Reviewing Yaqeen Institute: A Source of Certainty or Doubt?

Note: This is a living document that will in sha’ Allah be updated as Yaqeen continues to publish content for the Muslim community. If you would like to contribute a scholarly critique of a Yaqeen article to be published or cited by MuslimSkeptic.com, please email admin@muslimskeptic.com.

Introduction

The Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research is an online outlet that claims to “inspire conviction” and “fight doubts” about Islam. They publish research articles, infographics, and video content that they distribute on social media through paid advertising and other means. According to their latest available tax filings, Yaqeen received $1.4 million in charitable contributions in 2016 and $3.5 million in 2017. They also claim to be “zakat-eligible.”

Yaqeen Institute is four years old, yet little has been written to evaluate the output of the institution as a whole. This report aims to fill that gap. An organization that collects millions of dollars annually, claiming to produce Islamic material while representing the Muslim community should be independently evaluated for Islamic soundness or lack thereof. This is a communal necessity. And this is in the spirit of peer review and academic rigor, which any academic institution, which Yaqeen claims to be, should welcome.

This report is the culmination and compilation of research by nearly a dozen Islamic scholars and students of knowledge including MuslimSkeptic.com team members. Some of their names are cited in the report while others remain anonymous.

The overall conclusion of this report is that much of Yaqeen’s content contains significant errors as well as blatant misrepresentations of Islam and the Islamic tradition. Furthermore, numerous essays advance views that are contrary to Islamic principles and values. Some of their material can even rightly be described as blasphemous.

Due to all this, we ask, how can Yaqeen be seen as a reliable source of Islamic teaching? Furthermore, can they be said to live up to their name of instilling yaqin (certainty) when their content could potentially create major doubts in Islam and entrench incorrect beliefs in the minds and hearts of their readers?

This report is by no means intended as a thorough rebuttal and investigation of each Yaqeen publication referenced herein. Rather, this report serves as a broad survey of Yaqeen’s work and highlights notable problems and errors therein. The report should serve as a helpful reference for the community to be aware of these problems. We invite Muslim scholars and students of knowledge to consider the cited material below and investigate further to provide their own evaluations, as well as for well-meaning individuals within Yaqeen to rectify mistakes.

Contents

0. Disclaimers

1. Yaqeen’s Methodology

2. Ties to CVE and Counter Extremism

3. Omar Suleiman and the Politics of Doubt

4. Gender

5. Interfaith and Pluralism

6. Evolution

7. LGBT

8. Sharia

9. Who and What Yaqeen Promotes

Disclaimers

This report is not meant to condemn all those who work for, are affiliated with, or have contributed to Yaqeen. Obviously, as Yaqeen itself claims, not everyone who works with Yaqeen endorses everything the organization does or stands for. Presumably, many within the organization would strongly disavow some or all of the problematic Yaqeen content cited in this report.

It should also be disclosed that one of the principal contributors of this report, Daniel Haqiqatjou, was a former employee of Yaqeen and was hired as their Director of Research in 2016. In response to some of his earlier critiques of Yaqeen papers and people, certain Yaqeen affiliates referred to his employment history and insinuated or outright claimed that Haqiqatjou’s critiques are merely the result of his being “a disgruntled ex-employee.” Their false claim did nothing to disqualify his critiques then and if repeated, would do nothing to disqualify anything in this report now. Are former (or current) Yaqeen employees not allowed to criticize anything that Yaqeen does or publishes? They and all of us can ask ourselves: Should anyone affiliated with Yaqeen or any other Islamic organization, past or present, be muzzled from critiquing that organization? Back to Top

Yaqeen’s Methodology

Yaqeen publishes a variety of essays dealing with psychology, pedagogy, history, civil rights, and more. A subset of their material concerns what their founder and president, Imam Omar Suleiman, has termed “uncomfortable truths.”[1]

Upon launching in 2016, Yaqeen published a study mapping these “uncomfortable truths” as sources of doubt for Muslims in the US. The study describes its methodology thus:

“We spoke to imams, chaplains, and youth coordinators across the country in order to better understand their interactions with Muslims whose belief in Islam had waned or altogether worn out. The interviews, which lasted about an hour on average, took place primarily over a four-month period beginning in February 2016.”[2]

Based on these interviews, Yaqeen produced an infographic summarizing their results:

So, how has Yaqeen addressed these “uncomfortable truths” in its mission of combatting doubts?

Yaqeen’s methodology for addressing doubts is spelled out by Suleiman himself in numerous lectures.[3] In one recent lecture entitled, “The Prophetic Method of Teaching Uncomfortable Truths,” Suleiman explains that there are two components to broaching these issues: The message and the delivery of the message.[4] According to him, there can be no compromise on the message, but the method of delivering the message must take into account the recipient of that message in order to ensure a “personal connection” based on “mercy” and “approachability.” He refers to this approach as “compassionate orthodoxy.”

He cites various examples from the Quran and Sunna to justify the Islamic preferability of this method. For example, he describes at length the kind, compassionate approach of Prophet Ibrahim in speaking to his polytheist father. According to Imam Omar, Prophet Ibrahim is uncompromising in his rejection of polytheism, but he delivers that uncompromising rejection of polytheism with kindness. This is the approach that all Muslims should take in teaching Islam and its “uncomfortable truths.”

Tellingly, Suleiman does not mention another significant example from the life of Ibrahim, when he smashes the idols of his people and then ridicules them by telling them that the biggest inanimate idol was the culprit.[5]

Suleiman also fails to distinguish between conveying the Islamic message to one person in a personal setting versus teaching to the masses. This is significant because if a person speaks to the masses in the same way that he speaks to an individual, he will always have to cater to the lowest common denominator. This is because what is compassionate to someone at one level of understanding might be uncompassionate to someone else at a different level of understanding. So to ensure that everyone is addressed with compassion, the message has to be significantly watered down or even distorted.

Now, putting aside questions about the validity or effectiveness of this “compassionate” method, the fact remains that a great deal of content produced by Yaqeen does compromise the message of Islam. There are three broad ways this happens:

    1. Outright Denial
    2. Muddying the Waters
    3. Fake Neutrality

Back to Top

Outright Denial

Outright Denial means that on many “uncomfortable” issues that cause doubts for present day Muslims, Yaqeen simply denies that the issue exists.[6]

For example, on the issue of slavery, Yaqeen published an in depth video that outright denies that there has ever been slavery in Islam.[7] On the issue of Islamic conquest, Yaqeen published an essay that outright denies there is Islamic conquest in Islam and that jihad is only defensive.[8] On the issue of the right of husbands to physically discipline their wives as mentioned in the Quran [4:34], Yaqeen published an essay that outright denies that such a right exists and calls it a “myth.”[9]

This approach is highly problematic for the simple reason that it distorts Islam. As uncomfortable as some people are in the present day with these aspects of Islam, the fact remains that slavery, conquest, patriarchal authority, etc., are parts of Islam, as encapsulated in the Quran, Sunna, and the scholarly tradition. To outright deny them is, at best, academically dishonest and only compelling to the most uninformed. At worst, such denialism misrepresents Islam and is tantamount to “concealing what Allah revealed.”[10] Back to Top

Muddying the Waters

Besides outright denial, Yaqeen as an institute often “muddies the waters” on issues that are clear cut in Islam, issues where there is no actual legitimate scholarly disagreement. For example, on the issue of human evolution and the origins of mankind, this is a clear cut issue that all Muslim scholars have agreed on past and present. There is no scholar who has ever said it is permissible to believe that our father Adam had parents or that it is possible for humans not to have descended from Adam. So what does Yaqeen do? They publish one paper in line with the orthodox position on evolution and then publish a second paper that contradicts the orthodox position based on nothing but the personal opinion of some academic.[11]

Another example is with the age of marriage of the Mother of the Believers, Aisha. There is no legitimate scholarly disagreement on her being six years of age when she married the Prophet ﷺ. Accordingly, Yaqeen publishes one paper expressing precisely that but also publishes a paper claiming that she was 18.[12]

The most egregious example is on the issue of LGBT rights. One paper from an Islamic scholar clearly explains why Muslims supporting LGBT rights and politically allying with their cause is categorically forbidden in Islam. But another paper, written by an academic, advocates the exact opposite, encouraging Muslims to affirm and support LGBT rights.[13]

There would be nothing objectionable here if Yaqeen were presenting multiple scholarly views within a range of acceptable ikhtilaf. But in these examples and others, Yaqeen is taking an established, clear cut Islamic position and problematizing and undermining it by publishing its antithesis. What should be crystal clear and unquestioned becomes muddied and obfuscated. Is this conducive to yaqin or its opposite?

One thing that is achieved by this strategy of playing both sides at the expense of Islamic soundness is plausible deniability. If anyone criticizes these papers promoting human evolution, Aisha marrying at 18, LGBT rights, etc., Yaqeen quickly claims that it has also published the correct Islamic position.[14] Furthermore, Yaqeen includes a disclaimer under every essay:

“Yaqeen does not endorse any of the personal views of the authors on any platform.”

This, of course, is meaningless. The act of publishing an essay is a kind of endorsement from the publishing organization. Yaqeen is not an open publishing platform like WordPress or Facebook where anyone can open an account and post content.[15] Yaqeen board members and directors deliberately select which viewpoints to promote and which viewpoints to exclude. They select which views are within the bounds of acceptable debate. Therefore, they are responsible for any and all un-Islamic content that they publish. In other words, they are responsible for bringing un-Islamic and even blasphemous views into the circle of acceptable Islamic disagreement.

Shaykh Dr. Mateen Khan, who has written a powerful rebuttal of one of Yaqeen’s more deviant articles, sees Yaqeen’s disclaimer as irresponsible:

“Deviant opinions preluded with disclaimers such as: “The views, opinions, findings, and conclusions expressed in these papers and articles are strictly those of the authors,” are simply not good enough when approaching the Muslim public. One wonders if such a disclaimer will absolve them before Allah on the Day of Judgment as they hope to be absolved in this world.”[16]

Views that would otherwise be considered beyond the pale are now disseminated far and wide by an “Islamic” institute that has respected Muslim scholarly authorities on its advisory board. For example, the view that Muslims can accept human evolution typically has only been advocated by the most hardened modernist deviants, rejectors of hadith, etc., individuals like the infamous Adnan Ibrahim or Pervez Hoodbhoy, et al. And whenever such deviance reared its ugly head, Islamic scholars were quick to make the Islamic stance clear: accepting human evolution is an act of disbelief.[17]

But now, anyone who wants to advocate the compatibility of human evolution and Islam can point to an “Islamic” institute with a staff that includes several scholars and claim that their position is within the bounds of acceptable disagreement. Back to Top

Fake Neutrality

On its About – Mission page, Yaqeen claims that one of its key values is neutrality. They define neutrality as follows:

“Yaqeen will not take sides on any research topic. We believe our neutrality is the optimum way to foster dialog on the important topics of the day.”[18]

As mentioned above, “not taking sides” on an issue is not always Islamically sound. On many issues, there is only one Islamically valid “side” and to pretend there are multiple sides on such important issues does nothing more than muddy the waters.

But besides this, Yaqeen’s neutrality is also a facade because, on many issues, they only publish one side, and consistently it is the side that most aligns with the sensibilities of liberal progressive American politics and culture.

For example, Yaqeen publishes an essay from Jonathan Brown that claims that hudud in the Sharia should not be implemented in the modern day. But, the validity of Brown’s position aside, Yaqeen has no essay that argues the contrary position.

Yaqeen publishes an essay from Tamara Gray asserting that traditional gender roles have nothing to do with Islam and are the product of white colonialism and “immigrant cultural baggage.” But, the validity of her assertion aside, Yaqeen has no essay that argues that traditional gender roles are Islamic and stem from the Quran and Sunna.

Yaqeen publishes an article about how “immigrant” Arab and South Asian Muslims in the US are racists and intolerant. But, the validity of this assertion aside, there is no essay that argues the contrary position.

In these and many other examples, Yaqeen demonstrates that it is a highly partisan organization pushing a very specific interpretation and practice of Islam (one that, as we see later in the report, is highly problematic). Empty claims of “neutrality” and “impartiality” are bandied about by the Institute to mask this reality. Back to Top

Modernist Revisionism By Another Name

In reality, Yaqeen’s methodology for addressing “uncomfortable” truths is nothing new. Their methodology is precisely how many Muslim modernists historically attempted to reconcile Islam with Western values and thought. Whatever in Islam conflicts with the dominant Western position is “dealt with” in one way or another.

Western hegemony says husbands and wives should have exactly the same rights?

Modernists misrepresent or outright reform Islamic family law as necessary.

Western hegemony holds religious freedom paramount and religious legislation barbaric?

Modernists deny that Islam requires implementation of Sharia.

Western hegemony promotes gay rights?

Modernists claim that Islam also accommodates gay rights.

Of course, different modernists will pursue different strategies for defending their reforms. Some justification methods are more or less sophisticated and will rely on traditional Islamic religious texts to greater or lesser degrees. But the overall motive shared by all modernists is the same: To exaggerate Islam’s compatibility with modern Western values and to mitigate or outright deny any divergence between the two.

Sadly, this is exactly what we find in much of Yaqeen’s output. And the listed claims above are all defended by various essays on Yaqeen’s website even if those authors do not describe themselves as “modernists” per se. Back to Top

Yaqeen Undermines Scholars and Imams

We cannot overemphasize the extent to which Yaqeen’s work on these “uncomfortable” issues has the potential to harm Muslim scholars, dawah carriers, Islamic school teachers, and imams. These are individuals who are already facing an uphill battle against the onslaught of modern ideologies eroding the iman of many Muslims.

Take the example of gender roles. According to modern feminism and “social justice” status quo, few things are more barbaric and regressive than traditional gender roles, with husbands as breadwinners and leaders and wives as caretakers and followers. Because of the power and influence of this feminist status quo, many Muslims today affirm these attitudes, implicitly or explicitly, and believe that Islam, as a religion of truth and justice, also rejects traditional gender roles. When those same Muslims, however, read about gender distinctions in the Quran relating to inheritance, witness testimony, male authority, male leadership, etc., and read hadith that exemplify traditional gender roles practiced by the Prophet ﷺ and his righteous Companions, and learn about how these roles are enshrined in Islamic law, all these facts can cause an acute faith crisis.

How does Yaqeen address this crisis? Through outright denial. As discussed in the Gender section of this report, Yaqeen papers on the issue, claim outright that gender roles are not a part of Islam and that, outside a small handful of “rituals,” Islamic ethics treat men and women exactly the same. In fact, women can and should be warriors, political leaders, social justice reformists, etc., and any resistance to this vision of women’s empowerment is an outmoded relic of “immigrant culture.” In other words, the very idea of distinct gender roles with men as leaders and authorities over women is foreign to Islam and its entire history.[19] This, of course, flies in the face of all Islamic schools of fiqh and it belies the biography of the Prophet ﷺ and the Quran itself. But it affirms contemporary feminist liberal values of “gender equality” and “gender justice” while reinforcing the illusion that Islam is fully compatible with this dominant Western ideology.

Now, what happens to those present-day Muslim scholars who teach the correct orthodox Islamic position, citing ayat of the Quran, examples from the prophetic biography, hadith, history of the righteous Companions, detailed works on fiqh regarding gender roles, the authority of husbands and fathers, etc.?

Those scholars are made to look like the bad guys. In light of Yaqeen’s papers on the subject, those scholars look, at best, ignorant, at worst, intolerant. The Muslim who doesn’t know better will question, “Why is my local imam teaching me these things when a large, well-funded institute is saying the exact opposite?” The local imam, the scholars, etc., are undermined in this way, where they could be seen as “extremists” who are teaching a “harsh,” “misogynist,” or “homophobic” version of Islam vis-a-vis Yaqeen.

And if those scholars were to insist that what they teach is correct and what Yaqeen promotes on these issues is Islamically incorrect or even, in some cases, blasphemous, they can be labelled as “intolerant,” ignorant of “valid ikhtilaf,” and accused of “lacking adab.”

In fact, Yaqeen itself encourages exactly these conclusions at an institutional level, particularly in their 2018 paper, “What Causes Muslims to Doubt?” which we now discuss. Back to Top

“Religious Muslims” Are the Real Problem

In 2018, Yaqeen published a follow-up study revisiting the “Sources of Doubt” for Muslims.[20] While the 2017 study tried to understand Muslim doubts by interviewing imams, chaplains, and community leaders, the 2018 study conducted a survey asking Muslims directly what causes them to have doubts. The 2018 study says that it based its survey on the 2017 study, using the information from the imams, chaplains, and community leaders to develop the questions.

But when we look at both studies, we find a huge discrepancy. Both studies identify “Moral and Social Norms” as a major source of doubt. But what is listed under that heading in 2017 is completely different from 2018.

2017 Study: Moral and Social Concerns Causing Muslim Doubt

  • Hijab
  • Islamic Law
  • Jihad
  • Slavery
  • Non-Muslim Rights in the Sharia
  • Homosexuality
  • Transgenderism
  • Hadd Punishments
  • Prophet’s Marriages
  • Women’s Rights
  • The fact that scholars historically were predominantly male

2018 Study: Moral and Social Concerns Causing Muslim Doubt

  • Teachings about the role of women
  • The hypocrisy of religious people; that is, the nonreligious behavior of supposedly religious individuals
  • The bad things that people do in the name of religion
  • The intolerance that some religious people show toward other faiths
  • The way that religious people sometimes insist that there is only one “right” way to practice faith
  • The intolerance that some religious people show toward certain other people (e.g., homosexuals)

Why the discrepancy? The 2018 study explicitly says that their survey questions were based on the imam, chaplain, and community leader interviews, but the 2017 study says nothing about subjects like “hypocrisy of religious people” or the “bad things done in the name of religion,” etc. If the 2017 imam/chaplain interviews didn’t identify these as significant sources of doubt, where did Yaqeen get them from? And what changed? Why didn’t the 2018 study include the sources of doubt that had been described by imams, scholars, chaplains, and community leaders just one year prior? Were the imams, chaplains, et al., extremely misinformed about what causes doubts for their communities?

It is bizarre to say the least that Yaqeen would so drastically negate the results of their previous study and then introduce new issues to base survey questions on. This makes the results of their survey highly suspect. For example, the 2018 study found that the number one cause of doubt for Muslims is: “The way that religious people sometimes insist that there is only one “right” way to practice faith.”

Is this really the number one thing that causes Muslims to doubt and/or leave Islam? The next two biggest sources of doubt were: “The bad things that people do in the name of religion” and “The intolerance that some religious people show toward other faiths.” “Intolerance for homosexuals” is also high on the list.

Were these things really the top sources of doubt for Muslims in 2018? Would a significant number of Muslims identify these things as doubts if Yaqeen hadn’t limited their survey to this very particular set of specific issues?

Putting aside such glaring methodological irregularities, what is the significance of Yaqeen identifying “religious people” and their “intolerance” and “bad” actions as overwhelmingly the cause of Muslim doubt? The term “religious people” was used throughout the survey, but nowhere are “religious people” defined in the study.

What does Yaqeen itself define as “religious people” given that their study identified their behavior to be such a significant source of problems for the community as a whole? Did the survey questions define “religious people” or did it allow participants to just assume?

The 2018 study concludes with:

“The upshot is that the primary driver of doubt appears to be the actions of Muslims rather than the doctrines of Islam.”

We know the expression, “If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” If this analogy can be extended, we could say, “If you’re selling hammers, tell people that all their problems are nails.” Is it a strange coincidence that Omar Suleiman’s entire “compassionate orthodoxy” project discussed above is grounded on the assumption that “conservative” Muslims are not tolerant and gentle enough and then his institute produces a research survey that finds that the lack of tolerance and gentleness of “religious people” is the main source of doubt and apostasy? Maybe there is no coincidence and it is just that Omar Suleiman has his fingers on the pulse of the Muslim community, fully in tune with its problems. But that explanation doesn’t work because the 2017 interviews with imams, chaplains, et al., from across the US didn’t surface “intolerant, mean religious people” as a significant factor. Do Omar Suleiman and Yaqeen know better than all these imams and scholars combined?

Let’s imagine for a second: If Yaqeen wanted to preach a message of cultural integration, interfaith tolerance, pro-LGBT tolerance, feminist reform, anti-”extremism,” anti-”conservatism,” anti-traditionalism, etc., it would be very convenient if it turned out that those exact things were the real culprits destroying Muslim faith. Then Yaqeen could swoop in and claim that it is compassionately solving a “very real” problem and “saving” the iman of Muslim by preaching its thinly-veiled, modernist “American Islam.” Now, if only there were quantitative results, perhaps through some kind of survey, that could back up such an institutional mission…

It is amusing that the 2018 study explicitly says:

“It is worth underscoring that, contrary to anti-Muslim assertions that have gained prominence in the past decade (particularly since the start of the last presidential cycle), the overwhelming majority of Islamic doctrine and practice is wholly compatible with living as an American citizen.”[21]

There is no citation or reference for this assertion, nor further explanation or qualification, etc. It seems that Yaqeen considers this to be a patent, manifest reality like, “The sky is blue.”

It is also worth noting that both 2017 and 2018 studies were authored by Youssef Chouhoud. Chouhoud is also a research fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU), which is a research institute that conducts studies on American Muslims. The Research Director of ISPU is Dalia Mogahed. As we will see below, Mogahed is heavily involved with counter extremism government programs and the progressive political movement in the US. She is also on Yaqeen’s advisory board and her ISPU collaborates extensively with Yaqeen. Back to Top

Ties to CVE and Counter Extremism

Government agencies and tech companies have made concerted efforts in the post 9/11 world to “counter extremism” in the Muslim community. These “de-radicalization” efforts involve numerous methods and strategies. What academics and independent analysts have noted, however, is that “fighting terror” is only a convenient excuse to pursue the much larger project of advancing Western political and economic interests in the Muslim world.[22]

Pursuing these interests requires changing how Muslims understand their own religion. As policy makers and think tanks like RAND have explicitly stated, the battle for Muslim hearts and minds is a battle that can’t be won on the battlefield. It has to be won on the minbar, from Muslim preachers and imams themselves, who will preach a version of Islam that is aligned with Western values and welcomes Western influence in the Muslim world.

But how can governments gain control of the minbar to ensure that imams are preaching this message? In countries ruled by despots, the matter is easy. The despotic governments overtly control the mosques and only permit government-approved imams to teach at them.

There are several acute problems with this iron-fisted strategy, the most significant of them being that the Muslims of these countries grow to distrust any religious figure tied to the government and view them as obvious distorters of Islam. Secondly, the iron-fisted strategy is ineffective if increasingly Muslims get their religious information from online sources instead of the mosques. Furthermore, Western governments, especially the US and UK, cannot directly exert control over mosques because of “religious freedom” restrictions. Indirect methods have to be used.

How could all these problems be solved? A big part of the solution pursued by the US government in the Bush and especially the Obama era was “community outreach,” i.e., bring well-placed liberal Muslim representatives into the fold of the administration, give them “a seat at the table,” empower them with counter extremist material, and coordinate their deployment of this material through the Musim community in the mosques and other community hubs, both offline and online.

How does Yaqeen fit into this government strategy? Back to Top

Yaqeen’s Alignment with Counter Radicalization/Extremism

Yaqeen says explicitly in its mission that it aims to battle extremism:

“In addition to translating and analyzing classical works on the subject matter, we also aim to actively participate in the current day discourse touching on all topics that are related to establishing conviction in the hearts and minds of Muslims, and battling the false notions that underlie Islamophobia and extremism.”[23]

Interestingly, they consider Islamophobia and extremism as both being undergirded by the same false notions and distortions of Islam. They say this explicitly on their Mission page:

“Islamophobia/Extremism: With the rise of Islamophobia on one hand and extremism on the other, Islam has been cast as irrational, incompatible with modern civilization and inherently violent. This has put Muslims in a defensive position in which they constantly have to justify their convictions, while fighting off the natural doubts and insecurities that arise from such a climate. Research in this area will include topics such as Jihad, Shariah, gender issues, Muslim/Non-Muslim relations, slavery and explaining controversial texts in Islam.”[24]

In other words, Muslim extremism and Islamophobia are two sides of the same coin.

Yaqeen explicitly addresses the issue of Muslim extremism and radicalization in two main articles. The first by Nazir Khan titled, “Forever on Trial—Islam and the Charge of Violence,” was published in November 2016. The second was published in March 2019 by Tarik Younis titled, “Counter-Radicalization: A Critical Look into a Racist New Industry.”[25]

As with much of Yaqeen’s content, the two essays fundamentally contradict each other. Younis argues that counter radicalization is inherently flawed for a variety of reasons, not least of which because of the implicit and explicit association made between Islam and extremism. Meanwhile, Khan’s article makes precisely this association! He argues that terror groups are driven by a corrupted understanding of Islam. Khan goes so far as listing specific doctrines held by terror groups:

“So what are the characteristic components of the ideology that defines modern-day groups like ISIS? Their mythology may be summarized as comprising five key pillars: 1) Caliphal Utopianism; 2) Dehumanization in the name of Walaa’ wal-Baraa’; 3) Takfeerism; 4) Totalitarian Jihad; and 5) Apocalypticism.”[26]

What is disturbing is that all of these “key pillars” have a basis in orthodox Islam. Yet Yaqeen pushes this article, in effect reinforcing the counter extremist narrative that intolerant, us vs. them, dehumanizing attitudes can be found in Islamic doctrines. Rather than affirm an important concept like al-wala’ wal-bara’ and explain in a nuanced but principled way the importance for Muslims to have allegiance to other Muslims and spiritually disassociate from kufr, Yaqeen prefers to attribute this key Islamic value to ISIS. Of course, the concept of al-wala’ wal-bara’ undermines the numerous unprincipled calls to interfaith unity and love coming from Yaqeen and its founder. So it gets thrown under the bus or is redefined and remolded beyond recognition.

Now, given Khan’s article, it should be noted that US, Canadian, and UK counter extremism programs also refer to these doctrines as part of “extremist Islamic ideology” and consider the adoption or expression of these doctrines by Muslims as a “mobilization indicator” that can trigger surveillance, detention, travel bans, etc. The National Counterterrorism Center, a branch of the Department of Homeland Security, lists the following[27] as some of the ideological indicators of potential extremism and eventual terrorist activity:

  • The West is waging war with Islam
  • The leaders of Muslim countries are apostates
  • Contemporary mainstream scholars have “sold out”
  • Muslims should defend themselves with violence if necessary
  • Strictness on religious clothing choices
  • Lack of tolerance for interfaith relations and other groups
  • Exclusivist language distinguishing Muslims from disbelievers

UK counter radicalization programs also use risk factors to label and track Muslims deemed to be on a track to terrorism. The Extreme Risk Guidance (ERG22+) framework,[28] a government-funded risk assessment, lists 22 social, psychological, and ideological indicators of radicalization, which include:

  • Need to redress injustice and express grievance
  • Need to defend against threat
  • Need for identity, meaning, belonging
  • Need for dominance
  • Susceptibility to indoctrination
  • Political/moral motivation
  • Over-identification with a group or cause
  • Us vs Them thinking
  • Dehumanization of the enemy
  • Attitudes that justify offending

As one can see, most of these points overlap with Yaqeen’s 2018 study on “intolerant religious Muslims” as being the primary source of doubts. And many Yaqeen articles are dedicated to portraying Islam as fundamentally interfaith, human-focused, open to reinterpretation, non-violent to a fault, etc., and categorically opposed to intolerance, “us vs. them” thinking, dominance, etc.

Given Yaqeen’s mission to fight extremism with a “balanced,” “compassionate” understanding of Islam, one has to question how much of their overall work is directly and/or indirectly informed by a government-created counter radicalization program.

In fact, there is significant evidence of Yaqeen’s direct involvement with agencies, organizations, and individuals pushing that agenda. Back to Top

Dalia Mogahed

Dalia Mogahed has served as an Advisor to Yaqeen since their inception and has appeared in numerous Yaqeen videos and posts. The biography of Mogahed on the Yaqeen website mentions:

“Why you should listen [to Mogahed]. She served on Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in 2009, advising the president on how faith-based organizations can help government solve persistent social problems.”[29]

This description is vague and leaves out the significant fact that Mogahed played a central role in the development of Obama’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program directed against the Muslim community. The explicit mission of the program is to confront “extreme” Muslim ideology. But in a landmark report on CVE, the Brennan Center concludes that, “CVE programs are surveillance and intelligence programs masquerading as community outreach programs.[30]

In her role, Mogahed “testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations about U.S. engagement with Muslim communities, and she provided significant contributions to the Homeland Security Advisory Council’s Countering Violent Extremism Working Group recommendations.”[31]

Her organization, ISPU, also played a big part in public relations, softening the Muslim community to the prospect of cooperating with federal and local agencies in order to police themselves. This was done through debates on the positives and negatives of CVE, held at the national ISNA convention and elsewhere, making it seem like an argument could be made for such a problematic initiative, one that has now been completely discredited and is seen by many activists and academics alike as an arm of structural racism against the Muslim community.

Mogahed, who played a central role in the development of the CVE program itself, continues to enjoy a highly visible role in the community, headlining ISNA panels annually and sitting comfortably in advisory board positions for the Yaqeen Institute and The Islamic Seminary of America.

Mogahed’s activities with ISPU and with Yaqeen ought to be seen in the context of over a decade of continuous cooperation and shocking public appearances with a cavalcade of some of the most vile individuals of ill repute the world has to offer, from Martin Indyk to Reza Aslan, from Madeline Albright to Irshad Manji.

A prominent example of this sort of collaboration, one that merits a much deeper look than can be done here, is her long-time participation in events and activities overseen by Meryl Chertoff and her husband Michael Chertoff, often under the auspices of the Aspen Institute.

From 2009 to 2019 Meryl Chertoff acted as the Executive Director of The Aspen Institute’s Justice and Society Program.[32] And in 2011, Michael Chertoff launched the Aspen Institute Homeland Security group, saying at the time, “This group of dedicated and experienced homeland security and counterterrorism veterans provides a unique forum to make recommendations and raise awareness to the ongoing and ever evolving security challenges of our time.”[33]

In 2008, both Dalia Mogahed and Michael Chertoff spoke at the 2008 Aspen conference and each had an article published in the Harvard International Review.[34] Chertoff’s was titled “Preventing Terrorism: A Case for Soft Power”. The next year Mogahed was added to Obama’s Advisory Council.[35]

For over a decade, Mogahed has shared the Aspen Institute’s stage with reformers like Reza Aslan, Irshad Manji, Shadi Hamid, Maajid Nawaz, and others like them.[36] Usually her participation is framed as the scarf-wearing conservative counterpoint to the progressives, but that is problematic because aside from giving credibility to these figures by sharing the stage with them, much of what she actually says in her appearances is wrong and harmful.

In 2018, Aspen launched a book called “Pluralism in Peril: Challenges to an American Ideal.”[37] The book and event was the culmination of a seven-year effort led by Meryl Chertoff and Co-Chairs David Gergen and Madeline Albright.[38] Yes, Madeline Albright, the witch who infamously said US interests are worth more than the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children. On pages 66-67, in a subsection entitled, “Muslims and the LGBTQ Community,” Mogahed states:

“While often singled out as “anti-LGBTQ,” Muslim Americans resemble mainline Protestants in their views on the LGBTQ community.

a. Muslims do not include an anti-gay agenda in their political platform. Muslim political priorities are economic growth and job creation, pluralism, and education, rather than social issues. Muslim piety resembles more the religious left than the religious right.

b. The majority of Muslims (52%) say homosexuals should be accepted by society, identical to 52% of Protestants who say the same and far higher than 34% of white evangelical protestants.”[39]

Finally, in 2019, the El-Hibri foundation’s Farhan Latif (also a panelist in Meryl Chertoff’s 2018 “Pluralism in Peril” book launch) awarded Dalia Mogahed the Peace Education Prize.[40] Present at the award ceremony and specially recognized was Meryl Chertoff. And, who was sitting front and center next to Dalia? It looks like it could be Michael Chertoff himself. Was it?

Now, consider the few examples of Mogahed’s activities and statements above in the context of the following critically important facts about the Chertoffs. In 2001, Michael Chertoff co-authored the Patriot Act — yes, the Patriot Act — and from 2005 to 2009 he was the Director of the Department of Homeland Security. Chertoff’s wife Meryl worked in the Office of Legislative Affairs at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) participating in the agency’s transition into the Department of Homeland Security in 2003, two years before her husband became Director where he “led the country in blocking would-be terrorists from crossing our borders or implementing their plans if they were already in the country”. Currently, Michael Chertoff is the Chairman of the fourth largest defense contractor in the world, BAE Systems. He is also Chairman of the Chertoff Group, a global security advisory firm.

The true extent of the negative impacts on the Muslim community of Mogahed’s whitewashing engagements with bad actors is hard to overstate. Rubbing shoulders for years with the creators and promoters of the Patriot Act itself is more than enough for her to answer for. But consider also any one of the threads of batil radiating from her appearances with any of the other deviants she collaborates with. Take her appearances with Reza Aslan, for example, which started at least ten years ago.[41] The Islamic Scholarship Fund, for which Aslan was a board member in 2015, used Aslan’s 2015 Aspen panel appearance with Mogahed to legitimize and promote their organization.[42] And Dalia obliged and promoted them as an antidote to extremism.[43] As a result, many well-meaning Muslims have become a part of it.

At the same time, in October 2019, ISF awarded a 15K film grant to lesbian actress and LGBT activist Fawzia Mirza.[44] Yes, an Islamic scholarship for a lesbian actress who has spent a decade making lesbian movies and was recently writing queer characters for CBS.[45] Then in November 2019, the Muslim Public Affairs Council put Mirza on a panel, and put her image alongside the community leader they were supposedly honoring, Dr. Ahmed Soboh.[46] Today, we find both Dalia Mogahed and Dalia Fahmy actively promoting ISF as it scouts out 2020 grantees.[47] What did they know about Mirza and what do they think about her work? Why did ISF promote her? Why do they promote ISF?

Yaqeen’s Dalia Mogahed is the patron of all of this. Will she clarify? Will she disassociate? Or will she stand by her misguiding, pro-LGBT allies like she has stood by Amani al-Khatahtbeh of Muslim Girl?[48] This accolyte of Mogahed is now, astoundingly, making a fool of the Muslim community by running for Congress in NJ, USA.[49] Is this the example of women’s empowerment which Yaqeen advocates for?

In November 2019 Mogahed presented Omar Suleiman the ISPU Research Making an Impact Award.[50] What instances of impact specifically is the pro-LGBT ISPU happy about?

Why is Dalia Mogahed, someone who has a long history deeply involved with government counter extremism efforts, an advisor to Yaqeen? Isn’t this alarming that an institute dedicated to shaping Muslim understanding of Islam has a “de-radicalization” official advising it, awarding its founder, and being a means of Yaqeen working with ISPU scholars who are pluralism advocates and not scholars of Islam? To what extent does Mogahed’s involvement with CVE, etc., inform the work of Yaqeen and what Yaqeen decides to publish?

Beyond merely an advisory role, Mogahed has her ISPU directly collaborating to create Yaqeen content (called “toolkits”).

