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 (http://www.iera.org.uk/seedsofchange/faq.html). 

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 (http://www.iera.org.uk/our_work2_1.html). Interestingly, the men are free to speak to any audience they like.

In the 2011 ‘Twins of Faith’ conference (http://www.iera.org.uk/event.html), 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 (http://www.iera.org.uk/seedsofchange/faq.html), 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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41 Responses to Who Do IERA Think They Are?

  1. Fatimah says:

    Thanks for the info. This is quite disturbing!!

  2. Eden James says:

    Excellent article…from the point of view of a non Muslim.

  3. Ally Webb says:

    I don’t quite see what the fuss is all about? Have you asked these lady speakers if they want to speak in front of men? Surely it’s a little disregardful to assume they have no choice in the matter?

    • poeticbibi says:

      Exactly my point Ally, these women choose not to speak in front of men, it’s their own personal right and preference. Who are others to comment on that?

    • No one said that these ladies wanted to speak before men, this is their prerogative and a spurious argument on your behalf: the issue was IERA’s insistence on ONLY having ladies who do not address a mixed audience.

      Since there are numerous women in the UK who DO address mixed audiences and IERA are even willing to bring in male speakers from abroad (usually Saudi graduates), how come there have never been any of these women at IERA events? Ever?

      And have you considered why IERA don’t have any MEN who ‘only want to address a male audience?’ Funny that…

      • poeticbibi says:

        How do you know they insist this. Do you even know anything about iERA, have you ever spoken to someone who works there or is a spokesperson? Seriously, all this drivel is useless and lacks any solid evidence-or even a legit argument.

    • Woman Human says:

      ‘Disregardful’ isn’t a word.

  4. poeticbibi says:

    What a disappointing post. Not only are you promoting disunity, but I know for a fact that everything you have stated is flawed, mostly untrue and taken out of context. It’s quite dangerous to speak without knowledge-what happened to us all being held accountable for everything we say by God. I think maybe one should think twice before slandering a whole organisation, particularly with in accuracy and sickening generalisations. Please improve your writing and ‘research’ if you want to criticise.

    • Unity at the expense of truth? A novel concept in Islam.but familiar to those outside it sadly.

      I am happy to be held accountable by God or yourself, but as your post shows: you failed to provide any counter examples and merely said that the post was untrue (despite all supporting evidence being from the IERA website). So perhaps you should take your own idea about research before posting a fact-free tirade?

      Instead of getting emotional and insulting, simply provide a counter example of where a woman has EVER been allowed to address a mixed gathering by IERA in contradistinction to my examples. That would establish your case far better than ad hominems.

      Perhaps you could also explain why men can be trusted to address a women’s only gathering but women cannot even address a mixed gathering? Or why we can’t have an ALL WOMEN’S gathering without male speakers? Or why we can enforce a single jurisprudential opinion so ardently?

      Love your blog though, lovely to see someone taking an interest in poetry!

      Though you could probably learn to spell ‘inaccuracy’ before advising people to improve their writing…

    • javid says:

      When I was reading this I felt like it was a non muslim who wrote it. Now that I know it was a muslim, what a shame. Completely untrue. And I think this is not worthy of a topic to be discussed. IERA is alhamdulillah a wonderfull organisation. We only refute them if they go against allah. What is bad in saudi scholorship any way. IERA are our brothers in Islam and Richard Dawkins is SATANs assistant.

      • No – one cares how you in particular feel, you have followed the majority of others with YET ANOTHER ‘crypto-takfir’. Please study the fiqh of takfir before making ignorant statements like this.

        As for ‘what is bad with Saudi Islam?’, that is not under discussion here, What IS under discussion is iERA’s POSSIBLE unstated policy to follow Saudi Islam to the exclusion of all others and then be dishonest about it. The preponderance of takfir and lack of address of this makes me think that they are indeed a exclusivist Wahhabi organisation.

        I am sorry to be rude, but the idea that you only go against iERA if they go against Allah is like making iERA the Caliphate and this is completely absurd.

        According to your (il) logic, one can’t correct the public behaviour of one’s Muslim brothers unless they ‘Go against Allah’. Please be serious.

  5. I know plenty about IERA, as the post shows. Not only have I spoken to them, I have volunteered for them on numerous occasions, including the event in question. But of course, now you will want my name. Which you shan’t get.

    But I am wondering if you know anything at all besides a fangirl/boy level of knowledge of IERA. Please provide counter-evidence or take your own advice. You have a post by Rumi on your site. Admirable. Perhaps you should investigate what IERA types say about him?

