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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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#Islam

What Does Sharia Really Say About Abortion in Islam

Abortion is not a simple option of being pro-life or pro-choice, Islam recognizes the nuance.

Reem Shaikh

Published

on

The following article on abortion is based on a research paper titled ‘The Rights of the Fetus in Islam’, at the Department of Sharia at Qatar University. My team and I presented it to multiple members of the faculty. It was approved by the Dean of the Islamic Studies College, an experienced and reputed Islamic authority.

In one swoop, liberal comedian Deven Green posing as her satirical character, Mrs. Betty Brown, “America’s best Christian”, demonized both Sharia law as well as how Islamic law treats abortion. Even in a debate about a law that has no Muslim protagonist in the middle of it, Islam is vilified because apparently, no problem in the world can occur without Islam being dragged into it.

It is important to clarify what Sharia is before discussing abortion. Sharia law is the set of rules and guidelines that Allah establishes as a way of life for Muslims. It is derived from the Qur’an and the Sunnah, which is interpreted and compiled by scholars based on their understandings (fiqh). Sharia takes into account what is in the best interest for individuals and society as a whole, and creates a system of life for Muslims, covering every aspect, such as worship, beliefs, ethics, transactions, etc.

Muslim life is governed by Sharia – a very personal imperative. For a Muslim living in secular lands, that is what Sharia is limited to – prayers, fasting, charity and private transactions such as not dealing with interest, marriage and divorce issues, etc. Criminal statutes are one small part of the larger Sharia but are subject to interpretation, and strictly in the realm of a Muslim country that governs by it.

With respect to abortion, the first question asked is:

“Do women have rights over their bodies or does the government have rights over women’s bodies?”

The answer to this question comes from a different perspective for Muslims. Part of Islamic faith is the belief that our bodies are an amanah from God. The Arabic word amanah literally means fulfilling or upholding trusts. When you add “al” as a prefix, or al-amanah, trust becomes “The Trust”, which has a broader Islamic meaning. It is the moral responsibility of fulfilling one’s obligations due to Allah and fulfilling one’s obligations due to other humans.

The body is one such amanah. Part of that amanah includes the rights that our bodies have over us, such as taking care of ourselves physically, emotionally and mentally – these are part of a Muslim’s duty that is incumbent upon each individual.

While the Georgia and Alabama laws in the United States that make abortion illegal after the 6-week mark of pregnancy are being mockingly referred to as “Sharia Law” abortion, the fact is that the real Sharia allows much more leniency in the matter than these laws do.

First of all, it is important to be unambiguous about one general ruling: It is unanimously agreed by the scholars of Islam that abortion without a valid excuse after the soul has entered the fetus is prohibited entirely. The question then becomes, when exactly does the soul enter the fetus? Is it when there is a heartbeat? Is it related to simple timing? Most scholars rely on the timing factor because connecting a soul to a heartbeat itself is a question of opinion.

Web MD

The timing then is also a matter of ikhtilaf, or scholarly difference of opinion:

One Hundred and Twenty Days:

The majority of the traditional scholars, including the four madhahib, are united upon the view that the soul certainly is within the fetus after 120 days of pregnancy, or after the first trimester.

This view is shaped by  the following hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Masood raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him):

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: إن أحدكم يجمع خلقه في بطن أمه أربعين يوما ثم يكون في ذلك علقة مثل ذلك ثم يكون في ذلك مضغة مثل ذلك ثم يرسل الملك فينفخ فيه الروح..

“For every one of you, the components of his creation are gathered together in the mother’s womb for a period of forty days. Then he will remain for two more periods of the same length, after which the angel is sent and insufflates the spirit into him.”

Forty Days:

The exception to the above is that some scholars believe that the soul enters the fetus earlier, that is after the formation phase, which is around the 40 days mark of pregnancy.

This view is based on another hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Masood raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him):

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: إذا مر بالنطفة إثنتان وأربعون ليلة بعث الله إليها ملكاً، فصوره، وخلق سمعها وبصرها وجلدها ولحمها وعظمها…

“If a drop of semen spent in the womb forty-two nights, Allah sends an angel to it who depicts it and creates its ears, eyes, skin, flesh and bones.”

Between the two views, the more widespread and popular opinion is the former, which is that the soul enters the fetus at the 120 days (or 4 months) mark, as the second hadith implies the end of the formation period of the fetus rather than the soul entering it.

Even if one accepts that the soul enters the fetus at a certain timing mark, it does not mean that the soul-less fetus can be aborted at any time or for any reason. Here again, like most matters of Islamic jurisprudence, there is ikhtilaf of scholarly difference of opinion.

