To Muslim University Students – Re: The Maryam Namazie Incident

At the time of this writing, the San Bernadino shooting incident had just happened and the suspects seem to be Jihadists. This has not been an easy year for Islam. It started with Charlie Hebdo way back in January in Paris and last month, Paris was hit again. These were just the events which received media spotlight. In the Middle East, Jihadist attacks are now a regular occurrence. Last night, Whitehall approved airstrikes on Syria which will no doubt motivate the Jihadists further. There are big trials up ahead for us Muslims.

This is why we need to wake the heck up.

The Maryam Namazie incident at Goldsmith’s university last week is a big wake up call for us. No, not some Muslims say it is an ‘attack on Islam’. Rather it is because we can now see what sort of people run the university ISOCs (Islamic Societies). I for one am not the least bit surprised. I have been observing ISOCs for many years now and the truth of the matter is this: ISOCs are most often run by Islamofascists.

Why would I say that? For a start, there is only one kind of Islamic literature allowed in ISOC spaces – the Conservative Traditional kind. Any other kind of literature would need to seek ‘permission’ from the ISOC committee and they never get it, in my experience. These ISOCs have been guilty of inviting speakers who promote Islamofascism. Not the violent kind, I’ll give you that but they hold on to elements in Islam which are oppressive (and thus not really Islamic).

Do I agree with Maryam Namazie? Of course not, she presents the most superficial research and her views on religion show an extreme bias. I would class her as a great contributor to Islamophobia and I would surmise her personal history had something to do with this.

Having said that, I fully defend her right to express her views. It is not modernity or liberalism which pushes me to this position but rather Islam itself based on my understanding of the Quran. The Quran is unequivocally clear on the dialectics between truth and falsehood. We are not to interrupt this process in any way but rather to provide our arguments and leave it at that.

Maryam Namazie should not have been treated in that way. The members of Goldsmith’s ISOC showed her extreme disrespect and in doing so, went against the precepts of the Quran. As fellow Muslims, we should denounce their actions as reprehensible. Ironically, Maryam Namazie herself is probably really appreciating all the added media attention from their actions. Indeed, the Islamophobic section of the media has already given this incident the spotlight to feed the image that Islam is a barbaric religion, despite the fact some other Muslim students apologised to Maryam for their peers’ behaviour.

The period in your lives when you go to university should be one where you experience the wider world for the first time. British University are safe spaces but not just for you. For everyone. If you are allowed to do da’wa to others and criticise The West, Christianity, Democracy and even the freedom which allowed you that space to begin with, why can’t Maryam Namazie be allowed the same?

Is The So-called Islamic State Really Islamic? – A (Hopefully) Balanced Analysis

True to form, after any terrorist attack, the question on whether the Daesh (or for that matter Al-Qaeda or Boko Haram or Al-Shabab) are really acting on behalf of Islam will rise to a crescendo. On one hand, we have the defenders of Islam (some call them ‘apologists’) quoting verses of the Quran and Hadith to show that these terrorists are not Islamic. On the other hand, we have Islamophobes and critics of Islam (they are not the same by any means) also quoting verses of the Quran and Hadith but to prove the opposite – that these terrorists and indeed Islamofascism itself (the strain of within the Islamic tradition centred around systematic oppression) are indeed Islamic in essence. So we have two opposing voices both using the same tradition to prove their point. What gives here?

First off, we need to realise one thing. We are not dealing with a single voice but rather many (polyphony). The Islamic tradition has literally hundreds if not thousands of texts. These texts do not always agree. In fact they seldom agree except maybe on the fact that there is one God. Even that fact would have differences on how the actual unity of God is expressed! When we go on to Islamic law, the differences are vast, even extending to the very roots of the law themselves (usool al-fiqh). This being the case, the question we are posing above can only be answered thus – it depends on whose view one adopts.

What the so-called Islamic State have done is to accept the hadith which promotes an imperialist outlook on Islam and further to colour their Quranic interpretation which such a lens. There are definitely such hadith in my opinion. However, to be fair, some Traditionalist scholars have also placed limits on such hadiths so they are no longer universal. Other Traditionalists so have rejected them outright. The so-called Islamic State represents one approach to this vast tradition.

And what of the Quran itself? As a Quranist (a Muslim who only accepts his own understanding of the Quran as authoritative on himself and no hadith or scholar as authoritative whatsoever) I completely reject their understanding of the Quran. Why? Because I feel they have rejected the underpinning outlook of the text and chosen to apply tribalist definitions in order to feed their imperialist agenda.

For example, the Quran says ‘indeed the religion in the sight of Allah is al-islaam’ (3/19). Islamofascists therefore say that all other religions is rejected by God. However, the Quran also accepts other religions (2/62, 5/69) and has no problems with plurality of truths and pathways (13/17, 29/69). Given that, I would read ‘al-islaam’ as the universal principle of peace instead of a tribal entity that Muslims usually call the ‘Ummah’. That would be a consistent reading for me. Islamofascists resort to abrogation (cancelling out some Quranic verses with others) when this cohesive view challenges their tribalism. Therefore I cannot accept their interpretation.

