Behave Yourselves! The Crimes Of Tim Winter And The ‘New Atheists’ Compared

Stalwart of traditional Islam and Cambridge University professor Tim Winter, has recently come under a barrage of criticism for comments he made about the undesirability of homosexuality many years ago before taking up his post. Liberals and Gay rights campaigners have expressed horror that a man with such views could a) express them b) be a part of public life.

It appears criticising homosexual ‘behaviour’ is off-limits. So are there other ‘behaviours’ criticising which is off limits? Is Tim Winter ignorant of something the rest of us know?

Religion is a behaviour: it may have an evolutionary/genetic component if you believe that stuff or it may be environmentally determined in some other way (like conditioning) or it may be innate and true, as is our claim as religious people.

Homosexuality is also a behaviour: it may have an evolutionary/genetic component according to some materialistically minded people or it may be environmentally determined according to people of a more behaviourist bent or it may be innate and an essential component of someone’s personhood, as is the claim of many homosexuals.

Can we agree that religion and sexuality are both ways in which people act according to some ideation they have at the level of mind? Or brain if you prefer? At the very least we can agree that a man putting on a hat and deciding to go to Church or a man getting dressed up to go to a gay club are ‘behaviours’, as is almost everything we are seen to do, from expressing our ideas in books to the way we look after our personal hygiene.

Some behaviours are dangerous, or proscribed by society and the state or are approved of and sanctioned by them. Even some dangerous behaviours, like spelunking or joining the army and entering combat, are sanctioned or even encouraged by the law or state.

Can we criticise all, some, or no behaviours? Clearly everyone has some system (legal/religious/moral) by which certain behaviours are either labelled as bad or immoral (religion) or labelled bad and punished (religion/nation states/legal systems) or punished with being labelled bad (modern legal systems). For example, if I commit adultery, it nowhere in most systems of secular law says this is an immoral act or that I am bad, but I may be punished with a punitive divorce settlement. So without doubt, in every and all societies, some behaviours, even if it is just incest or cannibalism or murder, are seen as bad, criticised or even punished. This is uncontroversial.

So this leads us to the question that since some behaviours are criticised, are there any which are above criticism or are sacrosanct and on what basis do we decide this?

What I am getting at, is that do we as a society think that criticising, say, homosexual behaviour or something like patriotism is beyond the pale? Is it completely unacceptable? Is criticising religious behaviour the same?

As a society, we fully endorse and allow criticism of religion in the exact same terms that we allow criticism of murder or rape: Christopher Hitchens compares religious believers with the plague-carrying rats in Albert Camus’s novel ‘The Plague’. ‘If I could wave a magic wand and get rid of either rape or religion’, Harris explains, ‘I would not hesitate to get rid of religion.’

So the recently deceased Hitchen’s reason for lambasting the behaviour known as ‘religion’ is that he must speak out against it since it is worse than rape. No doubt he will argue that religion leads to rape or worse, murder etc. He also says that it is licit to wipe out religious behaviour completely and without the consent or consultation of anyone (i.e by the supra – fascist process of waving a wand and unilaterally getting rid of it and imposing the absence of religion on everyone. Because you want to) and we allow this and very rarely has anyone apart from religious people said that he should not be allowed to say such things, not be allowed to address universities, public gatherings, children, translate books or that he is preaching hatred or is an extremist.

In fact, to show the approval of criticising behaviours, we as a society have allowed people to even criticise the mere holding of ideas, even if they do not actualise as behaviours, in exactly the same way. Hence we have the spectre of Hitchen’s sadly still respiring colleague Sam Harris stating that perhaps some people should be put to death for holding sufficiently dangerous ideas (1). Who decides what is and is not such a dangerous idea is never made clear (perhaps we should have killed Einstein for thinking up the ideas that led to the Nuclear Bomb?). Nor is it ever clarified how exactly we go about killing an idea.

The societal consensus of modern Western Civilization is that this discourse is licit and in fact may even be necessary or true, and therefore should be giving not only free reign but perhaps even preference.

It is also licit, as the economy worsens and the Far Right rises through Europe to extradite gypsies, and blame immigrants for changing the face of society.

Some ethnic and sexual minorities which were traditionally persecuted (Jews, women and homosexuals) have been ‘rehabilitated’ and are now ‘no-go’ areas whose practitioners and members reach ‘God-like’ levels infallibility and any criticism of their behaviour is almost reflexly anti-semetic, sexist or homophobic, as opposed to ‘understandable’ criticism of behaviour or ideas, like, you know, Hitchens or Harris. Interestingly, these persecuted minorities have been replaced by others (immigrants, gypsies, Muslims) much like how slavery ‘coincidentally’ ended around the same time as the Industrial Revolution. You know, given that the fact that you could now mechanise industries where you previously needed to have slaves to make them profitable had nothing to do with the fact that we realised that slavery was bad, like, all of a sudden.

Recently we have had a hue and cry surrounding a Muslim University Professors’ criticism of homosexual behaviour as unnatural, immoral and a perversion. We have seen rabid cries for his removal, for him to be shunned.


But since we don’t have an approved list of behaviours which we can and cannot criticise (*apart from committing or inciting bodily harm or Holocaust denial) and it seems alright to talk about immigrants and religious believers in terms which would make a Nazi blush as above, how was the lecturer in question to know that homosexual behaviour, unlike religious behaviour, was ring-fenced and agreed to be above criticism? After all, the vast majority of people have believed in and practised homosexual acts throughout history, homosexual acts fed the sick, comforted the poor, built empires…oh hang on, wait. What I mean was it is fine to brutally assault the feelings, achievements and beliefs of the majority of humanity today and of the past and compare them to vermin and cast them as a disease and stain upon civilization, but doing that to homosexuals would be wrong right? Because…

Substitute ‘Gays’ for ‘Muslims’

Lets imagine that Winter had spoken of homosexual behaviour in the way the aforementioned spoke of believers, Muslims, immigrants, for example in the bold parts of the text:

‘I would not hesitate to rid the world of gays. If I could get rid of all of them by waving a magic wand I would do so. Being gay is responsible for so many rapes. In fact, it’s worse than rape cos the main thing that causes men to rape each other or anally rape women is being gay. In fact, holding the idea that homosexual behaviour is better than heterosexual behaviour could destabilise society so badly and cause the fabric of civilization to change so much that even holding such an idea deserves to be dealt with by imprisonment.  Also, lets face it, in the last ten years, gays have completely changed the face of Britain, we can;’t even recognise it as the same country. Gays have moved in next door and keep to their own community but try to chat up our poor straight boys. They are listening to their happy music all day long and always having their weird ‘festivals’. In a few years, there may not even be any straight people left in this area.

Also, I don’t mind if they are gay, but why do they have to dress like that in public? Why don’t they dress like ‘normal’ people? I don’t want then shoving their gay-ness in my face with their weird dress code and tight tops. In fact, I think they should just all go and move somewhere else.

By the way, I am not saying all gay people rape men, but all people who rape men are gay (not all Muslims are terrorists but…). The gay community needs to speak out against male rape and HIV and that stuff. Why don’t they condemn it when it happens? I think after stuff like that happens, gay groups should not be allowed to hang up those rainbow flags in that area, out of respect for the victims. And, I didn’t want to bring this up, but they do all want to bring the age of consent down to twelve like it is in Spain. Because some of the believe in underage sex. Look at Holland. I’m sorry, but having sex with a twelve year old makes you a paedophile. What else do you call it?’

