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What is your opinion of the Mohammed Hijab interview of Dr Jonathan Brown and Dr Shadee al-Masri?

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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:
Brown’s views on how minority Muslim communities should thrive and function in Western societies are incoherent and categorically opposed to the sharia. To expect Muslims to support rights for gay marriages, insulting of the Prophet (saw) and such like are unacceptable. There can be no separation of politics and fiqh with Brown unclear of the relationship between the two.
The interview failed to explore the problematic assumptions underpinning Brown’s political views, instead seeking to provide a justification for them via the principle of "lesser of two evils". It was naively assumed he was simply calling for American Muslims to be allowed to practice their religion, ignoring the elephant in the room, to live by Islam necessitates dar al-Islam - something systematically ignored by Brown and Yaqeen's discourse. Brown in effect calls for a partial following of Islam - an Islam-lite so to speak - where the bulk of the deen can be abandoned and ignored.
Understanding Islam as a contending social order and way of life that requires power to bring it to life, changes our dynamic as Muslim minorities in the West. Instead of seeking to integrate and endlessly reorienting our way of life to appease increasingly hostile Western elites and publics, our collective aim has to change to resume Islam via its structures of power, governance and rule - the Khilafah. Muslims in the West can contribute by targeting tenable states in the Muslim world with public calls to change their systems, strong contenders would include Pakistan, Turkey or Indonesia.


Dr Jonathan Brown is an Associate Professor at Georgetown University and Director of Research at the Yaqeen Institute based. Dr Shadee Elmasry is also a scholar based in America with a PhD from SOAS.

UK based activist Muhammad Hijab interviewed Dr Jonathan Brown about his recent controversial publications on the Yaqeen Institute website. These included his support for the right for gay marriage and recommending American Muslims to support the right to gay marriage under US law, supporting the right to insult the Prophet (saw) and supporting transgender demands for non-segregated gender-neutral toilets.

The interview explored Brown’s socio-political commentaries and policies for Muslims in the US, revealing assumptions that raise serious concern over his contribution to contemporary discourse about Muslims in the West.

The wider output of both Brown and Yaqeen have been taken out of the scope of this answer which seeks to focus on Brown's interview responses to these issues but a cursory review suggests they exhibit similar patterns.

Synopsis of the Interview

Brown starts with clarifying he does not believe homosexual acts, liwat (sodomy) or gay marriages are permitted in the sharia where gender relations are clearly and categorically defined. Instead he says he seeks to make a social and political argument, rather than an Islamic fiqh based argument, by putting “religious issues” aside. Muslims are apparently encountering for the first time “how western societies view sexuality and gender”, so he poses the question, “how do we preserve our faith and our community, how do we do amr bilmaroof and nahi anilmunkar in our society, and how do we preserve our religion and spread it?” Apparently only through "political engagement, pluralism, promoting soft liberal pluralistic society where different groups can follow their lifestyles and religion under shared secular authority that preserves the protection of rights … and the law is very minimal in the way it imposes its moral or cultural views”, akin to a millet type system seen under Muslim civilisations historically albeit power and authority now residing in secular systems with non-Muslims.

Hijab challenged this argument citing Lut’s (as) prohibition of homosexuality would not permit Brown to advocate gay marriage rights; Brown failed to see the obvious connection. Brown also could not see the contradiction in claiming "supporting the right to gay marriage was acceptable in Islam" but "gay marriage itself was forbidden". One began wondering if his views were being blinded by ideology.

Brown’s core concern he explained seemed to be with the state’s growing interference and invasiveness in the affairs of Muslim communities amongst others, which he believes may even prohibit Muslim marriages one day. Unusually he argues, “my marriage is a contract between me, my wife, her family and god - nothing to do with the government” failing to note contracts require judicial contexts, without which they are simply agreements, which in turn require governments of some form for authority. The fact sharia requires we have qadhis is an issue which he glosses over.

