Earlier this month on MuslimSkeptic, we published a long article detailing the website MuslimGirl’s promotion of all kinds of anti-Islamic filth: from the LGBT agenda, to abortion, to casual zina, to perennialism, to hijab removal, to gay imams, and much more. And we asked Dalia Mogahed, Director of ISPU, who has for years been liking, participating, and promoting MuslimGirl and its founder Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, a number of questions.
On April 3rd, Mogahed wrote a response to the piece on her Facebook page. In that response, she did not address those questions, but rather dismissed the piece as “drivel,” “clickbait,” “libelous,” and called me a “fasiq,” “supporter of white supremacy,” “attention seeking,” and “troll.”
Here are the questions again:
Why would Mogahed maintain such close ties with a blog that regularly outputs anti-Islamic messaging? Why would she promote to her Muslim followers an online blog that has as its implicit — if not explicit — mission to promote LGBT, abortion, perennialism, casual sex, trans rights, and the most vile, corrosive aspects of feminist thought?
Well, could it be that Mogahed is on board with that very mission, or at least parts of it?
Mogahed’s non-response to such simple questions was honestly surprising because the main contention of the piece was her continued support of MuslimGirl, not a dissertation about all her other views. BUT she dismissed that main contention as not even worth responding to. She says:
If the criticism had been my association with MG then i would have not responded. He gave evidence of this and folks are free to draw what ever conclusion they want from that.
Shockingly, she doesn’t even think her continued involvement with MuslimGirl — despite all the garbage that publication puts out on a near-daily basis — is worth even commenting on, let alone justifying. Mogahed also says:
But [Daniel] didn’t stop at questioning my decision to appear on a FB livestream or a IG comment. He went on to accuse me, with mischaracterized quotes and strategic omissions.
So to add to her dismissive attitude, she also characterizes us as being dishonest in making strategic omissions. Well, at MuslimSkeptic, we didn’t plan to write a long essay going through all of Mogahed’s view. The only focus was her relationship with MuslimGirl. But if she wants us to bring everything to the table, scrutinize all her public work, and make no omissions, we are more than happy to oblige in forthcoming pieces. Don’t worry, sister Dalia. No more “strategic omissions.”
What is interesting is how she minimizes her involvement with MuslimGirl as if it’s limited to just a livestream and one Instagram comment.
In reality, Mogahed has been involved with MG for years and has praised them for their work in very high terms. In one livestream with MG (1:45 minute mark) she says:
Thank you so much for having me. it’s such an honor to be talking to you especially on women’s day. I really admire the work that MuslimGirl does and the platform it provides young women to express themselves and to have a voice. And I really commend you for everything you guys are doing. I wish I had something like this growing up.
A simple scan of social media also shows this long-time connection.
For now, let’s take a closer look at her response to our article. It is worth paying attention to her response because she is a director at one of the biggest Muslim research institutes in the US, so her views can be influential. Also she is considered by some to be a leader and a role model for the Muslim community.
Her Facebook post begins:
O you who believe! if an evil-doer [fasiq] comes to you with a report, look carefully into it, lest you harm a people in ignorance, then be sorry for what you have done. (Quran 49:6)
Bold move to start her response with this ayah. Did she not look into MuslimGirl’s vast array of disgusting anti-Islamic material before associating herself with them, congratulating them, collaborating with them? Instead of calling me a fasiq (quite the charge, by the way), maybe she should look more closely at her associates…
It saddens me that Muslim public figures (especially women lets be honest) trying hard to serve have to contend with not only a plethora of Islamophobic lies, but now too the half truths and intellectual dishonesty of a fellow Muslim, a man so desperate for legitimacy and attention that it seems he’ll do anything for clicks.
If you follow my work you know I spend very little time addressing trolls. But unfortunately some people I actually respect have asked me about Daniel Jou’s hit piece, forcing a response.
Here you can see a big mistake already. She attacks my intentions and characterizes me as a hypocrite who is only doing what I’m doing for attention. That is a slanderous claim.