The above represents why I do not accept the view of the Islamofascists and their enfant terrible, the so-called Islamic State. However, I cannot deny them the right to interpret. That would make me a fascist myself! I do not own the Quran nor the Islamic Tradition. At best, I can offer my own reading for those who wish to consider all points of view and to refute their interpretation as I have hopefully done so above.

This raises the question, what is the point of the Islamic Tradition if it indeed so ambiguous? Well it is only ambiguous if you have more than one person as readers or spokespeople. If you approach it personally, then it can be perfectly clear and acts as a spiritual resource for you. As is the case for me. The Quran for me is unambiguously and unequivocally for universal peace. All it’s so-called ‘war verses’ are for the liberation of humanity. I believe the Daesh have got it wrong but I would not silence them for doing so. The most I can do is to refute them.

So for those who quote the Quran intending to impute upon its integrity, please ask yourself if you have really done the necessary research to obtain a balanced understanding of all points of view. You are dealing with something which 1.5 billion people consider sacred. And remember, texts do not speak for themselves. People speak through texts. If you are out simply to instigate hate against people, then congratulations, you are adopting the right strategy.

And for the would be apologists, I support your efforts to defend Islam from the haters. However, I must ask you to do more to revisit our Islamic tradition and to recognise the negative elements within it. This can only be done with honesty.

The Paris Massacre – What Muslims Should Do

It has happened again. Another Jihadi attack on European soil. As the year draws to a close, Paris was once again attacked. This time, at least a hundred and forty people have been killed and two hundred more injured (according to BBC). Judging from my Facebook feed, many Muslims are in shock. I am too. It is a now familiar sickening feeling, one that I had upon hearing about the Charlie Hebdo massacred or more ominously because they were on my doorstep, the Woolwich murder and of course 7/7 in 2005 which nearly killed me if not for an ironic change of schedule.

Before anything, there are already tweets by Muslims showing great recalcitrance. One was very insensitive, saying this is what France deserves for participating in Syria. Another was indignant about having to apologise for this latest massacre. In a way, I understand where the latter is coming from although I disagree. I am a peaceful citizen who loves the freedom the UK affords me. In my own Muslim country of origin, I would be persecuted for my views whereas in the UK, I am given the freedom to think and express myself. So why should I apologise? For me, the answer is simple. Because this country gives me the privilege of being Muslim. I am a similar name with these Jihadis, similar dietary restrictions, I express the same greeting. I would be indistinguishable from them if not for the fact I abhor violence and believe my religion to be an antidote to it (the religion of peace, minus the often deserved sarcasm).

Another thing we Muslims need to remember is that we are facing violence from both sides. One is from the Jihadis themselves. The victims of Jihadi attacks come from the Muslim demographic than anyone else. More so than that, we are also having to deal with Islamophobes who would love nothing more than to see the end of Islam and to eliminate Muslims from European soil. Islamophobia is the new acceptable face of racism. It’s no good telling these people that most Muslims reject the evil ideology of Jihadism. With these folks, such arguments will fall on deaf ears., Like the Jihadis themselves, they are not rational people

Remember, these are the people who would see Sikhs and commit violence against them because they ‘looked Muslim’. Not just Sikhs, but even non-Asians who looked Arab like Jean Charles de Menezes was killed by the authorities. Mohamed Saleem, the old gentleman who was killed on his way home from the mosque was killed because he was brown and wore the Muslim garb. His killer did not stop to ask him whether or not he agreed with Jihadis or even subscribed to Sharia law. He looked the part, he lost his life. It really is as simple as that.

We Muslims now have a dual role – to eliminate both Islamofascism (the root of Jihadism) and Islamophobia. We can do both in one fell swoop. But we need to make some fundamental changes in our attitude. These changes will not take us away from Islam but rather closer to it.

For a start, we need to come down to earth about this whole situation. Get real. The people who are out for a global conflict are not rational, peace-loving individuals. These people come from both camps, the Muslim camp and the wider community. These are the people with a lust for violence that they would drag everyone into hell with them. When you are making excuses for them, you are not doing any favours for the Ummah, only enabling the cancer cells to proliferate and continue to kill the Ummah from within. Wake up. Only you can effectively remove the cancer because you have the privilege of access into the community.

There are a number of things you can do:

  1. Observe the mullah in the mosque. What are his politics like? Is he showing a great hatred for non-Muslims? Is he projecting some conspiracy theory that Muslims are being victimized and our religion somehow targeted? This kind of rhetoric is the seed for Islamofascist solutions and ultimately, Jihadism. Question your scholars. Ask them about hadiths and interpretations of the Quran which you find problematic. I can tell you from experience that these teachings are very easily debunked. They were made by imperialists to justify their conquests, nothing more. Do not allow your imams to get away with preaching hatred



  1. Check out the youth circles. Often a radicalized youth would try to infect others. Talk to your kids, siblings and friends. Ask them. Remain vigilant and if you spot a potential Jihadi, do not hesitate to go to the authorities. Remember, you are not betraying the Ummah because this person has already done that. What you are doing is helping the Ummah, securing the wider community and ultimately serving God.