The law he argues should be minimally defined by the state thereby recognising Muslim marriages, government being precluded the right to define marriage, even if it is between a man and a woman. To impede government from such determinations, American Muslims should support the right to gay marriage under US law. Shadee advised it was better to abstain from debates where one had to take such a position or its opposite that anyone may marry as both were objectionable.

Brown claimed he was making neither an Islamic nor an usuli argument but a liberal argument. His logic seemed to be underpinned by an unusual sort of liberal principle, “whilst I believe x to be sinful, I will defend your political right to undertake x so I can benefit my community’s practice.” Needless to say no such principle exists in the shari’a and in fact, Muslims are always expected to ensure their acts are morally situated in the halal and not to go beyond that. Hijab and Dr Shadee claimed it was not possible to separate morality and politics, as the sharia guided our political formulations and for Brown to advocate liberalism, soft or hard, he was violating the sharia. Hijab’s attempt to position Brown’s argument in the maslaha/mufasada paradigm found it fell into maslaha mulgha, an illegitimate position. Brown revised his claim downwards saying he was doing little more than providing guidance and structuring the issue.

Brown became increasingly annoyed with his interlocutors for misunderstanding him. Maintaining his original position, he claimed subsequent events rendered his piece obsolete but the piece would remain on the Yaqeen site though he may write another piece later.

Brown’s overt liberalist logic lead Hijab to observe he was arguing as a Progressive Muslim, not the traditional Muslim he had always held himself out to be.

Shadee claimed Brown was not contradicting “what is known in Islam by necessity”, as the issue required ijtihad so was one of difference of opinion. How he reached the Muslim community supporting gay marriage was ijtihadi remained unclear. Simultaneously and confusingly he also critiqued Brown’s claims saying whilst valid contracts and agreements to obey the law of the land should be fulfilled as they are imposed upon us, we don't have to support or endorse them regardless of any benefits, as we have the option of abstention - likewise with supporting gay marriages.

Hijab considered the advocating of rights for gays, permitting the insulting of the prophet or promoting liberal ideology were hardly matters of ijtihad. Instead of suggesting an Islamic alternative, he advised Brown to adopt the paradigm of "lesser of two evils" to defend his policy proposals, encouraging him not to give concrete examples so as to avoid controversies. Dr Shadee enthusiastically added he could easily justify "a lesser of two evils" approach for him as any evils were hypothetical whilst the benefits were real – forgetting moments earlier he had lectured Brown's deployment of "lesser of two evils" by suggesting the shar’a required he adopt the position of silence as the only morally legitimate stance and Muslims adopt their own platform. This was something Brown appeared uncomfortable with as it would open him to further criticism - now an open advocate of evil whilst knowingly concealing its implications.

When Hijab asks how best viewers should respond to those criticising Brown’s positions, Dr Shadee surprisingly entered into a diatribe against them calling them cockroaches, rats and hyenas who anonymously attack people using pseudonyms and such like. Having spoken earlier about the importance of etiquette and nodded along with Brown’s sermon of adab, this seemed a strange note to end the interview on.


This was a revealing interview, with Brown’s socio-political commentary on Muslim communities in America coming under the spotlight, a pretty uncomfortable experience for him as he appeared visibly agitated on a number of occasions. It also raised issues about Brown’s conceptualisation of Islam the deen, how it is to be lived by communities and how it is to be conveyed to other nations.

Separation of Political Policies from Islam

The first issue to emerge was Brown’s separation of his political policy recommendations and revelation. He was quite explicit about this at the start of the interview and when questioned about his stance, sought to modify his wording during the interview however without modifying his actual position.

Whilst he does not advocate for any strain of ideological secularism, acknowledging a legitimate role for sharia in the exercise of power and politics in the Muslim world, he appears to see no such role for it for Muslim communities in America. He makes an unusual “fiqhi vs social” distinction that he repeats in various forms throughout the interview suggesting the adoption of a soft form of secular ideology. This distinction appears to be based on political necessity and utility for a Muslim community to flourish in America.

