Posts

Medina Bombing: Where WE Stand & Why We Must State It Clearly, by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani


In an unprecedented escalation of events, an explosion has occured close to the Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ mosque in Medina, allegedly detonated by a suicide bomber. The Medina bombing comes at the heels of the devastating violence in Iraq, Turkey and Bangladesh in recent weeks. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani makes it clear: where do we stand on such events and should we speak out?

Resources for seekers:

The Plague Within: Shaykh Hamza Yusuf on the Roots of Violent Extremism

Vigilante acts of violence have killed hundreds around the world in the last few days. Shaykh Hamza Yusuf writes plainly on the dark and destructive ideology which underpins groups like ISIS and their sympathisers.

According to a good hadith related by Ahmad and al-Tabarani, the Messenger of God, may God’s peace and blessings be upon him, said, “You will never believe until you show mercy to one another.”
“All of us are merciful, O Messenger of God!” his companions responded.
The Prophet, God’s peace and blessings upon him, explained, “I’m not talking about one of you showing mercy to his friend; I’m talking about universal mercy—mercy towards everyone.”
For those Muslims and people of other faiths who lost loved ones in the recent tragedies in Baghdad two days ago, in Bangladesh last Friday, in Istanbul the day before that, in Lebanon earlier last week, and in Yemen and Orlando last month, I am deeply saddened and can only offer my prayers, even as I am painfully aware of my state of utter helplessness at what has befallen our global community. As I write this, I learned about yet another bombing outside our beloved Prophet’s mosque in Medina, as believers were about to break their fast yesterday, unjustly killing four innocent security guards. Fortunately, due to the blessings of the place, the sound of the explosion was thought to be the boom of the cannon used to announce the time has come to break the fast, so the people in the mosque were not frightened nor panicked. The Prophet, God’s peace and blessings upon him, said, “Whoever frightens the people of Medina has the damnation of God, the angels, and all of humanity.” Needless to say, the horror of these atrocities is compounded because they are being carried out—intentionally—in the blessed month of Ramadan.

A faith-eating plague

A plague is upon us, and it has its vectors. Like the brain-eating amoebas that have struck the warm waters of the Southern states in America, a faith-eating plague has been spreading across the global Muslim community. This insidious disease has a source, and that source must be identified, so we can begin to inoculate our communities against it.
New versions of our ancient faith have sprung up and have infected the hearts and minds of countless young people across the globe. Imam Adel Al-Kalbani, who led prayers in the Haram of Mecca for several years, has publicly stated that these youth are the bitter harvest of teachings that have emanated from pulpits throughout the Arabian Peninsula, teachings that have permeated all corners of the world, teachings that focus on hatred, exclusivity, provincialism, and xenophobia. These teachings anathematize any Muslim who does not share their simple-minded, literalist, anti-metaphysical, primitive, and impoverished form of Islam, and they reject the immense body of Islamic scholarship from the luminaries of our tradition.

The spread of this ideology

Due to a sophisticated network of funding, these teachings have flooded bookstores throughout the Muslim world and even in America, Europe, and Australia. For a case study of what they have spawned, we might look to Kosovo. Our “Islamic” schools are now filled with books published by this sect that lure the impressionable minds of our youth at an age when they are most susceptible to indoctrination. This sect of Islam, however, is not the sole source of our current crisis, and it would be wrong to place all blame on it alone; many of its adherents are peace-loving quietists, who want only to be left alone to practice their faith as they see fit. Their exclusivism is a necessary but not sufficient cause for the xenophobic hatred that leads to such violence. The terroristic Islamists are a hybrid of an exclusivist takfiri version of the above and the political Islamist ideology that has permeated much of the Arab and South Asian world for the last several decades. It is this marriage made in hell that must be understood in order to fully grasp the calamitous situation we find our community in. While the role that Western interventions and misadventures in the region have played in creating this quagmire should not be set aside, diminished, or denied, we should, however, keep in mind that Muslims have been invaded many times in the past yet never reacted like these fanatics. Historically, belligerent enemies often admired the nobility Muslims displayed in their strict adherence to history’s first humane rules of engagement that were laid down by the Prophet himself to insure that mercy was never completely divorced from the callousness of conflict.
We need to clearly see the pernicious and pervasive nature of this ideological plague and how it is responsible for the chaos and terror spreading even to the city of our Prophet, God’s peace and blessings upon him, in all its inviolability. Its most vulnerable victims are our disaffected youth who often live in desolate circumstances with little hope for their futures. Promises of paradise and easy-out strategies from the weariness of this world have enticed these suicidal youth to express their pathologies in the demonically deceptive causes of “Islamic” radicalism. The pictures they leave behind—showing the supercilious smiles on their faces, even as they hold in their hapless hands their Western-made assault rifles—are testament to the effective brainwashing taking place.

