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Is the reaction to Dr Yasir Qadhi's failure to say how he would help Muslims reasonable?

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Masters in Education from Nottingham University in the UK. Also studied Masters in Islamic Studies and Islamic Banking & Finance. Political activist with interests in Geopolitics, History and Phil ...
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In a Nutshell: Reaction has been mixed following Dr Yasir Qadhi's altercation on Twitter on 17th May 2020. Whilst many welcomed the holding to account of apolitical celebrity scholars (aloof from the needs and concerns of many, exhibiting dereliction of duty along with bringing scholarship into disrepute) others unfortunately sought to focus on activist styles.
Conflating the shari'ah etiquette rules relating to debates by critics with those of accountability and preventing sin means critics derail and impede accountability of a class who see themselves beyond reproach.

Introduction

On 17th May 2020, Dr Yasir Qadhi was asked a hypothetical question on Twitter as to what would he do to help the Islamic world if he was the king of Saudi Arabia.​​​​​

His response was unexpected as it was surprising. There was no mention about Islam’s raison d'etre which seeks political power to ensure the purpose of Islam is achieved in the world i.e., how he would rule by Islam, dispense justice, help the poor and needy, expel US interests and military presence, unite the ummah, abandon monarchy and divisive nationalism and so on.

Instead he claimed he would not wish to rule, saying he feared Allah's accountability, answering a different question: "Would you come and rule Saudi Arabia?" thereby avoiding the original question.

Question:

YasirQadhi sheikh what would you do for the islamic world if you were the king of Saudi Arabia.

Reply:

Alhamdulillah Allah saved me from such a trial. I would never want such a responsibility as I don’t want to have to answer to Allah on Judgment Day with such a massive responsibility on my neck. Alhamdulillah thumma alhamdulillah.

His follow up tweets issued no corrections. He even doubled down on his mistake, by attacking someone else who criticised his reply.

An activist, Saleem Khan, a graduate from Nottingham University in the UK, seeking to hold Qadhi to account for what he believed to be ongoing derelictions of duty as a scholar who was bringing the institution of scholarship into disrepute, tweeted a dua asking for scholars who were not spineless for the stance he had taken.

Qadhi responded in dramatic fashion attacking him personally and unleashing half a million Twitter followers to attack this poor soul who, whether you think was right or wrong in his style, was clearly doing what he believed to be his duty - visible in his Twitter responses to the deluge of vitriolic tweets full of #yqgems - the hashtag Qadhi has been using over Ramadan.

Is the reaction to Dr Yasir Qadhis failure to say how he would help Muslims reasonable?
UK podcast interviewer, Jalaluddin Patel, joined the foray arguing the style was inappropriate and harmful. When asked by Saleem to show him a better way, Patel blocked him, followed up by publishing an article on the medium platform criticising activist styles and advising how 'debates' should be undertaken, based on his experience.

His focus on style claimed it to be a major problem, ignoring the real point of contention, dereliction of scholarly duty to guide on a critical issue, what appeared to be politicking of the issue, followed by unleashing a Twitter mob via incendiary remarks, thus bringing scholarship into disrepute.

The original article can be found here, and the Twitter altercation appears here.

Who is Dr Yasir Qadhi?

Yasir Qazi was born in the US to parents of Pakistani origin, had a Saudi schooling and graduated in Chemical engineering from Texas University, later changing the spelling of his name. At 17, he came under the influence of teacher Ali al-Tamimi, under whom he developed extreme Salafi views. Al-Tamimi was sentenced in 2005 to life imprisonment in the US for inciting terrorism. He adopted political Salafiyya, denouncing secular democracies and declaring Sufis and Shia heretics, adopted the Palestinian cause with anti-Semitic rhetoric promoting holocaust as a hoax books which he retracted years later. Having worked in engineering at Dow Chemical, he enrolled at the Islamic University of Medinah in 1996, he graduated with a bachelor's degree in Arabic and a master's degree in Islamic Theology from its College of Dawah.