  1. Publically oppose Jihadi apologists. Boycott them. Do not do any business with them whatsoever. Do not employ them or be employed by them if you can. Show a blatant dissociation with them. Boycott them to the point they can no longer function with their hate. The so-called Muslim Public Affairs Committee and its bad boy, Asghar Bukhari should be on top of this list. The insensitivity they have shown towards the victims of Jihadism is appalling. They are a disgrace to Islam and Muslims should sever all ties with them immediately.


The fact of the matter is, this conflict will not end until we Muslims do what needs to be done. Sadly, I see Muslims in London acting as if nothing is wrong. They’re still looking at their phones obliviously, still planning their holidays and grand weddings. They need to take a stand now. The mood is changing in Europe. The people who are friendly to our presence are not as many as before and who can blame them? It’s hard to remain supportive if one’s family member is a victim of people claiming to be fighting for Islam. No, we need to wake up now. Before it’s too late. Before the wider community is forced to isolate us in various simply because it needs preserve itself from danger. This can easily happen if we ourselves are not proactive in eliminating this cancer from the body of the Ummah.

I dedicate this post to the victims of the Paris Massacre. You have my deepest sympathies. May we identify the evil doers who did this and get justice. J’suis Paris.


A Muslim Uncle At Speaker’s Corner

I had not been to Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park, London for a long time. I went once nearly two decades ago when I first came to the UK but before I moved to London. It was very exciting for me at the time. I had just arrived from Malaysia and the idea of free speech, especially in such a public place was an alien idea to me.

Two decades later, I am so used to the idea of free speech but never revisited Speaker’s Corner since that first time. I had come to join a protest against the sedition charges levelled at the Malaysian cartoonist Zunar. He may get imprisoned for forty-three years. I joined the protest and was ready to leave about two hours later.

On way out, I could not help but notice this Muslim uncle preaching to the public about Islam. He was loud and abrasive but in a nice way. He told the atheists that they were ‘’ (a price comparison site) and a Christian chap he was ‘’ (not any kind of site). He took their nastiness in stride though. One racist, upon hearing him say ‘we british’, actually asked him ‘are you really British, you don’t look British!’. The uncle was supercool though.

My beef with him was the material he used. It was just such a closed-minded, parochial view of Islam. For a start, calling athiests and Christians ‘confused and lost’ is simply disingenuous. His dismissal of the atheists’ sense of truth and justice simply because they did not believe in the idea of deity was unfair. One atheist responded with ‘well you were born and raised Muslim, you’ve never known anything else’. Our Muslim uncle simply said ‘yes, everyone was born Muslim. It’s our nature’. Something empirically unprovable like this cannot be used as an argument.

He then went on about the ‘miracles’ of Prophet Muhammad (he uttered the ubiquitous ‘pbuh’, of course), the ‘last and greatest of all the Prophets’. He had so many miracles, the uncle said. Hang on, MIRACLES? What miracles, I asked myself?!

I spoke up just then – Excuse me sir, that contradicts the Quran. He asked me how. I said, please look at Chapter 29 (Al-Ankaboot) Verse 51 which rhetorically ask if it is not enough that the book was sent as a sign (which Traditionalists translate as ‘miracle’). In any case, it is very clear that Muhammad only had the Quran, miracle or not.

The uncle then launched a tirade against me. He claimed I had no right to interpret the Quran, being unqualified so to do. Sadly, he landed himself in it by saying that because the atheist then reminded him that only minutes earlier, he said the Quran is clear as day and that non-Muslims should read it as well to learn ‘all about Islam’. Sadly, that was when the takfeer-ing (hereticizing) began. The uncle claimed I’m not really a Muslim because I doubted Muhammad’s miracles.

I asked him, what sort of a God would send a man to show a miracle to a handful of people and leave the rest of us with just a hadith about it? Would a just God expect faith like this? Furthermore, what does a miracle prove? Magicians perform tricks and fool people. What if ‘moon-splitting’ incident (the example he used) was just the result of some hashish? Do Prophets really need miracles? Nope, the man was on a winner with his ‘kafir, kafir’ rant so I left him to his crowd.

It is such a pity that Muslims typically rely on these pre-planned rhetoric to win more sheep to their flock. Islam is about thinking your way to truth, not this.

I am A Muslim and I Love Free Speech!

I am a Muslim and I love free speech. Not just like it, I absolutely love it. I do not love it because I am free to insult other religions or even politicians. In fact, I never exercise free speech to those ends at all. No, I love free speech because it enables me to listen to the other sides of the story. And that is tremendously valuable in my human journey.

Growing up, I led a sheltered life, from a religious point of view. I did not grow up in the West but in Malaysia, where Islamofascist elements within the government prevented me from having open dialogue with people of other faiths. It is actually a crime to preach to Muslims, even by Muslims who are ‘unlicensed’ to do so. And so when I came to the West, I experienced a supermarket of ideas. I enjoyed that smorgasbord like no other!

Of course there was criticism towards Islam and challenges to its truth. At first, it was uncomfortable to experience but now I realise that, unless you actually listen to criticism and provide a rational explanation or even an experiential one to refute the, you faith would be like a hollow shell. That sort of faith is not for me.