Hijab correctly pulled him up on this argument, arguing the traditional scholarly position is the shari’a alone determines what is of benefit or harm for Muslims, and his demand Muslims support rights for gay marriage would be considered invalid on such a basis. There is a consensus that principles like utilitarianism have no place in Islam as the basis for moral judgements with a plethora of texts condemning such approaches:

"If the truth were to follow their whims and desires, the heavens and the earth and everyone in them would have been brought to ruin." (Qur'an 23:71)

"But no, by your Lord, they can have no real faith until they make you judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions..." (Qur'an 4:65)

A number of jurists historically proposed a theory based on considering interests (masalih) and purposes of the sharia (maqasid) where the sharia had no explicit legislation. Masalih al-mutabara were fixed interests and purposes having been legislated by sharia (religion, life, mind, lineage and wealth), masalih al-mulgha were interests forbidden to be pursued (e.g., surrender to an enemy). Masalih al-mursala were interests not explicitly legislated – these could be considered according to the purposes of the Sharia. One of the proponents of this theory, Abu Ishaaq al-Shatibi however did voice caution in the use of the principle:

“The Objective behind the Shariah is to liberate individuals from desires in order to be a true slave of Allah and that is the legitimate Maslaha (benefit)… Violating the Shariah under the pretext of following the basic objectives or values (maqasid) of the Shariah is like the one who cares about the spirit without the body, and since the body without the spirit is useless, therefore the spirit without the body is useless too.” (Shatibi, al-Muwafaqat fee Usul al-Ahkam, p. 25)

Brown’s policy falls into the category of masalih al-mulgha which means it would be invalid.

Brown however seems to be suggesting he is doing something more akin to the siyar tradition of Caliphs who formulated political policy devoid of ijtihad and fiqh – but struggles to explain how even such formulations could take us down paths which are prohibited.

Secular Rule

Brown argues for secular rule, albeit a soft liberal sort, to be the most desirable form for American Muslim communities to flourish. Hijab and Dr Shadee overlooked this astonishing claim.

Whilst one may defend Brown by stating he is referring to the best of all possible secular systems, he fails to make such a case. It is unclear and by no means obvious that a minimal state is the best alternative - simply consider liberalisation of the economy in recent decades and its effects. More importantly, whilst Muslim communities in the West find themselves living under secular systems, it is not the most desirable situation by any stretch of the imagination. The most desirable situation is to live under Islam and its sharia via the caliphate, which would preserve and facilitate communal life for all faiths as seen under centuries of Islamic rule, and seek to convey its just social order to mankind via jihad. This was the call of every Messenger including Muhammad (saw) whilst in Mecca:

"O Bani Abd al-Muttalib, I don't know of any Arab youth who came to his people with a notion better than I came with. I came to you with the goodness of this world and the Hereafter. Allah (swt) ordered me to call you to Him. Who is going to support me regarding this matter, so that he will be my brother, my agent (wasi) and my successor (khalifah) among you?" (Tarikh al-Tabari, Vol. 2, p. 322, Ibn Hisham, Seerah Rasul Allah, p.119)

Ismail ibn Iyas ibn Afif, a trader visiting Mecca was speaking with Abbas, the Messenger's uncle, when he saw a man, a woman and child praying near the Ka'bah. On enquiring about them, Abbas told him it was his nephew Mohammad, his wife Khadija and cousin Ali (ra). He said, “The man was Muhammad ibn Abdullah, his nephew, who believed Allah had sent him as a Messenger and the treasures of the emperors of Rome and Persia would be opened for him” … Afif (ra) said he wished he believed that day, as he would have been the fourth in Islam. (Ibn Ishaq, al-Seerah wa al-Maghazi, pp. 137-138)

"Oh my uncle! All I want these people to do is to accept a single statement that would make the Arabs serve them and make the non-Arabs pay them jizyah." Taken aback they exclaimed, "Only one statement! By the oath of your father, we are prepared to accept ten such statements! What is this statement?" Abu Talib also asked, "Oh my nephew! What is this statement?" The Messenger (saw) replied, "Laa Ilaaha Illallah." Upon hearing this, they hastily stood up and brushing down their clothing, they said, "Does he make all the gods into one god... This is something very strange." (Ahmed, Nisa'i, Tirmidhi, Ibn Abi Hatim)

When the Messenger (saw) called to Allah in his time of weakness and loneliness, he used to say: 'Allah has sent me and promised me He will make my deen overcome all other deens. My authority will defeat the power of Rome and Persia. I will defeat all kings and my kingdom and that of my followers will spread all over the earth.' (Qadi Abd al-Jabar, Tathbit Dala'il an-Nubuwwah, Vol. 2, p. 314)

It is something upon which all classical scholars reached a consensus.