Following 9/11, the American Salafi movement fell apart as federal agents raided Muslim mosques, charities and businesses, resulting in prominent Salafis vanishing from clerical life or ending up in prison - many key figures convicted on charges ranging from tax evasion to visa-immigration violations.

Dr Yasir Qadhi is known for his apoliticism in relation to Islam, consciously undermining and marginalising the political in his seerah and tafseer talks, a point identified by critics. His videos promote an integrationist agenda, comprising nationalism fused with a personal faith, where he seeks to position himself as a moderate, everyone who differs with him being extremists. He promotes an American Islam, fusing secular ideologies with secularised remnants of Islam.

He repeatedly refuses to call for Islam via re-establishing khilafah, a matter that has been in abeyance for a century. The khilafah was a credal matter from the earliest generations of Muslims until its demise in 1924, the greatest obligation in Islam, agreed upon by all the classical scholars

He has been politely and gently reminded about this for years, choosing to respond in videos with diatribe, labelling Islamic groups who advocate “one unified political vision for the whole Ummah” as “not very wise or precise or academic” and “naively foolish” although Islam has in clear and categoric terms mandated a singular political authority for the entire global Ummah and mocking them as having achieved nothing in 80 years. (https://t.co/k9z8unnKoc)

So categoric is the command, a plethora of hadiths collected by the Imams Bukhari and Muslim command “striking the neck” of the latter claimant to the position of authority, to ensure “a singular political vision for the Ummah” is practically instituted. Such clear-cut evidences have throughout the Islamic history established undisputed normative political rulings; mujtahids of all schools of law considered an Ijma on the obligation of a singular political authority and vision for the entire ummah, albeit a small minority considering a colossal land separation and resultant inability to communicate to be an exception by necessity. Of-course such a limitation is not material at the current time.

Amongst the classical scholars who commented on the issue the famous Shafi'i jurist Juwayni (d. 478 AH) said:

"Muslims must have an Imam to lead them and that is the consensus of the opinion of the Ummah and Imams."

his student al-Ghazali (d. 505 AH) reinforcing the same:

"You should know the obligation of appointing an Imam is from the necessities of the Shari'ah which we cannot abandon." (al-Iqtisad fi al-I'tiqad, p. 19)
In the absence of the Khilafah:
"The judges will be suspended, the Wilayaat (provinces) will be nullified ... the decrees of those in authority will not be executed and all the people will be on the verge of Haram." (Fada'ih al-Batinah, p. 105)

Al-Nasafi (d. 701 AH) in his book of creed explained:

"The Muslims simply must have an Imam (Khaleefah), who will execute the rules, establish the hudud (penal system), defend the frontiers, equip the armies, collect Zakat, punish those who rebel (against the state) and those who spy and the highwaymen, establish jum'uah and the two eids, settle the dispute among the servants (of Allah), accept the testimony of witnesses in matters of legal rights, give in marriage the young and the poor who have no family, and distribute the booty." (Taftazani, Sharh al-Aqa'id al-Nasafiyah, p. 142)

Whilst Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728 AH) stated:

"It is imperative to know the office in charge of governing the people is one of the greatest obligations of the deen. Nay, there is no establishment of the deen or the dunya except by it. The interests of humans are not achieved except by social interaction due to their need of one another, and this social interaction necessarily requires a head... so he obligated making one a leader in a small and temporary social interaction in travel, drawing attention by this to all other types of social interaction.
Further, because Allah has obligated enjoining the good and forbidding the evil, and this is not executed except through a power and authority. The same applies to other obligations such as jihad, establishing justice, organising the hajj, jumu'a and the eids, assisting the oppressed, implementing the hudud; none of these are able to be executed except by a power and authority.
For this reason, it has been narrated that, "The sultan is the shade of Allah on Earth", and it is said, "Sixty years of an oppressive imam is better than one night without any leader," and experience substantiates this. Thus did the salaf such as al-Fadl ibn Iyad and Ahmad ibn Hanbal used to say, "If we had one du'a guaranteed to be answered, we would supplicate for the sultan." (al-Siyasah al-Shar'iyyah, p.129)