Today, my belief in Islam has been through the harshest of criticisms and yet (praise God) I still believe that it is a path to God. Moreover, I believe there are infinite other paths to God and that people should follow their own portions of the Truth as long as they are peaceful to others. Does it compromise my faith that I believe Islam does not have the exclusive claim to Truth? Absolutely not. Rather it just means that given my cultural positioning, Islam is the best path for me. I acknowledge the fact that religions are vehicularized by cultures and that cultures are subjective. Thus it is incredibly easy for me to abstain from eating pork but it may be quite difficult for someone who converts to Islam.

I understand at present that Muslims are mostly opposed to free speech. The excuse they give is that free speech must not be used for mockery and insults. But let us think about this for a second – are we not insulting other faiths by our very existence? The Quran speaks mostly strongly against the belief most Christians hold – that Jesus is the son of God or God Himself. If we expect the Quran to be allowed circulation (which it is, you can find the Quran anywhere in the UK), then why are we upset that criticisms against Islam are also allowed? True that some of the criticisms against Islam are visual images which are perceived as insulting, but who is to draw the line against what’s acceptable? If we Muslims are ok with criticising other faiths, then we must be open to be criticised as well. The stoicism in the face of such insults is what creates true faith, in my opinion.

I say to fellow Muslims, try to understand that we live in the world and the world is full of diversity. Muslims are the inheritors of the result of historical agencies. There are cultures which despise Islam and Muhammad simply because of its historical interaction with Muslims. Try to be understanding and magnanimous. This is actually beneficial to your faith. Free speech is beautiful.

Dear New Atheists Re: Chapel Hill Shootings

Dear New Atheist Thinkers,

Salaamun alaikum (Peace be upon you),

I understand how conviction drives people. When we believe in an idea and we believe that it is good, nay the best for humankind, then we will go to great lengths to ensure that this idea is accepted. Sometimes we may even lose our objectivity in pushing this idea. We see it with religionists all the time. The compelling nature of dogma causes you to delude others, inadvertently perhaps. Maybe this delusion can even be self-delusion.

However, being New Atheists, I highly expect you to be reasonable people. After all, it was the very exercise of reasoning which enabled you to conclude that God does not exist. I disagree with your conclusions, of course but I respect you more than I respect religionists who simply inherit the dogma of their forefathers without question. Through your works, I can see that you have highly developed reasoning skills which obviously went into your ground-breaking and often philosophically challenging thought. This is how you became a movement, heralding a new phase in Atheism, as it were.

I must therefore ask you, why has this genius not found its way into your analysis of Islam?

I have read your books and followed your statements about Islam for some time and I find the most generalising language being used. I see phrases like ‘Islam is the problem’ ,‘Islam believes in’ and ‘Islam says’. This sort of language one can only find in public discourse. No, I take it back. Not public discourse but public chatter. It is no different from when, waiting for a bus along with a middle aged lady, we saw an elderly man in Muslim garb spit his betel nut juice on the ground. She commented to me, perhaps not guessing I’m a Muslim myself, ‘it’s his religion’.

I do understand that you see religion as the bane of human existence. From your writings, I would guess that you feel that Islam is probably the biggest bane of all. That’s fair enough. That is your perception and I respect it. I can even agree with you that Islamofascism (which I define to be the strain with the Islamic tradition given to oppression and suppression) is a huge menace to humanity and needs to be extinguished. However, why not use your mammoth intellects to also see that Muslims use their religion to empower themselves towards becoming better people? You may say that they can do that without religion and I would agree but why does that matter if they do indeed become better people? Surely if you press your way as the only way to Truth, then yourselves would be construed as religious fundamentalists! Why not respect that other people have their own ways to evolve?

A great tragedy occurred two days ago in Chapel Hill. I don’t need to tell you about it because you have responded. It is becoming clear that the alleged murderer was inspired by your writings. I am in no way suggesting that your writings encourage murder. Far from it. However, you cannot control who your readers are. One may read your books and use it as a justification to commit violence against those whom you consider ‘deluded’. This would be in no way your fault but here is what I would like to ask you: Is it possible that your generalizing language enables such evil individuals to perceive Muslims tribalistically, almost racially? Such perceptions cause random violence.

Perhaps, instead of saying ‘Islam says’, say ‘within the Islamic Tradition, it is said’ or ‘Islamofascism, an ideology distinct from other forms of Islam, says’ or even ‘some Muslim scholars say, but there are Muslims who disagree’. This is specific and precise language worthy of people with gargantuan intellects. Such people can understand various shades of grey. If you think about it, ‘Islam’ cannot say anything anyway. It is mostly a complex network of human discussions compiled over a thousand plus years. People speak, using these texts as their mouthpieces. By highlighting the specificity and subjectivity of these views, you will help people isolate the Islamofascists from the main body of Muslims and thereby cut it off from its human resource. Isn’t that your objective, rather than using Islam as a punching bag to increase your popularity? I sincerely hope it is.

Thank you very much for reading my humble letter and I hope we can all live together in a more peaceful world soon.

With peace.