The above comments are disgusting and reprehensible, and were someone to make them for real, then that person should be locked up.

The only problem is, all of those comments have been made for real, about Muslims and immigrants, just as they were made about Jews, women and homosexuals in the past. Let’s face facts, if people talked about Homosexuals or Jews or ‘blacks’ the way they speak about immigration or Muslims they would get locked up, as they say in London, ‘one time’. And the hideous diatribe above, terrible though it is, is merely replacing ‘Muslims’ with ‘gays’.

What the Gay Lobby and Zionist groups as well as militant secularists and atheists need to realise is we can have a total free for all where we talk to each other like the Third Reich or we can respect behaviours and critique them in a civilised manner. We can’t have a selective free for all where anything goes on a particular target that happens to be vulnerable at the moment while using ‘protected’ minorities (for now) like homosexuals to show that we aren’t bigots since they’re ‘all-right’, it’s just the Muslims and gypsies that are the problem. Because that is how fascists act. Hitler wasn’t any less of a racist because he had an alliance with the Japanese (or decidedly non-Aryan Italians for that matter). And being ‘nice’ to gays does not mean that people like Harris can use the same language which was used to attack them in the past on the scapegoat of the week. And if we allow this kind of discourse to go on, then all groups will only have themselves to blame when their behaviour is attacked in the same terms that Muslims is. It will be largely their fault for allowing such an ill disciplined discourse in the first place

In short, we need to behave ourselves.

(1) ‘Some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them’ Sam Harris, The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror and The Future of Reason p52-53

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If You DON’T Like It, Put a Ring On It: Why ‘Islamic’ Relationship Advice Is Rubbish

Oh gosh! It looks like it was a lot easier for the Muslims in my day! I do hop this chap is wrong!

There is a growing and lucrative industry which has developed around ‘Muslim Marriages’ and relationships. We have had everything from BBC documentaries about the trials and tribulations facing Muslims who want to marry to frequent ‘marriage conferences’ where people will be ‘Islamicly supervised’ (for a fee of course) and even ‘Muslim Speed Dating’.

Although non-Muslims may be amused, Muslims themselves seem to be in denial of the evidence that something has gone badly wrong in romantic relationships amongst their community. If pressed, they will fall back on the fact that divorces are less common amongst Muslim couples (although that’s fast changing) or taking comfort that at least they are not as ‘out of control’ and poly-amorous as their Non-Muslim friends (whereas in reality they themselves are often ‘non-amorous’, hardly something to yell from the rooftops about).

Part of the problem is that they will be unhappy with terminology such as ‘romantic relationships’ in the first place; in fact most of us have an almost ingrained discomfort with the phrase I have used above. They would be far happier if I called it the ‘Muslim marriage situation’ or even ‘sexual problems of Muslims’ because they are used to hearing the discourse in these terms. ‘Romance’ is another thing entirely, and it makes us decidedly uncomfortable.

For example, I have heard the story of The Prophet’s (SAW) marriage to his first wife Khadija (RA) countless times in mosques and lectures by Muslim ‘scholars’. It is ‘played’ for a number of things: to show that she was an independent woman, that she was older than him, even to show that The Prophet (SAW) married young. But it is never played for ‘romance’. It was not until I read Gai Eaton’s masterpiece ‘Islam and the Destiny of Man’ that I read that Muhammad’s (SAW) future bride had been attracted to him because of his good-looks as well as his character. All the other accounts had bizarrely missed this bit out, as if it was taboo or might be somehow corrupting. A guy running a famous Islamic bookshop once chided me when I asked for Martin Ling’s biography of Muhammad (SAW) since amongst other alleged enormities, it portrayed one of the Prophet’s (SAW) marriages in ‘romantic’ terms. He was of course, entirely comfortable in anathematising Lings for this  infraction.

This brings us to one of the problems the Muslim community faces when it comes to marriage and relationships: a stark denial of the realities of life. A denial not found in the Classical Islamic Sources, but imported from a kind of cultural squeamishness that characterises certain Muslim groups. Paradoxically, these same people who are squeamish at the slightest hint of romance, (as in the account of the Prophet’s (SAW) meeting with Hazrat Khadijah (RA)) then outdo each other to address questions asked by their congregations (often anonymously online) about topics as vulgar as whether ‘Golden Showers’ are allowed in the bedroom or whether a dildo is a legitimate device for pleasuring one’s wife. Rather than stating the obvious, that people asking these questions have been heavily influenced by pornography, they indulge them in a perversion of democracy, since questions on perverse sexual acts are far too common amongst Muslim questioners to ignore, just look online or at the contents of the recent well known and oft printed book on sexual etiquettes by a Deoabandi Mufti from the U.K.

However, when it comes to meeting and choosing a mate, the discussion is scant and invariably preluded with Hadith such as this:

“A woman may be married for four things: her wealth, her lineage, her beauty and her religious commitment. Seek the one who is religiously-committed, may your hands be rubbed with dust.”

The fact of the matter is that all Muslim men and women who maintain any kind of link with the ‘mosque’ or the ‘community’ will be aware of the emotional and ‘religious’ blackmail that is inflicted upon both genders to get them to ‘marry for the deen’, which usually means marrying someone who isn’t ‘all that’ and then making up the deficit by saying ‘well at least he’s/she’s religious’. Often, this Hadith is grossly inappropriately co-opted towards that end. It’s just like a used car salesman trying to get you to buy ‘a good little runner’. That maybe so, but it’s still your money and you should spend it wisely.

Ignoring how the Hadith is actually meant to be understood, what it is used by these individuals to convey to both men and women is ‘don’t worry about looks (or anything else, but especially looks), all you need to look at is religiosity’. This is not the correct understanding of the Hadith, since even Deobandi authorities admit that the Hadith is only to be applied once a person is physically attracted enough to another to even consider them for marriage. in fact, there are two problems from the start for those who use it in the way I mentioned (i.e. as emotional blackmail for marrying people you don’t even fancy): the hadith does not say ‘Muslim women are married for four reasons’, it just says ‘women’, and in the context of male exogamy in Islam  it does not help those trying the ‘I know he’s ugly but he’s soooo religious! How can you turn him down! Look at his beard!’ argument. So if taken literally it means out of all women (including Jews and Christians), marry the religious one’s, not just from Muslim women. Needless to say, this is not what they would like it to convey. Secondly, it is not a command, it is an advice.  It is not a portent of doom for those not prioritising religiosity and ignoring all else. A person is not at all sinful for marrying someone purely because of the way they look or for their wealth, although it would of course be somewhat unwise.

Then there is the issue of these ‘hadith hurlers’ ignoring narrations that conflict with the impression they are trying to get across, you know, like all the narrations telling people to check out their potential spouses appearance, even if they have to hide in their garden to do it.

For example, in the narration below, a woman flagrantly presents herself, sans mahrem, for amrriage to the Prophet (SAW) in front of a group of Shahabah. This hadith is normally omitted by the ‘do it because the Hadith says so’ contingent since what ensues does not help them make the point they want:

It is related from Sahl ibn Sa’d that a woman came to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and said, “Messenger of Allah, I have come to give myself to you (to dispose of in marriage).” The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, looked at her and raised his glance to her carefully and then lowered his head. When the woman saw that he had not made any decision about her, she sat down. One of his Companions stood up and said, “Messenger of Allah, if you have no need of her, then marry her to me.” He asked, “Do you have anything [to give her]?” He said, “By Allah, no, Messenger of Allah.” He said, “Go to your family and see if you can find something.”…

Another narration clearly contradicting the ‘marry for the deen, don’t care about looks or physical attraction’ ethos:

Jameelah Bint Salul complained to the Prophet about her husband. ‘By God! I do not dislike him for any fault in his character or faith, but I dislike his ugliness.