The Politicking of Etiquette

Contrary to Islam’s one unified political vision for the whole ummah, the colonialist project has for the past 200 years sought to completely dismantle Islam as a way of life and eradicate the socio-political systems of Islam including, a singular caliphate applying Islam’s system of life internally and convey Islam to the rest of the word. Contrary to Qadhi's assessment of notions of being “not very wise or precise or academic” and “naively foolish”, those that align with the colonialist project in opposition of the dictates of Islam are so, not the other way around.

To then draw attention to the choice of style is reprehensible when the matter being challenged is the undermining and detaching Islam’s socio-economic vision for a unified Islamic by celebrity sheikhs a phenomenon that has been increasingly highlighted in recent years. The seerah is full of many examples where the Messenger (saw) himself adopted styles and means that the Quraish they disliked and persisted on the approach despite being repeatedly asked to refrain from doing so:

Aqeel bin Abi Talib narrated when Quraysh approached Abu Talib, Abu Talib said to the Messenger (saw),"Oh my nephew! By Allah! As you well know, I have always listened to what you have to say. Your people have come to me to complain that in their gatherings and at the Kabah you tell them things that hurt them. If you think it appropriate, you should stop doing this." Looking towards the heavens, the Messenger(saw) replied, "I do not have the ability to stop doing what I have been sent to do just as any of you do not have the ability to grab hold of a spark of fire from the sun." (Bukhari, Tabarani)

Abu Talib called for the Messenger (saw) and told him that the people had come to him and told him many things about what the Messenger(saw) was doing. Addressing the Messenger (saw), he said further, "Have mercy on me and on yourself and do not cast on me a burden that neither of us can bear. Stop telling the people things that they dislike." Hearing this, it crossed the Messenger (saw)'s mind that his uncle had changed his opinions, that he would stop assisting him, that he would now hand him over to the people and that he had lost courage in supporting him. The Messenger (saw) said, "Oh my uncle! Even if the sun were placed in my right hand and the moon in my left hand, I would not forsake this work until Allah makes it dominant or I am destroyed in the process." After saying this, the eyes of the Messenger (saw) filled with tears and he began weeping. (Bayhaqi)

Muslims and non-Muslims alike have documented the colonial violent struggle to “reform” Islam. Joseph Massad in his book “Islam in Liberalism” argues the political and cultural bent and ongoing efforts of the United States and British (and France) before it, to produce an Islamic theology, if not a whole new “Islam” compatible with the colonial and imperial order they seek to impose on the Muslim Majority countries. A singular political vision for a unified Islamic world in which the Sovereignty of Allah is reinstituted throughout all spheres of life instead of pigeonholing Allah’s sovereignty to mere rituals and moral guidelines is not exceeds the red lines drawn by likes of Lord Cromer in Egypt and the Rand Corporation in support of the colonial project that has missionized a newly created secular “Islam” to the Muslims via superpower hegemonic institutions. Muslims globally must call out and question the sheikhs who promote a limited scope non-political Islam and more specifically those who undermine and seek to drive a “reformation” of Islam’s socio-political systems of life and values.

All this that should have been the core of the piece and instead it focuses on the irrelevant. Not only a missed opportunity for someone priding themselves as a potential statesman, but a gross misunderstanding of the reality resulting in advice about personality traits that was never in dispute and is in fact irrelevant.

Styles in Activism: Debates vs Accounting

The piece predictably and mundanely revolves around citations of Ghazali, to give it authority, elaborating etiquettes of debates.