Farouk A. Peru

Charlie Hebdo Massacre – 2015’s Early Signal To Reform Islam

It was not enough that 2014 ended with a tragedy – that of the Peshawar massacre. 145 people including 132 children were murdered by the Pakistani Taliban. Today, not even a week into the new year, another massacre has just taken place in Paris.

The office of the Charlie Hebdo magazine has just been attacked by three masked gunmen who shot down in cold blood twelve people including cartoonists, editors and even policemen. Charlie Hebdo is a satirical magazine from a radical left wing perspective and regularly parodies religions. In 2011, they were firebombed for printing a cartoon of Prophet Mohamed. Apparently, today’s massacre was due to print a satirical cartoon of (wait for it!) ‘CALIPH’ ABU BAKR AL-BAGHDADI! Yes, the self-styled caliph of the so-called Islamic State in Syria! You can read about this tragic incident here.

To me, this is an early warning about how 2015 will turn out. Ever since the emergence of the so-called ‘Islamic State’ (then known as ISIS), Muslims from all over the world have come out to show support for this nefarious organisation. From the UK alone, it is said that around five hundred Muslims have travelled to Syria through various channels to join them. With the Charlie Hebdo massacre, if these early reports prove to be true, we are looking at an active movement to defend the sanctity of the so-called Islamic State through violent means. This movement has now arrived at our doorstep in the West.

Who can we, the Muslims, blame for this violence? I am a firm believer in honesty and I firmly believe the lion’s share of the blame must go to the Muslims themselves. We have been a recalcitrant, negligent bunch who live in utter denial. Everything bad Muslims do is firmly blamed on someone else, most likely the Jews. This delusion will prove fatal to us in the near future.

Let us think about this – why has the recruitment call (you may find the videos on Youtube) found willing respondents? What magic does this movement and its pantomime villain of a Caliph have over the Muslim masses? The answer lies in our history and how our Traditional Islamic education glorifies that history.

Islamic history sees its political manifestation as something sacrosanct. Since Prophet Muhammad also held political leadership, the office bearing that leadership is seen in divine terms. These leaders were essentially just nationalist leaders but history sees them as the chosen upholders of the faith. History tells us that this institution in the form of the Ottoman caliphate was only dismantled in 1924 and Muslims lament this event most profoundly, blaming this event on the West.

However, we are not told that throughout the history of this institution save for the first twelve years, there have been strong internal political dissent. Even the noble companions of the Prophet themselves were not exempt from participating in internecine wars for the control of the government. Thousands were killed even during the time. The institution of the caliphate were almost always the result of the overthrowing of a previous caliphate based regime. Nor were these caliphs angels walking the earth either. They had huge harems of women, plotted against their own siblings to usurp the kingdom and looted foreign lands to fill their coffers. It is amusing to see that they did not emulate the Sunnah of the Prophet where austerity was concered. This was a human institution and even the current pretender to the throne is human, all too human.

Having taught religious studies to college students, I can’t help but notice that even in this day and age, Muslim youth are still clinging to these romantic ideas of the caliphate. They are still repeating these age old myths and worse still, they are hating the same old ‘villains’. It is amazing that in cosmopolitan London than Sunni Muslim youth consider their Shi’ite neighbours to be ‘infidels’. This is because even though socially they are cosmopolitan, mentally they are still parochial.

So with these seeds of hatred being sown, should we be surprised when three gunmen show up at the office of a satirical magazine and start shooting on sight? I for one am not surprised at all but deeply saddened. When you feed the youths the starry-eyed myths of caliphate, they will of course be fanatically devoted to it. Tell them the truth about it so they can be rational.

And this is what we need to do. Infuse the truth into our Traditional Islamic education. Stop telling these mythical tales of utopian kingdoms in the way the book ‘The Story of Islam’ does. Islamic civilisation was a gritty human civilisation with its ups and downs. We need to also impress upon our youth that their value as Muslims are directly relation to their contribution to humanity not to guarding the delusional purity of ancient monarchies. They do not need to defend some age old myth. We need this deep reform and we need it now.

All in all, a very tragic beginning to 2015 but we must never acquiesce to the demands of these terrorist evildoers. They seek to suppress the freedom of expression and as a Muslim, I vehemently oppose that attempted suppression. The freedom to express, however painful it is to bear, must be taken with the spirit of goodwill. For Muslims, it is Allah Himself who guarantees that freedom for all. Let us honour that freedom for all humanity.




How to Be Sceptical About the Quran – A Response to Dr Ali Rizvi

In Dr Rizvi’s style, let me first start with what I’m not going to do:

I am not going yell out ‘kaaaaafir!’ (infidel!) and issue a fatwa against him using the Quran. I believe in total freedom of religion and I highly value opinions by Ex-Muslims and Atheist Muslims. It is their dissenting opinions which can keep the Ummah balanced.

I am not going to accuse him of having an ‘atheist’s agenda’ to undermine and destroy Islam from within. His faith or lack thereof is his own business and he has a right, as a rational human being to critically look at the Quran without being accused of this.

I am not going to even blame him for thinking of his proposed solution. I’ve met believing Liberal Muslims who practise relativist readings and have effectively removed the ‘offensive’ or ‘difficult’ bits of the Quran from the practical sphere.