No Excuse Required:

The Hanafi madhhab is the most lenient, allowing abortion during the first trimester, even without an excuse.

Some of the later scholars from the Hanafi school consider it makruh or disliked if done without a valid reason, but the majority ruled it as allowed.

Only Under Extreme Risks:

The Malikis are the most strict in this matter; they do not allow abortion even if it is done in the first month of pregnancy unless there is an extreme risk to the mother’s health.

Other Views:

As for the Shafi’i and Hanbali schools of thought, there are multiple opinions within the schools themselves, some allowing abortion, some only allowing it in the presence of a valid excuse.

Valid excuses differ from scholar to scholar, but with a strong and clear reason, permissibility becomes more lenient. Such cases include forced pregnancy (caused by rape), reasons of health and other pressing reasons.

For example, consider a rape victim who becomes pregnant. There is hardly a more compelling reason (other than the health of the mother) where abortion should be permitted. A child born as a result in such circumstances will certainly be a reminder of pain and discomfort to the mother. Every time the woman sees this child, she will be reminded of the trauma of rape that she underwent, a trauma that is generally unmatched for a woman. Leaving aside the mother, the child himself or herself will lead a life of suffering and potentially neglect. He or she may be blamed for being born– certainly unjust but possible with his or her mother’s mindset. The woman may transfer her pain to the child, psychologically or physically because he or she is a reminder of her trauma. One of the principles of Sharia is to ward off the greater of two evils. One can certainly argue that in such a case where both mother and child are at risk of trauma and more injustice, then abortion may indeed be the lesser of the two.

The only case even more pressing than rape would be when a woman’s physical health is at risk due to the pregnancy. Where the risk is clear and sufficiently severe (that is can lead to some permanent serious health damage or even death) if the fetus remained in her uterus, then it is unanimously agreed that abortion is allowed no matter what the stage of pregnancy. This is because of the Islamic principle that necessities allow prohibitions. In this case, the necessity to save the life of the mother allows abortion, which may be otherwise prohibited.

This is the mercy of Sharia, as opposed to the popular culture image about it.

Furthermore, the principle of preventing the greater of two harms applies in this case, as the mother’s life is definite and secure, while the fetus’ is not.

Absolutely Unacceptable Reason for Abortion:

Another area of unanimous agreement is that abortion cannot be undertaken due to fear of poverty. The reason for this is that this mindset collides with having faith and trust in Allah. Allah reminds us in the Quran:

((وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا أَوْلَادَكُمْ خَشْيَةَ إِمْلَاقٍ ۖ نَّحْنُ نَرْزُقُهُمْ وَإِيَّاكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ قَتْلَهُمْ كَانَ خِطْئًا كَبِيرًا))

“And do not kill your children for fear of poverty, We provide for them and for you. Indeed, their killing is ever a great sin.” (Al-Israa, 31)

Ignorance is not an excuse, but it is an acceptable excuse when it comes to mocking Islam in today’s world. Islam is a balanced religion and aims to draw ease for its adherents. Most rulings concerning fiqh are not completely cut out black and white. Rather, Islamic rulings are reasonable and consider all possible factors and circumstances, and in many cases vary from person to person.

Abortion is not a simple option of being pro-life or pro-choice. These terms have become political tools rather than sensitive choices for women who ultimately suffer the consequences either way.

Life means a lot more than just having a heartbeat. Islam completely recognizes this. Thus, Islamic rulings pertaing to abortion are detailed and varied.

As a proud Muslim, I want my fellow Muslims to be confident of their religion particularly over sensitive issues such as abortion and women’s rights to choose for themselves keeping the Creator of Life in focus at all times.

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How Do Muslims Plan for Disability

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Families with children with disability have an extraordinary set of challenges and blessings.  Disability (or special needs) is a broad term.

Many disabilities will prevent what we often think of as “normal.”  It may hinder or prevent educational opportunities, and employment. Many people with “special needs” can get educated, get married and live long and productive lives.  The problem for many parents of younger children with special needs is that they typically have no certainty about their children’s future needs. Even if the situation looks dire, it may not stay that way.  

How do parents plan for a world where they may not be around to see how things will end up for their special needs children?  What can they do to help their children in a way that does not violate Islamic Inheritance rules?

Certain types of disability, especially the loss of executive decision-making ability, could also happen well into adulthood.  This can be a threat to a family’s wealth and be the cause of internal conflicts. This is the kind of thing every adult needs to think about before it happens.  