By God! If I had no fear of God, I would have spat in his face when he came to see me. O Messenger of God! You see how beautiful I am and that Thabit is an ugly man. I don’t blame him for his faith and character, but I fear disbelief in Islam’. Muhammad then enquired, ‘Will you return the garden that he gave you?’ She answered, ‘Oh Messenger of God! If he asks for more, I am prepared to give him even more’. The Prophet said, ‘Not more, but return the garden’.

Then he ordered that Thabit should accept the garden and the separation. 


This is hugely problematic for the ‘marry for the deen’ movement: How can she say that about a man of unquestioned piety? It’s almost too blatant. But look at the Prophet’s (SAW) accommodating response: He certainly does not tell her to ignore looks and marry for the deen or piety, in fact he allows her divorce on the grounds of looks alone! But you won’t hear this Hadith mentioned, though it relates an important context for understanding the first, the same way you will not hear that the first Hadith is general to ‘women’ and not ‘Muslim women’, which could yield a different spectrum of meanings than the ones they would like.

Why am I Hadith Dropping? 

The sad methodology which is prevalent nowadays of trying to settle arguments by merely quoting Hadith at each other and stating if they are ‘sahih’ or not (often according to Albani for those predisposed to this method), regardless of one’s Islamic academic background and the fact that there are many Sahih Hadith which are rejected by consensus and many weak ones which are accepted by consensus,  is a sign of the ignorance of people who use said methodology. A Hadith being sahih does not mean that it is necessarily acted on or taken into aqeeda. The fact of a hadith being ‘Sahih’ in Islam is a starting, not finishing, point for the theologians and jurists in Islam, the same way as the functioning of a drug is merely the starting point for it’s use by doctors. Just as we do not treat by ‘pharmacist’ alone, we do not solve problems by taking Hadith which are Sahih out of their context and jurisprudential framework. I myself am only showing these Hadith examples to show the inconsistency even by their own methodology of people who the late Egyptian jurist Muhammad Al Ghazzali called ‘Hadith hurlers’.

It Doesn’t Work Anyway

Let’s say you did want to ‘marry for the deen’, and only looked at (appearent) religiosity. Assessing someone’s religiosity without getting to know them a little first in the vast, sprawling and anonymous cities of today is next to impossible. How does one do the necessary background checks? How does one know how long a suitor has been ‘practising the deen’ (or will continue to do so) knowing that there are many who ‘find God’ when it comes to approaching someone for marriage: You have to take someone’s else’s word for it, knowing that really they don’t know either, or judge based on ‘external appearance’ such as beard length or jilbab ‘tightness’ (always dangerous but preferred by those who abuse the Hadith since it helps them get what they want and relieves them of the complexities of real life. To which you will of course be subjected to again once you are married) or get a private detective (at least that’s logical).

The fact remains that if you don’t know the person and look into them for yourself, nothing is guaranteed, including their religiosity or even their sexuality. Throwing caution to the wind and ‘trusting in Allah’ since you are ‘marrying for the deen’ is not going to save you, since Allah didn’t instruct you to act like that. This is one of those situations where The Prophet (SAW) told the Companion who trusted his camels’ safety to God to tie his camel and then entrust the rest to God. You know, your life being more important than a camel and all.

In another gambit to make people leave their better judgement to the dogs, Muslims are often told that ‘romance comes after marriage’, but no evidence is ever offered for this. The implication of course is that you should ‘marry for the deen’ and then the rest will be taken care of by God (the fact that he never said he would do this and advised you to marry people whom you are attracted to in the first place is conveniently ignored). But if you didn’t fancy the guy because of his sweat patches to start with, it’s hardly likely to develop into a great romance is it? If you don’t know the guy’s habits and manners, temperament or hygiene, thenthe length of his beard is not going to save the relationship (*leave aside the fact that the beard length is only a recommended Sunnah issue and not an issue of sinfulness as many would have you believe). Nor is her hijaab and five times prayer going to change the fact that you can’t stand the sight of her. These things are independently existent facts that should not be ignored under the invented category of  ‘marrying for the deen’ since the ‘deen’ didn’t ask you to do that. The fact is that religion is used to underwrite reckless gambles in the Muslim marriage market.

Which brings us to the guys running the ‘casino’. Or should that be the Mafia running the casino?

‘If you don’t play the game, don’t make up the rules’

This was something which was rather unkindly said to Pope John Paul regarding the issue of contraception. It applies here since young Muslims should be careful of advice such as ‘marry for the deen’ with (invariably) selective reading of Hadith from the two groups which tend to dish it out: Muslim ‘scholars’ (apostrophes compulsory) and University Islamic Society cadres aka (apostrophes not needed, since ‘cadres’ is the perfect word)aka ‘practising’ brothers/sisters (apostrophes needed again).

Why? Because they are not playing the ‘find a life partner’ game with the same rules or even on the same playing field as you are.

Allow me to elaborate: What these groups will invariably decry young (and nowadays, not so-young) Muslims for is interacting or ‘mixing’ with the opposite sex, even for the legitimate purpose of finding a husband or wife, due to the risk of ‘illicit relations’. Of course the risk is real (as is the risk of dying a virgin, but they tend not to tell you that bit). What they fail to mention is that they themselves probably have the highest frequency of contact with the opposite sex of any members of the community. Thus they find it relatively easy to meet and assess a large number of (usually)women and then have opportunities to court them (not that they will ever admit it though). They are the ‘rock stars’ or celebrities of that group if you like. This is obvious if one thinks about it since scholars and ‘Muslim speakers’ are always interacting with female members of their audiences with the benefit of celebrity allure very much like their secular equivalents. They then find it very easy to criticise young Muslims who may talk to the opposite sex or God-forbid go to a public place with them for a coffee, since they do not see the need for ‘free-mixing’ because they themselves already get it (in effect).

I mean come on: if Tom Cruise told you he didn’t see why people had to hang around in the Students Union and ‘free mix’ to meet girls you wouldn’t take his advice seriously would you? You would know that he lives according to a different set of social rules and parameters to you due to his celebrity status. You may not like it, but few would deny the reality.

Take for example University Islamic Society cadres who are forever having ‘meetings with the sisters to discuss next weeks [insert event/excuse here]’. They have an ‘Islamic’ reason to interact with the opposite sex, they reap the rewards and get first pick of eligible males/females and then the condemn others who don’t have that privilege – usually because they themselves robbed them of it by ‘segregating’ all events and acting like Big Brother or Big Sister to any boy or girl who gets out of line and making them feel like a ‘player’ or a ‘whore’ respectively.

An adjunct to these individuals hypocrisy and lack of empathy is their flagrant deviation on a ‘principle’ of ‘whatever leads to haraam is itself haraam’, which they apply to everyone but themselves, who unlike the rest of the practising Muslims actually have a lot of opportunity for said haraam. They also tend to forget that this principle is infinitely broad and can be used to prohibit everything from going out, getting an education, going to the mosque etc. (as indeed it has been).