Abul Hasan al-Mawardi for instance observed:

Imamah is established as being succession to the prophethood in the protection of the deen and the administration of the worldly affairs. (Al-Ahkam as-Sultaniyyah, p. 56)

while Ibn Hazm observed:

"All of ahl al-sunnah agreed, as did all the murji'a, all the shi'a, and all the khawarij upon the obligation of the Imamah, and that it is obligatory on the ummah to submit to a just imam, who establishes upon them the ahkam of Allah, and manages their affairs by the ahkam of the shari'a with which the Messenger of Allah (saw) came..." (al-Fasl fi Milal wa al-Ahwaa wa al-Nihal, 4:87)

And Ibn Taymiyyah 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)

Even Western scholarship have noted the inherent fusion of revelation and power in the Muslim tradition, Edward Gibbon author of the classic “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” writing:

“The order, the discipline, the temporal and spiritual ambition of the clergy, are unknown to the Moslems; and the sages of the law are the guides of their conscience and the oracle of their faith. From the Atlantic to the Ganges the Koran is acknowledged as the fundamental code, not only of theology but of civil and criminal jurisprudence; and the laws which regulate the actions and the property of mankind are guided by the infallible and immutable sanction of the will of God”

Role of Government

Brown advocated a minimalist form of government, as per classical liberal theory, citing the example of marriage being all the better for it. However there was a failure to challenge this claim. Marriage in Islam and every tradition around the world is a well-defined institution that fits into society for a clear purpose, rights and duties allocated to all its members, and processes defined for its creation and dissolution.

By demanding government plays a minimal role in defining and regulating this institution, who then defines all this? Who enforces it? How are disputes resolved? Brown’s simplistic claim “my marriage is between me, my wife, her family and god - nothing to do with the government” is utopian at best, dangerous at worse. Brown, his wife nor the family can enforce anything in the matter of a dispute, opening the doors to conflicts in custody cases, inheritance, breach of the marriage contract by either party and so on.

The role of government is summarised by the Qur'anic verse:

Those who, if We give them authority in the land, establish prayer and give zakah and enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. And to Allah belongs the outcome of matters. (Qur'an 22:41)

And seen in how the Prophet (saw) organised his polity. Abu Bakr and Umar (ra) were the Prophet’s (pbuh) viziers (assistants) and he appointed wulah (governors) for provinces and ummaal (mayors) for the cities. He appointed Attab ibn Aseed over Makkah after its opening and Bazan ibn Sasan as wali (governor) over Yemen. He appointed Mu’az ibn Jabal over Jund, Khalid ibn Sa’id as amil (mayor) over San’aa, Zayd ibn Labeed al-Ansari over Hadramut and Abu Musa al-Ash’ari over Zabeed and Aden. He appointed ‘Amr ibn al-’Aas over Oman whilst Abu Dujana was ‘amil over Madinah. He appointed secretaries as heads of departments, Ali secretary of agreements and peace treaties, Mu’ayqeeb in charge of the official seal and secretary for booty, Huzayfah ibn al-Yaman assessed the fruits of the Hijaz, Zubair ibn al-Awaam used to record funds of the sadaqah, al-Mughira ibn Shu’abah used to record debts and transactions and Shurabeel ibn Hasanah wrote letters to other states. He assigned fourteen men for a Shura council whom he used to refer to for seeking opinions, seven from Muhajiroon and seven from Ansar. Amongst them were Abu Bakr, Hamza, Umar, Ali, Ja’far, Bilal, Ibn Mas’ud, Salman, Ammar and Abu Dharr. He collected funds due on Muslims and non-Muslims and on lands, fruits and livestock including: zakat, ushr, fai, kharaj and jizyah. The funds of spoils and booties went to the Bait al-Maal (treasury). Zakat was distributed on the eight categories mentioned in Qur'an and affairs of the State were funded through the fai, kharaj, jizyah and booty.

