Dr. Israr Ahmed’s YouTube channel has just been terminated for alleged anti-Semitism, as the Jewish Chronicle, behind the move, triumphantly announced:
YouTube has finally removed two channels linked to notorious hate preachers including one whose antisemitism inspired a British Islamist to travel to the US to take Jews hostage at gunpoint.
After weeks of pressure from the JC, the tech giant today removed the channel of Israr Ahmed, and on Wednesday removed the channel of Wagdy Ghoniem. Between them, they had a combined total of more than 3.5 million subscribers.
His apparent crime was to promote anti-Semitic content which, it is claimed, was consumed by Malik Faisal Akram, responsible for the relatively recent Texas synagogue hostage siege.
Putting these accusations aside, who exactly was Dr. Israr Ahmed (1932-2010) of Pakistan?
For those in the Indian subcontinent, Dr. Israr needs no introduction at all. Years after his death in 2010, he’s one of, if not the, most popular Islamic scholars among the region’s youth.
This also explains the statistics: as one website puts it, that now deleted YouTube channel had nearly 3 million subscribers, +350 million views and about 4000 videos. Keep in mind that these stats don’t even take into account all other YouTube channels with Dr. Israr’s clips, or the rest of social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, etc., where he as an important presence as well.
No wonder the channel ban created outrage.
RELATED: Are Facebook and Youtube Blocking Orthodox Muslim Content?
Before social media, his audio and video tapes had a circulation of tens of thousands in the region and also wherever there was a South Asian-Muslim diaspora.
Among those influenced by him are the likes of Dr. Zakir Naik, who considers him his main teacher alongside Ahmed Deedat.
The Revolutionary Muslim
Dr. Israr Ahmed was born in modern-day India in 1932, but had to flee to Pakistan as a child because of the 1947 Partition.
The “Dr.” indicates his early intellectual formation, earning an MBBS in 1954, before concentrating on Islamic Studies, getting his Masters in the field in 1965.
Active in student politics, he joined the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (IJT), reaching a high position in what is the student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), which at the time was Asia’s largest Islamic political organization and which still holds influence in Pakistan, with hundreds of thousands of formal adherents and millions more in informal supporters.
Jamaat-e-Islami (“Society of Islam”) was founded in 1941 by Abu al-A’la al-Mawdudi, as a part of the larger Islamic revival which was going on back then, which famously includes Hassan al-Banna’s Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt some two decades earlier.
All these organizations wanted to basically mobilize the masses against European colonialism in particular and Western modernity in general.
Dr. Israr, after spending years in the JeI, eventually quit it in 1957 when the party joined electoral politics. For Dr. Israr it was a sort of betrayal because, by participating in “power politics,” as he termed it, you have to sacrifice the revolutionary nature of Islam.
And that’s how Dr. Israr Ahmed saw himself: as an Islamic revolutionary.
For him Islam was revolutionary by nature, as the constant struggle against Shirk and Kufr had fundamental socio-economic and political implications for society.
He would form his own organization, Tanzeem-e-Islami (“Organization of Islam”), in 1975, which does not delve into politics but chooses to influence society on a wider level, for instance by operating Islamic seminaries in a dozen cities. The main aim of the TeI is to bring a caliphate or khilafa to unite Muslims. Dr. Israr held that the modern nation-state was the most powerful tool of liberalism and secularism.
We could say more about Dr. Israr, for instance how in the 80s he was the first South Asian da’i to regularly appear on television with his own show, on Pakistan’s state-owned (and, back then, only) channel, Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV), before getting kicked out in the 90s for appearing too “radical,” notably on women issues. (He was replaced by Tahir-ul-Qadri, himself a well-known public figure in the country). Later, Dr. Israr was regularly featured on Dr. Zakir Naik’s Peace TV.
Outside his numerous conferences and seminaries, Dr. Israr was also a prolific writer, penning more than sixty books, many translated into English. His Qur’anic lectures in particular were popular, and influenced contemporary speakers like Nouman Ali Khan.
Dr. Israr’s Views
The following are excerpts from Dr. Israr’s writings.
