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What Do I Do When I Find Out My Favorite Preacher Is Corrupt?

Imam Omar Suleiman

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The scenario is becoming more prevalent: the person you trusted with your spirituality, inspiration, and maybe even secrets, turns out to be tragically corrupt. The man who gives lectures about how to treat women is a vicious womanizer. The televangelist who inspires millions to be better people can’t find the inspiration in his own personal life to not exploit vulnerable fans or oppress his family.

This is one of the most difficult tests to one’s faith: how could someone who embodied the faith to me be so corrupt despite all of his knowledge? Is something wrong with the religion?

The Power of Power

No. Something is wrong with people, especially when they have power. And power isn’t always manifest in the form of legal control or authority. The power of influence that can suffocate the stories of your victims is far more dangerous. The power of a platform that glorifies you being so much larger than those that expose you. The power of money that ties people to you, that will stay with you despite your corruption and the mistreatment of your own family, only because they want to feed theirs. The power of having shaykh friends that will legitimize you for their own gain not realizing, or not caring, that they’re enabling your corruption. The power of having organizations still invite you to their programs to fill seats despite knowing about you, but not really caring about you or the people you will help bring to them. The power of knowing that otherwise reasonable people will probably support you any way and forget that the victim could’ve been their own sister or daughter.

The problem isn’t religion; the problem is the perception of power that has so frequently poisoned men who wear the garb of any religion. Every oppressor is intoxicated by the illusion of power. But your Lord isn’t unaware, and is the only true possessor of Power. For their sake and ours, everything eventually comes crashing down before they can further harm themselves or others.

To Victims of Predators

If you’re a victim of one of these people, don’t be afraid to seek help. Don’t be shamed into silence. Predators thrive when they can pick on you in private and think that you’d never tell anyone. Your job isn’t to maintain the dignity of the one who disgraced you, or to put your hurt to the side to protect others from having their feelings hurt when they find out. You do have a responsibility to protect other people that could potentially be victimized.

To the girls that get approached by their favorite speaker at a conference who quickly starts looking for a secret marriage, please don’t be led down that route. Marriage is meant to be a public celebration that protects your rights. A private nikah that likely doesn’t even meet the conditions for a valid one won’t protect you at all. You don’t know a person from a stage or a youtube video.

To Beneficiaries of Corrupt Leaders

If you’re a beneficiary of one of these people financially or in some other fashion, don’t forget that sustenance comes from Allah and not from these people. Ibn Taymiyya said, “Whoever enables an oppressor will one day be tested by him.” The nature of that test is only known to Allah, but you’re actually protecting your family by not enabling an oppression that could one day harm them. Sometimes it’s not even enabling the oppressor himself but normalizing the behavior that one day bites you or your family.

To the religious institutions that provide cover, you have a responsibility to your members to not put them in harm’s way. The first responsibility of a shepherd is to protect his flock from wolves. If we haven’t learned our lesson from other religious institutions that cover up, know that the person and institution will suffer if things are not rectified properly. If we’re going to restore confidence in religious institutions, it’s going to take slowly regaining the trust of the people by showing zero tolerance for exploitation.

To the scholars and teachers that cover for their colleagues, fear Allah for you are betraying not only the people but the tradition. Do not leave the tradition hostage to people to exploit for nefarious aims. You too will be held accountable for legitimizing an oppressor and putting people in harm’s way. If people see your association as a refutation of claims, you are the strongest cover a criminal has.

Don’t be Bystanders

To the scholars and teachers that are repulsed by this behavior — do the right thing. You too need to be mindful of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) for none of us are safe from the plotting of Shaytan and the evil of our desires. The first thing we should do when we see someone fall from glory is to seek refuge in Allah from encountering a similar fate. Every person in religious authority needs to be vigilant with themselves. Protect yourself with a strong spiritual regimen, mentorship that can hold you accountable, and do not put yourself in a situation where you could be lead astray. Always give priority to your family and be extra cautious in your interactions.

To the family and friends of these people that don’t want to feel like they’re letting down someone that they love, do not fall victim to the misguided loyalty of the days of ignorance. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said support your brother when he’s an oppressor by stopping him from oppressing. If you really loved him, you’d stop him from ruining his hereafter even further for the justice of this world is far lighter than the justice served in the hereafter. If you really loved him, you’d want him to correct himself and get help so that he may come back to Allah and start making amends. Stopping the oppressor is for his own good.

Allah Knows and Allah’s Deen is Pure

Finally, to the onlookers who are damaged when scandals about their favorite teachers start to be known. You are not alone. Some of you may have become Muslim because of this person. Some of you may have spent days, weeks, or even years, on their lectures. Through the internet, they’ve become a part of your family. But here is the thing, what made you love them was that they brought you closer to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). You weren’t listening to them sing songs or make movies, you were listening to them teach you about Divine revelation. Let the object of your love remain the religion, and the people simply be the vessels. That way if one vessel breaks, the contents need to be transferred. The religion remains perfect and sound, even when those representing it fail to live up to it. Pray that Allah rectifies those who taught you the religion, support their victims, and let this be a lesson that no one after the Prophets 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) is infallible. Let your hope and expectations only be in Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

And by the way, good teachers still remain. As heartbroken as I have been by so many scandals, I still reflect on the beautiful teachers and colleagues I have known that are models of transparency and loyalty. They still exist, but the ugly ones seem to obscure the beauty.

Don’t let the failure of a few cause you to stop seeing the beauty in many.

May Allah protect our hearts, families, and communities. Ameen

Imam Omar Suleiman is the Founder & President Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research 
www.yaqeeninstitute.org

Imam Omar Suleiman is the Founder and President of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, and an Adjunct Professor of Islamic Studies in the Graduate Liberal Studies Program at SMU (Southern Methodist University). He is also the Resident Scholar at Valley Ranch Islamic Center and Co-Chair of Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square. He holds a Bachelors in Accounting, a Bachelors in Islamic Law, a Masters in Islamic Finance, a Masters in Political History, and is currently pursuing a Phd. in Islamic Thought and Civilization from the International Islamic University of Malaysia.

63 Comments

63 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Omar

    June 3, 2017 at 9:08 PM

    Possibly the most truthful and brave article ever written on a topic that is often brushed under the carpet or turned a cold shoulder.

    I like how you tried to end with positive note Shaykh Omar Suleiman – wouldn’t expect anything less from you knowing your prophetic spiritual optimism… and I pray to Allah that this isn’t my bitterness against lousy corrupt Muslim du’ats/scholars speaking, but rather it’s the genuine scars and tears of concern having loved ones being put through great harm by the superstars of Da’wah… I can almost guarantee you Shaykh the so called “beautiful teachers and colleagues” that you speak about in your article and call them “models of transparency and loyalty” have many skeletons in their closets that just haven’t come out yet and this is why you see them as “beautiful”. You may be in awe of the beauty with which Allah has hidden their crimes against mankind but this does not change the fact that they are evil self-righteous shayateen inside.

    You see Shaykh, you’re part of the da’wah world so how another scholar interacts with you is different to how they interact with us. The way a speaker may treat you is different to how they treat us. If you/or your family (God forbid) were wronged by one of them (may Allah protect you) it can become a public issue and damage their self-righteous image within the Da’wah world so they would be very cautious of ever doing that to you. But when it comes to the average Muslim or Muslimah its easy for these shayateen to wrong them knowing the person can do no harm to them because of their position & name in society and so they can carry on protecting their self-righteous public image. They put on this false robe of piety hiding behind titles of “Shaykh” and “Dr.” and treat you so well because you’re a colleague, but as you and I know from your epic #40onJustice series the true character of a person is not defined by how they treat their peers it’s about how they treat the most weak and vulnerable.

    If one of us common people is wronged who do we go to Shaykh? Who will even believe us against someone who is known for his religiosity and piety? And even if we do (and I speak by experience here) as you rightly state the equally corrupt leaders of our dawah institutes provide cover for their “Superstar da’ee” so that their image and the name of the organisations is protected. I went to one such leader of an organisation to get help with my case and the response I got from them, and I quote verbatim from his email response “Regardless if you like it or not there are over a million folks he has touched one way or the other, we don’t want to ruin it.” These so called pioneers of the da’wah world that go Hajj and Umrah every year don’t even have the backbone nor the eman to stand by the oppressed and instead cover the crimes of their speakers and just ignore your requests until you just give up asking them and are left with no one but Allah and nothing but the power of du’a.

    My message of optimism for all those that have been harmed by these wolves in sheep’s clothing know that he who has no one has Allah and the one who has Allah by his/her side then know that the one who has harmed you is Allah’s criminal and Allah deals with criminals severely. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was informed about a woman who prayed during the night, fasted during the day and gave in charity but was abusive to her neighbors. The Prophet (peace be upon him) not only announced her place in hell but also said “There is NO GOOD INSIDE OF HER she’s in the fire of Hell.”

