Islam

The Controversy of Nouman Ali Khan

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Nouman Ali Khan (NAK) is a popular Islamic Scholar in the West. His main subject of interest is Qur’an. He has been in the field of teaching Qur’an for nearly two decades. Recently he came into the news because of a post from another Islamic Scholar–though not as popular–Omar M Mozaffar accusing NAK of predatory behavior against his students. On the same day, another Scholar–Navaid Aziz–posted on the same topic confirming the allegations stating that accusations against him have been verified by multiple people.

One common theme which ran in both the posts was the purpose. It was said that it was being done for the sake of protecting our sisters and communities. And this is where the problem lies. These posts sent the entire American Muslim Community in a sort of panic turmoil. It divided them into two halves. One-half was defending NAK–blindly–the other half started questioning his knowledge of Islam and if he ever had the required qualification to represent it. So the purpose for which this news came out–to protect the community–wasn’t even met but rather, it served a catalyst for the opposite, harm the community.

This begs the question as to what was the actual purpose of these posts. Here, Noam Chomsky’s insight may be helpful.

..professing benign intentions is the norm for those who carry out atrocities and crimes, perhaps sincerely..

This is something which we should consider very seriously. It’s very easy to profess a puritanical intention. Remember, When Jesus was crucified it was done in the same name, to protect the community. Hence one should never rely on the statement but study it, analyze it, critique it, question it and then derive a conclusion in cases like this.

We live in the era of Social Media and Tabloid World. News spread like wildfire. Character Assassination has got a whole new meaning in this era. It’s very easy to make up stories out of thin air and start cyber lynching people irrespective of their crime. This is exactly what happened with NAK. The first two posts and the posts which followed kept his alleged crime vague, but used words like Victims, Abuse, Predator and talked how it was being done to “protect” the community and this enabled people to go with their wild imaginations. Even though these scholars later posted that none of such stories are true and their original posts were blown out of proportion and they had no idea this will happen, I genuinely doubt if they are speaking the truth. These are Facebook, Instagram Scholars from the West, not someone from the suburbs of the subcontinent who isn’t aware of the power and dangers of Social Media. They used the Media to become famous, they used the Media to earn money, and they are very well aware of what happens in this dark side of the World.

Another thing which was very interesting to notice was the Muslim reaction. It’s but rare that such a large set of people become so desperately naive. As soon as they read the post, there was no questioning, no thinking, just blind acceptance and the rumor mill started running. Remember, these are not just normal Muslims, they are the ones who follow these Scholars, like their Facebook page, watch their videos, attend their conference. These are the pious practicing Muslims, very conscious of their “Deen”. And their reaction was no different from that of teenage girls fighting, gossiping when they learn about their latest celebrity American Idol star.

Lastly and most importantly the question remains as to what if these allegations are true. what are some lessons we can learn from this Saga? In my opinion, there are three

  1. Having a very good understanding of Religion or Religious book doesn’t necessarily mean you will have good ethics. The book doesn’t claim so. On the contrary, it claims the opposite. The book says that every human being is tilted to do evil things, it claims that–forget a scholar–even the prophet once would have fallen for Lust if it wasn’t for God’s intervention. So an accurate religious Understanding may help in our path of improving our ethics but it doesn’t make us bulletproof from any sinful thing.
  2. Since time immemorial and more so now there are two things which have caused men to fall and in the future, these two will continue. Lust and Arrogance. Both these are very powerful things. If there is one thing we can take from Abrahamic religion it’s to be conscious of these two things in our life. To remember that no matter how conscious we are we will fall to one or another it may come in the form of sexual attraction to someone who isn’t one’s spouse, or as a power pursuit in a false justification of a better good.
  3. We are no Saints. No one is. No one should act like one. When God himself has said that every human’s natural inclination is to do Evil, who are we to prove otherwise. Who are we to think otherwise. So if we are no Saints, we have no right to point fingers at others. When we see cases where people’s sins come out we should take this to be grateful to God who has kept our sins hidden. It should serve as a reminder for us to reflect within and start healing within and correcting ourselves.