“ISPU works to strengthen American Muslim communities by injecting research into conversations. To advance that goal, ISPU partnered with the Yaqeen Institute to integrate ISPU research into a series of Talk Toolkits developed by Yaqeen, allowing communities around the country to receive evidence-based and inspiring talks.”[51]

What kind of “research” is ISPU “injecting” into Yaqeen? Is it the progressive “moderate American Islam” research Mogahed developed with the Aspen Institute and Obama’s CVE racket?

Interestingly, Mogahed’s boss, the executive director at ISPU, Meira Neggaz is a major promoter of abortion. As we reported last year on MuslimSkeptic:

“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.”[52]

Interestingly, Yaqeen includes in their essay on abortion in Islam a glowing endorsement of Planned Parenthood, the largest promoter of abortion and LGBT fahisha in the US. Could Mogahed and her progressive connections have had a hand in making sure that endorsement made its way into an article about the fiqh of abortion? Back to Top

Yaqeen Collaborates with CPOST?

Other than Mogahed, other Yaqeen affiliates and staff have past histories working with counter extremism. Much more could be written on these connections, but for now, some brief highlights.

Yaqeen openly boasted in one post about collaborating with CPOST, the Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism/Threats. This is an organization that actively works with government security and intelligence agencies.

“Several universities have collaborated with local and national security agencies by establishing research centers for studying terrorism. For example, the Chicago Project on Security and Threats (CPOST) based at the University of Chicago.”[53]

CPOST also works for the Department of Defense and published a major study “The American Face of ISIS,” which argued that “homegrown” Muslim terrorism is more of a danger than foreign militants attacking the US from other countries. Summarizing CPOST’s result, Foreign Policy magazine writes:

“The policy point here is obvious. Clamping down on the travel and immigration of Muslims in general and of people from Muslim-majority countries in particular would have had a minimal impact on limiting the reach of the Islamic State in the United States. […] The primary threat is now at home. This is an example wherein facts and fact-based analysis should be an important antidote to emotional-based responses.”[54]

Robert Pape summarizes the results CPOST’s study on the American Face of ISIS:

“US ISIS indictees look more like average Americans than is commonly understood. […] In short, they’re engaged with society and have educational and career opportunities. They aren’t loners operating from the fringes of society. […] the indictees are truly homegrown.”[55]

Trump assumed office in January 2017 and at the time many American Muslims feared that the new president was planning to round up Muslims for concentration camps. In February 2017, Robert Pape of CPOST publishes his report saying that the US has a “truly homegrown” terror problem and these Muslim extremists “look more like average Americans.” Then in March 2017, Yaqeen meets with Pape, Omar Suleiman takes a selfie with him and they make plans for future collaboration. Are we missing something here?

It should also be noted that CPOST analyzes extremist content consumption online and makes counter extremism policy recommendations based on their results:

“The CPOST researchers found that propaganda consumption has quickened the pace of radicalization and encouraged people to act on their growing belief in the Islamic State cause. For some, the violence depicted in the videos — including executions — were the attraction, while others were attracted by videos showing the Islamic State helping the innocent people of the caliphate. Other research done by CPOST suggests that Islamic State videos showing that one can achieve hero status by joining the cause play a significant role as well. These findings suggest that the United States should focus more on Islamic State propaganda.”[56]

CPOST’s interest in online de-radicalization aligns perfectly with Yaqeen’s stated mission of fighting extremism through content creation and “reclaiming the narrative.”

While CPOST is praised for providing “fact-based analysis” on the “American face of ISIS,” Yaqeen Institute announces that they are eager to collaborate with them on future projects. Which projects are those? Should the Muslim community be concerned that Yaqeen is collaborating with such orgs that directly work with security and intelligence agencies? As we see below, their ties to CPOST and counterterrorism go even deeper than this. Back to Top

WISE

Omar Suleimain and two Yaqeen Research Directors, Nazir Khan and Jonathan Brown, have all worked with WISE, Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality. WISE has organized several counter extremism initiatives. WISE’s founder, Daisy Khan, has an extensive history working with Zionist organizations as well as counter extremism programs like CVE.[57] Among her notable activities is being a signatory to the “Coalition Letter on Civil Society Engagement with the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism,” in 2018, a major push to have the UN adopt CVE policies globally.[58] She also visits police departments to train them on Muslim extremism.[59]

In November 2017, WISE held its first summit on extremism, with Omar Suleiman as a panelist on “Understanding Extremist Recruitment and Early Intervention.”

Why is Suleiman participating in such conferences and working with problematic figures like Daisy Khan?

WISE also published a 375 page book on extremism, titled WISE UP: Knowledge Ends Extremism, edited by Daisy Khan, collecting essays from the likes of Reza Aslan, qadiyani Qasim Rashid, as well as US Army General Douglas Stone. Essay after essay in this book is filled with the most “model American Muslim minority” tripe imaginable. But more disturbing are the essays that push a deviant reformist message that often bleeds into kufr. Feminist reformist Laleh Bakhtiar has an essay dedicated to tolerance towards variant interpretations of the Quran: feminist, modernist, philosophical, etc. Mike Muhammad Ghouse has an essay “debunking” the idea that “There Is Only One Way to God,” advocating religious pluralism. Shia polemicist Ammar Nakshawani writes on martyrdom.

In the midst of all this shocking material, Jonathan Brown and Nazir Khan make their own contributions, on hadith and islamophobia respectively. Why are these two Yaqeen directors collaborating with such problematic elements, contributing to a book dedicated to “fighting extremism”? What is the extent of their involvement with such counter extremist initiatives?

And finally, we mention Yaqeen’s Director of Research Operations, Dr. Julio Rivera. Rivera has extensive professional experience working with the Department of Defense with a focus on the Middle East, “briefing senior military and allied officials.” He also worked on counterterrorism studies with the aforementioned CPOST.

Yaqeen’s Director of Research Operations is literally a counterterrorism specialist. 

 

Back to Top

Omar Suleiman and the Politics of Doubt

Part of understanding what Yaqeen stands for requires understanding its founder’s connections to the wider American political establishment. Suleiman has demonstrated time and again deep engagement with the liberal progressive movement. We have discussed the extent of these engagements and how they undermine his position as an orthodox imam for the Muslim community in other reports on MuslimSkeptic.[60]

There are two separate questions here. Is it appropriate for a Muslim, much less an imam or daee, to have open, public collaboration with known deviants and fussaq, not to mention non-Muslim factions who express an animosity toward orthodox Islam, not to mention counter extremism orgs, etc.? This is not really a question, but for the sake of the few who want to defend Suleiman at all costs, we can pretend it is.

But, putting that first question aside, we should ask, is it prudent to have such a figure running an institute dedicated to teaching Islam and fighting doubts? Won’t his politics necessarily color what Yaqeen publishes? And if so, doesn’t that mean that the fighting of Muslim doubts is, in this way, connected to the viscitudes of American politics? Throughout the report, we see how such political considerations sully much of Yaqeen’s work at the expense of orthodox Islam. Back to Top

Interfaith Love

Besides inappropriate political connections and associations, Suleiman himself often makes Islamically problematic statements. We see examples throughout this report. But here are some examples worth mentioning.

In one recent interview, Suleiman is speaking with a Christian pastor and a female rabbi, and he says:

“I hope we can get as close to each other once again as possible soon and I hope we can be able to transfer that love that that’s so apparent when we’re together once, again physically together.”[61]

In this appropriate language?

Suleiman often expresses this kind of love and affection that goes beyond professional cordiality or even allyship.

In one article, Suleiman expresses his deep sentiments for other religions:

“I also believe that others should be afforded the same right to discover and practice what they believe to be true. Allah said in the Quran that there is no compulsion in religion, and far be it for me to force my way on anyone else. I honor the right of a Christian or a Jew or anyone else to feel about their faiths as I feel about mine. Despite the difference in beliefs, I insist that we can work together to establish a society permeated with justice and peace, and that we can subsequently coexist in a loving way.”[62]

What is the status of such statements in Islam? Many within the Muslim community have become so desensitized to this language that they won’t even be able to recognize a problem. Can there be a society of justice and peace that is suffused with kufr and disobedience to Allah?

Why is Suleiman idealizing a secular humanist status quo of pluralism? Is this Islam’s vision for society? If somone truly cared about Christians and Jews, he would desire that they become Muslim. He would not “honor” their “right” to feel about their faiths as he feels about his. What does that even mean? Suleiman honors Christians and Jews and “anyone else” to feel like their respective religions are the truth? Is that kind of “honor” Islamically correct or appropriate?

Unfortunately, this kind of deeply problematic language is often deployed by Suleiman and absorbed by his most devoted followers, who are conditioned to think and feel in ways antithetical to the values of Islam. Now, Suleiman might protest that when Muslims are living in non-Muslim societies, they have to be neighborly and kind. There is no problem with being neighborly and kind given the right circumstances, but there is no need for that to be elevated to “love” and “deep respect” for their religion, etc. One can be neighborly with a person without honoring the falsehood that he may be on. These things are not mutually exclusive. Back to Top

Muslims Should Ally with Pro-LGBT Groups on Shared Goals

Recently, Omar Suleiman has had multiple engagements with ISPU scholar Asma Uddin under the banner of Religious Freedom. Under this banner, in February 2020, Omar Suleiman gave a bizarre speech on doing advocacy and cooperating with LGBT groups. He gave this speech in the masjid, and it has received some important criticism from Sh Saajid Lipham, though a closer analysis of his speech remains to be done. Uddin also shared the platform with Suleiman and gave her argument for Muslim support of LGBT rights.

Just before Ramadan of 2020, Asma Uddin has advertised another event with Omar Suleiman entitled #RamadanReligiousFreedom, featuring a Sikh, Uddin, and Suleiman. What other public and private events and meetings has he had with Uddin? What are they preparing and pushing for the Muslim community?

It is important to understand what sort of religious freedom Uddin is fighting for. It is important to note that Uddin and many other religious freedom activists tie Religious Freedom with LBGT issues. Why do they do that? Consider what Uddin states in this NPR interview:

“UDDIN: Well, I think that even in the space of Christianity, increasingly, you hear the sort of outcry from more progressive Christians that they feel that the way that Christianity is being defined and championed tends to only happen from this particular angle. And, of course, a constant concern in the context of, specifically, the sexuality-related culture wars is that the rights of LGBT individuals, including LGBT individuals of faith or people who hold different positions on abortion, contraception from a religious standpoint, are being undermined.

“And to that end, I think that it has to come from an understanding that religious liberty is not in some way just a safeguard for traditional religious beliefs. It is a safeguard just for beliefs of wide diversity, anywhere they fall on the political spectrum and, again, on the diverse religious spectrum. And so what I hope for – and I do see some movement in this from more progressive religious liberty groups – to bring to the floor more progressive religious claims and say, look; religious liberty is for this, too. My concern is if the rhetoric and the enforcement of some of these policies continues to be only thought in the frame of traditional religious beliefs, then there will be other types of religious claims that won’t be as protected.”[63]

We discuss Uddin further below, in the section on LGBT. For now, let’s consider how Omar Suleiman justifies aligning so closely with liberal deviants, LGBT advocates, CVE experts, female imams, reformists, etc.

Suleiman lays out his justification for his political alliances in a Yaqeen essay titled, “Faithful Activism: A Sunnah Framework.”

This essay intends to prove that Suleiman’s progressive politics is actually the Sunna. How does he argue this?

He first claims the following:

“The golden rule of organizing meaningfully is to build broad coalitions around bold platforms. This means having as many partners possible around as specific a platform as possible. The Sunnah precedent of this model is found as alluded to above in the Prophet’s example of participating in Hilf Al Fudool; i.e., the pact of justice.”

So, immediately, Suleiman claims that the ideal is to have as many partners as possible. Is there any group that one would not work with? Is Suleiman willing to form a broad coalition that includes White Supremacists? How about Zionists? If White Supremacists and Zionists stand for justice on a particular issue, would Suleiman join hands with them?

Much of Suleiman’s argument rests on Hilf al-Fudul.

“The Messenger ﷺ said: Certainly, I had witnessed a pact of justice in the house of Abdullah ibn Jud’an that was more beloved to me than a herd of red camels. If I were called to it now in the time of Islam, I would answer it. Before the Prophet ﷺ received revelation, a man from the tribe of Zubaid came to do business in Makkah. On his journey, he encountered a man who was from the Quraysh. The Qurayshi man asked him to hand over his merchandise and told him that he would give his payment for the merchandise the next day. There was no doubt in the Zubaidi man’s heart that he would receive his payment as people from outside Makkah respected and trusted the Quraysh. The next day he went to collect the money from the Qurayshi man who denied any knowledge of such payment. The Zubaidi man was distraught at the situation and went to all of the leaders complaining of the Qurayshi man who took his belongings. They ignored and dismissed him. The next morning he went to the Ka’aba, stood at the door, and took his shirt off as a sign of desperation. He cried out and read some verses of poetry, addressing the Makkans as a people of dignity and honor, asking how theft and oppression could occur in the city of Makkah. Embarrassed about the whole ordeal, the Quraysh called a meeting to address the situation and the youngest attendees were the Prophet ﷺ and Abu Bakr (ra). They came to the agreement that they would stand with the oppressed regardless of what tribe they were from.”

Suleiman takes this story and uses it as a basis to derive an entire framework of behavior that he deems is the Sunna. What qualified scholar would agree with Suleiman making personal ijtihad like this and deriving rulings on the basis of one incident from the sirah?

Suleiman goes quite far in the lessons he derives from Hilf al-Fudul. He says:

“The Prophet ﷺ acknowledged that Muslims and non-Muslims could work together in such pacts and coalitions even if there were bigger issues that they disagreed on. The Makkans at this time maintained all sorts of idolatry, lewdness, and oppressive practices, but that didn’t stop the Prophet ﷺ from joining them in achieving this specific good. He wasn’t normalizing their practices, he was addressing the specific harm of one of those practices that had tainted them collectively.”[64]

There is a fundamental disanology between Hilf al-Fudul and the progressive political coalitions Suleiman is proposing. Hilf al-Fudul involved the powerful and influential tribe members of Makka coming together in support of the marginalized. But the progressive social justice movement is not like this. Social justice political organizing involves separate “marginalized” groups coming together to “fight the power.” Many of these groups see the overall power structure of society as fundamentally oppressive. These activists do not want to form pacts with the rich and powerful or the “patriarchy.” They want to topple the entire structure. In fact, many of these activists would be fundamentally suspicious of the rich and powerful in society coming together to form a supposed pact for justice.

A correct analogy would be if the powerful of American society came together for a pact. Imagine Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bill Gates, Chuck Schumer, Sheldon Adelson, et al., came together for some charitable cause (which they often do). Should Muslims join those efforts? Is that the “Sunna Activism” Suleiman has in mind? If not, why not? Isn’t that the correct analogy to derive from Hilf al-Fudul?

Suleiman remarks:

“In many cases, religion does not fail because it is refuted, but because it is no longer relevant or worse, viewed as a tool of oppression. The greatest threat to religion is stagnation, not refutation.”[65]

Where does he get this stuff? Is there some reference from anything in the Islamic tradition to back this up? Or has Suleiman reached such heights of understanding that he can make grand definitive statements about Islam in this way? The Prophet ﷺ states clearly what he knew to be the greatest threat for his Ummah: love of dunya and dislike of death.

Next Suleiman specifies the first level of coalition building:

“Commitments to genuine condemnations of hate, dehumanizing rhetoric, bullying. Condemn violence and precursors to violence. We reject bullying in schools, workplaces, and media spaces. We reject violence against anyone in our society, and vigilantism in all of its forms. We remain reflective on our own language and challenge others to do better as well. We check hate against us or anyone in our presence when we see it, and elevate the discourse.”[66]

What is considered “hateful”? What is considered “dehumanizing”? And what does “precursors to violence” mean? This is CVE counter extremism rhetoric that Suleiman is pushing. In his LGBT speech referenced above, Suleiman makes his point more explicitly:

“So what’s the first commitment that everyone in society can make? Everyone in society can commit to genuine condemnations of hate, dehumanizing rhetoric, bullying, against whoever it may be, whether it is the LGBT community or the Jewish community or whatever it may be, all types of communities. We can commit ourselves to again avoiding hate, dehumanizing rhetoric, bullying. We can condemn violence. We can and should condemn precursors to violence. We should revisit those things all the time and not because it’s bad PR or good PR but because we start from the place of the Prophet ﷺ.”

First of all, why is Suleiman equating the LGBT “community” with the Jewish community? Islam recognizes religious categories, but do we accept any group that comes to us claiming to be a “community” with shared interests?

And, again, how “hate” is defined is significant. The fact of the matter is many factions within social justice politics and LGBT activism view orthodox Islam and the content of Quran, hadith, and Islamic teachings in general as hateful, dehumanizing, and as precursors to violence. Suleiman pays no attention to such a glaring, obvious problem with his entire framework.

Countering extremism/radicalization ideology in full display.

Beyond this, Suleiman’s conception of “hate” means that Muslims cannot effectively practice al-wala’ wal-bara’. As Muslims, we must hate kufr. And that entails that we hate certain groups. That doesn’t mean we violate the laws of the land or unnecessarily antagonize people, but the internal state is what is important. Is there anything illegal about hating certain groups? The progressive left has no problem expressing their boiling hate for the right wing, for white supremacists, for alt-right, etc. Hate is an accepted part of political and social discourse as long as the “right” people are the objects of that hate. Why can’t Muslims hate certain groups as well? By denouncing hate in this unprincipled and ultimately incoherent way, Suleiman is negating this necessary hate for Allah’s sake that is so crucial in Islam.

It is also very alarming that he repeatedly uses the counter extremism jargon of “precursors to violence.”

Suleiman continues with Level 2:

“Political tribes seek the welfare only of their particular tribes, and we have to transcend that. That doesn’t mean ignoring systemic elements of these issues, but immersing yourself in them primarily as a member of the shared human family enables a perspective beyond politics or tribalism. This is, in fact, the purest form of khidma and where the majority of the community should be involved.”

No reference, no nothing for why we should consider this “transcending tribalism” for the sake of “shared human family” is the “purest form of khidma.” These are heavy statements to make. What gives Suleiman the right to define the “purest form of khidma”? And then he says that the majority of the community should be involved in these Level 2 issues. What is the basis for that?

“Ḥadīth, therefore, form a necessary component of the religion (al-maʿlūm min al-dīn bi ḍarūra). Essentially, ijmāʿ serves as our Pope and there is no changing it unless it is proven to have been claimed falsely.”

Is this an appropriate way to speak about Islam?

He writes:

“We should constantly both think and act in accordance with what Muhammad ﷺ would do. There should be some reservation however with expressing definitely what the Prophet would do with things that are not so clearcut. It isn’t wise or intellectually honest to state that if the Prophet were here, he would validate my precise platform. We should, however, strive to make our actions as consistent with his example as possible, while engaging thoroughly the things that we know with certainty the Prophet would engage. We can take from some prominent Christian and Jewish thinkers and activists in this regard.”

What is he talking about? Maybe he should have used some of that reservation he talks about here back when he was telling us about the “purest form of khidma.” And what does he mean “engaging thoroughly the things that we know with certainty the Prophet ﷺ wound engage”?

How does Omar Suleiman know with certainty what the Prophet ﷺwould engage? And does Suleiman imagine that the Prophet ﷺ would engage in the outrageous associations with LGBT activists, reformist deviants, feminist SJWs, etc., that he constantly praises and endorses and puts on a pedestal?

The Prophet ﷺ is reported to have said: “If anyone introduces an innovation or gives shelter to a man who introduces an innovation (in religion), he is cursed by Allah, by His angels, and by all the people.”[67]

Unapologetically associating with clear deviants and fussaq is no light matter. This hadith also seriously put into question Suleiman’s unqualified, haphazard appeal to Hilf al-Fudul. There are limits set by the Prophet ﷺ himself on who can and cannot be engaged, as expressed in hadith like this one.

Suleiman also pays lip service in response to a common criticism leveled against him:

“While Suhayl Ibn Amr demanded things like “Al Rahman Al Raheem” and “RasulAllah” be removed from the treaty [of Hudaybiyya], there was no doubt or lack of clarity amongst the Muslims about Who the Most Merciful was and who the Prophet ﷺ was. As we engage society for its collective betterment, we must retain clarity of our deen to the greatest extent possible.”

How can “clarity of deen” be maintained when Suleiman regularly associates with fussaq and fahisha mongers? He never denounces these people in a clear unequivocal way, so how is he retaining clarity to “the greatest extent possible”?

Ultimately, one of the bigger problems with Suleiman’s proposal is that he never once mentions service to the masjid. He never once mentions service to Islam. He never once mentions service to make the Word of Allah Highest (that might be considered “hateful” and a “precursor to violence”). Suleiman presents this long, meandering “Sunnah Activism Framework,” but it is so concerned with “serving humanity” as the “purest form of khidma” that it forgets that Muslims are humans too, and we have a purpose on this earth to serve Allah and the cause of Islam. Suleiman is so outwardly focused, that none of this factors into his six-level structure. This oversight belies his claim to desire the “betterment of society.” How can society improve unless Muslims are a strong force, a strong community of believers, with strong iman, strong taqwa, strong willingness to sacrifice for the sake of Allah? How can society improve when Muslims are weak, when our institutions, our masajid, our ulama are lacking volunteers, lacking funds, lacking attention because an external focus on politics and social activism is draining the community’s energy and focus?

How can young and growing Muslims be effective in any capacity facing the onslaught of culture and social justice hysteria without a foundation or a strong “home base” to be anchored to? They will be swept away without it.

These issues deserve further analysis. Back to Top

Gender

In most places where Yaqeen has addressed the topic of gender, their tendency has been to downplay differences between Islam and dominant feminist notions of gender equality and gender roles in the West. In some cases, this downplaying of differences reaches the level of outright distortion. And in other places, Yaqeen authors forward their own personal ijtihad in revising Islamic rulings.

This kind of revision is justified by a principle mentioned in one of the more problematic essays from Yaqeen on gender, discussed below. The authors state:

“In the case of many rulings related to women, historical scholars may have provided views based on the cultural norms of their society. Evaluating whether those norms are still relevant today is part of the process of fiqh.”[68]

This view that past scholars predicated their rulings on the particularities of the cultures and time periods in which they lived is an oft-repeated refrain from modern reformists. It is a view that has the potential to undermine all fiqh rulings on all issues. How far does Yaqeen take this principle in their own collection of papers on gender? Quite far, as we shall see.

One small but telling fact that captures Yaqeen’s understanding of gender: In 2019, they released a series of papers in what they called a “Gender Series.” In that series, there were 24 instances of words related to leaders and leadership. Out of those 24 instances, 19 were mentioned in association with women. Only 5 were mentioned in association with men. But this is really the least of Yaqeen’s problems with this topic. Back to Top

Muslim Women Turn to Feminism Because of Bad Treatment

Nour Soubani and Tasneem Alkiek wrote, “Is Feminism the Problem: Why Ideological Bandwagons Fail Islam,” to explain the phenomenon of Muslim women turning to feminism. To their credit, they don’t give a full endorsement of feminism and acknowledge that there may be “potential contradictions” between Islam and aspects of feminism. But their overall argument is flawed and only serves as defense of the feminist cancer that continues to cause great damage to the iman of some Muslims.

Their main thesis is that it is wrong to see feminism as a source of Muslim women leaving Islam. Rather, Muslim women turn to feminism because they have been treated poorly by the Muslim community, i.e., Muslim men. They say:

“To focus on feminism as the primary reason for women leaving the faith is problematic for at least two reasons: 1) it involves addressing what we see as a symptom of Muslim women’s alienation and not its root causes; and 2) it risks further alienating those who already feel they have no space in the Muslim community.”[69]

The question is, is the adoption of feminism by Muslim women a symptom of a deeper problem, or is it the cause of problems? The Yaqeen authors attempt to prove the former: Adoption of feminism is merely the symptom.

So what is the cause of this alienation that some Muslim women feel? The authors cite three main things:

  1. Mosques are not welcoming because
    1. They do not have women leaders
    2. They do not have adequate, clean space for women
    3. They don’t amplify women’s voices
  2. Islam is used to justify sexual harrassment and domestic abuse against women
  3. Muslim women face the brunt of Islamophobia

Because of this alienation, the authors argue, Muslim women turn to the only discourse that adequately speaks to their woes: Feminism.

Is this a compelling argument?

Not at all, for several reasons. First, the biggest problem with Soubani and Alkiek’s argument is that it does not acknowledge that many Muslim women are alienated by actual features of Islam itself.

How many Muslim girls are alienated from Islam because they view hijab as inherently oppressive? How many Muslim women are alienated from Islam because they think it is misogynistic that women pray behind men? How many Muslim women are alienated from Islam because Allah uses the pronoun ‘He’ to refer to Himself in the Quran? How many Muslim women are alienated from Islam because Islam allows Muslim men to marry Jewish and Christian women, as well as allowing polygyny (multiple wives) but not polyandry (multiple husbands)? How many Muslim women are alienated because of the wife’s religious obligation to obey her husband? And so on.

To truly understand the destructive impact of feminism, these attacks on orthodox Islam by the feminist ideology cannot be ignored. But Soubani and Alkiek conveniently leave out these sources of alienation and loss of faith perhaps because they cannot blame Muslim men and the wider Muslim community for these sources of alienation and loss of faith. The only possible source of these doubts is the feminist ideology.

Soubani, Alkiek, and Yaqeen itself might try to evade this obvious conclusion by arguing that these doctrines of Islam, like polygyny, the husband’s authority, hijab, etc., only cause alienation because they have not been taught in the most “compassionate” way.

But this claim is undermined by the fact that many of these doubts only became a problem in recent history, as Muslim women were introduced to feminism. There is no historical record of large segments of the Muslim female population expressing dissatisfaction with the differential treatment of men versus women in Islamic Law, gender roles, etc. Therefore, what accounts for the unprecedented surge, a veritable tidal wave, of “gender equality”-related doubts expressed by many Muslim women and girls today? Did Muslim teachers, preachers, scholars, imams, etc., all suddenly lose their “compassion” in the past few decades? If so, what was the “compassionate” manner in which these issues were addressed 30, 40, 50, 100 years ago so that we can revive it instead of adopting the “compassionate orthodoxy” of Yaqeen, that is more about distortion than anything else, as this report shows.

Or perhaps feminism really is the culprit.

The other conceptual problem with Soubani and Alkiek’s claim is that feminism contributes to distorting women’s expectations and thereby creating dissatisfaction that wouldn’t otherwise exist.

For example, consider the number one factor they mention: Treatment and representation at mosques. There doesn’t seem to be much actual independent data to corroborate Soubani and Alkiek’s claim that a significant number of US mosques are not welcoming (the link they cite doesn’t have the actual data they mention).[70] Let’s accept their claim at face value. The problem is, determining what is or is not “welcoming” depends on subjective attitudes. One day, a female mosque member might not have any problem with her masjid not having regular programs for women to stand on the minbar and deliver speeches. The next day, due to some feminist influence, she might feel that the lack of such representation is a great injustice. Suddenly the masjid went from being “welcoming” to “unwelcoming,” but nothing with the masjid actually changed.

To what extent is any dissatisfaction with mosques or any Muslim institution the result of such subjective attitudes that are heavily influenced by feminist ideology distorting expectations and attitudes?[71]

None of this is predicated on the assertion that no mosques have legitimate problems. Some certainly do. But how big is the problem really and is it commensurate with the significant changes in Muslim women’s attitudes?

In the US, for well over two decades, we have been hearing the claim that mosques are unwelcoming towards women. Yet, most of the major mosques in the US have taken steps to accommodate women. For many of them, it would be in their financial interest to do so since, at the very least, it would increase potential donors. But, even if we are skeptical about whether most mosques have taken pro-women measures, we can be more certain that, over the years, directionally US mosques are accommodating more women’s activities and making sure to improve on any deficiencies in the women’s facilities. That seems to be obviously the case. It would be very surprising if it turned out that with all the political and social pressure for women’s inclusivity inside and outside the Muslim community that it turned out mosques had become less inclusive of women over the past 10 to 20 years.

Be that as it may, the problem for Soubani and Alkiek’s argument is that, despite this trend toward women’s inclusivity, the trend of Muslim women accepting feminism and being alienated by Islam has only worsened year by year.[72] If unwelcoming mosques were the root cause of this adoption of feminism, we would expect at least some decline, or at least stagnation, not an exponential increase. Back to Top

Is Islam Pro-Choice on Abortion?

Yaqeen addresses the issue of abortion in an essay titled: “Islam and the Abortion Debate.” When this paper was originally published in 2017, it listed three co-authors: Hatim al-Haj, Mohammad Shinawy, and Omar Suleiman. Now the paper only lists Omar Suleiman. It is not clear why the names of these previously listed co-authors have been removed.

The essay has two main problems. First, is the following:

“Between 40 and 120 days from conception, the four madhabs disagreed, even within their own ranks, and so we will state the dominant position of each school. The Mâlikis traditionally were the strictest in this regard; they opposed any medical technique as a means of birth control (such as drinking medicine), with some even opposed to seeking to expel the semen after intercourse. The dominant Ḥanafi position was far more lenient in permitting abortion up until 120 days from conception, with some even allowing it without the husband’s permission. Nowadays, many contemporary juristic assemblies prescribe the position held by the Ḥanbalis; permitting abortion up until 40 days, and only up until 120 days when a pressing need is present (such as rape, or an extreme fetal deformity incompatible with life).”[73]

The way that this is phrased makes it seem like there is a full spectrum of opinions on abortion in Islam — from not even allowing contraception to full autonomy of a wife to terminate well into the second trimester without even needing to be in agreement with her husband — and the scholars are evenly distributed between these two poles. This is a false impression, since the dominant position in three out of the four schools of fiqh all require valid medical or life-and-death reasons to abort after 40 days, and before 40 days, require, at the very least, consent from the husband.

And even with the Hanafi school, it is a misrepresentation to characterize the school as “more lenient” given that the predominant position among contemporary Hanafi jurists is that a valid excuse is needed to terminate pregnancy even up to 120 days, and the subset of Hanafi jurists who didn’t qualify that a valid excuse is needed, still required the agreement of the husband.[74] It was only a subset of this subset of Hanafi jurists who seemingly allowed termination without valid medical reason and without husband’s agreement.[75] So for Yaqeen to foreground this minority of a minority of a minority view gives the wrong impression.[76]

But it is a convenient wrong impression. It is the wrong impression that Islam is “pro-choice” in a way that is analogous to modern feminist conceptions of a “woman’s right to choose.” This is convenient for Muslim activists who want to passionately march for “reproductive rights” alongside their non-Muslim feminist friends. But the reality is, there is no such thing as “my body, my choice” in the Hanafi school or anywhere else. The body of women and men belong to Allah and no one has the right to treat his body according to his personal agency beyond the scope of what the Creator and Master of that body has permitted.

The suspicion, however, that Yaqeen is playing into progressive politics is further supported by the bizarre inclusion of a section at the end of the essay praising Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood is an extreme leftist organization responsible for facilitating hundreds of thousands of abortions every year. According to US abortion statistics, the majority of these abortions are done purely for convenience sake and often passed the 120 day mark, which means that Planned Parenthood is responsible for thousands of natal deaths annually. Beyond abortions, Planned Parenthood is a major promoter of LGBT and specifically LGBT education for children as young as four.

How could a Muslim praise such a Satanic organization? Yaqeen writes:

“Advocates of Planned Parenthood point out that their services primarily provide low-income and uninsured people access to contraceptives and sexual health care. In 2009, Planned Parenthood’s abortion care represented only 3 percent of its medical services (332,000 terminations out of a total of 11.4 million services). Beyond statistics, it is quite obvious that access to contraceptives naturally reduces the need for unwanted pregnancies, which may result in abortions. Islamic legal theorists always point to the priority of preventing unwanted circumstances instead of simply remedying problematic outcomes. That includes reforming the moral ethics of society as well as the inequities that disproportionately force the marginalized into painful decisions.”

Why would Yaqeen include this random endorsement of Planned Parenthood? All the statistics mentioned are talking points from Planned Parenthood itself, sourced from an article written by one of their executives, “Five Myths About Planned Parenthood.” Are Muslims supposed to support Planned Parenthood because it is supposedly helping “low-income and uninsured people”?

Why doesn’t Yaqeen mention the fact that Planned Parenthood was founded by a white supremacist eugenicist, Margaret Sanger, who founded the organization in an effort to reduce the African American population? Sanger infamously said:

“We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.”[77]

Perhaps Omar Suleiman can quote Planned Parenthood’s founder on that. Or maybe this is more suitable:

“Birth control is not contraception indiscriminately and thoughtlessly practiced. It means the release and cultivation of the better racial elements in our society, and the gradual suppression, elimination and eventual extirpation of defective stocks— those human weeds which threaten the blooming of the finest flowers of American civilization.”[78]

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Mother of the Believers, Aisha, Married When 18 Years Old

Here is an example of Yaqeen “muddying the water,” with a paper titled: “Aisha (ra): The Case for an Older Age in Sunni Hadith Scholarship.” This paper is a translation of an argument provided by a contemporary Syrian scholar named Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn al-Idlibī. The translation and a short opening essay are provided by academic Arnold Yasin Mol (who is discussed separately later in the report: Leaders in the Reformist Movement Writing for Yaqeen?).

Now, there is no reason for Yaqeen to include this paper on our mother Aisha being 18 when she married the Prophet, as there is consensus on this issue among scholars based on clear narrations from Aisha herself stating that she was married at 6 and the marriage was consummated when she was 9 years old.[79] The other Yaqeen papers addressing this issue make this exact point. So why does Yaqeen decide to undermine the other papers in their “Aisha Series” by including this? Doesn’t this just lead to confusion and the dangerous impression that everything that has long been considered sahih and reliable could potentially be overturned if you’re creative enough with your matn criticism?[80]

Be that as it may, al-Idlibī presents ten convoluted, twisting arguments, and after much spilt ink, he concludes that Aisha was actually 14 when married and consummated at 18 years old. This would imply that Aisha was very inaccurate in remembering her age when marrying the Prophet, since people generally have a good sense in knowing the difference between being 9 years old versus 18. Therefore, Idlibi’s argument doesn’t seem very plausible. Furthermore, Idlibi’s entire calculation hinges on speculative inferences like:

“An eleven-year-old girl would usually not be able to carry such heavy water skins and pour them into the mouths of the wounded, then refill them, and go back again.”[81]

Is it that hard to imagine an eleven-year-old girl carrying waterskins? Or:

“Before the age of four, a child cannot usually comprehend the fact that his or her parents are practicing a religion contrary to the religion of the majority of those around them.”

Do children as young as four really not remember such details? It seems like many children in our time do recognize such things and remember them later in life. There is no strong reason why al-Idlibi rejects the possibility.

All the arguments al-Idlibi gives are like this in that they rely on a speculative premise that he just asserts without little to no justification. Ironically, this exercise proves exactly the problem with modern matn criticism — it ends up mostly being a reflection of the criticizer’s assumptions about what is or isn’t possible, what words could or could not mean in what context, and other slippery determinations of that nature.