    Even if these so called “scholars” graduated from inside that Ka’bah walahi it would not benefit them if they wronged another person. Even if they raised a million dollars in charity for Syria and Palestine on their Facebook pages inshaAllah it would all be nullified and even if they stood the night in prayer like the woman who the Prophet (peace be upon him) was informed about it would still not save them from the judgement of Allah and paying for every crime against an innocent creation of Allah.

    I and many of my loved ones have been harmed by these wolves in sheep’s clothing and my greatest du’a in the coming last ten nights of Ramadan for every such so called Muslim scholar and their supporters is that despite their fasting, prayers, lectures and charity the Messenger (peace be upon him) himself rejects these scums on the Day of Judgement and says the same words he said about that woman “There is no good inside any of them…”, Allahumma ameen.

    The Prophet (peace be upon him) would also often make a du’a which I have found much comfort in, knowing that Allah is the one who will avenge the ones who have been wronged “O Allah… support me against the one who has wronged me and avenge me.” – classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Adab al-Mufrad.

    With tears in my eyes and a heavy-heart I would like to sincerely thank you for writing such an honest article on such a oft-neglected topic Shaykh Omar and I sincerely pray that you never become one of these self-righteous scholars that takes advantage of the weak and that Allah exposes these criminals in front of you and you disassociate yourself from them and their institutes very soon, Allahumma ameen.

    • Avatar

      bmh

      June 4, 2017 at 3:49 AM

      that comment above though..

    • Avatar

      Anda

      June 4, 2017 at 6:14 AM

      There is so much hurt, damage and bitterness in your words, you must have experienced something really bad… For the sake of your own spiritual sanity I would advise you to entrust Allah with this matter of yours. Have you heard of this dua
      حسبي اللہ ونعم الوکيل (Hasbiya Allah wa nee’ma al Wakeel – Allah is Sufficient for me, and He is the Best Trustee).
      Let these words be close to your heart instead of uttering revengeful, bitter words in your dua, maybe you’ll find your peace of mind and heart again inshaAllah…

      • Avatar

        Omar

        June 4, 2017 at 8:10 AM

        Anda – Shukran for your concern and supportive words. Alhumdulilah, my mind and heart are already at peace.

        I don’t know why people always assume that if you’re making du’a against your wrongdoer that somehow that automatically makes one bitter and somehow that’s spiritually damaging. Du’a has been the greatest revival of my faith in Allah, alhumdulilah.

        My eman is at the greatest peak it has ever been alhumdulilah because I have risen strong from the greatest test of my faith, alhumdulilah… as the tag line of the article itself states “The *most difficult test* of one’s faith: the moral corruption of a spiritual teacher”. It has been an immensely great test and challenge and I know Allah put me through this challenge because I had the capacity to rise strong from this challenge and become stronger than ever. The spiritual strength and freedom that I feel now I doubt majority of believers would ever even get to experience spirituality at such heights, alhumdulilah.

        Du’a is the greatest act of worship and Allah is sufficient for the believers – yes I know this du’a and make it frequently shukran for the reminder :) …and what could be more of a greater expression of one’s trust in Allah than when they are wronged and are in distress they turn to Allah in du’a and know that Allah has their back and will reward them without account for their patience and avenge the harm done to them.

        Contrary to popular belief and unIslamic teachings from majority of du’ats and scholars that making du’a against your wrongdoer just means your bitter and spiritually damaged I can tell you for sure that du’a has been my greatest strength in this trial and if I didn’t have du’a I probably would not have faith. Du’a is a sign of strength not weakness. Du’a is a sign of optimism not bitterness and resentfulness. Du’a against someone who is evil brings peace to the heart because you know Allah is with you and He hears you and promises to answer you.

        I seriously despise those scholars who teach people to just forgive, let go, move on and don’t make du’a against their wrongdoer. Nothing can be more damaging spiritually than to cover your wounds with a flimsy plaster and just ignore it and move on. Sure, forgiveness is the way of the believer and it is only the diseased heart that constantly holds grudges against each and every person no matter how small the harm, but there are some crimes that are beyond human decency and especially when the person has been given multiple chances for forgiveness but are too self-righteous to even acknowledge their sins, for such people du’a is your greatest weapon against them.

        Du’a is a cure and a healing process, whereby you call out to the One in the Heavens and leave all your affairs to Him and then move on with optimism knowing Allah has your back. It can only become damaging when you don’t have full yaqeen in Allah that He will bring your wrongdoers to justice and you consume yourself with your bitterness and don’t see the beauty in life and positiveness of rising strong …and I have full yaqeen without a shadow of a doubt that every du’a that I make against these evil scholars will come true and they will have the most humiliating ending in this world and the next, Allahumma ameen.

        When the great companion Sa’id b. Zaid (may Allah be pleased with him) one of the 10 promised paradise was slandered by a woman he raised his hands to Allah and made du’a against her. ‘O Allah, if she is lying take away her sight and make her grave in her own house’” The narrator of this incident said “I saw her (later on) when she was blind groping her way along the walls and would cry out, ‘I have been afflicted by the supplication of Sa’id.’ Then one day when she was walking in her land she fell into a well which became her grave.”

        There’s a reason why the Prophet (peace be upon him) warned us to “fear the du’a of the one who is wronged” and “the Du’a of the one who is wronged is never rejected” and Allah Himself promises to “answer the call of the one who is wronged even if it be after a while”. Allah and His Messenger wants us to make du’a against our wrongdoers who go beyond human decency in harming you and it is a necessary healing process.

        • Avatar

          Mohsin

          September 22, 2017 at 3:35 PM

          Has this case been proven beyond doubt? The card of ‘character assassination’ has been played with many before

    • Avatar

      Mohammed

      June 4, 2017 at 1:31 PM

      Assalamu Alaikum sister. Thanks for coming out openly about your bad experience with the “superstar shaykhs/ustads”. May Allah swt reward you and heal you.

      The exploitation of women by the “superstar entertaining shaykhs/ustads” are getting known by more people and is very much credible. I have known one such case, and it was shocking to me.

      I request all sisters who have been exploited by these “superstar entertaining shaykhs/ustads” to come out courageously and share your bad experience with shaykh Omar. This will help the Muslim community deal with these wolves in sheep’s cloths.

  2. Avatar

    Sue

    June 4, 2017 at 4:31 AM

    This article doesn’t advise on what to do if you know or are harmed by one of those so-called sheikhs. All I got from this read is that ‘They are bad people but if you say something, people will protect them’. We victims all know that.. But what do we do now? How do we deal with it? How do we make sure it doesn’t happen anymore? Not as useful of an article as I thought..

    • Avatar

      Amatullah

      June 6, 2017 at 12:23 AM

      ” Not as useful of an article as I thought..”
      The article is about what the author wanted it to be, not what you want to read.

  3. Avatar

    Zawja Salman

    June 4, 2017 at 5:19 AM

    JazakIllah kher for bringing the topic up.
    It may be the first drop of rain n bring good in future & it may turn iut to be just another article. But im sure a lot of people will appreciate the insight.

  4. Avatar

    Zeba

    June 4, 2017 at 6:03 AM

    I personally think even Imaams or Shaykhs are humans, shaitaan is behind all of us, we as common public should not be so available to be victimize. As soon as you feel danger we should take a back step. And one should always remember that the ultimate solution is Allah no one else, if you give chance shaitaan will utilise it.

  5. Avatar

    Muhammed

    June 4, 2017 at 7:24 AM

    So…..Who are these people and what institutions support them? I’d like to know who I should keep my daughter from..

  6. Avatar

    muslimah

    June 4, 2017 at 1:43 PM

    Salaam. Thank you so much for this! As a victim that spoke out, i would be very much interested to understand, from an islamic point of view, how this would be dealt with. If we dont name the person how can we prevent this from happening in the future to other sisters? or alerting sisters that are already suffering in this situation?

  7. Avatar

    Abu Asiyah

    June 4, 2017 at 1:44 PM

    I think books like “Without Conscience”, “Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing”, “A Sociopath Next Door”, etc should be required reading for everyone – not just Muslims.

    Knowing what to watch out for can really open your eyes. Oftentimes you can tell these people even by the way they talk on the stage. If not, you can usually detect it in their conversation off the stage.

    Knowing to distinguish such people from the rest also helps in distinguishing the true oppressors from those who simply made a mistake. The oppressors pretend to be sorry – but their apologies and tears are simply a cover.

    Having gone through an experience with a teacher like this, I can also vouch for the fact that there are scholars and leaders out there who are truly doing their best to follow in the footsteps of our beloved Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace). They never take advantage of you, never betray your secrets, and have sincere concern for you instead of looking for personal gain.

    JazakumAllahu khayran brother Omar Suleiman for raising an important topic. We need more awareness about this.

  8. Avatar

    Yaseen

    June 4, 2017 at 1:59 PM

    Can we not share who these shuyouk are? I wouldn’t want my wife, sister, or daughter to be another victim to these people. Didn’t you mention that we should not be silent and be bystanders? Help us protect our loved ones. Enough is enough, these are the lives of real people that are being destroyed.

  9. Avatar

    Mohammed

    June 4, 2017 at 2:11 PM

    Assalamu Alaikum and Ramadan Mubarak Shaykh Omar. May Allah swt reward you immensely for this courageous and brilliantly written article. May Allah swt protect you and your family and raise you in your spiritual rank.