    All supporting evidence is from the IERA website. People can see it and critique it for themselves. Sadly your comments do not constitute a critique.

  6. Irrelevant are the thoughts of an organisation on Rumi. The issue here is you have slandered the women, assuming that they have been forced to speak only in from of other women, without even asking them.

    • No-one said they have been forced. You reading comprehension my be a little off.

      All that was said that IERA CLAIMS not to represent any particular ‘strand’ of Islam, yet they clearly do. Even in terms of their view that a woman cannot show her face to men, show her picture or even speak in front of men. This is indeed one opinion, and not the majority one either (unless you are in Saudi Arabia, which IERA sometimes seem to think that they are). Since IERA claim to call towards generic Islam and have a ‘mandate’ from British Muslims, why do they not allow Muslim, hijaabed, orthodox women who DO want to speak a chance?

      Since they do not say explicitly that it is their policy to not allow this and indeed take money from a wide spectrum of the Muslim public, how can they enforce their opinion thus?

      Differences in opinion are a mercy from Allah; but if for example I start enforcing the niqaab, have I not removed the mercy and fallen into totalitarianism? Interestingly this is exactly what happens at IERA events (and in Saudi)

      Your accusation of slander, is sadly, simply pathetic.

  7. Mike says:

    How pathetic. You cannot use the “I am not here to get into the specifics of gender segregation in Islam or to prove that it is legitimate or illegitimate.” cop out and then make an utter smear over their stance. Shame on you for thinking slander and mischief to create disunity is acceptable. There is plurality in Islam, there are plenty of speakers and options. Each to their own should be your mantra – not demonisation of orthodox Muslims. IERA represent a strong strand of orthodox Muslims. Leave them be. Who on earth do you think you are, exactly? If you believe in the aakirah, then think what your views might cost you.

  8. Since you have taken it upon yourself, as an expert in Fiqh and Kalam to state that IERA are Orthodox…

    Let me then ask you this: you say there is ‘plurality in Islam’. Who then gave IERA the permission to remove it? When Allah gifted us a number of opinions on niqaab/segregation, who are they to enforce one on all of us? And then not even admit that is what they are doing?

    As for your typically Wahhabi technique of questioning anyone who disagrees iman (‘IF you believe in the akhira’) this shows both your ‘orthodoxy’ and your learning.

    But you do share this with such Orthodox takfir masters as Abd Al Wahhab and Ibn Baz themselves, so I forgive your ill informed and reactionary rant.

    • AK says:

      Well there’s your problem really, isn’t it? iERA didn’t enforce segregation during the debate. I was there, you weren’t.

      Read my first hand account elsewhere on this page.

      • Uh, when did I say they DID enforce it?

        And how do you know that I wasn’t there? Are you God?

        It appears you did not bother to read the article before ‘going on one’.

  9. As for the ‘cop out’, of not addressing segregation, I happ en to believe in it. However your knowledge of Islam is really trifling: there is no form of segregation which allows women to come unattended without a mahrem to events where males will be present, as happens at IERAs ‘Sisters Only conferences’. Nor is there any form of Islamic segregation that allows women to be forcibly separated from their husbands, brothers or fathers at events and sat away from them. Again, this happens at many IERA events.

    You are even ignorant of your own ‘orthodox’ Wahhabi principles

  10. baws says:

    This whole article has absolutely no leg to stand on. One logical fallacy after another.

    I – there is an established axiom that la inkar fi masa’il al-ijtihad
    II – even the most liberal anti-muzlamic ‘progressive’ would not be dim-witted enough to go so far as to claim that their opinion on women lecturers is indisputable truth.
    III – therefore the one responsible for this agenda/article has shown their true ignorance and jealousy.

    Normally the good charlatans get some credibility amongst the Muslims before they begin to show their true colours; you obviously don’t even possess the competence nor the patience to be a successful heretic.

    • ?

      What on earth? No argument or evidence, straight to takfir?

      I don’t get it. Is this then an established maxim – someone asks iERA about their apparent insistence a particular jurisprudential view and you immediately label them a heretic?

      Recommendations:
      1) Introductory course in logic

      2) Introductory course in fiqh

      3) Consider not labelling everyone who even questions your (minority) opinions a heretic. It reeks of Islmaophobes who wait for anyone to say anything Islamic and then label them an extremist (although in your case they would be justified).

  11. “Celebrity atheist”? “Archbishop of atheism”? Maybe it’s too much to expect from people who believe in sky fairies, and treating women as personal property (and lying about it), but please do grow up.

    • Huh?

      Have you studied at the same school of etiquette as ‘baws’.

      Has this turned into an discussion free zone?