The classical scholars concurred, with Juwayni stating:

The Imamah is a perfect authority and general leadership over the people, commons as well as notables, in all important religious and worldly affairs; the purpose of which is defense of territory [of Dar al-Islam], looking after the interests of the community, establishing Islamic da'wah by providing evidence and even by using force, denouncing the deviation, abstaining from inequity and oppression, providing help and support to the oppressed against transgressors and recovering the dues from those who refuse to be paid to those who were deprived of their rights. (Ghiyath al-Umam fi iltiyath al-Zulam, p. 22)

Whilst Nasafi explained:

"The Muslims simply must have an Imam, who will execute the rules, establish the hudud, defend the frontiers, equip the armies, collect Zakat, punish those who rebel and those who spy and the highwaymen, establish jum'uah and the two eids, settle the disputes, 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)

It is for good reason the sharia ordains judicial structures, enforcement, bayt al-mal and defines rights and duties for all parties so there is clarity and means to organise society and resolve disputes. All this flows from the appointment of government, the Khalifah, by Muslims.

Misapplication of Islam

Hijab having understood Brown’s attempts at solving the problem of how Muslim communities are expected to flourish in non-Muslim Western societies, sympathises with Brown’s attempts at seeking a solution. However his recommended cure is worse than the disease he seeks to cure. He suggests Brown justify his call using the usuli principle of the lesser of two evils. It would also be better to repackage his call by focusing on urging the government not to interfere in communal life for anyone, and not mention specific examples of possible consequences such as gays being able to marry or people insulting the prophet.

Brown is clearly uncomfortable with this suggestion, arguing it avoids addressing serious questions, which one would have to address if asked.

Shadee who also concurs with deploying this principle, contradicts his earlier advice to Brown to abstain from holding his positions just as he would when asked to comment on the left or the right as both contained problematic issues. In this case he fails to explain why abstention is not the best position and Brown should instead engage in evil.

More fundamentally, principles like that of the lesser of two evils are meant to be exceptional principles, not principles that our entire ways of life are built on, so that our ways of life become evil – something the sharia did not intend. The reason they are deployed in this general way is because there is a more serious and fundamental problem all of them ignore – Islam as a dominant socio-political order that is missing in this debate.

Islam the Deen

Brown’s way forward for Muslim communities in America seeks “engagement, pluralism, promoting a soft liberal pluralistic society where different groups can pursue their own moral-religious visions and lifestyles under a shared protection of rights”.

At root of this debate is a major failure to understand Islam as a deen, an embodied collective tradition that requires a polity for its existence, whereby it calls mankind to Islam via jihad. Any close reading of the seerah of the final messenger cannot fail but to note this.

This living tradition emerged in the Prophet’s (saw) Medina and remained throughout the eras of the khulafah rashida, the Ummayads, the Abbasids and Ottomans, destroyed in 1924 by European powers. In its place, nation states were created, and Islam reduced to a personal secular religion, stripped of all pretensions to power, rule and dominance, accepted and normalised by new elites, one that allows Muslims to integrate and submissively live in secular nation states in accordance to their dictates.

Claims rejecting the ruling system of Islam, its khilafah governance system, were published by the modernist scholar Ali Abd al-Raziq in 1925 in his book “Islam and Governance”. Following an enquiry by the University of al-Azhar into accusations against him that he promoted modernist ideology, attacked the khilafah claiming Islam was secular, they concluded he was not suited to be described as a scholar (aalim). In accordance with the university procedures and the unanimous agreement of twenty-four scholars from the Council of Senior Scholars, judged Sheikh Ali Abdul Raziq, a member of the University of al-Azhar and author of the book “Islam and Governance” be expelled from the community of scholars.