    I have known one such case, and it was shocking to me. I advised to share the experience with you.

    These superstar entertaining ustads may have done much good particularly to our youth. But the injustice they have committed against some of the sisters is absolutely unacceptable and must be brought to community’s knowledge.

    I am worried about the impact to our youth: shattered expectations and demoralization due to the hypocrisy may even cause them to reject the whole notion of moral guidance from religion. Of course, you have addressed this in your article. But, knowledge or awareness is often not a strong enough antidote to a broken heart.

    “The power of influence, the power of a platform that glorifies you, the power of money , the power of having shaykh friends that will legitimize you, the power of having organizations still invite you , the power of knowing that otherwise reasonable people will probably support you in anyway,….” and the resulting emotional imbalance probably have contributed to the Ustad’s adventurous secret escapades.

    These wolves marry for a day or two or for a week in “secret” and then move onto another pasture! What devastation that must have left on the victims.

    I request all sisters who have been exploited by these “superstar entertaining shaykhs/ustads” to come out courageously and share your bad experience with shaykh Omar so that further action can be taken. This will help the Muslim community deal with these wolves in sheep’s cloths. Let the truth about clarity come out.

    To the superstar entertaining ustads: the minimum you can do is to ask forgiveness from these sisters for the damage you have done to them and compensate them financially because they struggling to survive. They trusted you because of your religious reputation, and you misused that trust.

    May Allah swt protect all of us from shaytan and from our own nafs.

    Warm regards,

  10. Avatar

    Imaan

    June 4, 2017 at 3:45 PM

    Thank you so much Shaikh Omer for such an enlightening and truly ground breaking topic. It is insane that such an article is necessary and situations mentioned even prevalent–It’s sickening…and also scary. To think there are victims out there who are silenced and well known figures continue to operate through their lives without knowing what someone they have affected is going through behind restrained oaths…It is mind boggling. Real people going through very real victimization that has for too long been swept under the rug. Scary.

    May God always bring true justice because he is the all just, the always just.

  11. Avatar

    Abdullah

    June 4, 2017 at 4:00 PM

    Reading these comments is leaving me shocked. This seems to be a huge problem? I thought it was a few cases here and there. Maybe i would have heard more if i lived in america. (Im from Europe).

  12. Avatar

    Esha

    June 4, 2017 at 5:31 PM

    This is really really shocking for me, I can’t even believe it. Thanks for making us aware of it.

  13. Avatar

    Umm?

    June 4, 2017 at 5:34 PM

    These are probably all Al maghrib, Al qalam, bayyinah, and zaytunah shaykhs and their affiliates…Probably why nobody ever says who it is. I don’t get it…If these individuals pose such a threat, why don’t we out them? The world is full of spiritual guidance. So if we lose someone […], there’s someone else to replace him. Not accusing […] nor anyone from the above mentioned institutes. Just weird that this is like the second article from this site about this issue and still people are keeping whatever is going on under wraps.

    *This comment was edited by the MM Comments Team in order to comply with our Comments Policy*

  14. Avatar

    Nora

    June 4, 2017 at 11:15 PM

    Isn’t the imam guilty of covering up if he’s not sharing names? This isn’t brave. This is putting a band-aid on a gushing wound. Unless you’d want this to happen to your sister, daughter, cousin, friend, neighbor why aren’t names being shared?

  15. Avatar

    Ismaeel Abdul Fattah

    June 5, 2017 at 2:30 AM

    Wanting to know the negative experiences of sisters seems like some form of voyeurism, especially when the one asking isn’t a licensed counselor/therapist in a therapy session and especially over this particular medium. Additionally, what’s the point of an anonymous person mentioning a story that cannot be validated other than to rile up the deep-rooted, negative sentiments we have against the clergy? And when is naming names a good idea, especially when the accuser cannot be verified? Hijacking emotions in order to strike at the reputation of a potentially innocent man and create bad blood is pretty low act…..and an act that seems to be all too common these days.

  16. Avatar

    Ameen Yoosufzai

    June 5, 2017 at 5:43 AM

    People who want to know the names and want to do the shaming should instead get their thrill from tabloids. This is not entertainment people. What got us here in the first place is the whole islamotainment industry…

    • Avatar

      justice

      June 5, 2017 at 12:03 PM

      Salaam. To the people here that that are saying we should not name the person, as they believe the stories cannot be validated- IT CAN with proof. Also just to be clear, we are not seeking any kind of thrill from falsly accusing someone innocent. We are are Muslims! Do you even try to understand how hard it is for sisters to come out and speak about such a situation? At the very least be neutral until the proof is shown. I also encourage other sisters to be courageous and come forward and share their stories…Allah is with you.

    • Avatar

      Mian Reagan

      June 6, 2017 at 12:59 AM

      Correction ::: BALTIMORE CITY MOSQUE IMAM. HE IS AFRICAN AMERICAN. NOT MASJID AR- RAHMAH. HE IS POPULAR FOR PERFORMING BIGAMY BASE NIKKAH IN BALTIMORE FOR MARRIED MEN.
      I HAVE MY SOLID SOURCES, CAN BE CONTACTED SHOULD ANYONE CHALLENGE !

  17. Avatar

    umm Fatima

    June 5, 2017 at 12:13 PM

    The problems arise when there is the concept of “favorite preacher”.
    The means of gaining Islamic knowledge nowadays are twisted.
    For those who want to protect their loved ones and themselvesfrom falling prey to such things….please be aware if there appears to be idolization/fanlike behavior towards anyone including preachers , fellow msa-ians, etc

  18. Avatar

    omie

    June 5, 2017 at 4:33 PM

    Some resources for the victims of Abuse are:
    http://www.snapnetwork.org/

    HEART Women & Girls, a Chicago-based organization founded by Nadiah Mohajir and dedicated to promoting sexual and reproductive health in faith-based communities.
    http://heartwomenandgirls.org/

  19. Umm Zakiyyah

    Umm Zakiyyah

    June 5, 2017 at 6:00 PM

    Thank you for writing on this very important topic. More imams and scholars need to clarify what the role of an Islamic teacher is and make clear where the boundaries are, as many are teaching and behaving in a way that transgresses the rights of others and their role as religious teacher.

    The only question and concern I have is regarding this part: “To the girls that get approached by their favorite speaker at a conference who quickly starts looking for a secret marriage, please don’t be led down that route. Marriage is meant to be a public celebration that protects your rights. A private nikah that likely doesn’t even meet the conditions for a valid one won’t protect you at all. You don’t know a person from a stage or a youtube video.”

    Given the statement “likely doesn’t meet the conditions,” it is unclear what is actually being discussed here. Either a marriage meets the conditions, or it doesn’t.

    Therefore, here is my question:
    In this context, how is a “secret marriage” being defined? Of course, if what is meant by “secret” is zina (fornication or adultery) with the label of “marriage,” then this needs to be both clarified and spoken against in the strongest of terms. If what is meant by “secret” is a private marriage ceremony that is not publicly announced to the entire Muslim community, then we need to be very careful, lest we fall into sin by slandering believers who are doing nothing displeasing to Allah. It is not our right to dictate how someone else’s marriage should look, as long as they adhere to Islamic conditions of marriage. It is the job of the woman’s wali or wakeel to ensure that her rights are protected, and if he has approved the marriage, we have no right to call the marriage “corrupt” or to even tell a woman to turn down the proposal.

    In Islam there are conditions for a nikaah, and if those conditions are met (with the wali and two witnesses), then the marriage is neither secret nor invalid, even if everyone in the community isn’t informed or invited to the nikaah or waleemah.

    Unfortunately, this term “secret marriage” is often used by Muslims in the West to describe polygyny, mainly because some polygynous families opt to tell only family and close friends due to the widespread anti-polygamy sentiments and verbal abuse they withstand from both fellow Muslims and many imams/scholars who wish to change the rules of Islam to subtract plural marriage from what is halaal. Thus, terms like “secret marriage” are used to imply that something “unholy” is happening, even when nothing haraam is going on.

    Nevertheless, I do agree that caution should be exercised when the person proposing marriage is a major speaker and shows signs that he is not interested in making the marriage public, whether in monogamy or polygyny.

    In any case, I think it’s crucial that we define terms in these posts because of the potential for misunderstanding, slander, and violating the rights of believers to live out the marriage they have chosen for themselves (without being harassed by others’ opinions or input, especially on a public scale).

    • Avatar

      Shondha Bati

      June 5, 2017 at 7:01 PM

      Dearest sister, I am a big fan of your writing, and I read you books with polygamous themes with interest. Can I point out though, while polygyny is allowed in our deen, its usually off the table for most families as the practice has not been around for a while. In my family, where we had Islam for at least 6 generations (as far back as I can trace), I find only 1 case of polygamy with 2 wives. When that’s the case “generally”, then polygamy needs to come into discussion and considered a ‘possibility’ by the entire family before finding a wife and suddenly realising that’s a god given right. Otherwise, the feelings of hurt and betrayal can be justified. I think the spiritual teachers need to publicly announce that they and their wives are open to having the practice in their own families before prying on unsuspecting women or at least propose the girlss through a more transparent process, for example involving trusted families.