      I have never believed in sky fairies but I think Richard Dawkins has expressed that he is not entirely sure about the non-existence of God, so perhaps you should assuage him with your surity.

      calling someone a celebrity atheist is not an insult as far as I am concerned and in any case, I think you are very sensitive about a man who labels having Christian parents as worse than child abuse and calls Muslims ‘evil’ etc.

      Insult does not exactly endear people to each other, so less sensotovoty on behalf of dawkins may be wise.

      Perhaps you should also ask women who are having large bags of saline transplanted into their thorax to achieve the ‘correct’ cleavage or being paid to fellate men on camera if they feel similarly like ‘property’?

  12. Woman Kind says:

    The IERA would make Rosa Parks sit at the back of the bus, not for being black but for being a woman.

    • Respectfully, my point was not that they force women to sit at the back (they do not) or indeed the front. They do not force anyone to do anything.

      My point is that they seem to follow the opinion that it is not religiously licit to see an unrelated woman or to even hear her voice. Let’s say this is a valid opinion in Islam. However, there are others and in Islam the practice is that when there is a difference of opinion, none is enforced and all are tolerated.

      However, not only do they not seem to follow this, they also pretend that they have no bias for a particular opinion. This is dishonest and confusing.

      Further, they are in the wrong since they do not appear to follow what the Quran says: ‘Respect the customs (paraphrase)’; Therefore, if you and I went to, say, Papua New Guinea, and they had segregated seating for men and women, the Islamic principle is that we respect that and adhere to it. Likewise if we went to England and the custom is NOT to segregate seating, then we respect that and adhere to it, since there is no harm to Islamic orthodoxy one way or another.

      What we must NOT do in Islam is to enforce our particular ‘adat’ (custom as distinct from religion) in an alien culture. So segregating in England goes against the orthodox principle of ‘respecting the customs’ in discretionary matters.

      IERA seem to both not respect this and/or regard segregation as an obligatory and agreed upon thing. It is neither according to orthodox Sunni Islam IMHO.

  13. Pingback: Who Do IERA Think They Are? | kay4ni

  14. Ali says:

    Saddening to see you, as a Muslim, believe in the word of an Atheist, who has long tried to demonize and defame religion, than rather listen to what iERA has to say about it. It is actually embarrassing I’d say, because you speak of iERA not promoting Women Dawah, when in fact they already have a feminine Dawah group. But just because they don’t bring them to the screen or mix them with other Men in the organization, and that too for the reason to avoid any Fitna, make you say that they ENFORCE segregation? If you could take time to look into what iERA has to say (PROVE) about this, they already have a video/photos, referred to a full article.

    Just so you know, atheists on Muslim forums are linking this articles back to US, telling us what a Muslim has to say about his own brother. I’m not sure if you should be proud of it, or be happy for the trackbacks and traffic you get on the article. We’re already divided into a million sects, yet here, you as a Muslim brother is trying to put in another gap, and all of this for your personal Misunderstanding of what atheists have to say about the event, and what REALLY happened.

    • I am afraid you also seem to have impaired reading comprehension: I am not agreeing with ANYONE, it is my own observation, with the evidences from IERA’s website , that they follow certain (Wahhabi?) fatwas on the permission of women to speak to a mixed audience. The article is not even ABOUT segregation or the truth or untruth of what happened at UCL.

      Rather, it is about their unstated policy.

      And before becoming so passionate, what about the rights of those Orthodox Sunni Muslims who follow the opinion that a woman CAN show her face and her voice is not Awrah (the vast majority of non-Wahhabi Muslims)?

      Atheists liking it or not liking it is of no consequence to it’s truth and your emotional blackmail is forgiven.

      The article is there to question:

      1) Why iERA are supposed to be mainstream and inclusive but adhere to only one ‘fatwa’ to the exclusion of all other ORTHODOX opinions?
      2) Why they seem to have a Wahhabi bias in their practices like the above and their speakers?

      Perhaps you should also tell iERA that they are ‘helping’ the atheists by behaving in this way?

      So far, like yourself, everyone has resorted to emotional blackmail and ridiculous comments unrelated to the article instead of addressing these points.

      And if being divided into sects is the problem, then the first people you need to question are iERA, since they are seemingly only accommodating of a particular sectarian view. You can’t use the sectarianism is bad argument to simply support and fall into line behind YOUR preferred sect!

  15. AK says:

    Over three-quarters of the room was available for both genders to sit together in a mixed arrangement. This catered for both Muslims AND non-Muslims, whether male or female. I was at the event since 6.15pm and sat at the front alongside people of all faiths and both genders.