If you notice in all our articles at MuslimSkeptic, including this one about Mogahed and MuslimGirl supporters, we never do this. We never claim that Mogahed or Wajahat Ali or Rabia Chaudry or Aman Ali or Omer Mozaffar or Linda Sarsour or HEART or any specific Muslim has some evil in his heart or that he is a hypocrite, etc. I only point to public information and criticize public actions. I don’t criticize intentions or what’s in a person’s heart because, guess what? I don’t know what’s in a person’s heart and I don’t pretend to.
When accusing someone of “promoting fahisha”, normal Islamic etiquette is to begin with private counsel (none occurred). If unsuccessful, and one feels compelled after much prayer and introspection into one’s real intentions and nafsani state, to make a public statement, one better have some strong evidence, not innuendo or deliberately mischaracterized quotes.
What is the evidence for this “Islamic etiquette” she is asserting? She is confusing two very separate things. If two Muslims are friends and one friend makes a public mistake, then in most cases it would be advisable for the other friend to talk to him about it before blasting him.
But that is nothing like this situation for two reasons:
1) I have never met Dalia Mogahed. I don’t have any relation to her. She is a public figure who is regularly featured on mainstream media broadcasts and has over one hundred thousand social media followers. To say that it is against “Islamic etiquette” to criticize a public figure without first having a private chat with him is ludicrous.
2) It is not like she made one isolated mistake. She has a long public record of supporting and collaborating with MuslimGirl. I can understand an isolated mistake. I can understand that a person is invited to speak at a venue one time and maybe not be aware of everything that that venue is involved with. But that is not the case here.
Now here is a critical point: What this request from Mogahed for private consultation before public criticism also implies is that she either has been getting no correct private consultation from any of her prominent imam and activist friends and associates about her involvement with MuslimGirl OR she has been ignoring them. I honestly can’t tell which one is worse.
And a final point here: If it’s wrong to publicly rebuke without private consultation, she is doing it herself! She is blasting me publicly, questioning my intentions, calling me a fasiq, etc., but she didn’t contact me privately before doing so. So, is she contradicting Islamic etiquette as well? Does she think two wrongs make a right?
The reality is, we can and should hold Muslim public figures accountable through public critique. This is the only way we can bi idhnillah change this toxic culture of mainstreaming deviance and fahisha by popular religious figures, whether they do it intentionally or unintentionally.
For these public figures to play the “adab card” whenever the Muslim community does not approve of their behavior is ridiculous and extremely entitled. Imagine the audacity of saying something like, “I can do, say, and associate with whomever I please and no one has the right to criticize me without privately talking to me first.” If a person is publicly representing the Muslim community and is accepting all kinds of media exposure, that role comes with heavy burdens. One has a responsibility to the community and ultimately to Allah. To assert these made-up rules of etiquette comes off as making excuses to avoid accountability.
And yet that’s what our brother sadly relies on to craft his click bait smear. Let me offer just two examples of what I mean: this quote from an article in VICE is used to claim I promote fahisha:
“As for the Gallup analysis, Dalia Mogahed – Director of Research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding – tells VICE it has been misinterpreted: “Saying homosexual acts are morally wrong is not evidence that Muslims will hurt the LGBTQ community.” “Muslims have been part of the UK for literally hundreds of years, and unlike the Christian right do not advocate against the LGBTQ community,” added Mogahed. “In a democratic society, freedom of thought and belief are central principles, including beliefs that we may not agree with. We erode our own values when we start policing thought.” Mogahed also pointed out the paradox of Yiannopoulos complaining about Muslim bigotry against LGBT people while advocating for the Muslim ban.
I invite you to actually read the article. I was literally *defending* Muslims intellectual and religious freedom to hold any moral view they want in a free society, and not be required to cow to a liberal litmus test for citizenship. Yet *this* was used as “proof” of the libelous claim that I promote fahisha.
Sister Dalia has completely missed the point of the critique. What is at issue is her public endorsement of and association with a highly noxious organization: MuslimGirl. One of the things that MuslimGirl pushes is Muslim acceptance of the LGBT lifestyle and trans rights and alliance with LGBT groups. What I show in the article is that Mogahed and her organization, the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU), have quite consistently and strongly expressed support for these causes as well.