The West’s Cultural Imperialism
In his booklet, perhaps his most popular, Islamic Renaissance: The Real Task Ahead, he wrote:
The West’s occupation of the Islamic world was two-fold, military and political as well as ideological and cultural (…) the fundamentals of Western philosophy, disguised as suspension of judgment or agnosticism, were in fact the denial of God and the life Hereafter. They caused the physical universe to replace the transcendental concepts of God and soul from the center of human concern and inquiry. Numerous scientific discoveries and inventions naturally followed from this exclusive emphasis on worldly interests. Eschatological doctrines of life-afterdeath were completely rejected as topics of research in favor of the immediacy of worldly existence. As a result of persistent and exclusive thinking about the multifarious aspects of worldly life, a number of sociological and politico-economic theories were conceived and put forward.
These theories gradually developed into full-fledged ideologies and world-views. Confined to strictly academic discussion in the earlier stages, these worldviews were later made the social, political, and economic basis of nations. The age-old political systems based on traditional feudalism were replaced by nationalism, dictatorship, and democracy, and ancient economic systems by capitalism and socialism. A number of new political and economic movements emerged in the wake of these changes.
How Modern Science Destroys Materialism
In his book The Process of Creation: A Qur’anic Perspective, translated into English by his brother Dr. Absar Ahmad, himself an important Muslim thinker, we read:
The old paradigm and its classical materialism within the fields of both physics and astronomy have become increasingly outdated. A whole range of phenomena in subatomic/astro physics and astronomy are now being seriously considered. Scientists are working in areas that force them to revise their observational methods, to invent new and more flexible models and to develop more subtle mathematical procedures for interpreting their experimental data. Particle physicists cannot see directly into the subnuclear world they wish to explore and must therefore work indirectly and inferentially.
Modern cosmologists have no hope of ever seeing for themselves the creation of the universe, and infer from that they now see what must have taken place at the beginning of time. In cosmology, as in particle physics, experimental or observational evidence is being replaced with theory and speculation, which is increasingly removed from what can be measured; cosmology may come to be ruled more by aesthetic preference or prejudice than by the traditional principles of science. In fact, some scientists claim that the new physics has freed itself from the old mechanistic world-view found within Newtonian physics and moved much closer to the world-view of religion. The two basic theories of modern physics — quantum theory and the theory of relativity — seem to contain certain features of the theological worldview, in particular the incredible interconnectedness of things and the fundamental unity that underlies the entire universe from the microcosm to the macrocosm.
The Danger of Feminism
In his booklet Religious Obligations of Muslim Women, based on a speech he delivered as early as in 1991, we read in the first pages:
In modern times, in the wake of the feminist movement which, having arisen in the West and now spreading all over the world, the issue of women’s rights, status, and liberation has once again emerged onto the world stage. This time the issue is not as to what is the proper status of women.
Rather, the Western civilization has articulated a response to the problem according to a purely materialistic view devoid of all spiritual, transcendental and traditional considerations and is now coercively enforcing its version onto other civilizations.
Muslim civilization, perhaps the most spiritually motivated, tradition-based, religiously devout civilization present today, is the most defiant in accepting the western ideal of the modern female. It is for this reason that the Muslim civilization is the prime target of the present “Women Lib” propaganda.
The Curse of Nationalism
About nationalism he writes in his Lesson From History, another of his popular books:
The most tragic and lamentable aspect of this history is the fact that the Western Imperialism had succeeded in destroying Muslim unity and their esprit de corps. Although Muslims were never a single political entity after the decline of the Umayyads, they still remained thoroughly connected and unified because of their common beliefs and life-style. However, the seeds of racial prejudice and nationalistic chauvinism — planted by the Western Imperialism in the beginning of the 20th century — not only weakened that sense of brotherhood and ultimately led to the winding up of Caliphate, but are still producing their bitter fruits in the form of our growing disharmony.
This malignant trend of fragmentation along ethnic, territorial, and linguistic lines has resulted in the carnage suffered by the Turks at the hands of their Arab brethren, and the massacre and utter humiliation suffered by non-Bengali Muslims at the hands of their Bengali brethren in what was then East Pakistan. The insanity of fratricide, according to the Qur’an, is one of the manifestations of Divine punishment:
Say: “He has power to send you retribution form the skies above, or the earth beneath your feet, or confound you with divisions among you, and give one the taste of the vengeance of the other.” (Al-An‘aam 6:65)
So… What Is His Legacy?