    At the back of the room, there was a special provision for conservative Muslim females to sit together away from other males, in line with their beliefs. The organisers responded to the needs of EVERYONE, and ensured that everyone could sit in a manner that was comfortable and appropriate. Instead certain non-Muslim male members of the audience deliberately ignored the mixed-area provided in the middle/front of the room, and chose to sit among the Muslim females at the back. They were asked by the organisers to move, and they objected which resulted in much unnecessary drama and attention. WHY were they deliberately looking for confrontation when there was absolutely no need? The sisters at the back asked for special consideration for their beliefs, in the same way that Jews and Muslims have dietary requirements and who can expect, in this modern society to have their beliefs respected.

    Now I’m willing to accept that there will always be a group of idiots in any given sample of the human population, but what really disappointed me was when Professor Lawrence Krauss (someone who I actually admire for his work in the scientific field and have read his books) decided that he would throw a tantrum like a 3 year old, and demanded to leave unless his intolerant demands for absolute non-segregation were met. He’s walking out of a hugely anticipated event for which many people have travelled great distances in order to debate and learn, and here he is – the grand Professor refusing to even discuss the issue with Hamza Andreas Tzortzis and come to a compromise (a compromise that was already achieved by the seating arrangement already in place).

    A debate is meant to be about learning and understanding between two groups of people. The Quran encourages such interaction, which is why iERA organises these debates.

    What Krauss demonstrated on Saturday was a flagrant violation of his liberal values, and an arrogant imposition of his opinion upon those who do not subscribe to it. Somewhat hypocritical and contradictory for someone who claims that there are no absolute / objective moral truths!

    Instead of debating and discussing the problem, he chose to force his view as the fundamentalist that he is. The sheer force and arrogance with which Krauss imposed his opinion, you’d think it was a moral value as certain/objective as saving a life, which it isn’t.

    Absolutely disappointed with Krauss, moreso than the atheist looms that caused the problem.

    • Again, you have simply not read my article and are addressing something else, namely the attacks on iERA about the debate. This is what is known as ‘spam’.

      If I did not have the policy of publishing ALL comments put on my site I would have left this out as irrelevant.

      However, since you bring it up, please note the iERA’s Salim Chagtai told the Daily Mail that they were investigating internally and would take action if anyone was found to be forcibly segregating.

      So they seem less sure than you are.

      Funny that.

  16. AK says:

    There is clear precedence in many cultures for gender segregation, including the West. You need to realise that segregated seating is not done on the basis of prejudice, discrimination or to place the said-gender at a disadvantage. If it was so, then the Muslim females in this example would not have been ok with it (at the end of the Q&A session, one of the Muslim females from the back actually read out a statement to Krauss on behalf of them defending their preferred seating at the rear and that he should not have forced his atheistic rule on them).

    The fact that Islam prefers segregation of the genders is because of a value that you simply don’t understand.Try and understand the premise, the values and beliefs that underpin the segregation before you start to disagree with me. People seem to appreciate the obvious reasons behind gender segregation in sport, toilets, prisons and some western schools. So how about you try and understand what seems “obvious” to Muslims at these events?

    Muslims recognise the innate nature of both males and females to feel attracted to the opposite sex, and prefer to prevent scenarios where premarital/extramarital relationships may develop. No ones accusing the opposite gender of “pouncing” or lacking self discipline entirely. But humans have time and time again, through what is only a natural and innate instinct, found themselves attracted to / indulging in what is considered to be a sin. High school, college and university romances are not new, so let’s not pretend it doesn’t happen. The only difference between the non-Muslim and Muslim view about this is that Muslims consider such relationships/indulgences to be a sin, hence a measure of prevention is considered necessary.

    Muslims have no problem with males and females interacting where necessary; teacher-student, salesman-customer, employer-employee, doctor-patient, etc. There are some grey areas too, but mixed seating between opposite genders is seen as unnecessary. In any case, this event did NOT enforce segregation, it merely provided a section for those who wanted to reserve their own area while allowing everyone else to sit in a mixed arrangement.

    Please, lets stop with the Fox News narrative about all things concerning Islam and Muslims. Disagree with the segregation all you want, but you can’t call it prejudice, discrimination or a deliberate attempt to place anyone at a disadvantage.

    • Much like iERA, you have taken it upon yourself to speak for Islamic Orthodoxy (which never was banal enough as you are to justify lecture hall segregation by analogy with public toilets and changing rooms). However, you fail to quote any manual of fiqh or classical authority (since, like iERA, you do not appear to believe in them, perhaps pursuant to your appearent assertion of Godhood by knowing the unseen in your first post above).