      • Umm Zakiyyah

        Umm Zakiyyah

        June 5, 2017 at 8:49 PM

        Shonda,

        Thank you for your honest reflections. While your points are valid, they are irrelevant to my point here. Also, even though your points are well-meaning and logical, they are not binding on the Muslim community as a whole, as we have the Book of Allah and prophetic Sunnah for that purpose.

        Like you, I have personal opinions about the best way for polygyny to be practiced in a household. However, I don’t share those publicly under the category of what anyone “should” do, because it is not my right to add to Allah’s religion. I have my own household, and that’s the only household I have any right to share what I believe should happen.

        Also, what I’ve witnessed for more than ten years is the public and private abuse and slander of polygynous families, often under the umbrella of the intentionally derogatory term “secret marriage.” Yet ironically, I haven’t heard one prominent imam, scholar, or speaker address this widespread abuse. Rather, they generally participate in the anti-polygamy dishonesty and harassment of polygynous families. Some go as far as to state or imply that polygyny is not allowed in Islam today.

        I don’t think this is what Imam Omar Suleiman is doing here, but I say this to say we need to separate our emotions and opinions from Islamic rules and even from what we label as “wrong” or “corrupt.”

        I can be justified to feel hurt and betrayed in my own household or marriage. But I have no right to feel or express hurt or betrayal based on someone else’s halaal choices.

        I don’t know anyone in monogamy or polygyny who would appreciate having their marriage labeled “secret” or “corrupt” when they fulfilled Allah’s requirements.

        So while you are certainly justified in having your own personal requirements for marriage, and even feeling hurt and betrayed based on what happens in it, you (nor I or anyone else) has the right to add to what “should” or “should not” happen in any marriage, polygyny or otherwise.

        If we do, we’re answerable to Allah on the Day of Judgment. This is my point, and why I say it is critical to define what is meant by “secret marriage.” If zina under the guise of marriage is not what is being described here, then we’re treading a very dangerous road in what we will be called to account for after we die.

    • Avatar

      Abdullah

      June 6, 2017 at 3:21 AM

      Whenever Rasulullah(SAW) would marry a new wife he wouldnt ask permission from his other wives but he would never make that marriage hidden. He would let the society know of his marriage which is the exact wisdom of walimah. Walimah is a way to let people know this girl they will from now on see you with is your new wife. Never did he try to keep his marriages hidden.

  20. Avatar

    Mohammed

    June 5, 2017 at 6:38 PM

    It was a year or two ago where I live (outside of the USA) when rumour started flying around of a relatively globally well known Sheikh of having taken advantage of one, perhaps more, of his ‘fans’ through inappropriate touching, proposals and God knows what else in the privacy of a room meant to be used for one on one advice.

    It was baffling to see amongst the general community the topic completely brushed under the carpet. They defended their actions by suggesting
    1. that to carry on conversation would amount to back biting,
    2. that there are two sides to every story so we cannot speculate, and
    3. that he is a respected Sheikh (which he undoubtedly is) so we should not only not discuss but not forward the whatsApp message that was doing the rounds.

    So there you have it. Three very convincing reasons to dissuade even a bystander from taking any action. Now imagine how difficult it is for a victim to overcome the emotional and psychological barriers just to be heard, let alone believed.

    I may have missed it, but I wonder why the the article above does not suggest reporting these preachers to the authorities and allow them to carry out thorough investigations.

    • Avatar

      Shondha Bati

      June 5, 2017 at 6:51 PM

      Which authority? The author here described spirtual crimes. None of these are legally ‘crimes’ in western countries, supposedly the countries where the crimes are taking place. As long as they are not marrying under a different name/registering multiple marriages legally, raping, groping, forcing sexual favours how do you report them to the legal authorities?

      • Avatar

        Mohammed Patel

        June 6, 2017 at 5:22 PM

        Read the first paragraph…

        “The man who gives lectures about how to treat women is a vicious womanizer. The televangelist who inspires millions to be better people can’t find the inspiration in his own personal life to not exploit vulnerable fans or oppress his family.”

        I may be wrong but I sense deliberate restraint in choice of words in the above paragraph and the whole article generally so as to maintain an element of doubt regarding what is actually meant by being morally corrupt. But by not naming names of the preachers, whatever the reasons may be, leaves room for us to speculate even the worst.

        And why shouldn’t we. I have seen and heard of people being completely star struck in the presence of their scholars. The sheiks are humans too and are susceptible to the letting their spiritual guard down and end up abusing their power…

        Please let’s not bury our heads in the sand.

  21. Avatar

    Tricia

    June 5, 2017 at 9:52 PM

    Women are still falling for this in 2017?? PSA to the sisters: if he’s too cowardly to marry you in front of his and your family and friends, he’ll be too cowardly to fulfill ANY of your rights when you are married, and will leave you in an equally cowardly way. There are support groups for survivors of toxic leadership in other faith communities and we should follow suit. And to the overgrown boys who are still luring women in: grow up and take a cold shower. With all due respect to Umm Zakiyyah, the cases being referenced here are NOT of healthy, functional, polygnous situations where the wives and households have their needs met and are fulfilled emotionally, physically, spiritually, and psychologically. These are bandits masquerading as imams convincing women that they’ve fallen for them and that the only way out is a secret nikah. What is that, she asks? Then he proceeds to tell her about a minority opinion that grants her none of her rights, him all access and shot calling, and all in the name of Islam, and he picks a wali who’s on payroll. Enter the worst shades of spiritual abuse and manipulation that she is forced to put up with because he has left her with nobody to turn to. PLEASE sisters do not fall prey. Nobody is handsome, charming, religious, charismatic enough to take your dignity away and leave you alone to pick up the pieces.
    A doctor or lawyer who abuses their privileges or breaks the code of conduct of their profession loses their license to practice. This is far more serious and we need to set a precedent that enough is enough. The Facebook and instagram adoring fanbase will not rescue them from Divine justice. I pray for the victims but I also pray that the perpetrators pay dearly for their wrongdoing.

    • Umm Zakiyyah

      Umm Zakiyyah

      June 5, 2017 at 11:05 PM

      Tricia,

      Thank you for your comment, specifically “…the cases being referenced here are NOT of healthy, functional, polygnous situations where the wives and households have their needs met and are fulfilled emotionally, physically, spiritually, and psychologically.”

      As a reminder, I merely stated that the meaning of “secret marriage” here should be clearly defined because (as I have witnessed myself on more than one occasion), many imams, scholars, and Islamic teachers (male and female) use the derogatory term “secret marriage” to include ALL polygyny in the West with the aim of painting it as unholy and corrupt because the West doesn’t consider it “lawful.” In fact, I’ve witnessed these speakers, imams, and “scholars” describing polygyny itself as a choice/desire that is indecent, lustful, and corrupt; and thus warning women from agreeing to it *at all.* And it often comes in the same context as warning against genuine evil amongst men or spiritual leaders.

      As I mentioned to the commenter Shondha, I don’t think that’s what Imam Omar is saying here; but when it comes to wide brush terms, it is imperative that we define our terms, lest we send the wrong message unintentionally.

      And yes, the wide brush term “secret marriage” is indeed often applied even when family and friends are involved and approve of the marriage, and when no one in the arrangement is being wronged in any way.

      Therefore, simply defining specifically what a “secret marriage” is in this context can help prevent misunderstanding, as blogs like these have indeed been used to spread anti-polygyny ideology. Because who would argue against the need to stop “corrupt” leaders from preying on innocent women? So by putting polygyny in the same discussion as zina, rape, sexual misconduct, and abuse; no one can defend it, lest they be accused of supporting the aforementioned crimes and sins. And that is unfair.

      This is my point. Let’s stay clear of this by simply explaining what we mean when using terms that have other meanings in similar contexts, and that are often used for the expressed purpose of putting the halaal in the same context as sin, crime, and abuse.

      But I thank you for *your* interpretation of the term. However, that definition is not shared by all Muslims.

  22. Avatar

    Imama

    June 6, 2017 at 10:39 AM

    What often bothers me is that many people consider these “secretive” marriage equivalent of zina, but what they forget is the circumstances of people.

    I would specifically address Omer Sulieman here, if a guy performs a “secret marriage” (given the conditions of consent of wali, mahr etc are satisfied), the article points that the marriage is void. If he announces it, he faces backlash from the Muslim community for ‘getting involved’ with another woman despite having a wife (first one). And finally if he decides that he would divorce the first one and then takes another one (just like the way the monogamous system works in the West), then people pity the poor first wife. Now the thing is that in the later case people are not wrong because usually the first wife would not have money or a job to look after herself. The credit now goes to the fact that since the very beginning girls are taught that their sole responsibility is to take care of the house and make their husbands happy. Unlike the western women who do tend to take their careers alongside the marital wife, majority of muslim women find themselves robbed when the husband leaves them/or they demand divorce if he takes up another wife.