I have seen people calling NAK a hypocrite. I was genuinely very hurt by this. I came across this quote by Gai Eton–an Islamic Scholar–which I feel is worth reflecting

For a man to try to cover and inhibit those elements within himself which he would like to overcome and to bring forward those which he would like to see triumphant is not ‘hypocrisy’. If he would like to be better than he is, then he deserves to be encouraged in this aim, and there is something very peculiar about the contemporary tendency to regard a person’s worst qualities as representing his ‘true’ self, although it goes hand in hand with the common belief that ugliness is in some strange way more ‘real’ than beauty and that to discover a shameful secret is to discover the truth

Every human is different and every human commits different Sins. As soon as we judge others for their sins we are either being delusional or arrogant. For example, the only reason why you never had a sexual chat with a girl could just be because you are ugly as fuck. To think that everyone who is doing this is more sinful than you are just delusional. Second, you can be doing other things which are 1000 times more bad but you could be ignoring that completely and then pointing the finger to another person who is doing just this, thinking how godly you are to not be committing that one sin, that my friend, is pure arrogance. There were many scholars who posted about how one should rely on God and not scholars, imploring Muslims to not lose faith in God, trying to disassociate NAK and religion. Posting popular Hadith about Abu Bakr

Whoever from you worships Muhammad, then know that surely Muhammad has died. And whoever from you worships God then know that He is the Eternal and does not die.

Though, there is fundamentally nothing wrong with it, but it’s sign of same arrogance just presented in a humble pill.

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Islam · Religion

The Five Pillars of Islam V2.0

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The five pillars of Islam are not specifically mentioned in Qur’an. They were derived by the scholars of Islam after studying Qur’an, Sunnah and the Hadith. The three original sources of Islam. The five pillars are

  1. Declaration of Faith
  2. Prayer
  3. Charity
  4. Fasting
  5. Pilgrimage

With time, Muslims have evolved, their thinking has changed, and the way they practice Islam has changed drastically. If a Non-Muslim who is analyzing Muslims, without being in touch with the original sources, will he be able to come up with the same five pillars? or will they differ?

The hypothesis I’m presenting is that the principles will differ. That too drastically. I am very well aware that there is a debate among the academic circle about the need to reconstruct the religion, there are many scholars who are for it, and they are many who speak against it. My thesis is that the religion has been reconstructed already.

So, without further adieu, let me present to you, the New five pillars of Islam, as understood by our current Muslim community. The five pillars of Islam, version 2.0

1- Halaal Food

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Muslims–especially from Indo-Pak subcontinent–are out and out obsessed with this. Is it Halaal, is it Zabiha Halaal, and a new one going around, is it Javed Zabiha halal. Is it a Muslim guy reciting takbeer Halaal or is it a takbeer on Radio Halal. The obsession is to such an extent that it won’t be wrong that Muslims consider that the following teaching of Qur’an Chapter 49 Verse 12 has been abrogated.

Believers, avoid being excessively suspicious, for some suspicion is a sin. Do not spy, nor backbite one another.

Muslim probably now think that as per the teaching of Qur’an one shouldn’t speculate about someone but there is a condition applied to this ruling and that is until and unless that person starts a slaughter house or a restaurant. To put it in simple words, every Muslims is considered truthful by default, till he opens a restaurant, from that point, he is a liar by default, till proven otherwise.

2- Hijaab

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This is the other obsession with Muslim women. Be it Hijaab or Burqa or Niqab. It doesn’t matter that there is hardly any reputed who scholar agrees that Naqab is a part of Islam, nor does it matter that Naqaab defeats the entire purpose of Naqaab if worn in the West, as it attracts more attention than deviates, but still, The delusion of grandeur continues.

Muslims Demonstrate Against Ministers Comments On Veiling

One very interesting thing is that the verse usually quoted as mandating Hijaab–chapter 24 verse 31–doesn’t mandate Hijaab in clear terms. It’s derived from it.