Normative voices drowned out

The damage being wrought is not only within Islam but also to Islam’s good name in the eyes of the world. These now daily occurrences of destructive, hate-filled violence are beginning to drown out the voices of normative Islam, thereby cultivating a real hatred in the hearts of those outside our communities. In the minds of many around the world, Islam, once considered a great world religion, is being reduced to an odious political ideology that threatens global security; that, in turn, is proving disastrous for minority Muslim communities, who now abide in increasingly hostile environments in secular societies.

Counter-voices of scholars and activists

What we need to counter this plague are the voices of scholars, as well as grassroots activists, who can begin to identify the real culprits behind this fanatical ideology. What we do not need are more voices that veil the problem with empty, hollow, and vacuous arguments that this militancy has little to do with religion; it has everything to do with religion: misguided, fanatical, ideological, and politicized religion. It is the religion of resentment, envy, powerlessness, and nihilism. It does, however, have nothing to do with the merciful teachings of our Prophet, God’s peace and blessings upon him. Unchecked, we will see this plague foment more such violence, until one day, God forbid, these hateful and vile adherents obtain a nuclear device, the use of which has already been sanctioned by their “scholars,” including one currently imprisoned in Saudi Arabia. If such a scenario unfolds, it is highly probable that the full wrath of Western powers will be unleashed upon a helpless Muslim world that would make even the horrendous Mongol invasions of the 13th century look like a stroll in the park.

“To flee from calamities is the Sunnah of Prophets”

Invariably, some will remark that a fear of Western retaliation is a sign of cowardice. For those zealots, I would recommend turning back to the Qur’an, specifically to reflect on the undeniably brave Messenger Moses, peace be upon him, who unintentionally killed an Egyptian after striking him with his powerful blow, only because he was considered an enemy, and then asked God’s forgiveness and “fled vigilantly out of fear” (28:21). This is a cautionary tale, and it behooves all of us to reflect upon it as a lesson of what not to do when oppressed, especially when we are without political authority or the means to redress our grievances. Imam al-Sahrwardi stated, “To flee from calamities is the Sunnah of Prophets.” It is best not to let our baser self, our lust for revenge, get the better of us.
We would do well to acknowledge that much of what is happening in the Muslim world and to Muslim communities in the West is from what our own hands have wrought. Muslims have been in the West for a long time and have done little to educate people here about our faith; too many of us have been occupied in our wordly affairs, while some of our mosques and schools have been breeding grounds for an ideological Islamism rather than Islam. The Qur’an clearly instructs us that when faced with calamities, we ought to look first at what we may have done to bring them upon us. Introspection is a Qur’anic injunction. Until we come to terms with this Qur’anic truth, we will remain mired in the mirage of denial, always pointing fingers in every direction but at ourselves. “Verily, God does not change the conditions of a people until they change themselves” (Qur’an, 13:11).
As Ramadan comes to a close, let us pray for the oppressed and the guidance of the oppressors, for those who have been killed, and for those who lost their loved ones, and most of all, let us heed our Prophet’s call and want mercy for everyone.

Resources for seekers:

How to stop the cycle of hate, by Imam Khalid Latif

Almost daily there are news reports of hate crimes against Muslims in the United States, the United Kingdom and elsewhere, as well as news of mass terrorist attacks against Muslims in countries like Iraq, Turkey and Bangladesh. Imam Khalid Latif reflects in this article originally published on CNN.

This morning, I woke up to images and stories outlining numerous hate crimes taken place against Muslims in cities throughout the United States just in the last 10 hours. Two Muslim teenagers assaulted in Brooklyn, New York outside of a mosque while the assailant called them “terrorist”, a Muslim doctor ambushed and shot in Houston Texas by three men as he went for morning prayers, and another Muslim beaten in Fort Pierce Florida right outside of an Islamic Center there. These are just the stories reported and that took place less than a day ago. That’s in addition to so many more reported over the last weeks and months, and so many more that just aren’t reported.

Don’t Be A Passive Bystander

If you see something, say something has to mean something different to us today. If you see bigotry, say something. If you see hatred, say something. If you see racism, say something. You and I have to be the change that this world needs. We cannot adopt a bitterness or passivity that lets people who have no interest other than their own self-interest succeed
A failure to acknowledge and deal with illness doesn’t mean that it’s not there. I can pretend like I’m not sick, but my body will let me know otherwise. We can pretend like our society is not in pain and in need of healing, but atrocities like those that took place just even last night will let us know otherwise. The anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States isn’t just rising, it’s really high. An unwillingness and indifference on the part of individuals and institutions to put it in check is a large part of the problem.