Here, Mogahed claims that I have mischaracterized her quote, but the quote is perfectly apt. In the quote, she says that Muslims haven’t opposed the LGBTQ community like the Christian Right. Essentially, she is portraying Muslims as political allies of the LGBT community, which is exactly the problem.
This is precisely what ISPU loudly promotes. Muslims ought to be pro-LGBT rights, pro same-sex marriage, pro tranny bathrooms, etc. This is what they are pushing. And Mogahed, as their Director of Research, plays a BIG part in that.
Another example is a screen shot of an op-Ed on the ISPU page, written by someone else (but you only see that if you scroll down), but conveniently omitted the prominent disclaimer on our website that says our scholars’ opinions are their own and not necessarily those of ISPU. The actual op-Ed is not quoted or probably even read by the author of the smear, just the headline is shown.
This is a pathetically lame excuse. First of all, the ISPU article cited is from 2015 about how Muslims should support same-sex marriage. Keep in mind, Mogahed is the Director of Research at ISPU. She honestly expects us not to hold her accountable for the material her institute puts out? A one sentence disclaimer is not some magical immunity card.
Second of all, if ISPU publishes material promoting LGBT and trans rights and Mogahed herself expresses her own reservations or (dare I say) disapproval, then that would definitely be noteworthy. But unfortunately the exact opposite is the case! She is on social media promoting ISPU’s pro-LGBT, pro-trans research (as you can see from the numerous screenshots in the original article). In one post, she calls a pro-LGBT report “one of the most important pieces of research ISPU has released.”
He also brings into question an important study by ISPU documenting anti-sharia legislation in 50 states and how the same lawmakers who propose such laws also push for laws that impact Black and Brown people, immigrants, LGBTQ people, women, labor unions and refugees. Please view the video summarizing the study and see if this means I promote fahisha.
Surprisingly, it seems, she just doesn’t get it. She is citing the very thing that our article was questioning her for and that she, strangely, claims we misrepresented her on. She reiterates the exact thing that she claims we got wrong!
As our article cites, ISPU and Mogahed are pushing this idea that Muslims need to oppose “restrictive legislation” which affects “minority groups” including LGBT and trans. Their entire argument is that islamophobia is intricately tied to opposition to LGBT. So if we want to fight islamophobia, we have to support LGBT because men who want to sodomize each other and dress like women and use girls’ locker rooms are just another oppressed minority that Muslims have to defend.
This is, of course, complete nonsense that I have refuted so many times, I’ve lost count.
How could it be that Mogahed doesn’t get it? Are Muslims supporting LGBT such a foregone conclusion in her mind that she literally cannot conceive of other Muslims faulting her for it? Or what?
It also might have something to do with Mogahed’s boss at the ISPU: executive director Meira Neggaz. Before joining ISPU, Neggaz worked at Marie Stopes International. Marie Stopes International is one of the biggest promoters of abortion, birth control, and sexual “freedom” in Muslim countries and the rest of the world. They are at the forefront of pushing demographic war on the Muslim world and spreading fahisha in the name of “women’s choice.” So it is quite telling that a former official of that major organization is now executive director of ISPU and is the person Dalia Mogahed answers to.
She finishes her response with this:
I have way too much real work to do, plus parenting and being a decent human being concerned with real problems to waste anymore time on this drivel. I pray the author of the libelous hit piece can also find a better use for his time. I also pray those who read and believed his post without following the Quranic injunction to verify the information reconsider their approach. Peace.
Let’s take this all in, shall we.
Notice how she in no way, shape, or form addresses the main contention of our piece: her association with MuslimGirl. Does she just not think MuslimGirl is problematic?
Just as reminder, here are some of the things MuslimGirl publishes:
There are dozens of articles on MuslimGirl just on the topic of removing the hijab and being ok with the removal of hijab and how modesty is illegitimate body shaming.