The Problem

The issues are not just that parents believe their special needs child will need more inheritance than other children. Muslim parents usually don’t think that. Some parents don’t want their special needs child to get any inheritance at all.  Not because of any ill-will against their special needs child; just the opposite, but because they are afraid inheritance will result in sabotaging their child’s needs-based government benefits.    

Many, perhaps most special needs children do not have any use for needs-based benefits (benefits for the poor).  But many do, or many parents might figure that it is a distinct possibility. This article is a brief explanation of some of the options available for parents of special needs children.  It won’t go over every option, but rather those that are usually incorporated as part of any Islamic Estate Planning.

Please Stand By

Example:  Salma has three daughters and two sons.  One of her children, Khalida, 3, has Down Syndrome.  At this point, Salma knows that raising Khalida is going to be an immense challenge for herself, her husband Rashid and all the older siblings.  What she does not know, however, is what specific care Khalida is going to need through her life or how her disability will continue to be relevant. She does not know a lot about Khalida’s future marriage prospects, ability to be employed and be independent, though obviously like any parent she has nothing but positive hopes for her child’s life.   

In the event of her death, Salma wants to make sure her daughter gets her Islamic right to inheritance.  However, if Khalida needs public benefits, Salma does not want her daughter disqualified because she has her own money.

Her solution is something called a “stand-by special needs trust.” This type of trust is done in conjunction with an Islamic Inheritance Plan and is typically part of a living trust, though it could also be a trust drafted into the last will.  I will describe more about what a special needs trust is below. For Salma, she is the Trustee of her trust. After she dies, she names her husband (or someone else) the successor Trustee. The trust is drafted to prevent it from becoming an “available resource” used to determine eligibility for public benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid and other benefits that go with that.

If it turns out that Salma passes away when Khalida is 5, and her assets are held in trust for her until she is 18 and her Trustee determines she does not need a special needs trust, she will get her inheritance precisely like everyone else based on their Islamic right.  If she does need benefits, the Trustee will only make distributions to Khalida that would not harm her eligibility.

This way, there is no need to deny Khalida her inheritance because of her disability, and she is also making sure giving her daughter inheritance would not harm her daughter’s healthcare or other necessary support.  

Munir Vohra is a special needs advocate and an athlete

The Shape of Special Needs Trusts

A stand-alone Special needs trusts, which is sometimes called a “supplemental needs trust” the kind without the “stand-by” variation I described above, are a standard device for families that have children with special needs. A trust is a property ownership device. A Grantor gives the property to a Trustee, who manages the property for the benefit of a beneficiary. In a revocable living trust, the Grantor, Trustee, and Beneficiary are typically the same person.  

When the trust is irrevocable, the Grantor, Trustee, and Beneficiary may all be different people. In a special needs trust, the person with a disability is the beneficiary. Sometimes, the person with a disability is also the Grantor, the person who created the trust.  This might happen if there is a settlement from a lawsuit for example and the person with special needs wants it to be paid to the trust.  

In many if not most cases, the goal may not be to protect the beneficiary’s ability to get public benefits at all. Many people with a disability don’t get special government benefits.  But they do want to protect the beneficiaries from having to manage the assets. Some people are just more susceptible to abuse.

The structure of the arrangement typically reflects the complexity of the family, the desire of siblings and extended family to continue to be involved in the care and attending to the needs of the person with a disability, even if they are not the person directly writing checks.   

Example: Care for Zayna

Example: Zayna is a 24-year-old woman with limited ability to communicate, take care of her needs and requires 24-hour care.  Zayna has three healthy siblings, many aunts, uncles, and cousins. Her father, Elias, earns about $70,000 per year and is divorced. Zayna’s mother Sameena cannot contribute, as she is on social security disability. However, Zayna’s adult brother and sisters, brother in laws, sister in law and several aunts, uncles want to help Zayna meet her needs E.lyas creates a third party special needs trust that would ensure Zayna has what she needs in the years to come.

Zayna receives need-based public benefits that are vital to her in living with her various disabilities and her struggle to gain increasing independence, knowledge and dignity.  So the trust needs to be set up and professionally administered to make sure that when Zayna gets any benefit from her trust, it does not end up disqualifying her ability to get any needs-based benefit.  

Contributions to the special needs trust will not go against Islamic Inheritance rules unless made after the death of the donor.

If Zayna dies, her assets from the special needs trust will be distributed based on the Islamic rules of inheritance as it applies to her.

When disability planning is not about Public Benefits

Perhaps most families with special needs children do not use any needs-based public assistance.  They are still concerned about special needs and planning for it.