It is also useful to note that male ‘Muslim speakers’ seem to display, in accordance with the ‘special access’ they get to members of the opposite sex, the highest rate of polygyny in the Muslim community: a vastly disproportionate number of ‘Muslim Speakers’ have or have had more than one wife, including most of the well known ones in England. Which is funny, as they all prohibit free mixing and always keep their gaze lowered and avoid what leads to contact with the opposite sex.

Fasting is a Catch All Remedy For Sexual Frustration! Islam Says So!

No it isn’t and no it doesn’t.

Another Hadith which the self-appointed authorities of Muslim communities like to (ab)use is the one telling people who are unable to marry to fast as a means of controlling and managing their sexual desires, which in Islam can only really be assuaged in marriage. Coming from The Prophet (SAW), this is of course excellent advice and makes perfect  sense. However, this beautiful hadith, which was of course combined with the admonishment to actually marry as that is the best solution, is wheeled out as a catch-all remedy for people who want to marry but can’t. Even if they have been trying for years. Even if they have been trying for decades. This is an abuse of the advice, and none of the  often rotund scholars who proffer it seem to have fasted for very long, let alone the years on end they imply that the poor unmarried souls should. It is nowhere understood in classical Islam that it is advised to fast indefinitely if one cannot marry, it is clearly only a ‘holding measure’ and an excellent one at that.

Uh, O.K. But Lowering Your Gaze Fixes Everything!

In a similar vein, the recommendation of ‘lowering one’s gaze’ is used as another ‘Deus Ex Machina’ to answer questions relating to sexual frustration. Exactly how long can one lower one’s gaze? For years? Decades? And they conveniently omit that marriage to an attractive person is the best method for lowering one’s gaze according to no less than the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) himself. They also conveniently forget to mention that some scholars such as Al Ghazzali explain that lowering one’s gaze means merely not staring obstinately, rather than not looking at all or looking down reflexively while talking to a member of the opposite sex, since that does not support what they want to get out of this ‘prohibition’. But we shall have to forgive them that, since they are probably exhausted from the prolonged regimen of fasting which they are prescribing for unmarried men (and women BTW, though many of these individuals seem to forget that women are subject to sexual desires and urges too, unless of course they happen to be their daughters or wives in which case they are suspected of nothing but).

The very same cohort also neglect to mention that if one is looking for the purpose of considering someone as a partner (i.e husband or wife), one can stare continuously,  repeatedly and with lust. And that since people who are not married and end up as forty year old virgins (and there are a LOT of them about in the Muslim community) happen to be viewing just about every member of the opposite sex like a starving inmate, they could probably refute them by saying they were considering everyone for marriage. But perhaps we should let that slide as well.

We Don’t Need No Education

What is my point with all this?

Sometimes a little knowledge is more dangerous than no knowledge at all and this is particularly true when it comes to the misapplication of Islam in the field of finding a spouse.

What I am trying to get across is that having the wrong idea about male -female relationships and how to interact with the opposite sex to find a partner can have disastrous consequences. You should certainly at least know if the person ‘teaching’ you has an agenda or a bias (as I have tried to show above that they do). People will no doubt retort me by saying ‘even if you are right, they are only doing it for your own good!’ Whether the error is conscious or unconscious should be of no concern to you, since whatever their intentions, harm can still be done, like a bad doctor who kills his patients while claiming he is trying to help them.

What’s the worst that could happen? Well just as by ignoring the warnings about illicit sex, one could get oneself and one’s soul in hideous trouble, by messing up one’s marriage or ending up celibate due to trying to avoid the same to an excessive extent or in the wrong way can similarly lead one to a different disaster – that of never having ‘known’ a man or a woman.

Or worse, of never having known romantic love.

When The Prophet (SAW) tells us that marriage is half of iman, we should fear not being able to marry as much as or more than we fear ‘free mixing’ or ‘sexual relationships outside marriage’.

It’s Your Fault. Or God’s. Or Anyone Else’s. Just Not Ours.

People much enamoured with their ‘Islamic community’ or local mosque or favourite scholar will almost certainly not be convinced by my tirade in the slightest.

In this they will be supported by the counter-examples of guys (or more rarely, girls) who ‘did alright for themselves’ (i.e scored a good looking, practising ‘sister’) and will no doubt be hoping for the same good fortune themselves  Yet over time, they will realise that I have a point. Those guys who did alright for themselves in the ‘Islamic system’ are the same as the ones who do well finding a partner in the arranged marriage or even the secular system –  those are the one’s who have an ‘angle’ – some way of impressing or getting access to eligible members of the opposite sex.

Since most of you reading this do not fall into the ‘privileged’ category mentioned above, it may be wise to take the advice on how to find a spouse offered by those who are with a pinch a of salt. Because if you don’t and end up left on the shelf, you will move to the next stage of the game: the ‘post mortem examination’ or ‘The Blame Game’.

You see, when you want to get a partner or have failed to get one despite trying your best, you will again go to these scholars and cadres of  ‘practising’ brothers sisters and they will do one of two things: blame you outright (favourite allegations include: ‘You don’t have enough religious knowledge, you need to practice more’, ‘You aren’t a scholar or student of knowledge’, ‘You are too old’, ‘You are o.k but your father/mother/sister/next door neighbour isn’t practising enough’, ‘You went to university/got a job and missed the boat’, ‘Maybe God hasn’t written for you to get married’ etc etc…) or set you up with someone who, to be brutally honest, no one else wants to marry, and when you refuse, tell you to ‘Marry them for their piety‘, ‘Fear God’ or just blame you again.

There are many variations on this, which I hope you don’t find out, but none of them involves blaming the community: it must be your fault.

Which brings me to the biggest thing omitted when they are telling you their favourite narrations about how you should marry for the deen and not bother about anything in a partner other than their religiosity: The Quran  which orders the believers:

Marry those single amongst you…[24:32]

Yes, you did read it right: the Quran says it is the duty of everyone to help single people to get married. And the shocking thing is it doesn’t say single Muslims but just ‘single’. So you could even perhaps say that you have to help your non-Muslim friends to marry. And it sounds like a strong encouragement doesn’t it?

So no, it isn’t (just) your fault.

The simple fact is if you have no access to the opposite sex, you are not going to be able to get married. If everyone else was in the same boat then at lest that would mean that people could get hooked up eventually. But it isn’t the case: the most eligible candidates are picked off by the same people telling you to ‘marry for the deen’ and enforcing ‘segregation’ (on others).

By the time you enter the field it’s going to look like the last day of the Harrod’s sale. Interestingly, this whole problem had been identified and commented on by non-Muslims for years.

I believe they call it ‘c**kblocking’…

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Mass Media Memes

Funny Memes

Although many atheists rightly find Richard Dawkins and his agnostic Jehovah’s Witness act nauseating, (much as most Catholics found the last Pope an embarrassment, but hey, wha’cha gonna do?), he has blessed us with the marvellous concept of the ‘meme’ (although on second thoughts it is just a description of what was formerly known as ‘idea’ or ‘trend’, so it was hardly a feat of original thinking).

Most of these memes can be found in ‘Western’ film and television output, and whether you agree or not, if you are honest and think about it, you will identify them in most of the stuff you watch. It’s not about whether they are right or wrong, but how strangely ubiquitous they are.

-Shyness is a sign of sinister dysfunction. No explanation of this, scientific or otherwise is needed.