In any case, what is far more interesting about this paper is the translator, Arnold Yasin Mol. He is discussed in a dedicated section later in the report: Leaders in the Reformist Movement Writing for Yaqeen? . Back to Top

There Is No Such Thing as Femininity in Islam

Yaqeen’s obfuscation of distinct Islamic gender roles is furthered in the article “Courage & Commitment: The Femininity of Muslim Women.” The article was written by Tamara Gray, an American Muslim teacher and loud advocate for feminism, who wrote “Lean In: Our Feminist Manifesto” and teaches pro-feminist values in her classes and lectures.[82]

Her Yaqeen article begins by describing her project:

“We must find a way to break out of preconceived ideas around femininity and masculinity that we have adopted subconsciously. In the following pages, I first discuss Western myths around femininity. I then look to the women mentioned in the Qur’an and Muslim women throughout the centuries.”[83]

This sounds promising, but she quickly reveals what she means by “Western myths around femininity.”

“During colonialist rule, Western governments and missionary schools introduced their own beliefs about femininity to Muslim lands. Their concept of the delicate and fainting woman clashed strongly with the example of bravery in battle of Safiyya bint Abdul Muttalib رضي الله عنها but it began to permeate local cultures nonetheless. Eventually the ‘ideal woman’ who cooks, cleans, docilely serves her husband, and gently raises her children became part and parcel of khutbas and halaqas—all without questioning where that ideal came from in the first place.”[84]

Here, Gray creates an absurd dichotomy between the Western “delicate, fainting woman” and the Muslim warrior woman, as if Islamic femininity is defined by “bravery in battle.” This has quickly become a cliched mainstay of modern Muslim feminists, who cherrypick exceptions to the norm in an attempt to undermine traditional Islamic gender norms.[85] The fact that in some situations of dire need, where the Ummah faced an existential threat from enemy forces, Muslim women would pick up the sword, does not mean that that is an appropriate or accepted role for women. In fact, Islamic scholars prohibit women from the battlefield, except for the exceptional circumstances of last resort.[86] Furthermore, this is not something unique to Muslim women, as there are many examples in history of women from all cultures forced into combat due to life-and-death situations.

Gray continues:

“Sitcoms in the 1950s showed so-called ‘ethnic’ men as unable to ‘control’ their wives, whereas the middle-class white housewife was well behaved. An image of ideal femininity attached to gentle and sweet housewifery was born and then exported across the world via movies and television for peoples of every culture to absorb. Suddenly, in Muslim societies, there was women’s work (housework) and men’s work (office work)—though our very Prophet ﷺ had never endorsed this distinction.”[87]

Is this true? Did the notions of wifely obedience only originate in the Muslim world due to white Western influence? Is it true that, prior to white influence, there were no norms in Islam to differentiate between men’s work and women’s work?

Both of Gray’s assertions are patently false. The Quran and Sunna are explicit about the religious duty of wives to be obedient to their husbands, i.e., what Gray pejoratively calls “control.” And the distinction between traditionally male work versus female work is attested to in many narrations about the Prophet ﷺ, his wives, and the Companions as a whole.[88] For example, the Prophet ﷺ said: “When a man calls his wife to fulfill his need, then let her come, even if she is at the oven.” Would anyone consider it sexist to speak of women as generally being around ovens? Or consider the narration regarding the beloved daughter of the Prophet, Fatima, who asked for a servant because of blisters on her hand from using a millstone. In one narration, the beloved wife of the Prophet ﷺ Aisha is reported to have said:

“I never saw any woman who made food like Safiyyah. She sent a dish to the Prophet ﷺ in which was some food, and I could not keep myself from breaking it. I asked the Prophet ﷺ what the expiation was for that, and he said: ‘A dish like that dish, and food like that food.'”[89]

In another narration, Aisha remarked:

“I used to wash the traces of janaba from the clothes of the Prophet ﷺ and he used to go for prayers while traces of water were still on it.”[90]

The distinct roles of men and women are also clear in Islamic jurisprudence, based on unequivocal ayat of the Quran. For example, Allah says that men are authorities over their wives and are responsible for providing for them and protecting them.[91] He also says, “Mothers (should) suckle their children for two full years, for one who wants to complete the (period of) suckling. It is the obligation of the one to whom the child belongs (the father) that he provides food and clothing for them (the mothers) with fairness. Nobody is obligated beyond his capacity.”[92] Based on these ayat and other evidences, the scholars gave men a clear role as breadwinners. The main responsibilities of women, as defined by the Sharia, were being sexually available for their husbands and being caretakers of children. The ability to care for children was especially crucial in times of when Muslim men were obligated to go on expeditions for jihad. If women’s main role was not staying home and managing children and other household affairs, the Muslim community would have quickly collapsed.

Now, the modern feminist will shudder at this delineation of duties, but for virtually all of human history, women did not seem to mind. It was not like the man’s role of toiling from dawn till dusk as a farmer or merchant to provide food for his family was a glamorous job for the vast majority of men for the vast majority of history, certainly not jobs that women would be pining for. It is only due to the modern feminist movement that this natural, God-given order with distinct gender roles was questioned. This is why feminists like Gray have to make the silly claim that traditional gender roles were the invention of American sexists in the 1950’s.

Now, in an essay supposedly dedicated to elaborating what it means to be feminine, Gray paradoxically trashes the entire exercise as a Western colonial byproduct:

“The question ‘What is women’s role in society’ is a question resulting from the globalization of Western thought. Instead, Muslim women have been asking, ‘What does society need from me?’”[93]

Gray continues by asking:

“If the image of the domesticated woman is a false ideal, what is the Muslim version of womanhood?”[94]

She answers her question by surveying examples of women in the Quran and history and concludes:

“If we were to define femininity according to the Qur’an, we could easily use words like confidence, courage, and commitment to promises. […] The stories of women in the Qur’an narrate bravery and belief disconnected from their social or familial status.”[95]

This definition from Gray does not define femininity. To the contrary, it destroys femininity as a unique concept because confidence, courage, commitment, bravery, and belief are all positive characteristics that Muslims must strive to exemplify regardless of gender. Nothing about those traits are specific to the female gender, so how can they be cited as defining characteristics of femininity?

In other words, androgynous beings with equal capacities.

Gray continues:

“The word umm or mother in Arabic is related to the words ummah (community) and imam (leader). As such, it contains the meanings of both leadership and community. In Western thinking, the Great Mother is an archetype for individuals and societies. She is a giver and a key to transformative mysteries. She is fundamental to spiritual transformation. The archetype of mother is symbolic of growth, change, and development. It is deeply connected to religion because it is a directional force. Indeed, the Arabic term imam means to stand in front of and ummahat—or mothers—stand in front of the next generation in leadership.”

First of all, why does Gray revert back to “Western thinking” in her attempt to explain Arabic terminology? She says herself that Muslims need to break away from Western tropes in defining womanhood, yet here she commits the very mistake she warned readers against.

Secondly, why is she trying to extract guidance on Islamic femininity from Arabic linguistics when these concepts and concomitant roles are elaborated in the Islam tradition? For example, we have detailed rules in Islam about who leads the prayer, the household, and the Ummah as a whole.[96] These are the roles of men. The roots of the Arabic word are irrelevant and certainly wouldn’t trump the norms elaborated by centuries of righteous jurists and scholars. Gray ignores all of that tradition in her meandering essay, which is a conspicuous omission, to say the least.

She spends the rest of the essay detailing examples of Muslim female teachers, political activists, and scholars. Given that most of the scholars, political leaders, and soldiers in Muslim history were men, her examples do little more than liken women to men, while underming distinction between the genders and their roles as such. In no part of her essay does she acknowledge a single unique and exclusive characteristic of womanhood.

This following paragraph starts off promising as it is the only place in the essay where she seemingly elaborates on the concept of motherhood. But things take a turn for the worse:

“But there is also the framework of ‘mothering’—the feeling of obligation to a child is not unlike the feeling that Muslim women demonstrated to their community. The women in the examples here did not pause to ask if they should serve but, like mothers of infants, woke up at night and toiled during the day to do what was necessary in order to keep their child, Islam, alive. This definition of mothering—courage and commitment—is quite different from the Western tropes of docility and obedience.”[97]

Rather than extolling motherhood as the unique role of women, Gray opts for a clumsy, inappropriate metaphor, likening Islam as a religion to an infant crying for milk at night, needing its mother for survival.

Ultimately, defining motherhood and womanhood as “courage and commitment” only tells us that Gray doesn’t seem to understand the difference between defining something versus describing incidental attributes of something. A construction worker can demonstrate courage and commitment. That doesn’t mean that construction work is defined as courage and commitment. Back to Top

Muslims Suffer from Toxic Masculinity

Note: This section is also a stand-alone article here.

Jonathan Brown writes “An Open Letter to Muslim Men: The Sunnah Trumps Toxic Masculinity.” The term “toxic masculinity” is a highly politicized term used by contemporary feminism to attack notions of patriarchy and traditional gender roles. Brown’s contrasting the Sunna with toxic masculinity implies that the Sunna is aligned with this feminist project.

As we discussed above in light of Tamara Gray’s essay, according to feminist thought, the “traditional man” and the “traditional woman” are nothing more than constructions created by “the Patriarchy” used to oppress women and lock them into demeaning roles of domestic drudgery — cooking, cleaning, taking care of children, while men sit back like kings, enjoying life with a cold drink in hand. The feminist, therefore, fights this oppression by teaching women and men that there are no defined gender roles, domestic chores must be divided equally, and women must be front and center leading the Ummah into battle.

Brown caters to this feminist fantasy throughout his essay. We might as well start with where he speaks about gender roles or lack thereof in Islam:

“In light of ongoing debates about differences between sexes and expectations of gender roles, it’s worth looking at how the men and women of Islam’s ideal, founding generation conducted themselves. In the Qur’an and the teachings of the Prophet ﷺ, men and women are distinct in their duties of prayer and fasting (women don’t do either when menstruating), in their dress (they must cover different areas of their body), and other legal issues. Men have the duty to guard and protect (qiwāma) their womenfolk because of some of the capacities that God generally grants one sex to a greater degree than the other.

But what surprised me when I reflected on it was how little difference there was otherwise between the conduct of men and women in this noble community. Both were deeply pious, decisive, courageous in word and deed, proud of themselves but humbled by the charge God put upon them, confident when they believed they were right but also utterly deferential to the instructions of God and His Messenger ﷺ. Both were dynamically involved in public life. And both men and women were extremely conscious of their code of sexual propriety.”[98]

Yes, if one focuses on piety, courageousness, propriety, and other qualities that apply to both genders, don’t be surprised when you don’t find much difference between the genders.

We won’t repeat the examples mentioned above for Tamara Gray’s feminist essay, but obviously there were significant differences between typical male and female roles during the time of the Prophet ﷺ and the vast majority of the Ummah’s history. These differences were all but necessitated by the different shar`i duties assigned by Allah to each sex.

Brown hand waves all these major differences with the phrase “and other legal issues.” But these issues are significant. Which gender is responsible for jihad? Which gender is responsible for taking care of children and other domestic duties when the opposite gender is fighting jihad? Which gender is allowed to be the wali al-’amr? Which gender can only leave the home in certain conditions? Which gender is generally allowed to serve as judges? Which gender can declare talaq? Which gender has an iddah? Which gender can marry multiple members of the opposite gender? And on and on.

These are the “other legal issues” that are not significant enough for Brown to mention apparently, but they make a big difference in how Muslim men and women live their day to day lives together. It is impossible to understand Islamic Law and not recognize that distinct gender roles are assumed by it and established through it. The Muslim feminist attempt to paper over this reality is bound to fail.

Brown continues:

“They also see in the hyperbolically re-imagined ‘Traditional Man’ a near image of the Third World alpha male that many grew up with in the immigrant cultures their parents and grandparents brought with them to the West. Many a young Muslim man in the West grew up watching TV while his sisters cleaned up after him and took turns with their mother serving him food and drinks. Many grew up with at least some notion that a real man was one who ruled over and enjoyed the devoted service of his womenfolk.”

It is interesting how both Tamara Gray and Jonathan Brown refer to the image of the “Traditional Man” as originating with Western TV, which then influenced “immigrants,” who were apparently the original misogynists in the Muslim community.

Brown raises an interesting question with his last point. Do “real men” enjoy the devoted service of womenfolk? Well, let’s ask a parallel question. Do “real women” enjoy being provided nafaqa, being protected by men, etc.? If men are supposed to feel guilty or somehow less than “real men” if they enjoy their wives serving them and obeying them, then why shouldn’t women feel guilty or less than “real women” if they enjoy complimentary services from their husbands?

“Real men” according to Yaqeen.

“The problem is that this ‘Traditional Man’s Man’ is not inherently Islamic at all. Taking the question of wives cooking and doing housework as an example, according to the Sunni schools of law this is either not required of her, required only if her husband is poor and she does not see the job as beneath herself, or her duties are based on the customary expectations in her particular society (this was recently discussed by my teacher Shaykh Musa Furber as well as others).”

This point about Sunni schools is false. Interestingly, Sh Musa Furber has translated a section from a contemporary book — Al-Siraj al-Wahhaj fi Khidmat al-Azwaj — which summarizes the positions of the Sunni schools on this question of a wife’s domestic duties.[99] He writes:

1. One group considers it obligatory. It is the opinion of Ibn Abi Shaybah, Abi Thaur, some Hanafis (e.g., al-Juwzajani), Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn al-Qayyim. Al-Tabari inclined towards it, and Muhammad bin Ali bin al-Ityuni preferred it in Qurrat al-ayn al-muhtaj (2:415).

2. The Hanafis consider it a non-compulsory religious obligation.

3. The Malikis consider it obligatory if the Husband is poor or she is not from the upper echelons of society.

4. The Shafiis, most Hanbalis, and some Malikis consider it non-obligatory. Abu Hanifah and Muhammad bin al-Hasan gave this opinion. Ibn Qudamah was certain of it, though he preceded his opinion by saying, “However, it is best that she perform whatever is customary for wives to perform because it is the custom, the situation won’t be right without it, and society won’t function without it.”

So contrary to Brown’s assertion, more than a few scholars considered domestic chores for wives as obligatory, and others considered it obligatory if the husband is poor or if the custom dictated it so, since “society won’t function without it.”

Keep in mind also that daughters and sons would grow up with different roles and responsibilities in the family context as well, so even if a wife wasn’t obligated to do chores like cooking and washing, that didn’t mean her daughters weren’t responsible for doing them. Also, the families that were wealthy enough for the wife not to have to do any chores would rely on slaves or servants, who also tended to be female.

Brown says:

“The Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ certainly instructs wives to respect and obey their husbands but it also clearly states that respect is only due in what is known as right in that context. Husbands can expect their wives to heed them to the extent that such heeding is accepted in the culture they live in.”[100]

What does this mean? In present Western monoculture, women are not expected to heed and obey their husbands. In fact, the very concept of a wife having to obey her husband is seen as repugnant and morally offensive. So, given this cultural background, is there no Islamic obligation for wives to obey their husbands in present times?

Secondly, where in the Sunna do we find that “respect is only due in what is known as right in that context”? What does Brown mean by “right in that context”? When we check his citation, he lists hadith chapters without comment: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī: kitāb al-nikāḥ, bāb idhā bātat al-mar’a muhājira firāsh zawjihā; kitāb al-aḥkām, bāb al-samʿ wa’l-ṭāʿa li’l-imām…; Jāmiʿ al-Tirmidhī: kitāb al-riḍāʿ, bāb mā jā’a fī ḥaqq al-zawj ʿalā al-mar’a.

This is strange. Why didn’t he cite the actual hadith in those chapters that support his point? The actual hadith in the three hadith chapters he lists that mention wives are as follows:

“If a man Invites his wife to sleep with him and she refuses to come to him, then the angels send their curses on her till morning.”

“Whichever woman dies while her husband is pleased with her, then she enters Paradise.”

“When a man calls his wife to fulfill his need, then let her come, even if she is at the oven.”

“If I were to order anyone to prostrate to anyone, then I would order the wife to prostrate to her husband.”

These hadith support the obligation of obedience but do not support the added qualification of “right in that context” that Brown attributes to the Sunna.

Brown says:

“[Muslim men] should heed the ‘goodly example’ given them by the Qur’an (33:21), whose conduct should be compelling for all believers: the Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ. And he did not sit around letting his womenfolk serve him. As his wife Aisha described him, he would mend his own clothes, milk his own sheep, “and serve himself.” He would help his wives prepare meals. “He was,” she said, “in the service of his family (kāna fī mihnat ahlihi).” When the Prophet’s daughter Fatima came to him complaining of how her hands had been calloused by domestic work and asking for a servant, he dismissed her complaint by telling her that praising God was better. This is just my interpretation, but it seems almost as if the Prophet ﷺ felt that being served was a self-indulgence that is better avoided.”

Yes, there are many examples of our Beloved Prophet ﷺ working in the home and for his family. But part of truly following an example is recognizing what are norms and what are exceptions to the norms. If a person takes the exceptions and treats them as the norm, he will not be following the example of the Prophet ﷺ and the Mother of the Believers. He will be drastically deviating from that example. The examples from the Quran, Sunna, and the lives of the Companions that collectively establish what are Islamic gender norms far outnumber the handful of exceptional examples that Muslim feminists and their allies recycle in every article on the topic.[101] Back to Top

Humans Have God-Like Powers

Another essay in their “Gender Series” is titled “‘And We Created You in Pairs:’ Islam and the Gender Question” by Faatimah Knight.[102]

This essay muses on complex theological issues concerning the Names and Attributes of Allah and how those Names and Attributes inform the “Gender Question,” as Knight calls it. Given the gravity of this theological topic and its complexity within the Islamic scholarly tradition, one would expect the author to cite traditional Islamic primary texts on aqida or at least trusted aqida scholars of today.

Unfortunately, many of Knight’s points are referred back to what she calls a “landmark work” titled The Tao of Islam: A Sourcebook on Gender Relationships in Islamic Thought by Sachiko Murata. This is an academic book that heavily employs Daoist and Confusian thought to Islam in a perennialist and, indeed, blasphemous fashion. The author, Murata, is a non-Muslim who studied Shi’ism in Iran and specializes as an academic in comparative religion. It is unclear why exactly Knight and Yaqeen think Murata’s work should be described as “landmark” and relied upon to elaborate on Islamic theology.

The confused theological speculations of Murata seems to leak into Knight’s essay.

“Vicegerency, as described in the Qur’an, bestows human beings with God-like responsibilities in the relationship we have to the rest of creation.”[103]

What are “God-like” responsibilities?

“Rather, for the Muslim, we mean that humans are granted qualities that are a small sample of the omnipotent God. It also hinges on the understanding that in order for us to be our highest version of ourselves, we ought to adopt God-like qualities of care and concern for others, goodwill, forethought, and forgiveness among others.”[104]

What is a “small sample of the omnipotent God”? What are “God-like qualities”?

“Religion tells us we are like God and yet the gulf between who and what we are and who and what God is is immeasurable. The greatest crime a steward could make is refusing to acknowledge that he is a placeholder for the king, not the king himself.”[105]

It is possible to read these two sentences very charitably and thus avoid any blasphemous implication. But such a reading is only possible for someone who already has a sound foundation and training in Islamic aqida. For others, such sentences can be a source of major confusion and misunderstanding

Finally, Knight writes:

“While nearly all animals exist in pairs, none, as far as we know, was created from its own self like Adam and Hawa were created from the same nafs (soul).”[106]

Were Adam and Hawa created from their “own self,” or was Hawa created from Adam? Are these two ways of saying the same thing, or is there a reason why Knight chooses the peculiar construction she does? Back to Top

Should Women Obey Their Husbands?

A small example of downplaying can be found in a Yaqeen lecture titled “Framing How Rights Work in a Marriage” given by Omar Suleiman. The whole lecture is meant to elaborate Islamic rights and duties in marriage between husband and wife.

At the 24 minutes mark, he comes to the issue of ta`a, i.e., obedience. He says:

“One of the most difficult concepts to grapple with is the issue of ta`a, the issue of leadership or the issue where Allah [says] or the hadith which denote authority of the man in a household. So the hadith that we mentioned in regards to the flock and in regards to the man’s guarding of the family and the hadith which mentions ta`at al-zawj. If a women was to pray her prayers and fast her fasts and show ta`a, and I’m purposely not translating the term, show ta`a to her husband, enters janna through any gate that she wanted to.”[107]

Why does Imam Omar refuse to translate the word ta`a? Isn’t part of his job as an imam to explain Islamic concepts in clear English so that his English-speaking audience can understand? He explains further:

“What does the word ta`a mean? What do you usually hear? Obedience. How does that make you feel? And this is the difficulty of translating Arabic words.”

Is the word difficult to translate or is it that some in his American Muslim audience have trouble accepting that women are Islamically obligated to be obedient to their husbands?

“Obedience has certain connotations sometimes that are difficult to swallow because they denote inherent superiority, right? So don’t focus on the translation.”

Does obedience denote inherent superiority? People are generally obligated to obey the amir or the leader. That doesn’t imply that the amir has some inherent superiority over his followers, does it?

“Focus on the technicality or focus on what this denotes. Is there any absolute authority that belongs to any human being over another human being? No. And if there was, then it’s in regard to the parents over children. However, what does ta`at al-zawj actually relate to or what does this look like in regards to a marriage? Does this mean dictatorship? Does this mean oppression and lack of accountability? No, because the Prophet ﷺ said the best amongst you are the best to their wives.”

So far, Suleiman has only told us what ta`a is not. He has yet to explain what ta`a actually amounts to in practical terms.

“So what is the best way to deal with this structure? I’m not shying from text for a reason here. We have to deal with it head-on. One of the most beautiful ways to negotiate this that we find from our turath, from our classical texts, is from Imam al-Ghazali. He gave the example and said it’s not like a tyrant over a subjected people, but it’s like the example of khilafa and shura. Khilafa and shura. So you have the khalifa and you have the consultation body. Who’s actually more accountable to the other? Khalifa’s accountable to the shura. The shura’s accountable to the khalifa. So functions in that tandem and so he describes the example of the husband and the wife like the khilafa and the shura that they function in tandem. Not undermining, not belittling, not oppressing. But rather, there’s ta`a, there’s giving, there’s the following him in that which is not unreasonable or impermissible. Those are the two qualifiers that the ulama gave.”

Based on this, someone who has no conception of ta`a would come away with the idea that it essentially means shura, i.e., consultation. That is the main point Imam Omar underscores. But shura and ta`a are distinct concepts and they have different legal statuses in different scenarios. For the wife, ta`a is obligatory whereas shura on the part of the husband is generally recommended. These nuances shouldn’t be overlooked in an attempt to collapse ta`a into something it is not.

The example of an ideal relationship between husband and wife involving shura and mutual respect is valuable and good, and imams who do teach this should be commended for helping build strong Muslim marriages. That being said, ta`a of the wife to her husband is also a necessary component of strong Muslim marriages, and this concept needs to be given its full and proper due as a distinct value, no matter how politically incorrect it may be.

And the importance of this is clear because the Prophet said, “Whichever woman dies while her husband is pleased with her, then she enters Paradise.”[108] Obedience is a key to Paradise for Muslim women. “Compassionate” imams do women no favors by not teaching them this concept and effectively depriving them of one of the major keys to Janna.

Now imagine if an imam took the same approach to the concept of nafaqa (financial maintenance that the husband is obligated to provide for his wife) as Imam Omar took to the concept of ta`a. He would first avoid translating the word because it might make men feel like they are nothing more than ATMs dispensing cash. He would then explain in earnest that nafaqa isn’t about tyranny or dictatorship or indentured servitude. Then after explaining everything that nafaqa is not, he would go on at length about sadaqa and gift giving and how beautiful it is when wives give gifts to their husbands.

Obviously, a man coming out of such a lesson would be blissfully ignorant of what is required of him as a husband. And a woman would have no idea what she should expect Islamically from her husband. How could any functional Islamic marriage come from this? Back to Top

Striking (Darb) the Wife Is Prohibited in Islam

(This section includes in depth research and translation from Sh Haytham Sayfaddin.)

The right of a husband to physically discipline his wife is, of course, a highly sensitive issue that must be addressed with care and nuance. That being said, the sensitive nature of the issue is not an excuse to distort the Islamic tradition or outright contradict that tradition by putting forth one’s own ruling on the issue. Sadly, that is precisely what the Yaqeen authors do in their article: “Women in Islamic Law: Examining Five Prevalent Myths.”

The first myth discussed is in relation to Surat al-Nisa, aya 34. The Sahih International translates this as follows:

“Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.”[109]

The Yaqeen authors gloss the ayah as follow:

“The Qur’anic passage would be understood as advising one to “bring matters to an end,” or “convey the gravity of the situation to avoid the termination of the family,” “seek the final means of preserving or ending the relationship,” “emphasize the consequences,” etc. This follows from the Prophet’s ﷺ own conduct with his wives; this approach does not represent a departure from the Prophetic tradition, but the purest return to it.”

What authorizes the Yaqeen authors — Nazir Khan, Tasneem Alkiek, and Safiah Chowdhury — to tell us how this ayah should be understood? Are they experts in tafsir or fiqh? Nothing in their biographies, listed on the Yaqeen article itself, indicates any such qualification. Yet they feel comfortable proffering this novel interpretation of the Quran. But they don’t stop there:

“It follows that the Qur’anic verse can not be understood to permit a man to physically beat his wife or harm her in any way, particularly given that the Prophet ﷺ cursed the man who hit his wife, the Prophet’s wife praised his example of being someone who never hit, and the Qur’an seeks for marriages to be filled with love and mercy—the clear antithesis of physical abuse.”

Are the Yaqeen authors issuing their own ruling on the permissibility of darb? Why do they not convey what actual Muslim jurists in the Islamic tradition said on the matter instead of dabbling in their own personal tafsir and ijtihad?

Their ijtihad would be particularly suspect given the number of errors made in the essay. They write:

“Indeed, the Prophet’s ﷺ emphasis on women’s rights was so central to his call that he reiterated it in his famous farewell sermon, “My parting counsel (wasiyya) to you is to treat women with kindness for verily they are your partners and committed helpers,” Jami` at-Tirmidhi 3367.”[110]

There are a number of problems here:

Firstly: This is a clear mistranslation of this Ḥadīth. This Ḥadīth is on the authority of ‘Amr Ibn al-Aḥwaṣ, that the Prophet, صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ, said:

ألَا فَاسْتَوْصُوا بِالنِّسَاءِ خَيْراً فَإِنَّهُنَّ عَوَانٍ عِنْدَكُمْ

“Indeed, be good to women, as they are prisoners with you.”[111]

At-Tirmidhi stated:

وَمَعْنَى قَوْلِهِ ‏”‏عَوَانٌ عِنْدَكُمْ.” يَعْنِي أَسْرَى فِي أَيْدِيكُمْ ‏.‏

“And the meaning of his statement: ‘‘Awanun ‘Indakum’: he means: ‘Asra Fi Aydikum’.”

And it is clear where this problem came from. These authors stated: “partners and committed helpers.” The Arabic for helpers is: أَعْوَانٌ A’wanun. So, the authors mixed between these two words. Furthermore, not only did they translate the wrong word, they added to the meaning of the word they were supposedly translating. Partners is not part of the meaning of أَعْوَانٌ.

The authors didn’t find it sufficient to mistranslate the word, using a completely different Arabic word, but they found it fit to add to that meaning!

Secondly: More telling is how they left out the rest of the Ḥadīth:

“And you have no power other than that, unless they commit clear indecency. If they do that, then forsake them in their beds and strike them with a strike that is not injurious. If they obey you, then do not seek means of annoyance against them.”

Is Yaqeen’s highly selective quoting and mistranslation of this hadith academically dishonest?

Another mistranslated hadith they cite:

“Another hadith says, “Do not raise a stick against your family” (Al-Adab al-Mufrad 18).”[112]

This is a mistranslation of this Ḥadīth. The Ḥadīth actually states:

وَلَا تَرْفَعْ عَصَاكَ عَنْ أَهْلِكَ وَأَخِفْهُمْ فِي اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ

“And do not raise your stick off of your family. And cause them to fear Allāh, the Almighty and Exalted.”

Anyone who knows Arabic, knows that رفع عن is different from رفع على.

Likewise, if one looks to what the scholars have said about this Ḥadīth, they will also see the problem with this translation.

Abū ‘Ubayd al-Qāsim Ibn Sallām (d. 224 H.) said: “Al-Kāsā’ī and others said: “It is said that he did not mean by that the stick which is struck with, nor did he ever command anyone with it whatsoever. However, he intended discipline.”[113] And he said: “In other words, prevent them from corruption and discipline them.”[114]

In order for the meaning the authors mentioned to be correct, the Ḥadīth would have to say:

وَلَا تَرْفَعْ عَصَاكَ عَلَى أَهْلِكَ.

And the only place this wording is found in the early books of Ḥadīth is in one publication of “Al-Adab al-Mufrad”[115] which contradicts what has come in its other publications.[116] Likewise, it contradicts how the Ḥadīth was referred to in the aforementioned books, as well as how it was quoted by ‘Abdul-Malik Ibn Habīb (d. 238 d.),[117] Ibn Jarīr (d. 310 H.),[118] Ibn al-Anbārī (d. 328 H.),[119] Ibn ‘Abd Rabbih (d. 328 H.),[120] Al-Azharī (d. 370 H.),[121] Abul-Qāsim al-Jawharī (d. 381 H.),[122] and on and on.

Another error is when the Yaqeen authors cite:

“None hits except the worst amongst you (shirarukum).” Suyuti, Jami al-Saghir, 1088 and Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat al-Kubra, 10516.”[123]

Firstly, this Ḥadīth is weak, as there is a break in the chain between Al-Qāsim Ibn Muḥammad Ibn Abī Bakr and the Prophet ﷺ. Secondly, even As-Suyūṭī, whom the authors attributed it to, declared it as such, when he called it “Mursal”. Yet the authors failed to mention this, or take it into account.

Fourthly: Referencing the Ḥadīth with “Suyuti, Jami al-Saghir, 1088 and Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat al-Kubra, 10516.” is laughable. As-Suyūṭī died in the year 911 H. meaning, 901 years after the death of the Prophet, صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ. And his book is not a collection which is a basis for reference of Aḥādīth. Rather, he himself refers to the books in which the Aḥādīth were collected. This is as absurd as if I was referring to a Ḥadīth in “Sunan Ibn Mājah” and said: “Sabiq, Fiqh Us-Sunnah, 325 and Ibn Mājah, As-Sunan, 1442.”

Fifthly, and this is another piece of evidence of their dishonesty, the full Ḥadīth is:

That the Messenger of Allāh, صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ, forbid striking women. Then, it was said: “O Messenger of Allāh, indeed, they have become corrupted.” He said: “Strike them. And none strikes except for the worst of you.”

Other than errors in conveying hadith, the Yaqeen authors also distort the fiqh tradition when they write:

“In the minds of pre-modern jurists the general rule remained that hitting one’s spouse was sinful and prohibited (haram) but in exceptional cases as a last resort it was deemed a disliked dispensation (rukhsah) and abandoning it altogether was always preferred.”[124]

The citation refers to Ibn al-`Arabi’s Ahkam al-Qur’an. When we check the citation, no where does Ibn al-`Arabi say that striking the wife was prohibited. In fact, he says that it is permissible and in some cases, it might be the correct course of action. He says:

“From the best of what I have heard in the explanation of this ayah [4:34] was the statement of Sa’īd Ibn Jubayr who said: He admonishes her. Then if she accepts, otherwise, he abandons her (in the bed). Then if she accepts, otherwise he strikes her. Then if she accepts, otherwise he sends an arbitrator from his family and an arbitrator from her family, and they investigate who the harm is coming from. And at that point the Khul` would take place.”[125]

Ibn al-`Arabi further comments:

“And amongst women, and even men, are those who are not rectified except through discipline. So, if a man knows that (to be the case), he may implement discipline. And if he leaves that, then it is better.”[126]

This is far from declaring physical discipline as “sinful” and “haram,” as the Yaqeen authors claim. What Ibn al-`Arabi does do is cite another scholar, ‘Ata` the student of the great Companion Ibn `Abbas. The passage in question is as follows:

“‘Aṭā’ said: ‘He does not strike her, even if he commands and forbids her and she doesn’t obey him. Rather, he becomes angry with her.’ Al-Qādhī said: This is from the Fiqh of ‘Aṭā’, because from his understanding of the Sharī’ah and him taking into account the most likely matters of Ijtihād, he knew that the command of striking here was a command of permissibility. And he found the offensiveness (karāhah) from another path, in the statement of the Prophet, صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ, in the Ḥadīth of ‘Abdullāh Ibn Zam’ah: ‘I hate that a man strikes his female slave when he is angry, when he may end up having intercourse with her that day.’ And Ibn Nāfi’ narrated from Mālik from Yaḥyā Ibn Sa’īd that the Messenger of Allāh, صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ, was asked for permission to strike women, so he said: ‘Strike, and the best of you will not strike.’ So, he permitted (it) and encouraged leaving (it).”[127]

Therefore, according to Ibn al-`Arabi himself, ‘Ata` did not prohibit striking either. `Ata’ simply deemed striking offensive and encouraged offending it. So where did the Yaqeen authors come to the conclusion that, “In the minds of pre-modern jurists the general rule remained that hitting one’s spouse was sinful and prohibited but in exceptional cases it was deemed a disliked dispensation?[128]

Did they just make it all up?

Again, discussing the issue of darb in tafsir and fiqh is sensitive and requires care and nuance. But it is unacceptable to do as this Yaqeen paper does and distort the Islamic tradition and insert baseless personal interpretations of the Quran. Back to Top

Islam Grants Women the Right to Annul Their Marriages

In the “5 Prevalent Myths” essay, Yaqeen authors claim that “Women Cannot Divorce” is a myth about Islam that needs to be debunked. But is this really a myth? Because, obviously, Muslim men divorce their wives all the time. Unlike certain Christian denominations, Islam clearly allows married Muslims to divorce, and Muslims have been practicing divorce since the days of the Prophet ﷺ. So why does Yaqeen consider this a myth?

The only way that this could be considered a myth is if it is referring to the idea that Muslim women cannot separate from their husbands, without the agreement of their husbands or a qadi (judge). But this is not a myth. It’s a fact about Islamic Law. On this point, Yaqeen presents conflicting information.

First they acknowledge this fact:

“Although a woman does not have the unilateral right to divorce, the four main Sunnī schools of law recognized the ability for a husband to delegate the power of initiating divorce to his wife.”[129]

In other words, this is not a myth at all. Women do not have the unilateral right to separate from their husbands without first obtaining agreement from their husbands or a qadi. So rather than debunk this “myth,” Yaqeen seems to confirm it.