    The irony of Muslim ummah is that we have designed our own set of rules. No one ponders over the point that the second marriage is secretive because some nice guy is trying to protect the first wife while fulfilling the rights of both of them. I agree that it is rare, but rare does not mean that one starts to defy what Allah swt has permitted. Because it is then when adultery becomes way easier, just like in the west, since people avoid divorcing because of the alimony and get engaged in extramarital affairs.

    Rest Allah swt knows the best.

    • Avatar

      Irfaat

      September 26, 2017 at 8:13 PM

      Well said!Agree with you!

    • Avatar

      Irfaat

      September 26, 2017 at 8:25 PM

      I was talking about Imama’s comment!It is hard to find such rational take on this issue

    • Avatar

      Afifa

      September 27, 2017 at 5:43 AM

      Agree with Imama. Allah said,’Don’t put yourselves in front of Allah and His messenger'(49:1).We need to make sure that our opinions and stance on issues are in submission to Allah and His Messenger (PBUH),not in submission to society or culture.

  23. Avatar

    Ruhee

    June 6, 2017 at 12:32 PM

    Did you talk to that scholar about this extremely serious issue? You can ask him to stop it. It seems you know him and even his colleagues as well, who you think are covering his sin as you claimed. So it’s quite easy for you to confront him and listen to him. It may be so that what you are thinking and convinced of is a complete lie and misunderstanding. Go talk to him Shaikh. Correct him with your ‘ilm and ‘hikmah. Then come to tell us how ‘ugly’ or innocent a man he really is.

    Thanks y’all!

  24. Avatar

    Arjmand

    June 6, 2017 at 6:46 PM

    Assalamu alaykum,

    My concern after reading this very well written article is that how do we know that the so called shaykh/scholar that inspires us with inspiring talk is actually someone else behind the scenes? Wouldn’t Allah SWT not inspire people through him? Or when he inspires people, does it automatically mean that he is close to Allah? It is very confusing for me and scary for me to be honest.

    Thank you

  25. Avatar

    Upset

    June 7, 2017 at 1:51 PM

    Aasalam alaikum. This is a disgrace , sisters put in a position when this person should respect and be trusted, but abused his position. Name and shame, his name needs to be told, and never again let near our sisters.

  26. Avatar

    Rabia

    June 7, 2017 at 7:27 PM

    Unfortunately and sadly — I know that this happens and is widespread. We should all be infuriated and ashamed.

    Parents, friends, leaders or concerned community members should keep close contact with young women who attend gatherings or retreats in these spaces, even in their adult years. If you find them withdrawn, suddenly changing their behavior, hiding information or hinting at trouble, take them seriously. It may mean the difference between them coming to you if they experience or see something troubling, or letting it silently eat away at their faith. It may very well start with an “innocent” facebook message, tweet, or text exchange with their favorite “scholar”.

    Women who have been victimized should take heart that Allah hears and sees all. Your silent tears are precious and weighty in His eyes. If you find yourself hiding parts of yourself or your life from the people you love and who love you, know that you are in a very unhealthy situation, and it’s never too late to make a change. Nobody who sincerely cares for you and your well being and future would ask you to keep hidden in the shadows what God has commanded to be made manifest and clear. Especially if he tells you that it’s just temporary or that he just needs time, or that you’re the only one who understands him, or that he can’t function without you in his life, if only you would change this or agree to that or tone down your questioning…only to look up and realize that years of your life have passed by catering to his whims — this is classic, deliberate, and well-trained manipulation.

    I know that I speak for other mothers when I say to these men that if I know who you are and what you’ve done, you will never have a platform to speak at any conference, event, intensive, or take anyone else for a ride on your ego-train ever again.

  27. Avatar

    Juwairiyah Khan

    June 8, 2017 at 7:45 PM

    This needed to be addressed! It was long overdue tbh!

    May Allah swt preserve n protect Shaykh Omar Suleiman, amen.

    I guess all Muslim organisations should be posted with the info Shaykh Omar and other reliable speakers and scholars have on such corrupt speakers and scholars for the safety of the ummah!

    We cannot just wait for things to come out on their own! It will be too late by then. Look at how Adnan Oktar, Haroon Yahya, influenced the Muslim youth and how his poisonous version of Islam penetrated their hearts!

    Allahumma arinal haqqa haqqaw warzuqnat tiba’ah, wa arinal batila batilaw warzuqnaj tinabah

    Translation: O Allah! show us the truth as true, and inspire us to follow it. Show us falsehood as falsehood, and inspire us to abstain from it.

  28. Avatar

    Abdul

    June 10, 2017 at 1:02 PM

    Sh Omar, JazakAllah for bringing light to this. May Allah preserve you, Ameen.
    1) Without naming names, how do we truly deal with this issue?
    2) Is it the responsibility of those who know to publicize and spread what they know to be 100% true?
    3) At what point is “morally corrupt” a permanent label for the person for the rest of their life?

  29. Avatar

    Soumayah

    June 10, 2017 at 9:35 PM

    Here are my 2 suggestions:
    1) I strongly advise that before you invest your trust, membership and money into any of these organizations or collectives, you ask about credentials. Being eloquent is not a credential. Who someone knows or who they worked for a decade ago is not a credential. Women and men, current and former employees and co-workers, or students who can vouch for their education, public AND private character, and who can speak to any concerns you have about the individual should be readily accessible to anybody who inquires, without shame or guilt. If something doesn’t sit right with you about them, don’t ignore those feelings. Those are the demands of this profession where souls are entrusted to their care.

    2) We do not have the luxury of burying our heads in the sand for fear of consequences to people’s faith. We are way past that stage. Women and families have been damaged with no recourse for rectification. You are accountable for the hearts that you have broken. Having a board of directors of close friends and associates that serves at the pleasure of one figure head is not sufficient. Enabling power to grow unchecked because of cult-like ideas about spiritual favor is a major, major problem. If you can’t be voted out of your role by the membership you claim to serve, something is wrong. If you can’t be held accountable when multitudes of women have raised their hands to report concerns, only to be silenced and marginalized, something is very wrong.

    I raise my hands to Almighty God and ask that these imposters are exposed and eliminated from our midst, one by one!

  30. Avatar

    Zainab N

    June 12, 2017 at 3:45 PM

    I read this article and the following questions came to mind: Did you even try talking to the person that you deem so corrupt? Whatever happened to covering sins of your muslim brothers? There are two sides to every story and sometimes its best to resolve issues behind closed doors without making it a public spectacle or using an issue to gain sympathy and popularity.

  31. Avatar

    suraiya kasim

    September 24, 2017 at 3:35 AM

    Asalamualaikum – are you saying that the person is currupt so we must stop learning from him even though what he has taught has been beneficial? The message is right the person is not, does that disqualify the message as well?

  32. Avatar

    Noor

    September 26, 2017 at 6:01 AM

    “The power of having organizations still invite you to their programs to fill seats despite knowing about you”-Unbelievable!In Surah Asr, we as muslims, are told to keep reminding each other Allah’s words.No one has the right to stop someone from doing that. NO ONE.

    • Avatar

      Afifa

      September 27, 2017 at 6:07 AM

      Exactly!Islam gives right to judge behavior,not people.Retaliation is not justice.May Allah not make us of those who pick on and expose the flaws of fellow muslims in the pretense of standing up for haqq.May Allah make us of those who speak out against wrong not out of hate or sense of superiority,but out of love.

  33. Avatar

    Noor

    September 26, 2017 at 6:21 AM

    ‘That way if one vessel breaks, the contents need to be transferred….by the way, good teachers still remain.’-Really?Who are you to suggest to write someone off!Only Rasul (PBUH) was the perfect embodiment of the all the teachings of Islam. We,on the other hand are just work in progress.

    • Avatar

      Afifa

      September 27, 2017 at 6:18 AM

      No one is immune to slip-up.The beauty of Islam is that it doesn’t have a clergy culture.No matter how hard one tries to convince that.May Allah protect us from thinking ourselves superior for our service to Allah just like iblees did.

  34. Avatar

    Noor

    September 26, 2017 at 6:30 AM

    ‘Don’t let the failure of a few cause you to stop seeing the beauty in many.’-Why so eager to show the ‘holier than thou’ image of people instead of the beauty in Islam!FYI,’The televangelist who inspires millions to be better people’ has never claimed to be above other muslims.

  35. Avatar

    Ameen

    September 27, 2017 at 8:04 AM

    Islam is first and foremost about honesty. The Prophet was Sadiq al Ameen.

    As a Muslim brother, I am from the bottom of my heart counseling my brothers that if anyone takes a second wife secretly and does not tell his first wife, then he is not just saying one lie to his first wife but his day and night will be full of lies.

    Allah says that marriage is a SOLEMN PLEDGE (Surah 4, verse 21).

    There can be NOTHING worse in breaking this solemn pledge than in taking a second wife without her knowing.

    Doing this will be evil.

    You are being deceived by the Shaitan and your desires if you deceive your first wife.