Example:  Khadija, 16, is on the autism spectrum. For those familiar with the autism spectrum, that could mean a lot of things.  For her parents, Sarah and Yacoob, other than certain habits that are harmless and easy to get used to, it means Khadija is very trusting of people. Otherwise, she does well in school, and her parents don’t think she needs way more help than her siblings and she has just as good a chance of leading a healthy and productive life as any 16-year-old girl.  

The downside of being too trusting is that the outside world can exploit her.  If she ends up getting inheritance or gifts, she may lose it. The parents decide that when she gets her inheritance, it will be in a trust that would continue through her life.  There will be a trustee who will make sure she has what she needs from her trust, but that nobody can exploit her.

In some ways, what Khadija’s parents Sarah and Yacoob are doing is not so different from what parents might do if they have a child with a substance abuse problem.  They want to give their child her rights, but they don’t want to allow for exploitation and abuse.

Considering your own needs

There are many people who are easy marks for scammers, yet you would be unlikely to know this unless you are either a close friend or family member, or a scammer yourself.  While this often happens to the elderly, it can happen at just about any age. Everyone should consider developing an “incapacity plan” to preserve their wealth even if they lose their executive decision-making ability.   

There is this process in state courts known as “conservatorship.” Indeed, entire courtrooms dedicate themselves to conservatorships and other mental health-related issues.  It is a legal process that causes an individual to lose their financial or personal freedom because a court has essentially declared them not competent to handle their affairs. Conservatorships are a public process.  They can cause a lot of pain embarrassment and internal family strife.

One of the benefits of a well-drafted living trust is to protect privacy and dignity during difficult times.

Example: Haris Investing in Cambodian Rice Farms

Haris, 63, was eating lunch at a diner.  In the waiting area, he became fast friends with Mellissa; a thirty-something woman who was interested in talking about Haris’s grandchildren.  The conversation then turned Melissa and her desire to start a business selling long distance calling cards. Haris was fascinated by this and thought it made good business sense. Haris gave Mellissa $20,000.00. The two exchanged numbers. The next day, Mellissa’s number was disconnected.

Haris’s wife, Julie became alarmed by this.  It was out of character for her husband to just fork over $20,000 to anyone on the spur of the moment.  What was worse is that the business failed immediately.  

Three months later,  Haris meets Mellissa at the diner again.  She then convinces Haris to invest $50,000 in a Cambodian rice farm, which he does right away.   His wife Julie was pretty upset.

How living trusts helps

As it happened though, Haris, a few years before, created a living trust.  It has a provision that includes incapacity planning. There are two essential parts to this:  The first is a system to decide if someone has lost their executive decision-making ability. The second is to have a successor Trustee to look over the estate when the individual has lost this capacity.  This question is about Haris’s fundamental freedom: his ability to spend his own money.

If you asked Haris, he would say nothing is wrong with him.  He looks and sounds excellent. Tells the best dad jokes. He goes to the gym five times a week and can probably beat you at arm wrestling. Haris made some financial mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes.

Julie, and his adult children Haroon, Kulsum, Abdullah, and Rasheeda are not so sure it’s just a mistake.  The living trust created a “disability panel.” This panel gets to vote, privately, in if Haris should continue to act as Trustee of his own money.  If they vote that he should not manage his own money, his wife does it for him.

The family has a way to decide an important and sensitive issue while maintaining Haris’ dignity, privacy and wealth.   Haris’s friends don’t know anything about long distance calling cards or a Cambodian rice farm; they don’t know he lost his ability to act as Trustee of his trust.  Indeed the rest of the world is oblivious to all of this.

Planning for everyone

Islamic inheritance is fard and every Muslim should endeavor to incorporate it into their lives.  As it happens it is an obligation Muslims, at least those in the United States, routinely ignore or deal with inadequately.  However, there is more to planning than just what shares go to whom after death. Every family needs to create a system. There may or may not be problems with children or even with yourself (other than death, which will happen), but you should do whatever you can to protect your family’s wealth and dignity while also fulfilling your obligations to both yourself and your family.

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Should Spiritual Leaders Who Violate Our Trust Be Forgiven?

Some people want to move past the indiscretions of community leaders quickly as though they never occurred while others wish to permanently blacklist them. This article examines a third option between the two that can be a win-win for the fallen leader, the victims, and the community.

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In the past couple of years, a number of simmering scandals among spiritual leaders became public knowledge and the subject of vigorous and often painful public debate.  As someone who has worked in the community dawah space the past 15 years, often acting as a bridge between past and present microcelebrity as well as non-celeb teachers to the community at large, one question I’ve been asked repeatedly – should community leaders who violate our trust be forgiven?  I’m often asked by people who aren’t fanboys / fangirls taken by microcelebrity dawah culture or wearing spiritual blinders for non-celebs, and often don’t even understand what has occurred.  Below I share answers I have heard as well as what I believe is fair and pragmatic in many (not all) situations.