The author appears unfamiliar that etiquettes relating to debates are not necessarily the same as other discourses like accounting, warning, calling, reprimanding, counselling, conveying, informing, commanding, discussing etc erroneously painting them all with the same brush. Whilst there are most certainly similarities, there are differences too in terms of aims and goals which then result in differing styles, means and etiquettes. The aim of discussion for instance is to explore possibilities, debate is to establish an agreeable position, argument is to prove one's position as stronger, informing is to convey information and so on. Accounting ensures one does their duty, harsher forms of accounting permitted and necessary when the former fails.

Patel leaves no room for nuanced responses contingent on aim and circumstances. The passages he quotes from Ghazali address debates between Muslim scholars discussing legitimate Islamic opinions to come to a common conclusion. Ghazali’s views on addressing those who spread views at odds with clear cut Islamic rulings are well documented and known.

Wisdom demands we place things in their correct place, whether it be harshness or gentleness, both are placed where Allah has ordained. Thus, we see evidences speaking of gentleness:

The Prophet (saw) said: “Indeed Allah is gentle (rafiq) and loves gentleness (rifq) in all matters.”

فَبِمَا رَحْمَةٍ مِّنَ اللَّهِ لِنتَ لَهُمْ ۖ وَلَوْ كُنتَ فَظًّا غَلِيظَ الْقَلْبِ لَانفَضُّوا مِنْ حَوْلِكَ ۖ فَاعْفُ عَنْهُمْ وَاسْتَغْفِرْ لَهُمْ وَشَاوِرْهُمْ فِي الْأَمْرِ ۖ۞ فَإِذَا عَزَمْتَ فَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُتَوَكِّلِينَ
“And by the mercy of Allah, you dealt with them gently. And had you been severe and harsh hearted, they would have broken away from you; so overlook (their faults), and ask forgiveness for them...” (Qur'an 3:159)

And evidences speaking of harshness:

۞ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ جَاهِدِ الْكُفَّارَ وَالْمُنَافِقِينَ وَاغْلُظْ عَلَيْهِمْ ۚ وَمَأْوَاهُمْ جَهَنَّمُ ۖ وَبِئْسَ الْمَصِيرُ
“O Prophet! Strive hard against the disbelievers and the hypocrites, and be harsh against them.” (Qur'an 9:73)

The Prophet said: '... A prophet's disciples used to act according to Allah's Book and His command and the ways of the Prophet. When they died. there came after them a party of men who used to deliver sermon upon pulpits but they themselves did bad deeds. When you will see it, then it will become the duty of every believer to fight with his hand . If he is unable to do it, he will fight with his tongue . Without this, his Islam does not remain." (Ghazali, Ihya Ulum al-deen, Vol. 2, p.182)

Allah, his messenger and the sahaba as well as classical scholarship employed anger, harsh terms and even condemnation on occasion - whether it was relating to judgements, dawa, revelation, commanding good or hostilities with enemies. This on occasion entailed nicknaming enemies of Islam, condemning anyone promoting asabiyya, anger with those unhappy with decisions, insults to those questioning the integrity of the companions or those challenging fundamental Islamic concepts. The Quran pejoratively nicknamed the prophet's uncle father of the flame and his wife a woodcarrier in sura masad, the prophet (saw) referred to anyone exhibiting jahil pride in asabiyya to be told to bite one's father's penis, the companion Abu bakr (ra) told Urwa to suck the clitoris of the goddess lat when he suggested they would abandon the messenger, the prophet exhibited anger on multiple occasions where people considered or undertook wrong doing such as an attempt to circumvent hudud for the rich, Umar (ra) being told he would accounted by the sword on inauguration, classical scholars like Qurtubi labelled the solitary scholar disputing the caliphate as deaf and so on. The shari'a sees nuance in human affairs and cannot be reduced to general rhetoric or slogans.