What I am going to do is to appeal to Dr Rizvi’s sense of reason. By all means, be sceptical but I would like to ask him to extend his scepticism to be across the board in the field of Islamic literature. I do not need him to believe the Quran is infallible at all, merely to understand that the Author of the Quran is being silenced wherever He should be allowed to speak. In the vacuum of this silence, other voices are being projected speaking on behalf of this Author. I noticed the same pattern of thought in the Fathima Imra Nazeer’s article. They are critical towards the Quran but accepting as any believing Muslim towards any extra-Quranic literature about the Quran, namely hadith, tafseer and maghazi literature. I find this selectivity to be inexplicable. If you are true sceptic or even non-believer, please be sceptical fairly. Why be sceptical about the Quran yet accepting of whatever is spoken of the Quran from a later period?

Allow me first to introduce my position – I am in the field of Islamic Studies (MA in Islamic Studies from University of London, PhD candidate in Islam and Postmodernity from King’s College, London). I am also a Quranist Muslim. What this means is that I believe the Quran to be sole source of my faith. No interpretation of the Quran is binding on me except my own. I mentioned my academic background because this is what helped to strengthen my conviction. Why should I believe that Islamic literature is actually pro-islam? I will substantiate my dissociation below:

Lets take the most obvious example. This example is perhaps the biggest proof for me to make my case and I have used it for over fifteen years against Islamofascists (Muslims who use the Islamic tradition to produce a system of oppression). They believe that if one leaves Islam (which includes becoming a Shi’ite or Quranist) and remains committed to that apostasy, that person must be killed. Yet, we find that the Quran is for the unconditional freedom of belief. It tells us that there is no compulsion in religion (Chapter 2, Verse 256). Muhammad was told not to act as a compeller but one who reminds (50/45). He was actually chided for daring to think he could make people belief and told that people can only come to belief with reason (10/99-100). There are even instances of oscillation between faith and disbelief with no command to criminalise such individuals (4/136).

My point in highlighting the above difference is to show even in a fundamental issue – that of the freedom of belief – the Quran is not only differing with Conservative Traditional Islam (which contains the substantiation for such Islamofascist beliefs), it is antithetical to it. How then can we accept Conservative Traditional literature about the Quran without any scepticism?

This brings me to my next point. How did Islamofascism deal with Quranic injunctions which went against its imperialist agenda (Iike the ones I quoted above)? Quite simply, by cancelling out these injunctions. So in effect, they are accepting Dr Rizvi’s own suggestion in practice if not in principle. This policy is called ‘naskh’ (or abrogation) and Conservative Traditional Muslims claim that it is sanctioned by Prophet Muhammad. The problem is, there are literally dozens of opinions on how many verses abrogate and are abrogated. Jihadists even believe that the verse of the sword (9/29 of the Quran which has no such word) abrogates a hundred other ‘peaceful verses’. Why is this claim necessary if those parts of the Quran was on the Jihadists’ side?

In order to understand these verses about conflict, we must understand what the Quran means by believer and non-believer. The concept of belief (imaan) and its opposite, disbelief (literally ‘concealment’ or kufr) is not one of a religious nature. What I mean by this is, the Quran does not enumerate a set of dogmatic beliefs in which one must profess or be damned. Rather one experiences signs in one’s life (ayaat in Quranic terms) which one responds to. It is a very personal experience. The ‘non-believer’ who is mentioned in these ‘fighting’ contexts is one who conceals peace (which is always mentioned in such contexts), not any person who disbelieves in Islam. That would be a tribal interpretation of the Quran which I believe the Quran most definitely resists. The Quran does not teach a religion called ‘Islam’, rather it teaches a universal principle of peace (‘islam’ literally means ‘acquirement of peace’). An easy way to verify this is to see a comparative translation of Chapter 3 Verse 19 which says ‘verily the religion in the sight of Allah is al-islam’. One must ask why is the word ‘al-islam’ the only word left untranslated? If islam is a literal proper name, then why does the Pharoah of Egypt also use it (10/90) when he didn’t speak Arabic? ‘islam’ is not a Tribal name at all, as Islamofascists would have us believe.

Ironically, after all this disagreement, I do agree with Dr Rizvi on one point – that Islam needs reform. Deep, deep reform. Islam currently has an endemic system of oppression within in its tradition which is possibly the most comprehensive in the world – Islamofascism. Islamofascism seeks to subjugate and suppress women, gender and sexual minorities, religious minorities and even Islamic minorities (Shi’ites, Quranists, Ahmedis) themselves. But do they rely on the Quran for that? No. What they do is quote half verses and append pages and pages of ‘authentic explanations’ to make their case.

I will end with my proof of how callously the Quran is used. Michael Adebolajo, murderer of Lee Rigby came on the news stating that ‘Surah At-Tauba’ tells him that it is ‘an eye for an eye’ (I wrote about it last year here) . Dr Rizvi even repeated this in his article and told us to go and see it ourselves. I wonder if he did so himself. Because Adebolajo got it wrong – it’s not in Sura At-Tauba. It is in Sura Al-Maa’ida. And Traditionalists would say it’s a quote of the Torah (5/44-45). Can we now say the Quran is being treated unfairly, Dr Rizvi?