-‘Difference’ between people and cultures is limited to different forms of (un)dress and food. Others, such as disagreement on sexual mores or religious roles, are not to be tolerated.

-Women are never wrong about anything, in fact they are wise beyond all explanation. However, if women do ever do anything ‘wrong’, it is not their fault but usually a man’s fault.

-If a man cheats on a woman it’s because he is a dog who can’t keep it in his pants. If a woman cheats on a man, it’s because he forced her to do it by being distant/crap in bed/evil/a man. The fact that men cheat on women with other women as co-respondents should not prevent one from reaching this conclusion.

-In fact, to make it easier to remember, let’s just say women never do anything wrong at all.

-Everyone can become an entertainer, singer, film star, model, footballer etc (especially if you are from the working class or poor, your dreams in particular can come true). Also, there is no limit to how many such dreams can come true. Theoretically all poor people can become ‘rich and famous’. Don’t think about this too much.

-In fact, ‘thinking’ too much is another sign of sinister dysfunction.

-Being able to walk around in your underwear and taking off your clothes (for money of course) is a skill that requires years of training and not everyone can do it.

-Models are not anorexic and they most certainly do not encourage anorexia, irrespective of any empirical evidence to the contrary. In fact the word ‘anorexia’ will henceforth be replaced with ‘eating disorder’.

-In fact henceforth, empirical evidence is only to be applied to religion and in support of Liberal causes such as abortion but it is under no circumstances to be applied to Liberal assumptions themselves.

-Elections and democracy are essential to curb access to and the use of power. Unless you are in the entertainment industry in which case this does not apply. Elected officials must behave responsibly but film stars, singers etc. are not responsible in any way for the effect their actions have on those exposed to them. Also, there is no need to have democratic means of selecting media personalities or entertainment output in general.

-Groups which were severely victimised by European civilization in the past (for example, women and Jews) but are now ‘accepted’ by them (for the time being), are completely incapable of doing any wrong whatsoever. This privilege is not to extend to Gypsies or Muslims. Or Black People.

-Children, much like women, are wise and knowledgeable beyond all explanation. If not, they are certainly smarter than their parents.

-Most families are terribly unhappy, but if you are an unmarried couple or a gay couple  life’s a blast. all the bad things that are always shown in families (domestic violence, child abuse, general drudgery, sexual dissatisfaction) do not apply to you. Not being heterosexual and married mysteriously cures all of these problems.

-Your friends are much more important than your family. Therefore you must rebel against your elders and conform to your contemporaries.

-But remember, it must be in that order you can only rebel against your elders and never your contemporaries.

-Promiscuity is meritorious and a must without any need for explanation.

-Promiscuity with occasional same-sex activity is even more meritorious (but only for women).

-Since ‘Romantic Love’ is a useful marketing device, lip -service must be paid to this and any  real or apparent conflict between it and promiscuity is to be ignored/minimised.

-Virginity is reprehensible and is another sign of sinister dysfunction (like shyness), but for legal reasons it is only portrayed as reprehensible at any age after fourteen (especially, again, if you are a woman). The age of fourteen requires no explanation.

-It is regarded as meritorious for two under-age people to engage in sexual intercourse, especially if they are teenagers or close enough to it.

-However, if one partner is of age, then it is reprehensible in the extreme (only if it is the male partner who is older though).

-There is no such thing as ‘provocative dress’ on women (unless it is the Hijaab).

-Smoking cigarettes or drugs in movies does not help make you a smoker or a drug user.

-In fact, nothing in the movies has any effect on you. It’s all harmless entertainment. You can take it or leave it. There is no accountability needed.

-In fact, nothing in ‘art’ has any harmful effect on you at all.

-Which is the same thing as saying that advertising has no effect.

-‘Propaganda’ is distinct from ‘entertainment’ but it is completely unnecessary to demonstrate this.

-If you question this, you are in favour of ‘censorship’ and therefore a totalitarian.

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Al Ghazzali Chastises Those Who Worship a Body

Al Ghazzali explains how narrations and ayats which may appear to have corporeal interpretation are to be handled. His warning to those who stray into anthropomorphism is dire indeed…

‘Likewise, these literal indications that give a false impression have been deflected from the false imagination by reason of those many contexts, some of which are the knowledge…One of them happens to be the knowledge that they have not bee ordered to worship physical idols, and that whoever worships a material object has worshipped a physical idol, whether the material happens to be small or large, ugly or pretty, descending low or high, above the Earth or on the a Throne. And the negation of the state of being a material object and the negation of their inseparable characteristics was known by all of them (i.e the Salaf – these are the people Al Ghazzali is referring to in this section) with certainty or without reflection, because Allah’s Messenger (SAW) gave notice that one is to out of his way in declaring God’s transcendence above imperfection on the basis of His statement ‘He has no compliment’ [112:4], His statement, ‘And do not make rivals to Allah’ [2:22] and with other such statements too numerous to count-in addition to the unequivocal contexts which cannot be reported.

Such [folk] knew these things with a degree of certainty that removed all doubt. That was sufficient to acquaint them with the impossibility of the re being a ‘hand’ which is a body part composed of flesh and bone, or of another material object. Such is the case with respect all the rest of the literal indications, since they would indicate no more than the character of a body and it’s accidents were he to make mention of a material object in an unqualified fashion. So when he made mention of something which was not a material object in an unqualified fashion, the listener knew without reflection that it’s literal meaning was not intended. Rather, another meaning that is possible regarding Allah [was intended]. Perhaps that [other unstated] meaning may be the specific intent, and maybe it is not the specific intent, but this is what removes any problem or confusion.

So if it is said, ‘then why did he not mention them in clear words that are not subject to interpretation such that their literal indications would not give the impression of something ignorant, and not to the layperson or the young child?’ To this we would say, because he only spoke to people in the language of the Arabs-and there are no words in the Arabic language that clearly indicate those meanings without being subject to interpretation. So how could there be clear expressions in the language, while the inventor of the language does not understand those meanings?”

‘A Return To Purity In Creed’ (literally ‘Restraining Ordinary Men From Thoelogy’), Chapter 3, fifth example. Imam Al Ghazzali.

-Interestingly, this is the very last book Imam Al Ghazzali wrote, in the month of his death, so it shows the absurdity and deception of the False Salafis who claim that he altered his Ashari position before his death.

-The harsh equivocation of worshipping a material body of any kind (even a ‘Hand but without a how’ or a ‘Body unlike bodies’) with nothing less than the anathema of idol worship should be a cue to serious introspection for Ibn Tamiyya’s (numerous) devotees.

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Intellectual Multiple Personality Disorder

First of all, why is this not called ‘Intellectual Schizophrenia’?  People often misuse the word ‘schizophrenia’ when they in fact mean ‘multiple personality’: the former is characterised by a set of symptoms including auditory hallucinations, delusions and disordered thought. It has nothing to do with having a ‘split’ or ‘multiple personality’. The two phrases are often confused in common parlance and the media and this is an affront to psychiatry.

What I mean by ‘Muslim Multiple Personality Disorder’ is the propensity amongst both lay Muslims and apologetic speakers and groups to ‘borrow’ ideas from and have ‘allies’ amongst some rather extreme Liberals while also simultaneously having a lot in common with social and even political conservatives: an illustrative example is that the ‘Left – coast’ in America was the liberal putsch for reigning in the excesses of the American authorities after  9/11 yet traditionally the Muslims of America had been Republican voters and agreed with that constituency on nearly all issues that divide them from the liberals: gay marriage, abstinence, abortions etc.