    Don’t compromise the negatives effects on your eternal hereafter by letting your lusts make you not only lie but live a life of lies after lies after lies.

    You will then be unhappy in this life and you will be harming your eternal hereafter.

    Taking a second wife is not usually a terrible idea even if it is allowable.

    Why decrease your time in getting closer to Allah through reading the Qur’an, helping those in need?

    If you want to help someone who is not married, help a couple who cannot afford to get married by paying for them to get married.

    There are hundreds of millions of such cases overseas and even some in N. America.

    Marrying a second wife without your first wife being acceptable for that is even worse.

    But supremely worse of all is to marry a second wife without the first wife knowing.

    Do what is good for your soul.

    Don’t let your lust have the ability to rust your akhirat.

    Remember, very soon every human reading this post will turn to dust.

    We all die and the secrets will be on display for all on the Day of Judgement.

  36. Avatar

    Roneca

    September 27, 2017 at 1:46 PM

    Stop throwing words like ‘innocent’,’victim’,’oppressed’ for consenting adult women.

  37. Avatar

    Ovais jamshed

    September 27, 2017 at 5:51 PM

    Asalam o alikum to all,

    It is absolutely heartbreaking for me to see one of heroes getting stuck in this test. I just can’t put deaf ears to either one of them as they both have proven their credibility for years. Omer and the other one I loved you guys for the sake of Allah and I have a very strong believe that when Allah compare the sins to the good he has done for the community, he will get his report card in his right hand inshAllah.

    I hope this is not something based on jealousy or to solidify one school of thought mindset.

    RasoolAllah S.A.W said:
    “Whoever conceals [the faults of] a Muslim, Allah will conceal [his faults] in this life and the Hereafter.”

  38. Avatar

    Rahad

    September 28, 2017 at 9:37 AM

    Assalamu alaikum sheikh Omar.
    I know you are trying to save community & all. It has elements of gheebah as far as the hadith is concerned.
    RasoolAllah taught us:
    “Whoever conceals [the faults of] a Muslim, Allah will conceal [his faults] in this life and the Hereafter.”
    Even if you are fully certain that a person is a “sinner”, how do you know that person hasn’t made sincere tawba & Allah hasnt forgiven that person?
    If you know this person, don’t you think the islamic way would be to sit down & talk to them with genuine intentions of correcting them. Advertising colleague/ex-colleagues “faults” also has an element of self ego. Your reasoning may be valid to yourself but Have you ever thought that shaytan does play a role when it comes to turning one brother against another? This is what he promised to Allah, right? Allah knows whats in people’s heart & who is truly victimised? In Islam, a person’s dignity is of high importance. Sharia takes every measures to protect it.

  39. Avatar

    Roneca

    September 29, 2017 at 3:44 AM

    Making tauba and personally apologizing to the person you have publicly slandered is not enough.You also owe us apology.If you’ve an ounce of decency,take this article down.It exposes you more than the person you intended.

  40. Avatar

    Noor

    October 2, 2017 at 7:10 AM

    What do I do when I find out my favorite preacher has forgotten this Hadith:
    Narrated by Abu Huraira (radhiAllahu ‘anha),
    “I heard Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) saying. “All the sins of my followers will be forgiven except those of the Mujahirin (those who commit a sin openly or disclose their sins to the people). An example of such disclosure is that a person commits a sin at night and though Allah screens it from the public, then he comes in the morning, and says, ‘O so-and-so, I did such-and-such (evil) deed yesterday,’ though he spent his night screened by his Lord (none knowing about his sin) and in the morning he removes Allah’s screen from himself.”
    Sahih al-Bukhari (#6069)
    Even if we assume your allegations are true,since when is it Islamic to confess our sins to the masses!How many of our sins has Allah hidden from the public. Can we not show the same courtesy to others!
    *Muslim Matters!Don’t be a hypocrite.Don’t delete this comment!

  41. Avatar

    Anila Jahangiri

    December 9, 2017 at 11:49 PM

    Sheikh Omer,

    I think you wrote this in anger since if you weren’t in anger, you would realize that you can’t insinuate about people’s characters in Islam. Whatever that Sheikh did or not, a court needs to deal with it if there was a crime committed and if there wasn’t, then no one talks about another person’s moral failures. I live in Dallas and if you are interested, I am interested in brokering peace between you and Nouman Ali Khan.

  42. Avatar

    Bilqis

    March 3, 2018 at 3:22 PM

    Sheikhs are just as human as anyone else. They will naturally be disposed to the same sins as everyone else, regardless of their knowledge. It is our job to be the stewards of our own deen. What is wrong in our communities is how we put up with crooked, manipulative imams and mosque boards unless we be shunned from the community for criticizing the way things are run on behalf of preserving the religion. If a sheikh does something wrong, call him out. No more culture of silence. We need a culture of accountability.

  43. Avatar

    Nabila

    June 28, 2018 at 3:36 PM

    I can see Imam OS you are advertising yourself and your yaqeen institute by insinuating that when one vessel breaks..transfer the contents and that good teachers still exist.You are so concerned about convincing people that NAK is a gone case and they now should look up you? Really??? This sounds like you this is what this whole scheme was about.To earn popularity through scandal.Rooted in jealousy!!! Otherwise you and the other good teachers you claim are also human beings who have sins.Just because you commit different sins from NAK’s( I totally believe NAK is innocent) does not make you angels as evidenced by this very post of yours.This is slander

  44. Avatar

    Nabila

    June 28, 2018 at 3:51 PM

    ‘Exposing’ your brother to the public was because you wanted some of his customers and fans for yourself.We see right through this sir. Allah warns about wishing for ourselves what He has favoured others with…look for popularity and customers the honourable way brother

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#Life

Mindful or Mind-full? Going From AutoPilot to Aware

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Mindful

Modeling Mindfulness

Mindfull

“Remember that God knows what is in your souls, so be mindful of Him.”

[Sūrat al-Baqarah 2:235]

Mindful or Mind-full?

Ever felt frustrated when you were trying to talk to your spouse, your children, your students, or your youth group and they would just not pay attention? This is a prime example of being on autopilot and getting carried away without actually being aware of what is most important in the present moment.

A recent Harvard study shows that our minds are not present in the moment and wander about 47% of the time1. In a world of technology and continuous sensory overload, the lines between work and home, friends and family, necessity vs. purpose, world-centric vs. Allah-centric have become blurred. We are either living in the past or ruminating about the future, and in the process, we are forgetting to live, enjoy, cherish, and make the most of our present moments.

For parents, teachers, youth leaders, and anyone in the beautiful role of guiding, teaching, coaching, or mentoring others, we can make a huge difference by modeling Mindfulness ourselves. But where do we start? The answer is to go from autopilot to becoming aware.

Autopilot to Aware

Being on autopilot is when you are distracted in the present moment, where your mind is wandering into the past or the future, and you are less aware of yourself, surroundings, or others. Autopilot can actually be pretty helpful for your regular habits. Waking up, brushing your teeth, getting ready for your day, going to school or work – many of the things we do habitually every day can be done more seamlessly without having to think, and that is a good thing. But there are times when you have to learn to turn off your autopilot to become aware. But how?

Here is a Mindfulness tool that can be done in just a minute or two for you to become more aware.

Step 1: Breath as a Tool. Say Bismillah. Focus on your breath. See where you experience the breath – the breathing in and breathing out of your body. Is your breath stemming from your nostrils, your chest, or your stomach? Just bring your attention to your breath and relax and stay with it there for a few moments.

Step 2: Body as a Tool. Relax your body. We carry so many emotions in our bodies2. Our stress from the past or anticipation for the future sometimes finds its way into our necks, other times in our chest muscles or our backs. Pay attention to what emotions and sensations do you feel, and try to relax all parts of your body.

Step 3: Intention as a Tool. As you have centered your thoughts to the present moment through your breath and your body, ask yourself: “What is most important now? In this present moment?”

Just simply being aware makes us more mindful parents, teachers, youth and professionals – being aware makes us more Mindful of Allah SWT. Mindfulness is the ability to be aware of your mind and body and bring your attention to the present moment.

Mindful

Real Life in the Present Moment

You are an on-the-go parent: It has been a long day and you have to pick up the kids from school, but work is still pending. You’re picking up the kids from school, feeding them, and then shuffling everyone to their afterschool activities, be it Qur’an, softball, soccer, swimming, or the million other things that kids seem to have these days. You squeeze pending work in between drop-offs and pick-ups, and you function by living from one task to the next.

The Autopilot Impact: You’re getting a lot done, but are so engrossed in quickly moving your children along from one thing to another that you are unable to really cherish your time together.

The Mindfulness Suggestion: You can try to go from autopilot to awareness by focusing on your breath, paying attention to your emotions, and relaxing your body. As you do so, ask yourself: “What is most important now?” Make the intention to slow down, listen to the children more mindfully, and cherish and enjoy your time together.

You are a busy teacher: Last night you had to take all the grading home and spent two hours poring over students’ work. This morning, you woke up early to pick up some classroom supplies after dropping off your own kids to school. You’ve already had two cups of coffee and are trying to think through everything you have to do today. You like the idea of Mindfulness, living life in the present moment, and enjoying every day to its fullest, but your mind is not free to even enjoy the beautiful morning sunrise as you drive to school.