What The Paedophile Hunter Can Teach Muslims

I caught this very interesting program on Channel 4 last night (and you can watch it on 4od), ‘The Paedophile Hunter’. It was about exactly that – this chap called Stinson Hunter who called who spends a great deal of time and energy (and money, I reckon) to catch online paedophiles. He creates fake profiles of underaged girls on social media sites and baits paedophiles into messaging, talking obscenely, sharing their pictures and videos and finally even showing up at his doorstep. Then he and his mates film the offender before handing the information over to the police. Absolutely awesome, I say.

Of course there were policemen who weren’t too happy about Stinson and his activities. However, I think it’s very clear that what he does is not illegal. He is not breaking the law, nor is he taking the law into his own hands. Rather, he eloquently puts it as follows – I give them (the paedos) the rope. It is they choose to hang themselves. Precisely.

My question is this – grooming gangs comprising Muslims were plaguing the UK for decades (and maybe still are, who knows?). So why did not see Saifullah Hunter (the Muslim version of Stinson Hunter) emerge to trap Muslim paedophiles? While there were some angry Muslim voices, we hardly saw any kind of protest at loudness level of say, the Rushdie demonstrations. When Rushdie published Satanic verses twenty-five years ago, Muslims took to the streets and held Satanic Verses bonfires. We certainly saw no demonstrations during the Rotherhm scandal.

Muslims have mixed priorities. When it comes to protecting the image of the Tribe, they would take to the streets and go berserk. When it comes to abusing and oppressing the young and vulnerable, it had to be exposed on a national scale before Muslims started to respond. Forget about being proactive, Muslims are hardly even reactive. We need to take a page from Stinson Hunter’s book.

How can Muslims be proactive in upholding justice? Two social epidemics which I feel demand Muslim attention are the aforementioned paedophile rings and of course, radicalisation. We are now hearing more and more of young British Muslims running off to Syria to fight for the ‘Islamic State’. Apparently, there are already five hundred of them already there. This includes girls whom the ‘Islamic State’ only see fit to be comfort women (says a lot, dunnit).

How can Muslims be like Stinson Hunter? Quite frankly, by keeping their ears to the ground. As part of a religious community, you hear things. Only this perverted sense of honour prevents us from doing so now. Of course, it is incredibly shameful and humiliating if your son, father, brother, uncle or even fellow Muslim is involved in such an evil activity. However, it will be far worse for your faith if you stand by and do nothing while an innocent child is being sexually abused and/or exploited. You will be complicit if you stand by and allow it to happen. Worse still, if you do so for the sake of ‘honour’.

As for radicalisation, Muslims should bait these Jihadis. They are usually found in forums and social media as well. Tell them you want to join them and keep all records of the discussion for your evidence including screenshots.These are very dangerous people so it’s best not to meet them in person. Rather, turn the evidence over to the police. Have no compunction or pity in doing this. These people are destroying Islam more than any Islamophobe ever could.

Also look for the ‘soft jihadis’, people who do not directly promote violence but still stick to the very same laws the so-called ‘Islamic State’ are actually practising like killing apostates. With them, it’d be harder to report to the police so report them to the media. These folks are reason that actual jihadism happens. Wannabe Jihadis listen to them go on about their ancient tribal laws and saying ‘we can’t apply them without an Islamic state’ and eventually go out an establish the state themselves.

Stinson Hunter would not comment if he was abused as a child. Whatever the case, he took it upon himself to help the process of justice along. Ten people has been convicted so far. He took charge of the situation and we can too. We should be proactive in eliminating these poison elements from our society.



Why I Reject ‘Caliph Ibrahim’ and His ‘Islamic State’

I grew up on the romantic version of the story of Islam. That was literally the name of the book I virtually memorised, ‘The Story of Islam’. It detailed the rise and fall of the Islamic empire. It was romantic, idealistic and galvanised a teenager who sought after his place in the world and religious heritage. It promised a nation in which there is perfect justice, brought about by the rule of saintly men (never women!) who were God’s representatives on earth. What Muslim youth would not be moved by such a story?

‘Caliph Ibrahim’ (the con artist formerly known as Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi) has just delivered his first Friday sermon two days ago. He certainly dressed the part and that is the first clue of his anachronistic nature. The image is everything. Muslims watching this videos may then associate the ‘Caliph’ with the image of the Prophet and the early Caliphs found in thousands of drawings and TV recreations. Brilliant marketing on the ‘Caliphs’ part.

Next comes the rhetoric. You’ll find chopped up verses of the Quran (like most Islamofascist preachers) designed to both to legitimise the ‘Caliph’ as well as to support ISIS’ erstwhile acts. Ironically, the quotes themselves actually undermine what ISIS have done so far. The ‘Caliph’ for example quote Ch 97 Vs 5 which states that the descent of the Quran brings peace (salaamun hiya). This is quite the opposite of the coming of ISIS which has brought nothing but pain and misery to the people of Iraq. Another example is the quoting of Ch 2 Vs 193 which says ‘fight them until there is no more trials and tribulations’. Ask the displaced residents and those who have lost their loved ones who has brought them the present trial and tribulation’. My guess is that they would shout a resounding ‘ISIS!’. But we shall stop here before we digress too much. The objective of this essay is to analyse the Caliph’s claim historically, not theologically. The Quranists Network will produce a video for a theological conversation with the ‘Caliph’ soon.

