Disclaimer: MuslimMatters Inc. does not have an official position on this matter – we have published the statement below as submitted with comments closed as requested by the signatories of the statement
In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “The believers in their mutual kindness, compassion, and sympathy are like one body. When one of the limbs hurts, the whole body reacts with wakefulness and fever”. (Muslim and Bukhari)
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Islam: Greetings of peace and may the mercy and blessings of God be upon you: as salam alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu
We come to you as women and men who care deeply for you, our brothers and sisters in faith. We grieve with you at the state of the world today, where so many are suffering from war, oppression, displacement, and deprivation. Prophet Muhammad, may God’s peace and blessings be upon him, said that the believers are like one body, if one part hurts, the whole body is afflicted with sleeplessness and fever.
It is for this reason that any violation of trust and ethics which comes within our community of faith is even more painful and distressing. We all share that distress, and we wish that such violations never happened. But reality is not based on our wishes, and much injustice has continued because of denial. Allah the Most High says,
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُونُواْ قَوَّامِينَ بِالْقِسْطِ شُهَدَاء لِلّهِ وَلَوْ عَلَى أَنفُسِكُمْ أَوِ الْوَالِدَيْنِ وَالأَقْرَبِينَ إِن يَكُنْ غَنِيًّا أَوْ فَقَيرًا فَاللّهُ أَوْلَى بِهِمَا فَلاَ تَتَّبِعُواْ الْهَوَى أَن تَعْدِلُواْ وَإِن تَلْوُواْ أَوْ تُعْرِضُواْ فَإِنَّ اللّهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرًا
O you who believe, be steadfast in standing up for justice as witnesses for Allah, even against yourselves or your parents or your relatives, whether they are rich or poor, for Allah can best protect both. Do not follow your wishes lest you deviate and if you distort or turn away, truly Allah is aware of whatsoever you do. (Qur’an 4:135)
We have therefore come together out of profound concern for the well-being of the women with whom Br. Nouman Ali Khan has engaged in conduct unbecoming of any believer, much less someone who teaches about the Holy Qur’an. We have refrained from making any public statement until now because we refused to act on the basis of ambiguous accusations and second-hand information. As a group we have taken our time to speak, all together or in smaller designated groups, with Brother Nouman, with a number of the women involved, and with numerous respected scholars and imams who have at various times tried to counsel Br. Nouman. It is with heavy hearts that we confirm that Br. Nouman has committed significant violations of trust, spiritual abuse and unethical behavior. We advise our brother to ask forgiveness from those he has hurt, to face the consequences of his actions, and to take a break from public life in order to get counselling and engage in acts of expiation. We advise members of the community to refrain from speculating about and attacking those in the process of seeking justice.
We are profoundly distressed by the anguish and grief that this has caused. We unequivocally recognize and support survivors of abuse who are often silenced in our communities. We want to make clear to the Muslim community that we are available to support all those affected by this and other less visible forms of spiritual abuse. We commit to improve mechanisms of accountability for anyone engaged in public service. We realize that there have been many situations in the past in which Muslim leaders have behaved inappropriately and have engaged in abusive behavior, and we are committed to working with experts in all fields to create ethical standards that protect our community from future harm and ethical misconduct or abuse of power by any Muslim leader.
The following signatories are comprised of scholars, community leaders and mental health professionals:
Sr. Aisha Al-Adawiya
Sr. Salma Abugideiri
Sh. Tamara Gray
Dr. Altaf Husain
Imam Mohamed Magid
Dr. Ingrid Mattson