordance with it, become self-righteous as a result of it, and abuse people we deem lesser in the name of it. The worst case scenario of this is what the Prophet (peace be upon him) said about one who comes on the day of judgment with all of their prayers, fasting, and charity only to have it all taken away because of an abusive tongue.

But what makes Iblees’s struggle so relevant to ours? The point of worship is to humble you to your Creator and set your affairs right with His creation in accordance with that humility. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said that whoever has an atom’s worth of pride in their heart would not enter paradise. The most obvious manifestation of that pride is rejecting the truth and belittling someone else. But other subtle manifestations of that pride include the refusal to leave off argumentation, abandon grudges, and humble yourself to the creation in pursuit of the pleasure of the Creator.

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Yaqeen

Hence a person would rather spend several Ramadan’s observing the last 10 nights in intense prayer seeking forgiveness for their sins from Allah, rather then humble themselves for a moment to one of Allah’s servants by seeking forgiveness for their transgressions against him, even if they too have a claim.

Jumah is our weekly Eid, and Monday’s and Thursday’s are our weekly semblances of Ramadan as the Prophet (s) used to fast them since our deeds are presented to Allah on those days. He said about them, “The doors of Heaven are opened every Monday and Thursday, and Allah pardons in these days every individual servant who is not a polytheist, except those who have enmity between them; Allah Says: ‘Delay them until they reconcile with each other”

In Ramadan, the doors of Heaven are opened throughout the month and the deeds ascend to Allah. But imagine if every day as your fasting, Quran recitation, etc. is presented to Allah this month, He responds to the angels to delay your pardon until you reconcile with your brother. Ramadan is the best opportunity to write that email or text message to that lost family member or friend and say “it’s not worth it to lose Allah’s forgiveness over this” and “IM SORRY.”

Compare these two statements:

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “He who boycotts his brother for more than three days and dies during this period will be from the people of hellfire.”

He also said:

“I guarantee a house in the suburbs of Paradise for one who leaves arguments even if he is right.”

Swallowing your pride is bitter, while prayer is sweet. Your ego is more precious to you than your sleep. But above all, Allah’s pleasure is more precious than it all.

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