Editor’s Note: This article should be read in conjunction with this: Bloodlines, Dynasties, and Imran Khan: Who Should Muslims Follow?
Imran Khan is becoming quite the popular face among Muslim youth these days, and not just in Pakistan. Unfortunately, this fandom is becoming more and more of the ‘blind supporters’ kind:
Most among the hordes surrounding Minar-e-Pakistan see Imran Khan as a messiah, whose follies either do not exist or can be attributed to someone else, ideally the corrupt system or a foreign plot.
Whether or not the military engineers the next polls, should the outcome not come in the PTI’s favor, Khan’s faithful, tens of thousands of whom thronged Minar-e-Pakistan on Thursday, are ready to take on whatever comes in between their leader and the throne. If it means taking on the omnipotent military, they say they are up for it. Despite, or maybe because of, his ouster, the cult of Imran Khan is at an all-time high.
The massive rally being referred to took place on Thursday, 28th April 2022.
But the real question is:
Putting all the politics aside including the recent instability in Pakistan’s government, does Imran Khan deserve the allegiance Muslims (and not just Muslims in Pakistan but globally) are lending him? Is he truly the champion of the Ummah, some kind of a ‘Mahdi’ figure who will revive the Khilafah and unite all the Muslims under one banner?
We need a more sober understanding.
One of the biggest deviations to have linked its name to Islam in the world today is extreme Sufism. Particularly in South-East Asia, this movement is getting larger everyday with more people flocking towards it. In fact, let’s take Pakistan as an example of how popular extreme Sufism and shrine worship has become.
Imran Khan, the man who has claimed to want to revive and establish the same Islamic rule that was established during the time of the Prophet ﷺ, dubbing this vision as ‘Riyasat-e-Madinah’, is not only someone who is influenced by perennialist ideologies, but also someone who has in the past publicly prostrated to a dead figure at a famous shrine:
A recent video clip showing Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan prostrating himself at the shrine of a revered Sufi saint in Pakpattan has sparked a heated debate on the social media.
In heat of this, his blind supporters came rushing to his aid, defending him with arguments like ‘it is his personal faith,’ and ‘he is not harming anyone.’ The same old tired liberal rhetoric. However, Khan has put out his own defense as well:
“Millions of people gather at his shrine to show their respects and devotion towards the revered saint. It is wrong to say that I prostrated myself in front of the shrine … I only paid my respects and expressed my devotion towards him by kissing the doorsill of the shrine,” he added.
Is this an acceptable answer though? What about the complete and utter forbiddance of this act towards anyone but Allah?
Ibn Maajah (1853) and al-Bayhaqi (14711) narrated that ‘Abdullah ibn Abi Awfa said: When Mu‘aadh ibn Jabal came from Syria, he prostrated to the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him), who said, “What is this, O Mu‘aadh?” He said, I went to Syria and saw them prostrating to their archbishops and patriarchs, and I wanted to do that for you. The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said, “Do not do that. If I were to command anyone to prostrate to anyone other than Allah, I would have commanded women to prostrate to their husbands. By the One in Whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, no woman can fulfil her duty towards Allah until she fulfils her duty towards her husband. If he asks her (for intimacy) even if she is on her camel saddle, she should not refuse.”
This version was narrated by Ibn Maajah, and was classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Ibn Maajah.
Prostration, or sajda, is the ultimate act of submission to the one it is directed towards, and it is an act that Muslims, who follow Islam (lit. submission), direct only towards Allah, submitting to His Will and His Will alone. Can someone who directs this act towards a long gone human corpse, and performing additional rituals like kissing doorsills, be considered the unchallenged reviver of Islam?
The Muslim Ummah should be outraged that a person claiming to want to bring back the Sunnah would commit such an act.
But why is this extreme form of Sufism so popular these days? In huge part it is due to the rampant ignorance of even the basic teachings of Islam. Many have not learned, sadly, that prostrating in devotion to a grave is a ritualistic act of Shirk.
It is sad to see that certain figureheads our youth look up to these days increasingly consist of popular celebrities who partake in Shirk rituals, whether prostrating to graves or pouring libations.
Even putting this antic aside for a second, does Imran Khan really want to establish ‘Riyasat-e-Madinah’ as he so boldly claims?
On several occasions he has made it abundantly clear that this ‘State of Madinah’ he envisions is one he found in his travels to Western countries, honing in specifically on the tendency of Western civilians to stand up for justice and demand their rights against oppressive governments, that their calling out unjust governments was something to be mimicked in an ideal Islamic nation. This caught several Muslims off guard, as it’s quite clear that the Western, especially American liberal social justice activism has been a tool for generating mindless drones who are brainwashed into thinking what they stand for is justice, while what they actually endorse is whatever the government wants them to endorse. So, does he want Muslims to turn into such drones who only believe in causes the State and its media apparatus tell them to?
It is blasphemous to conflate the current degeneracy of the West’s social justice activism with the Haqq established in Madinah by our Prophet ﷺ.
Let’s Give Credit Where Its Due
Khan is someone who has fervently spoken in favor of our Kashmiri brothers and sisters who are suffering under the Hindutva regime, which many Muslims have applauded him for doing.
However, not once has he spoken in defense of our Uyghur brothers and sisters, suffering under the totalitarian CCP. Instead he has outright denied their genocide:
When asked publicly about the Uighurs, Khan’s responses range from declaring he knows little about the issue to saying he is discussing the matter privately with Beijing. In October 2020, one of his top advisors, Moeed Yusuf, went so far as to say that the government is “100 percent satisfied” that the situation was a “nonissue,” adding: “We have zero concerns, absolutely zero concerns.”
What makes it worse is that under his government, Uyghurs who once found Pakistan a safe haven from the tyranny of China are being bounced right back into their clutches.
I very well understand that the Ummah is fervently in search of a figurehead these days. Someone to look up to and follow. But the thing is, even without an apparent political military figure, we have the best of the best. We have the Messenger of Allah ﷺ to look up to. We have his Companions (May Allah be pleased with them) to look up to. All we need is read about them, and gain knowledge of their actions. Instead, some of us hop on the hype-train and inadvertently end up following a shrine worshipping liberal activist who denies Muslim genocide.
RELATED: The United Nations Rats Out Uyghurs
For a follow-up to this article by the author, read: Bloodlines, Dynasties, and Imran Khan: Who Should Muslims Follow?