Urwah went to the Prophet (saw) and began speaking to him. The Prophet (saw) spoke as he had spoken to Budayl. Then Urwah said: "Muhammad, tell me: if you exterminate your tribesmen, have you ever heard of any of the Arabs who destroyed his own race before you? And if the contrary comes to pass, by God I see both prominent people and rabble who are likely to flee and leave you." Abu Bakr (ra) said, "Go suck the clitoris of al-Lat! Would we flee and leave him?" (Bukhaari 2581, History of al-Tabari, Vol. 8, p. 76)

It was narrated from Ubayy ibn Ka‘b that a man boasted in an ignorant manner of his tribal lineage, so he told him to bite his father’s male member, and he did not use a metaphor. The people looked askance at him, so he said: I can see what you are thinking and I can only say this: the Messenger of Allah (saw) instructed us: “If you hear someone boasting in an ignorant manner of his tribal lineage, then tell him to bite his father’s male member and do not use a metaphor.” (Ahmad 35/142; 35/157)

Zubair quarrelled with an Ansari who had participated in Badr in front of Allah's Messenger (saw) about a water stream which both of them used for irrigation. Allah's Messenger (saw) said to Zubair, "O Zubair! Irrigate (your garden) first, and then let the water flow to your neighbor." The Ansari became angry and said, "O Allah's Messenger! Is it because he is your cousin?" On that the complexion of Allah's Messenger (saw) changed (because of anger) and said (to Zubair), "Irrigate and then withhold the water till it reaches the walls (surrounding the palms)." (Bukhari 3/49/871)

Zayd ibn Khalid narrates: “A man asked the Prophet (saw) about what one might find in the street, without knowing its owner, what to do with it. The Prophet (saw) said to him: ‘Publicise it for a year, and then make sure to know its description and spend it. Should its owner come up, give it back to him.’ The man said: ‘What about a lost sheep?’ The Prophet (saw) said: ‘It belongs to you, your brother or the wolf.’ The man further asked: ‘What about a lost camel?’ The Prophet’s (saw) face was reddened with anger at this question, then he said to the man: ‘What do you want with it? It has its own hoofs and drink until its owner finds it.’” (Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah)

Famous scholars like ibn Hajar, Shatibi, Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn Qayyim et al discussed the issue concluding harshness and coarse language is permitted where necessary and beneficial. This is exceptional and not the rule.

Ibn Taymiyyah said:

“Whenever the speaker is treating us unjustly, then we are not obliged to respond to him (i.e. the one who insulted us) in a good manner.”
“Some of the scholars said this indicates that it is permissible to bluntly state the name of the private part if there is a need to do so or there is an interest to be served thereby, and this does not come under the heading of obscene speech that is forbidden, as in the hadith of Ubayy ibn Ka'b...” (Minhaj al-Sunnah al-Nabawiyyah, 8/408, 409)

Ibn Hajar noted:

“... there is a permissibility of uttering offensive words to scorn someone who did something by which he deserves this.” (Fath al-Bari, 5/340)

Whilst Ibn Qayyim stated:

"It is evidence for the permission of explicitly naming the private part if it is in the best interest… for every situation has an appropriate speech." (Zad al-Ma’aad 3/267)

The ummah instinctively know this to be the case and exhibit relevant sentiment, seen in incidents like the Rushdie affair, Danish cartoons, Iraq war, Khashoggi's murder, Quilliam Foundation, Prevent, LGBTQ, Burma, India, Kashmir, Syria and Yemen, or the lone journalist who threw his shoes at George Bush in a press conference.

Furthermore, to condemn activists over his judicious use of harsh language whilst totally ignoring those deserving of it like Qadhi or giving them the benefit of the doubt is confused at best, a double standard at worst. Why not give the one holding him to account benefit of the doubt too?

