Traitors in Our Midst: The Scholars of Colonization

What’s wrong with scholars like Hamza Yusuf, Abdallah bin Bayyah, Habib Ali Jifri, et al., supporting Arab dictators and legitimating their regimes? There has been lots of analysis on the 2018 UAE forum for “promoting peace,” but some of this analysis misses the mark.

For example, what I keep reading over and over again is that Saudi and the UAE are not truly tolerant and they are not truly democracies, therefore it is a major violation for scholars to support them. This is silly. When did democratic secularism and liberal tolerance become the standard for determining legitimate vs. illegitimate governments as far as Islamic morality is concerned? This makes no sense.

Another criticism is that these are brutal regimes that have shed the blood of many innocent Muslims and oppressed many more. This is a good criticism. It boggles the mind how any informed person could excuse, much less defend, a scholar who has made a career out of praising clear oppressors and their regimes. (And to be fair, there are uninformed individuals who need to be shown the exact implications of their excuses and defenses of such scholars.)

It doesn’t matter if you think the scholar is a wali. What about the hundreds of thousands of people being killed and oppressed by the tyrants your “wali” is praising? You don’t think there were any awliya buried in the rubble or gunned down in Yemen, Palestine, Egypt, Syria, etc.? Only your favorite scholar is a wali, but not any of the hundreds of thousands of Muslims killed and oppressed by these dictators? What about the scholars that these tyrants have jailed or executed? Is it not possible that those scholars were awliya? This whole “wali card” is ludicrously incoherent and, when you think about it, quite despicable.

Do you think any awliya were blown up in this Yemeni city?

Now the further point here is that these scholars are the successors of a long line of co-opted ulama who, historically, would use religious arguments to support the colonizers. Since the beginning of the colonization of the Muslim world over 200 years ago, the colonizers figured out that the best way to avoid backlash from the native Muslim population was to get traditional scholars on the payroll. These scholars would then go around teaching about the virtues of loyalty to the new colonial masters and the values of peace and co-existence with them, the “wisdom” of their culture and religious traditions, etc. These scholars would teach the community to disavow Islamic governance, to disavow khilafa, to disavow jihad, to disavow the Sharia, to eschew religious exclusivism, etc. They would emphasize this idea of الإنسانية قبل التدين (humanity before religiosity), essentially promoting the central tenet of liberal humanism. In the end, anything that could possibly threaten colonial power was denounced as “backwards” and, ultimately, “un-Islamic.” This was to ensure that the Muslim community would not violently resist the new political order that had been brutally imposed upon them and would, instead, become docile, accepting subjects of the invading colonial force and its systematic domination.

Prominent scholars who played this role for colonizers over the past 150 years include figures like Muhammad Abduh, Uthman bin Yahya, Mohammad al-Hajwi, Mustafa al-Maraghi, Syed Ahmad Khan, and many more. Of course, there were other scholars who fought the colonizers and considered resisting colonial invasion necessary jihad in defense of the Umma. These included figures like Omar Mukhtar, Abd al-Qadir al-Jazairi, Imam Shamil, Imam Bonjol, and Muhammad `Abd Allah al-Hasan. These brave Muslim leaders were denounced as barbarians (what would be called “extremists” or “Islamists” in today’s nomenclature) by those religious scholars who had been bought by the colonizers. Thankfully, most of our ulama today are in the mold of these brave figures who fought on behalf of the Umma instead of the minority who betrayed it.

So, in a nutshell, that is what is so wrong with scholars legitimating secular Arab tyrants. They are endorsing the current day neocolonial project of secularizing and subduing the Muslim world via brutal Western-backed puppet tyrants, who are themselves agents of Western imperialism. This is precisely how these scholars are contributing to bringing the Umma under the control of Western (and Israeli) powers economically, politically, socially, culturally, and, of course, religiously. (And notice how these “peace” initiatives always have Zionist representatives and representatives from Western security and anti-extremism agencies.) This is the “peace” that they are promoting: Be peaceful while the West continues to rape you. Be peaceful while the oppressors continue to slaughter you. Be peaceful while the missionaries and the Zionists indoctrinate you and turn you away from your deen.

This is a huge betrayal of the Umma and should be denounced in the strongest terms, lest this behavior become normalized in and acceptable to the community at large.

But let’s not forget the social justice imams in the West who are also legitimating tyranny. Instead of praising MBS, MBZ, et al., they praised Hillary Clinton, campaigned for her, endorsed her, etc. They went far beyond merely picking Clinton over Trump as the “lesser of two evils,” but instead expressed enthusiastic support and even giddy joy at the thought of electing her as president, and told the Muslim community that it is a religious obligation (fard) to vote for her, even though she was directly responsible for the destruction of at least one Muslim country and had threatened war against others. So, what makes these scholars for Hillary any different from the tyrant endorsers?