In fact it was G. W Bush who asserted that no hijaabed woman should be harmed after 9/11. Liberals often tend to have a big problem with hijaab or indeed standing up for the specifics of Islamic practice especially if they differ from the Liberal conception (which they inevitably do). In fact, it could be argued that liberals skew strongly towards ‘hijaab is oppression’ anti-thought.

Maybe it is fair to say that politically, the Muslims in this case were with the Left/Liberals. But socially or morally, they are ususally with the conservatives, if such a distinction could be made (not by any means clear). Another way to put this would be that the Muslim constituency finds, in the United States, the Republicans’ attitude towards Israel and their wars overseas in Afghanistan and Iraq repulsive; in this, they are supported by voices on the American Left or the liberal elite, like, say, Noam Chomsky. But they find the Liberals views on social issues such as abortion for laughs, gay marriage and adoption to in turn be galling.

The same can be said of the much discussed ‘Red-Green Alliance’ in the U.K between the Left and the ‘Muslims’, for example, between the groups ‘Unite Against Fascism’ or ‘Respect’ and the Muslims against  the ‘English Defence League’. It has raised the ire of the Left across Europe who feel that the left should have nothing to do with these ‘backward’ Muslims as well as certain extremist Muslims who think that they should not be co-operating with these ‘kuffaar’. The Communist excesses towards Islam and indeed religion in general lurk uncomfortably in the background.

One could also cite the Muslim use of data by groups such as Amnesty International to make their case for harsh treatment, while these groups are problematic from the Muslim ‘ethical’ perspective due to their stance on various social issues.

At the risk of oversimplification, the Muslims find themselves attracted to and using the facts and references of the ‘Liberal Left’ to make their case, and even borrowing the eloquence of their speakers such as George Galloway and the aforementioned Chomsky (we could add Michael Moore, Finklenstein, Hedges and others). However, the Muslims then find themselves uncomfortable when many of these commentators wax equally lyrical about the need for abortion, lowering the age of consent for homosexuals and their insistence on a secular public sphere.

If we wanted to get more controversial, we could extend this apparent tolerance of ‘double-think’ into the military geopolitical sphere as well; we have recently seen the outrage of Muslims at Western intervention against ‘Islamists’ (a dreadful misnomer, read ‘Wahhabis’ or ‘Salafists’) in Mali with paradoxical ire at the Western refusal to intervene in Syria (on the ‘side’ of the rebels). So is western military intervention ‘good’ or ‘bad’? In the above example it depends on if it is on the side of ‘Salafists’ or not. But ask most Muslims if they consider Western military intervention in and of itself to be ‘morally neutral’ as the above dichotomy implies, and they will be most offended.

Yet again one could talk about the enthusiasm amongst many Muslims for the satellite news outlets which they perceive as being sympathetic to their cause, most particularly Press TV.

However, all of the aforementioned categories: Liberals, American or European Christian conservatives, and ‘sympathetic’ news outlets are all in a clear way much more dogmatic and insistent in their point of view than Muslims would like: for all it’s faults, the BBC is more impartial than, say, Press TV: the way to judge this is by the fact that the BBC will, at a great stretch, report negative news about it’s ‘home country’ whereas the degree of reluctance in Press TV (we could easily add Al Jazeera) to report negative information about their source country is evidently much greater (or even absolute). Everyone is willing to report bad news about others, and no matter how much this favours Muslims, it is no way to judge partiality.

My point is that Muslims seem to have no political or intellectual identity of their own and therefore they are forced to ‘borrow’ identities from other groups, which are almost always a bad fit in one way or another (i.e. liberals may, for now, be geopolitically or economically oriented with Muslims but socially they are diametrically opposed and it is conservatives who are more congruent with Islamic values).

Muslims don’t have their own sources or ‘engines of research’ and instead are forced due to reasons of intellectual and economic poverty to rely on think tanks, Amnesty International, etc for facts and are then left confused when this means having to accommodate some of their anti-Islamic values and perspectives, which are often explicit.

An interesting parallel is the Muslim borrowing of ‘Christian Creationist’ arguments rather than conducting their own research. The situation has gotten so bad that Muslim apologists are borrowing arguments for the existence of God from Islam-hating evangelical front-men such as William Lane Craig who in turn openly credits the Muslim theologian Al Ghazzali for the Kalam Arguments that he uses. So Muslims take their own ideas from Christians who hate them. Hmmm…and why could they not use the arguments from Al Ghazzali and the Asharite theologians directly? That probably has to do with the preponderance of Wahhabi groups in dawah and their antipathy to Asharis and Kalam in general, which is absurd since they are willing to plagiarise the same argument from an Islamophobic Evangelical Christian.

Indeed knowledge is the lost property of a believer, and there is no harm in taking useful knowledge from whatever source, but when it comes at the expense of ignoring one’s own intellectual heritage as in the above case and potential cognitive dissonance as in the earlier cases, Muslims need to think about reclaiming their past and eking out an new intellectual zone for themselves rather than standing on the shoulders of Leftist or Liberal giants who can at any moment turn on them, since as Tim Winter recently reminded us, it seems Liberalism can in the final account tolerate only itself. If that happens, Muslims may find themselves politically defenceless.

In the cases of the Kalam and science issues the solution is much easier: reclaim your own intellectual heritage and let the flat Earth, brazier-banning fantasies of Ibn Baz and others like him be damned.

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False Salafism: From Catechism to Cataclysm

Abdal Hakim Murad aka Tim Winter

My confused awakening has been made all the more traumatic by the seeming absence of authentic scholars of Islam. All I find is people parroting the post modernism of the West in marginally Islamic garb and the ascendency of the heresies of the Najd which the Sultans tried so hard to suppress. I cling to the hope that there are more like this writer, a man who speaks with  understanding of the authentic Islam…

”The struggle of the non-terroristic Salafi is to provide a methodology that forbids the validation of terrorism. Divorced from the classical Usul of the Ummah – and often contemptuous of it’s defenders – he insists on individual interpretation of the Book and Sunna. Thus he puts the insecurities and needs of every reader where the consensus of the scholars used to be. Either the Ummah reads the scriptures or the Self does; and he finds it hard to prevent a terroristic self from reading them terroristically.

Nasir al-Din al-Albani, during his years at Medina, sowed the seeds for the ideas of many different groups, one of the largest being Jama’a Salafiyya Muhtasiba. His criticism of the established Najdi scholars who ‘neglected the Book and Sunnah’ by de facto following the Hanbali school made him a hero of ‘pure Islam’ to many young activists, particularly those from disadvantaged tribal groups. They came to develop strong ties with Abd al-aziz Bin Baz, rector of the new Islamic University in Madina, who gave them their name. Unlike Albani and Bin Baz, however, some of their members voiced their dislike of the government; and this was particularly the case with their most famous offshoot, known as  the Ikhwan. These uber-Salafists took their inspiration from the original Ikhwan, fighters for the Wahhabi state in the 1920’s, extremists who finally rebelled against the king because of his use of Western technologies such as radios, and his opposition to their plans for an invasion of Iraq. At the Battle of Sabila in 1929, they were crushed by their ‘moderate’ brethren.