Given the copious citations of Ghazali, it would be appropriate to cite what he ignored that is directly relevant and applicable to holding scholars to account - as part of the imperative "commanding good". Ghazali's observations on those deserving of harsh treatment goes far beyond coarse wording in a discussion appearing in his Ihya under the chapter of "Modes of Prevention of Sin":

"Know, oh dear readers, that there are different modes of prevention of sins in different stages. The first stage is to know the condition of the sinner, the second stage is to inform him of the harm of sin, the third stage is to prevent him from doing the sinful act the fourth stage is to advise him, and give him admonition the fifth stage is to rebuke him and use harsh words, the sixth stages is to apply force, the seventh stage is to give him threat of beating, the eight stage is to actually beat him the ninth stage is to use weapons against him and the tenth stage is to fight against him with followers and soldiers.
(1) The First stage. To spy into the secrets of a sinner is prohibited. So, one should not enquire what is occurring in a house. But if anyone informs you that a certain man in drinking or wine doing some unlawful act, it then becomes your duty to prevent it so the first thing is to enquire about the condition of the sinner.
(2) The second stage is to inform the sinner that he is committing or going to commit a sin. Many men do sinful acts out of ignorance. If warning is given, they may themselves desist from the sinful acts. For instance, an illiterate man observes his prayer but does not bow and prostrate well or prays with unclean cloth. Had he known them; he would not have prayed thus... Man is not born learned. Learning shall have to be acquired.
(3) The third stage is to prohibit a sinner by sermon, admonition and showing fear of God. If a man commits sin after knowing it to be a sin, he should be given sermon and shown fear of God's punishment. He should be informed of the traditions of the Prophet which deal with punishment of the crime. The Muslims are like one soul and so the destructive faults should be removed from the soul. One who gives advice should take precaution whether he himself is free from that vice...
(4) The Fourth stage is an abuse and using harsh words. If there is good result in the use of soft words with the wrong doer, harsh words should not he resorted to. When it fails, then use harsh words and abuse him. This is like the words of Prophet Abraham: Woe to you and what you worship except God. Use such words to him: 0 fool, don't you fear God. 0 sinner, 0 ignorant man. This wise man is he who has been described by the Prophet in the following words: The wise man is he who humbles himself and acts for what is after death and the fool is he who follows low desires and hopes for forgiveness of God. There are two rules in this stage. Don't abuse except when necessary and use harsh words when necessary. If appreciable result is not seen by the measure, express anger by turning away from him.
(5) The Fifth stage is to correct evils by hand, such as pouring wine, taking off silk dress from the body, ejecting from a land unlawfully occupied. This method should be adopted after the failure of the first four stages. Keep correction within limit and don't exceed what is necessary.
(6) The Sixth stage is to threaten and warn. If all the previous modes of correction fail, this method should be adopted. For instance, one should say to the drunkard: Throw away the wine, otherwise I shall break your head and I shall strike your neck, or I shall put you to disgrace.
(7) The Seventh stage is to assault by hand or stick in case the previous modes of correction fail.
(8) Eighth stage is to fight with followers being armed. Many a time people arms are necessary to ward off evil because many a time wrong door with his party man remain ready to fight. When the two parties meet, fight begins and it is necessary for pleasure of God and to remove the injuries of sinful actions. It is allowed for the warriors against the unbelievers. Similarly it is necessary to bring the great transgressors under control." (Ihya Uloom al-Deen, Vol 2, p.191)

Similar advice is given on his section on commanding good and forbidding evil:

"There are five stages of enjoining good and forbidding evil:

(1) The first stage is giving simple advice,
(2) The second stage is to give sermon with sweet words,
(3) The third stage is to abuse and mere out harsh treatment,
(4) The fourth stage is to apply force and prevent one from doing a sinful, act, such as to throw wine from its pot,to ****** away dress of silk and stolen articles and to return them to rightful owner and
(5) The fifth stage is to assault, beat and threaten one from doing a sinful act except in the fifth stage man is not required to obtain permission of the authorities to do such works in the four stages."