But later in the essay, the authors confuse the issue when they say:

“In the event that the wife desires to leave her husband for reasons not deemed extenuating circumstances by the schools of law, she has the right to a khulʿ divorce, defined by jurists as the wife’s ability to annul her marriage in exchange of compensation to her husband.”[130]

This contradicts their previous statement because if a woman has “the right to a khul` divorce,” that would mean she has a unilateral right to divorce as she pleases. This is a misrepresentation of what khul` is. It is incorrect to describe khul` as a “right” of a wife to annul her marriage at her discretion. In reality, her husband must agree to the khul`, i.e., he must agree to the annulment of the marriage in exchange for compensation from his wife, usually in the form of her returning her mahr. The most that can be said is that she has a right to request a khul`, but we would also have to say that the husband equally has the right to reject her request at his discretion. The only way that the husband’s agreement is not necessary is if a qadi (judge) determines that there is a valid reason for annulling the marriage. This understanding of khul` is stated in the very reference text the Yaqeen authors cite: Unless there is a valid excuse, the wife needs to secure her husband’s agreement in order to receive khul`.[131]

The sloppy wording in the article creates this contradiction. But the inaccuracy is reproduced in the infographic[132] and video animation[133] for the article, stating that, “A woman has the right to divorce.”

The overall impression that an uninformed reader would take from this material is that Islamic Law and modern Western law are essentially the same on the question of divorce: Both men and women equally have the right to break off their marriage. But, in reality, this is not the case in Islamic Law and there are important distinctions that differentiate Islamic divorce from the predominant Western system.

Islamically, husbands have the unilateral right to divorce (via talaq) but wives do not. No matter how you slice it, this is a difference in the rights granted to the two genders by Allah. And this difference creates tension and doubts for Muslims who have been influenced by Western feminist standards.

Again, we see that, rather than confront the feminist standards underlying these doubts head on, Yaqeen takes the route of using ambiguity and self-contradictory language to present Islam as being as closely aligned to Western standards as possible. Does this really take away doubts and instill conviction? Or does it instill conviction in a false construction of Islam that has been tweaked and tuned to resemble Western values as closely as possible?

This subterfuge is briefly laid bare when the Yaqeen authors quote feminist academic Judith Tucker on “male bias in Islamic Law.”

“Judith Tucker was able to conclude, ‘Legal discourse did not reverse the strongly gendered character and male bias of Islamic legal precedent on divorce, but it did work to soften this bias by defining female rights and strictly regulating divorce procedures.’ In other words, judges proactively sought to protect the rights of women. It was only to be expected then that the early 20th century experienced waves of reform, especially in areas of family law.”[134]

As a feminist, Tucker characterizes traditional Islamic law as having a “male bias,” i.e., unfairly favoring men over women. According to Tucker, later in history, Muslims judges and other legal authorities “softened the bias.” Any Muslim should take these claims from Tucker as an affront and a smear against the Sharia and the Islamic tradition. While the Sharia does distinguish the genders, it does not unjustly “favor” a gender nor is it “biased” against anyone, male or female.

Strangely, the Yaqeen authors not only take no objection to Tucker’s insult, they cite her as supporting their own argument. They also remark, “It was only expected then that the early 20th century experienced waves of reform.” Why is this expected? Why would Muslims understand 20th century reforms of Islamic Law to be anything but a disaster? Back to Top

Interfaith and Pluralism

“All that matters is being a good person.” This is the secular ethos of the modern world. Accordingly, faith is, at best, secondary to what makes us who we are. Being a “good human” is priority number one. As some Muslim modernists like to put it, “humanity comes before religiosity.”

This is, of course, complete nonsense. How can someone be deemed “good” if he rejects his Creator and associates partners with Him? How can a person be deemed “good” when he attributes all the beauty and blessing that he enjoys in life to an idol or to his own self? Indeed, without tawhid, the soul is dead, and without a soul, how can someone be considered a human being in the truest sense? Clearly, without religiosity there can be no humanity.

Yet, Muslims are pressured to abandon these basic truths in favor of a secular humanism that is constantly attacking Islam. For example, if humanity comes before religiosity, this means that laws and values that distinguish people on the basis of their faith are inherently discriminatory and, therefore, inherently immoral.

This is why they judge the Sharia as barbaric and backwards — because it distinguishes Muslims from kuffar and applies different rules to different communities based on iman.

This is why they judge hudud as barbaric and backwards — because the hadd penalty is due upon the one who leaves Islam and does not repent.

This is why they judge al-wala’ wal-bara’ as barbaric and backwards — because the believers must associate with other believers and disassociate from kuffar.

This is why they judge hadith as barbaric and backwards — because there are hadith that, for example, describe Muslims as a community fighting Jews as a community at the End of Times.

This is why they judge the very notion of Salvation as barbaric and backwards — because one’s eternal abode in the Hereafter depends on your faith, eternal bliss for the believers and eternal damnation for the disbelievers.

The secular mind bristles at all these aspects of Islam and the Muslim mind infected with the secular virus remains restless and uncomfortable. Does Yaqeen Institute step in to challenge the secular menace head on? Sadly, no. In all these areas, Yaqeen slavishly caters to humanism, jettisoning many Islamic tenets of creed and the Sharia in the process. Back to Top

Valuing Muslim Civilization on the Basis of Its Tolerance

Modern liberal secularism is so influential that it can deeply affect even those who explicitly reject it. A good example comes from Yaqeen’s two-part series on “religious minorities under Islamic rule.” Throughout the essays, author Tesneem Alkiek extols the virtues of Muslims rulers in their tolerance for religious minorities.[135] The tolerance of Muslims far outshines anything seen in Roman or European history, she claims. Not even the modern nation-state with is liberal notions of citizenship and individual freedom could compete with the pure pluralism espoused by Muslim civilization. And, ultimately, it was due to the negative influence of that liberal nation-state, with its fake tolerance, that Muslims lost the utopia of religious cooperation it had enjoyed for centuries. She says:

“The group-rights model, albeit unfamiliar to most of us today, was arguably a more effective system of pluralism.”

The problem with Alkiek’s argument is its entire premise. Why is pluralism our metric? By adopting the value of pluralism, Muslims end up playing a losing game. Would a contemporary person, his brain addled with modernism, liberalism, humanism, etc., really think that 8th century or 12th century Muslim rule was more tolerant than the current day US, UK, or France? Did those Muslims empires permit fornication? Did they permit homosexual behavior? Did they permit leaving one’s religion? Did they permit cross dressing? Did they not punish adulterers? If the answer to even one of these questions is no, Muslims lose the tolerance game.

Alkiek further describes the value of tolerance in this passage:

“Tolerance, on the other hand, accepts and values difference; it does not attempt to insist that all religions are the same and therefore we should treat each other under the same metric that may not apply to everyone. Rather, it affirms these differences in theology and culture, and instead of labeling said differences as morally offensive or uncivilized, tolerance promotes and acknowledges a diverse system.”

Do we find this concept of tolerance in Islam? If tolerance means accepting and valuing difference, then is there any value in the difference between iman and kufr? To answer this question, imagine two countries. Country A has a 100% Muslim population, worshipping Allah. Country B has 50% Muslim and 50% mushrik (or Ahl al-Kitab). Country B is more diverse. But is it preferable to the non-diverse Country A? Clearly, Muslims should say no. This would mean that Muslims are intolerant as we do not value difference when it comes to iman versus kufr. Of course, diversity of ethnicities, races, etc., is certainly valued in Islam, so that kind of tolerance is Islamic. But there is a great deal we do not tolerate, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Alkiek says:

“In the Ottoman embodiment of the group-rights model, the millets—primarily the Greek and Armenian Orthodox communities and the Jews—enjoyed self-government and legal autonomy.”

Why is the Ottoman millet taken as the ideal? This is the problem with historical arguments. Many Muslim governments in history were far from representing ideal practice of the Sharia. Alkiek acknowledges this when she says:

“So from this example, and countless others, it is apparent that the practical implementation of regulations regarding religious minorities was dependent ultimately on the whims of the ruler and those he placed in positions of power. Since the role of religious minorities in the Islamic Empire was left to the final authority of the sultan, oftentimes scholarly opinions were entirely disregarded.

In context of the paper and the premium she places on pluralism and non-discrimination, the last sentence implies that it’s a good thing that these rulers disregarded Islamic scholarship in favor of Jews and Christians.

The impression given by Alkiek that, according to Islamic Law, religious minorities enjoy full legal autonomy under Muslim rule, this is also inaccurate. As far as the Sharia is concerned, ahl al-dhimma do not have “full legal autonomy.” Their ability to practice their religion is upheld but only to the extent permitted by shar`i restrictions, restrictions such as the prohibition of spreading their religion, publicly celebrating it, and many other restrictions and some obligations in terms of dress, etc.[136]

In her first essay, Alkiek even acknowledges these kinds of restrictions on non-Muslims as listed in the Pact of Umar, but she minimizes them as being somehow socially necessary or even beneficial to non-Muslims, and, therefore, not contrary to pluralism.

“We should consider a more contextual perspective on the so-called “discriminatory laws.” Take for example the ghiyār element, which is the term later developed to express the requirement that non-Muslims dress differently. […] [One academic, Albrecht Noth] posits that non-Muslims were not being forced to wear clothes that were discriminatory; rather, they were required to not copy the Muslims in their dress. And for the record, this was still not discriminatory, because the Prophet ﷺ himself commanded Muslims to not dress or act like the non-Muslims, so this law was in effect a two-way street. Some scholars have even contended that the point of creating these physical distinctions was simply for administrative purposes, so as to not wrongfully punish a non-Muslim for selling wine or to collect the jizyah tax from a Muslim because the collector was confused as to who was Muslim and who was not.”

This statement gives the impression that Muslim jizya collectors were going person to person on the streets collecting jizya and there was the possibility of accidentally collecting from a Muslim who wasn’t dressed distinctly enough. Apparently, collecting jizya or zakat, etc., wasn’t based on names, records, neighborhoods, documentation, etc. Rather, according to what Alkiek writes, it was such a haphazard and disorganized process that wardrobe played a critical role in preventing mistakes.

Even if Alkiek and the academics she cites are correct in their rendering of the dress code rules as not being discriminatory, what about rules such as:

  • Prohibition against hanging a cross on the Churches.
  • Palm Sunday and Easter parades were banned.
  • The houses of non-Muslims must not be taller in elevation than the houses of Muslims.
  • The worship places of non-Muslims must be lower in elevation than the lowest mosque in town.
  • Prohibition against non-Muslims to lead, govern or employ Muslims.

How would Alkiek argue that these regulations from Sayyidna Umar were not discriminatory against Christians and Jews?

Alkiek continues:

“Either way, in the modern context, when we think about many of the laws regulating minorities, we view them as a form of religious discrimination, but the reality of the matter is that religion was the only form of distinctive identity in that era. So the regulations were not necessarily because someone was Jewish or Christian, but because, before the rise of the nation-state, religion was the distinctive marker of identity.”

It is difficult to follow Alkiek’s reasoning. Is she saying religious discrimination is justifiable if it is the only distinctive identity available to identify people with? Would someone who has a problem with religious discrimination be ok with discrimination on the basis of other types of identity? (Jonathan Brown makes a similarly uncompelling argument in his Apostasy Law paper.)

It is false, by the way, that religious identity was the only distinctive identity marker of people in that era. There was also racial identity, ethnic identity, class identity, etc. Just because the notion of national citizenship didn’t exist, that didn’t mean religion was the only game in town.

One can appreciate Alkiek’s intention to explain and contextualize aspects of Islamic Law to a modern secularized, liberalized audience. But such efforts cannot depend on a selective presentation of the Islamic tradition. Arguing that there is no religious discrimination against non-Musims in the Sharia is simply not backed up by the facts. Rather than make an uncompelling case predicated heavily on cherrypicking the source texts in a misguided attempt to preserve the value of pluralism and tolerance at all costs, we would all be better served by a critical analysis of the value of pluralism, tolerance, diversity, etc. Where do these values come from, how have they developed, how are they deployed in modern discourse, how have they been used against Muslims and Islam, etc.

But Alkiek’s two papers never raise these kinds of questions. She takes for granted the value of religious pluralism and then works hard to try to jam Islam and Islamic history into that preset mold. Back to Top

There Is No Hadd for Apostasy

Two Yaqeen essays discuss the hadd punishment for apostasy. Both essays are riddled with fallacious reasoning and misinterpretations. Nazir Khan includes a paragraph in his essay on Islam and violence, where he says:

“For instance, ridda (frequently translated as ‘apostasy’) in the books of many classical Islamic jurists was included not in the section of criminal punishments but in the section on warfare, since there was an implicit understanding that it applied to armed renegades. So to call this an ‘apostasy law’ is essentially a misnomer even though many modern-day Muslims may be entirely unaware of the historical context and detailed jurisprudential backdrop to this ruling. Islamic scholarship unequivocally affirms the practice of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ who very clearly established freedom of religion. [Footnote:] The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ established an agreement with the Meccans called the treaty of Hudaybiyyah in which one of the articles explicitly permitted a Muslim who left the faith to be able to return to the Meccans.”[137]

Khan is playing fast and loose with his logic. If some jurists included the details of the punishment for ridda in their chapters on warfare, how would that mean that the translation of “apostasy law” is a misnomer?

Khan quickly moves on to claim that the Prophet “very clearly established freedom of religion.” What is the proof for this? In the footnote, Khan cites the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah. He says that the Treaty permitted Muslims who left the faith to be able to return to the mushrikin. How does this mean the Prophet “established freedom of religion” when the Treaty itself was seen as a major compromise for the Muslims and not the Prophet establishing ideal Islamic rules? And even if the Treaty did establish religious freedom, the Treaty didn’t last very long anyway, given that the treaty was violated and the believers conquered Mecca within two years.

Jonathan Brown’s argument on apostasy is not much more compelling.

Brown makes it very clear at the beginning of the essay what he believes about the contemporary applicability of the hadd:

“The Shari’ah consists of some laws that remain the same regardless of changing circumstances and others that change with them. Most of the Shari’ah is up to individual Muslims to follow in their own lives. Some are for judges to implement in courts. Finally, the third set of laws is for the ruler or political authority to implement based on the best interests of society. The Shari’ah ruling on Muslims who decide to leave Islam belongs to this third group. Implemented in the past to protect the integrity of the Muslim community, today this important goal can best be reached by Muslim governments using their right to set punishments for apostasy aside.[138]

These are two very big claims. First, Brown characterizes the hadd as something that is up to the discretion of the political ruler. Second, he asserts that suspending the hadd for apostasy “protects the intergrity of the Muslim community” today and should, thus, be set aside. As we see below, Brown is not able to justify either of these claims.

He begins the essay on shaky ground:

“Whether the rule of Pharaoh in ancient Egypt, Confucius’s ‘order under heaven’ or the divine right of European monarchs, religion underpinned the political and social order within human communities and the states they established. […] People could worship whatever gods they wanted. […] The Muslims who built up Islamic civilization inherited and affirmed this ancient assumed role of religion.”[139]

Isn’t this a crude way to describe Muslims, as inheriting and affirming the shirk religions of Pharaoh, Confucius, and European monarchs? Islam is revelation, not inheritance or received wisdom from past peoples.

Brown states the central premise of his argument:

That apostasy was understood primarily as a threat to an overarching political order and not as a crime in and of itself is clear from how Muslim jurists described it. Apostasy differed from other serious crimes, such as fornication and murder, because on its own it did not transgress the rights of others.”[140]

In other words, Brown wants to liken apostasy to the kind of criminal act that the modern secular world is actually offended by: disruption of the political order and treason. Apostasy by itself is a perfectly normal act, even expected according to the modern, post-spiritual West. So it would be barbaric to criminalize such a natural behavior as apostasy, as Islam does. But what if it wasn’t the leaving of a religion that was the real crime? What if the real crime was treason or political subversion? Then Muslims could maybe make a case that their Islamic Law is not completely bonkers! This seems to be the underlying logic of Brown’s analysis.

Going back to Brown’s statement: “That apostasy was understood primarily as a threat to an overarching political order and not as a crime in and of itself is clear from how Muslim jurists described it.”

First of all, Brown gives no proof that this is how Muslim jurists as a collective understood apostasy in the way he describes. Furthermore, his two sentences here seem to contradict each other. He says that apostasy was understood as a threat to the political order but it also did not transgress the rights of others. What is a threat to political order other than a threat to transgress the rights of those living within that political order? His contrast between apostasy and fornication/murder is also strange because it could be argued that fornication and certainly murder also threaten the political order just as much as they transgress the rights of others. So what distinction is Brown getting at here?

Brown cites one scholar to justify his claim that apostasy was understood as a political act of sedition:

“Leaving Islam and embracing unbelief are great offenses, said the famous Hanafi jurist al-Sarakhsī (d. circa 1096 CE). “But they are between the human being (lit. the slave) and his Lord,” he added. Their punishment lies in the Hereafter. “What punishments there are here in this world [for apostasy],” he continued, “are policies set down for the common good of human beings (siyāsāt mashrūʿa li-maṣāliḥ taʿūdu ilā al-ʿibād).” Someone who repeatedly and insistently proclaimed their apostasy from Islam was akin to a violent criminal threatening public safety, al-Sarakhsī explained.”[141]

Ustadh Bassam Zawadi responded in depth to Brown’s article when it was first published on his FB page. In his critique, Ust Bassam notes:

“This is not a true and accurate representation of al-Sarakhsi’s stance at all. Al-Sarakhsi is very clear that the punishment is for the actual kufr itself (i.e., that’s the علة or reason), and this is accompanied by the wisdom of maintaining public order, etc.”

Brown continues:

“But mainly what shaped the Muslim juristic tradition’s position on apostasy from Islam was how it understood order and identity. This influenced the rules on apostasy more than any clear prescription in the Quran or the Prophet’s teachings.”

This is a very strong statement from Brown because the prescription from the Prophet is very clear: “Whoever changes his religion, kill him.”[142] Does Brown seriously expect us to believe that his convoluted notion of political order and identity is what shaped the jurists’ position on the hadd, as opposed to unequivocal statements like this from the Prophet? If this is what Brown thinks, he should provide evidence to back it up. But he has no reference for the claim.

Brown writes:

“There is no reliable evidence that the Prophet ever executed anyone for apostasy, as was observed by the famous scholar of Cordoba, Ibn al-Ṭallāʿ (d. 1103).”

Ust Bassam responds:

“Assuming for the sake of argument alone that this is true, how does this serve as a proof when it’s possible that the opportunity to apply the hadd for apostasy didn’t arise during the Prophet’s time? Also, this assumes that what Imam Ibn al-Ṭallāʿactually said is true, since many other scholars would beg to differ. For there is evidence that the Prophet did have apostates killed. For example, there is the story of the man who made it halal to marry the wife of his father, and the Prophet had him killed. There are other arguments out there which prove that the Prophet had apostates killed.”

Brown continues:

“When one of the Companions, ʿUbaydallāh bin Jaḥsh left Islam and became Christian while the Muslims were seeking refuge in Ethiopia, the Prophet did not order him punished.”

Ust Bassam responds:

“Keeping aside the questionable authenticity of this story (since some authors argued that the isnads for this story are not sahih), two points to mention here are: 1) How does Dr. Brown know that this incident didn’t occur before Allah revealed the ruling on apostasy to the Prophet? 2) Why does Dr. Brown think that the Prophet should have ordered for the ruling of apostasy to be implemented in a land where the Muslims did not have authority?”

Brown writes:

“In fact, when a man who had come to the Prophet just the day before to pledge his loyalty to Islam wanted to be released from his oath, the Prophet let him go.”

Ust Bassam responds:

“The hadith Dr. Brown is referring to could be found here: ‘A Bedouin came to the Prophet ﷺ and said, ‘Please take my Pledge of allegiance for Islam.’ So the Prophet took from him the Pledge of allegiance for Islam. He came the next day with a fever and said to the Prophet ﷺ ‘Cancel my pledge.’ But the Prophet ﷺ refused and when the Bedouin went away, the Prophet said, ‘Medina is like a pair of bellows (furnace): It expels its impurities and brightens and clears its good.’”

“Regarding this hadith, Imam An-Nawawi quotes in Ibn al-Teen who says that before the conquest of Makka, hijrah to the Prophet was obligatory and he argues that this could indicate that this incident took place before the conquest of Makka and the bedouin was asking to violate this condition. If that’s the case then this would have been a sin. Furthermore, even if the incident took place after the conquest of Makka (where hijrah would have been permissible), the Prophet could have still refused the person’s pledge out of it being makruh, as some scholars argued (but I don’t take that position). And even if the Prophet understood the person to apostatize and left Medina, you have to prove that this incident took place after the Prophet’s hadith, “Kill those who change their religion.” So there are a lot of things Dr. Brown needs to prove here.

“Furthermore the hadith mentions that the man had a fever and other hadith clarify that it was due to Medina’s weather (and not disbelieving in Islam) that the man wanted to cancel his pledge. That’s why the hadith mentions he had a “fever,” otherwise it would have been an irrelevant point to mention. So, what interpretation of this hadith makes sense then? Let’s compare and contrast shall we:

Dr. Brown’s Understanding… ‘The man came up to the Prophet and basically said to him, ‘I don’t want to be a Muslim anymore, so please let me go.’

Would the Prophet say, ‘No I won’t let you leave Islam’ to a person who doesn’t want to be a Muslim? Why would the Prophet want someone to pretend to be a Muslim and stay in the community? Why would the Prophet want munafiqin amongst the Muslims? The Prophet recognized that only sincere Muslims are truly Muslims, wouldn’t the Prophet instead have re-initiated his da’wah to this person instead of forcing him to remain a Muslim? Why didn’t the Prophet follow the lakum deenukum wali ya deen (unto you your religion and unto me my own) principle with this guy then? Was the Prophet Muhammad so desperate to keep followers?

“Second problem, why on earth would this Bedouin even bother asking Prophet Muhammad his permission to leave Islam when he doesn’t even believe that the Prophet Muhammad is a prophet anymore? He could just pick up his bags and leave (that’s what he eventually did, right?). It’s not like the Prophet had a checkpoint surrounding Medinah checking who leaves and doesn’t.

Mainstream Scholarly View Understanding… ‘The man came up to the Prophet and basically said to him ‘I know I have to stay with you here in Medina, but the weather is killing me and I can’t stand it.’

“This makes perfect sense in light of the fact that before the conquest of Makkah, hijrah to the land of kuffar was impermissible. The Prophet kept refusing the man’s request as he wanted the man to be more patient and bear the weather. The man also constantly asked the Prophet’s permission because he was a Muslim and he cared about the Prophet’s permission to leave, but eventually the man’s iman was so low that he couldn’t bear the weather anymore for the sake of his faith.”

Brown writes:

“Imam al-Shāfiʿī himself notes how, during the Prophet’s time in Medina, “Some people believed and then apostatized. Then they again took on the outer trappings of faith. But the Messenger of God did not kill them.”

Ust Bassam notes:

“Imam al-Shafi`i is speaking about munafiqun here and not apostates, since he said… “they again took on the outer trappings of faith” and we know that the Prophet didn’t have the munafiqun killed because he had to judge them by their outward behavior.”

Brown says:

“This is equally clear in the conduct of the early caliphs. When six men from the Bakr bin Wā’il tribe apostatized during a campaign in southern Iran, the leaders of the army had them killed. When the caliph Umar was informed of this, he upbraided the commanders. Had he been making the decision, the caliph explained, he would have offered the men “a way back in from the door they took out,” or he would have put them in prison.”

In response to this point, Ust Bassam refers to an essay that addresses this claim and others on the hadd titled, “Classical Islamic Views on the Punishment for Apostasy.”[143] The essay explains that Umar was not angry because of the ruling for apostates. He was angry because of the men not being given a chance to repent before their execution. This essay also addresses the claim that Brown makes in his essay about Umar Abdul Aziz allegedly sparing apostates.

Brown continues:

“After the Muslim armies conquered the city of Bukhara in 673-4 CE, its inhabitants kept converting to Islam and then returning to their previous faith of Zoroastrianism as soon as the Arab armies left town. The army had to keep returning to reestablish discipline. At no point was anyone killed for this.”

Ust Bassam points out:

“Well, if they kept on repenting back to Islam, why would they be killed, since there is no limit on repenting back?”

Brown writes:

“Of course, some people were executed for apostasy in the early Islamic period. Yet, in instances where details are provided, what stands out is their public nature. The apostasy occurs not in private but comes with a very public announcement by the person in question. This is exemplified in the famous story of the caliph Ali reportedly executing a man named al-Mustawrad al-ʿIjlī for converting to Christianity. Although reports of this event overall are unreliable according to most Muslim scholars, what seems to have condemned al-Mustawrad was not converting but rather rubbing this in Ali’s face publicly.”

Ust Bassam responds:

“Dr. Brown said that Sh. Al-Albani declared this weak, however if one carefully reads the words of Sh. Al-Albani over here, one would see that Al-Albani was only criticizing one of the chains for the story and not all the chains. There are more reliable chains for this story such as this one or this one and several others when all combined together give credibility to the story.

“As for what Dr. Brown said regarding Ali, I can’t express how disappointed I am in what Dr. Brown has said. I hope Dr. Brown removes this bit from his article, as this is not respectful to Ali’s stature. Ali won’t kill someone just for simply ‘rubbing something in his face.’”

“So far, Dr. Brown’s arguments have not been consistent, let alone clear. On the one hand, Dr. Brown argues that apostasy is only punishable when it’s made “public”, not private (something no one denies), yet on the other he tried in the section of his paper “Apostasy and the Practice of the Early Muslim Community” to show examples of unpunished public proclamations of apostasy. This leaves one confused and wondering what Dr. Brown is really setting out to prove here.”

Brown continues:

“It also explains why centuries of Muslim jurists all affirmed a ruling that seems to clash so clearly with the Quran’s repeated statements on the freedom of religious choice, a choice that each person makes before God as a determination of their personal conscience.”

Ust Bassam responds:

“In other words, how could all these jurists for several centuries be so incompetent to ignore these clear teachings of the Qur’an? How about the fact that they believed that the ahadeeth on apostasy restricted the meaning of those Qur’anic verses? Where’s the rebuttal to such a simple response as that?”

Brown writes:

“The Quran warns those who abandon Islam after embracing it that their good deeds will mean nothing in this life or the next (Quran 2:217). It mentions no worldly punishment.”

Ust Bassam responds:

“So every time the Qur’an mentions a crime, it has to mention both the worldly and hereafter punishment? Says who? What rule of Qur’anic hermeneutics is this based on? Isn’t this just a subjective and non-academic argument? Who’s the first one who came up with such an argument?”

Brown writes:

“The Arabic word used to describe what they had done, irtaddū, was understood in the early Islamic period to be a public act of political secession from or rebellion against the Muslim community.”

Ust Bassam responds:

“No proof presented whatsoever. Citations from dictionaries and jurists would be much appreciated. In fact, the scholars very clearly differentiated between the “rebel” and “apostate” and didn’t conflate the two. Ibn Rushd al-Maliki in his “Bidayatul Mujtahid” said:

والمرتد إذا ظفر به قبل أن يحارب ، فاتفقوا على أنه يقتل الرجل لقوله – عليه الصلاة والسلام : ” من بدل دينه فاقتلوه

“As for the apostate who is seized before he becomes belligerent (qabla an yuhaariba); they agreed that the male apostate is to be killed due to the saying of the Prophet peace be upon him: ‘Whoever changes his religion, kill him.’”

“The scholars made the distinction between the belligerent and non-belligerent apostates.”

Brown claims:

“The second main piece of Hadith evidence for the apostasy ruling leaves a similar impression. When the Prophet says that a Muslim cannot be killed except as punishment for murder, adultery or leaving Islam, he qualifies the apostate here as one who ‘leaves his religion and forsakes the community (al-tārik li-dīnihi al-mufāriq li’l-jamāʿa)’ or, in another version, one who ‘makes war on God and His Messenger.’”

Ust Bassam responds to this point by listed some key hadith where there is no mention of political ramifications:

“The following narrations from the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his companions demonstrate that the illah wasn’t to do with the structure of the state:

Proof #1: The Prophet Ordered the Killing of the One Who Married the Wife of His Father

This narration:

بعثني رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم إلى رجل نكح امرأة أبيه، فأمرني أن أضرب عنقه وآخذ ماله

“The Messenger of Allah ﷺ has sent me to a man who has married his father’s wife. He has ordered me to cut off his head and take his property.”

The man was an apostate for making that nikah halal. We know he was an apostate because it says وآخذ ماله at the end.

Proof #2: Ali bin Abi Talib killing the apostate Christian

(حديث موقوف) أَخْبَرَنَا أَخْبَرَنَا مَعْمَرٌ , عَنِ الأَعْمَشِ , عَنْ أَبِي عَمْرٍو الشَّيْبَانِيِّ , قَالَ : أُتِيَ عَلِيٌّ بِشَيْخٍ كَانَ نَصْرَانِيًّا , فَأَسْلَمَ ، ثُمَّ ارْتَدَّ عَنِ الإِسْلامِ , فَقَالَ لَهُ عَلِيٌّ : ” لَعَلَّكَ إِنَّمَا ارْتَدَتَّ لأَنْ تُصِيبَ مِيرَاثًا , ثُمَّ تَرْجِعَ إِلَى الإِسْلامِ ؟ ، قَالَ : لا , قَالَ : فَارْجِعْ إِلَى الإِسْلامِ ” , قَالَ : أَمَا حَتَّى أَلْقَى الْمَسِيحَ فَلا , فَأَمَرَ بِهِ عَلِيٌّ فَضُرِبَتْ عُنُقُهُ ، وَدُفِعَ مِيرَاثُهُ إِلَى وَلَدِهِ الْمُسْلِمِينَ ” , أَخْبَرَنَا مَعْمَرٌ , وَابْنُ جُرَيْجٍ , قَالا : بَلَغَنَا أَنَّ ابْنَ مَسْعُودٍ , قَالَ : فِي مِيرَاثِ الْمُرْتَدِّ مِثْلَ قَوْلِ عَلِيٍّ .

Where’s the threat?

Proof #3: The Sahaba’s Insistence to Kill Those Who Retained Belief in Musaylima as a Prophet

أَنَّ عَبْدَ اللَّهِ بْنَ مَسْعُودٍ : ” أَخَذَ بِالْكُوفَةِ رِجَالا يُنْعِشُونَ حَدِيثَ مُسَيْلِمَةَ الْكَذَّابِ يَدْعُونَ إِلَيْهِمْ ، فَكَتَبَ فِيهِمْ إِلَى عُثْمَانَ بْنِ عَفَّانَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ ، فَكَتَبَ عُثْمَانُ : أَنِ اعْرِضْ عَلَيْهِمْ دِينَ الْحَقِّ وَشَهَادَةَ أَنْ لا إِلَهَ إِلا اللَّهُ وَأَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ، فَمَنْ قَبِلَهَا وَبَرِئَ مِنْ مُسَيْلِمَةَ فَلا تَقْتُلْهُ ، وَمَنْ لَزِمَ دِينَ مُسَيْلِمَةَ فَاقْتُلْهُ ، فَقَبِلَهَا رِجَالٌ مِنْهُمْ فَتُرِكُوا ، وَلَزِمَ دِينَ مُسَيْلِمَةَ رِجَالٌ فَقُتِلُوا ” .

They could have demanded promises to end hiraba instead, but no.”

Brown writes:

“The only Hadith evidence that does not include a specific political dimension for the crime of apostasy is the discussion between the Companions Abū Mūsā al-Ashʿarī and Muʿādh bin Jabal over a Jewish man who had converted to Islam and then left it. But this is only because the report has no real contextual information at all. Moreover, there is evidence that the caliph Umar was later informed about Abū Mūsā’s and Muʿādh’s decision and expressed his displeasure. “Could you not have imprisoned him for three days, fed him each day a loaf of bread, and asked him to repent?,” asked Umar. ‘He might have repented and returned to the command of God.’”[144]

Ust Bassam responds:

“This hadith is actually a big proof against Dr. Brown and Umar’s statement doesn’t indicate that he disagrees with the hadd of apostasy. Rather, Umar’s concern was that the apostate didn’t have sufficient time to repent. In this hadith there is enough context for us to know that the Jewish man wasn’t being violent or rebelling, yet the Sahabah still insisted on killing him for his apostasy.”

Ust Bassam summarizes his thoughts on Brown’s argument:

“One could still argue back to Dr. Brown by saying… ‘Okay fine Dr. Brown, we will agree with you for the sake of argument that the apostasy law should be viewed for its political dimensions only. Well… nothing has changed, since that would still apply today!’ In essence, Dr. Brown HAS NOT shown any proof that the reasons he offered for the implementation of apostasy laws in the past, wouldn’t be applicable in a modern Islamic state. So in reality, what new contribution has Dr. Brown truly offered here?”

Confusion and doubt. Back to Top

Confusing al-Wala wal-Bara

One of the “extremist” beliefs Nazir Khan attributes to ISIS and other terror groups is al-Wala’ wal-Bara’. In his essay, “Forever on Trial: Islam and the Charge of Violence,” Khan writes:

“The term Walaa’ wal-Baraa’ (lit. loyalty and disavowal) is a term used by Muslim theologians to refer to maintaining an affinity towards all that which is virtuous and loved by God, while seeking to dissociate oneself from matters which are immoral and odious to God. However, warped in the minds of militants, this concept has become a binary classification of all human beings into good versus evil, with the claim being that all non-Muslims must be regarded as evildoers and treated with hostility.”

Khan portrays this binary as if it is an anomalous, deviant position concocted by “militants.” The truth, however, is that all scholars elucidating the concept of al-wala’ wal-bara’ note the importance of affinity toward Muslims and disassociation from non-Muslims. This is precisely the result of what Khan glosses as “affinity towards the virtuous” and “disassociation from the odious.” Iman is virtuous and kufr is odious. So, believers generally maintain a preference for other believers and do not allow their hearts to become attached to people of kufr.

But this plain-sense understanding of al-wala’ wal-bara’ contradicts the liberal interfaith understanding of love for all. According to this modern ideology, belief in God and Islam is irrelevant as long as one is a “good person.” In other words, being a “good person” has nothing to do with accepting or rejecting a particular religion. The idea that Muslims would prefer to associate with other Muslims solely on the basis of shared belief is, thus, anathema to the pluralist status quo of the liberal age. He continues:

“Framing the world into a conflict of ‘us versus them,’ [extremists] dehumanize the outsider and demonstrate no concern for his or her well-being. But this is again diametrically opposed to the practice and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. He welcomed people of all faith communities and backgrounds.”[145]

Allah often frames the world as a conflict between believers and disbelievers. For example, Allah says:

“Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; and those with him are forceful against the disbelievers, merciful among themselves.”[146]

Would Khan consider this “dehumanizing”?

Obviously, al-wala’ wal-bara’ is a vast topic with important nuances. A Muslim must fully commit to associating with believers and disassociating from disbelievers, while also maintaining standards of justice and even goodness and generosity in certain circumstances with kuffar.[147] But Khan, in deference to the mandates of interfaith pluralism, fudges the concept of al-wala’ wal-bara’. That is bad enough in itself, but he goes further by attributing the concept to terrorists, in effect throwing under the bus all Muslim scholars who teach this important value and all those Muslims who live by it. Back to Top

Allah May Forgive Dead Mushrikin Without Their Tawba

Note: This section is also a stand-alone article here.

One of the most egregious papers published by Yaqeen is titled: “The Fate of Non-Muslims: Perspectives on Salvation Outside of Islam,” written by Jonathan Brown.