The Autopilot Impact: You want to listen and pay attention to every child’s needs, and enjoy the rewards of their growth, but you can’t. What’s more, you judge yourself for just trying to get through your activities for the day. You wish you could connect with your students better.

The Mindfulness Suggestion: Whenever you are stressed with an unpleasant parent or student interaction, think about breathing, relaxing your body, and asking what you need to focus on now. Try to do one thing at a time, and relax into what you’re doing.

You are an overstretched youth director: You are a role model. You have this major weekend event you are planning with the youth. Your budget is still pending from the board, you have to call all these people, have to get the graphics and remind everyone about the event, you have to visit all these masjids and MSAs to announce and remind people about the weekend.

This weekend’s theme is Living a Life of Purpose and you are super passionate about it. However, the whole week you have had a hard time remembering to even pray one Salah with focus. Instead, your mind has been preoccupied with all the endless planning for this weekend. You love what you do but you wonder how to also be mindful in your everyday worship while you are always prepping and planning engaging activities for the youth.

The Autopilot Impact: You enjoy shaping the youth but you are losing steam. You are always planning the next program and unable to focus on your own personal and spiritual development. It is difficult for you to pray even one salah without thinking about all the events and activities planned for that week.

The Mindfulness Suggestion: Get serious about taking some time for yourself. Know that becoming more mindful about your own prayers and self-development will also make you a better role model. Take a minute or two before every Salah to practice the simple, 3-Step Mindfulness Tool. You say Bismillah and breathe, focus your mind, and then relax your body. Empty your mind from everything else – what has past and what’s to come – and ask “What’s most important now?” to develop better focus in your Salah.

In Conclusion: Practice Simple but Solid Steps towards becoming more Mindful Muslims

Mindfulness is to open a window to let the Divine light in.

[Imam Al Ghazali]

Mindfulness gives us the ability to be aware. We can use Mindfulness tools to remember Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), refocus, renew our intentions, and engage with the present moment in a more effective and enjoyable way. Mindfulness also invites awareness of our potential negligence in being our best selves with both Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and His creation. To put it simply, being more aware of our selves can help us be better versions of our selves.

Mindfulness is both an art and a science, with brain and behavioral science research validating the importance of Mindfulness in improving our health, managing our stress, navigating our emotions, and positively impacting our lives3. In today’s modern and distracted world, let us treasure every tool that helps us center our attention on what matters the most.

  1. Bradt, Steve (2010). Wandering mind not a happy mind. Harvard Gazette. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2010/11/wandering-mind-not-a-happy-mind/
  2. Lauri Nummenmaa, Enrico Glerean, Riitta Hari, Jari K. Hietanen (2013). Bodily maps of emotions. National Academy of Sciences. https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/12/26/1321664111
  3. “What are the benefits of mindfulness,” American Psychological Association: http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/07-08/ce-corner.aspx

To learn more about how to become mindful take the Define Course on Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence.

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#Society

A Code of Conduct To Protect Against Spiritual Abuse

Danish Qasim

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Code of Conduct for Islamic Leadership, Institutions

When there is a claim of spiritual abuse, the initial reaction of concerned Muslims is often to go to another Muslim leader and expect that leader to take care of it.  Most of the time, however, religious leaders in the community have no authority over other religious leaders who are found abusing their position. Many of these leaders feel a foreboding sense of powerlessness to exert change, leaving those who abuse, to do so freely and with impunity. 

There have been attempts by some leaders to take action against abusive religious figures. However, when this happens, it is usually followed by a public or ‘in-group’ campaign against the abusive figure, and the abusive figure and his supporters return in kind. This becomes messy, quickly. There is name-calling, mud-slinging, and threats, but in the end, it amounts to nothing, in the end, leaving everyone involved to make their own decision as to whether or not to continue support for the alleged perpetrator. Other religious leaders may know the accused is guilty, but due to friendships or programs they wish to continue doing with the accused, they will cover for them, especially when there is only a perceived low level of evidence that the public could ever discover it. 

There are several methods and excuses through which abuse is covered up.

The Wall of Silence

In cases of tightly knit groups, whether Sufi tariqas, super Salafi cliques, activist groups, or preachers who have formed a team, the abuser will be protected by a wall of silence, while the victim is targeted, maligned, and ostracized for speaking out against the leader. They, not the abuser, are held accountable, liable, and blamed. While the abuser is expected to be ‘forgiven,’ the victim is socially shamed for a crime committed against him or her. More often than not, the victim is intimidated into silence, while the perpetrator is left free to continue abusing. 

The Kafir Court Rationale

There have been countless situations when there have been legal claims made against a transgressing spiritual leader, but through coercion and pressure, the shaykh (or those close to him) will be able to convince his victim that they are not allowed to go to kafir court systems to solve issues between Muslims. Ironically, these same shaykhs see no difficulty signing legally binding contracts with other Muslims they do business with, or when they give classes, which stands to reason, they are perfectly fine accepting the same ‘kafir court’ as a source of protection when it is for themselves. 

Stop Hurting the Dawah Plea

In other cases, when the disputes are between fellow students, or representatives of the shaykh and those lower ranking students, the shaykh himself is able to get on the phone with the disgruntled victim, give him or her special attention, and convince the person to drop it and not pursue justice, as that may ‘hurt the dawah.’ Sometimes, the shaykhs will ostensibly push for Islamic mechanisms of justice and call for arbitration by other religious figures who they know will decide in his favor. It is critical not to fall victim to these arguments. 

Your Vile Nafs Culpe

Far too often in these groups, particularly the more spiritually inclined ones, everyone will acknowledge the abuse, whether illicit sexual behavior, groping, financial fraud, secret temporary marriages, or bullying by a Shaykh, but steadfastly invoke the ‘only prophets are perfect, and our Shaykh is a wali–– but he can make mistakes’ refrain. Then, when those seeking recourse dare disclose these issues, even when there is no dispute about the factuality of their claims, they are browbeaten into compliance; told their focus on the negative is a sign that they are ‘veiled from the more important, positive efforts of the group, and it is they who should overcome their vile nafs.’ With such groups, leaving may be the only solution. 

Pray it Away Pretext

Sometimes, a target of abuse may go to other teachers or other people in the community to seek help, guidance, or direction. The victims hold these teachers in high regard and believe that they can trust them. However, instead of these teachers acting to protect the victims, the victims are often placated, told to pray it away. They are left with empty platitudes, but nothing concrete is ever done to protect them, nor is there any follow-up. 

The Forgive and Forget Pardon

They are told to forgive…

Forgiveness has its place and time, but at that critical moment, when a victim is in crisis and requires guidance and help, their wellbeing should remain paramount. To counsel victims that their primary job and focus at that pivotal juncture is to forgive their abuser is highly objectionable. Forgiveness is not the obligation of the victim and for any teacher or religious leader to invalidate the wrong that took place is not only counterproductive but dangerous––even if the intention behind the advice came from a wholesome place.

The Dire Need For A Code of Conduct

It is very easy to feel let down when nothing is done about teachers who abuse, but we have to understand that without a Code of Conduct, there really isn’t much that can be done when the spiritual abuse is not considered illegal. It is the duty of Islamic institutions to protect employees, attendees, and religious leaders. We also must demand that. 

Justice is a process. It is not a net result. This means that sometimes we will follow the process of justice and still come up short. The best thing we can do to hold abusers accountable for our institutions is to set up a process of accountability. A code of conduct will not eliminate spiritual abuse. Institutions that adopt this code may still cover up abuse, in which case victims will need to take action against the institution for violating the code. This code of conduct will also protect teachers who can be targetted and falsely accused.

As members of the community, we should expect more.  Here is how:

  •  Demand your Islamic institutions to have and instill a code of conduct. 
  •  If you are in a group outside of an institution, get clarity on the limits of the Shaykh.
  •  Understand that anyone, no matter their social status, is capable of doing horrible things, even the religious figures who talk about the importance of justice, accountability, and transparency. 
  • When it comes to money, expect more from your leadership than emotional appeals. Fundraising causes follow trends, and while supporting good causes is a positive thing, doing so without a proper audit or accountability is not. It lends itself to financial abuse, mistrust, and misappropriation.  

Establish a Protocol

A lot of hurt can be saved and distrust salvaged if victims are provided with honest non-judgment. Even in the event that there is a lack of concrete evidence, a protocol to handle these kinds of sensitive situations can provide a victim with a safe space to go to where they know they won’t be ignored or treated callously. We may not be able to guarantee an outcome, but we can ensure that we’ll try.

Using Contract Law to Hold Abusers Accountable – Danya Shakfeh

In cases of spiritual abuse, legal recourse (or any recourse for that matter) has been rare due to there being no standard of conduct and no legal means to hold abusers accountable.  In order to solve this problem, our Code of Conduct creates a legal mechanism of enforcement through contract law.