We’ve seen Dr. Israr Ahmed have nuanced and erudite takes on a lot of different subjects which coincide with those treated by MuslimSkeptic, and we could add more themes, such as the practical implementation of the khilafa or the fight against riba (usury and interest).
He still has a lot to offer in many fields, and this is probably why he’s still so popular, even among the youth, more than a decade after his return to Allah.
A good way to counter this YouTube ban would perhaps be to popularize Dr. Israr Ahmed beyond South Asia’s Muslims, in’sha’Allah.
For those who want a good introduction to Dr. Israr Ahmed in English, and in his own words, here is an interview from 2004 given to Dr. Zakir Naik’s Peace TV. The interviewer is Dr. Naik’s brother:
Masha-Allah, a great muffakkir. Dr. Sahab’s works needs to be circulated to larger audiences, and it’s great to see that Muslim skeptic has written about him..
May Allah have mercy on him and elevate his ranks.
Me and my brothers use to listen to him and get spiritual motivation through him even though being from a Tablighi background.
I have been following Muslim skeptic for quite some time and so far you guys haven’t disappointed me. I regularly share your posts amony my cousins and friends
He was no doubt one of the greatest scholars of our times. Truthful, courageous, man of integrity who loved Allah swt and His Rasool like they should be loved. His love of Quran and his understanding regarding all the fields was exemplary. Yes brother Daniel he was a man of truth like you and he surely wasnt loved by the enemies of Allah swt.
Jazakallah khair for this wonderful introduction of Dr Israr. He truly was an inspiration and a revolutionary figure and very popular in the subcontinent. His predictions done in 1990s are being actualised now and more to realise in future. His talks should be spread across the world.
The Jewish chronicle is hypocritical and shameless. There are loads of people in America who spread senseless hate and nothing else. But no, they had to go after someone who not only taught the most beneficial things to humanity but was like a father to all the religiously devout youth with the excuse being some fan of his took the lives of some Jews. How would they react if their favourite rabbis were banned just because some fan of theirs shoots a Palestinian?”ANTISEMITISM!” is my guess.
They always complain about them ruling the world being some conspiracy theory but this shows that while that may not be true, they sure have enough power to do something only globally powerful people can do while we can visit the lion’s den(the den of Islamophobia in all forms of social media) and nobody tries to bring an end to that.
Very beautifully penned
Being from India I can say that watching Dr. Israr’s lectures gave me hope in Islam and an escape from the the depressing nature of nationalistic politics as well as from the Sufi Jahilliyah prevalent in my country. In my view, he was the greatest scholar from the Sub-continent as he highlighted the dynamic and political nature of Islam and continued the work of previous such scholars like Allama Iqbal, Muhammad Rafiuddin etc.
Alhamdulillah the writer has done justice with this article. Dr. Israr’s Bayan Ul Quran and his efforts for re-establishing the Khilafah are invaluable to most from the South Asian part of the world.
Dr israr was a mountain of a man, mashallah had the chance to meet him on many occasions. Allah grant him al firdaus
JazakALLAH khairan for sharing about Dr.Israr(RA)’s video ban… well for Dr.Israr i can easily say that “ I havent seen a scholar of islam like him so far in my life” ….HE WAS SIMPLY BRILLIANT. Unfortunately language changes the feel but if u are from the subcontinent and can understand urdu/hindu and Sir Allam Iqbal’s poetry than u have no choice but to love him.
May the Almighty reward you all with best and always keep you all in his loved ones,Ameen
Happy to see a brief bio of Dr.Israr on MuslimSkeptic.
Had Daniel knew Urdu, surely Dr, Israr would have been on top list of his favorite speaker.
These zionist and liberal forces would not suceed Insha allah
may his soul rest in peace and may Allah forgive him and us. ameen
His biggest contribution is restoring the connection to the Quran in the life and thought of today’s Muslims. Everything else follows. I credit my own reformation in large part to Bayanul Quran which was his rendition of an oral tafseer. He was a gifted orator and listening to his translation/tafseer in the Urdu language gave the listener a flavor of the powerful Quranic oral tone, which is lost if reading a written text in your own voice. May Allah bless his soul.