The essay prompted two rebuttals that came shortly after it was published in 2018. Mobeen Vaid and Sh Dr. Mateen Khan strongly denounce Brown and Yaqeen for promoting clear deviancy. Sh Mateen sums it up thus:

“The article’s logical inconsistencies are numerous, and its undermining of explicit text and Sunni creed is unacceptable, but those are secondary points to what I would like to highlight. Brown forwards a creedal stance against the explicitly stated creed of Sunni Islam and uses Yaqeen’s platform as a means of conveying that opinion to the public.”[148]

What is so problematic about Brown’s essay? A great deal. The entire paper reads like a tormented soul grappling with the question of whether non-Muslims will be saved in the Hereafter. Brown grasps for anything that might open a door for non-Muslims, anything that could be taken as an alternative to the unanimous consensus position in Islam. What is this consensus? That Allah does not forgive shirk and those who die upon shirk will not be forgiven by Him. This is explicit in the Quran:

“Indeed, Allah does not forgive association with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills. And he who associates others with Allah has certainly fabricated a tremendous sin.”[149]

But apparently this is not enough for Brown. His desperation takes him to aberrant views from modern reformists like Farid Esask, Fazlur Rahman, and Rashid Rida. But those readers not aware of the heterodox inclinations of these academics wouldn’t get that impression from Brown. Brown presents them as firmly within the Islamic tradition when he says:

“What about non-Muslims who are informed reliably and accurately about Islam’s teachings and yet do not convert? What is their fate in the Afterlife? As far as I understand, three answers have been offered in the Islamic tradition. Please note: at this point I’m not advocating any one of them. I am merely presenting them and trying to lay out arguments for and against them. […]

1. Islam is the Only Path

This school of thought is exclusive. It holds that only by embracing the message of the Qur’an and the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, only by adopting the religion we know of as Islam, can one attain salvation in the Hereafter. […]

2. Belief in God and Doing Good Deeds

One might call this the moral theism school of thought. It holds that anyone who believes in God and does good deeds can attain salvation. […]

3. All True Paths Lead to the One

An even broader approach to the questions of salvation and truth is sometimes known as the Perennialist school.”[150]

Brown frames these three positions as being “in the Islamic tradition,” which by itself is an egregious distortion. He presents two deviant views from self-described reformists as being on par with the singular correct Islamic position and even says that he isn’t advocating any particular one. This is a microcosm of Yaqeen’s “muddying the water” approach. The clear cut, consensus Islamic position goes against liberal Western sensibilities, so that position is mitigated by inclusion of everything but the kitchen sink. The confused reader can then pick and choose from the alternatives whatever makes him feel most comfortable. This is Yaqeen’s “compassionate orthodoxy.”

To make his deviance on this issue absolutely clear, Brown writes:

“The question of whether or not there lies salvation outside of Islam—or of any exclusive religion—is too daunting for any particular conclusions to be drawn (at least by me).”[151]

Now, it should be pointed out that Brown does say at the end of his essay the following: “Islam is the only valid religion in the eyes of God.” This is Islamically sound, right?

But remember that this is not a paper about whether religions other than Islam are valid. The paper is about whether kuffar and mushrikin can attain salvation after rejecting Islam, and Brown is, at best, ambivalent about this and presents numerous arguments that contradict the Quran and Islamic orthodoxy.

He underscores this ambivalence towards punishment of kuffar in the Hereafter with this:

“Here one massive question looms: does one believe that accepting the specific religious message of Muhammad ﷺ, as it has been preserved and transmitted down to our times, is so important that rejecting it means suffering eternally in Hellfire, whether that punishment is physical or a spiritual alienation from God? Put more simply, is believing in Islam so important that you’re willing to declare that non-Muslims have no hope for peace in the Afterlife?”[152]

The sheer irreverence of the question leaves one speechless. Is believing in Islam so important? YES. That is the whole point of revelation, messengers, the struggle of billions of believers throughout the eons of history. Indeed, it is the whole purpose of our existence as creations of Allah. Yet Brown questions the importance of belief and spends the whole essay reflecting on the value of polytheists who are nonetheless “good people.”

He also says “you’re willing to declare” as if this is something we as individuals “declare” from our personal opinions, as opposed to what Allah and His Messenger have asserted.

There are numerous other significant errors in the essay. For example, this passage:

“When it comes to [the salvation of] specific individuals the tradition of Muslim scholars has been to withhold judgment. We can pass judgment on the correctness or falsity of religions, but we do not know the fate of the individual people who follow those religions. Because of the enormity of God’s mercy, and because the scope of His cosmic justice so far exceeds our ken, the result is that we cannot know who will enter Heaven and who will not.”

Brown is either confused or he is purposely distorting the Islamic position. Yes, it is correct that we don’t pass judgment on individuals, even kuffar, and say definitively that so-and-so person is in the Fire. But this withholding of judgment is not because there is a possibility that God’s mercy and His cosmic justice, as Brown puts it, will result in forgiveness for that person’s kufr and/or shirk. We withhold judgment because we do not know if the person secretly was a believer despite appearances. So, Brown twists this Islamic position to serve his own argument.

The original essay had even more flagrant distortions and deviancy. Originally, Brown wrote:

“As far as I know this is only my opinion, but it thus seems entirely possible that a non-Muslim who believed in God and did enormous good deeds, even one who had committed shirk (the grievous sin of associating partners with God), might face only temporary punishment for their error before attaining salvation in the Garden.”[153]

He adds to this with:

“To be clear, what follows here is just my idea: it thus also seems possible that God could forgive the sin of shirk for a reason other than repentance, perhaps as an expression of His immeasurable mercy.”[154]

This is clear cut deviancy and contradicts the Quran and the unanimously established creed of Sunni Islam. Confirming this, Sh Mateen writes: “This opinion suggests salvation for the reached, unrepentant disbeliever. The evidence from the primary texts and scholarly consensus is completely overwhelming and resolute to the contrary.”[155]

Ust Mobeen underlines this, “To suggest a possibility of forgiveness that then militates against this creedal foundation upon which the very religion of Islam is built is not merely heterodox, but unfounded, unacceptable, and worthy of outright rejection.”[156]

Sh Mateen then goes on to denounce Yaqeen for agreeing to publish such an essay, thereby exposing their audience to deviance presented as sound Islam:

“In a post-modern world where everyone’s opinion – scholarly or unscholarly, deviant or orthodox – is seen as equal, is it responsible for Yaqeen Institute to advance non-normative, deviant opinions? […] Given the authority and platform from which such pronouncements are being issued, an astute reader will walk away with only doubts rather than the pristine certainty that is Islamic creed. […] Scholars who advocated for or are associated with deviance in creed and innovation in jurisprudence have a responsibility to publicly withdraw their support or offer the appropriate criticism. The Muslim public has this right upon them, and we should demand no less.”

About a month after publication, Yaqeen decided to quietly remove the two above-mentioned sentences about Allah forgiving mushrikin. It is customary for academic publications to include editors’ notes about any corrections and changes to a text that occur after the text is published. This is to alert people who read earlier versions that there were mistakes. But, as with other examples discussed in the report, Yaqeen includes no such notes, as if the offending sentences never existed. But they did exist and many people read those sentences, and those who didn’t know better came away with a distorted understanding of Islamic creed.

Brown tries to explain why a proper correction wasn’t made in a podcast interview. He claims that noting the correction will only cause more confusion since more people will be exposed to the deviant belief. But this makes no sense. If Yaqeen is trying to teach a correct understanding of salvation, then should clearly specify both what is correct and what is deviance as deviance. If Yaqeen could make it crystal clear:

“In a previous version of this paper, we advanced the view that mushrikin and kuffar who rejected Islam could still attain salvation. We retract this view because it is completely false and deviant and goes against the sound aqida of all Sunni scholars.”

Why can’t Yaqeen make such a correction?

Doesn’t Yaqeen have a responsibility to not only own up to its mistakes but also take steps to rectify the damage? More significantly, how could such a deeply flawed, heterodox piece be published in the first place on a platform that claims to have over a dozen scholarly advisors, editors, and directors, led by an imam as its president? Back to Top

Most Jews and Christians Will Fight Against the Dajjal

This article was one of the earlier essays published by Yaqeen titled: “The Myth of Anti-Semitic Genocide in Muslim Scripture.” The article aims to tackle the “anti-semitic” hadith:

“The Hour will not begin until you fight the Jews, until a Jew will hide behind a rock or a tree, and the rock or tree will say: ‘O Muslim, O slave of Allah, here is a Jew behind me; come and kill him’ – except the gharqad (a kind of thorny tree).”[157]

Originally, the listed authors for the essay were Omar Suleiman, Nazir Khan, and Justin Parrott. Strangely, the original article was taken down and is no longer available through the Yaqeen website navigation. Instead, another article with the same title can be found with the same content, except abridged.[158] In this version, Omar Suleiman and Nazir Khan are no longer listed as co-authors and only Parrott’s name appears. No explanation for these authorship changes or the omission of the original article are noted on the current site page.

The original article twists and contorts itself to avoid the clear, unambiguous meaning of the hadith and proffer a far-fetched interpretation more palatable to interfaith sensibilities. The piece was thoroughly critiqued by Sh Haytham Sayfaddin, who wrote a highly erudite and comprehensive 70 page essay carefully analyzing Yaqeen’s essay line by line.[159]

Sh Haytham documents how this essay from Yaqeen is riddled with major and minor errors as well as misinterpretations and distortions so egregious, he describes the whole thing as “low grade” and “reprehensible.” In summation, the problems include:

  • Reliance on extremely weak and fabricated hadith
  • Attempts to discount authentic narrations through specious use of inauthentic material
  • Blatant mistranslations of ayat of the Quran as well as hadith
  • Claims about fiqh which are contrary to positions of the scholarly tradition
  • Selective cherry picking of Arabic definitions and terminology

Sh Haytham marshals nearly 400 scholarly citations in support of these claims. We recommend interested readers to refer to his in depth research. But we also include some of the most egregious errors found by Sh Haytham below:

The Yaqeen article says:

“In fact, most Jews will be righteous folk amongst the forces of good uniting with virtuous Christians and Muslims, embracing the message of all the Prophets, and fighting against the Dajjal.”

Sh Haytham responds:

“Absolutely no evidence is presented by the authors to prove that ‘most Jews will be righteous folk amongst the forces of good…’ The most that is presented is that not all Jews will fight alongside the Dajjal. However, does this prove those not with him are with the Muslims against him? Of course not.”[160]

Yaqeen writes:

“After all, the Dajjal will be a murderous dictator who claims to be God, an anathema to all followers of the Abrahamic tradition as well as to all people of conscience.”

Sh Haytham responds:

“This statement is indicative of an overwhelming level of ignorance concerning the Revelation of Allah and of history. […] Is associating partners with Allah not “an anathema to all followers of the Abrahamic tradition”? Is ascribing a son to Him not “an anathema to all followers of the Abrahamic tradition”? Is taking others as lords besides Him not “an anathema to all followers of the Abrahamic tradition”?

“The Jews and Christians have no actual tie to Ibrahim. One may ask: ‘Isn’t attributing one’s self to Ibrāhīm enough to say one is following an ‘Abrahamic tradition’?’ No it is not. If this was true, then the mushrikin of Quraysh would also be followers of an “Abrahamic tradition,” as they used to consider themselves followers of Ibrahim.”[161]

Yaqeen writes:

“Muslims do not believe that rocks and trees will be pointing out random innocent bystanders, but rather soldiers of the Dajjal—combatants who are themselves involved in killing innocent people. It is about these specific combatants in the Antichrist’s army that rocks and trees will say, ‘There is one hiding behind me, come and slay him!’”

Sh Haytham responds:

“No hadith says: ‘There is one hiding behind me…’ The confirmed hadith says: ‘There is a Jew behind me…’, a dha’if hadith says: ‘There is a kafir behind me…’ and a fabricated ḥadīth says:

‘This is a Dajjali…’ This is another example of the article attempting to erode the concept of Al-Wala’ Wal-Bara’ by removing phrases which directly differentiate between Muslims and disbelievers.”

Yaqeen writes:

“Other variants of the hadith state that the rocks and trees will simply say, “Here is a rejector of truth hiding behind me!” (Musnad Ahmad 3546) or “Here is a soldier of Dajjal!” (al-Buhur al-Zakhirah 1/493) and do not focus on the religious identity.”

Sh Haytham writes 12 pages brilliantly analyzing this one sentence, but the highlights are:

“Firstly: The translation of the ḥadīth is inaccurate and frankly, misleading. The ḥadīth states: “To the point that rocks and trees will say: ‘O Muslim; there is a kāfir (disbeliever) beneath me, so come kill him.’”

“[…] A farmer may linguistically be called a kāfir due to him covering seeds with soil.

[…] So, why did the authors only pick one meaning – rejection – and not use the other? To be true to their approach, they should have said: ‘There is a rejector or someone who covers something behind me.’ The linguistic meaning related to rejection is not restricted to rejecting the truth. It also includes rejecting someone’s favors toward you (i.e., being ungrateful). So, why did the authors only pick one type of rejection? To be true to their approach, they should have said: ‘There is a rejector of something behind me.’

“Secondly: The ḥadīth does not translate as “…a soldier of Dajjal…” The word is “Dajjali.” This is the word Dajjal with the letter Ya’ (ي (added onto it, which is called “Ya’ an-Nasab (Ya’ of Attribution).” This means that the person being referred to is attributed to the Dajjal. The best translation is “Follower of the Dajjāl” or Dajjālian. Just like someone who follows the sunnah is a Sunnī, or someone from Iraq is an ‘Irāqī; no one would say Sunnī means a soldier of the Sunnah or ‘Irāqī means a soldier of Iraq.

“As for the reference cited, then this is not even a book of ḥadīth, rather, it is a book of ‘Aqīdah related to matters of eschatology. Furthermore, the author of this book, As-Saffārīnī, died in the year 1113 H., meaning, only 327 years ago. This is not how a research paper is written. This would be like someone quoting a ḥadīth in “Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī”, but instead of citing “Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī” as the source, they cite the travesty of an article currently being discussed.

“Therefore, the authors either knew this was not a book of ḥadīth, or they did not know. If they knew, then it can be said that they cited this book instead of the actual book because a) they did not want anyone to find the actual chain of the ḥadīth and study it, b) do not know how to properly cite Islāmic references, or c) are too lazy or unable to find the original source of this ḥadīth. If they did not know, then this shows an astounding level of ignorance related to the sources of knowledge used in Islāmic research.”[162]

Yaqeen writes:

“As the Qur’an says, ‘God instructs you to deal kindly and justly with anyone who has not fought you for your faith or driven you out of your homes: God loves the just.’ (60:8).”[163]

Sh Haytham responds:

“This is a false translation of this Verse. The Verse does not say: ‘God instructs you…’ It says:

‘Allah does not forbid you…’ There is a huge difference between being instructed to do something vs. not being prohibited from doing something. The first would, at the very least, be recommended, if not obligatory. The second would simply be permissible. I searched seven translations of the Qur’an in an attempt to see if this mistake could have been taken from someone else, but did not find it in any of those translations. And a Google search yielded only twenty-two results with this translation: the article in question, or other results which were dated after the release of the article, which in one way or another, are connected to the original in the topics discussed.”[164]

Yaqeen writes:

“The Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم issued a stark warning about persecuting others, ‘Whoever harms a non-Muslim at peace with us will never smell the fragrance of paradise, although its fragrance can be found a distance of forty years of travel.’ (Sahih Bukhari 6516).”

Sh Haytham responds:

“This is a blatant mistranslation of the ḥadīth. The ḥadīth is: “On the authority of ‘Abdullāh Ibn ‘Amr, that the Prophet said, “Whoever kills (qatala) a Mu’ahad (i.e., a person who is granted a pledge of security by a Muslim) shall not smell the fragrance of Paradise, though its fragrance is found at a distance of forty years (of traveling).” There is no phrasing in Sahih Bukhari or elsewhere with the word “…harms…” Likewise, this is not how it is translated in any of the translations of Sahih Bukhari I have come across online or in hard copy. There is also no way for the word “qatala” to be understood as the word “…harms…” And far be it from the shari’ah to equate merely harming someone with actually killing them.”[165]

Sh Haytham concludes, “There is no excuse for such low-grade work. And the quality of any work by any of these authors should be called into question.” Back to Top

Evolution

Yaqeen dedicated a whole series of essays, videos, and infographics to the topic of evolution. Is evolution compatible with Islam? Can Muslims accept evolution? How can Muslims reconcile Islamic theology with science when scientific consensus contradicts that theology?

Rather than using their resources to fund an in depth study bringing together Muslim scholars and other experts to analyze the issue and provide an Islamically sound, intellectually compelling position on the issue, Yaqeen opted to just publish a paper for every possible position, regardless of its soundness.

Again, this is on par with their overall methodology of “muddying the water” and plausible deniability.

What all the orthodox scholars of our time have determined is that humans did not evolve from a prior species contrary to what evolutionary science claims. Furthermore, to believe that humans evolved from a prior species is disbelief. On this point, Sh Nuh Keller has written:

“As for the claim that man has evolved from a non-human species, this is unbelief (kufr) no matter if we ascribe the process to Allah or to ‘nature,’ because it negates the truth of Adam’s special creation that Allah has revealed in the Qur’an.”[166]

Sh Bin Baz confirms this:

“The origin of Adam is the form that he is currently in and his origin is not an ape or anything else. Rather he is a complete, sound human being upon his [current] form. Saying that his origin is an ape is munkar and batil. But rather it is appropriate to say this is kufr from the speaker of such a claim. What is apparent, and Allah knows best, is that whoever says this while knowing what the Sharia says, he is a kafir because he is saying that Allah and His Messenger are lying and saying the Book of Allah is lying about the creation of Adam.”[167]

Despite the unanimity of the scholars on this, nowhere does Yaqeen convey that accepting the evolution of human beings from another species is Islamically unacceptable and kufr. The most that is said in one essay in the series is, “Islamic scripture and Muslim theologians have held a consensus on humankind’s descent from Adam and Eve, who had no parents.”[168] This says nothing, however, about whether it is acceptable for Muslims to ignore the consensus and accept the evolution of human beings from other species.

This glaring omission would be less destructive if Yaqeen had not published an essay in their Evolution series that argued for Muslims accepting the evolution of human beings. But, sadly, Yaqeen has published exactly such an essay. [Back to Top]

Evolution Is True and Adam and Hawwa Are Mythical Beings

Note: This section is also a stand-alone article here where we also address critics who claim we have “misrepresented” Yaqeen’s paper on the subject.

To cut to the chase, in his paper, “Tawaqquf and Acceptance of Human Evolution,” Dr. David Solomon Jalajel writes:

“It could be argued that Adam and Eve are “mythical” in the sense that belief in them rests solely upon a person’s acceptance of the divine origins of the texts that speak about them.”

Mythical? This is how we should understand our father Adam and mother Hawwa? As myths? It is unbelievable that a Muslim would speak like this and even more unbelievable that a Muslim institute would publish and promote it. This is the kind of speech one expects from those Jews and Christians who have conceded that their religious books are nothing but allegorical stories of old. Now Jalajel and Yaqeen are trying to introduce these same concepts to describe Adam.

What possible justification could there be to speak about the prophet Adam as mythical?

Jalajel tries to argue that Muslims can accept evolution and even the evolution of human beings without compromising Islamic creed or the Quran. This is possible because, according to him, the origin of human beings is an empirical matter and the creation of Adam described in the Quran is part of the Unseen, and therefore akin to myth.[169] Science is concerned with the empirical and does not care about myth. As he puts it:

Biologists are not concerned with mythical beings. It would be ludicrous for a biologist to argue the merits or demerits of various theories regarding the mythical origins of mythical people or to talk about the evidence for their existence.”

The sheer confusion of Jalajel is even more apparent when we consider those today who claim that none of the prophets mentioned in the Bible or the Quran actually existed. Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and even the Prophet Muhammad were all mythical figures, not historical ones. What would Jalajel say to this? According to his definition, all the prophets would also be considered “mythical” since “belief in them rests solely upon a person’s acceptance of the divine origins of the texts that speak about them.” What other reason do Muslims, Christians, and Jews have for believing in ancient prophets like Idris, Nuh, Ibrahim other than the fact they are mentioned in the Bible and the Quran? Even the historicity of prophets who lived more recently, like Isa and Muhammad, is questioned by some modern academics, who claim there is no “hard” empirical evidence for their existence.

Indeed, Jalajel’s framework renders all of the historical claims of the Quran as myth, since most of those claims are not validated by scientific or historical research. He seems to be blissfully unaware of the far reaching implications of his own words. For example he says:

“The notion of Adam and Eve as ‘mythical’ beings, though maybe not an excellent choice of words due to some negative connotations, is literally reminiscent of the way Sunni theologians have always looked at them, as a matter of the Unseen which comes under the category of the samʿiyyat, something that is known to us exclusively through scriptural sources without any empirical evidence.”[170]

What he fails to mention is that the scholars did not include Adam and other prophets in the category of sam`iyyat. They were not Unseen. How could they be when they came to humanity in flesh and blood? Jalajel’s argument is based on nothing more than a creative distortion of these basic theological categories.

Beyond claiming that our father Adam and his spouse were myths, Jalajel makes further shocking claims about Bani Adam:

“It is possible for traditionally-minded Muslims to accept human evolution without reservation and without having to reinterpret the texts about the creation of Adam and Eve to mean anything other than what classical Muslim theologians have taken them to mean. In other words, they can accept the idea that biological organisms classified as Homo sapiens might have evolved from earlier hominids while still upholding the belief that Adam and Eve were created without parents and that all human beings on earth today are Adam and Eve’s descendants.”[171]

This amounts to sheer sophistry, which becomes apparent when we list out the claims Jalajel makes in his last sentence.

  1. Biological organisms classified as Homo sapiens evolved from earlier hominids.
  2. Adam and Eve were created without parents.
  3. All human beings on earth today are Adam and Eve’s descendents.

How could all three of these statements be true? Are not all human beings also Homo sapiens? Logically, the only way that all three statements could be true is if all human beings evolved from earlier hominids and are descendents of Adam and Eve. If human beings evolved from earlier hominids that means human beings are descendents of those hominids. This would mean that humanity is not only Bani Adam, i.e., descendents of Adam but also descendents of some ape-like creatures in the distant evolutionary past! We would have to consider not only Adam as the father of humanity but also these ape-like creatures.[172]

Jalajel confirms this interpretation of his argument when he says:

“What matters is that a belief in the Adam’s [sic] direct creation does not prevent Muslims who hold that belief from accepting the possibility that beings who were biologically human could have evolved on Earth from other species, beings identical in every way to the descendants of Adam.”[173]

According to Jalajel, there could be some species roaming the earth that is identical to the descendants of Adam in every single way, but are not really descended from him. Even you, dear reader, might have thought of yourself as a descendant of Adam, but in reality you descended from pre hominid apes and ultimately, amoeba, bacteria, etc.[174] Jalajel assures us:

“Adam’s descendants can be seen as full members of the broader human family.”

In other words, Adam’s descendents are a subset of humanity as whole. This means that you may be a member of the broader human family, but you may not actually be a descendent of Adam! This is pure, undiluted deviance.

In this way, Jalajel lays waste to numerous parts of Islamic creed to accommodate human evolution.

He also accuses Muslims of not understanding the Quranic account of Adam’s creation:

“The conflicts we see in Muslim communities today have arisen because the scriptural texts have been over-interpreted by contemporary Muslims who, having been confronted with the question of human biological origins, took the Adam and Eve story to be an account of those biological origins. This is just an assumption they make that overreaches what is found in the texts and which violates the principle of theological non-commitment (tawaqquf) required when dealing with matters of the Unseen.”[175]

It is not just “contemporary Muslims” who understood the creation of Adam as a biological origin of humanity. All scholars understood the Quran this way. The Prophet and the Companions and Salaf, et al., all understood the Quran in this way, as a biological account of human origins, since, lest we be confused, the entire notion of genealogy is inexorably biological. It is only Jalajel who has read the Quran and sees it as compatible with this bizarre story about humans being hybrid offspring descended from Adam as well as ape-like pre hominids.

But he insists that everyone else is mistaken:

“This assumption is widely held by people today, and it clouds many discussions on the theological implications of human evolution, where we find the account of Adam’s origins being presented as if it is synonymous with an account of human biological origins. This is incorrect from the methodological approach of classical theology, since it over-extends what the texts are actually saying about a matter of the Unseen.”

Again, pure sophistry. How can descent from ancestors occur genealogically without biological reproduction? To say that Adam is the progenitor of all human beings — as the Quran and Sunna do — is to make an inherently biological claim about human origins. Unless Jalajel means something completely different by the word “biology”! These ludicrous word games are reminiscent of US President Bill Clinton’s infamous questioning of what the definition of the word ‘is’ is.

Finally, Jalajel pretends to be an aqida specialist:

“It is possible for a person to believe in human evolution, based on scientific evidence, and dismiss the story of Adam being created without parents, as some Muslims do who choose not to follow the classical interpretive strategies I am exploring.”

On what basis can Jalajel make such a claim about what does or does not take someone out of Islam? According to him, a person can outright “dismiss” the Quranic account of Adam’s creation and still be Muslim. As we saw above, numerous scholars judged this as manifest kufr because it is a rejection of numerous clear-cut ayat of the Quran. Who is Jalajel to contest their scholarly determination?

Overall, Jalajel reveals himself in this sentence from his trainwreck of an essay:

“Science makes claims about human biological origins. What needs to be done, then, is assess to what extent classical Islamic theology requires understanding the story of Adam and Eve to be an explanation for those origins.”

In other words, Jalajel wants to know what is the minimum requirement that he can get away with. What is the absolute lowest bar, the lowest common denominator that will allow him to accept the dominant status quo. The danger with tip-toeing the line is that you inevitably cross the line. Indeed, this is precisely Yaqeen’s approach to Islam. Back to Top

LGBT

Yaqeen has only produced one paper on this issue, in a prime example of “muddying the waters” on what is clear cut and indisputable in Islam. They published a “debate” between an academic and American scholar, where the academic, Jonathan Brown, passionately claims — on the basis of his personal musing on religious freedom — that Muslims must affirm and advocate LGBT rights, while the scholar says — on the basis of proofs from Islamic sources — that doing so would be categorically haram.

Why would Yaqeen publish the personal musings of an academic and present it as a legitimate religious opinion? Is it because being pro-LGBT rights matches their politics, or at least the politics of their founder and president Omar Suleiman?

As detailed in other articles at Muslim Skeptic, Suleiman has worked hand in hand with Muslim pro-LGBT advocates and politicians, praising them,endorsing them, taking photos and selfies with them, calling them leaders, etc.[176] Just recently, he welcomed a pro-LGBT rights advocate, Asma Uddin, to speak at an LGBT conference with him at a masjid.[177] Asma Uddin is the founder of AltMuslimah, an online blog that has published articles praising deviants like Amina Wadud and arguing against the hadd for same-sex sexual behavior.[178] None of that disqualifies her from being invited to stand with Omar Suleiman at the masjid to speak to the Muslim community about this issue.

Being so deeply involved with progressive politics forces Suleiman into allying with these kinds of activists, and this informs his position on the permissibility of Muslims allying with pro-LGBT political groups. He has argued at length about why Muslims should have no problem allying with homosexuals, transexuals, queers, etc. The only Islamic justification he can muster are appeals to a statement from the Prophet regarding Hilf al-Fudul.[179] Hilf al-Fudul hardly supports his pro-LGBT politics, however, as discussed here.

Ultimately, it is not clear why Omar Suleiman thinks himself qualified to make ijtihad on this question and give a ruling on the permissibility of aligning with these groups. Neither he nor Jonathan Brown is able to speak as jurists or muftis on such an important matter and those qualified scholars who have spoken on it have deemed it impermissible. Rather than accept this ruling and convey it, Yaqeen and Suleiman prefer to contradict it and then muddy the water to avoid accountability from the community.

Meanwhile, Yaqeen’s own research showed that LGBT is one of the biggest sources of doubt confusing young Muslims.[180] Besides an attack on iman, Muslim countries throughout the world are being attacked for maintaining the Islamic prohibition of homosexual behavior. Islamic schools and Muslim parents are being attacked for not embracing LGBT curricula targeting Muslim children. Masajid and Muslim businesses are being attacked for not adopting LGBT-compliant employment practices. Muslims on an individual level are being tarnished as bigots for not celebrating the pride parades and other rainbow activities proliferating in mainstream Western culture.

Rather than provide clarity on these issues, rather than support Muslims in an effort to push back against the onslaught, Yaqeen tells Muslims to embrace it or, at most, just sit quietly and remain apolitical. These are the two choices discussed in the “debate,” i.e., the only paper on LGBT published by Yaqeen.

If all this weren’t reprehensible enough, one of Yaqeen’s most prolific contributors is a self-described queer feminist Instagram model. [Back to Top]

Muslims Should Affirm and Advocate Many LGBT Rights

Note: This section is also a stand-alone article here.

At the end of 2017, Yaqeen published an essay by Professor Jonathan Brown titled “LGBTQ and Islam Revisited.” We have critiqued this essay in another article, but we reiterate and expand on those points below.

First of all, the entire premise of the article is problematic. Why would Muslims need to “revisit” Islam and LGBT?

Everything that Muslims need to know about LGBT, they can learn from explicit ayat in the Quran and the clear teaching of scholars for 1400 years. As for the Quran, the example of Lut and his interaction with the belligerent musrifin of his village are perfectly relevant for our times. Lut was not looking to “support the rights” of his people to continue practicing their fahisha, nor did he “ally” with them despite the fact that he and his family were in acute mortal danger. Rather, he denounced their behavior and urged them to change. And, it should be noted and underlined, his people in the Quran were described as being kuffar.[181]

As mentioned above, Yaqeen framed the article as a “debate” between Jonathan Brown, an Islamic Studies academic at a secular university and Dr. Shadee Elmasry, a religious scholar. But the notion that this is a “debate” is a farce.

First let’s take a look at what exactly Brown argues. In reality, most Muslims around the world are smart enough to know how ridiculous and contrary to Islam Brown’s position is, but for the sake of due diligence, let’s take a closer look. Brown says:

“Muslims in the U.S. should affirm and advocate for many (but not necessarily all) LGBTQ rights, not because of a quid pro quo they-stood-by-us-so-we-have-to-stand-by-them logic, but rather because Muslims in the U.S. and LGBTQ groups seek protection for the same rights and, ironically, arguably have a common vision for the country’s future.”[182]

This is Brown’s central claim. It is important to understand what Brown is saying here. He is not saying that Islam accepts LGBT. He is explicit that these behaviors and lifestyles are prohibited in Islam.

But, while acknowledging that prohibition, Brown thinks Muslims should affirm and advocate for many LGBT rights.

If you are utterly bewildered by what it means to acknowledge that something is fahisha but also promote the “right” of others to commit this fahisha, you are not alone. How can Muslims simultaneously hold that homosexual behavior is something so immoral, so terrible, so grievous, that Allah literally annihilated Qawm Lut for engaging in it, but also affirm and advocate people’s “right” to engage in that behavior?

And let’s not forget the B and T of LGBT. Which “rights” of bisexuals and transgenders should we affirm and advocate, according to Brown?

None of this makes sense. Brown’s interlocutor says as much in his rebuttal:

“This position will cause cognitive dissonance in those who adopt it. Beliefs and political stances must be aligned and should not contradict the Sacred Law or else one will internalize this contradiction and never be able to escape the agitation that dissonance causes. Separating what you believe religiously from what you support politically is the very eye of secularism.”

What other group in the US has this huge divide between its moral commitments and its political advocacy? Do anti-war pacifists privately believe war is immoral but publicly affirm and advocate war? Do pro-life Christians privately believe abortion is murder but publicly affirm and advocate a women’s right to murder? Do gun rights advocates privately believe gun ownership is one of the most important human rights we have but publicly affirm and advocate banning guns and thus violating what they think is the most important human right?

Of course not. So why should Muslims be any different on the issue of rainbow rights, especially given how LGBT rights directly harm Muslim interests in the US and the world?

The tired response that we hear to this is: “But brother, Muslims believe that shirk is the worst crime, but we actively support people’s right to worship whatever gods!”

We do? Are Muslims liberal secularists? If tomorrow, there is someway, somehow a public debate in the US on whether to make Islam the official religion of the nation and establish Sharia, Muslims are going to be supporting that initiative with everything they can muster. Meanwhile, the few confused Muslims will be arguing against Islam and Sharia for all because, “We have to respect people’s religious rights!”

Sadly, Brown himself expressed sympathy for this line of reasoning. He came under fire recently for this shocking statement he made in a Question and Answer session:

“I fully support the right of people to insult the Prophet in the United States because that’s the best regime for human happiness.”[183]

https://twitter.com/GtownMasjid/status/1239532736433598464?s=20

When he was pressed to explain himself, Brown doubled down in a Facebook post, saying he would change his wording but stands by the principle of religious freedom.[184]

Circumstances as they are, establishing Islam as the official religion of the USA is not on the ballot. What has been on the ballot, however, for the past 10 years is gay rights. And Muslims have had many opportunities to join the majority of Americans who are seriously opposed to it and lead the way. We have had the opportunity to easily translate our moral commitments to political advocacy, if for nothing else, then at least for the protection of our community’s interests and the future iman of our youth. We have had a golden opportunity to stand for the truth, enjoin good and forbid evil, and protect ourselves and our children from the potential destruction and punishment of Allah for those who disregard His commands. All lands belong to the Creator, Allah, and no one has a right to disobey Him and wage war on Him with fahisha.

But confused people like Brown and others have campaigned to push LGBT rights acceptance in the Muslim community for the past many years. And now, we find ourselves in the embattled, dire position of Celebrate the Rainbow… Or Else.

The other tired response we hear: “But brother, we can’t impose our values on non-Muslims!”

How would we be imposing our values? On opposing LGBT, clearly it is more than just Muslims who have that position. In fact, the majority of Americans in the past 10 years have been anti-LGBT rights. Obama and Hillary Clinton only accepted gay marriage within the past 7 years. So, it’s not only “our values.”

Secondly, recall that the Prophet Lut `alayhi-salam was commanding his people to stop committing their indecency. As cited above, Allah explicitly says that his people were not Muslim. Was there something wrong, then, with Lut imposing “his” moral position on kuffar?

Brown’s pro-LGBT argument takes a turn for the worst when he says:

“Does the Muslim in the lifeboat refuse to row with the devil worshipper because s/he disagrees with the devil worshipper’s beliefs and lifestyle? This is an absurd hypothetical, but its point is clear. Restrictions on Muslims’ rights, constant pressure from the security state, and the long-running and increasingly severe Islamophobia in American society (now ensconced in the White House) seem to me to have resulted in a situation more analogous to being stuck in a lifeboat than anything else.”[185]

Quite an imagination there. Envision two people lost at sea, stranded with nothing but miles of ocean as far as the horizon in every direction. Death is all but inevitable unless one literally makes a deal with the devil.

This is such an ugly fear tactic that has been fed to the Muslim community for years now. Are we really in a life or death situation of: Affirm and advocate gay man love or we will die?

How could anyone take this seriously?