The Messenger (saw) commented on the implications of the breakdown of Islam as a social order, starting with ruling and ending with salat:

“The knots of Islam will be undone one by one, each time a knot is undone the next one will be grasped, the first to be undone will be the Ruling and the last will be Prayer” (Hakim/Ahmed)

Echoed in many texts and sayings:

People were building high building during the time of Umar (ra), who said: 'Oh Arab people, don't build such high buildings. There is no Islam except with jama'ah, and no jama'ah except with imarah (leadership), and no imarah except with ta'ah (obedience). If people appoint a leader who has fiqh then there will be life for him and them, but if they appoint a leader without fiqh, it will be theirs and his destruction.' (Ibn Abd al-Birr, Jami Bayan Al Ilm Wa Fadhluh 1:263)

This situation was commented on by classical scholars too, Ghazali arguing 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)

With such unstated assumptions, modernists and their cognates consider questions like, “how we socially and politically deal with challenges in our society?” assuming Western constructed facts on the ground as inviolable – whether they be secular nation states, their institutions or ideologies. Muslims in the Western are thus contextualised as minorities who can and should live by limited aspects of Islam instead of seeking to bring about a social order based on Islam. Every Messenger sought to bring about the Khilafah to establish Allah’s sharia as determinant of a new social order and to shape nations in accordance with it. None sought to establish a status quo where Muslims integrate into and live under kufr power and social order.

The modernist operating assumption then becomes Allah permits us to live as insecure and vulnerable communities under dominant kufr systems, and our role is to perpetually figure out how we navigate through their everchanging laws and policies.

If such formulations are further constrained by revelation, he has no way forward. And for good reason there is no way forward – the entire paradigm is incorrect. Assuming our communities must live secular ways of life under kufr authority must be challenged. They displace and marginalise more central, acute and necessary discussions of the need to resume Islam via the caliphate. Much of contemporary Muslim discourse is totally devoid of this pressing problem.

Taqi al-Din al-Nabhani, founder of Hizb ut-Tahrir, echoed the classical scholars, saying:

"The appointment of the Khaleefah is an obligation upon the Muslims. They are forbidden from spending more than two nights without giving a Bay'ah to him. If the Muslims did not appoint a Khaleefah within three days they would all be sinful until they had appointed a Khaleefah. The sin would not fall until they had exhausted their efforts to appoint a Khaleefah and continued to endeavour to appoint him. The obligation of appointing a Khaleefah has been confirmed by the Qur'an, Sunnah and the general consensus of the Sahabah.' (The Islamic State, p. 224)

Whilst the Algerian Sheikh Ali Belhadj of FIS said:

"The restoration of the Khilafah is of the greatest duties of the Deen: "Khilafah on the method of Prophethood". How can it not be. It is the greatest duty since the scholars of Islam and its famous people decided that the Khilafah is the basic obligation from the duties of this great Deen, but is "the greatest obligation", upon which the establishment of other duties depend. Neglecting the establishment of their obligation is one of the "greatest sins", and the loss, confusion, disputes, and the conflicts between Muslims, as individuals, and between the Islamic people, as countries, are only because the Muslims neglected the establishment of this great duty." (I'adat al-Khilafah)

And Sheikh al-Taher Ibn Ashour said:

"The establishment of a public and a private government for Muslims is one of the origins of Islamic legislation. This has been proven by numerous evidences from the Book and the Sunnah that reached the level of Tawatur Ma'nawi which made the Sahaba after the Prophet's death to rush, meet and consult to appoint a successor to the Prophet (saw) in looking after the affairs of the Muslim Ummah. Both the Muhajiroon and the Ansar agreed on the Day of Saqeefah to appoint Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (ra) a successor (Khaleefah) of the Prophet (saw) to the Muslims. Muslims did not differ after that in the obligation of establishing a Khaleefah except the odd insignificant some of the Khawarij and Mu'tazila who violated the agreement, so they were not given attention. And due to the status of the Khilafah in the foundations of Shari'ah, the scholars linked it to the foundations of the Deen and its issues. One of its sections was on the Imamate..." (Usul Al-Nitham al-Ijtima'i fil-Islam, pp. 206-207)