Abu Dharr related, “I was walking with the Prophet ﷺ and I heard him saying: “There is something I fear for my Umma more than the Dajjal.” He repeated it three times. So I said: “O Messenger of Allah, what is it other than the Dajjal which you fear most for your Umma?” He said: “Misguided Imams.” [Musnad Ahmad]

And as far as advancing the secularizing, liberalizing colonial project, a scholar doesn’t have to attend a UAE sponsored peace forum to do that. There are some imams who are doing that without even leaving the country. They simply endorse liberal political platforms and, in effect, if not intent, promote perennialism (the view that all “sacred” religions are acceptable to Allah), LGBT, radical feminism, abortion rights, dissolution of family, dissolution of marriage, etc., etc. Their vocal support of these left-wing political factions and policies colonizes the Muslim minds in the West and furthers the colonial project in the Muslim world as well. They are providing the veneer of religious legitimacy to views that are deeply antithetical to Islam and are harmful to the interests of the Umma writ large. Furthermore, they are benefiting financially from these liberal connections and are granted access to many circles of power and influence within governmental and non-governmental organizations as well as think tanks, media, “charitable” funds and foundations, and billion-dollar companies. So, there is nothing more hypocritical than such social justice imams and activists acting indignant and holier-than-thou with respect to Hamza Yusuf, et al. They’re just the other side of the same coin.

Of course, the vast majority of imams and scholars in the West and the East have nothing to do with such evil alhamdulillah. We need to support these ulama for their bravery and principled stance against the tide. These are the Omar Mukhtar’s of our times. May Allah bless these scholars of haqq and us with them, and protect the Umma from every evil tyrant and every traitorous scholar.

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  1. What about the Shuyukh who support the regimes according to their understanding of it being the islamic thing to do, as can be seen from the following fatwa of an Arab Scholar:

    All praise is due to Allah,

    The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “There will be rulers over you. You will agree with some of what they come with and reject some of it. Whoever rejects what must be rejected will maintain his innocence and whoever hates it will maintain his innocence. However, those who accept (what should be denied) and follow the ruler will be sinners. The Companions said: “O Messenger of Allah, shall we fight these rulers?” He said: “No, as long as they pray.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhî, and classified as authentic by al-Albânî]

    The meaning of this hadîth is that the rulers will do something that you know it is good and some other things which you know it is bad. In other words, some of their works will comply with Islamic Law while others will not.

    Whoever disavows their bad actions will maintain his innocence and be safe from Allah’s punishment. This applies to the one who cannot prevent such actions by either his hand or tongue. Therefore, he at least condemns these misdeeds in his heart. However, this disavowal could be by either the tongue or the heart. Imam al-Qurtubî said: “The person who condemns these misdeeds in his heart feels such a strong disapproval for the deeds in his heart that if he gets a chance, he will speak out.”

    In fact, such denial in the heart is the lowest grade of faith. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever sees something wrong, he should change it by his hand, if cannot by his tongue and if cannot by his heart and that (the last) is the weakest faith.” [Sahîh Muslim]

    As mentioned in the hadîth, only the one who accepts such wrong thing is the one who will be held accountable and punished.

    Imam al-Nawawî said: “This is evidence that who fails to remove wrong things will not be sinful for being disapproving but silent. However, he will be sinful if he accepts it.

    Imam al-Nawawî explained the last part of this hadîth by saying: “It is impermissible to engage in rebellion against the Caliphs just for some acts of oppression or mischief as long as they do not change any principle of Islam.”

    Imam Ibn Taymiyah said: “It is alright to reject what a ruler comes with in opposition to Islamic rulings, but that does not mean rebellion against them. These rulers should still be obeyed in legitimate things. Rebellion against them is unlawful unless they show extreme disbelief. Obedience to them is obligatory unless they request something unlawful.”

    The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The best among your Imams (rulers) are those whom you love and they love you, pray (make supplication) for you and you pray for them, and the worst of your rulers are those whom you hate and they hate you and you curse them and they curse you.”

    Someone asked: “O Allah Messenger, Shall we confront them with swords?”

    The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “No, as long as they hold prayers among you. If you see from your rulers what you hate, hate the action they do but do not rebel against them.” [Sahîh Muslim]

    Hudhayfah b. al-Yamân asked the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O Messenger of Allah, we were living in an evil (atmosphere) and Allah brought us good (Islam) and we live in it now. Will there be evil after this good?”

    The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Yes.”

    Hudhayfah b. al-Yamân said: “And any good after this evil?”

    He said: “Yes.”

    Hudhayfah b. al-Yamân said: “And any evil after this good?”

    He said: “Yes.”