More practically, how would the government crack down on Muslims if they refuse to join the pride parades, so to speak? Is there something practical and definitive instead of wild speculation? Would Islamophobic Republicans/Conservatives lobby to get all Muslim marriage licenses revoked? Why would they when they are conservative anti-LGBT rights themselves? Or is it the Democrats/Liberals that are going to throw us into Muslim concentration camps and make us pay the ultimate price for not towing the homoerotic line? But aren’t the tolerant, loving, amazing Dems/Liberals our greatest allies, who imams like Omar Suleiman and co. are constantly telling us to support?

So, this doesn’t add up.

“In Islamic civilization and under shariah rule, Muslim scholars allowed non-Muslim subjects to engage in marital practices that they considered grossly reprehensible when Muslims could easily have put an end to them. Muslim scholars allowed this because these practices were part of the religious practices of those non-Muslim communities. I concede that LGBTQ lifestyles are not part of any religion that I know of and thus not entitled to some dhimmi protection under Islamic law.”[186]

Brown conveniently fails to mention that, not only were those engaging in gay fahisha not entitled to dhimmi protection, but historically Islamic governments actively prohibited dhimmis and everyone else in Islamic lands from engaging in same sex behaviors. Ibn al-Qayyim clearly states this in his Ahkam Ahl al-Dhimma, a text that Brown cites earlier in the essay.[187] This is a critical fact that, in addition to everything else, eviscerates Brown’s entire argument, but he opts to ignore it, even though it is right there in the same book he is citing for something else. Should we consider this academic dishonesty?

In the end, the Rainbow March of Progress and Freedom is methodically kicking down all the doors, taking no prisoners, with their sights firmly set on the last bastion of resistance: believing Muslims. And here we have Yaqeen setting up a “debate” about whether to support the pro-LGBT onslaught or sit quietly and hope nothing bad will happen.

Rather than debate something that is categorically haram, Yaqeen and others should be discussing the best way to defend ourselves and the human race. We should be discussing the Sunnah of Lut `alayhi salam and how he was under no delusions about what the musrifun banging on his door were really about. Was Lut discussing the pros and cons of allying with Qawm Lut and forming coalitions? Was Lut reflecting on the “shared values” and “shared vision” he had with Qawm Lut? Back to Top

Sharia

One of Yaqeen’s Research Directors, Nazir Khan, explains Sharia as follows:

“In Arabic, ‘Shari’ah’ literally means a path, and its principles are famously outlined by scholars when discussing the five Maqasid al-Shari’ah (objectives of Shar’iah): the preservation of human life, faith, intellect, wealth, and family. It represents a holistic approach to increasing prosperity in society.”[188]

It is strange to limit the scope of Sharia to “increasing prosperity in society,” without mentioning the Hereafter or prosperity of the family, or spiritual prosperity of the heart, or any number of other things. The Sharia is a straight path, of course, but it is a path to Allah, not a path to social prosperity or some other humanistic end.

In Yaqeen’s introductory Youtube video, the first thing that Omar Suleiman says is:

“The most beautiful part of the Muslim community is how strongly we stand together to benefit humanity.”[189]

To this we might ask: Were humans created to serve humanity or to worship Allah? Of course, one aspect of worshipping Allah is serving others, but would we say that the most beautiful part of he Muslim community is the means rather than the end goal?

Nazir Khan reiterates Suleiman’s point in another article where he says:

“Achieving a positive impact on humanity is the holiest of ambitions.”[190]

What is the basis for such a strong theological claim? Again, a humanity focus described in superlative terms — not as a holy ambition, but the holiest of ambitions.

In another essay on “Human Freedom,” Omar Edward Moad claims:

“Reverence for the Divine is therefore impossible without reverence for the human. Likewise, true reverence for the human is impossible without reverence for the Divine.”[191]

As they say, once is a fluke; twice is a coincidence; three times is a pattern. Four or more times — well, that’s a bona fide doctrine.

In these examples and many more, Yaqeen conveys a distinctly humanist doctrine, insisting that concern for and service to all human beings (of all faiths, of course) is theologically central to Islam and our very purpose in this dunya as Muslims is to literally revere humanity with “contribution.”

Constantly hearing the same message repeated over and over again leaves a deep impression. And it does the job of subtly but powerfully reordering priorities, shifting concerns, reorienting values, in a word, reengineering the heart.

Which is why the next series of essays we explore different ways that the Sharia can be minimized and misrepresented in order to foreground dunyawi human ends over and above the spiritual end of obedience and worship of the One who revealed His Sharia. [Back to Top]

Takfir is Contrary to Islam

Another one of the “extremist” beliefs Nazir Khan attributes to ISIS and other terror groups is takfir, i.e., pronouncing someone to be a kafir. In his essay, “Forever on Trial: Islam and the Charge of Violence,” Khan writes:

“A central dogma of violent movements is the excommunication of any Muslim who disagrees with their principles. In Arabic, this is called takfeer—the practice of pronouncing someone to be a kaafir (disbeliever). The Qur’an prohibits this attitude of self-righteousness.”[192]

This is, again, a gross distortion. Takfir is an acceptable Islamic practice, one that has been endorsed and exercised by countless orthodox Sunni scholars over the past 1400 years. For example, Imam Ghazali famously made takfir on the heretic Ibn Sina.[193] Does Khan believe that Ghazali was part of a violent movement or self-righteous? Furthermore, scholars in the modern era have unanimously make takfir on Qadiyanis, who claim to be Muslims. Is such takfir out of self-righteousness or violent malice, as Khan characterizes it? Where is his evidence that the Quran prohibits takfir?

In recent times, eminent scholars such as Mufti Taqi Usmani make clear that avoiding declaring people as kafir is an extreme that is just as dangerous and destructive as the extreme of baselessly declaring people as kafir on secondary and tertiary issues.[194] This is because, as he says, this allows people to “introduce into Islam every such false belief that contradicts the centuries-old established fundamentals of Deen.” This is exactly what we have in the West. Heretics like Amina Wadud, Reza Aslan, Michael Knight, and others can go around claiming to be “Muslim scholars” all the while ascribing to Islam all kinds of clear kufr without any scholarly objection while average Muslims who do not know better and haven’t heard otherwise, accept these claims and their poison spreads far and wide.

Khan’s article misquotes a sahih hadith to attempt to justify his point.

“Whoever accuses his brother of disbelief is instead himself guilty. (Sahih Bukhari).”

This is a major misquote because it completely changes the meaning of the hadith. The full hadith in Bukhari states: “He who says to his brother ‘O disbeliever,’ then it returns upon one of them.” This hadith has been understood as signifying the gravity of takfir. But it is not a categorical prohibition. The scholars did specify stringent conditions for the pronouncement of kufr and usually a lay Muslim is not to concern himself with declaring kufr on others because of the danger of a wrongful pronouncement, which would mean that it would return to him, as the Prophet stated. Commenting on this hadith, Ibn al-Qayyim remarks in Zad al-Ma’ad:

“If one attributes to a Muslim hypocrisy or disbelief out of misinterpretation or anger for the sake of Allah, His Messenger, and His religion, and not due to following his whims and personal interest, then he does not become a disbeliever by that and is not even sinful for it. Rather, he will be rewarded for his intention.This is contrary to the people who follow their whims and desires and the innovators, who declare other people as disbelievers and innovators because of them being different from their whims and ways, while it is more appropriate that the disbelief and innovation apply to them rather than to those whom they considered as disbelievers and innovators.”[195]

Overall, takfir can certainly be misused by terrorist groups like ISIS and others. But none of these things disqualify the concept of takfir and its important place in Islam.

Of course, the practice of takfir and its delimiting of who is or is not a Muslim based on belief contradicts the pluralistic vision advanced by humanists, secularists, and modernist Muslims alike. Therefore, attacking takfir is well within the pattern Yaqeen has established of minimizing or outright denying the non-pluralistic, exclusivist aspects of Islam.

In 2019, two years after his original article, Yaqeen published another article from Khan that discusses takfir in completely different terms and directly contradicts much of what his 2016 essay says on the subject.[196] In the 2019 article, he acknowledges that takfir has a place in Islam and is not solely a doctrine of terrorists. So what changed from 2016 to 2019? If the 2016 article was so inaccurate, why was it not flagged as such by some kind of scholarly review? What other major mistakes are found in Yaqeen articles that have yet to be discovered and corrected after the fact? How many Muslims read the original article and were misled in their understanding of this topic? Why has the 2017 article not been corrected with a clear note acknowledging the major mistake? Is Yaqeen accountable for misguiding Muslims and non-Muslims on important Islamic matters of creed? [Back to Top]

Mixing Liberalism with Aqida

Yaqeen’s muddying of Islamic thought is not limited to fiqh. As we have seen, baseless philosophical musings on aqida also make appearances in the corpus of their work (See, for example, Humans Have God-like Powers).

One example of this comes from Omar Edward Moad in his essay, “Honored Since Adam: Islam and the Value of Human Freedom.” This essay mainly speaks against what Moad terms “takfiri extremists” who don’t understand the value of humanity or reason itself.

Who, in Moad’s view, correctly understands the value of reason?

“Regarding human destiny, what can be arrived at through reason alone is, I think, succinctly expressed in Qur’anic verses like the one just mentioned: “Verily we created humanity in the best of molds, and then reduce him to the lowest of the low” (Qur’an 95:4-5), and also, “By time, verily man is in loss” (Qur’an 103:1-2). These express a perennial realization, shared by reflective people throughout history, and captured, for example, in the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism.”[197]

Perennial realization? Buddhist “truths”? What is Moad saying here exactly?

Moad goes on to elaborate his theory of “freedom” and why it is central to Islam:

Freedom, in the proper sense, is, therefore, a necessary condition of any human moral value. Simply put, people cannot be forced to be good, or manipulated into being good, or brainwashed into being good. Of course, they can be forced, manipulated, brainwashed, or otherwise coerced into doing that which would have real moral value if they were to do so freely.”[198]

Where does Moad get this principle? Isn’t what is good or valuable defined by Allah? Where does Allah or His Messenger say that a “necessary condition” of human moral value is freedom?

These half-baked philosophical musings have the potential to cause great confusion. If “coercion” takes away human moral value, then what about the value of submission itself? To submit to Allah means to prioritize His will over our own. Furthermore, Allah created us and He owns us and requires obedience from us. Inherently, we are His slaves and we do not have the free choice to opt out of any of this. We are commanded to obey and disobedience will bring His punishment. Many atheists and critics of Islam attack these points and characterize it as fundamentally coercive. Moad’s notion of freedom as central and necessary to “human moral value” unwittingly lends itself to these attitudes.

Moad further elaborates:

“But [doing good deeds] under coercion would be morally worthless. This is the premise of what can fairly be called the liberalism of Islam. I use the term ‘liberalism’ here insofar as it has been used to refer to a similar insight expressed by some modern European thinkers, notably Kant (d. 1804).”[199]

European philosophers, Buddhists, et al., are all on the same page with Moad.

Despite what Moad says, coercion is an important component of Islamic values and practice. For example, the concept of tarbiya (discipline) of children, students, followers, etc., is predicated on rectifying wrong behavior. A child desires to act wrongly, but despite his will, the parent must prevent him and make sure that he learns not to act wrongly again. This is coercive. Furthermore, Islamic character overall is developed by making sure one’s will is aligned with what Allah wills and His commands. The suppression of the nafs ammara bil-su’ is precisely the stifling of one’s desires, controlling and disciplining the self, not glorifying the self and putting its freedom on a pedestal as the basis of all “human moral value.”

Moad is careful to include this disclaimer:

“I am resisting the common trend in the west to reduce all morality to the principle of autonomy, to enshrine freedom as the only objective moral value […] When I speak of Islamic liberalism, I mean nothing like what is currently being marketed as ‘liberal Islam.’”

Despite eschewing the label, everything he advocates in the essay is pure, unadulterated liberalism. For example:

“Simply put, the only thing that makes any action objectively wrong is that it would unjustly restrict another’s freedom to act; and the only objective measure of its goodness is the degree to which it expands the freedom to act, without, of course, unjustly restricting it. This entails that the only objective standard by which to distinguish a just restriction of freedom from an unjust restriction lies, again, in whether the restriction in question involves an act that would itself unjustly restrict the freedom of others. In other words, the only justification for limiting anyone’s rights is to protect the rights of others.”

All that Moad has done here is restate the central tenet of liberalism: All is permitted except that which harms others. This is the Harm Principle of John Stuart Mill, a principle that has been used for the past 150 years to attack religion, especially Islam.[200] In his essay, “On Liberty,” Mill defines the Harm Principle thus:

“That principle is that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.”[201]

Mill was an unrepentant atheist, so it is expected that his moral theory will not be grounded in scripture. What is Moad’s excuse? Is there any basis in revelation for his heavy-handed pronouncements about “the only thing that makes any action objectively wrong” and the “objective measure of goodness,” etc.?

Moad calls his theory “Islamic liberalism.” According to him, all the liberal philosophers and secularists misunderstood freedom of choice, etc. He is here to show how the true understanding of liberty can be found in Islam and how this understanding is central to Islamic morality itself. He also believes that his future work on this will enlighten the Muslim world which, according to him, is still in the proverbial Dark Ages:

“This work will be crucial, not only for defending the integrity of Islam from destructive, incoherent notions of liberty but most importantly for clarifying and defending the rightful value of human freedom under an Islamic liberalism, to a Muslim world which, sadly but undeniably, seems gravely and dangerously oblivious to it.”

The Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research is doing its part to introduce Moad and his “crucial” ideas to the wider Muslim community. [Back to Top]

Fiqh Is Human Interpretation that Constantly Evolves

One of the common threads that runs through multiple Yaqeen articles is that fiqh is a human interpretation or “construction” of the Sharia and is constantly changing based on time and place. For example, in one highly problematic article, Yaqeen Research Director Nazir Khan writes:

“Shari’ah must always be accompanied by fiqh, which is the human interpretation of how to apply the Divine laws and principles in the physical world given a particular context. Fiqh is dynamic and constantly evolving, changing with time and place.”[202]

In another article, the Yaqeen authors say:

“In the case of many rulings related to women, historical scholars may have provided views based on the cultural norms of their society. Evaluating whether those norms are still relevant today is part of the process of fiqh.”[203]

This claim that the “views” of Islamic scholars and fiqh itself are “based on the cultural norms of society” and therefore should be “evaluated” for “relevance” in light of today’s norms is precisely what modernist reformists propose, especially on “hot button” topics like gender roles, religious minorities, jihad, hudud, etc. Coincidentally, these are the issues that Yaqeen focuses on, and as we see throughout the report, their views are often aligned with the modernist reformist project. It is no surprise, then, that Yaqeen would be keen to promote a reformist conception of fiqh.

For example, a common reformist trope is that scholars of fiqh were influenced by culture and that an understanding of fiqh that is “relevant” to our time and culture must be extracted from their biases. And, as we have seen, a significant number of Yaqeen essays do misinterpret, recast, or outright ignore many established positions within fiqh and the Sharia itself on the basis of “applicability” or “relevance” to modern times.

In another essay, the Yaqeen author explicitly states that fiqh and other Islamic sciences are nothing more than the products of fallible human understanding:

“How is it that a verse from the Qur’an cannot be understood without a hadeeth from the Prophet ﷺ or one of the salaf to explain it, but the hadeeth which is supposed to explain the verse can be understood just fine all on its own? Of course, everything requires understanding, and hence depends on the human intellect, with all its fallibility.[204]

If everything, including Islam, requires understanding and understanding is based on our intellect and our intellect is fallible, doesn’t that compromise Islam itself? This skepticism is akin to the skepticism that Western philosophers like David Hume expressed about human knowledge. According to Hume and the 18th and 19th century empiricists, all human knowledge is based on the senses. Hume pointed out that the senses are fallible. As such, how can we be sure that any piece of knowledge is true? The result of this thought process is crippling skepticism that can even transform into solipsism and nihilism.

Yaqeen authors are now repeating the mistake of the Western empiricists and Hume with this claim that all fiqh is human interpretation. This is simply not true, however. Yes, some areas in fiqh and some opinions within those areas may rely on human interpretation in the form of ijtihad. But most areas do not involve ijtihad at all. To say that all fiqh is human interpretation is a serious misunderstanding that threatens to subjectivize Islamic ethics and jurisprudence as a whole.

The Yaqeen essay that expresses this fundamental confusion at length is from Nazir Khan titled, “Difference of Opinion: Where Do We Draw the Line?” The most problematic part of this extensive essay comes in the section: “Does Islamic law change with time and place?” In other essays, Khan has answered this question performatively by giving unprecedented interpretations of hadith, by rejecting established ahkam of fiqh as “myths,” by claiming that hudud are “obsolete,” etc., and justifying his views with vague claims about changing time and place. In this essay, however, he elaborates his methodological understanding in depth, and it becomes apparent from where his mistaken understanding stems.

He writes:

“How and to what extent Islamic laws pertaining to social matters can be subject to change[?] In order to answer this question, we must first distinguish between two terms frequently used to refer to Islamic law, namely fiqh and shari’ah, and the associated distinction between fatwá and ḥukm. Muṣṭafá al-Zarqāʾ provides the first distinction as follows:

‘It is very important to distinguish between our saying “the Islamic Sharīʿah” and our saying “the Islamic fiqh.” For Sharīʿah refers to the texts (nuṣūs) of the Qur’an revealed by Allah to the Prophet Muḥammad, and to the Prophetic Sunnah which comprises the sayings and actions of the Prophet which explain and detail the guidance contained in the Qur’an and provide a practical application of the Qur’an’s commandments, prohibitions, and permissions. […] As for fiqh it refers to what scholars have understood from the religious scriptures and what they have derived and affirmed therefrom, and the rules they have postulated based on inferences of the texts.’

This distinction highlights the constructivist nature of fiqh, whereby jurists actively draw conceptual categories and terminological distinctions in order to derive practical rulings.”[205]

Khan misinterprets the quote from al-Zarqa. Al-Zarqa clearly distinguishes between those aspects of fiqh that are derived and those aspects that are simply affirmed directly from revelation. Al-Zarqa underlines this distinction himself just a few paragraphs below the passage Khan translates, by distinguishing between two types of rulings. According to al-Zarqa, one must distinguish the rulings that are clear-cut and apparent from revelation — like the five prayers, fasting in Ramadan, and other such matters — from rulings that are derived through the ijtihad of the scholars.[206] Khan does not preserve this important distinction in his explanation of fiqh and, instead, characterizes all of fiqh as being “constructivist” and “interpreted.” Khan then says:

“A similar conceptual distinction is drawn by Ibn Taymīyah, albeit using different terminology, viz. al-Sharʿ al-Munazzal to refer to the Divinely revealed unequivocal laws of the Qur’an and Sunnah, and al-Sharʿ al-Muʾawwal to refer to the human understanding and application of those laws. Thus, Islamic law contains a dual-layer morality—an immutable scripturally enshrined set of precepts (sharīʿah), and the human derivation and application of those principles sensitive to the changing of time and place (fiqh).”[207]

Again, Khan has misinterpreted what Ibn Taymiyya rahimahullah says. In the same text Khan references, Ibn Taymiyya does indeed distinguish al-Shar` al-Munazzal and al-Shar` al-Mu’awwal, but he does not characterize them as a “dual layer” in the way Khan describes it. Rather, Ibn Taymiyya characterizes the two components of the Sharia as distinct areas, not overlapping layers. He explains that the revealed unequivocal laws are obvious and apparent to everyone who knows revelation. Neither a scholar, `alim, or shaykh is needed to understand what those commands are because they are obvious and clear-cut. This is what al-Shar` al-Munazzal means. But for those issues that are not clear cut, then the understanding and ijtihad of the scholar becomes necessary, and that is al-Shar` al-Mu’awwal. Ibn Taymiyya further emphasizes the distinct nature of these two areas of the Sharia when he says, “If someone knew the Truth as being distinct from the opinion of a scholar, it is not permissible to leave the Truth, which Allah has sent His Messenger with, for the opinion of a created being, and that is al-Shar` al-Munazzal that is from Allah, and it is the Quran and the Sunna.”[208]

إذا عرف الحق بخلاف قوله لم يجز ترك الحق الذي بعث الله به رسوله لقول أحد من الخلق وذلك هو الشرع المنزل من عند الله وهو الكتاب والسنة

So, neither of the two scholars Khan cites actually agree with him. In fact, both say the exact opposite of what Khan claims that they say. There is a great deal in the Sharia and, hence, in fiqh that is not based on scholarly interpretation because it is clear cut, and this is what we expect given what Allah says about revelation Himself:

“He is the One who has revealed to you the Book (the Qur’ān). Out of it there are verses that are Muhkamāt (of established meaning), which are the principal verses of the Book, and some others are Mutashābihāt (whose definite meanings are unknown). Now those who have perversity in their hearts go after such part of it as is mutashābih, seeking (to create) discord, and searching for its interpretation (that meets their desires), while no one knows its interpretation except Allah; and those well-grounded in knowledge say: “We believe therein; all is from our Lord.” Only the men of understanding observe the advice.”[209]

So, fiqh as a discipline encompasses both the clear cut rulings as well as the ones that are the result of scholarly ijtihad. This is contrary to Khan’s “constructivist” understanding of fiqh as “human interpretation.”

Because of his misunderstanding of fiqh, Khan says that fiqh is “sensitive to the changing of time and place” and that “Fiqh is dynamic and constantly evolving.”

He elaborates:

“This is a major topic in Islamic jurisprudence known as taghayyur al-fatwa bi-taghayyur al-zaman (the changing of religious edicts with the changing of times). For instance, al-Sarakhsi (d. 483 H) notes that a significant portion of Abu Hanifah’s (d.150 H) jurisprudence was changed by his students Abu Yusuf (d.182 H) and Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybani (d.189 H), and that this change was not due to disagreement over sacred texts but simply because of the changing circumstances of society with time (al-Mabsut vol. 8, p. 178). If so many of the rulings related to societal issues (mu’amalat) changed in one generation, there is even greater need to reevaluate and contextualize rulings in the post-industrial age. This will be further elucidated in a forthcoming article on the role of pre-modern Malthusian economics in contextualizing the discourse of the medieval jurists, God willing.”[210]

Again, Khan is very sloppy with his characterizations. Just because fatawa (i.e., personalized legal responsa) are sensitive to the particularities of a situation, that doesn’t mean fiqh as a whole is “constantly evolving.” And there is nothing in the page he cites in al-Mabsut that supports his claim that “a significant portion of Abu Hanifa’s jurisprudence was changed” by his students. This is the translation of the relevant section in volume 8, page 178 of al-Mabsut:

“’…if [someone] swore an oath that he won’t eat a head he [Imam Abu Hanifa] said that this refers to the head of cow and sheep. This is because we know he didn’t intend the head of everything and that the head of a locust and sparrow are not included in this despite being real (haqiqi) heads. So we know that he didn’t intend (haqiqah) real heads so we must consider ‘urf (custom) and that is the head that is roasted in an oven and is sold as cooked (roasted). Initially Imam Abu Hanifah used to say that the heads of camel, cow, and goat are included because he saw the norms (`adah) of people of Kufa because they used to do that in these three animal heads. Then they left that norm, so Imam Abu Hanifah also did ruju` and said he breaks his oath by eating head of cow and sheep only. Then Abu Yusuf and Muhammad [al-Shaybani] witnessed the norms of Baghdad and all cities that they only do that in the head of sheep so they said he only breaks his oath in the head of sheep. Thus it is known that the ikhtilaf is the ikhtilaf of era (`asr) and time (zaman) not ikhtilaf of ruling (hukm) and speech (bayan) and apparent custom (`urf dhahir) is the most important in issues of oaths (ayman).”

How did Khan conclude from this that “al-Sarakhsi notes that a significant portion of Abu Hanifah’s (d.150 H) jurisprudence was changed by his students”? What game is Khan trying to play here?

What is significant is how Khan explicitly states his overall project: To “reevaluate” past rulings in light of modern “post-industrial” times. This is nothing other than modern reformism. And Khan practices what he preaches in his Yaqeen articles, where he attacks, misrepresents, and questions the applicability of many established Islamic rulings, such as hudud (which he calls “obsolete”) and the right of the husband to strike his rebellious wife as mentioned in the Quran (which he says is “haram” and a “myth”).

As for taghayyur al-fatwa bi-taghayyur al-zaman, obviously, the mufti will apply fiqh to a context in order to issue a fatwa, but that in no way means that the fiqh itself is evolving. Going back to Ibn Taymiyya’s distinction, we would never say that al-Shar` al-Munazzal “evolves.” And even al-Shar` al-Mu’awwal, which is based on the ijtihad of the mujtahid imams, does not “evolve.” Scholars of the Hanafi, Maliki, Shafii, Hanbali madhahib are still studying and teaching the fiqh texts of the mujtahid imams that were written over 1000 years ago and those texts and the rulings and principles contained therein are just as relevant and applicable today as they were in their time. Could fiqh change as well? Yes, but it could change with new ijtihad from a mujtahid, not merely on the basis of changing time and circumstance. And even then, it wouldn’t be that a “significant portion” of fiqh would change, or even a significant portion of al-Shar` al-Mu’awwal would change.

Reformists, of course, who are concerned with attacking, reforming, and modifying the Islamic tradition to bring it in line with modern liberal secular feminist standards are trying to make their jobs easier by depicting all of fiqh as a “construction” and “human interpretation,” so that they can more easily dismiss rulings and offer their own “human interpretation.” What makes Khan’s attempt here more subversive is that he cites classical texts. His citations don’t actually support his claims, however, and sometimes say the exact opposite of what Khan claims that they say, but non-Arabic speakers and non-scholars would not be able to recognize these egregious discrepancies.

Overall, not everything in Khan’s paper is inaccurate. But this makes the inaccurate parts of the paper much more problematic and potentially confusing for those who don’t know better and take Yaqeen as a reliable source of Islamic knowledge. This is precisely how Yaqeen is able to push their reformist agenda while at the same time projecting an image of Islamic orthodoxy and respect for the Islamic tradition. In reality, their work undermines those things. [Back to Top]

Hudud Are “Symbolic” and Have No Place in the Modern World

Hamza Yusuf once told the American media that hudud are “legal fictions”:

“The [hudud] punishments are strong, but they are legal fictions because they are impossible to prove.”[211]

Yaqeen Institute has also promoted this understanding of hudud as essentially “fictions” or purely “symbolic.” Unfortunately, many Muslims have begun to adopt this irreverent and inaccurate language to describe the sacred hudud set by Allah.

Jonathan Brown argues in multiple Yaqeen papers that applying some hudud in this day and age are not in the best interests of Muslims and Muslim leaders should not apply them. He makes this argument explicitly in his essay on apostasy and elsewhere.[212] But he is more subtle in his general article on hudud titled, “Stoning and Hand Cutting.”

Throughout this essay, Brown argues that hudud were never meant to be implemented. Rather the hudud were more akin to symbolic deterrents. As such, what is important for Muslims is not necessarily to implement hudud in Muslim lands. Rather, all that is necessary is acknowledging that hudud are “valid in theory.” He says:

“The most important point to note is that Muslim scholars have affirmed that what is essential for Muslims is to believe that the Shariah is ideal law and that the hudud are valid in theory. The actual implementation of the hudud comes at the discretion of the ruler/state and is not necessary for people to be Muslim.”[213]

It is of course true that, ultimately, the implementation of the hudud is in the hands of the ruler and not the individual Muslim. But does that mean that the ruler has the right to implement or suspend the application of hudud in their generality at his personal discretion?

In his essay, Brown also expresses concern (anxiety?) about the “return” of hudud.

“How do Muslims make sense of the hudud’s absence? Can we justify it or, taking things one step further, can we justify not calling for their return?”[214]

In other words, can Muslims be comfortable with hudud not being implemented in the Muslim world?

Central to this idea about the applicability of hudud is the claim that they are merely “symbolic” and “impossible” to apply. Brown writes:

“But, as we have seen, the hudud were really not much more than symbols of submission to the idea of God’s law.”[215]

In one lecture, Brown discusses his Yaqeen essay and elaborates on why hudud should be taken as impossible to apply symbols:

“[With] hudud punishments, it’s almost impossible to meet the evidentiary bar, and we see a good example of this with the Quran. The Quran gives you the punishment of 100 lashes for sexual infraction but then in the same text gives you a requirement to have four witnesses and then if you don’t have 4 witnesses, you get punished 80 lashes. So the Quran itself sets up very severe punishment and an impossibly high bar of evidence to meet and a punishment for not meeting the bar. It creates a situation where a lot is not meant to be implemented.”[216]

What Brown seems to be confused about is that just because there is a high evidentiary bar to meet for the application of the hudud, that doesn’t mean that the punishment is “nearly impossible” to apply or that it was merely a symbolic deterrent. There are many punishments that have a high evidentiary bar. In many countries, those convicted of first degree murder are sentenced to death. The evidentiary bar to meet for such a conviction can be very high for the death penalty to be applied. But that doesn’t mean the death penalty or the laws against murder are purely symbolic or are “legal fictions.”[217]

Brown is not the only person at Yaqeen who thinks hudud are “irrelevant” or “impossible” to apply. Yaqeen Research Director Nazir Khan writes in his Yaqeen article on violence:

“[Hudud] are subject to lengthy discussion in the books of Islamic jurisprudence which place upon them such stringent conditions as to render their application essentially obsolete and this is precisely in line with the Prophet ﷺ’s emphasis on the hudood serving primarily as psychological deterrents and encouraging his followers not to apply them.”[218]

Again, if there are stringent conditions on applying the hudud, does that mean the hudud are “essentially obsolete”? And where did the Prophet say that the hudud were “primarily psychological deterrents” and encourage Muslims not to apply them?

Like Khan, Brown emphasizes the fact that the Prophet tried to identify ambiguities before application of the hudud. This is true of course. But it is not true to interpret this as meaning the Prophet discouraged the application of hudud. Being extremely careful and circumspect about application of the hudud is not the same as reluctance to apply them. For example, one report mentions:

“Aisha narrated: The people of Quraish worried about the lady from Bani Makhzum who had committed theft. They asked, ‘Who will intercede for her with Allah’s Messenger ﷺ?’ Some said, ‘No one dare to do so except Usama bin Zaid the beloved one to Allah’s Messenger ﷺ .’ When Usama spoke about that to Allah’s Apostle Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said, (to him), ‘Do you try to intercede for somebody in a case connected with Allah’s Prescribed Punishments?” Then he got up and delivered a sermon saying, ‘What destroyed the nations preceding you, was that if a noble amongst them stole, they would forgive him, and if a poor person amongst them stole, they would inflict Allah’s Legal punishment on him. By Allah, if Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad stole, I would cut off her hand.’”[219]

Would it be correct to say that the Prophet was discouraging application of the hadd here? Or was he emphasizing the importance of applying it justly?

Brown is so keen to prove that the hudud are in large part symbolic that he resorts to historical record. His argument is that there are not many records of the hudud being applied, so that means they weren’t often applied. Two problems with this reasoning. First, as we know, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Not all of 1400 years of Muslim criminal punishment history has been documented and the amount that has been documented has not been exhaustively checked by Brown.

Secondly, there is a major logical problem in Brown’s analysis. Let’s concede for the sake of argument that the hudud were almost never applied. Just because the hudud were not extensively applied, this did not mean that they were considered “symbolic.” Perhaps they were not applied precisely because people were deterred by the very real possibility of the hudud being implemented. It was because of the real threat of the hudud that people avoided committing those acts which violated the hudud. If people had the impression that the hudud were not applicable or were never enforced, then would they be deterred at all?

Part of the problem with Brown’s analysis is his reliance on utilitarian conceptions of deterrence. He writes:

“Though scholars of criminal law continue to disagree on the best means of deterring crime, a common approach has been the utilitarian one formalized by Bentham. Its basic premise is the following equation: (E)xpected Punishment/Deterrent power = (S)everity of Punishment x (P)robability of getting caught…. E = S x P. In a system where there are few or no police or where the police do not busy themselves investigating crimes, moderately intelligent criminals faced little chance of being caught. According to the E = S x P equation, if the probability (P) of being caught is minuscule, then in order for any meaningful deterrent effect to be created the severity of punishment (S) must be mammoth. Frightening punishments were seen as the only way to deter potential criminals whom police (what few there were) would never be able to reach.”[220]

Brown’s analysis here is flawed. The probability of getting caught is not solely reliant on the amount of police in society. People can also be caught by their neighbors, their friends, their family members, or anyone else in society. And unlike today’s Western standard of the nuclear family, traditional Muslim extended families lived in close proximity and numerous family members would often live in one home, homes which might only consist of one room. In other words, the privacy needed for commiting illicit behavior was a rare commodity.

Brown makes a critical error, however, in his attempt to prove the “impossibility” of applying the hudud. In the Appendix for the article, titled “Requirements for Amputation for Theft from al-Subki,” he says:

“This is a fatwa given by Taqī al-Dīn ʿAlī b. ʿAbd al-Kāfī al-Subkī (d. 756/1356), a senior Shafi scholar and judge from one of the leading scholarly families of Damascus: ‘The Imam and Shaykh, may God have mercy on him, said: It has been agreed upon that the Hadd [punishment] is obligatory for one who has committed theft and [for whom the following conditions apply]:’”[221]

Then is listed forty “requirements” that Brown thinks have to be met before the judge will order the hadd to be implemented. If it were true, this would strongly support Brown’s argument about the “near impossibility” to implement hudud and, unlike the rest of his evidence, this would be evidence from an actual scholarly fiqh source. Unfortunately for Brown’s argument, he has completely misinterpreted al-Subki. Sh Musa Furber provides the correction on his website:

“Imam Taqi al-Dīn al-Subkī’s fatwa collection has a section where the Shaykh (may Allah grant him His mercy) enumerates approximately 90 requirements that scholars agree must be fulfilled for a punishment for theft to be carried out. Several online articles and infographics present this list as though scholars agree that each and every condition must be met, and that failure to meet a single one would render it unlawful to carry out the punishment. This is not an accurate presentation of what Imam al-Subkī actually meant.”[222]

Sh Musa then explains how al-Subki’s list (which is actually from Ibn Hazm) is simply a compilation of all the conditions that would have to be met for there to be a consensus among all important scholars that the hadd should be applied. But of course, the scholars disagreed on the evidentiary standard, and all of them had far fewer conditions that the sum total of all the conditions mentioned from all scholars.

Brown publicly acknowledged receiving this correction from Sh Musa, but ultimately decided that he didn’t need to change anything. He also claims that his inaccurate interpretation of al-Subki does not “detract from the substance and the structure” of his argument in the essay. But of course, it does detract heavily from it, since it was the main piece of scholarly evidence to show an “impossibly high” evidentiary bar for the application of the hadd.

Brown ends the essay with two further bizarre statements:

“Taken to a higher level of detail, one Shariah argument for the hudud not being obligatory at present is that, like a person trying to perform ablutions on a missing limb, the ‘locus of the ruling’ has vanished. According to this argument, whatever the motivation for Muslim states abandoning the hudud, their absence makes them irrelevant until someone decides to revive them.”[223]

It is difficult to understand what Brown means by this. The hudud are not obligatory because they don’t exist? Or they aren’t applied because the associated crimes — i.e., the locus of the ruling — are not being committed? What does he mean with this analogy? And why are the hudud “irrelevant” until someone decides to revive them? Wouldn’t one have to first recognize the hudud as relevant before attempting to revive them?