It’s sad. We have Muslim elders who wonder aloud, “Why are so many of our young daughters removing their hijabs?” Little do they know that figures like Dalia Mogahed are unabashedly promoting MuslimGirl to their impressionable followers.
MuslimGirl is also constantly publishing pro-LGBT material:
In one article, MuslimGirl publishes a glowing interview of a self-described bisexual shia Muslims transwoman who runs a “trans-friendly mosque.” In this article, the transwoman describes Allah as “she.”
This is the kind of stuff MG is publishing on the regular.
So it is shameful and very sad that Dalia Mogahed didn’t come out and acknowledge that she has made a big mistake associating with MuslimGirl over the years and apologize for that in unequivocal opposition to MuslimGirl’s promotion of homosexuality, their promotion of hijab removal, their promotion of zina, their promotion of transgenderism, etc., promising to work to counteract all the harm caused by her association.
What is stopping her from this? What does she have to lose?
No, really. What does she have to lose?
So, as bad and inexcusable as this response from Mogahed is, certain Muslim figures and personalities decided to come out publicly and support her with comments.
Hatem Bazian, co-founder and Professor of Islamic Law and Theology at Zaytuna College, ISPU researcher comments in support of Mogahed’s non-response.
Linda Sarsour doesn’t see any problems with working closely with and endorsing LGBT groups and tranny causes, given her extensive history doing so.
CAIR Chicago’s Executive Director Ahmed Rehab weighs in. Mogahed likes the comment.
What is noteworthy here is that CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab is characterizing me as khawarijite, which is a term officially associated with ISIS and extremism by the US security establishment. Usually CAIR defends American Muslims against baseless accusations of extremism from the US government, but here the director is making the baseless accusation himself.
Amani shows up in the comments too with a flippant remark.
What the Muslim community should realize is this support for these toxic, anti-Islamic ideologies is not limited to Dalia Mogahed. As the comments show, this is disease infecting many community figures. Mogahed is not the only Muslim working at ISPU and she is not the only one who has these close ties to MuslimGirl. As a community we need to be acutely aware of this so that we can open our eyes, ask the hard questions, demand accountability, and prevent these figures from dragging us to a place of disobedience to and rebellion against our Deen.
Other commenters were not impressed with Mogahed’s response, to say the least:
So, the slander continues. What is she talking about? Where have I ever explicitly expressed support for white supremacy?
But, actually, here is a learning moment.
Mogahed accuses me of supporting white supremacy. It is a baseless accusation, but nonetheless let me unequivocally say: I reject white supremacy. In fact, it is detestable and one of the main forces attacking Muslims today, as I have written about at length.
Now why can’t sister Dalia do the same thing when it comes to her association with MuslimGirl? Why can’t she answer our questions?
Also it is noteworthy that when those like Dalia Mogahed are criticized for their associations and pro-LGBT advocacy, they reflexively accuse their critics as violent, hateful bigots and extremists. This is very dangerous. For example, after posting her non-response on Facebook, Mogahed posted this:
This is the same DHS that has been surveilling Muslims for nearly two decades, maintaining the No Fly List, which includes thousands of Muslims on it, etc. Why is Dalia Mogahed not thrilled at this news? Why is she promoting this government agency that has caused so many problems for our community? This in itself requires much further scrutiny…
Brothers and sisters reading this, we cannot let our public representatives get away with this irresponsible, entitled behavior. She has the audacity to position herself as a Muslim leader and then when we ask her honest, urgent questions, she calls it drivel and excuses herself.
There is just simply too much at stake. Our youth look to figures like Mogahed because they have achieved some level of mainstream visibility. (Arguably, many of those who have achieved that visibility have done so in large part because of their willingness to promote a left-wing platform, even the parts of which contradict Islam.)
As a visible Muslim, she is looked to by our youth as a role model. It matters what she says, who she aligns with, who she promotes. The iman of our youth and the soundness of the community’s faith and understanding is on the line here. And ultimately, that is what matters: the pleasure of Allah through our complete submission and obedience to Him. This is important. It is not “drivel.”
So we hope and pray that sister Dalia will reform and grow on these issues.