    Hudhayfah said: “How will it be?”

    He said: “Imams (rulers) after me who do not abide by my guidance and Sunnah. Some of their men will have Satan’s heart in a human’s body.”

    Hudhayfah said: “What should I do, O Messenger of Allah, if I live to see that time?”

    The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “You should listen and obey them even if (the ruler smites your back and takes your wealth.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]

    The majority of Ahl al-Sunnah wal Jamâ`ah have adopted these hadîth and use them as evidence in their ruling that is unlawful to rebel against the ruler no matter how oppressive they are unless they exhibit outright unbelief.”

    Imam Ahmad said: “Obedience to the ruler who is agreed upon by people is obligatory.”

    Imam al-Tahâwî said: “We do not support rebellion against our rulers even if they are unjust. We do not make supplications against them and do not set any revolution against them. We believe our obedience to them is obedience to Allah unless they order something unlawful. We make supplication for their guidance and their safety.”

    Ibn Abî al-`Izz al-Hanafî said in Sharh al-`Aqîdah al-Tahâwiyyah: It is much better to stick to obeying the rulers even if they are oppressors, because rebellion against them will cause even greater strife. Being patient withn them will be an expiation for misdeeds and increase rewards.”

    Ibn Battâl said: “Scholars have agreed that it is better to obey the oppressive ruler and join in the defense of Islam alongside them than to rebel against him. This will prevent bloodshed and prevent strife. The only exception is given when the oppressive rulers show clear unbelief.”

    Ibn Taymiyah writes: “Ahl al-Sunnah has agreed on a conclusion that is to refrain from fighting in civil strife. This is an application of the authentic hadîth in this regard. Many scholars used to write that down in their statements of creed that they believed in and they ordered the others to be patient and not to fight the rulers.”

    He continues: “The Prophet (peace be upon him) ordered people to be patient with the oppression of the rulers and refrain from fighting them. This is better for people for their worldly life and their Hereafter. Whoever opposes them intentionally will cause nothing but mischief. Allah will eliminate evil by way of the oppressive king much more than the oppression he is doing to people. It was also said that sixty years under an oppressive ruler are better than one night without any ruler. “

    Oppression of a ruler is the same as a natural disaster that might befall a people and be as expiation for their sins and a means of reward for them and a cause for them to become steadfast in their religion.

    It is a way for them to go back to their religion and seek Allah’s forgiveness and perform repentance. This is the same as strange enemy coming to their land. That is why the Prophet (peace be upon him) encouraged Muslims to fight against whoever fights on the basis of false belief of religion such as al-Khawârj. But, at the same time, he ordered the Muslims to be patient with the oppression of the rulers and to refrain from rebelling against them.

    Although it is unlawful to rebel against the ruler, this does not mean we must refrain from enjoining what is right and forbidding what is evil. In fact, we are required to do that and glorify our religion and to raise the word of righteousness, each one according to his ability.

    It was related by `Ubâdah that the Prophet (peace be upon him): “We have sworn fealty to the Prophet (peace be upon him) to listen and to obey in prosperity and adversity, and not to dispute with the people in charge of government, and to say what is right wherever we are and not fear other than Allah”

    It was also related by Abu Sa`îd al-Khudrî that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The best Jihâd is a word of just at the presence of an oppressive ruler.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhî]

    Alas, enjoining right and forbidding wrong requires patience, knowledge and wisdom.

    One scholar said: Enjoining for good and forbidding evil should only be done by the one who knows what is he doing and he should do that gently.

    With regard to accusations of unbelief, we have to draw attention to the difference between applying a ruling of disbelief to a particular statement or action and applying that ruling of disbelief on a particular person. In some cases, we could say about someone’s statements and actions that they are works of disbelief without declaring that person an “unbeliever”

  2. Your analysis is ignorant, superficial, shallow and arrogant. You immediately label scholars as “traitors” and supporters of dictators when you know that the issue is more complex. Don’t be an ingoramus. You know that the Middle East has been on fire for the past decade. It is very possible to go to a “peace conference” in Abu Dhabi to genuinely promote peace in an area that has been sorely lacking in it. Apparently you weren’t invited because you are a guy with a website. Shame on you for slandering scholars that have guided communities and built institutions. I’m not saying that our scholars are beyond reproach, but there are alternate, reasonable points of view that they are entitled to have. What have you done for the people of Yemen or Syria you brave keyboard commando you?

  3. If it wasn’t for Habib Ali and Shaykh Hamza, I, as well as many others that I know, will still be lost. May Allah bless them for everything that are doing that is within their sphere of influence.

  4. Can you please name all the ‘ulema whom you trust with matters of Islam and muslimeen?
    If NO scholars upon righteousness exist (or none that can’t be named), duly mention that clearly.


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