Finally, Brown concludes:

“It’s worth considering that the crimes human societies have judged the most acutely harmful—murder and rape—are not included among the agreed upon hudud crimes. Perhaps the hudud are not necessarily the most grievous crimes in terms of the toll they take on their victims or society. Fornication and hudud-level theft are offenses almost by definition done in private, as intoxication could be as well. They are done out of the sight of all but God. Perhaps these stringent laws, which God’s mercy has made almost impossible to apply, exist primarily to remind people of the enormity of the sins that they usually get away with.”[224]

Does Brown not consider zina a grievous crime? Or theft? Or drinking? Or destroying the honor of a person by false accusations? Or apostasy? Or blaspheming against Islam? Are not these among the most grievous crimes that tear at the very fabric of a just Islamic society? If you don’t think so, it’s not surprising you would prefer to think of the hudud as “irrelevant,” “obsolete,” “symbolic” relics of the past. [Back to Top]

Jihad in Islam Is Only Defensive

DISCLAIMER: We do not support any acts terrorism or illegal violence. All authors and contributors at MuslimSkeptic.com unequivocally condemn any terroristic act and vigilantism.

The Yaqeen essay “Jihad as Defense: Just War Theory in the Quran and Sunnah” written by Justin Parrott (AKA Abu Amina Elias) is the most blatantly dishonest article Yaqeen has published, and that’s saying a lot. In most key citations, Parrott cherrypicks his quotes, cuts them short, or mistranslates them in order to render a meaning that supports his ill-conceived conclusions. In some instances, he cites a paragraph from a larger section of a source text and the information immediately surrounding that paragraph completely contradicts his argument. This is reprehensible, and it reflects on Yaqeen as an organization that something so blatantly dishonest can be featured on their platform.

Parrott’s overall thesis in this essay as simple as it is factually false:

“The mainstream view of jihād in Islam is consistent with modern international norms of non-violence. The Quran and Sunnah permit Muslims to defend themselves from aggression, while also limiting warfare to the purpose of preserving security, freedom, and human rights. International just-war theory crystalized after the Second World War with the signing of the United Nations Charter in 1945 and the subsequent Geneva Conventions of 1949. Article 2 of the Charter states: All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.”[225]

Parrott underlines his thesis when he writes:

“The basic source texts of Islam, the Quran and Sunnah, express the principles of jus ad bellum (“justice to war”) in a number of ways. Our analysis will demonstrate, God willing, that these key principles had been established by the Prophet ﷺ himself and have continued to be the majority opinion of jurists throughout Islamic history until the present.”

Before delving into Parrott’s argument for this, let’s ask a simple question: Is Islam expansionist in the sense that it commands Muslims to spread it? An honest understanding of the Quran and Sunna answers this question with a resounding Yes. Of course Muslims are commanded to spread Islam. But what are legitimate ways to do this? Dawah, of course, is one method, but military conquest is also sanctioned to spread the domain of Islam and the rule of the Sharia. Scholars have referred to this as jihad al-talab (“offensive” jihad), as distinct from jihad al-daf` (“defensive” jihad). All scholars of Islamic history recognized both types of jihad as valid and even necessary depending on the circumstance. And they based this on clear statements from the Quran and Sunna as well as examples from the biography of the Prophet and the Righteous Khulafa. Consider this authentic hadith of the Prophet recorded in hadith collections under the chapters of jihad:

“The one who fights so that the Word of Allah be exalted, is the one who fights in the Cause of Allah.”

How could this be referring to defense? Does it mean that when Muslims are attacked by invading armies, defending ourselves from extermination is exalting the Word of Allah?

Now, the idea of “offensive” jihad makes some Muslims today uncomfortable. Modern people generally frown at the idea of a religion spreading through violence. This is due to the influence of liberal secularism. According to this ideology, religion is about personal choice and should never be “imposed,” much less spread through conquest. This ideology underlies much of the discomfort that some contemporary Muslims feel toward jihad al-talab and the parts of the Quran, Sunna, and Islamic history that sanction and encourage that type of jihad.

Yaqeen and Parrott are responding to this discomfort with their article, but rather than addressing the issue head on, they outright deny that there is anything like jihad al-talab in Islam. As we discuss below, Parrott twists, distorts, and cherrypicks a great deal of source texts in order to make his argument.

But, none of that is needed because this is an issue that can very easily be explained.

Consider the very Geneva Conventions Parrott cites. These Conventions are laws that have been imposed on all countries of the world. But, how are these Conventions enforced? What ensures that the nations of the world will comply? It is nothing other than violent force! Nations that violate the Conventions can expect reprisals in the form of crippling sanctions or even military “intervention.” It is on threat of this violence that most nations abide by those Conventions as well as many of the other regulations that come from the world’s superpowers through the facade of the United Nations. Now, is any of this justified? Is this violent force that threatens the entire goble legitimate? Obviously, those who believe in the Conventions, the UN “human rights” regime, etc., think so because they believe those things to be true and just. Anyone who violates that truth and justice must be stopped, forcefully and violently if necessary.

Now imagine that the Muslim Ummah is the super power and there are Islamic Conventions. These Conventions are also imposed on the entire world. And they are enforced through pressure and military “intervention” as necessary. The expectation is that all nations adopt these Conventions, and those who refuse face severe consequences. Is any of this justified? Of course! The Conventions are nothing but truth and justice, so those nations who will violate truth and justice must be stopped from committing their oppression. Is this violent force that is imposed on the entire globe legitimate? Of course! As believers in the truth and justice of Islam, we know that anyone who violates truth and justice should be stopped. The nations of the world that have instituted kufr and shirk and disobedience to the Creator are violating truth and justice in the truest sense. Those “rogue nations” are advised to change their ways, but if they refuse, more drastic “diplomatic” options must be pursued.

In this way, we can see that there is no functional difference between the global moral order that presently exists and the global moral order entailed by the Islamic concept of jihad al-talab. In other words, the liberal secular UN, Western superpowers, and even hippy social justice advocates who, for example, want to ensure that “LGBT rights are protected in every corner of the globe,” all agree that international norms must be upheld in order to stop what they have defined as “oppression,” with the acknowledgment that upholding these norms requires violent force or at least the threat of violence force. So, there is no disagreement on the necessity of violence and imposition. But they simply don’t call any of this “offensive warfare” or “invasion” or “spreading a religion” even though that is exactly what it is by another name. The only difference with offensive jihad is that offensive jihad spreads the actual religion of truth and justice, i.e., Islam, not the false religion of “liberal human rights” and “Western economic interests.” This tyrannical liberal secular world order maintains such a tight, suffocating grip on Muslims that Muslims are not even allowed in many countries to mention the word jihad, yet night and day, the liberal secular regime bullies the world to abide by a legal framework that serves its interests and its “gods” at the expense of everyone else. And everyone has to assume that there is nothing oppressive or “invasive” about any of this.

More can be said but, in a nutshell, this is a straightforward argument that can easily dismantle the typical attacks on Islam and the concept of jihad al-talab.

Sadly, Yaqeen is not interested in these types of arguments. They would rather blatantly misrepresent the Quran, Sunna, and scholarly tradition in order to preserve liberal secular sensibilities about “religious freedom” and “human rights.”

Parrott begins his argument by considering ayah 190 in Surat al-Baqara, “Fight in God’s cause against those who fight you, but do not overstep the limits: God does not love those who overstep the limits.”

To explain this ayah, Parrott cites the tafsir of al-Baydawi:

“The classical exegete al-Bayḍāwī (d. 1286) listed the initiation of hostilities, among other misdeeds, as a form of prohibited transgression: ‘[Do not transgress] means by initiating the fighting, or by fighting those protected by a peace treaty, or by fighting those who never received the call to Islam, or to commit mutilation or to kill whomever it has been forbidden to kill.’”[226]

When we go to the page from al-Baydawi’s tafsir, we see that Parrott has completely misrepresented Baydawi’s words. Baydawi says:

“{Fight in the way of Allah} Make effort to make His word high and His religion glorified. {those who fight you} One opinion says: This was before they were ordered to fight all polytheists— the fighters and those who don’t want to fight. Another opinion says that it only refers to those who are enemies to you, and fighting is to be expected from them. Seniors, kids, monks, and women are excluded. It can also refer to all disbelievers since they are all aiming at fighting Muslims.

What supports the first opinion is what was narrated that the polytheists resisted the Prophet in the year of Hudaybiyya and had a treaty with him that included that he would go back and come again the following year, and that they would make Mecca, may Allah keep it honorable, empty for him for three days. So the Prophet came back for umrah al-qada’, but the Muslims were afraid that the polytheists would not stick to the terms and fight them in al-Haram, or during the sacred month. Muslims hated this, so Allah revealed: {but do not transgress} By: initiating a fight, by fighting a person with whom you have a treaty, by starting a fight all of a sudden without dawah, or by killing those whom you were asked not to kill.”

So, according to Baydawi, in that context of anticipating treachery in light of the established treaty, Allah revealed do not transgress, meaning according to Baydawi, do not initiate fighting and preemptively break the agreement. So Baydawi is not saying that this verse has a blanket prohibition on initiating fighting against disbelievers. It is specifically in the context of initiating fighting in breaking a treaty like Hudaybiyya.

Parrott continues his argument:

“The Prophet ﷺ, in multiple narrations, stated that among the worst sinners are those who initiate hostilities: ‘Verily, the most tyrannical of people to God the Exalted is he who kills those who did not fight him.’”

Parrott is only citing the middle of the full sentence from the Prophet and he is citing it completely out of context. When we go to the narration Parrott cites, we find that the full context is of Fath al-Makka. The full narration reads:

“The Messenger of Allah allowed us on the day of Al-Fath to fight Bani Bakr (a tribe) until we took revenge from them while he was in Mecca. Then the Messenger of Allah commanded that the fighting stop. On the following day, a group of us ran across a man from Huthail who was going to the Messenger of Allah to become Muslim. This man had been unjust to them in al-Jahiliyya, and he had been wanted by his people, so they killed him (after the Prophet had commanded that the fighting stops). They killed him because they assumed that he was just going to announce his Islam to be safe. So when the Messenger of Allah knew that, he got furious, by Allah I had never seen him more furious than then. So we sought Abu Bakr, Omar, and Ali, may Allah be pleased with them, asking them to mediate. We were afraid that we were going to be doomed.

“Then after the Messenger of Allah prayed, he stood up, praised Allah with what He deserves, and then said, ‘Having said that, surely it is Allah Who has made Mecca a sacred (haraam) place, not people. However, He made it Halaal (He allowed me to fight in it) for an hour during the day yesterday. Surely, those who are considered by Allah to be the most oppressive are three types: a man who killed in it (Mecca), a man who killed someone [whom he had no right to kill], and a man who tried [now] to take revenge from al-Jahiliyya. And Surely, by Allah, I am paying the blood money of the man that you’ve killed.’ And so the Prophet paid his blood money.”

As the full text makes clear, this narration is not about war at all. It is about the unjust killing of an individual and blood-money. But Parrott conceals all this from his readers.

Next Parrott writes:

“Moreover, the Prophet ﷺ forbade Muslims from desiring to fight the enemy: ‘Do not wish to meet the enemy [in battle], but if you meet them then be patient.’ Unlike other texts that prohibit aggression, this tradition goes deeper to the level of the heart; a Muslim is not allowed to even hope for violent retaliation upon the enemy.”

Parrott reveals how distorted his understanding of this issue really is. If the Prophet says “Do not wish to meet the enemy,” does that mean a Muslim is not allowed for violent retaliation against enemies? How does that follow? Wouldn’t Parrot’s prohibition also apply to defense? If Muslims are attacked in battle, Muslims shouldn’t even hope to violently retaliate to drive out the enemy? What is Parrott saying here?

Also, if hope for violent retaliation is not allowed, how does Parrott explain this ayah:

“[Fighting in] the sacred month is for [aggression committed in] the sacred month, and for [all] violations is legal retribution. So whoever has assaulted you, then assault him in the same way that he has assaulted you. And fear Allah and know that Allah is with those who fear Him.”[227]

How would Parrott explain this hadith:

The Prophet ﷺ said, “Nobody who dies and finds good from Allah (in the Hereafter) would wish to come back to this world even if he were given the whole world and whatever is in it, except the martyr who, on seeing the superiority of martyrdom, would like to come back to the world and get killed again (in Allah’s Cause).”[228]

Is this not a desire for violence or, at the very least, violent retaliation in battle? How would Parrott explain this hadith:

The Prophet ﷺ said, “By Him in Whose Hands my life is! Were it not for some men amongst the believers who dislike to be left behind me and whom I cannot provide with means of conveyance, I would certainly never remain behind any sariya’ (army-unit) setting out in Allah’s Cause. By Him in Whose Hands my life is! I would love to be martyred in Allah’s Cause and then get resurrected and then get martyred, and then get resurrected again and then get martyred and then get resurrected again and then get martyred.”[229]

Obviously, the Prophet is not speaking of defensive jihad here, since these are units that were leaving Muslim territory to go to enemies. Secondly, the Prophet is speaking about love for fighting. The hadith Parrott cites should be read in context of these other narrations, not in isolation. In fact, another version of the hadith Parrott cites reads:

“One who died but did not fight in the way of Allah nor did he express any desire (or determination) for Jihad died the death of a hypocrite.”[230]

Very stern words from the Prophet. What does Parrot think about them?

“O people! Do not wish to meet the enemy, and ask Allah for safety, but when you face the enemy, persevere, and remember that Paradise is under the shades of swords. O Allah, the Revealer of the Holy Book, and the Mover of the clouds and the Defeater of the clans, defeat them, and grant us victory over them.”[231]

Was the Prophet discouraging violence when he says that Paradise is under the shade of swords? Parrot carefully avoids mentioning these countless narrations about the virtues of jihad in order to push his pacifist distortion of Islam.

Parrot continues:

“In this vein, the Prophet ﷺ described the leader of the Muslim army as a “shield” and not as a sword: ‘Verily, the leader is only a shield behind whom they fight and he protects them.’ This defensive imagery is a symbolic way of conveying to Muslims the proper role of an organized army in Islam. Jihād is primarily a means of defense, not conquest.”

What about the hadith about Janna being under the shade of swords? Besides this, the shield is a very important part of offensive warfare. An advancing force needs cover to shield itself from oncoming assault in order to break the ranks of the enemy. So this comment from Parrot about “symbolism” is as ignorant as it is irrelevant.

Parrot continues:

“A key question in just-war theory is the issue of casus belli: what provocations determine if warfare is an appropriate response? According to classical jurist Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 1328), jihād is a response to military aggression and not merely religious difference. There is no evidence in the source texts of Islam that permit Muslims to attack or kill civilians or invade non-hostile nations. He asserts that this was the view of the majority of Muslim scholars: ‘As for the oppressor who does not fight, then there are no texts in which God commands him to be fought. Rather, the unbelievers are only fought on the condition that they wage war, as is practiced by the majority of scholars and as is evident in the Book and Sunnah.’”

Again, Parrot selectively cites the text to give a specific impression. The full paragraph reads:

“If oppressors begin fighting it is permitted to fight back by agreement, like it is permitted to fight raiders who cut off paths if they fight also by agreement of people. As for the oppressor who does not fight, then there are no texts in which Allah commands him to be fought. Rather, when it comes to the disbelievers they are only fought on the condition that they engage in warfare.”

This passage and much of the discussion preceding it in Ibn Taymiyya’s Kitab al-Nubuwwat is in the context of discussing Muslims who violate treaties and agreements.[232] It is not about jihad and the conditions of war. The isolated statements about kuffar in this passage needs to be read in that light, i.e., in light of kuffar that also have agreements with Muslim authorities or otherwise should not be fought, e.g., women, children, dhimmis, etc. To understand Ibn Taymiyya’s view of the conditions for fighting disbelievers, we need to consult his discussion of jihad and qital. In text after text, he makes clear his views about jihad al-talab. As way of example, consider what Ibn Taymiyya says in his chapter on jihad in the book Siyasa al-Shar`iyya fi islah al-ra`i wal-ra`iyya. He says:

“The most serious type of obligatory jihad is the one against the disbelievers and against those who refuse to abide by certain prescriptions of the Sharia, like those who refuse to pay zakat, the Kharijis, etc. This jihad is obligatory if it is carried out on our initiative and also if it is waged as defense. If we take the initiative, it is a collective duty (fard kifaya), which means if it is fulfilled by a sufficient number [of Muslims], the obligation is lifted for all others and the merit goes to those who have fulfilled it, just as Allah says: “Those among the believers who sit back, except the handicapped, are not equal to those who fight in the way of Allah with their riches and their lives. Allah has raised the rank of those who fight with their riches and their lives, over those who sit; and to each, Allah has promised good. Allah has given precedence to those who fight over those who sit in giving them a great reward.” (Quran 4:95)

“But if the enemy wants to attack the Muslims, then repelling them becomes a duty for all those under attack and for others to help them. […] So this latter form of jihad consists in defense of the religion of things that are inviolable and of lives. Therefore, it is fighting out of necessity. The former type of jihad, however, is voluntary fighting in order to propagate the religion, to make it triumph, and to intimidate the enemy, such as was with the expedition to Tabuk and the like.”[233]

In this passage and elsewhere, Ibn Taymiyya carefully distinguishes defensive from offensive jihad and describes the latter as initiating fighting against disbelievers. Parrot, however, does not concern himself with Ibn Taymiyya’s full doctrine on jihad. Rather he quotes an isolated phrase in order to attribute to the great scholar what he clearly did not believe.

Parrot continues:

“The classical jurist Ibn Rushd (d. 1198), known in the West as Averroës, reported that the inhabitants of Medina never attacked the Abyssinians or the Turks: ‘Mālik was asked about the authenticity of this tradition. He did not acknowledge it, but said: “People continue to avoid attacking them.’”

Parrott quotes part of a sentence but doesn’t address the whole passage, which reads as follows:

“Identification of the Persons to be Fought: The jurists agreed, with respect to the people who are to be fought, that they are all the polytheists (mushrikin), because of the words of the Exalted, “And fight them until persecution is no more and religion is all for Allah,” except what is narrated from Malik, who said it is not permitted to commence hostilities against the Ethiopians, nor against the Turks, because of the report from the Prophet, “Leave the Ethiopians in peace as long as they leave you alone.” Malik was questioned about the authenticity of this tradition. He did not acknowledge it, but said: People continue to avoid attacking them.’”

So, Ibn Rushd is saying that the jurists all agree on fighting mushrikin except some made an exception for Ehtiopians and Turks. They were the exceptions to the rule. And obviously this entire section is about attack, not defense, since there is no need for identification in determining who to fight when one is on the defensive: in the case of defense, one fights whomever is attacking! We have to marvel at the sheer dishonesty of Parrot citing from this passage, deliberately excluding the parts that undermine his entire argument.

Parrot continues:

“Ammār ibn Yāsir (d. 657), one of the Prophet’s companions, considered the message of world peace to be integral to Islamic faith: ‘Whoever has three qualities will have completed the faith: fairness from yourself to others, offering peace to the world, and spending in charity even while poor.’ Put differently, the faith of Islam is based on justice, peace, and charity. Those who imagine an aggressive, expansionist Islam are unable to convincingly explain away these texts.”

In fact, it is very easy to explain such statements. Yes, everyone wants peace. But there can be no peace without justice and there can be no justice without Islam. Spreading peace across the world means spreading Islam across the world. Does Parrot think that Islam, the Prophet, the Sahaba, and all righteous believers wanted “world peace” in the secular sense, the “world peace” that supposedly exists with the world under the boot of superpowers, who maintain “peace” by requiring all nations to agree to their “international declarations and conventions”? Does Parrot think that a world full of disbelief and disobedience to Allah is a “peaceful world”?

Parrot writes:

“According to Ibn Rushd, only a minority of classical jurists appealed to abrogation to justify their opinion that peace with non-Muslims was forbidden unless Muslims were too weak to fight. In contrast, the majority held that peaceful verses restricted verses of war: ‘Those who upheld the permission of making a truce [ṣulḥ] when the imām saw an interest (of the Muslims) in this are Mālik, al-Shāfi’ī, and Abū Ḥanīfa… Those who maintained that the verse implying peace has restricted [mukhaṣṣaṣah] the other said that truce is permitted if the imām considers it proper. They supported this interpretation with the act of the Prophet, God’s peace and blessings be upon him, in this case because his truce in the year of al-Ḥudaybiya was not based upon necessity.’”

First of all, nowhere does Ibn Rushd in this section say that “the majority held that peaceful verses restricted verses of war.” What Ibn Rushd actually says is that making a truce is permissible in the three madhahib if the Muslim leadership sees a benefit in doing so, but many jurists also said making truce is impermissible. Furthermore, even the ones who said truce is permissible didn’t say truce was necessary or even desirable in and of itself. This is completely contrary to the “defense only” mantra Parrot is projecting onto the text. If we read the whole passage, it becomes obvious how badly Parrot has distorted his sources:

“Is truce permissible? A group of jurists permitted this initially (without warfare) without necessity, if the imam considered it to be in the interest of the Muslims. Another group of jurists did not permit it, except on the basis of a compelling necessity, such as the avoidance of disturbances or for gaining from them some concessions for the Muslim community, which are not in the nature of the jizya as the condition for jizya is that they be subject to the laws of the Muslims, or even without taking anything from them. Al-Awzai permitted that the imam may negotiate a truce with the disbelievers on the basis of something that the Muslims would give to the disbelievers if that is required as a necessity of avoiding (greater) trials, or on the basis of any other necessity. Al-Shaf`ii said that the Muslims are not to make any concessions to the disbelievers, unless they fear that they would be overwhelmed by the sheer number of the enemy in relation to their own small numbers or because of a severe ordeal that they are subjected to. Those who upheld the permission of making a truce [ṣulḥ] when the imām saw an interest (of the Muslims) in this are Mālik, al-Shāfi’ī, and Abū Ḥanīfa except that Al-Shafii stipulated that the duration of the truce should not be for a period greater than the one transacted by the Messenger of Allah with the disbelievers in the year of al-Hudaybiyya. […] Those who maintained that the verse commanding fighting unless they believe or pay the jizya has abrogated the verse implying peace said that truce is not permitted, except in the case of necessity. Those who maintained that the verse implying peace has restricted the other said that truce is permitted if the imām considers it proper. They supported this interpretation with the act of the Prophet, God’s peace and blessings be upon him, in this case because his truce in the year of al-Ḥudaybiya was not based upon necessity.’”

This passage actually proves that Parrot is misinterpreting the entire issue. The section is on the question “Is truce permissible?” Obviously, the assumption of a truce being permissible is that Muslims are in a position to make a truce in the first place. So automatically, this is not about defensive jihad in dire existential circumstances where Muslims wouldn’t have multiple options to choose from. Furthermore, even the scholars who believed that the ayat implying peace restricted the “sword verses,” even those scholars qualified the permissibility of truce to the discretion of the imam, meaning the imam could nonetheless order jihad al-talab rather than make peace.

“Abrogation” according to Yaqeen.

Parrot continues:

“Another tradition cited to make Islam appear violent is the following: ‘I have been commanded to fight the people until they say there is no God but Allāh.’ Again, a surface reading without context will cause an unsettling misinterpretation. Other versions of this tradition include qualifying aspects that restrict “the people” who should be fought. Who exactly are these people? Why did the Prophet ﷺ say this? In the narration of Anas ibn Mālik (d. 709), the Prophet ﷺ said he was commanded to fight “the idolaters,” which would exclude Jews, Christians, and people of the Book. According to classical exegete Ibn Kathīr (d. 1373), this statement refers to the idolaters mentioned in verse 9:5, whom we noted were habitually violating the peace. The phrase “the people,” then, does not mean people in general.”

Parrot thinks that when the Prophet said, “I have been commanded to fight the people,” he really meant, “I have been commanded to fight the people, but not Jews and Christians, only idolaters, but not any idolaters, but only those who habitually violate peace agreements.” That’s a lot of words to put in the mouth of the Prophet. If the Prophet meant that, why wouldn’t he have just said “I have been commanded to fight those idolaters who habitually violate peace agreement”? Why wouldn’t he have said exactly what he intended instead of using the most general word possible “people”?

Furthermore, Parrot ignores the obvious import of the hadith. Let’s imagine that his clunky rendering of the hadith is correct and the Prophet only meant to say that he intended to fight the hostile idolaters. Then why would he say that he will fight them until they utter the shahada and become Muslim? Wouldn’t that go well beyond self defense? If only self defense is sanctioned in Islam, why would hostile idolaters need to be fought until they became Muslim, as opposed to fought until they retreated?

Now, all this aside, If Parrot’s interpretation of the hadith is correct, why doesn’t he point to one classical scholar who explained the hadith in the same way? Was it because no scholar had such an asinine interpretation? Parrot says:

“In fact, the scholar al-Nasā’ī (d. 915) uses this tradition as evidence for the prohibition of bloodshed (taḥrīm al-damm), as an injunction to end bloodshed and not to initiate it.”

This is beyond ludicrous. The chapter he is referring to in al-Nasai’s collection is titled Tahrim al-Damm, prohibition of bloodshed, but it is referring to the wording of the hadith that Parrot only partially cited. The Prophet said: “We will fight the people until they say La ilaha illallah. If they say La ilaha illallah then their blood and their wealth become forbidden to us [حَرُمَتْ عَلَيْنَا دِمَاؤُهُمْ], except for a right that is due, and their reckoning will be with Allah.” In other words, the bloodshed that is already taking place only ends with la ilaha illaAllah, at which point the blood of a Muslim becomes prohibited from being spilt. Parrot, in his brazen dishonesty, inverts this and says that it means not to initiate bloodshed in the first place.

To defend his reading of the hadith, Parrot also cites Ibn Taymiyya:

“The “people” to be fought, in this reading, are specifically those who commit aggression and forcibly obstruct others from freely accepting Islam. This understanding was expressed by Ibn Taymiyyah in his comments on the tradition: ‘The meaning of this tradition is to fight those who are waging war whom God has called us to fight, and it does not mean to fight those who have made peace with whom God has commanded us to fulfill their peace.’”

Parrot ends the quote before Ibn Taymiyya finishes his thought. The full passage reads:

“The meaning of this hadith [‘I have been commanded to fight the people until they say there is no God but Allāh’] is to fight those who are waging war whom God has called us to fight, and it does not mean to fight those who have made peace agreements with whom Allah has commanded us to fulfill the agreements. And the Prophet, before the revelation of Surat al-Tawba would uphold agreements with whoever made agreements with him from the kuffar without imposing jizya. So when Allah revealed Surat al-Tawba and commanded the Prophet to renege the indefinite agreements, he could no longer make agreements as he used to do. Rather he was obligated to fight jihad against everyone [yujahid al-jami`], as Allah says in the ayah: “So, when the sacred months expire, kill the Mushriks wherever you find them, and catch them and besiege them and sit in ambush for them everywhere. Then, if they repent and establish Salāh and pay Zakāh, leave their way. Surely, Allah is most Forgiving, Very-Merciful.”

It is hard to imagine that Parrot did not read the very next sentence from the sentence he translated. Does he have no shame? In what part of Parrot’s “pacifist Islam” does Ibn Taymiyya’s statement “yujahid al-jami`” fit?

Parrot continues his disgraceful attempt to explain the hadith, “I have been commanded to fight the people.” He writes:

“What is more, the narration of Jābir (d. 697) adds that the Prophet ﷺ recited immediately after this statement the following verses: ‘Your only task is to give warning, you are not there to control them.’ Early Muslim authorities, such as the companion Sa’īd bin Zayd (d. 671), understood this verse to prohibit compulsion in religion: ‘You are not an authority over them to coerce them into faith.’”

The citation Parrot gives is to al-Tabari. When we look up the citation, we see that Ibn Zayd actually claims the ayah “you are not there to control them,” was abrogated by the coming of the principle of “kill him or he submits.”

Parrot also tries to get Ibn al-Qayyim to agree with his distoritions:

“Ibn al-Qayyim rejected any claim that the Prophet ﷺ ever coerced someone to accept Islam: “[The Prophet] never forced the religion upon anyone, but rather he only fought those who waged war against him and fought him first. As for those who made peace with him or conducted a truce, then he never fought them and he never compelled them to enter his religion, as his Lord the Almighty had commanded him: There is no compulsion in religion, for right guidance is distinct from error (2:256).”

Again, later in that section of the text, Ibn al-Qayyim explains what he means by compulsion. Compulsion, according to him, means to force someone to become Muslim without any other option. But Islam does offer a second option, which is the jizya. Therefore, it cannot be said that people were forced to enter Islam. The important distinction here is that, conquest did occur in abundance in the time of the Khulafa, as Muslim forces took control of large territories in Persia, Egypt, and the Levant. Those were all on the basis of offensive jihad. But once those lands were conquered, there was no forced conversion. Non-Muslims paid jizya and abided by the specific parts of the Sharia that applied to them, but there was no compulsion to accept Islam at the end of a sharp sword. This is an important distinction that Ibn al-Qayyim and other scholars make. The issue of jihad al-talab is separate from the question of “forced conversion” or compulsion in accepting Islam. In today’s understanding of liberal secularism and religious freedom, these two things are conflated as both being essentially the same thing: religious conquest means forced conversion. But the Islamic scholars past and present kept these two issues distinct.

And in other places Ibn al-Qayyim elaborates his view of jihad. In the Furusiyya he defines three kinds of jihad: jihad al-daf`, jihad al-talab, and jihad that is a combination of both. He explains:

“There are three divisions where the believer is commanded to fight in jihad. And defensive jihad (jihad al-daf`) is more difficult than the offensive jihad (jihad al-talab) because defensive jihad resembles the chapter on self-defense against an attacker. And for this reason it is permitted for the oppressed to repel against attacks. […] This jihad is obligatory and not voluntary […] As for jihad that is purely offensive, no one desires it except one of two men: either a man who has incredibly immense iman and he fights so that the Word of Allah is highest and so that deen is entirely for Allah, or the man who desires war booty. The defensive jihad should be undertaken by everyone, and no one refuses it except the vile coward, [this obligation is obvious] intellectually and according to the Sharia. And offensive jihad that is purely for the sake of Allah is done by the general population of believers. And for the combination (both defensive and offensive), this is done by the best of people, for the elevating of Allah’s Word and deen, as well as people who are middle of the pack, for defense and out of love of victory.”[234]

In the end, Parrot undermines his entire argument:

“Finally, we need to understand something about the structure of classical Islamic legal theories and the context in which they operated. In the ancient world, war was the general rule and the norm; peace was the exception. English political theorist Thomas Hobbes (d. 1679) asserted that, without a legal authority to enforce peace, people “are in that condition which is called war, and such a war as is of every man against every man.” In other words, every nation was assumed to be at war with every other nation by default. As a matter of fact, nation-states today would still be in a default state of war were it not for the United Nations Charter. People born after World War 2 take for granted that it is because of the Charter that nation-states are relatively at peace with each other; in its absence, conflict would become the international norm again.”[235]

If this was the case historically, why would so many scholars insist on not initiating war, as Parrot claimed throughout the essay? If there was a constant assumption of war, then wouldn’t the scholars not only permit, but encourage and necessitate, offensive jihad as a continuous obligation? Well, that is exactly what the scholars did do, contrary to all the contorted, dishonest translations Parrot supplies in arguing that the “majority” only permitted defensive jihad.

Parrots cites Sherman Jackson to bolster his self-defeating point:

“Dr. Sherman Jackson explains the context of this early legal thinking: ‘While the imperial quest for empire invariably informed the policies of every Muslim state, Muslim juristic writings continued to reflect the logic of the ‘state of war’ and the assumption that only Muslims would permit Muslims to remain Muslims. They continued to see jihād not only as a means of guaranteeing the security and freedom of the Muslims but as virtually the only means of doing so. For even peace treaties were usually the result of one’s surrender to demands that had been imposed by a real or anticipated defeat by the sword… The purpose of jihād, in other words, is to provide for the security and freedom of the Muslims in a world that kept them under constant threat.’”

This might come as a surprise to Parrot and Jackson, but this “state of war” did not magically disappear with the United Nations Charter. We are in the exact same “state of war,” the only difference being, there is one big hegemonic superpower that keeps a state of “peace” through the threat of force. And any country that steps out of line is “handled” post haste, usually on the excuse that such “rogue nations” threaten all other “peace-loving nations.” In reality, the peace-loving nations are the nations who don’t want to risk the hammer being dropped. And, in the age of weapons of mass destruction, any wrong move can mean total annihilation. This is the “peaceful” world Parrot and Jackson appeal to as a foil to the barbaric “state of war” the scholars assumed in their rulings.

The travesty that is Parrot’s essay aside, Yaqeen did publish a second article on jihad titled “Is Islam a Conquest Ideology? On Jihad, War, & Peace.” This article is not as egregious as Parrot’s but it repeats the main mistakes. For example, it repeats verbatim the same citations from Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn al-Qayyim mentioned above and misconstrues them in the same way that Parrot does. The author also says:

Such was the majority juristic view, that jihad is waged in response to hostility, not religious affiliation, and eventually prevailed within Sunni Islam. Thus, the Prophet’s defensive battles, like Badr, Uhud, Ahzab, and Hunayn, occurred in circumstances in which the enemy launched an offensive against the Muslims who then had to defend religion and realm. In other battles like Khaybar, Mu‘tah, or Tabuk, where the Muslim state was aware of the enemy’s impending aggression, there was a need to strike preemptively as a form of defense.”

No reference is given to justify this claim that the majority juristic view is that jihad is waged only in response to hostility. No reference is given to justify the idea that religious affiliation has nothing to do with jihad. He also writes:

“How do we explain jihad talab—’offensive’ war? Classical law manuals almost invariably include the likes of the following statement in their martial codes: ‘Jihad in Allah’s path [is to be waged] every year.’ Also: ‘It is a communal duty once each year.’ So how does this square with what’s previously been stated? Well, jihad doctrines were based on defense, not only in terms of actual hostilities launched against Muslims, but also preemptively in cases of likely aggression. This doctrine was devised at a time when the Islamic state was surrounded by other states with whom there was no peace treaty, or who were openly belligerent.”

This is simply a restatement of Parrot and Sherman Jackson’s point discussed above. If we want to play a semantic game where conquests are termed as “preemptive defensive strikes,” so be it, but this is not compelling and it misrepresents the scholarly tradition, which does not discuss jihad al-talab in such apologetic tones. Rather, jihad al-talab is glorified and is described as among the peak of virtuous deeds a man can do in his life. [Back to Top]

Islam Supports “Human Rights” in All Nations

As we have seen in his discussion of jihad, Justin Parrot goes to great lengths to push his humanist, pacifist understanding of Islam, even stooping to the level of distorting and mistranslating Islamic texts to serve his deviant conclusions. In one article titled, “The Guiding Principles of Faith,” this distortion of Islamic belief is very explicit. He says

“Goodwill embodies the ethics of reciprocity and equal treatment, setting a precedent for political reconciliation among the nations of the world; on this basis, we can pursue an understanding of human rights and dignity across religions and cultures. But most importantly, these virtues are obligations that we must fulfill—inwardly and outwardly—if we are to be granted salvation and admittance into Paradise.[236]

What does it mean to “inwardly fulfill” human rights and dignity across all religions and cultures? Is there “dignity” to be found in jahiliyy cultures and kufr religions? And where in Islam do we find this “obligation” of “inward fulfillment of human rights” as a prerequisite for salvation and admittance into Janna? Is there any ayah or hadith that says a believer, who believed in Allah and His Messenger, prayed, fasted, paid zakat, made hajj, made tawba for his sins and otherwise comes to Allah with a sound heart, will nonetheless not be admitted into Paradise because he did not uphold “human rights” and the dignity of all cultures? Is Parrot making up his own religion?