For those who have been waiting for the Caliphate to return, they may feel that their time has come. This imagined utopia, as mentioned above, is the ideal psychological stimulant for the Muslim youth and ‘Caliph Ibrahim’ has duly stoked the fire once more. Of course in his uncritical equivocation of what constitutes’s ‘God’s law and religion’, the ‘Caliph’ forgot to consider one thing:

The story of Islam is a human story.

This realisation is of the utmost importance. For me, it was a pivotal point in the development of my worldview. As a youth, I was fed the idea (by Islamic scholars and books) that Islamic history was guided by God Himself. It was God who determined Islamic victories and establishment of empire. The laws they established were also God’s laws and hence cannot be questioned at all. Analysing this story historically however, would expose the fact human choices made this story and some of these choices were less than ideal. It should be noted that the history we will present below is from Islamic sources. The very same sources Islamofascists like ISIS would have us believe is divine.

It should also be noted that Islamic history is not easily proven. It actually was stabilised textually between 150-200 years after Hijrah. Therefore, the people who expedited its textual stability were the very same people who had an empire. One can hardly count on such folks to be objective.

At the very start of the story is Prophet Muhammad. He had been preaching in Makkah for ten years and had a failed emigration attempts before the tribes in Medina invited him to be their leader. What if they had not? What if Muhammad was stuck in Makkah and received the Quran entirely in Makkah (and not partly in Madeenah as Traditionalists believe)? Would the Quran be considered any less divine? Would the Prophet be considered any less of a Prophet? It is very interesting that the Quran says what is obliged upon the Prophet is the delivery of revelation (5/67). Establishing a kingdom is missing from this verse. The silence is deafening.

After the Prophet’s death, comes the era of the Rightly Guided Caliphs. Again, the moniker of ‘rightly guided’ shows an air of divinity to their appointment instead of a human history. The first caliph, Abu Bakr As-Siddiq was known to be a pious man – but only by Sunni Muslims. Ask the Shia and you will find that he usurped power from the future fourth caliph, Ali Ibn Abi Talib. The second caliph, Umar Al-Khattab is also known for his virtue but again by the Sunnis. Then came third caliph Uthman who was murdered in his home. There was a crowd outside his house waiting for a few days voicing disagreement towards his nepotism and corruption and they eventually got to him. Hardly a pleasant end. The fourth caliph, the cousin of the Prophet, had to go to war with fellow Muslims in which thousands of people were killed, including prominent companions and the wife of the Prophet herself having to retire from public life. This is a human story and human beings have conflicts.

Then came the Umayyad Caliphs who unabashedly established an empire. In the near century of their rule, there was hardly a time when Islamic imperialism did not occur. Were they doing it for the sake of Islam? One who says ‘yes’ would have to reconcile that with the fact that they were the richest kings on earth at the time. They also publically vilified the family of the Prophet during Friday sermons which was definitely motivated by political differences since they usurped power from the ‘fifth’ caliph, Hassan ibn Ali who is a member of the Prophet’s family.

The subsequent Abbasids and Ottoman Caliphs fared no better. They were never the single caliphate of the Muslims. In fact, during the time of the Abbasids, there was for a time when there was a rival (also Sunni) caliphate in Spain! The Ottomans had no compunction invading Muslim lands as well and strangely, never took on the ‘caliph’, preferring to use the term ‘sultan’. Of course, their internecine competition to attain that title was simply beyond evil. These are stories of murder among brothers and palace intrigue. Prophet Muhammad would be appalled.

In the UK of late 90ies, I experienced the preaching of Hizb ut Tahrir (or the ‘khilafa boys’ as we used to call them). They used to say that the Caliphate ended in 1924 with the Ottomans due to machinations of the West. It is sad that they accepted these delusional rhetorical statements so easily. One only needs to look to Muslims’ own history books to see that the Caliphate was simply an expedient institution. Prophet Muhammad was afforded it and ruled accordingly but it was never his eternal role, which is the institutionalisation of the Quran. The subsequent leaders all had their ups and downs and it is tremendously difficult to call this ‘divine history’.

And finally we have ISIS. Their idea of establishing a caliphate is to rampage across sovereign nations looting and murdering anyone who do not submit to them and even those who do if they happen to be Shi’ites. Not only that, holy sites and ancient landmarks are wiped out. The people of Iraq are unanimously against them. These includes Sunnis ( of whom they have also murdered), Shiites, Seculars and Christians.

No, ‘Caliph Ibrahim’ is no caliph at all. Muslims should wake up to the fact that our history is not divine. We do not need to cling to these archaic institutions. Neither do we need to institutionalise these ancient tribal laws claiming to be from God. We need to globally denounce the ‘Caliph’s evil and work against ISIS’ plan to expand its territories. The very heart of Islam is at stake.