Muslims in the West, first and foremost should agree to coalesce around the core mission ordained upon every Messenger – the resumption of Islam via the Khilafah. The mission requires that:

  • Muslims consider themselves an integral part of one global Ummah and discard nation state identities,
  • Muslims in the West must realise that Islam takes life once implemented on society comprehensively through an authority, the institution of Khilafah,
  • Muslims, including those in the West, should seek to a generate strong opinion for this authority: Pakistan, Turkey, Indonesia being such "starting point" candidates,
  • The voice of the Muslims in the West should be heard loudly and clearly in places like Pakistan from their minbars, conferences, demonstrations, online writings and discussions etc. rejecting the colonially imposed systems and their puppet regimes in our lands, contributing to a significant impetus to the work on the ground in such countries,
  • If Muslims consider the return of Islamic authority a mother of all obligations, they must work towards achieving it in an objective manner,
  • This work belongs to the whole Ummah. It is one work. Muslims have one objective akin to their noble predecessors - resumption of Islam and its conveyance to mankind,
  • Dawah carriers must all align and focus, pull in one direction, and leave the rest with Allah (swt).


Brown’s views on how Muslims should thrive and function in a society where they are an increasingly vulnerable minority are incoherent and categorically opposed to the sharia. To call for rights that allow for gay marriages, insulting of the prophet (saw) and such like is unacceptable and something even the messenger was prohibited to attempt:

They wish that you would compromise, so they would compromise. (Qur'an 68:9)

The interview failed to explore Brown’s political views sufficiently, too rapidly seeking a justification for them assuming all he was calling for was an innocuous practice of religion for American Muslims. The fact it is not possible to live by Islam without dar al-Islam is the elephant in the room. Brown calls for a partial following of Islam - an Islam-lite so to speak - something that is problematic by any measure.

Hijab did not follow through his promising line of initial enquiry, which should have rejected Brown’s commentary as predicated on secular ideologies, presenting Islam as a modern Western construct comprising a neatly separable aspect of social life comfortable to exist under secular power. His final recommendations of rephrasing Brown’s views simply sought to crack over deep-rooted and fundamental problems, which would at best increasingly conceal them and make them more difficult to critique. Brown was also not impressed by the recommendations.

Islam is ordained to be the dominant social order and that should have been identified. Understanding Islam as a contending social order and way of life that requires power to bring it to life, changes our dynamic as Muslim minorities in the West. Instead of seeking to integrate and increasingly reorienting our way of life to appease hostile Western elites and publics, our collective aim has to change to resume Islam via its structures of governance. Few would agree hostile Western states would make sensible targets for this project – the aim has to realistically target tenable states in the Muslim world, strong contenders would include Pakistan, Turkey or Indonesia.

In closing, when asked who one should follow given the doubts and controversies surrounding scholars and their works, Brown observes it is rare to find a scholar who understands the sharia and contemporary reality. It is indeed the case.

Sheikh al-Hind Maulana Mahmud Hasan, head of Dar al-Uloom Deoband, issued a fatwa to save the Uthmani Khilafah from the European powers in his time saying:

"The enemies of Islam have left no stone unturned to strike against and harm the honour and prestige of Islam. Iraq, Palestine and Syria that were won over by the Prophet's companions and his followers, after in numerous sacrifices, have once again become targets of greed of the enemy of Islam. The honour of Khilafah is in tatters. Khaleefa al-Muslimeen, who used to unite the entire community on this planet; who is the vice-regent of Allah on this earth; used to implement the universal law of Islam; who used to protect the rights and interests of Muslims and used to preserve and ensure the glory of the words of the Creator of this universe be preserved and implemented, has been surrounded by enemies and made redundant." (The Prisoners of Malta' by Maulana Syed Mohammad Mian, p. 78)

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