      It is clear you did not even take the time to read my article as you have not addressed any of the points therein. And in any case you provide no explanation as to why iERA is happy to allow male speakers like Tzortzis to address mixed gatherings and even female retreats(?). Does your belief encompass the ‘reality’ that men have greater sexual continence than women? We look forward to female-on-male rape gangs with baited breath then.

      You have merely given your own, rather boring, narrative about male/female relationships and the horrors of ‘high school romances’ etc. and this is of absolutely no consequence according to Islam. For example, where is your proof that high school romances are bad? In fact, where is your proof of anything you have said?

      Since iERA themselves are unsure enough of whether segregation was enforced or not to carry out an ‘internal investigation’, perhaps you should reserve judgement also.

      Furthermore, if they agreed to non-segregation at the event with UCL in advance (as they themselves say they did) then your whole lengthy wafflefest is of no moment.

      As for that paragraph about the Fox News narrative, you are clearly too much in love with Tzortzis, since you copied it from him verbatim,

      • I Get It says:

        As a muslim I completely understand your points and agree with them

        Good work on the article. People really ought to read and try to understand your article just because your dare critically analyse an organisation that has “Islam” in its name and undertakes Dawah. It would not be an issue if the IERA stopped being disingenuous and rebranded as SIERA or WIERA to make clear their Salafi/Wahabi leanings.

  17. Many thanks indeed, although I am afraid you made my point for me better than I did!

    The highly reactionary nature of the responses to the article lends weight to the contention that these guys consider Wahhabism/iERA brand of Islam = Islam and dissenters will be hanged, or takfired, which is Wahhabi terminology amounts to the same thing

  18. StopS says:

    Wow! I was so happy to see a critical voice spreading rational thinking and not the usual dogmatic drivel.
    But the comments here show that this is still a long fight. Islam, it seems, has a firm grip on some people who cling to outdated views and refuse to budge, resorting to insults and nonsensical challenges.
    It’s 2013 and high time Islam pulled its head out of the sand and acknowledged reality and what has happened in the last 1000 years.
    Good luck with your analysis and attitude.

    • Thanks, but I think you may have possibly misunderstood me a little: I am not advocating some kind of ‘update’ to Islam to bring it into line with 21st Century Liberalism: I am actually trying to emphasise that groups like iERA seem to be modernists and NOT traditional Islam.

      Their views are new in Islam, as is Wahhabism itself a relatively recent phenomenon; so in the past, even a thousand years ago, people would respect differences of opinion and would not in an occult manner enforce their view (which in iERA’s case is the wrong view in any case i.e it is unislamic). So the opinion that a woman can address a mixed audience, face uncovered etc.. goes back to traditional Islam, i.e. at least to Abu Hanifa (RA) who is from the first century of Islam.

      You are absolutely justified in your anger at their insults.rudeness etc.. but this has no basis in Islam and is part of their borrowing from post-modernism. Perhaps a crude example will bring this into light: in the classical period of Islam, it would be impossible to try and justify something like a suicide attack, as even the bare minimum of lip service to the Quranic and jurisprudential interpretations could in no way allow collateral damage and such. However, in the present century, individuals aping Communist revolutionaries and Anarchists and others have grafted these ideas onto a kind of ‘Arab Supremacy’ movement which they call Islamic for fear of alienating non-Arab Muslims. They seek to avenge perceived humiliations and find Islam a useful way to rally people to their cause: But they are advocating something which is NEW, not traditional or authentic.

      They do indeed find scholarly precedents for some of their stupidity, but this is the historical record of a lunatic fringe, which is found in any group or system of ideas from science to art, just the same as how in the future, many atheists and secularists will recoil at horror from Sam Harris’ opinion that some ideas are so dangerous that their holders deserve death.

      In no way do I agree that Islam is outdated or at fault if that is what you mean: any more than the actions of our own government invalidate capitalism in general or democracy because of the financial crisis or the Iraq War or whatever. We cannot invalidate an idea by the behaviour of those who claim to adhere to it, especially if they are not authorities, elected or otherwise, like iERA.

      I believe in traditional Islam, I find groups such as Quilliam etc abhorrent. I do not advocate a reform or change beyond what has always been done to adapt to new cultures and times, as Islam itself mandates: I am rather accusing groups like iERA of betraying Islamic principles in favour of adherence to reformist movements such as Salafism and Wahhabism. You are completely right that these guys are living in the past, however, it is an imaginary past of their choosing.

      Sorry if I misunderstood you at all. Many thanks for taking the time to read my article and comment.

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