This mixing of modern secular values of pluralism, human rights, etc., with Islamic aqida and the requirements of faith is extremely dangerous. [Back to Top]

There Is No Slavery in Islam

Yaqeen does not have a good track record of addressing slavery in Islam. For the most part, their approach is outright denialism. In one lecture, Omar Suleiman claims:

“”I’m gonna make a statement from now and it is the statement that the lecture is titled by. In Islam there is no slavery except to the Most High. Can I prove that? I will prove that and I’m going to repeat it one more time. In Islam there is no slavery except to Allah.”[237]

He continues to argue that what is known as riq in Islam is not actually slavery as we know it.

In his Yaqeen essay on violence, Nazir Khan makes an even more clear cut statement:

“Slavery is condemned in Islam.”[238]

Jonathan Brown has a slightly more subtle approach in his essay, “Slavery and Islam: What is Slavery?” Ultimately, however, his argument is simply a longer version of what Suleiman said in a few sentences. Brown conducts a historical survey and notes that what was considered slavery looked very different in different societies at different times. Because of this diversity, we simply cannot define the word “slavery” and, therefore, we should not use the word as if it refers to a distinct concept. Brown concludes his essay by saying:

“Ultimately, the word ‘slavery’ can mean so many things that it’s not very useful for accurate communication. It often ends up referring to things we don’t mean when we think of slavery, or it fails to match things we do associate with slavery. As such, the word slavery has limited use as a category or conceptual tool. It’s much more useful to talk about the extreme exploitation of human beings’ labor and the extreme deprivation of their rights. In any society, whether it has ‘slavery’ or not, we are likely to find such conditions. Instead of fixating on a word or ill-defined category, it is much more useful to focus on regulating conditions and protecting people’s rights in order to prevent extreme debasement.”[239]

This is an unsatisfactory and ultimately uncompelling approach to the underlying moral questions contemporary people have about slavery (and concubinage). It amounts to a semantic argument. Just because there were a variety of manifestations of slavery in history, that doesn’t mean the word is conceptually empty. Historically, there have also been many different forms of militaries and types of warfare across cultures. We wouldn’t conclude from this that there is no meaningful concept behind the words “military” or “warfare.” We certainly wouldn’t claim that “warfare” doesn’t exist in Islam or that Islam rejects warfare because Muslims have jihad and jihad is not the same as warfare. Such semantic maneuvers are hardly persuasive.

This is especially the case since slavery, much like war, does have a more or less stable definition that remains consistent across cultures. A slave is a person who is owned by another person. That’s it. It doesn’t matter what that ownership exactly entails. It doesn’t matter if the slave is treated like a king or like cattle. Slavery is ownership of people. And it is precisely that that is so offensive to the modern mind. Semantic analysis just doesn’t cut much hay in the face of such moral anxieties.

Persuasiveness of his argument aside, what Brown should be commended for in this essay is resisting the temptation to condemn slavery as inherently evil. Brown seems to be aware of the fact that condemning slavery as inherently evil would be tantamount to condemning the Prophet and Islam as a whole. After all, the Prophet owned slaves. And Islam permitted owning slaves.

Unfortunately, Brown received negative attention from the alt-right blogosphere shortly after this essay was published, and in a followup piece, he did issue the condemnation he had so valiantly avoided up until that point:

“As a Muslim today, I can say emphatically that slavery is wrong and that Islam prohibits it.”[240]

It would have been better for Brown not to address the highly contentious and difficult topic of slavery if, at the eleventh hour, he was going to just concede the main point of the whole debate. Back to Top

Who and What Yaqeen Promotes

Yaqeen Articles Written by a Queer Feminist Instagram Model

Yaqeen has published three essays from Margarita Rosa and featured her at one of their conferences in 2018.[241] Her essays concern the history of Muslim slaves in the Caribbean.

In a 2017 interview titled, “Young Musim Women on Intersectionality,” Rosa discusses her experiences as a queer Muslim:

“Margarita Rosa had to ‘come out’ twice in her life. First as queer during high school and until this past year, as Muslim to both her friends and her Catholic family. While, Rosa cautions that she is hesitant to still identify as queer, since not being in queer relationships for a while she heavily struggled with her family on her sexual orientation.”

Does Rosa still identify as queer? Did Yaqeen not know of this identity issue before deciding to prominently feature Rosa’s work and promote her to the Muslim community?

It would be very commendable for this sister to overcome this queer identity and we pray that Allah assist her in this. At the same time, it is problematic for Yaqeen to put her in a public position in front of the Muslim community, especially given her public statements and activity. Her current presence on the social media platform Instagram is particularly objectionable.

Back to Top

Leaders in the Reformist Movement Writing for Yaqeen?

Arnold Yasin Mol has contributed one paper and translation for Yaqeen (on Aisha being 18 years old when marrying the Prophet), according to his Academia profile, he is slated to contribute three more in 2020:

1. ‘Islam and the Question of Human Rights’, Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research (YIIR), (2020).

2. ‘The Classical Foundations of Islamic Human Rights Discourse’, Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research (YIIR), (2020).

3. ‘The Fiqh of Human Rights Treaties: Modern Siyar and an Islamic Commentary on the UDHR’, Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research (YIIR), (2020).

Mol’s focus on “human rights and Islam” has a long history. He has been an active contributor to the reformist movement, calling for Muslims to embrace human rights and humanist values.[242] In 2009, he co-edited the volume, Critical Thinkers for Islamic Reform, which collects essays from such reformists figures as lesbian Irshad Manji and secularist Mustafa Akyol. The volume was co-edited by two “Quranists,” Farouk Peru and Edip Yuksel.[243] [244]

In the past, Mol has written about his admiration for reformists like Irshad Manji, comparing her to Rosa Parks.[245] Manji, of course, wrote the book The Problem with Islam.[246]

He has also shown great enthusiasm about womens-led prayers and “mosques.”

In a 2016 interview, Mol discusses mentions his background friendship with such individuals as Amina Wadud:

“During this time I became friends with several known Muslim academics such as Aisha Musa (Assistant Professor Islamic Studies, Colgate University), Amina Wadud (Professor of Islamic Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University), and Nasr Abu Zayd (Professor of Islamic Studies, Leiden University).”[247]

In numerous tweets, Mol also calls Amina Wadud an “inspiration” and his “best friend.” Wadud is infamous for her work on reforming Islam and “saying ‘no’ to the Quran.” More recently she went on a Twitter tirade insulting Prophet Ibrahim as a “deadbeat” dad.

What does Mol have to say on the issue of human rights in Islam? In his contribution to the Critical Thinkers of Islamic Reform volume, he writes:

“The whole focus of the Quran is thus clearly a humanitarian one whereby even the judgment laid upon mankind in the next life is based on their conduct towards one another.”[248]

“Throughout the Quran it is made clear people are judged on their conduct towards other people, not on their amount of worship.”[249]

“Within the global Muslim society answers are sought to find the keys to success, to find a way out of the misery the Ummah has been in for the last couple of centuries. I believe one of the key factors that will create this long sought-after success is that the Ummah must change its main focus from worship into humanitarian action. The governments of the Muslim countries must be chosen on their beneficence towards all the people within the society and the education in the countries must teach people how to benefit society with their profession and behavior. Now precious energy is given mainly on worship while the Quran urges us to spend it on each other so we can create an earthly paradise. This was the success of the first generations of Muslims.”[250]

“There is a belief to be found between the followers of most religions, which is if their worship is not correct or good, God’s punishment will befall them. But according to the Quran, the laws of cause and effect present in the universe do not react to the beliefs of a people, nor their worship or rituals, but on their righteous behavior towards other people.”[251]

 

Mol describes his reformist project in a 2019 paper titled, “Islamic Human Rights Discourse and Hermeneutics of Continuity.” He writes:

“Human rights: an Islamic science of human rights (ʿilm alḥuqūq) which provides a hermeneutics of continuity between Islam and modern human rights and overcomes both apologetics and othering. Islamic substantive law was a true theoretical judges’ law and was for the majority non-political (as it was not constructed by political agents). But it was also a highly sociological enterprise, confined by its times. So does Islamic substantive law need to reassess its rights scheme? Yes, a re-assessment is needed, as it constructed its rights scheme in relation to pre-modern social realities.”[252]

Mol elaborates:

“We can derive new understandings how to engage Islamic ethics in the form of a modern Islamic human rights discourse which is not reduced to a form of apologetics or mistaken conflations, but an internal discourse of human standards with which to reassess all fields of Islamic law and modern international law which overcomes both apologetics and othering.”[253]

Will Mol be sharing his insights on how to “reassess” Islamic Law in his upcoming Yaqeen essays? What parts of Islamic Law exactly are in need of reassessment, according to Mol? Back to Top

Jazz Musicians, Female Rap Artists, and Ilhan Omar Are Muslim Role Models

In their video series on “Islam and the Black American,” Yaqeen includes Ilhan “The Sharia Is Barbaric” Omar in its category of Black Muslim icons.

Should Yaqeen be promoting islamophobe Ilhan Omar? Omar Suleiman has, of course, praised her glowingly as giving the Muslim community hope. His institute seems to share his views on her.

Iesha Prime, a Yaqeen contributor, presents a history of Islam in the Black American community. She punctuates the series with this notable statement:

“One of the most famous women in hip-hop has several reference to Islam and that’s Lauryn Hill and several of hers and her lyrics she says don’t forget about the deen, the sirat al-mustaqim and even Jill Scott gives references to Quran in several of her lyrics. How is it that we have come so far? How is it that we have come from a people who were originally enslaved, who were originally so oppressed and considered to be some of the lowest of society to having some of the most powerful, long-lasting effects on pop and current culture?”[254]

Is it appropriate to promote these female musicians and put them on pedestals as icons for the Muslim community? Are there not other Black American Muslims with strong commitment to deen that would be better examples for Yaqeen to promote? Back to Top

Glamour Hijabi Models Everywhere

Omar Suleiman has a history of using young Muslim women to promote his Almaghrib courses. He seems to be the only instructor there who has these types of images for marketing his courses.

This practice is also prevalent at Yaqeen.

Back to Top

Mixed Gathering

For some unknown reason, Yaqeen promotes casual girl/guy social mixing for the purpose of “Conversations.”

Why Yaqeen thinks this is something good for an “Islamic” institute to promote to their target audience is bewildering.

Back to Top

Desi and Arab Muslims Are Racists

An essay from Yaqeen author Nisa Muhammad titled, “Black and Muslim: How Chaplains Can Empower Marginalized Students,” promotes the crude trope of the insensitive, racist immigrant.

“Maybe it was just because she was a freshman, she thought. She kept coming and kept trying until, at one meeting, she suggested that at the next event they have something other than Desi (South Asian) or Middle Eastern food, have a more diverse menu. One of the other students responded with a snarl, ‘Do you want us to have bean pies?’”[255]

The author makes it very clear what she thinks of South Asian and Arab Muslims students:

“In life and death, Arab and South Asian Muslim lives seem to matter far more than the lives of Black Muslims.”

Chaplain Nisa believes that effective Muslim chaplaincy requires making room for everyone, including the “Latinx Muslims,” i.e., the non-binary gendered Hispanic Muslims.

“Establish an environment that allows students to create their own identity as Muslims and not just replicas of immigrant Muslims. Many are looking for something concrete and real, independent of stereotypes of Muslims seen in the media. What does it mean to be Black and Muslim? What does it mean to be African and Muslim? What does it mean to be Caribbean and Muslim? What does it mean to be Afro Latinx and Muslim?”

What does it mean to be a “replica” of an immigrant Muslim? Is it appropriate for a Muslim chaplain to speak so derisively against immigrant students, depicting them as raging bigots?

The author’s final advice:

“Have pizza to solve this problem, have wings and fries to solve this problem, but just serving South Asian food or Middle Eastern food can be seen as a microaggression by students from diverse backgrounds.”

Serving biryani or hummus at the Muslim Student Association could be a devastating “microagression.” Just another way that racist immigrants impose their cultural hegemony on others. Back to Top

Notes

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pQm8XLPxnI
  2. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/youssef-chouhoud/modern-pathways-to-doubt-in-islam/
  3. https://youtu.be/LEKwoChJUuQ
  4. https://youtu.be/8pQm8XLPxnI
  5. Quran 21:57-63
  6. Denialism is also a good strategy for avoiding being “cancelled” in this day and age.
  7. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/omar-suleiman/hadith-30-there-is-no-slavery-in-islam-except-to-the-most-high/
  8. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/justin-parrott/jihad-as-defense-just-war-theory-in-the-quran-and-sunnah
  9. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/women-in-islamic-law-examining-five-prevalent-myths/
  10. Quran 2:174
  11. Usually an academic with only a degree in Islamic Studies from a secular program.
  12. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/arnold-yasin-mol/aisha-ra-the-case-for-an-older-age-in-sunni-hadith-scholarship
  13. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/jonathan-brown/lgbtq-and-islam-revisited-the-days-of-the-donald/
  14. As demonstrated when they were recently criticized by MuslimSkeptic for publishing pro-LGBT views. See https://muslimskeptic.com/2019/10/15/omar-suleiman-lgbt-rights-yaqeen-muslims/
  15. Strict, draconian “community guidelines” notwithstanding.
  16. https://enterthesunnah.com/2018/04/04/when-yaqeen-leads-to-doubt/
  17. http://www.masud.co.uk/ISLAM/nuh/evolve.htm and https://binbaz.org.sa/fatwas/7143/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B1%D8%AF-%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89-%D9%86%D8%B8%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%88%D9%8A%D9%86
  18. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/about-us/our-mission/
  19. Examples of these papers are discussed in the Gender section of the report.
  20. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/youssef-chouhoud/what-causes-muslims-to-doubt-islam-a-quantitative-analysis
  21. Ibid.
  22. See Islam in Liberalism by Joseph Mossad.
  23. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/about-us/our-mission
  24. Ibid.
  25. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/tarekyounis/counter-radicalization-a-critical-look-into-a-racist-new-industry/
  26. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/forever-on-trial-islam-and-the-charge-of-violence
  27. “HOMEGROWN VIOLENT EXTREMIST MOBILIZATION INDICATORS” from National Counterterrorism Center
  28. Asim Qureshi. “The ‘Science’ of Pre-Crime: The Secret ‘Radicalisation’ Study Underlying PREVENT.”
  29. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/team/dalia-mogahed/
  30. https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/why-countering-violent-extremism-programs-are-bad-policy
  31. https://www.start.umd.edu/events/dalia-mogahed-data-driven-introduction-american-muslims
  32. https://www.aspeninstitute.org/our-people/meryl-justin-chertoff/
  33. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/the-aspen-institute-homeland-security-group-announces-its-launch-129675788.html
  34. https://www.aspendailynews.com/ideas-fest-opens-for-sharing-of-good-ideas/article_0fe24266-1d65-583c-882f-5decf5d3a11c.html
  35. https://www.jstor.org/stable/i40104458
  36. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JoO0oZ5PNZM
  37. https://facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10109708375549393&id=2258644&set=a.10101662614973083
  38. https://www.aspeninstitute.org/programs/inclusive-america-project/inclusive-america-project-history/
  39. https://www.aspeninstitute.org/publications/pluralism-peril-challenges-american-ideal/
  40. https://www.elhibrifoundation.org/news/congratulations-to-our-2019-peace-award-recipients
  41. https://youtu.be/Bn12s19X8xU
  42. https://facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=965022680236578&id=331368650268654
  43. https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10154433633236699&id=507181698
  44. https://www.facebook.com/IslamicScholarshipFund/posts/3281472838591539
  45. https://www.facebook.com/MPACHollywoodBureau/posts/2406342432720204
  46. https://convention.mpac.org/storytelling
  47. https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=10157264465101699&id=507181698
  48. https://muslimskeptic.com/2019/04/04/dalia-mogaheds-response-to-our-muslimgirl-article-touting-ispus-pro-lgbt-advocacy/
  49. https://www.teenvogue.com/story/amani-al-khatahtbeh-is-running-for-congress
  50. https://twitter.com/xoamani/status/1246871480098488321
  51. https://www.ispu.org/talk-toolkits/
  52. https://muslimskeptic.com/2019/04/04/dalia-mogaheds-response-to-our-muslimgirl-article-touting-ispus-pro-lgbt-advocacy/
  53. Malek Al-Zewairi. “Spotting the Islamist Radical within: Religious Extremists Profiling in the United States”
  54. https://foreignpolicy.com/2017/02/02/trumps-travel-ban-misses-the-true-threat-homegrown-terrorism-american-isis/
  55. https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/american-face-isis/
  56. https://foreignpolicy.com/2017/02/02/trumps-travel-ban-misses-the-true-threat-homegrown-terrorism-american-isis/
  57. https://www.globaltiesus.org/news/members-in-the-news/1283-reporter-learns-about-countering-violent-extremism-through-ivlp-
  58. https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/01/26/coalition-letter-civil-society-engagement-un-office-counter-terrorism
  59. https://www.scpolicechiefs.org/assets/Wise%20Up%20Against%20Extremism.pdf
  60. https://muslimskeptic.com/2019/10/15/omar-suleiman-lgbt-rights-yaqeen-muslims/
  61. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPUX26MFORg
  62. https://muslimmatters.org/2017/02/27/my-islam-not-dogmatic-secularism-nor-religious-fanaticism-sh-omar-sulieman/
  63. https://youtu.be/HWkaEAkLFOQ
  64. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/omar-suleiman/faithful-activism-a-sunnah-framework/
  65. Ibid.
  66. Ibid.
  67. Sunan Abi Dawud 4530
  68. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/women-in-islamic-law-examining-five-prevalent-myths
  69. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nour-soubani/is-feminism-the-problem-why-ideological-bandwagons-fail-islam
  70. Are mosques really not welcoming? What proof is there for this claim? The authors say: “While many mosques included women’s programs, only 4% of them prioritized these programs and activities, and only 3% of mosques prioritized women’s groups and associations.” The citation for these statistics is a survey done by “UnmosquedFilms.” The link cited for the report is broken, so we cannot check what questions were asked and what actual data was obtained by the survey. What does it mean that “many mosques included women’s programs, but only 4% of them prioritized them”? What does prioritizing women’s programming mean? Does it mean the women’s programs have to be the #1 priority at the masjid over and above everything else? Is that what is required, otherwise women won’t feel welcome and will turn to feminism?
  71. Beyond mosque dissatisfaction, the same argument can be made about domestic abuse and harassment. Again, the point here is not to deny that some women’s Allah-given rights are violated by abusive husbands or by Muslim creeps. But, we have to remember that definitions of what constitutes abuse and harassment are also heavily influenced by feminism. For example, feminist activists nowadays claim that “mansplaining,” “manspreading,” not mentioning women sufficiently in one’s discourse, etc., are all egregious violations, abuse, and harassment. What justifies such things? Why is the domain of what is considered abusive growing day by day in the social justice outrage culture that feminism breeds? Women who abide by this ever-expanding list as a result become angier, feel more threatened, feel more abused, more like victims. All the statistics show that women’s happiness level are on a steep decline in recent years and many argue it is feminism to blame.
  72. https://muslimskeptic.com/2017/09/19/grave-implications-feminist-islam/
  73. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/omar-suleiman/islam-and-the-abortion-debate/
  74. https://muslimmatters.org/2019/08/19/reflections-on-muslim-approaches-to-the-abortion-debate-the-problem-of-narrow-conceptualization
  75. Considering the differing interpretations of Imam al-Haskafi position on the issue, cited by the Yaqeen paper itself.
  76. And this is a dangerous wrong impression to give, since many Muslim women might read this and think that reading a fiqh opinion online is the equivalent of recieving a fatwa authorizing her to get a second trimester abortion without her husband agreeing to it. Obviously, the authors of a research paper cannot be held responsible for everything their readers decide to do. But it is worth considering the impact of disseminating rare and anomalous views on the worldwide web.
  77. https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Margaret_Sanger
  78. Ibid.
  79. Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62
  80. Determining the authenticity of hadith generally is based on an analysis of isnad, i.e., the chain of transmission. But matn criticism aims to grade hadith on the basis of the content of the hadith itself.
  81. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/arnold-yasin-mol/aisha-ra-the-case-for-an-older-age-in-sunni-hadith-scholarship
  82. Gray elaborates on her feminism in the essay: “Lean In: Our Feminist Manifesto” as well as various lectures where she promotes her understanding of “Islamic feminism” https://www.rabata.org/2013/07/02/lean-in-our-feminist-manifesto/
  83. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/tamara-gray/courage-commitment-the-femininity-of-muslim-women/
  84. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/arnold-yasin-mol/aisha-ra-the-case-for-an-older-age-in-sunni-hadith-scholarship
  85. https://muslimskeptic.com/2019/11/13/no-muslim-women-dont-need-careers-to-be-empowered/
  86. https://islamqa.org/hanafi/askmufti/44561
  87. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/tamara-gray/courage-commitment-the-femininity-of-muslim-women
  88. See the short work: Al-Siraj al-Wahhaj fi Khidmat al-Azwaj
  89. Sunan an-Nasa’i 3957
  90. Sahih al-Bukhari 229
  91. Quran 4:34
  92. Quran 2:233
  93. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/tamara-gray/courage-commitment-the-femininity-of-muslim-women
  94. Ibid.
  95. Ibid.
  96. Gray, Ibid.
  97. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/jonathan-brown/an-open-letter-to-muslim-men-the-sunnah-trumps-toxic-masculinity
  98. https://musafurber.com/2019/03/20/summary-a-wifes-religious-obligation-to-perform-housework/
  99. Brown, Ibid.
  100. For example, see the earlier cited work: Al-Siraj al-Wahhaj fi Khidmat al-Azwaj by Mufti Shabbir Ahmad Patel.
  101. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/faatimah-knight/and-we-created-you-in-pairs-islam-and-the-gender-question/
  102. Ibid.
  103. Ibid.
  104. Ibid.
  105. Ibid.
  106. https://youtu.be/b3pGrgtt8QM Time 24:50 – 27:50
  107. Jami` at-Tirmidhi 1161
  108. Quran 4:34
  109. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/women-in-islamic-law-examining-five-prevalent-myths/
  110. Collected by Ibn Abī Shaybah (#8,317), Aḥmad (#15,592), Ibn Mājah (#1,851), At-Tirmithī (#1,163) and An-Nasā’ī (#4,085)
  111. Khan, Ibid.
  112. “Gharīb al-Ḥadīth” by Abū ‘Ubayd al-Qāsim Ibn Sallām 3/359
  113. “Gharīb al-Ḥadīth” by Abū ‘Ubayd al-Qāsim Ibn Sallām 3/360
  114. “Al-Adab al-Mufrad” Verification by Samīr Ibn Amīn az-Zuhayrī, Maktabat al-Ma’ārif, Riyadh, 1st Ed. 1419 H.
  115. “Al-Adab al-Mufrad” Verification by Muḥammad Fu’ād ‘Abdil-Bāqī, Dār al-Bashā’ir al-Islāmiyyah, Beirut, 3rd Ed. 1409 H. and “Ṣaḥīḥ al-Adab al-Mufrad” Authentication by Muḥammad Nāṣir ad-Dīn al-Albānī, Dār aṣ-Ṣiddīq, 4th Ed. 1418 H.
  116. “Adab an-Nisā’” by ‘Abdul-Malik Ibn Ḥabīb
  117. “Tahthīb al-Aathār” 1/423, 426 and 427
  118. “Az-Zāhir Fī Ma’ānī Kalimāt an-Nās”1/300
  119. “Al-‘Aqd al-Farīd” 3/6
  120. “Az-Zāhir Fī Gharīb Alfāṭḥ ash-Shāfi’ī” by Al-Azharī pg. 206
  121. “Musnad al-Muwaṭṭa’” pg. 408
  122. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/women-in-islamic-law-examining-five-prevalent-myths
  123. Khan, Ibid.
  124. Ibn al-`Arabi. Ahkam al-Quran
  125. Ibid.
  126. Ibid.
  127. In a well-researched essay titled, “Domestic Violence: Critique of Some Modern Opinions on Quran 4:34,” the author Gabriel Al Romaani discusses this
  128. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/women-in-islamic-law-examining-five-prevalent-myths
  129. Ibid.
  130. Judith Tucker, Women, Family, and Gender in Islamic Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), p. 99.
  131. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/5-myths-about-women-in-islam-infographic/
  132. https://youtu.be/OY8KtRQWzrg
  133. Khan, et al., Ibid.
  134. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/tesneem-alkiek/religious-minorities-under-muslim-rule/ https://yaqeeninstitute.org/tesneem-alkiek/tolerance-minorities-and-ideological-perspectives/
  135. Consider the regulations of Christians and Jews specified by Umar: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pact_of_Umar#Content. Would this be called “legal autonomy”?
  136. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/forever-on-trial-islam-and-the-charge-of-violence/
  137. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/jonathan-brown/the-issue-of-apostasy-in-islam/
  138. Ibid.
  139. Ibid.
  140. Ibid.
  141. Sahih al-Bukhari 6922
  142. https://theislamiclens.wordpress.com/2015/12/10/comments-on-classical-islamic-views-on-the-punishment-for-apostasy/
  143. Brown, Ibid.
  144. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/forever-on-trial-islam-and-the-charge-of-violence
  145. Quran 48:29
  146. The most immediate examples are maintaining good relations with non-Muslim parents or even a non-Muslim spouse in the case of a Muslim man marrying a Christian or Jewish woman. And there are other circumstances beyond this that are clear from the Quran and Sunna. However, these examples cannot be used to disqualify the notion of al-wala’ wal-bara’ and the special affinity Muslims must maintain for other Muslims and the deliberate emotional, psychological, spiritual distance they must maintain from the people of kufr and shirk.
  147. https://enterthesunnah.com/2018/04/04/when-yaqeen-leads-to-doubt/
  148. Quran 4:48, also see 4:116.
  149. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/jonathan-brown/the-fate-of-non-muslims-perspectives-on-salvation-outside-of-islam/
  150. Ibid.
  151. Ibid.
  152. Ibid.
  153. Ibid.
  154. https://enterthesunnah.com/2018/04/04/when-yaqeen-leads-to-doubt/
  155. https://www.academia.edu/36158073/A_Review_of_Jonathan_Browns_Perspectives_on_Salvation_Outside_of_Islam_
  156. The hadith is not actually fully quoted in Yaqeen’s essay for some reason.Their essay dedicated dozens of pages to supposedly explain a hadith that they do not bother to fully quote.
  157. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/justin-parrott/the-myth-of-an-antisemitic-genocide-in-muslim-scripture/
  158. https://archive.org/details/AReplyToTheMythOfAnAntisemeticGenocideInMuslimScripture_201811
  159. Ibid. 20
  160. Ibid. 29
  161. Ibid. pp 30-42
  162. Ibid. 65
  163. Ibid. 70
  164. Ibid. 66
  165. http://www.masud.co.uk/ISLAM/nuh/evolve.htm
  166. Translated from: https://binbaz.org.sa/fatwas/7143/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B1%D8%AF-%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89-%D9%86%D8%B8%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%88%D9%8A%D9%86
  167. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/human-origins-theological-conclusions-and-empirical-limitations/
  168. Whether Jalajel recognizes it or not, his argument is a restatement of the “non-overlapping magisteria” framework famously articulated by Harvard biologist Stephen Jay Gould. Gould believed religion and science occupy separate, non-overlapping domains of applicability. Religion talks about purpose, values, and meaning while science explores empirical facts about the world. As long as religion stays in its lane and science stays in its lane, there can be a peaceful truce between these two epistemologies.
  169. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/dr-david-solomon-jalajel/tawaqquf-and-acceptance-of-human-evolution/
  170. Ibid.
  171. Jalajel explains this thus: “Could there have been hominid species prior to Adam? Scripture does not rule it out. Could these hominid species have co-existed with Adam and his descendants? Again, there is nothing explicit from scripture to negate this. Could the descendants of Adam have intermarried with other populations that were already present on Earth? Once again, scripture is silent.” Such incoherent musings deserve the garbage bin and it is a waste of time to even entertain them, yet here we are. Thanks Yaqeen Institute!
  172. Ibid.
  173. Jalajel suggests this further when he says, “The account of Adam that appears in the sacred texts addresses Adam’s direct creation without parents, his wife’s creation from him, and the idea that the two of them were ancestral to all people on Earth today. Those same texts are silent on what living organisms existed on Earth at the time. Therefore, nothing can be assumed about that on a theological level, and Muslims are not required to have any specific beliefs about it. Theologians would therefore not have grounds to claim that Homo sapiens, as defined by biologists in strictly physiological or genetic terms, were absent in the world before or during Adam’s time. They would have to remain non-committal on the matter. […] Though classical Muslim theologians would assert that every specimen of Homo sapiens alive today is from the “children of Adam” to whom the Qur’an repeatedly speaks, they would not be able to say anything about whether other organisms who fit the biological definition of Homo sapiens predated the appearance of Adam and Eve. As a consequence, they would not be able to object to the idea that the species Homo sapiens evolved from other species of the genus Homo which in turn evolved from other species of hominid ape in a line of descent ultimately going back to the earliest life forms on Earth. They would have to take a non-committal stance about human evolution.”
  174. Ibid.
  175. https://muslimskeptic.com/2019/07/22/hamza-yusuf-vs-omar-suleiman-the-perils-of-american-muslim-politics/
  176. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8kQ3tPyevs
  177. http://www.altmuslimah.com/2011/11/part_2_time_to_end_gender_segregation_in_mosques/  http://www.altmuslimah.com/2015/02/altmuslimahs-changemakers/  http://www.altmuslimah.com/2016/06/death-penalty-homosexual-acts-violation-sharia/ 
  178. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/omar-suleiman/faithful-activism-a-sunnah-framework/
  179. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/youssef-chouhoud/modern-pathways-to-doubt-in-islam/
  180. Quran 51:36, 26:174.
  181. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/jonathan-brown/lgbtq-and-islam-revisited-the-days-of-the-donald
  182. https://twitter.com/GtownMasjid/status/1239532736433598464?s=20
  183. https://www.facebook.com/jonathanacbrown/posts/10158111583684850
  184. Brown, Ibid.
  185. Ibid.
  186. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/forever-on-trial-islam-and-the-charge-of-violence
  187. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHv9ZcAEMXw
  188. Khan, Ibid.
  189. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/omar-edward-moad/honored-since-adam-islam-and-the-value-of-human-freedom/
  190. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/forever-on-trial-islam-and-the-charge-of-violence
  191. http://sunnionline.us/english/2016/10/04/6610/
  192. https://www.islamweb.net/en/fatwa/360370/meaning-of-hadeeth-whoever-calls-his-muslim-brother-o-kaafir%E2%80%A6
  193. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/difference-of-opinion-where-do-we-draw-the-line/
  194. Moad, Ibid.
  195. Ibid.
  196. Ibid.
  197. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/mill-moral-political/
  198. Moad, Ibid.
  199. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/forever-on-trial-islam-and-the-charge-of-violence/
  200. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/women-in-islamic-law-examining-five-prevalent-myths
  201. Moad, Ibid.
  202. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/difference-of-opinion-where-do-we-draw-the-line
  203. Muṣṭafá al-Zarqāʾ, al-Madkhal al-Fiqhī al-ʿĀm, Dar al-Qalam 2004, vol. 1, p. 154.
  204. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/difference-of-opinion-where-do-we-draw-the-line
  205. Ibn Taymiyah, Majmuʿ al-Fatawa, vol. 11, pp. 145-47.
  206. Quran 3:7
  207. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/forever-on-trial-islam-and-the-charge-of-violence
  208. https://edition.cnn.com/2016/06/14/living/orlando-muslims-statement/index.html
  209. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zPrzaivtCo 24:00 implementing hadd at discretion of the ruler
  210. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/jonathan-brown/stoning-and-hand-cutting-understanding-the-hudud-and-the-shariah-in-islam/
  211. Ibid.
  212. Ibid.
  213. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZYopWhvS30 59min
  214. In the words of Hamza Yusuf.
  215. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/forever-on-trial-islam-and-the-charge-of-violence/
  216. Sahih al-Bukhari 3475
  217. Brown, Ibid.
  218. Ibid.
  219. https://musafurber.com/2019/04/24/imam-al-subkis-long-list-of-requirements-for-amputation-for-theft-all-ambiguities-matter-fact-or-fiqhtion/
  220. Brown, Ibid.
  221. Ibid.
  222. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/justin-parrott/jihad-as-defense-just-war-theory-in-the-quran-and-sunnah
  223. Ibid.
  224. Quran 2:194
  225. Sahih al-Bukhari 2795
  226. Sahih al-Bukhari 2797
  227. Sahih Muslim 1910
  228. Sahih al-Bukhari 3024, 3025
  229. Ibn Taymiyya, Kitab al-Nubuuwat, v.1 p.570
  230. Translation from Rudolph Peters in Jihad in Classical and Modern Islam
  231. Ibn al-Qayyim, al-Furusiyya
  232. Parrot, Ibid.
  233. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/justin-parrott/the-guiding-principles-of-faith-sincerity-honesty-and-good-will-in-islam/
  234. https://youtu.be/h9d6sZJRNYQ min 2.36
  235. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/forever-on-trial-islam-and-the-charge-of-violence/
  236. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/jonathan-brown/slavery-and-islam-what-is-slavery/
  237. https://muslimmatters.org/2017/02/16/apology-without-apologetics-jonathan-brown/
  238. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udOsbeSJg10
  239. http://www.interfaithunity.ca/essays/Raheel%20islamic%20reform%20is%20alive.htm
  240. https://archive.is/20130103133548/http://www.frontpagemagazine.com/Articles/Read.aspx?GUID=F0D3BDE9-BE93-4D19-90ED-6C5506CD3E82
  241. https://faroukaperublog.wordpress.com/my-thought-systems/
  242. https://altahrir.wordpress.com/2011/12/09/irshad-manji-en-haar-rosa-parks-moment/
  243. https://www.sfgate.com/entertainment/article/A-Muslim-calls-for-reform-and-she-s-a-lesbian-2809919.php
  244. https://apholt.com/2016/06/22/islamic-law-and-homosexuality-an-interview-with-theologian-arnold-yasin-mol/
  245. Critical Thinkers for Islamic Reform
  246. Ibid.
  247. Ibid.
  248. Ibid.
  249. Islamic Human Rights Discourse. Mol, Arnold Yasin. Pg 198
  250. Ibid.
  251. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/ieasha-prime/cultural-muslim-icons-and-islam-in-the-lyrics-islam-and-the-black-american/
  252. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nisa-muhammad/black-and-muslim-how-chaplains-can-empower-marginalized-students/

 

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