Answer #1:  Yes, We Must Forgive Them

One group of people argue we should completely forgive them. No one is perfect, everyone is human and makes mistakes.  If we assume the mistake was truly made, then we should also forgive them and move on. Our faith is replete with statements about Allah’s Mercy, and if we want His Mercy, surely we should also give it to others. Oftentimes, members who fall into this group don’t actually believe the person in question is at fault and are trying to convince others either on the fence or against the individual to let it go. Of course, there are some who believe the violation occurred and not think it a big deal, while others may think the violation indeed was a big deal, and should still be forgiven. I can agree with some aspects of this, but not completely.

Answer #2:  No, They Should Never Be Forgiven

Another group believes that once a person commits a violation of trust, they are no longer to be trusted again. They should leave their positions and be ostracized from the community permanently. They are to be tarred and feathered and made an example of for life.  Members within this group oftentimes don’t need to wait for evidence to arrive at any conclusion – they were judge, jury, and executioner well before there was a trial.  Not all members are like this, of course – some waited for evidence and then reached their conclusions that the gravity of the charges was too much and therefore the person should never be forgiven.

Answer #3:  It Depends – Forgive Them If They Take Ownership and Make Amends

In my view, the problem with the first group is they don’t often see that the person did anything wrong, or if they did, it’s trivial relative to the khayr, the good and benefit they bring to the community. They keep citing that Allah is forgiving, so we should forgive automatically, but in their haste, they forget that part of the process of making restitution is first sincerely regretting what one has done.

To sincerely regret, one must also move out of denial and into acceptance that they made a mistake. Once one admits failure, they can then ask to be forgiven, and then the aggrieved party is in a position to grant it. The community forgiving and re-integrating a person who refuses to take responsibility for their wrongdoing does neither them, their victims, nor the community any good. We continue to distrust the person and they continue to believe they can get away with whatever they wish because they are “special”. Victims fear community integration, everyone becomes cynical about religion, and the cause of calling people to become better worshippers of Allah is harmed.

On the flip side, the second group is far too extreme in their view of justice. To ostracize that person and leave them no path of return means they have no means to redeem themselves, and de facto their families are casualties who must deal with the fallout of being pushed out of the community. I agree that none of us are perfect, and we all often make egregious mistakes. In my own experience, there are many instances where activists who advocate publicly for better are often involved privately in worse than those they go after.

That being the case, there is no person that can’t be forgiven, and I would say we shouldn’t leave aside this possibility in our dealings with those who fail us just as we expect it when we ourselves fall short, sometimes seriously so. I would add that we would lose the skills and talent of that person – if we believe in allowing people with criminal histories back into the general population and providing them with opportunities to become productive, reformed citizens, I don’t see why we wouldn’t offer the same to our community and religious leaders.

The key I believe is in following a process which includes the following for the individual:

  1. Taking ResponsibilityThey own responsibility for the mistake and acknowledge it was made.  No amount of denial, minimization, and spin will suffice.
  2. Make Restitution:  First and foremost, they apologize and make amends as best they can with the victims.  If the issue went public, then they should apologize to those they were serving as a leader for their mistake as well. This includes handling financial compensation.
  3. Remediating Oneself:  Enroll in counseling, therapy, mentorship, and / or group support programs to help them overcome their issues.
  4. Being Held Accountable:  Work with others on concrete milestones of both behavior and programs that demonstrate their commitment to change.  Be able to show the community that they take reformation seriously and are committed to coming out of their mistake a better person, one who can even advise others of the mistake and how not to repeat it.

As someone who has worked in dawah and supported the ascension of numerous modern-day microcelebrity spiritual scholars and teachers, I and others like me act as a bridge between them and the community.  I do not speak for all of them, certainly, but I know that any leader who tries to re-integrate into the community without taking responsibility will continue to find that many will not support them. Most, in this case, feel a sacred duty to oppose their elephant-in-the-room integration to protect the community at large.

Likewise, I know that many like myself would be willing to overlook and forgive such individuals if they took responsibility for their behavior and demonstrated they were taking concrete steps to make amends for their mistakes.  The month of Ramadan is upon us, and sometimes one just has to rip the band-aid off, go through the process of feeling the pain of scrutiny for owning up, and then moving forward to forgiveness.  I won’t promise it’s easy or that everyone will change, but I can at least say many of us would have an easier time accepting individuals back into the community.

What’s your view on these situations?

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