Our Sense of Compassion Is Being Obliterated

Our indifference to the narratives of those distinct from our own coupled with our own egocentric priorities places us in the reality that we find ourselves in. Issues of race, class and privilege are the roots of our ailments, and an unwillingness to recognize it is leading us to a terrible place. With every assault, every hate crime, every death, our sense of compassion is being obliterated. With every failure to remedy injustice, we add to the pain. These assailants knew that they were going to attack Muslims. They knew they would find them at the mosques at those specific times. For what reason then with will there be a hesitancy in labeling their actions as anything but a hate crime?
More likely than not we won’t see an outcry against these actions by political leaders of any kind. There will be a continued utilization of Islam as a political football by those who have no real interest in anything other than their own self-interest. Letting hate prevail seemingly didn’t work as a solution to stopping hate, but seemingly that isn’t an issue.
In my opinion if you don’t speak out against it you’re just as bad as the person who is saying it in the first place. What do you think it teaches people when senior officials of major political parties throughout the country are either espousing, and in turn justifying, hatred against Muslims through their words or their silence? What does it teach a broader society about the worth and designation of a population that is over 1.5 billion in number throughout this world?

What Message Are We Sending Out?

The same thing that it teaches the broader society when mosques are kept from being open and built, when unjust surveillance and profiling policies are legitimized and implemented, when media has no problem making cursory links of every and any Muslim to terrorism, but dig deep to connect people of other backgrounds to troubled childhoods and mental health issues, and when politicians are allowed to build racist campaign platforms taking advantage of fear and ignorance. It teaches them that it’s ok for Muslims to be treated differently, to in fact be mistreated, simply because they are Muslim, and that there is no problem with that.
There is, in fact, a huge problem with it.

This Isn’t Just A Muslim Thing

If you think my anger and frustration is only because that there were Muslims who were attacked, then you don’t get it. I feel for these people because they are people. I feel for these people as I feel for Orlando. I feel for these people as I feel for Baltimore, Ferguson and Chicago. I feel for these people as I feel for Turkey, Bangladesh, Iraq and Syria. I feel for these people as I feel for anyone who finds themselves in any type of affliction or conflict. We have seen minorities of all backgrounds get vilified more and more and things have gotten to a point where assaults and even death doesn’t bring about a recognition of their value as humans. We have seen shooting after shooting take place in this country, increasing directly along with our country’s legislators unwillingness to speak about gun control. My anger and frustration stems from the fact that with every act of hatred and our failed responses to it, indifference is becoming more alive and in the process our shared humanity is dying.
Will there be droves of leaders marching in the streets, elbowing each other to make sure they stand at the front of the pack and let the world know that they are outraged by the assaults on Muslims throughout the country? Will they hold vigils to speak out against the realities of hate and address the deeper, systemic issues around race, ethnicity and privilege or even give a simple nod to the signs and symptoms around us indicating their existence? Probably not. But will you stand up, simply because you are able to and it’s the right thing to do?
I am a Muslim. I work as the University Chaplain for New York University. I serve as a Chaplain for the New York City Police Department and am given the rank of inspector. I have traveled on behalf of the State Department, met with the heads of homeland security, senior white house officials and even President Obama himself, shared stages with the likes of Pope Francis and the Dalai lama. I am still one of the many Muslims in this country who have been detained, profiled and surveilled. My home has been visited by the FBI on numerous occasions where I have been told that I am being watched because I am too good to be true. As much as I am seen as antidote, I am first still seen as a poison for no other reason that I choose to practice the faith that I do. That is not ok. But I still believe that we can and will be better.

Be The Change You Want To See

Healing requires admitting we are sick. You and I are a bigger part of the cure than we might realize. On the eve of our Independence Day, we as a nation have a choice to make. At a time when we are still debating whether Black Lives Matter or not, candidates for the highest offices of our land make statements that indicate they speak for and to only a select group of Americans. We can no longer let our perspectives of each other be fueled through a media machine that seeks to sensationalize and bombard readers and viewers with narrative that serves to only segment and antagonize even further. The amplification of extreme voices has to be drowned out by our coming together. The ignorance of ISIS or the Republican right can no longer be the basis of how we function in diverse societies. We must learn the reality of struggles faced by those around us by actually being with them, as opposed to simply through the biased images that are cast in front of us every day. We do not have to be women to stand up women’s rights, black to stand up for black rights, or Muslim to stand up for Muslim rights. An attack on any of us is an attack on all of us. I said it before and I’ll say it again, if you see something, say something has to mean something different to us today. If you see bigotry, say something. If you see hatred, say something. If you see racism, say something. You and I have to be the change that this world needs. We cannot adopt a bitterness or passivity that lets people who have no interest other than their own self-interest succeed. We cannot lose hope – tomorrow will be better than today so long as you do our part. Our coming together of today is only meaningful if we continue to come together tomorrow. Let us be the reason that people have continued hope in this world, and never the reason people dread it.