The new Ikhwan, comprising many former students of Bin Baz, burst onto the world stage in 1979 when three hundred of them forcibly took over al-Masjid al-Haram, the ‘Inviolable Mosque’, taking thousands of worshippers hostage. Under their leader Juhayman al-‘Utaybi, they proclaimed his disciple, the Salafi student Muhammad al-Qahtani, to be the long awaited Mahdi. Days later the Saudi army stormed the mosque, and the leaders were tried and executed.

The scholars know that the Quran and Sunna are foreign to everyone who does not study according to the classical rules. Without the Two Sources, a Muslim is without blessings. Study the calamities of Muslim lands today, and you will see what methodology is responsible for these misfortunes, that kill the innocent, and bring such joy to the hearts of so many idolatrous enemies of the faith.”

– Abdal Hakim Murad, Contention 57 from ‘Commentary on the Eleventh Contentions’ (used without permission)

Do yourself a favour and buy the book here before it goes out of print like his others:

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What Tolerance Isn’t

What a tolerant chap! He’s doing that girl a real favour by putting up with her!

My, what an angry fellow! I must say, I was dismayed to see the descendants of so many former subjects of the Ottoman Empire concoct such lies against her. Nay, not only this but the Turks themselves painted a lie over the portrait of racial and religious tolerance that was the Ottoman system. The Greeks hate us now. It is a shame. But whatever the errors of the Sultan, did they not over four hundred years keep their religion and their language? How was it for the French and British Empires?

This angry writer seems to betaking the current Europeans to task for their unusual definition of ‘tolerance’…

Tolerance is a word bandied about nowadays, especially by certain people in ‘the West’ in reference to how they are very tolerant, but with the usual caveat that there are some things that we should NEVER ‘tolerate’.

However, the vast majority of people who define ‘tolerance’ are from…the vast majority. The majority ethnic, belief or national group defining tolerance is a bit like giving a Nazi the right to define ‘Anti – Semitic’ i.e. it is epistemologically biased or at least very risky.

Tolerance is not when you allow people who look different from you to do the same things that you approve of, like having Indian or Black or Chinese ethnicity friends who drink, f**k and eat the same way as you. That is not tolerance, that is merely not being a frank racist. Nor does it prevent you from being a xenophobe. It merely means that you get on with people who act just like you but look a bit different. Big deal. This is actually one of the main arguments people in Europe have to convince themselves and others that they are ‘tolerant’ of difference. Actually, they are tolerant in this case only of difference of appearance, not behaviour.

It’s like a white European coming into a mosque, praying and generally acting just like all the other Muslims. They have no need to tolerate anything, since apart from his exterior appearance he is the same as them.

Tolerance also is not having sexual relations with people who look different to you. That is merely exotic fetishism and is common to all societies and peoples. You are not tolerant because you were charitable enough to have sex with that hot Chinese girl at college or your girlfriend is ‘Indian’ (although her behaviours and values are the same as yours). It has yet to be established that anyone possesses a racist penis or vagina. What would be tolerant is if you were in love with a person having a radically different culture to you and they actually maintained that and you accepted it

You get no credit for sleeping with people from different ethnic backgrounds. Even the colonial officers and footsoldiers of the various European powers used to do that, and they were actually more ‘tolerant’: at least those women maintained their culture and were in their own environment: What is the essential ‘difference’, beyond a more exotic (and thus attractive) external appearance that today’s ‘brave’ sexual experimenters are ‘tolerating’?

Tolerance is something that needs to be envoked when there is something there to actually tolerate: a DIFFERENCE. Tolerating a difference merely in appearance as opposed to beliefs or behaviour shows how lax the definition of tolerance in most Western societies is: They think they deserve a cookie for not getting offended at peoples’ skin colour or hair type. Big deal.

What would be tolerant is if there existed people who looked different AND behaved differently and they were tolerated (which is still inferior to ‘acceptance’ but we will let that slide for now). You see literally zero examples of this in the Western world: someone who has a different approach to the fundamentals of life to you, especially if they also look different to you being tolerated or accepted. Rather these people are invariably viewed as outsiders at best or dangerous at worst, usually being described as threats to ‘our’ way of life, ‘barbaric’ and incongruent with our values.

Just ask the Jews and the Gypsies…

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Sufi Advice

Sidi Ahmed Al Zarruq (d.1492) He speaks as the Sufi masters of old…a tongue which no-one seems to understand today…

”Beware of being too harsh on your soul before you have gained mastery over it. But also beware of being lax with it in anything which concerns the sacred rulings. This is because [the soul] constantly flees form moderation in everything, and it inclines to extremism in both matters of deviance and guidance…

Work for this world as if you will live forever, but work for the next life as if you will die tomorrow…

If you desire to live such that your religion is safe and your portion is full and your honour is sound, guard your tongue and never mention another’s faults remembering that you yourself have faults and others have tongues.”

(Thanks to Sheikh Hamza Yusuf for the translation)

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iERA: Too Big To Fail?

The Sultan’s Jester is very sad to see the call to Islam, which must be carried out with wisdom and beautiful manners, being treated as a playground for sectarianism and absurd behaviour.

The Jester recently allowed me to post an article here about the ‘Dawah’ group iERA and a controversy they had become immersed in as of late regarding gender segregation at a Muslim/Atheist debate at a secular university campus, University College London.

Sadly, the fallout from this incident is still continuing. iERA have been banned from UCL, and a lot of negative press has been generated for Muslims. No doubt the ban and the bad press is most disturbing and largely or completely unwarranted.

Further, iERA speakers and a seemingly large fan base have ‘dug in’ and attacked other dawah personalities who have not ‘fallen into line’ to defend them in a most aggressive and defamatory manner. The list of victims seems to rising by the day like some natural disaster but it seems that some of the most influential Muslim speakers, namely Shabir Ally, Adam Deen and others, have been the victims of some aggressive and ill advised comments by iERA speaker Adnan Rashid or their supporters. Adnan Rashid actually posted comments warning Muslims to stay away from Adam Deen and his ‘Deen Institute’ and labelled them ‘haters of people of the Sunnah’ (!?).

He further went on to attack with the most uncouth language notables such as Dr. Shabir Ally, the well known Orthodox Sunni theologian Sheikh Atabek Nasafi…and basically anyone who disagreed with him…on anything. At all.

His tirade was on the iERA website uncensored for over 48 hours through a Facebook window and has now been taken down (sans explanation or apology). Curiously, this came after British Muslim intellectual Paul Williams bravely drew attention to the worrying nature of the diatribe. I won’t add to Williams account of the incident as it is there for everyone to see.

This has been in conjunction with a multimedia barrage on Facebook and elsewhere attacking the individuals above by both iERA members and ‘loyalists’ including seemingly some of their top organisers. The attacks are virulent and often begin and end with takfir or insult. The whole affair resembles nothing as much a political mudslinging and rioting around election time in some countries.

Then we have this video by a gentleman who appears to be with iERA:

This is maybe not a helpful sequel to the UCL incident and in conjunction with the smear campaign by senior iERA members on…just about everyone, brings into serious question the good sense of this group.

The wall of silence that greeted the crypto takfir of Adam Deen and associates from the dawah community was very illustrative of this: iERA is in danger of acting like a gang, adopting a ‘my way or the highway’  approach not broaching any criticism and indeed trying to act with relative impunity.

Quite apart from the fact that those attacked seem to have had nothing to do with iERAs troubles, their reaction to Paul Williams and even my own article seems to be all out ‘war’ rather than using it as an opportunity to reflect on or even just refute the points therein.