Holding someone like Qadhi to account for dereliction of scholarly duty and bringing the scholarly institution into disrepute is important as scholarship in Islam is a sacred institution. Scholars are inheritors of the prophets as per sayings of the Prophet (saw) - guardians, interpreters and conveyors of a divine revelation. The ummah expects scholars to lead them, guide them, illuminate the way forward in our time of darkness, not scuttle into the darkness, basking in the likes and retweets of fawning followers on social media.

The prophet saw said "... A man who has studied knowledge and has taught it and who used to recite the Qur'an will be brought and Allah will make known to him His favors and he will recognize them and say: And what did you do about them?
He will say: I studied [religious] knowledge and I taught it and I recited the Qur'an for Your sake.
He will say: You have lied - you did but study knowledge that it might be said: He is learned. And you recited the Qur'an that it might be said: He is a reciter. And so it was said. Then he will be ordered to be dragged along on his face until he is cast into Hell-fire." (Muslim)

Finally, one must not ignore the stereotype of an unperturbable protestant missionary activist that has been imposed on us as being the ideal Islamic da'ee is utopianism at its best. Humans are diverse in their nature, temperaments, styles and approaches - when the messenger did not impose this stereotype on the sahaba, Umar, Abu Bakr, Hamza, Bilal, Khalid through to Muawiya, Ammar, Jafar all exhibiting significant variations in their mannerisms and approaches, so who are we to attempt to do so? What do we know the messenger who developed them did not?

We need to break these Western paradigms informing our thinking and recentre the more nuanced shar'i alternatives, appropriate to the activities we are looking at undertaking, the audiences we face, and the varying contexts they occur within.

Otherwise we risk shifting from one extreme to another, with an exaggerated focus on style, substance having been jettisoned a long time ago.

Conclusion

Articles such as these muddy already muddied waters by adding another layer of confusion rather than clarifying important notions and addressing those at fault in a reasonable and balanced manner.

Commanding good and holding to account can be undertaken harshly if necessary or beneficial where scholars are failing in their duty to correctly advise, fail to defend Islam or refuse to call for the resumption of Islam via the khilafah. Conflating all this with etiquette of debate is fallacious as its aim is quite different - to come to a common position where views vary if possible.

Where one wishes to speak of styles of activism, it is at the very least expected they follow their own advice - understand the subject and context, advise calmly and politely, in private rather than in public, discuss rather than block and if asked to illustrate how it should be done, demonstrate. Following Ghazali's spirit, a brotherly resolution should have been proposed, where both disputants sit down and discuss concerns, ending preferably by each giving the other a big hug.

Instead articles are penned, posts are issued on social media and talking points on the wrong issues are generated.

It is easy to selectively cite Ghazali... less so to cite accurately... even less so to live by Ghazali.

“With neither guide nor companion the journey on the road to the next life, with its many pitfalls, is toilsomely tiresome.

The guides to the road are the ulamā (religious scholars) who are the heirs of the prophets, but our time is void of them and only the superficial [or those who just apparently resemble them] (almutarassimūn) remain, most of who have been overcome by Satan and lured by iniquity.

Every one of them has become infatuated with his immediate fortune. Thus, they have begun to consider good as evil and evil as good, so that the knowledge of religion has become effaced and the torch of guidance has been extinguished in all over the world. They have made the people imagine that there is no knowledge except the fatwā of a government by which judges seek help in settling disputes when the foolish people quarrel; or ability in disputation by which one who seeks glory arrays himself to conquer and silence by argument; or adorned rhymed prose by which the preacher seeks to gradually persuade the common folk, since they do not see anything but these three to trap and snare unlawful vanities (of this world).

As to the knowledge of the path to the next life, according to which the pious forefathers trod and which Allāh in His Book called fiqh (discernment), hikmah (wisdom), ‘ilm (knowledge), diyā’ (illumination), nūr (light), hidāyah (right guidance), and rushd (rectitude), it had become folded away and quite forgotten among people.” (al-Ghazālī, Ihyā’, Vol.1, p. 2; “The Book of Knowledge”)


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