Resources for seekers:

Do You Think The Killer in Chattanooga Represents Any Of Us? – A Powerful Khutbah by Imam Khalid Latif

Imam Khalid LatifImam Khalid Latif delivered a powerful khutbah on Eid Al-Fitr, shortly after the shooting in Chattanooga, Tennessee in which five people were killed. He calls on Muslims to be the change we want to see in the world. What is it that we want to carry forward? We mustn’t live our lives in reaction to the worst ideas people have of us, he says.

Imam Khalid is a University Chaplain for New York University, Executive Director of the Islamic Center at NYU, and a Chaplain for the NYPD. He is also the co-founder of Honest Chops, the first-ever all-natural/organic halal butcher in NYC, the Muslim Wedding Service, an agency specializing in providing charismatic and inspirational marriage officiants for wedding ceremonies.

 

Resources for Seekers:

ISIS, Sex Slaves and Islam – reflections from Imam Zaid Shakir
The threat to religious guidance

“Peace is always in the middle, never at the extremes”
Fatwa Against Terrorism and the Targeting Of Civilians
On War & Beheading: How ISIS Manipulates Hadiths
On the mass murder of Coptic Christians by ISIS
Islam vs. ISIS: A Letter to Baghdadi from Leading Scholars
Clarity in Crisis: How Believers Look at Trials and How they Respond, Guided by Prophetic Light

On War & Beheading: How ISIS Manipulates Hadiths, by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani addresses a question asked at a session in SeekersHub Toronto, “Is ISIS justified in its ritual slaughter of its enemies and its burning of prisoners and others on the basis of prophetic teachings, specifically in regards to the hadith where the Prophet (saw) is reported to have said, O Quraysh, I have come to you with slaughter?”

All SeekersHub programming during this blessed month is freely available at the Ramadan Hub. Your financial support is crucial to our #SpreadLight campaign, which seeks to provide truly excellent Islamic learning to at least 1,000,000 seekers of knowledge in the coming year! This will serve as an ongoing charity (sadaqa jariyah) so please donate today.