The reason why contract law is important and applicable is that the law does not always address unethical behavior.  You have heard the refrain “Just because it is legal, it does not mean it is ethical.” The law, for varying reasons, has its limits. Although we associate the law with justice and morality, the law and justice and morality are not always interchangeable and can even be at odds with each other.  

Ultimately, specifically in a secular society, the law is a set man-made rules and sometimes those rules are arbitrary and actually unfair. For example, there is a class of laws called ‘strict liability’ laws. These laws make a defendant liable even if the person committed the offense by accident.  One example of strict liability law is selling alcohol to a minor. In some states, even if the person tried to confirm the minor’s legal age, the seller could still be held liable for the offense. On the flip-side, there are is a lack of anti-bullying laws on the books in the United States. This allows employers to cause serious emotional damage to employees, yet the employer can get away with such offensive behavior.  Accordingly, the law does not always protect nor is it always ‘just.’

On Power, Boundaries, And The Accountability Of Imams

This is one of the reasons that victims of spiritual abuse have had little success in having their claims addressed at a legal level.  Because abuses are not legally recognized as such, there is often no associated remedy. For example, when a woman enters into a secret second marriage only to find that the husband is not giving her all her Islamic legal rights, that woman’s recourse is very limited because the law does not recognize this as abuse and does not even recognize the marriage.

Further, if a victim of spiritual abuse is abused due to religious manipulation unless the abuser engaged in a stand-alone crime or civil claim, the victim also has no legal recourse. For example, if a religious scholar exploits a congregant’s vulnerabilities in order to convince the congregant to turn over large amounts of money and the congregant later learns that the Islamic scholar did not really need the money, he or she may have no legal recourse.  This is because manipulation (as long as there is no fraud) is not illegal and depending on how clever the religious scholar was, the congregant would have no legal recourse. Our way of solving this problem is by using contract law to set and enforce the standard for ethical behavior.

Use of Institutional Handbooks

Whether people realize it or not, institutional handbooks are a type of contract. Though an attorney should be consulted in order to ensure that they these documents are binding, policies do not necessarily need to be signed by every party nor do they need to be called a “contract” in order to be legally binding.  By creating institutional handbooks and employment policies that relate to common issues of spiritual abuse, we can finally provide guidelines and remedies.

When an employee at an institution violates the institution’s policies, this is a “breach of contract” that can result in firing or even monetary damages. In other words, the policy is that document which victims and institutions can use to back their cases when there are allegations involving abuse.  Policies can also hold institutions themselves liable for not enforcing the policy and remedies as to victims’ abuse. Policies also serve the purpose of putting the community and their beneficiaries and patrons on notice as to what is expected of them.

Our Code of Conduct is the most comprehensive of created ethical guidelines for Muslims leaders and institutions for making spiritual abuse remedies actionable. We believe it will provide remedies to victims that would otherwise not be available through other legal means.  By binding the parties to a contract, victims and institutions can take these contracts, along with the abusers, to court and use the contract to fill in the gap for appropriate behavior that the law otherwise does not fill.

Download the Code of Conduct For Islamic Leadership By In Shaykh’s Clothing

Blurred Lines: Women, “Celebrity” Shaykhs, and Spiritual Abuse

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#Current Affairs

The Environmental Cost Of War With Iran

Abu Ryan Dardir

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war with Iran

Report after report shows how planet Earth may reach a point of no return. An analysis written by Ian Dunlop claims the planet cannot be saved by the mid-century if we continue on this path. And yet here we are marching towards a war with Iran.

When we think of climate change, we rarely think of war. On June 12th, 2019, Brown University released a report declaring the Department of Defence to be “the world’s largest institution to use petroleum and correspondingly, the single largest producer of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the world.” Burning jet fuel for transportation of troops and weapons make up 70 percent of the Pentagon’s emissions.  Ironically, earlier this year the Pentagon released a 22-page report to Congress stating the ⅔ of their mission-essential installation in the US are vulnerable to flooding, and ½ are susceptible to wildfires. To no surprise, Trump rejected those findings at the time. The Pentagon is now concerned with the impact climate change has on their “foreign missions.”

war, iran, America, Climate change, pentagonWith tensions high with Iran, and several thousand troops are expected to be deployed, if war with Iran is to happen, it may lead us to a more damaged planet that may not recover. This makes the Pentagon guilty of killing people and the earth. The Department of Defense has consistently used between 77-80% of the entire US energy consumption. We see spikes during times of massive war (since America is in a constant state of war), like in 1991, 2001, and so on.

Here is a list of the seven significant sources of greenhouse emissions done by the Department of Defense:

  1. Overall military emissions for installations and non-war operations.
  2. War-related emissions by the US military in overseas contingency operations.
  3. Emissions caused by US military industry   — for instance, for production of weapons and ammunition.
  4. Emissions caused by the direct targeting of petroleum,   namely the deliberate burning of oil wells and refineries by all parties.
  5. Sources of emissions by other belligerents.
  6. Energy consumed by reconstruction of damaged and destroyed infrastructure.
  7. Emissions from other sources, such as fire suppression and extinguishing chemicals, including   Halon, a greenhouse gas, and from explosions and fires due to the destruction of non-petroleum targets in warzones.

This impact on the climate is just the portion from America, in the Iraq war, 37 countries fought alongside America, and 60 are allied against ISIS. There is a way to calculate those emissions as well.

The Rules of War

Before engaging in battle, the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) instructed his soldiers:

  1. Do not kill any child, any woman, or any elder or sick person. (Sunan Abu Dawud)
  2. Do not practice treachery or mutilation. (Al-Muwatta)
  3. Do not uproot or burn palms or cut down fruitful trees. (Al-Muwatta)
  4. Do not slaughter a sheep or a cow or a camel, except for food. (Al-Muwatta)
  5. If one fights his brother, [he must] avoid striking the face, for God created him in the image of Adam. (Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim)
  6. Do not kill the monks in monasteries, and do not kill those sitting in places of worship. (Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal)
  7. Do not destroy the villages and towns, do not spoil the cultivated fields and gardens, and do not slaughter the cattle. (Sahih Bukhari; Sunan Abu Dawud)
  8. Do not wish for an encounter with the enemy; pray to God to grant you security; but when you [are forced to] encounter them, exercise patience. (Sahih Muslim)
  9. No one may punish with fire except the Lord of Fire. (Sunan Abu Dawud).
  10. Accustom yourselves to do good if people do good, and not to do wrong even if they commit evil. (Al-Tirmidhi)

A verse in the Holy Qur’an

4:75 (Y. Ali) And why should ye not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)?- Men, women, and children, whose cry is: “Our Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from thee one who will protect; and raise for us from thee one who will help!”

How does this potential war against Iran play into all this?

Our first call to action is to organize an anti-war rally. This type of work is weak in America, and virtually non-existent within the Muslim community.

فَقَالَ أَبُو سَعِيدٍ أَمَّا هَذَا فَقَدْ قَضَى مَا عَلَيْهِ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ ‏ “‏ مَنْ رَأَى مُنْكَرًا فَلْيُنْكِرْهُ بِيَدِهِ وَمَنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِلِسَانِهِ وَمَنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِقَلْبِهِ وَذَلِكَ أَضْعَفُ الإِيمَانِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ صَحِيحٌ ‏.‏

Abu Sa’eed said: ‘As for this, he has fulfilled what is upon him. I heard the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) saying: ‘Whoever among you sees an evil, then let him stop it with his hand. Whoever is not able, then with his tongue, and whoever is not able, then with his heart. That is the weakest of faith.”‘

War with Iran will be a Greater Mistake than War with Iraq

Historically, anti-war sentiment in America has grown over the years. When the Iraq war first started only 23% thought it was a mistake, today it is close to 60% that believe the war is a mistake. Yes, this is in hindsight, but that it is also growth. The reason the anti-war movement is feeble in America is that there is no platform for the campaign to grow. Both parties are guilty of starting wars or taking over the wars from the past administration. Whether we do it alone as an individual or as a group, we should do everything we can as privileged members of this planet to save and protect those that can’t defend themselves.

There is a famous quote of the famed boxer Muhammad Ali when explaining why he wasn’t fighting in the war. He said, “…I am not going ten thousand miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would put my prestige in jeopardy and could cause me to lose millions of dollars which should accrue to me as the champion.”

Fighting Earth

With that said, there is a significant interest in the region for more than just fuel and resources. It is truly a problem, our operations in the Gulf is to address our dependency on Persian oil, and the fuel that is used to address our dependence is to protect those resources and access to them. One estimate is that America spends $81 billion annually defending the global oil supply. They do this because the DOD feels its dependency will make it vulnerable on a larger scale.

In 1975 America decided to take away the fear of losing the resources and developed the “Strategic Petroleum Reserve,” and in 1978, they created the Rapid Deployment Force (RDF). Their only purpose was to defend US interest in the Middle East. This, in turn, leads to extractivism of resources and supplies. (Which will be explained in a future article).

This war can be the end of all wars as it can accelerate us to the point of no return in regards to climate change.

A war with Iran is a war with Earth and all who live on it.

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