Anyone can err, and perhaps this unfortunate incident was a good chance for iERA to hear the gripes of people and perhaps consolidate their powerful position in the U.K by being inclusive and understanding that some people felt that the organisation was ideologically biased towards certain (Wahhabi) interpretation of Islam as well as a concomitant  view that a woman speaker should not address a mixed crowd, even wearing niqaab.

Surely iERA could only benefit from such engagement and would have a greater claim to inclusiveness by understanding and responding to these matters in a respectful manner. It could have avoided further confrontations with the secular authorities and made non-Wahhabis Muslims greater stakeholders in the iERA enterprise. They could have held out an olive branch and made their critics look reactionary and gained the Islamic high ground.

No such luck: what followed was an master-class in stubbornness, conspiracy theories and very random heresy hunting (i.e Adam Deen). Any criticism was quashed with Facebook barrages of ‘This is disunity!’, ‘We are the defenders of the Faith, how can you not support us?!’ ‘We are above answering your questions!’ ‘By questioning us you have caused fitnah! Repent and fear God!’ Or even ‘Heathens!’

I myself have lost count of the number of takfirs I have had for merely suggesting that they accommodate the orthodox view that a woman’s voice is not awrah. I am not saying that this is coming from iERA itself always (though Adnan is most certainly a senior iERA member) but it is coming from their fan base, and the way a football team is often judged by it’s fans behaving like hooligans is a bad omen for IERA.

IERA further issued a press release saying that they were ‘the most popular speakers’ as if that put them above criticism and refused to come to terms or apologise or merely calm down and let the storm blow over. Again, Williams alone had to try to account iERA:

Rather than provide counters and evidences against their alleged pro-Wahhabi bias and  seemingly odd ideas relating to female speakers, what seems to have met sincere Muslims is harangue of ‘Modernists!’ ‘Sympathisers!’ ‘Secularists!’ and very often again ‘Heretics!’ or even ‘apostates!’

iERA clearly feel they have good intentions, and they are right to a large extent, but acting as if one is above accountability from one’s own constituents is not a good idea. People like Yusuf Chambers & Co. do seem to sincerely want to help Islam, but there seems to be an organisational agenda that is unwritten but highly divisive: The Salafi way or the highway.

The behaviour of Adnan Rashid, the iERA press releases, the frankly hooligan antics of many of their fan base (who have clearly spent too long hanging around with far right Islamophobes), the implication of ‘might is right’, heresy hunting and the fearful silence of other Dawah organisations gives the distinct impression that iERA think they are perhaps ‘too big to fail’.

But as the current economic crisis and more importantly the Quranic narrative shows, we should all take heed – no one is too big to fail.

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Who Do IERA Think They Are?

By now many people will be aware of the unfortunate controversy surrounding the latest IERA ‘Big Debate’ at which their workhorse and front-man Hamza Tzortzis debated celebrity atheist Professor Lawrence Krauss. The event has become notorious for a ‘gender segregation’ controversy, as Krauss stormed out, refusing to speak at a ‘segregated’ event. He was coaxed back in but the circumstances of his departure and return are unclear: the Atheist contingent claim that the event was segregated and that this was enforced. IERA say that they provided different seating areas, women, men, mixed and couples and that people were free to choose. 

The incident was widely reported in the national press through ‘The Guardian’ newspaper and even the Archbishop of Atheism, Richard Dawkins himself chimed in, tweeting ‘Who the hell do these Muslims think they are?’ and advising people to not be squeamish of being accused of Islamophobia. He further opined that ‘Heads should roll’ (the Saudis would no doubt approve).

This unfortunate incident brings to light something far more important though: IERA’s raison d’etre and their mandate from Muslims (or lack thereof).

Whatever the specifics of the gender segregation of this particular event, one thing is clear to anyone who has followed the rise of IERA over the past four years: They never have any female public speakers. More specifically, they never hold an event at which a female speaker addresses men or even a mixed audience. Ever. This includes their ‘Dawah training’ and retreats for new Muslims, where a male instructor will speak to a segregated crowd or even perhaps a mixed crowd, but never a woman to a mixed crowd. In fact, iERA have had ‘sisters only’ conferences with but never one with female only speakers ( 

They have held events such as the one at UCL where a man addresses a mixed audience. But never a woman addressing a male or mixed audience. Not only that, we cannot even find a picture of a woman on their website, which is nonetheless full photos of their speakers, events and students. Their website clearly states that the females in their ‘speakers bureau’ will only address a female audience ( Interestingly, the men are free to speak to any audience they like.

In the 2011 ‘Twins of Faith’ conference (, out of 11 speakers, not a single woman was present though there were numerous overseas representatives and at least four Saudi graduates.

The rigid nature of their stance is further evidenced by the advert for the ‘Seeds of Change Conference’ held for women in 2012 (, which features five female and three male speakers, but which was open to women only and most strikingly has an advert showing full colour pictures of the male speakers but only a faceless avatar of the women (some of whom, such as Lauren Booth were television personalities, so one assumes they would not object to a photo of themselves). 

I am not here to get into the specifics of gender segregation in Islam or to prove that it is legitimate or illegitimate. However, the unfortunate fact is that IERA seem to be interested in just such dogmatic and sectarian jurisprudential enforcement, despite their self-proclaimed mandate to call to ‘generic Islam’ and ‘monotheism’. It is indeed true that IERA nowhere state that they are practitioners of the view that women cannot speak before a male or mixed audience, but their actual practice makes it clear that they are insistent on it nevertheless, just the same as they are not supposed to be affiliated with any particular ‘brand’ of Islam, but in their entire history, they have seemingly failed to give a platform to any speaker opposing the Salafi/Wahhabi position. Ever.

Both of these observations may be mere coincidences but this is difficult to believe. It seems that the latest incident is in some part just a case of IERA being challenged on their unstated practice of gender segregation of a rather strange kind: where male speaker may have access to a female audience but women do not get a public platform to address men.

Since IERA are there to ‘give the call to Islam’, it seems unbefitting for them to engage in jurisprudential controversies or sectarian preferences of this type. Even if they are exonerated from this latest debacle, it stands that despite the presence of numerous talented female Muslim speakers and intellectuals in the U.K (for example, we even have scholarly authorities such as Ruqqayah Waris Maqsood and Aisha Bewley, women who have translated the Quran and Hadith into the English language), IERA seem to find only men to address their mixed events, often not even from the U.K but further afield (most frequently individuals who have studied in Saudi Arabia).

Would it be so hard then to find a female speaker from abroad if the list of female U.K talent was inexplicably so inadequate?

The worrying thing is that less well funded Dawah organisations have no problem attracting and utilising female speakers, having numerous female instructors and even high profile international Islamic conferences hosted by British Muslim women. Some highly orthodox Sunni organisations have female debaters and public personalities (interestingly they also seem to lack the kind of ‘Saudi scholarship’ predilection shown at IERA conferences such as the aforementioned ‘Twins of Faith’).  Indeed, many of the best known British Muslims are women such as Yvonne Ridley, who often speaks at mixed gatherings and on television.

I am not denying the entirely legitimate right of women or men who wish to segregate or not address mixed audiences to do so. But likewise one should allow the practice of those who are happy to be addressed by Islamic female speakers, just as iERA allow unrelated men to address an all girl audience.

So although Dawkins is typically hysterical in asking ‘Who the hell do Muslims think they are?’, we Muslims could do well to ask ourselves ‘Who on earth do IERA think they are?’

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