..and must wrap their bosoms with their shawls…

I’ve consciously taken the translation of shawl for the word Khimaar instead of the now popularized veil, to point out that there is no such universal agreement that Khimaar means Viel. Secondly, even if it did, for a book, which makes it very clear, repeatedly, that it lays out everything in clear terms, it’s a bit of a stretch to start inferring such heavy rulings from Qur’an verses, assuming words to mean certain things without the presence of strong proof that it means that particular thing. Furthermore, what I find very interesting is that the same very verse lists down all the relatives in front of who there won’t be need for such a covering

..and must not expose their adornment, except to their husbands or their fathers or the fathers of their husbands, or to their sons or the sons of their husbands, or to their brothers or the sons of their brothers or the sons of their sisters, or to their women, or to those owned by their right hands, or male attendants having no (sexual) urge, or to the children who are not yet conscious of the shames of women.

Over here, as you can see, instead of just saying close relatives, Qur’an goes in details–some may argue, even more than necessary–and that’s how the book claims it is. Mentioning this clearly, with no confusion.

I understand why women like wearing Hijab, it’s considered modest, and I see their point, it’s a good modest thing, no doubt. But, that is not enough to start passing it out as religiously mandatory, that will be playing God, and Qur’an strictly–without inference–forbids us from doing that.

lollipops

One Idea which I simply loathe is this comparison of Hijab with a lollipop cover. Implying that woman is some sort of lollipop. Just as in uncovered lollipop thrown in the dust, covered with flies and insects is a disgusting sight and no one would want to do anything with it, similarly a woman who is not covered will be inflicted with flies and insects–which I guess are men. Such teachings are extremely misogynist, coming from men who are very insecure and should be unacceptable when done in the name of Islam.

3- Iftaar

Fast is obligated on Muslims as per Qur’an chapter 2 verse 183

O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become pious

Whether a Muslim at an Individual level becomes pious or not is impossible to comment. But we can look at the state of Muslims as a community and derive that the reason why their fast is only so that they have a Grand Iftaari, where there is a big get together, friends and family unite, chit chat, talk and have a gala time.

Various dishes are introduced, no more fasting with just dates, there is samosa, there is haleem, there is dahi vada, there is fruit salad, there is chaat, and there are various drinks ranging from Mango Lassi to Soft drinks to Chai and Coffee. It will be very surprising if Muslims community ends up becoming pious because of fasting.

4- Signs of Judgement Day

Another great grand obsession among Muslims is to figure out the date of coming of Qiyamah, the Judgement Day. When I was growing up it was said Y2k will be the end of the world, many even claimed that there is a Hadith pointing out, very clearly, that too. I’m still to come across such a Hadith.

Almost, every Muslim WhatsApp group will have one member who has forwarded something related to coming of Qiyamah. You have major signs, minor signs, mahdi signs, 77 minor signs, 48 signs, signs on one page.

The most popular Hadith regarding this is the hadith of Gabriel, which lists only two signs that are awfully clear, first, the slavery will end, and second, the Bedouins of the Arab land will start building tall buildings. Source.

But, Muslims love Drama and they don’t mind spicing things up with extra signs borrowed from other religions to nanny bedtime stories.

5- Global Caliphate

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Global Caliphate has been a Muslim rage for some time now. This was discussed by Ibn Tahmiyya, Mawdudi, Qutub and many other great scholars of Islam. Calling a Classical Scholar wrong, and accepting that even he is capable of a mistake is something which Muslims never do, no matter the cost. And this did cost the Muslim society dearly.

The very basic message of religion which was of humility and empathy, in no time changed to establishing the rule of God across the Globe. The religion of no compulsion became the religion of giving takfir ( declaring people as Apostates ) to anyone who disagrees with the majority.

Jihad, a war against self, and a war against opression to save the oppressed became the holy war to establish a caliphate on each and every non-muslim country.

Will these concepts every be corrected in the Muslim community? I honestly doubt that. Rather, what will happen, is what has happened before, a new community will be raised, who will carry out the ACTUAL message of Islam. This happened when Turks accepted Islam and the message spread through them, this happened when Romans accepted Christianity and the message spread through them.

But, if someone is interested in understanding the error in this concept and correcting his perspective then he can do this here, the article by Javed Ahmed Ghamidi on Counter Narrative for Global Caliphate does a good Job in pointing out the mistakes and the correct teachings of Islam.