Islam vs. ISIS: A Letter to Baghdadi from Leading Scholars

In response to the recent atrocities happening in Iraq and Syria, a large group of our esteemed scholars got together and wrote an open letter to the ‘Islamic State’ leader Dr. Ibrahim Awwad Al-Badri, alias ‘Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi’, and his fighters. May Allah Most High make the efforts of our scholars successful and bring clarity in these unsettling times.
Due to the far reaching negative effects brought about by such atrocities, we feel it is important to study this letter and the points it raises to refute ISIS/IS philosophies. It is important to be armed with knowledge and the deeper understanding of balanced Islamic principles that have been with the Ummah for fourteen hundred years.
Our Beloved Prophet (may peace and blessings of God be upon him) was sent with a peaceful ideology and as a mercy to the world. We are not a people who hold enemy-centred ideologies. Below is a brief taste of what is in the letter as well as a link at the end to the whole document:
[Don’t Oversimplify Islam]
“It is not permissible to constantly speak of ‘simplifying matters’, or to cherry-pick an extract from the Qur’an without understanding it within its full context. It is also not permissible to say: ‘Islam is simple, and the Prophet (may peace be upon him) and his noble Companions were simple, why complicate Islam?’
…And the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said: ‘Whoever speaks about the Qur’an without knowledge should await his seat in the Fire.’
[Respect the lives of Ambassadors and Emissaries]
“It is known that all religions forbid the killing of emissaries. What is meant by emissaries here are people who are sent from one group of people to another to perform a noble task such as reconciliation or the delivery of a message. Emissaries have a special inviolability.
Ibn Masoud said: ‘The Sunnah continues that emissaries are never killed.’ …Aid workers are also emissaries of mercy and kindness, yet you killed the aid worker David Haines. What you have done is unquestionably forbidden (haram).
[Know the Etiquettes of War]
“When Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq (may God be pleased with him) prepared an army and sent it to the Levant, he said: ‘You will find people who have devoted themselves to monasteries, leave them to their devotions… do not kill the old and decrepit, women or children; do not destroy buildings; do not cut down trees or harm livestock without good cause; do not burn or drown palms; do not be treacherous; do not mutilate; do not be cowardly; and do not loot…’
“As for killing prisoners, it is forbidden in Islamic Law. Yet you have killed many prisoners including the 1700 captives at Camp Speicher in Tikrit in June, 2014; the 200 captives at the Sha’er gas field in July, 2014; the 700 captives of the Sha’etat tribe in Deir el-Zor (600 of whom were unarmed civilians); the 250 captives at the Tabqah air base in Al-Raqqah in August, 2014; Kurdish and Lebanese soldiers, and many untold others whom God knows. These are heinous war crimes.
[Don’t Declare People Non-Muslims]
“Quintessentially in Islam, anyone who says: ‘There is no god but God; Muhammad is the Messenger of God’ is a Muslim and cannot be declared a non-Muslim. God Most High says: ‘O you who believe, when you are going forth in the way of God, be discriminating and do not say to him who offers you peace: “You are not a believer”, – desiring the transient goods of the life of this world. With God are plenteous spoils. So were you formerly, but God has been gracious to you. So be discriminating. Surely God is ever Aware of what you do.’ (Al-Nisa’, 4: 94).
The meaning of ‘be discriminating’ in the above verse is to ask them: ‘Are you Muslims?’ The answer is to be taken at face-value without questioning or testing their faith.
[Respect People of Other Faiths]
“People of the Scripture: Regarding Arab Christians, you gave them three choices: jizyah (poll tax), the sword, or conversion to Islam. You painted their homes red, destroyed their churches, and in some cases, looted their homes and property. You killed some of them and caused many others to flee their homes with nothing but their lives and the clothes on their backs.
These Christians are not combatants against Islam or transgressors against it, indeed they are friends, neighbours and co-citizens. From the legal perspective of Shari’ah they all fall under ancient agreements that are around 1400 years old, and the rulings of jihad do not apply to them.
[Don’t Destroy the Resting Places of Prophets and Companions]
“Destruction of the graves and shrines of Prophets and Companions: You have blown up and destroyed the graves of Prophets and Companions. Scholars disagree on the subject of graves. Nevertheless, it is not permissible to blow up the graves of Prophets and Companions and disinter their remains, just as it is not permissible to burn grapes under the pretext that some people use them to make wine.
[The Rule Regarding Rebelling Against a Country Leader]
“Rebelling against the leader: It is impermissible to rebel against the leader who is not guilty of declared and candid disbelief (al-kufr al-bawwah); i.e. disbelief that he himself admits to openly and where all Muslims are in consensus regarding such a person being a non-Muslim—or by his prohibiting the establishment of prayers. The evidence of this is in God Most High’s words: ‘O you who believe, obey God, and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you …’ (Al-Nisa’, 4:59)
[Is Your ‘Caliphate’ Legitimate?]
“In your speech you quoted the Companion Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq (may God be pleased with him): ‘I have been given authority over you, and I am not the best of you.’ This begs the question: who gave you authority over the ummah? Was it your group? If this is the case, then a group of no more than several thousand has appointed itself the ruler of over a billion and a half Muslims.
This attitude is based upon a corrupt circular logic that says: ‘Only we are Muslims, and we decide who the caliph is, we have chosen one and so whoever does not accept our caliph is not a Muslim.’ In this case, a caliph is nothing more than the leader of a certain group that declares more than 99% of Muslims non Muslim.
On the other hand, if you recognise the billion and a half people who consider themselves Muslims, how can you not consult (shura) them regarding your so-called caliphate?
Thus, you face one of two conclusions: either you concur that they are Muslims and they did not appoint you caliph over them—in which case you are not the caliph—or, the other conclusion is that you do not accept
them as Muslims, in which case Muslims are a small group not in need of a caliph, so why use the word ‘caliph’ at all? In truth, the caliphate must emerge from a consensus of Muslim countries, organisations of Islamic scholars and Muslims across the globe.”
Click here for the Open Letter to Baghdadi
—–
“Muslim youth are confused about how to understand a new group claiming the title of “Caliph” in Iraq. In this khutba (Friday sermon), Shaykh Hamza Yusuf provides guided insights into the reality of our tradition, the mercy of the Prophetic way, and the stark contrast to this that ISIS presents to the world.”

— Ibrahim J. Long

Resources for Seekers: