Many Muslim Leaders Denounce ISIS Out Of Convenience, Not Conviction


By The Sultans Jester

A non-Muslim academic, well versed in the Islamic sources, recently asked me a difficult and telling question: ‘To what extent do you think Muslim leaders and speakers in the UK are limited, when they speak about subjects such as violence, terrorism, ISIS etc, by the law or anti-terror legislation as opposed to what they actually believe?

Hoping he wasn’t getting at what I thought he was, I answered the way they do in the movies when faced with these types of questions: ‘How do you mean?’.

In typically blunt fashion he replied: ‘Don’t most of your scholars and speakers accept the exact same narrations and even fatwas as ISIS but simply don’t act on them?’

A few of our colleagues were also around since we had retired to the staff room. I didn’t press him any further – mainly because I was afraid he would bring up something like this:

‘A Muslim will not be killed in retribution for the murder of a Non-Muslim’ (Bukhari and Tirmidhi)

Now of course, most Muslims, while understandably concerned at the inclusion (sans explanation or comment) of such a narration in the canonical collections, will be telling themselves ‘well, I’m sure the scholars sorted this out and there is no way they would tell anyone to act on this. File under ”strange”’. This in and of itself is rather self-deluding, but then there is the problem that the majority of Muslim scholars did not ‘sort it out’, including Imam Ahmad and Imam Ash-Shafi` who actually maintain the view that indeed, a Muslim cannot be killed for a non-Muslim.

They themselves justify this with another Hadith:

“A Muslim is not to be killed for a Kafir (unbeliever).” (Reported by Ahmad, Al-Bukhari and An-Nasa’i)

They also go even further and quote this:

“A believer is not to be killed for a disbeliever or for a person enjoying protection under a covenant [a dhimmi].” (Reported by Ahmad, An-Nasa’i and Abu Dawood)

Of course, many scholars of the past (such as Abu Hanifa and Imam Nakhai) and the contemporary period (including those from Salafist groups such as Yusuf Al Qaradawi), openly rejected these hadith and fatwas, since the main source of Islam, the Quran, makes no differentiation either in the act of killing (which is between ‘people’ and not ‘Muslims’) nor in its insistence in a ‘Life for a life’ (as opposed to a life for a Muslims’ life – assuming God has command of the Arabic language and if he meant to say ‘a life for a life unless the murderer is Muslim’, he was capable of doing that)[1]

All this though, my erstwhile questioner already knew. But his point was in fact more profound: how is it that personalities who would be regarded as unimpeachable Imams of Sunni Muslims such as Bukhari, Ahmad and Shafi, can narrate such things? More pertinent to his own speciality, Political Islamism, I knew he would no doubt lead on (as he did) to the crux of his question: these and other similar narrations (such as those in Bukhari calling for the killing of certain people by burning[2]) are precisely the ones used by ISIS and earlier terrorist groups to justify the actions which Muslim leaders in the UK and elsewhere have condemned.

But don’t the same Muslim ‘leaders’, such as Haitham Al Haddad and Akram Nadwi, who have gained generous publicity for condemning ISIS and restraining UK Muslims from joining them[3] [4], accept and venerate exactly the same narratives and personalities that ISIS use to justify the Islamicity of their actions?

In short, aren’t the icons of the religion of Islam as held up by violent Salafists in fact common to all Muslims and hence, isn’t the difference between them and ‘mainstream’ UK Muslims simply a matter of their leaving the constraints of British law behind and giving wind to the wings of Imam Ahmad and Bukharis’ fatwas and narrations?

Or to put it another way, don’t ISIS simply practice what the same Muslims who condemn terrorism preach? If Haddad and others who claim that their views are simply ‘mainstream Islam’ are right, then isn’t then the difference one not of belief but rather of expression?

The answer is not as simple as either Muslims or Islamophobes or even genuine seekers would like: people like ISIS and indeed Haddad neither represent mainstream Islam nor are completely antithetical to it. Rather, they represent a particular tradition within Islam, which has held, with certain variations, views similar to what is now being practised by ISIS. Despite their assertions though, this is not ‘mainstream’, but Haddad and others are and have been for much of the post-colonial period of Muslim history, making it mainstream. Whereas this violent orientation, irrespective of its endorsement by senior scholars such as Ahmad and Bukhari, was unambiguously rejected by traditional Islam, today however, the respect and deference afforded to those scholars held in great respect by Salafist movements (and many other speakers and institutes, often in the hopes of receiving generous funding and petro-dollars as Salafi oriented organisations do), which includes the aforementioned as well as other purveyors of extreme fatwas such as Ibn Taymiyyah, means that while on the one hand attacking anyone who opposes the legitimacy of Ahmad Ibn Hanbals’ or Imam Barbahari (who asserted that a person could become an apostate simply by taking a walk with a Hanafi[5]) opinions and formulation of Islam as a ‘modernist’ or a ‘Mutazzilite’ (and this holds not only for the purveyors of Wahhabi Islam but most of the orientations in Islam a young Muslim is likely to encounter in the UK) as well as anyone deigning to reject a hadith from Bukhari’s collection as a ‘hadith rejecter’, or ‘Quranist’, they yet condemn anyone who actually follows these fatwas or hadith as well. For, how exactly am I to condemn ISIS without rejecting the opinions of Imam Shafi and the hadith of Imam Bukhari?

The result is clear – by applying the same principles as the Salafi-Wahhabis such as Haddad, Muslims from other orientations are in fact tacitly admitting that theirs is the mainstream Islam.

As my non-Muslim colleague could see, Salafists are insisting on acting on such Hadith and the de-legitimacy of those schools such as Sufism and Hanafism that opposed them by labelling them pejoratively as rationalists or grave worshippers. Or worse, in the case of speakers such as Akram Nadwi, reformulating traditional Islam to make it appear as if the opposing traditions are in fact part of the Salafist whole. Therefore, it becomes no problem for a Sufi or a Hanafi to venerate the leaders of the resolutely anti-rationalist and anti-Sufi ‘Ahl Al Hadith’ movement such as Ibn Taymiyya or Ibn Qayyam[6]. The result is simple: the main-streaming of this orientation, supported with the relative diplomatic immunity afforded to Saudi and Qatari institutions and channels of funding[7]. (A corollary to this is that these are the only countries that in fact have any money to spare for such ‘Islamic’ activities from amongst the Muslim world anyway, as a cursory glance at the per capita GDP of Muslim majority countries will reveal). The result is that many European youth depart from the Sufi/traditionalist approach that has been delegitimised in this way and in fact harangue the practitioners of these for not following the literal narrations relied on by the Wahhabi-Salafis. When some of these youth chose to disabuse themselves of the constraints on applying these narrations placed upon them by British law, they take advantage of the global village we now inhabit to join ISIS and other such groups, of which there are many less well known examples around the world[8]. Those very scholars and institutions who laid the groundwork for this to occur then score brownie points by lamenting the departure of these youth and by reminding their flocks of the importance following the rule of local laws etc[9].

It is enough to know that Haddad himself is unapologetically a product of Medina University[10] (where he studied under its founder, the Wahhabi cleric Abdul Aziz Bin Baz, whose other illustrious students were responsible for the siege at Mecca in 1984[11]) an educational institute that teaches and distributes the works of thinkers such as Abd Al Wahhab, who calls for the burning to death of Muslims on trivial grounds[12] (let alone Yazidis or anyone else). Yet it is precisely Haddads’ affiliation with both Medina University and Bin Baz that makes him a popular speaker in the UK and affords him legitimacy with much of the Muslim laity[13].

Whereas a practitioner of traditional Islam could easily say when confronted with the narrations of Bukhari or even Imam Ahmad: ‘We respect these imams’ scholarship, but indeed, this is a gross error. We can never allow impunity for the killing of any person. This is the law of both Reason and The Quran’, scholars from the Salafi-Wahhhabi orientation on the other hand would be forced to brand such a person a ‘hadith rejecter’, ‘modernist’ or worst of a ‘Mu’tazilite’ (the Ahl Al Hadith and puritanical Hanbalis hated and persecuted enemies)[14]. Having set up both punishments and ‘obligations’ such as female circumcision, in opposition to traditional Islam by using isolated hadiths from Bukhari and other canons, on what basis do they now oppose the moratorium on punishment for killing non-Muslims? Especially when it is backed up with the opinion of, say, Imam Ahmad and Ibn Taymiyya and others venerated and lionised by this movement[15] (and ISIS co-option of fatwas of the latter)[16]? It is in fact a contradiction and whereas to some this will be an indication that this movement is defunct, others will be easily seduced by the siren calls of internet preachers and radicalisers:

‘How can you say that a person who kills a non-Muslim for no reason is not liable to any punishment apart from a monetary fine. And even the fine is much less than if he had killed a Muslim’?

‘Are you denying the hadith of Bukhari and the words of our Prophet Brother? The dirty kufaar kill us and our children without any qualms. But you are worried about their lives! This is why the Ummah is weak.’

[According to Salafis, Imam Ahmad, Ibn Taymiyya and even Imam Shafi amongst others, the blood money paid for a non-Muslim is not equal to that of a Muslim. As usual, the Sufis and Maturidis and hated Mu’tazzila disagree and say that it is equivalent][17]

Or take the following, which we are assured from sources that the Salafis will insist are sacrosanct, is the practice of Muslims ’till the end of time’:

In the chapter terrifyingly named “The Punishment of Qadaris, Killing, Torturing and Hanging them”[18]

‘Abu Qasim Tabari said; Amirul Mu’mineen Qadir Billah may Allah preserve him, extend his life and support him in his deeds and words, forced Mu’tazalite Hanafis to repent in the year 408. They then repented from their Mu’tazalite beliefs. He also forbade them from learning and dialogue, Rawafidhi beliefs and any ideas that go against Islam and the Sunnah. He also made them sign an oath to that effect. He warned them that if they do not keep this promise he will punish them…

Ameer Dawla followed his predecessor Khalifa Qadir Billah on this issue by killing Mu’tazalites, Rawafidh Qaramita, Jahmees, Mushabbihs in Khurasan, he hung them or jailed them or banished them from their city. He ordered the Imams to curse them on the pulpits and expelled them from their home town…

This became the Sunnah of Islam until the Day of Judgement’ [19]

[Fortunately, it did not]

If this is the treatment to be meted out to competing sects within Islam (and in fact the ones persecuted above went on to become the mainstream ones today, to the continuing anger of puritanical Hanbalism/Wahhabism) then what hope for the poor non-Muslims?

The question of course arises whether this violent extremism was a result of some divine Quranic verse? In fact quite the opposite:

“Verily, those who divide their religion and break up into sects, you [O Muhammad] have nothing to with them. Behold, their case rests with God” [20]

As my colleague went on to point, if we took the hadith of Bukhari and the opinion of Imam Ahmad and scholars such as the above (and examples can be multiplied almost indefinitely – take the case of Imam Barabahri or Ayub Sukhtiyani, another Ahl Al Hadith icon, who is a proponent of killing apostates, but is so inclusive of what causes ‘apostasy’ that he stated a person became an apostate because he took a short walk in the park with a rival, Imam Abu Hanifa)[21] and presented them to scholars such as Haddad and Nadwi or organisations such as IERA or ‘Al Maghrib’ or ‘Al Kuathar’ and countless others like them at home and abroad, who also feign to ‘tackle’ extremism, they would indeed be in a quandary: If they were to say ‘Even though this hadith is in Bukhari and many other canonical tomes, I reject it’, which would put them in the same position as the ‘hadith rejecters’ that they often decry, they would lose legitimacy and income from their Wahhabi/Salafi fan and funding base, which essentially insists on uncritically accepting all of the single chain (‘ahad’) narrations from Bukhari. Likewise, if they reject the fatwa of Imam Ahmad or Shafi, they have become just like the grave worshipping Sufis, rationalists, kalaam practitioners and ‘Mu’tazzilites’ that their movement abhors (and movements like IERA assiduously avoid giving a platform to despite being ‘inclusive’ and ‘mainstream’).

The solution? Play both sides and condemn ISIS while not actually tackling any of the Islamic sources of the fatwas they use to justify their actions, since you in fact accept most of these narrations and they are rejected only by your ideological enemies (say, Brelwis or Hanafis or Sufis). And hope nobody notices. Except as my colleague so adroitly demonstrated, they have noticed. As an added benefit, by condemning their ideological bedfellows, these people gain kudos from the Muslim and general public.

It is much akin to a doctor who through his bad advice and neglect causes his patients to become ill and then benefits from their gratitude by deploying his continued quackery while ‘curing’ them.

The actual fact is that the brand of Islam promoted by individuals such as Haddad, not by his severely limited personal charisma but through well-funded organisations such as IERA[22], is a natural way-station on the road to ISIS: insisting on hadith and fatwas rejected years ago, profoundly anti-rational and textualist, intolerant of diversity (in particular Sufism, rationalism and Shi’ism) and even in most cases, labelling scholars such as Ibn Taymiyya, Abd Al Wahhab and many others who anathematised traditional the mainstream Islam that marginalises or even outright rejects these narrations[23] as ‘righteous imams’ and ‘genuine scholars’ has no other effect than to remove the obstacles traditionally present to prevent people taking non-Muslim women as ‘war booty’, burning those they disagree with and killing with impunity both civilians and combatants.

The recent crisis in Syria has exposed the degree of confusion amongst Muslims and the main-streaming of Wahhabi Islam: even sane and measured voices such as Hamza Yusuf, Muhammad Al Yaqoubi and others usually seen as voices of balance against the influence of Wahhabism, have fallen into line with the Salafist narrative of the Syrian war being a Sunni/Shia or Sunni/heretic conflict, and this when it is entirely clear that what is in fact occurring is a speeded up version of the Soviet/Afghan war, where in order to damage it’s enemy the Soviet Union, the US in conjunction with Israel, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, supported and encouraged what is now called ‘militant’ Islam as well as Jihad tourism from around the globe[24]. Muslims have entirely failed to grasp what watchers like Robert Fisk, Patrick Cockburn and others in the West saw all too clearly: Saudi, the US and Israel were co-opting militant jihadism for the purpose of damaging their enemy Iran, whose only regional ally was Syria[25]. To this end they funnelled, in conjunction with Turkey, hundreds of millions in ‘aid’ and weapons to a largely fictitious ‘Free Syrian Army’[26] and self-radicalised their domestic Muslims in the West by portraying Assad as a genocidal killer of Sunnis (and trying to bomb him themselves before suffering reversals in Parliament). When, in much quicker order than the Mujahideen – Taliban case in the 1990’s, the jihadis proved impossible to control[27] [28], Islam quickly became the fall guy and the Western and Muslim media again fell into line, asking how such barbarity could exist today and what Islam had to do with it. But in essence this was merely Frankenstein criticising his own monster to prevent anyone investigating his charnel house of a laboratory.

My point here though is that the speed and ease with which Muslims in the UK and West in general uncritically adopted the Salafist line on Syria, accepted it as a sectarian Shia/Sunni issue (despite Assad’s previous relative tolerance of Sunnism and even support of Hamas, the withdrawal of which due to Hamas’ support of the rebels being one of the proximal causes of the recent Gaza war – a fact in neither Israel or Hamas’ interests to admit[29]) and as we are still seeing, involved themselves in supplying fighters and funding for the cause. This indicates nothing more, despite the attempt to blame Western foreign policy, despicable though it is, as a ‘Deus Ex Machina’ for all actions of Muslims, than the degree of penetration of the Wahhabi/Salafi narrative into the hearts, minds, charities and Universities of British Muslims.

But this should be unsurprising: IERA and others from the Saudi Hydra are the most prominent Islamic organisations in the media and on campus[30]. They are quite open and proud of their association with people such as Haddad and Nadwi, the former who has argued that Bin Laden is a ‘martyr’[31] and the latter who seems to think that promoting the views of the same Salafi icons that led to the emergence of ISIS is a good way of preventing them (see below), a sort of bizarre ideological homoeopathy perhaps. With leaders such as these, Muslims protesting either that UK youth joining ISIS is a ‘fluke’ occurrence or squarely to be blamed on British foreign policy, are deluded to a frightening degree. If educated students at British universities are willing to take instruction from people as openly vile as AR Green[32] or Haddad then any and every outcome is unsurprising. The case of those less privileged and educated Muslims can only be imagined.

The case of Akram Nadwi is rather more insidious. He too is a ‘guide’ behind IERA and like Haddad and seeks to ‘tackle’ extremism and has even become something of a women’s rights activist[33]. He represents the school of Salafism that seeks to gain credit for rectifying the problems that in fact it creates. For example, while decrying the plight of women under traditional Islam and asserting that they were much better off under the ‘Ahl Al Hadith’, he neglects to mention that the partisans of this group, including their senior Imams, were known for beating their daughters for minor infractions[34] as well as demanding that women be segregated from monkeys[35] (since they may develop sexual feelings for each other). Similarly, he recently sought to combat ISIS’s use of Salafi icon Ibn Taymiyya in their propaganda and fatwas (while never stopping to ask why it is always this scholar and others of his orientation that are wheeled out for this purpose and never, say Ibn Arabi or Abu Hanifa) by running a course to teach Ibn Taymiyya’s Quranic hermeneutics (at your expense of course)[36]. This served manifold purposes. Firstly, it actually uses the fact of Ibn Taymiyya’s works inspiring ISIS and many other violent extremists[37] as a starting off point for absolving him and actually promoting his teachings. This is the ultimate ‘win-win’ for Salafism – taking credit for cleaning up their own mess. The problem with this approach is that ISIS and other Jihadi groups as well as the puritanical and revivalist groups from Hizb-Ut-Tahir to The Muslim Brotherhood, have been using the controversial 14th century scholar[38] Ibn Taymiyya with good reason. Apart from wishing to segregate women not only from men but even male monkeys, he’s also very laissez faire on the issue of excommunicating and killing Muslims:

‘Making an intention [eg for prayer] loudly is not permissible according to any of the Muslim Scholars.

And Prophet PBUH didn’t do it. And nor any of his Khalifs, Companions and nor any of the Salaf of the Ummah and its Imams [none of this is true as it happens]. And if anyone claims that it is the religion of God, and that it is wajib, then its compulsory to let him know the correct way and to ask him to repent from this claim.

If he insists, then he should be killed’.

Majmu’ Fatawa Volume 22, Page 143


‘Anyone who does ”ta’assub” to Malik or Shafi, or Ahmad or Abu Hanifa, and believes the opinion of this one imam is the true one that should be followed, and not the opinion of some other imam…

anyone who believes that is ignorant and misguided, and could be ”Kafir” [an apostate or non-believer]…this person has to be asked to repent.

If he repents that is it, otherwise he will be killed.’

Majmu’ Fatawa, volume 22, page 150


Apart from giving two reasons to kill Muslims who commit the heinous crime of disagreeing with his jurisprudential decisions in a mere five pages of his fatwas (I have omitted others for brevity), we are justified in thinking that ISIS is congruent in their use of this individual. I’m sure there is nuance and apologists such as Nadwi might have specific issues with how his work is used, but the fact remains that promoting such views under the guise of ‘tackling’ ISIS is a bit like smacking your children to teach them that violence isn’t the answer.

It is also interesting to consider why an anti-rationalist puritanical Hanbali such as Ibn Taymiyya is being rehabilitated for public consumption by both Islamophobes, legitimate orientalists and of course Salafi Muslims and their affiliates in the first place, having been largely ignored for several centuries[39]. What modern day concern of Muslims can be solved by referring to this controversial scholar is never made clear, but personalities from Hamza Yusuf through to gifted apologist Shabir Ally through to Western academics are fond of quoting from him and using him as an authority. Presumably they think that Muslims need more literalism and intolerance and that Islamophobes (who also adore him for different reasons) are lacking in ammunition and should perhaps be given a helping hand by frequently quoting a scholar who popularised both female circumcision[40] and the Satanic Verses incident[41].

In a more general and subjective vein, it is questionable whether it is constructive for Muslim students to be exposed to teachings of Nadwi such as the following:

‘Imam Ahmad refused to debate the head of the Mu’tazzila of the time. He said ‘I will not debate him, I do not see him in any of the classes of the Muhaditheen’

Imam Ahmad refused to debate someone because the person taught himself, and so it was not even worth the time to debate. Now people teach themselves and make the silliest mistakes and call themselves Muhaddith’ [42]

At first pass this seems like the kind of gentle warning against the dangers of learning without a teacher often found in Muslim circles, for example by scholars such as GF Haddad or Tim Winter (as if a teacher cannot misguide just as badly if not worse than a text or book – but that’s another story). In fact it is once again an occult legitimisation of an essentialist and sectarian stance. First of all, is Nadwi saying (using Imam Ahmad as a mouthpiece) that we should only debate with people who are from our own sect and even went to the same classes as us? In essence this means ‘We should only debate with people who already agree with us’. One wonders if he has proffered this advice to his friends in IERA, who are keen to debate not only self-taught people but non-Muslim ones at that.

The naked veneration of Imams, no matter how strange or unacceptable the things they say, is in full effect here, as is the unthinking condemnation of the enemies of puritanical Hanbalism. It is absurd to think that the head of the Mu’tazzalite theologians was ‘self-taught’. Rather, he was taught but by people that Imam Ahmad did not like, which is an entirely different matter[43]. Again, Muslims are free to believe and teach naked argument from authority and anti-rationalism, as long as their audience is suitably informed that this is not the only orientation within Islam and its proponents are likewise honest to their non-Muslim friends: One wonders if Nadwi would similarly lionise a Christian or an atheist who told (say, his students in IERA) that he does not wish to dialogue or debate with them as they did not ‘study from his teachers’ and in any case, he has a ‘no platform’ policy to people who are not atheist.

Indeed, UK Muslims have very easily fallen into a strange narrative: on the one hand apparently eschewing sectarianism under the banner of a ‘mainstream Islam’ that is on the other so militantly sectarian that it ‘solves’ the problem of sectarianism with a ‘no platform’ approach (practically and ideologically) to anyone other than Salafis, thereby strangling all dissent and diversity while paradoxically decrying those who highlight this as ‘sectarians’. It is somewhat akin to killing all the Catholics in Holland and then being credited with being ‘inclusive’ or having solved the problem of Christian sectarianism.

Likewise, the contradictory and partisan foreign policy of the US and UK is used to adopt a ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ approach towards Saudi Arabia and other donor nations. It is abundantly clear, especially according to organisations such as Human Rights Watch, which Muslims often hypocritically use to highlight their own very real plight, while conveniently ignoring the same charities’ and others criticism of countries such as Saudi[44], Qatar and (in the case of Sh’ii extremists) Iran. The fact that funding and scholarship for Muslim organisations or ‘leaders’ such as IERA and Haddad comes from countries such as Saudi is thought of as being of no consequence. Indeed, many organisations such as ‘Al Maghrib’ proudly display that their instructors and teachers have trained in the state sanctioned (the words they use on their website are ‘illustrious Islamic University of Madinah’) and funded University of Medina, set up by the aforementioned rather unhinged Abdul Aziz Bin Baz and whose current rector is appointed by the Saudi Ministry of Religious Affairs[45]. This presumably leads to greater demand for their courses (despite the fact that it’s ‘degrees’ are not recognised in most British universities), which is somewhat akin to Western educated people being persuaded to study democratic values because the instructor had trained in North Korea.

Further to this, the Muslim response to Saudi crimes and human rights violations from domestic affairs to international interventions such as in Bahrain[46] or Yemen[47] [48] is merely to reflexly point out Western interventions. Which is interpreted by most non-Muslims for what it is: tacit consent and a ‘morality’ which only applied to the ‘other’.

But my point is more fundamental: none of this should surprise us. If Muslim scholars, leaders and laity have adopted an unthinking and uncritical attitude to narrations such as the above and even more gratuitously, are willing to anathematise anyone who dares to think otherwise, it is little wonder that they will be willing to tolerate grievous transgressions on and in the name of their religion. Even some of the vanguards of traditional Islam are tripping over themselves to show how ‘authentic’ they are by criticising people who show the slightest hint of ‘rationalism’, for example the stalwart critic of Wahhabism, GF Haddad had the harshest words for Khaled Abou El Fadl for the slightest infraction but narrations such as the above are allowed to pass unchecked[49].

Similarly, the erudite and courageous critic of ‘false Salafism’ Tim Winter, had to quickly assert his Islamic credentials as ‘the kind of conservative who values the hadith, so quintessentially Muslim, that insists that ‘every umma has a particular quality, and the quality of my umma is modesty…’[50] when he was lambasted recently for appearing in the ‘Happy Muslims’ music video. I have no doubt that he is sincere when he says that he was not aware of the nature of the video, but the fact that a scholar of his standing and following was unable to confidently assert what he knows only too well, that music is a contested issue and that the evidence in favour of its permissibility is very strong, shows how poorly he is doing in his own fight against Salafism: he can only engage them on certain narrowly defined issues in defence of traditional Islam and Sufism. Whereas Imam Al Ghazzali and his brother, despite being under constant threat of a murderous Hanbali mob[51], were able to write three whole books on the intricacies of music and its permissibility, and Muhammad Al Ghazzali[52] was able to assert the same in heavily Salafi Egypt a few years ago, Tim Winter was unable to state a single word in post ‘Prevent’ UK lest he be banished from the mainstream of Muslim thought forever.

As my inquisitive colleague knew very well, the veneration of Imams extends well beyond Twelver (or other) Shi’ism: Sunnis have not just twelve but hundreds of untouchable Imams, coupled with wildly inaccurate ideas of ‘taqleed’ or blind following. One of my students proudly asserted to me, in front of a classroom of largely non-Muslim onlookers, that ‘Islam is a religion of imitation not intellect’. I believe that he actually thought that the horrified audience considered him a heroic rebel. Before I could respond, one of the other students asked him, quite pertinently; ‘what if you were a Nazi then? Should you just imitate and not think for yourself?’ Needless to say, the young pseudo-radical promptly accused the questioner of ‘Islamophobia’ for comparing Islam to Nazism. It was entirely lost on him that it was in fact he who had made Islam tantamount to Fascism with his incredibly misguided ‘explanation’ and that the poor student had merely pointed this out. But a victim complex serves to alleviate the most embarrassing of missteps, at least in one’s own mind.

Blind imitation of certain authorities, and even then only in certain matters, may well have served a useful function in strong Muslim states where scholars, their endowments and training were regulated (not necessarily by the governments, see for example the history of ‘Wakf’ in Islam), but in today’s far more literate society (most Muslims completely ignore that in the time of many of their favourite Imams, hardly anyone could read), where every person has access to more information at the tips of their fingers than Imam Razi (himself assassinated by puritanical Hanbalis known as the ‘Hashawiyyah’) had in his lifetime, as well as far more disposable time, it is a dangerous anachronism. This does not mean we stray from or disregard traditional Islam, but it does mean that when Salafists and others on one hand try to exclude certain authorities (usually the ones who are more rational and inclusive) and insist on the other on an ever expanding list of ‘untouchable’ idols from their own cadres, Muslims have to be sceptical and empowered.

When encountering Bukhari or Ahmad, Barbaharis’ (or even Al Ghazzali’s depending on the orientation of their idolisation) problematic narrations, Muslims are frozen: having been suitably groomed to think that rejecting Bukhari’s narration is ‘heresy’, they have a binary choice: make a ridiculous explanation for it, thereby leaving the dangerous seed of doubt forever in their own and others’ minds, or accept it, thereby putting themselves on the road to what is colloquially known as ‘radicalisation’ or extremism.

However, there is a third option which protects both the faith and morality of the listener as well as the image and relevance of Islam: namely that Imam Bukhari has erred by transmitting this narration. Those who accepted it, despite their hallowed status, have also erred. The reason is all too clear – the convoluted justifications made for it are reminiscent of the dreadful moral vacuum one encounters in the apologia of Neo-Cons for the dead in their misguided expeditions. Scholars today, such as Al Qaradawi, have rejected the narrations mentioned and refused to act on them, quoted other hadith which contradict them, but the fact remains that none of this explains why these narrations were narrated in the first place and worse still why some scholars took them into law[53]. The real answer is the obvious one: they erred. Badly. If non-Muslims take this narration of no retaliation for killing non-Muslims at face value and act in kind, we face anarchy beyond the wildest dreams of the most fevered political thinkers. We must be ready not just to give sophistic answers but to state the obvious and tell the truth.

Efforts to redress the balance have been about as effective as the A’shari synthesis – despite the major difficulties involved, it is insisted by many Islamic groups extant today that the ideas of Ahl al Hadith and other related orientations are of continued importance. Shi’a rightly point to the near absence of serious criticism by Sunni authorities such as Al-Azhar and Deoband of Wahhabi orientations. In the case of Deoband, their half-hearted attempt to defend the traditional practices of Islam, in publications such as ‘Towards Understanding Taqleed’, actually claim that Saudi Islam is congruent with Sunnism while contradictorily criticising Ahl Al Hadith[54] (this is unsurprising as until recently, Deoband was a major recipient of Saudi funding)[55]. In fact, it is somewhat fair to say, as the Brelwi critics of Deoband do, that a consistent follower of this effort to synthesise the Ashari/Maturidi creeds with what is known as the Athari or literalistic, anthropomorphic and anti-rationalist strand of Islam should by rights be a Wahhabi in any case. And indeed, Deoband is now losing many of its graduates to Wahhabi movements, for whom they become valuable recruiters and apologists (for example the case of IERA co-opting Nadwi and Zahir Mahmood from the Deobandi movement in the UK, in preference to their Brelwi rivals).

The continued attempt to ‘reduce sectarianism’ by bending over backwards to include the Ahl Al Hadith or puritanical Hanbali orientation is even more myopic given the current social and intellectual trajectory of Western civilization, which Muslims have yet to fully understand is only negligibly affected by their output (which tragically is too minuscule to even be significant in and of itself – a UN Development Project report laments that all Arabic speaking countries combined produced less literary and intellectual activity than the bottom ranked European nation, Spain. Although 5% of the world’s population, Arabs accounted for around 1% of the world’s book production)[56].

Religion in general has suffered a serious reverse which its adherents are only now beginning to appreciate. It has almost entirely given over its space in the mass media and education as well as cultural life in the West. Into this aggressively irreligious and even misotheistic climate, Muslims are seeking to import a literalist and anti-rational Hanbalism that even in the pre-modern Islamic world was in danger of extinction due to the harshness and impracticality of its jurisprudence and theology – until it was suitably resuscitated by Saudi money and British arms, much to the chagrin of TE Lawrence[57]

Individuals such as Haddad know very well that they are reaping the fruits of this effort to normalise the Hanbali orientation amongst Muslims – no wonder they claim that when they are attacked in the media for insisting on female circumcision etc, that they are being harangued for holding mainstream Islamic views. Strangely, no one is attacked in the admittedly biased Western media for holding Sufi or rationalist views or for saying that the headscarf but not the face veil is needed, but this too plays into the hands of the Haddads’ of the world, who argue that it is a sign of their authenticity that the hard to maintain and unappealing ideas are only given a reality in their own practice. Groups such as Brelwis, Deobandis and many others, including many of the puritanical Sufis and Shi’ia, have in fact done the groundwork by accepting the ‘Ahl Al Hadith’ and their narrations and fatwas wholesale, while grafting some Maturidi and Ashari theology onto their crass anti-rational and anthropomorphist views to mitigate the worst affronts that could lead to theological collapse[58]. It is no coincidence that most of the post-Maturidi Imams reserve their worst bile and accusations of heresy for the Mu’tazzalites, the erstwhile enemies of the Ahl Al Hadith. A decision was made to ‘include’ the Ahl al Hadith despite their frequent incongruence with the rest of the Islamic Creeds (for example the A’shari and Maturidi) and to take those parts from the rationalist Mu’tazzalites and Hanafis that were needed to stand Islams’ theological ground against the Philosophers and Christians but to anathematize the movement in general[59]. The modern reincarnation of this effort is to try and make it look like the wholly inconsistent theology, conception of God, Jurisprudence and approach to hadith exhibited by the Wahhabi movement is in fact compatible with traditional Islam. Having brought back a number of dangerous and extreme fatwas and puritanical creeds from the dustbin of religious history, these Muslim groups are now surprised when the youth follow through on these fatwas and narrations.

It is of little comfort that the telling of Islamic intellectual history by the ‘Orientalists’, despite their well-documented and oft lamented prejudices, is in fact far more rooted in reality than the completely ‘Disneyfied’ version presented to most Muslims by their own groups, including those undergoing education at seminaries in the UK and around the Muslim world. That many of these seminaries are either funded by or cannot risk openly criticising Saudi, Qatar and other Wahhabi states is a contributing factor[60]. Even a born Muslim will receive a better grounding by reading the work of someone like W. Montgomery Watt or Thomas W. Arnold than from nearly any of the Muslim accounts.

This brings us back to the issue of venerated Imams: such blind veneration is very dangerous in this day and age (if it was ever wholesome) but the issue is deeper still: many Muslims on hearing this will resort to their favourite excuse, namely using the behaviour of non-Muslims to explain their own. So what if there are bizarre or even genocidal statements in the books of Imam X? What of it if he was writing under pressure from the Hanbali mobs or Ismaili assassins or government censure? Is it not true that religious thinkers such as Augustine, Calvin, Martin Luther and even Secular ones such as Rousseau and Mill, along with many others expressed scandalous, intolerant and even violent ideas? Why are we picking on Muslims? At the outset this case is fallacious: Muslims treat their ‘imams’ differently to Christians and it is hard to find a Christian today who would be offended at aspersions cast on either Augustine or Aquinas in the Catholic case or Luther and Calvin in the Protestant one. Ditto with humanists and Rousseau or Socialists and Communists and Marx or Trotsky. At the risk of offending my Christian brothers, I would go further and say that those who do find the coercive ideas expressed by some of their theologians acceptable are just as dangerous as Muslims who accept the hadiths and ideas mentioned above. Likewise, I would argue that in the case of the Christian and even secular thinkers, they could cite textual or philosophic evidence for their ideas, including the violent ones, whereas the Quran has nothing of the violence we find in the Old Testament, Revelations or the statements and actions of the Jacobins.

The veneration of certain schools of thought and certain scholars in spite of their disturbing ideas also raises another serious problems in apologetics; the intellectual gymnastics involved in sparing the reputation of these individuals or hadith while trying to make it look like Islam is a religion that can be followed by every culture and society (i.e it does not have a completely idiosyncratic definition of concepts like ‘justice’, ‘mercy’, ‘compassion’ and ‘equality’ which in fact allows it to spare Muslim murderers punishment). This is no small ask, as any debate between the intellectually aggressive (but incompetent) Salafi movements in the UK such as IERA and their opponents shows[61]. I would hazard that the failure to square the intellectual circle contributes in no small part to doubts and apostasies amongst Muslims. Frankly, instead of just saying what everyone including the Muslims are thinking, namely that ‘Imam X is wrong’ or that ‘hadith X is a fake even though Muhaditheen graded it as Sahih’, we witness the most outlandish verbal and apologetic flourishes. Muslim onlookers are frequently left emotionally satisfied but intellectually crippled. Secularists and atheists meanwhile see this charade and smell blood in the water[62].

In fact, having been suitably conditioned by Wahhabi Islam and those influenced by it as well as the Salafi movements which are largely themselves a reaction to modernity and post or neo colonialism as opposed to genuine expressions of Islamicity, most Western Muslims baulk at what they see as a compromise by giving an inch to the criticisms of non-Muslims. They have completely failed to notice that many of the issues critiqued by both Islamophobes and the genuinely confused are idiosyncratic positions of Wahhabis and before them Ahl Al Hadith and the puritanical strand of Hanbalism. These include most of the well-known loci of apologetics from the young age of the wife of the Prophet Muhammad, Aisha, at marriage to the stoning of adulterers through to salvific exclusivity, as any glance at the numerous Islamophobic websites will reveal.

I recall the American scholar Jonathan AC Brown (who one might have expected to know better despite his Salafi leanings) insisting at a public talk in England that no-one ‘ever’ questioned or disagreed as to the age of Aisha at marriage until recently, implying or saying that this was due to Western ideological pressure rather than a genuine scholarly disagreement about her age. Had he a sufficiently diverse exposure to the Islamic tradition as opposed to an over exposure to one particular orientation within it, he would have appreciated that what he was saying was in fact tantamount to ‘no one has ever disagreed with Ahl Al Hadith and their partisans on this topic’. This however is total nonsense – apart from the glaring fact that the narrations found in most of the canonical collections stating Aisha was nine at the time of her marriage to the Prophet Muhammad do not even mention that any intercourse took place, there is the issue of the opinions of scholars such as Abu Hanifa and many others over a century before these narrations were even canonised insisting that marriage must take place at maturity and that maturity was at the age of nineteen for women (or older)[63]. If people such as Brown, who is blissfully unaware of the diversity of opinions on this topic, do come across such narratives, they immediately re-frame them in Ahl al Hadith terms – Abu Hanifa was an incompetent scholar who did not know the narration and that is why he held this opinion contrary to the party of hadith.

That is, of course one way of looking at it. There are others (such as that the narration was unknown during the earlier period of the development of Islamic jurisprudence and creed)[64] but the first has become entirely normalised.

I recall advising one perverse apologist who was making a terrible show of defending the marriage of nine year olds, telling him that there is no reason to take a single chain narration from Bukhari into belief and it may well be that she was just not nine. He then displayed his ignorance of the sciences of hadith, in addition to those of rhetoric, by insisting that the narration was in ‘all of the collections’. ‘Yes’, I explained (though it isn’t), but it has the same chain, yet the text varies, so this is rather a weakness as opposed to an endorsement. He would not, of course, budge and made his argument (if it could be called that) that nine year old girls can indeed give consent for marriage and mature faster in warm climates (neither of which is true). As can be imagined, some of the Muslim audience felt he did a good job. Everyone else was appalled. He later confessed that he in fact thought at The Prophet would not marry a nine year old. I asked why then did he defend that position. ‘Because we don’t give and inch to the kufaar’. Or miss a penny from Saudi, he could have added.

It is a mark of how entrenched and sectarian the thinking of Muslims, even educated ones such as Brown, has become towards puritanical Salafism. It is surprising that an American academic would state the historic lack of questioning of child marriage as a proof of its authenticity in the first place. It could just as well be that since in the past such things were common for a variety of reasons[65], people accepted the opinion of the Muhaditheen and Puritans on this issue uncritically as it accorded with the norm, rather than that of the Hanafis. Likewise, todays’ ‘new normal’ does not favour the Salafi approach. The job of the academic is not to find proofs for what he already believes or wants to be true (for that, enter politics) but rather to look at textual and historical/anthropological evidence to establish a ‘best guess’ at what that truth should be. But Brown, like most Muslims, is preaching to the converted. Nor is the non-Muslim audiences’ being troubled by the young age of Aisha or the penalty for adultery in Islam being worse than that for child murder a proof of how right we are and how wrong they are. Rather, it is proof of the normalisation of an idiosyncratic version of Islam that cares not for how it is perceived by the ‘other’. Yet absurdly, these same people continue to claim that Islam is a ‘universal religion’. However, when non-Muslims challenge Islamic morality, instead of seeing if the challenge might not be exposing flaws in Muslims’ own understanding of our religion, we take pride in arguing positions that are bizarre to outsiders and even us if we are not suitably groomed to turn off our moral and intellectual faculties, in contradistinction to the demands of the Quran.

Another clear example is that of the stoning of adulterers. This was denied by many senior Islamic scholars[66] and many Islamic sects in both Sunni and Shi’ite Islam (none of whom certain Hanbalis, Deobandis, Wahhabis or Iranian Ayatollahs like of course), but due to the normalisation and ascendency of puritanical Hanbalism, of which both Wahhabism and ISIS are merely offshoots (and quite natural ones at that)[67], merely denying that stoning is a legitimate punishment for adultery brings instant accusations of heresy, modernism and even disbelief. The issue is not in fact even whether adultery mandates stoning or not but rather that curiously, all the ‘case closed’ issues in modern apologetics – stoning, the age of Aisha, the killing of apostates, gender segregation etc correspond precicely to the fault lines between Ahl Al Hadith and their enemies (in particular the Hanafites, Malikis and Mu’tazzila). Combined with the lack of even academic criticism by Sunni authorities of Wahhabism[68] (and the harsh conditions endured buy those such as Muhammad Al Ghazzali and Khaled Abou El Fadl who did), it is very hard to see this as a coincidence.

Rather, I would posit that the necessity to be inclusive of Salafist orientations and the desire for funding as well as the fact that most Muslims are ‘pre-treated’ to accept puritanism and literalism regardless of its congruity or homology with traditional Islam by groups such as Deobandis, mandates that a whole set of issues that in the past had a diverse juristic exposition (such as ‘Rajm’, the stoning of adulterers), are today reduced to stereotyped responses to keep Muslims and Wahhabis happy. The effect on Islam’s public image is ignored or bandaged over by reports of how Islam is spreading and is the fastest growing religion (except it isn’t).

And what of the effect on the inquisitive mind when he or she asks why the punishment for deliberately killing, say, a random child is beheading, with the possibility of reprieve if the relatives were to choose to forgive (and this is recommended) but for the obviously less serious crime of adultery it is stoning, (with small stones to maximise pain and there is no option of reprieve, from the cuckolded husband for instance). Harping on about how it is only once the evidentiary standards are fulfilled, four witnesses are needed and the punishment was rarely applied (which in the Wahhabi case is not true – in both the instances of Abd Al Wahhabs’ original movement[69] and it’s modern ISIS offshoot[70], one of their first acts was to stone a woman, as appalled Meccan onlookers noted contemporaneously[71]) is of absolutely no use. The fact remains that whether we look at punitive or preventative models of correction, according to these people at least, Islam mandates a harsher punishment for illicit sex than for murder. On top of this, the Q’uran neglects to mention such important things.

The inquisitive mind is left with two options: shut off said intelligence, critical thinking and follow along blindly (in which case why follow a different religion to the one, or none, that you are born into?) or two, leave the mainstream of Islam or apostate. Option three, which is that it is entirely possible to be a ‘proper’ Muslim while not accepting this punishment nor the narrations or fatwas that it is based on, as the earliest Muslims indeed did not, is never made available to him. Because ‘mainstream Islam’ is available in any colour. As long as it’s Salafi.

My point of course is not that Salafi Islam should in some way be banned or restricted. Indeed, as the example of the earlier puritanical and literalist Hanbali orientations shows, it  has proved impossible to do so and Sunni Imams such as the Hanafis, Asharis, Imam Maturidi, Razi etc all had to compromise with it, albeit under the threat of violence[72]. Rather, it is that Salafi Islam is a particular puritanical and minority methodology within puritanical Hanbalism itself and this should be made abundantly clear so that people can choose for themselves between it and say, Sufism or A’sharism rather than simply mainstreaming it. It is also the case that Salafi Islam by and large would like to ban and restrict all the other forms – as the case of Saudi, Qatar and their institutionalisation of Wahhabism at home (at both the primary school, madrassa, mosque and Hajj pilgrimage level) shows. Wahhabism is explicitly the state religion of these countries with Wahhabi scholars and cadres having a monopoly (and even running religious police forces and deciding capital punishments for adultery etc according to Wahhabi fatwas to the exclusion of all other juristic inclinations) and when in turn they promote it abroad, Muslims see any attempt to point this out as ‘Islamophobic’ and against ‘mainstream Islam’. Wahhabis like Haddad look on with glee as the treatment they meat out to other ‘deviant sects’ in systems under their control is generously spared them by a gullible and ignorant Muslim laity. Of course, this is not helped by Islam bashers who indeed often do just mean ‘Islam’ when they say ‘Wahhabi Islam’, thereby doing significant damage and again allowing Salafis and Saudi to play the misrepresented victim. However, the fact remains that Saudi is domestically and in terms of its global reach explicitly intolerant of Sufism, Brelwism and other mainstream Islamic ideas. Those who seek to defend it and accuse others of demonising it must explain Saudi and Wahhabis Islam’s own hostility and sectarianism. Yet this does not happen: Wahhabism and puritanical Hanbalism is well tolerated abroad while its competitors are censored or even killed at home.

The situation is made all the worse by talented and articulate British Muslim journalists and interlocutors such as Yvonne Ridley, Asghar Bukhari and Lauren Booth. Blinded by Western Foreign policy missteps (and IERA speaking engagements), they are completely unable to see the trees for the woods so to speak: frequently getting into bed with Salafists such as Haddad and even ‘reformed’ Talibanists such as Moazzam Begg. These individuals are obviously inspiringly well versed in current affairs but almost completely ignorant in theology (and indeed history).

They also are simply too theologically naïve to appreciate that even if Western Foreign policy was completely remedied in favour of Muslims, Britain apologised for the Iraq and other wars and even wholesale converted to Islam, it still wouldn’t do anything about the narration of Bukhari we encountered above:

“A Muslim is not to be killed for a Kafir (unbeliever).” (Reported by Ahmad, Al-Bukhari and An-Nasa’i)

For this and others like it, that even in the most benign foreign policies will continue to provide fuel for extremism when combined with Salafi approaches to the hadith and sharia, Ridley, Bukhari and Co. have no answer. The irony – that they actually resemble those Western apologists who can only blame Islam and Muslims while never accepting the role of economic inequality (usually engendered by their own systems) and their own foreign policies in fostering violence – is completely lost on them.

Fortunately, my colleagues’ work with the Islamic sources had led him to the correct conclusion: that he needs to divorce the ideas of Islam and most (but not all) Muslims from the mis-steps of Salafism and fallible Imams.

Now my colleague instead asked another telling question, namely, ‘Fine they are human and they made mistakes. But then how is it that people who make such big, life and death mistakes, can become the ‘Imams’ of the Muslims?’. But that is a story for another time.




[1] Quran 5:45

[2] ‘Sahih Al Bukhari’ Hadith 3017, Saudi Edition

[3] ‘UK Imams Call on ‘Immediate and Unconditional’ Release of Alan Henning From Hands of Isis’ Natasha Culzac ‘The Independent’ 20th September 2014


[5] See his own book ‘Sharh As Sunnah’ or in English Joel L. Kraemer, ‘Humanism in the Renaissance of Islam: The Cultural Revival During the Buyid Age’, pg. 60 onwards

[6] See for example Nadwis constant referencing of Ahl Hadith authorities such as the above mentioned in his compendium of ‘Hanafi’ fiqh ‘Al Fiqh Al Islami’

[7] See for example: ‘Extremism Fear Over Islamic Studies Donations’, The Telegraph, Ben Leach, 13th April 2008. Interestingly, the 20 million pounds that the Oxford Centre For Islamic Studies received presumably went in part towards hiring Akram Nadwi, not doing wonders for his impartiality. Also:,

[8] Who inspires the Syrian foreign fighters? Joseph A. Carter, Shiraz Maher and Peter R. Neumann Kings College International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence

22nd April 2014. See also All of the named scholars have links to the Wahhabi school of Saudi Arabia.

[9] ‘Foreign fighter total in Syria/Iraq now exceeds 20,000; surpasses Afghanistan conflict in the 1980s’, Peter R. Neumann, Kings College Report ICSR report, 26th January 2015

[10] The Tayyibun Institute has taken down this biography of Haddad: ‘Shaykh Haitham al-Haddad was born in Saudi Arabia and studied under Shaykh Ibn Baz and Shaykh Ibn Jibreen. He attained a BSc in Law & Islamic Law…’which is still available in the Google search of their site however. Numerous other wildly popular institutes in the UK such as ‘Al Maghrib’ and ‘Al Kawthar’ boast of their instructors qualifications from Medina University.

[11] See generally ‘The Meccan Rebellion: The Story of Juhayman Al-Utaybi Revisited’ by Thomas Hegghammer  and Stephane Lecroix or ‘The Siege of Mecca: The Forgotten Uprising in Islam’s Holiest Shrine’ by Yaroslav Trofimov or Timothy J. Winter ‘Commentary on the Eleventh Contentions’, Catechism to Cataclysm. From Winters’ elegant account: ‘The new Ikhwan, comprising many former students of Bin Baz, burst onto the world stage in 1979 when three hundred of them forcibly took over al-Masjid al-Haram, the ‘Inviolable Mosque’, taking thousands of worshippers hostage. Under their leader Juhayman al-‘Utaybi, they proclaimed his disciple, the Salafi student Muhammad al-Qahtani, to be the long awaited Mahdi. Days later the Saudi army stormed the mosque, and the leaders were tried and execute’

[12] For Abd al-Wahhabs’ opinion on burning Muslims he disagrees with (which is most of them), as per a distortion of a report attributed to Abu Bakr (RA), see: Abd al-Wahhab, “al-Risalah al-Ula,” in Majmu‘at al-Tawhid, 36, 70– 72; ‘Abd al-Wahhab, “Kashf al-Shubuhat: al-Risalah al-Thalitha,” in Majmu‘at al-Tawhid, 117–18; ‘Abd al-Wahhab, “Bayan al-Najah wa al-Fakak: al-Risalah al-Thaniya ‘Ashra”, in Majmu‘at al-Tawhid, 403–9.

For an (extensive) list of acts which could mean that you will be in receipt of this punishment see:

Abd al-Wahhab, “Bayan al-Najah wa al-Fakakmin Muwalat al-Murtaddin wa Ahl al-Shirk: al-Risalah al-Thaniya ‘Ashra” (collected by Hamad b. ‘Atiq al-Najdi), in Majmu‘at al-Tawhid, 413–16. One can also consult his son’s account:‘Abd al-Rahman b. ‘Abd al-Wahhab, “Bayan al-Mahajja: al-Risalah al-Thalitha ‘Ashra,”

The interested reader can investigate these for him/herself and also the defences of the man found online and in Natana de Long Bas’ book on Wahhabi Islam, which portrays him sympathetically (but does not explain his fatwas, equivocations or the massacres by his adherents).

Historian David Commins writes:

‘Is it any wonder that Muslims detested Sheikh Muhammad [Abd al-Wahhab] and his followers when they justified executing Muslim prisoners of war? At one time a Muslim had written to him asking for an explanation of his attacks.In his reply, Sheikh Muhammad declared that it was proper to fight any idolater, which in this instance apparently referred to someone who did not accept his definition of monotheism, for he wrote that if someone received correct instruction but rejected it, then he was to be fought. Since early Islamic history, Muslims have differed on the essential point of what constitutes correct belief, but at most times, such differences did not result in military conflict or the adoption of coercive measures as in an inquisition. The Muslim consensus had been weakest along the divide between Sunnis and Shiites, but among Sunnis themselves, violent conflict over doctrinal matters was a rarity and it was unquestionably the Sheikh’s castigation of Sunnis as idolaters that fostered a legacy of hostility that would endure…’

The same point is made in a strangely different way by the Wahhabi scholar Muhammad Ibn Al Uthaymeen in his book ‘The Attributes of Allah’ where he gives the justification for not making takfir on non-Wahhabis (in terms of creed) as that they are like those who deny the omnipotence of Allah, but inconsistently yet still they are not disbelievers

[13] For example, Haddad provides the scholarship for IERA, extremely well known on UK campuses and even heads up as a ‘judge’ for the UK (and Ireland it seems) ‘Sharia Council’.

[14] See A J Wensinck ‘Muslim Creed’ page 83 onwards or better a Muslim account by Mustafa Ceric in ‘The Roots of Synthetic Theology’ (under ‘Mu’tazilites) or more generally (and especially page 58) ‘Islamic Philosophy and Theology; An Extended Survey’ by W. Montgomery Watt, Edinburgh University Press. Also Joel L. Kraemer, ‘Humanism in the Renaissance of Islam: The Cultural Revival During the Buyid Age’, pg. 60 onwards and most shockingly, ref 18 below.

[15] “A believer is not to be killed for a disbeliever or for a person enjoying protection under a covenant [a dhimmi].” (Reported by Ahmad, An-Nasa’i and Abu Dawood). Ibn Taymiyya endorses this opinion, amongst other places in his exceedingly lengthy ‘Majmoo Fatawa’ (Vol. 20, p. 282): “Nothing in the law of Muhammad states that the blood of the disbeliever is equal to the blood of Muslims because faith is necessary for equality. The people of the Covenant (Jews or Christians) do not believe in Muhammad and Islam, thus their blood and the Muslim’s blood cannot be equal. These are distinctive texts which indicate that a Muslim is not to be put to death for one of the people of the covenant or an unbeliever, but a free Muslim must be killed for a free Muslim, regardless of the race” (Vol. 14, p. 85).

[16] For an examination that spares Ibn Taymiyya the rod but is erudite and provides useful references, see Professor Jon Hoovers’ article here:

[17] “Ahkam al-Qur’an” page 284, “If a believer murders an unbeliever, he has to pay blood money which is one-third of that of the believer…’ Imam Malik says it must be half. Ibn Tamiyya agrees with Malik’s opinion (‘Fatawa’ Vol. 20, p. 385)

[18] Imam al-Lalika’i in Sharh Usul I’tiqad of Ahl Sunnah states this in the chapter of “Believing in the attributes of      God”.

[19] The same persecution is confirmed by orientalists such as Joel L. Kraemer, ‘Humanism in the Renaissance of Islam: The Cultural Revival During the Buyid Age’, pg. 60 onwards or Franz Rosenthals’ wonderful introduction to ‘The History of Al Tabari’ Volume 1, SUNY press, page 76 onwards. Jonathan AC Brown in his recent ‘Misquoting Muhammad’, like most partisan authors, was at pains to stress the persecution of the Hanbalis in the much better known period of ‘the Minha’ but failed to mention the generalised massacre and state sponsored persecution of Mu’tazilites that followed it. It seems that the imprisonment of his preferred party (Imam Ahmad) was of more importance than a generalised massacre of his opponents. For an objective view on Imam Ahmad’s imprisonment, consider ‘Islamic Philosophy and Theology; An Extended Survey’, W.M Watt

Page 58; ‘Hanbal says that the utterance of the Quran is uncreated’. If Watt is to be believed, then it was Brown (and Imam Ahmad) who were in the wrong as Sunni Muslims today believe that the Quran as the speech of God is uncreated buy the Quran as written or read out load is obviously created (see also the anathematisation of Imam Bukhari on this issue by the Hanbalis)

[20] Quran, Surah Al-An’am (6:159)

[21] Ira M. Lapidus, Islamic Societies to the Nineteenth Century: A Global History, pg. 192. Cambridge University Press


[23] Abd al-Wahhab, ‘al-Risalah al-Ula,’ Majmu‘at al-Tawhid, 36, 70– 72; ‘Abd al-Wahhab, ‘Kashf al-Shubuhat: al-Risalah al-Thalitha,’ in Majmu‘at al-Tawhid, 117–18; ‘Abd al-Wahhab, “Bayan al-Najah wa al-Fakak: al-Risalah al-Thaniya ‘Ashra”, in Majmu‘at al-Tawhid, 403–9.

Ibn Taymiyya, ‘Majmoo Fatwa’, Volume 22. Page 143 onwards

[24] See in general Patrick Cockburns’ masterful ‘The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution’

[25] ‘Iraq crisis: Sunni caliphate has been bankrolled by Saudi Arabia; Bush and Blair said Iraq was a war on Islamic fascism. They lost’ Robert Fisk ‘The Independent’ 12 June 2014

[26] ‘War with Isis: If Saudi Arabia isn’t fuelling the militant inferno, who is’? Robert Fisk, Belfast Telegraph, 4th February 2015

[27] ‘Rise of the Islamic State’ – ‘Saudi Arabia tries to pull back’

See also John Pilgers’ insightful comments on the web for example here:

[28] ‘From Pol Pot To ISIS: Anything that flies on everything that moves’ John Pilger 9th October 2014

[29] ‘Another of the region’s supreme ironies is that Hamas, supposedly the ‘super-terrorists’ of Gaza, have abandoned Damascus and now support the Gulf Arabs’ desire to crush Assad.’ ‘’Iran to send 4,000 troops to aid President Assad forces in Syria’’, Robert Fisk, 16th June 2013


[31] ‘In any case, he died as a Muslim and it is an established part of our Islamic creed that every Muslim, unlike the disbelievers, will eventually enter paradise. According to a number of scholars, the Muslim killed by the enemies of Islam is considered a martyr, regardless of whether he died during combat or simply in a state of non-combative military engagement such as being killed whilst sleeping. Other scholars limit the title of martyr only to those Muslims who are killed during active combat. Whatever the case may be, all scholars have agreed that mistakes made by a Muslim fighter in combat do not deprive him of his rights, whether it be the right of regarding him a martyr or any other Islamic right’.

[32] Sample quotes he admits to: ‘The purpose of the jizya is to make the Jew and the Christian know that they are inferior and subjugated to Islam, OK?

Even by some statement that you can make. For example, slandering and attacking the Muslims unjustly, such as you find many Muslims have done this about the Taliban. Slandering them and attacking them and reviling them based upon news that has come from the disbelieving media, helping the kuffar against the Muslims.

You know guys, I’ll tell you something right? I’ll probably, someone at least is probably going to want to assassinate me after what I’m going to say here but you know, I don’t really get very sad when, you know, a non-believer dies

…if you find the Jew or a Christian walking down the street, push them to the side. It is well-known from what Umar ibn al-Khattab and the khulafa ar rashidin used to implement, that the Jew and Christian was not allowed to ride on a horse when the Muslim is riding on a horse. They would have to walk”

More NSFW comments here:


[34] ‘Munaqib’ 307/ 414

[35] Ibn Taymiyya ‘Al Fatwa Kubra’ under ‘women’. Unsurprisingly, this is not found in all the prints available, presumably due to how embarrassing it is for Salafis.


[37] Cf 16

[38] See for example the senior Brotherhood scholar Qaradawi’s praise of Ibn Taymiyya as a ‘sea without a shore’ as well as Taqiuddin An Nabbhani, the founder of ‘Hizb Ut Tahrir’ and many other Salafi founders from Rashid Rida to Abduh’s approval of him, as well as that of the founders of the subcontinental Ahl Al Hadith inspired movements such as Deobandism under Shah Wali Allah, who wrote a full hagiography of him and his grand student Sayyid Ahmed Khan’s adulation of him too.

[39] ‘Ibn Taymiyya and his Times (Studies in Islamic Philosophy)’ Yossef Rapoport (Editor), Shahab Ahmed (Editor), in particular the ‘Introduction’. For an account of some of Ibn Taymiyya’s beliefs which are toxic to mainstream Islam, such as his uncritical acceptance of the ‘Satanic Verses’ incident, see Shahabs’ ‘Ibn Taymiyya and the Satanic Verses’.

[40] See this rather gynaecological article:

[41] Cf 39

[42] This was posted on ‘Facebook’, screen captured and attributed to Nadwi causing widespread embarrassment to Muslims on the Net. It must be emphasized that the referencing of Facebook is a minefield, one that Nadwi has seemingly not in fact successfully navigated, for example by removing the remark.

[43] For yet another account of the fundamental and often violent differences between the Hanbalis and the Mu’tazzila, see ‘Defenders of Reason In Islam’ Richard C. Martin, Mark Woodward, Dwi S. Atmaja as well as the aforementioned ‘Roots of Synthetic Theology’ by Ceric and other refs from main text.

[44] ‘Human Rights Watch, World Report’, under Saudi Arabia. Or Qatar. Or basically any other Middle Eastern Nation, obviously including Israel.

[45] ‘Why Islam Doesn’t Need a Reformation’ Mehdi Hasan, ‘The Guardian’, 17th May 2015

[46] Despite the medias’ strange aversion to covering uprisings in allied nations such as Saudi, and Saudi and other intervention in Bahrain, journalistic articles abound in the ‘alternative’ media: A good op-ed piece by Noam Chomsky can be found here:

[47] ‘Yemen crisis: What will Saudi Arabia do when – not if – things go wrong in their war with the Shia Houthi rebels?’ Robert Fisk, ‘The Independent’ 2nd April 2015

[48] ‘Saudi Arabia’s airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf’s fire World View: Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis’ Patrick Cockburn, ‘The Independent’ 29th March 2015

[49] GF Haddad embarrasses himself by displaying the same brand of militant anti-rationalism as his purported Wahhabi enemies (as is somewhat inherent in Shafi A’sharism – see Ceric’s ‘Roots of Synthetic Theology’ generally on this for a Maturidi view of the reciprocal compromises between Puritanical Hanbalism and its As’hari equivalent). Having to accept some of the noxious narrations we encountered above, this is unsurprising). Telling of the extent to which essentialist anathematisation has penetrated the Muslim community, following this issue on the Net, we see El Fadl is on many young Muslim students list of ‘scholars to avoid’, since the best way to expand one’s mind and refute ones opponents is to apparently simply avoid them. One assumes they would welcome Nadwis’ previous quote. The problem with this approach will soon be seen when Muslims try to find a list of non-Muslim ideas and media to ‘avoid’ as opposed to engage and deconstruct or reconcile.


[51] ‘The Venture of Islam: Conscience and History in A World Civilization’, Hodgson, Marshall GS (Volume 1 Page 386-9). Interestingly, neither of the Ghazzali brothers’ books on music have yet been translated into English, showing how much of an economically dependent and ideologically biased process even academic publishing can be.

[52] ‘The Sunnah of The Prophet’ By Muhammad Al Ghazzali, Dar Al Taqwa edition Page 54 onwards

[53] Ibid, in general but especially page 135 onwards. For Al Qaradawis apologetics on Bukharis’ narration, see here:, which is an example of exactly the kind of intellectual gymnastics Ghazzali is decrying. Interestingly, Qaradawi neglected to support his friend and fellow Ikwaani Ghazzali during his lifetime against puritanical Salafis in Egypt (See Khaled Abou El Fadl ‘Reasoning With God’ under his discussion of Muhammad Al Ghazzalis’ persecution and death).

[54] ‘Towards Understanding Taqleed’ Part 1 By Shaykh Mufti Afzal Hoosen Elias, Zam Zam Publishers, in particular page 30 onwards where there is a ‘dialogue’ with the Ahl Al Hadith.

[55] ‘The Jihad Factory: Pakistan’s Islamic Revolution in the Making, Sushant Sareen, pg. 282. New Delhi: Har Anand Publications, 2005. For accounts of the links between Deoband and the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden, see generally the sympathetic account ‘My Life With The Taliban’ by the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan at the time of 9/11 Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef. For a shocking account of Osama Bin Laden addressing a crowd of up to 500,000 at Deoband, see ‘Messages to the World, The Statements of Osama Bin Laden’ Edited By Bruce Lawrence, page 95 (chapter 8).

[56] ‘The Arab Human Development Report: Building a Knowledge Society’ New York, United Nations Publications, Pages 3-6, 55 & 67, For example, Muslims countries and especially Arab countries ranked in the bottom of the Third World in scientific and intellectual accomplishments. Although 5% of the world’s population, Arabs accounted for about 1% of the world’s book production.

[57] ‘Arabia of the Wahhabis’ by H. St John Philby. Philby was instrumental in gaining at first British and then American (after the discovery of oil) support for the House of Saud. The essential account is ‘Kingmakers’ by Karl E. Meyer and Shareen Blair Brysac, which also contains a marvellous rendering of TE Lawrence’s frustrations at the British support of Wahhabi Islam. A brief account is found here also:

[58] Ibn Abi Ya’la, Tabaqat, 2:45 f; Ibn ‘Adi, ai-Kamil, 2:677, an example of Puritanical Hanbalis insisting that God has ‘the form of a beardless young man with curly hair’.

[59] See again Ceric’s ‘Roots of Synthetic Theology’ or Watt’s ‘Islamic Theology and Philosophy’. It must be understood that at the times of publication of both of these works, especially the latter, The Maturidis more conciliatory approach to Mu’tazzalism had not been adequately studied due to the dearth of manuscript evidence (and the now discarded assumption that the Maturidis were merely the ‘As’haris of the East’).

[60] Cf note 7

[61] IERA’S withdrawal of its ‘research’ paper on ‘Embryology in the Quran’ (signed off by Haddad and according to some, Nadwi as well), under atheist internet bloggers’ fire is an illustrative example. Despite the assurance several years ago that it would be ‘improved’ and re-issued, this has failed to happen, much to then continued delight of militant atheists. Of note is that the paper is still being widely distributed amongst Muslim groups and its author, Hamza Tzortzis is still receiving great credit as an internet search will reveal, despite his own admission of gross failures. An embarrassing account can be seen here:

[62] Ibid

[63] Of course, Brown and others will immediately go running to the practitioners of Hanafisms’ own Ahl Al Hadith tradition (such as Ibn Abideen) to ‘counter’ this but the strand of traditional of Hanfism that asserts this is unmistakable and of great providence. See Abu Bakr al-Razi al-Jassas, “Al-Fuŝūl fi Al-Uŝūl”, Volume 2. The problem may well be that Brown does not like Imam Jassas, but perhaps it is better to let people decide for themselves whose case they favour.

[64] Ibid. Also, see Hanafi scholars such as Abu Yusufs’ concession, under considerable duress to the position Brown states was uncontested. See also Tabaris’ tacit refusal to acknowledge the age of nine for Aisha.

[65] Also stated by Abu Hanifa – namely that the age of maturity and hence consent is socially and environmentally determined and at the time and place of A’isha was eighteen or nineteen years (as explained by Abu Bakr Al Jassas above).

[66] For example, see the clear denials and proofs presented in the works of Imam Samarkandi, Khuduri Beg, Abu Zahra (once again Hanafite authorities and frequently anathematized by puritanical Salafis and Hanbalis). The usual response to this from puritanical and Salafist orientations (when they have discharged the necessary ad hominems) is to bombard the laity with narrations and hadith supporting the stoning of adulterers, usually making it appear as if these are in fact the verbatim accounts of the Companions and The Prophet. It does not occur to them that the very reason that the aforementioned do not concede the legitimacy of stoning is that they do not accept these narrations as reliable, despite being aware of them. The similarities with the case of the age of A’isha controversy are telling.

[67] Cf 14 & 18

[68] Shiites decry this, for example ‘Wahhabism: A Critical Essay’ Hamid Alghar

[69] It is reported that the Wahhabis had the unusual distinction of being the first to stone a woman to death for over a thousand years in Arabia: see for example ‘Tarikh Najd wa Mulhaqatih’, Amin al Raihani page 39 or ‘Tajdid Kashf al-Irtiyab’ p58-60 and 90-111 by Muhsin al Amin.

[70] ‘Isis throws ‘gay’ men off tower, stones woman accused of adultery and crucifies 17 young men in ‘retaliatory’ wave of executions’ Adam Withnall, ‘The Guardian’, 18th January 2015. Of course, there is video and social media evidence of the perpetrators taking ‘kudos’.

[71] Ibid

[72] ‘Freedom and Modernity In Islam’ Richard A Khudri, page 247 onwards, ‘Al Ghazzali and the Asharis’, Richard M Frank, Duke University Press, pages 5,41 (and generally).

Cf 14 & 18


43 thoughts on “Many Muslim Leaders Denounce ISIS Out Of Convenience, Not Conviction

  1. Nice thought-provoking article. But I see confusion in this article. It sounds like a modernist/liberal understanding of Islam. If we reject certain opinion or interpretation of the scholars just because (we think that) it doesn’t make a sense or contrary to (our own understanding of?) the Quranic principles does’nt it will make an anarchy in religious understanding? Does’nt it will make a groundwork for laymen without basic understanding of Islamic sciences to dismiss scholars opinions and interpretations just because they think “it doesn’t make a sense”? Why we don’t try to see another possibilities? Maybe we misunderstood the opinion? Maybe the texts or statements attributed to certain scholars has fabricated? Or maybe there are certain contexts that justified the scholars opinion? Of course scholars are human being and they can make an error, so do us! If great scholars with very vast and deep knowledge and great piety can make an error, so why not a layman with maybe not even an inch of their knowledge and piety?

    So I assume there must be a limit for this rational-minded approach to Islam. Maybe the writer can elaborate the limit? As long as we are religious persons we can not escape argument from authority, unless we choose to be a free-thinker and ceased to be religious.

    And one last point, to be a rational-minded person doesn’t always means more tolerant or open-minded. It can be happen that (self proclaimed) rational people persecuted so-called “irrational” or “un-enlightened” people. This is what happen when Mu’tazilites gain power in Abbasid era.


    • Thanks a lot for you comment, but I have to say that it is rather disrespectful to accuse people who you have disagreements with or don’t understand of being modernists/liberals (but you of course don’t need to prove that you are a ‘proper’ Muslim). I find this offensive and baseless.

      So the ‘limits’ of free thinking are for you to answer for yourself, because you say:

      ‘As long as we are religious persons we can not escape argument from authority, unless we choose to be a free-thinker and ceased to be religious’

      So are you saying that if we use our brain fully, we will cease to be Muslim or religious? So it means you agree with atheists that religious people are irrational and dumb then? Also, you are confusing argument from Divine authority with argument from human authority. So did I question what God said? No. So religion relies on Divine authority, not authority of Shafi or Paul or whoever.

      Even when it comes to argument from Divine authority, how come Allah does not use that in the Quran? When the angels asked him about why he was going to put humans on Earth who would shed blood, did he say ‘Shut up and don’t question me, I’m God’, or did he explain to them and in fact demonstrate it empirically, experimentally, by having Adam show them the ‘names’ of things?

      So even God does not rely on argument from authority and loves to be questioned, even by the Angels. But your scholars should not be questioned, even though God is. Are they better than God then? So we need to study Quran and Islam properly before deciding if people are modernist.

      How come the Quran did not put a limit on using the intellect? In fact it does the opposite and puts no limit.

      Also, asking how much you should use your intellect is a contradiction, since you freely used your intellect to ask that question in the first place. It is the same with ‘blindly’ following scholars: in fact you used your intellect to decide to follow them in the first place.

      Imam Razi and Abu Mansur Maturidi tackled the specious arguments of those who say that the job of the intellect is to get people to Islam and then it should stop and not be applied to Islam. Razi said that the person who believes this has invalidated the means by which he came to Islam in the first place since he saying that the intellect is not reliable but he came to Islam through his intellect, so he is in fact saying that Islam is not reliable. And if he came to Islam by blind following of authority, he could have come to any other or no religion the same way and it is just fluke.

      If you truly believe in authority of scholars and argument from authority then you have to apply this to non-Muslims and agree that they should put a limit on their intellect too and follow their priests and pundits who know more than them.

      So you are saying that huge scholars can make mistakes so we can make even more mistakes. So why should we follow them in their mistakes when they are obvious to us? Why did God give you a brain or a moral sense? Why did not God just say in the Quran to follow the scholars and not use your brain or sense of right and wrong. It wasn’t God but your scholars who told you to follow them blindly. I wonder why?

      As for the circumstances/contexts/reasons/misunderstandings that cause the scholars to accept no punishment for the killing of non-Muslims (and Muslim slaves and children and women), tell us: what are they? Anyone can say that ‘there were reasons’. You can say that about Hitler or the US led wars. But tell us what were the reasons? None of the figures quoted such as Qaradawi had any reasons nor did Shafi etc give any (good ones anyway). Are we sociopaths? What conceivable good reason can there be for not punishing the senseless murder of a non-Muslim or a slave or a child? Are you serious?

      Also, if we want to give the scholars so much leeway then we would have to do the same with the heretical sects and say there must be ‘reasons’. So do the Shafi scholars show this much understanding to the Mutazzila or whoever?

      And Mu’tazzilites never came to power: Caliph Mam’un and his successor tried to institute Mutazzilite positions with a minha. After that the Hanbalites came to power and in fact massacred the Mutazzilites and everyone else they disagreed with up to an including till the time of Imam Razi. This was referenced in the article. Comparing the persecution of Mam’un to the persecution of the Hanbalites is like comparing a fly passing wind to a hurricane.

      • Thanks for your reply.

        I’m sorry but you misunderstood my comment. I don’t accuse the writer as a modernist/liberal but I just say that the writer’s opinion sounds like a modernist/liberal opinion which is no matter for me. Anyway the writer don’t need to be offended if someone call him/her ‘modernist/liberal’ as long as the so-called ‘modernist/liberal’ on the true path.

        “So are you saying that if we use our brain fully, we will cease to be Muslim or religious?”
        First of all, what do you mean by use the words “use our brain fully”? Or before that give me a definition and explanation about what “intellect” means. If you don’t want to give fully explanation maybe you can give me a link to article or book or video or whatever about it. I ask this because in my understanding if we use only intellect we can be misguided as well as if we follow the religious texts literally without using our intellect. For example, if I only use my brain I can say that drink alcohol is OK as long as the person drink it doesn’t drunk -which is the case of the persons who used to drink alcohol. I can also say that have a sex outside marriage is not a big deal as long as it done with consent between the subjects. This is make sense, but this is contrary to the Quran. So how you explain this?

        “So religion relies on Divine authority, not authority of Shafi or Paul or whoever.”
        Basically this is true. But remember, in Islam there are masa’il al-ushul and masa’il al-furu’. The ushul matters are obvious, everyone can understand it and know the truth. But in furu’ matters we need a deep and vast knowledge to know the truth which is we can’t gain without very huge efforts, so there are mujtahid and muqallid, if we hasn’t reach the level of mujtahid so we are muqallid no matter whatever our claim. Nevertheless, in furu’ matters there are very broad range for dissent. You can’t claim that the only true opinion is your opinion or the opinion of the scholar you follow. As long as you don’t have capability to make ijtihad so just follow the scholar you prefer and don’t judge another who follow another scholar. This is the rule of furu’ matters. We follow the authority of persons who follow Divine authority, no need to make a dichotomy between the two.

        “Imam Razi and Abu Mansur Maturidi tackled the specious arguments of those who say that the job of the intellect is to get people to Islam and then it should stop and not be applied to Islam. Razi said that the person who believes this has invalidated the means by which he came to Islam in the first place since he saying that the intellect is not reliable but he came to Islam through his intellect, so he is in fact saying that Islam is not reliable.”

        In this passage you also make an argument from authority 🙂

        Like I say before, there are ushul and furu’ matters in Islam. We can understand ushul matters with our intellect as well as the matters are very obvious with bold meaning in the Quran. So for example if there are a person who said that killing is basically permissible and not a major sin the person is wrong, even though he is a great scholar. And in fact there are no single Islamic scholars said that killing is OK, no one. Killing is a major sin, that’s crystal clear. Even though the scholars said that a Muslim can’t be punished (read: sentenced to death) because killing non-Muslim it doesn’t mean that to kill a non-Muslim is not a big deal. Still, basically to kill someone is a major sin. And as far as I know if a Muslim kill non-Muslim he/she still punished, but not capital punishment. I don’t know if there are scholars who said that a Muslim must be sentenced to death if he/she kill non-Muslim. If there are, so there are a dissent in this matter and no problem. You can choose this opinion and endorse it. But you should also respect another opinion rather than judge another as completely wrong. I hope you can understand my point.

        And about the Mu’tazilites it’s a good piece of information. Thanks.

      • Yeah so the problem is you are basically causing confusion and obfuscating: here, in the UK, calling people modernists or liberals is a big insult and implies that they support stuff like gay marriage etc. Go and look up what Liberals ‘believe’. Saying that you did not say it but said it ‘sounded’ like that is the same as me saying ‘you sound like an idiot’. I didn’t say you are an idiot, just that it sounded like that. Nonetheless it is still offensive. So for you modernist or liberal is not offensive, I get it, no problem, but in this country it is a big deal and is offensive because modernists and liberals are people like Majid Nawaaz who post cartoons of The Prophet and stuff. So please do not apply your personal definitions to us as it is sometimes offensive.

        I can see from this reply to that you are seemingly not very precise. I mentioned before that you should to confuse things such as ‘authority’ between God and man. Now you are asking about what the intellect is and making up nonsense definitions for it by using subjective and emotive judgements such as ‘I think sex outside marriage is okay’ as an example of you using your intellect. You did not use your intellect at all here, this is just your opinion. Intellect is the rational faculty in man, not his preferences, prejudices or emotions. It means logic or mantiq or rational faculty for example observation, repeatability, induction and that kind of thing – as Quiran itself mentions and as I told you that Quran mentions intelect so if you want an Islamic definition, then Quran gives you lots of stuff (do you not see, Do you not think, ponder etc). Your opinion about sex outside marriage is based on none of that. You are just saying that consent is there so that makes something morally or even just socially okay. But that’s totally illogical and silly as consent can be there for many acts which nonetheless are immoral and socially unacceptable such as cannibalism and incest. So you did not use your ‘intellect’ there at all. Or you used it a bit badly. Maybe this will give you a clue as to what the intellect is.

        Quran says exactly that about alcohol: that being drunk is bad. So that is an awful example once again since you used your intellect to say that only being drunk is bad (which again is not proper use of the intellect IMHO as for example driving a car while not drunk but merely having drunk a bit is still dangerous in all studies done on this), but that’s what the Quran actually says anyway, that being intoxicated is bad, and that’s why some scholars from the Hanafis allowed taking alcohol in small amounts.

        And ACTUAL example would be something like why do you pray five times a day and not three or why do you wash certain parts of your body in Wudu. Are you perhaps from a Malay-Shafi background? Because these are the types of examples they use to say ‘you can’t use your brain because then why do you do Tayummum with dust and not mud’ etc. You have tried to extend this logic to sex before marriage and alcohol. But this is again, not correct: people use their intellect to judge that the Quran is the word of God, then for the rituals such as prayer and stuff they see that since God exists, seems to be telling the truth about everything else, he is now trustworthy and follow him unthinkingly on RITUAL (not moral or belief) matters since it was proven by the intellect that God can be ‘trusted’. That’s it. The limit if the intellect is obvious: in terms of understanding or encompassing God, and all of those things the mind cannot comprehend (and there may be many things like this). But if you or anyone says that those things that cannot be comprehended by the mind include moral truths (Ilike should you punish people for murder) or essential aspects of religion, then fine, no stress. Then go and be a Christian for example or a Hindu and when Muslims ask ‘Why do you believe God is more than one?’ say ‘This is beyond the intellect’. BTW, some people do apply intellect onto the acts such as prayer as well and claim to find reasons for things.

        You accused me of deploying argument from authority in the case of Imam Razi etc: that would only be true if I said: ‘this is correct because Imam Razi said it’. Rather, I gave you the reasoning in full detail and said this was said by Razi. That’s reasoning and logic (since he actually produced a logical couplet for his point) not authority. So your definition of argument from authority also needs work. Quoting people is not argument from authority. I gave his reasoning. It is just called giving credit as opposed to pretending it was my own point.

        Finally, your whole discussion of Furuu and Usool is pointless and irrelevant: you follow mujtahids in issues only such as how to pray and rituals. And this is for convenience. You don’t follow them in aqaid or morals. If a mujtahid tells you to kill a baby you don’t say ‘well, he is mujtahid, I can never reach his level, so I will obey’. Or at least I hope you don’t. So what’s the point of bringing this up: they are followed in matters of fiqh but if it makes no sense then you should not follow them as it will result in immoral actions and God demanded that we use the intellect to filter all information, including that form people more knowledgeable than you, otherwise you are their zombie. If you want to delegate your thinking to other people, that is up to you but then:

        1) You have to allow that same right to non-Muslims vis a vis their ‘mujtahids’


        2) You used your intellect to decide who is mujtahid in the first place and you used it again to decide to follow them. So even in this, you in fact used your intellect and are following it, not the mujtahid. There is no getting away from this.

        So it was a waste of time mentioning this: we follow Abu Hanifa in how to pray without thinking about it but not in matters of belief nor life and death. We expect his judgements to make rational and moral sense (and he said that they should and if they don’t, don’t follow them). If you don’t, that’s fine, but apply that to everyone then.

        I find your obfuscation on the issue of killing to be disgraceful though and I am truly shocked at the lengths that you will go to: so if Shafi for example said: no punishment for killing AT ALL (except for a small fine – all of this is covered in detail in the article) and so did Malik and Ahmad then this is okay because they are not denying that it is a sin? I am going to be blunt: this shows how far people are from the Quran and biased towards the opinion of the scholars; Quran does not say it is a sin but specifies a PUNISHMENT for it – ‘A life for a life’. Not a MUSLIMS’ life for a life but ANY life for any life. It is Shafi and others who tried to specify it to a Muslim. They made a huge error by contradicting the clear word of God but are you more concerned with them and their reputation than the lives of people. What is wrong with you?

        ‘And as far as I know if a Muslim kill non-Muslim he/she still punished, but not capital punishment. I don’t know if there are scholars who said that a Muslim must be sentenced to death if he/she kill non-Muslim. If there are [I ALREADY TOLD YOU IN THE ARTICLE THAT HANAFIS AND OTHERS DON’T AGREE. DID YOU READ THE ARTICLE?], so there are a dissent in this matter and no problem. You can choose this opinion and endorse it. But you should also respect another opinion rather than judge another as completely wrong. I hope you can understand my point.’

        But I gave you the clear quotes of Bukhari, Shaif, Ahmad, Malik who say that the person who kills a non-Muslim (or a slave) WILL NOT BE PUNISHED except by a small fine. And even the fine is much less than that for killing a Muslim! You are telling me that ‘no single Islamic scholar said killing is okay’ but aren’t you are playing word games? Famous ones like Shafi and Ahmad said you will get a fine and maybe punishment in the hereafter. So according to your logic, if I kill some poor non-Muslim woman’s daughter, you as the judge will expect her to be satisfied with ‘don’t worry, I will give him a small fine and in the next world he might be punished.’ Do you think anyone will respect Muslims or want to live under Sharia when we act like this. Would you respect this if it was your daughter? Would you say ‘no problem, I respect the judge who came up with this’?

        So we should respect Shafi and Co because they said it was a sin?! How could they not say that?! That’s just crazy bro. And you dare to tell me that I have to respct such an opinion! Whoever respects such an opinion is morally bankrupt. Even if your excuse to non-Muslims was ‘there is dissent in this matter then it is fine’ they will say ‘What the Hell?! You respect scholars who say that there is no punishment for killing non-Muslims for no reason?! You people are evil’.

        Can you imagine if non-Muslim started applying this fatwa in your country (as was mentioned in the article)? So non Muslims can kill your wife, or sister for a joke and the only punishment is a small fine? Would you be defending this as you are now? Of course you wouldn’t.

        So please, wake up.

  2. I have send a comment but it doesn’t appear. It looks like my comment flagged as a spam. I hope you can publish it on this comment column. I just make a question to clarify important point of this article.

  3. «I can also say that have a sex outside marriage is not a big deal as long as it done with consent between the subjects. « 

    In that view consent and awareness are thought to be sufficient to avoid confusion and unhappiness.
    I think very few people would deny that zina sometimes leads to confusion and unhappiness – in fact, one need not look very far to find people witnessing to this very fact from experience.
    Honest zina enthusiasts will say that they are « willing to take the risk ».

    « First of all, what do you mean by use the words “use our brain fully”? Or before that give me a definition and explanation about what “intellect” means. If you don’t want to give fully explanation maybe you can give me a link to article or book or video or whatever about it. »

    The perfect answer to that kind of question is obviously contained in the works of the so-called « perennialists » such as the the «  great Sufi » René Guénon. Let me rephrase all this quickly.

    The intellect and the brain are two different things (in all Abrahamic religions, intellect is associated to the heart. For example in Luke 10.27 the command to love God with all one’s heart, soul, strength, mind ).

    brain=aql=analysis=partial certainty=relative certainty=temporal, parochial truth
    intellect=heart=synthesis=total certainty=eternal truth

    It is very typical of the decadence of the post-Christian West that the words « faith » or « belief » which used to mean that total certainty (as in « faith can move mountains » ) have now been turned upside down and today mean the vaguest most unsure and arbitrary guess, typically reached by following fashion or ones favorite scholar.

    In the English translation of Muslim accounts about Jesus, Jesus says the does miracles by « certainty ». (see

    • Just excellent points!

      I do not wish to imprison Islam in a rationalistic cage and your recommendation of people such as Schoun and René Guénon (I only read one book by him but no doubt he was a towering intellect and critic of modernity, and he has been proved right) is a very useful counterbalance (I recently bought Schouns’ ‘Logic and Transcendence’ but haven’t read it yet) but Muslims are just too literalist and anti-rational now. As you know, when it comes to interacting with Christians they suddenly put their rationalist ‘hat’ on but then discard it when it suits them. This is particularly true of the Protestant/Wahhabis.

      As a Catholic you must know that Guenon saw the path for the West out of the morass it has found itself in a return to the Catholic tradition. But things have gotten worse yet it seems…

      • @mmmclmru

        Thanks for your feedback.
        “As a Catholic you must know that Guenon saw the path for the West
        out of the morass it has found itself in a return to the
        Catholic tradition.”
        Indeed. But there is something of an enigma in the relationship
        between Guenon and Catholicism. Though he was born in a overwhelmingly
        Catholic country and time, and received a traditional
        Catholic education, from the first line he wrote publicly he showed himself
        as an “Easterner” all but completely foreign to the West, and to
        Catholicism in particular. When he writes about Eastern religions, his
        knowledge is obviously first-hand and deep. What little he wrote about
        Catholicism is either very generic, very vague or even incorrect sometimes.
        Unfortunately, most Catholics reacted by labeling him an apostate and
        enemy of the Church (forgetting Jesus Christ’s saying that “whoever is not
        against you is with you”).
        A full synthesis between Guénon’s thinking and traditional Catholicism
        is yet to come. That will need a great spiritual polymath, definitely above
        my or your paygrade 🙂

        “But things have gotten worse yet it seems…”

        Catholicism has experienced the “identity theft” phenomenon
        that affects all Abrahamic religions. Since the Vatican II council, the
        official Church has been hijacked by traitors and become an organization
        whose job is to paralyze and suppress any effective public expression of
        An example among a hundred others : the current “Pope” has participated in
        public events with Emma Bonino, the famous unrepentant abortionist and LGBT activist
        who boasts of the special “bicycle pump” technique she used to
        practice abortions. That would have been unthinkable for the true,
        pre-Vatican II Popes.
        The average sincere Catholic is confused and disoriented by the
        everyday more glaring contradiction between the teaching of today’s
        official Church and traditional Catholicism. Most freeze their thinking
        and say, “When there’s an apparent contradiction I must suspend
        Much like an honestly deceived Muslim who says, “what’s this nonsense
        about the Qur’an having priority over ahadith ? I dont have time
        to read the Qur’an in Arabic anyway. When there’s an apparent
        contradiction we must be good Muslims, suspend our judgement and say
        Allah knows best.”
        The bogus “new Catholic Church” is also always claiming to be “returning to the
        primitive Church”. What it has done for sure up to now is emptying churches
        and turning people from Catholicism in a way few of its older enemies could
        have dreamed of.

        “As you know, when it comes to interacting with Christians they suddenly
        put their rationalist ‘hat’ on but then discard it when it suits them. This
        is particularly true of the Protestant/Wahhabis.”

        The one thing I notice all the time in “dawah for Christians” is how little
        Islam or Qur’an there is in it.

        The Qur’an says a lot about Christianity and Jesus Christ, in an uniquely
        original way. Most dawah carriers seem completely unaware of that.
        Eager as they are for external approval, most of their material is copy-paste
        from prestigious, academic Christian apostates (the most famous is Bart Ehrman)
        and the only parts of the Qur’an they’re interested in are the 1% which,
        taken in isolation, seem to fit with the “lower common denominator” of all
        opponents to Christianity. They only quote or discuss the parts of the Qur’an which they
        feel have “already been confirmed” by sufficiently many (or sufficiently
        prestigious) non-Muslims.
        Despite all their posturing, this attitude does not show a very great
        faith in the Qur’an to say the least.

        The opposition between Christianity and Judaism is very neat : each side knows
        exactly its opponent’s position and anathemizes it.
        The situation between Islam and Christianity is much more unclear. It is not
        even clear how and when the two disagree.

        Qur’an 2:113 And the Jews say the Christians follow nothing (true), and
        the Christians say the Jews follow nothing (true); yet both are readers of
        the Scripture. Even thus speak those who know not. Allah will judge between
        them on the Day of Resurrection concerning that wherein they differ.

  4. @ mmmclmru

    I’m sorry if the label modernists/liberals sounds offensive, because I think what is in a name as long as it doesn’t reflects reality. Anyway, I’m sorry for that.

    It’s clearer now what the writer and you means by the word ‘intellect’. I get confused because in Malay/Indonesian language we don’t differentiate between ‘intellect’ (called ‘akal’ in Malay/Indonesian, from Arabic ‘aql) and ‘opinion’ (ra`yu in Arabic). We used to says “tidak masuk akal” (“it’s not get in (my) intellect) to express “it’s not fit with my opinion”. Thanks for your explanation.

    Based on that explanation about intellect, I agree that opinion of the Hanafis regarding Muslim kill non-Muslim is more reasonable than Imam Shafi’i, it’s get in my intellect. But I still curious why many scholars have opinion that Muslim kill non-Muslim is not punishable? Is this result of their fiqh methodology? Is this because the application of sahih ahadith in fiqh? Talking about Hanafi fiqh it’s interesting that in some articles in this site there are revealed some early Hanafis opinions -including Imam Abu Hanifah himself- which is contrary with prevalent and established opinions (even many scholars claimed that these opinions are ijma’) of Islamic scholars -even of the later Hanafis. Why this can happen? Why early Hanafis fiqh methodology and opinions became unknown? Is there some historical circumstances that make these methodology and opinions marginalized? (By the way in Indonesia although the majority are Shafi’is sometimes scholars here take opinion from others madhahib if the opinion looks more reasonable or suited to the common good of the people)

    And about the Mu’tazilites where can I get the true story? Because the popular narration says that they got power and persecute the ahli hadith. Is there any link between Mu’tazilites and Hanafis-Maturidis? What’s the different and similarities between the two? Thank you for your respond.

    • So here the readers can see an excellent example of the noble character of a true Muslim: Even though I was harsh and rude in my reply, he still showed noble behaviour and controlled his ego. In all his replies he was just seeking the truth. This is the real behaviour of a Muslim.

      Usually Muslims talk about adhab and manners but as soon as you attack them you see their true nature: just ego and hubris and arrogance. Here we saw only genuine search for knowledge. This is why in Malaysia/Indonesia you will find many genuine scholars and people, because truth and justice is more important to them than ego or showing off.

      So you asked exactly the right questions: Why are people accepting these types of fatwas – it is two things: methodology of Shafis/Hanbalis is anti-intellect and takes ahad narrations which are likely to be fabricated into fiqh. Basically, they trust all ahad hadith which are Sahih. And especially those in Bukhari. So those narrations which Malikis and Hanafis reject, many Shafis take them and then come up with terrible fatwas, like this one. So yes, like you said, it is a feature of their methodology and later, when everyone started to take everything in Bukhari as ‘true’ then the mess became worse and many Hanafis (including nearly all of them who claim to be Hanafis today like the Deobandis) started taking the Shafi Mustalah (methodology) of hadith and ending up in the same problems.

      BTW, in Indonesia, they are mainly Shafis but they are following Al Ghazzali and Razi, and they are more rationalistic and more towards Hanafi/Mutazzlite side. So they are following the proper scholars in the Shafi schol (BTW, Usool of Fiqh in Shafi Madhab is set up by Mutazziltes anyway, the Shafi Mutazilla – just ask anyone) so you hear many sensible fatwas from them and they have many good scholars. Also, there are many non-Muslim minorities in SE Asia and Muslim scholars had good adhab towards them and did not accept rubbish fatwas that would cause harm to the non-Muslims. This is a major reason why Islam spread peacefully and quickly in SE Asia. So as you said, there are a lot of historical circumstances including some of the scholars being very close to the Abassid or Yazidi governments and so giving these types of killing fatwas to support them. You can read a bit of that in this article or in the book below in more detail:
      A lot of the narrators even in the collection of Bukhari are from the Khawarij sect. They are very violent and even killed Sahabah such as Ali. But they are narraitng these types of killing hadith a lot…

      It is not to be sectarian, but there are some unacceptable fatwas in all of the schools (but especially Muhaditheen, Hanbalis and Shafis on occasion) but the one about killing non-Muslims is very bad. It also shows excessively harsh and inconsiderate opinions of some of the scholars: they are living in an area with hardly any non-Muslims and can make a lot of unacceptable statements and no one will challenge them. But Abu Hanifa and Al Ghazzali lived in places where there were majority or many non-Muslims, so they thought in more ethical way, just like many of the Malay scholars.

      As for the Mutazziltes, they are the main enemies of the Ahl Al Hadith/Hanbalis, so they hate them and demonise them. So Imam Ahmad was in jail for a few months, everyone knows that story. But how Imam Ahmads’ followers did genocide on the Hanafis and Mutazzilites after that (BTW, many Hanafis were Mutazzila and often when Ahmad and Ibn Taymiyya etc insult Mutazzila it is code language for Hanafis) is not taught. But you will find it in the books of the Western scholars; some of them the author mentioned in the article or the book I am going to recommend below.

      Luckily, and excellent book explaining all of these issues in detail recently came out recently in Arabic and English. I think it will give you a lot of answers and references. I will not be able to do justice to the topic fully here but it explains all of the problems between Hanfis/Mutazzila and Hanbalis/Shafis as well as Imam Bukhari and the reason for the different fatwas and judgements. It also tackles this hadith about killing non-Muslims. The book has had a very big impact in the UK.

      You can buy it here:

      Read some samples here:

      Or if it is expensive, you can e-mail me at and I can send it to you.

      Again, thank you for showing such good behaviour. It is my honour to interact with a genuine seeker of truth.

  5. Thank you and jazakallah for your reply.

    Honestly here in Indonesia we still live faraway -even to some extents become more far- from Islamic ideals, not so different from Muslims in another countries. But I’m grateful many genuine Islamic scholars here with deep knowledge and sharp spiritual insights (may Allah bless them all). And fortunately you met with an Indonesian Ash’ari-Shafi’ite not a Salafist/Wahhabist which is as same as their Arabs brethren 😀 In recent decades they became more and more prevalent here with all their shirk and bid’ah accusations toward the Ash’ari-Shafi’ite-Sufis majority, so they get strong resistance from the majority.

    Interesting pieces of information about the Hanafi madhab, their link with Mutazilite, and Hanbalite/ahl-al hadith hostility toward them. Nowadays where we can found these real Hanafis? And in what Hanafi fiqh books we can found the opinions of real/early Hanafi scholars?

    I think it would be excellent if Shaykh Attabek or another Avicenna Academy lecturer came to Indonesia to share their blessed knowledge and meet the scholars here. It will be great! If you interested you can contact Nahdat-ul Ulama, this is the largest Sunni organization in Indonesia, they also have a chapter in UK.

  6. Anyway, I still have some questions regarding intellect issue.

    First, can intellect lead us to the level of certainty? Because in some cases we can’t understand God’s rule, even in non-ritual matters. For example, why Allah forbid pork? We don’t know what the reason. Of course we can say pig is a disgusting animal and since its disgusting Allah forbid us to eat it’s meat. But this is only our guess, I think. If we raise pigs hygienically can we butcher it and consume its meat since the pig not disgusting anymore and so there are no more reason to not eat its meat? If the answer is no so what actually the reason behind it? We don’t know. So it seems that too rely upon reason can bring us into doubt and ignore or reject some God’s injunction isn’t it? Can you give me explanations about this?

    And sometimes there are discrepancy between logic and empirical realities. In such cases which one we should follow? Which one is proper approach of the application of intellect?

    And also where actually the border between intellect and opinion? Because sometimes it looks blurred. Like you said before, some Hanafi scholars allow taking alcohol in small amount. Is this application of intellect or merely an opinion? If this is the application of intellect so do you think that as long as we know -or we think that we know- the reason behind some injunctions in Quranic verses we can make another interpretation although the injunctions are clear?

    Then it will bring us into the question of so-called contextual interpretation. Can we change established rule in shari’ah when the contexts are changed. There are some people said, for instances, that inheritance law which gave daughter 1 proportion of inheritance compared to 2 proportions of son should be changed because this is discriminatory. It is true that in the era of Jahiliyyah women doesn’t has any rights in inheritance, even they are parts of the inheritance, so -the argument goes- in this historical-cultural context give women inheritance is very revolutionary practice, even though if they only get 1:2. But as the time goes now in modern era women get many many more rights and opportunities so to defend this 1:2 rule is not fair and this rule should changed since Islam uphold the principle of justice and this rule isn’t fair or in another words this is not a justice. How do you think about this?

    • adiffahrizal, don’t you believe in Allah’s guidance? He helps those who seek answers to questions. Why pork is forbidden? True that pig is a nasty animal, but it also has a lot of worms which can harm the humans and they do end up infesting the land where the pig is kept.

      The border between intellect and opinion is called evidence. In the serious world, you can’t get people to accept opinion without proof as ultimate truth. The fatwa about alcohol is man made and since I don’t consider scholars to be God, I am skipping it. Quran makes sense when hadiths are thrown in the garbage can. That is why, the injunctions become easy to understand. In fact, it is possible to run experiment on their real world credibility and see the consequence. If things don’t add up we have to remember that it can be because of we going wrong somewhere. Every human has bounded rationality.

      Sharia rules are mostly man made and interpretation of certain words of Quran have unfortunately been changed, making it gore and unrealistic. We Quran followers have been examining the inheritance for some time now. We haven’t reached any conclusion yet. One of the most mysterious words within the verse is kalala. It has caused problem even for sectarian scholars. However, we always remember that Quran is for all times and that Allah will never back away from giving us hints of all the logic behind his laws and statements. Think about protection of Quran. Sure he promised it, but he has given us the evidence of it by making the book binary symmetric and also by giving people the power to memorize it entirely. I must add
      that some verses have extremely creepy arrangement confirming that Quran is from the divine.

  7. @adiffahrizal

    Once again, even though I am not a Muslim I believe I may offer you
    some helpful pieces of advice.

    “Because in some cases we can’t understand God’s rule,
    even in non-ritual matters. For example, why Allah forbid pork?
    We don’t know what the reason.”

    The intellect tells us that “not knowing the reason” is not at all
    the same thing as “impossible to understand” or “there is no reason”.
    Sophists and anti-religious propagandists typically construe the
    former as the latter, don’t be fooled.

    When a doctor tells you, “this remedy will cure your disease” will
    you refuse the remedy unless you “know how/why” it works ?

    This is the fallacy of argumentum ad ignorantiam (sorry, I don’t know
    the Arabic translation) 🙂

    “Can we change established rule in shari’ah when the contexts are changed.”

    Who said that “the contexts are changed” (and what does that
    mean exactly by the way) ? Can you trace the source ? Try using your
    intellect to do that.
    As a Western non-Muslim, in your paragraph about inheritance law I immediately
    recognized the West’s typical propaganda to force its values and culture (feminism, in
    that case) on Muslims.
    You seem to be unaware of all that.

    “It is true that in the era of Jahiliyyah women doesn’t has any rights in inheritance”

    I’ve heard some people question that : how then did your Prophet Muhammad’s first wife
    become rich ?

  8. Oh wow … at first I really didn’t want to believe this entirely, but reading some of Jonathan Brown’s answers in his reddit ama really hammered the point of the article in for me. Like, just, I feel a great part of the diversity of Muslim scholars are being eroded away with the emotionally-charged “SCREW METHODOLOGY AND WE FOLLOW TEH SALAFFFZZ.” Tbh I’ve seen a lot of people apostate or be turned away from Islam because these types of crazy fatwas are overwhelmingly presented as the “true islam and naql not aql etcetc” crap. Though I can’t help but wonder if that’s a blessing in disguise sometimes–if someone truly believes all these things are Islamic, maybe it’s way better off for them not to become or stay Muslims, wa’allahu a’alaam.

  9. @ mmmclmru

    I’ve sent an email to your address. But I haven’t got your reply yet. Maybe you can check it.

    Thank you.

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  12. I stopped reading after the narrations regarding a Muslim not being killed for a non-Muslim were brought up. To take these hadith at face value, without any context, is a bit disingenuous.

    The following link has some of the exegeses regarding this particular hadith (among others, and I can present them to anyone who wants more evidence), along with some very explicit warnings from the Prophetic tradition, and the tradition of the his companions.

    • You are an complete waste of nitrogen. Only idiots reply to articles they have not read (and are dumb enough to admit it).

      The article actually covered these ‘exegeses’ of the hadith from someone much more knowledgeable than you – Qaradawi – and he did a dreadful job. It also made it clear that Hanafis don’t accept this opinion – it is Shafi and Ahmad and maybe some of the Malikis. Yet you sent a link to the opinion of Jassas – a Hanafi (who you guys usually accuse of being Mutazzila when it suits you). Pathetic.

      Furthermore, your website article is deceptive and lazy – it is the same strategy as Qaradawi but not as good – finding some narrations which relate to dhimmis and the punishment for deception as opposed to murder and pretending that they are to do with the issue of murder. Have some shame and honesty as a human and as a Muslim.

      Muhaditheen such as Bukhari and Ahmad did not include those hadith or graded them as weak. Even worse, Shafi and Ahmad gave fatwas based on those hadith of Bukhari and those fatwas said explicitly that there is no capital punishment for killing non-Muslims and less blood money too. Unless you are going to argue that paying out (less) blood money is ‘punishment’ for murder. Given how stretched and politician-like your articles are, I would not be surprised.

      You guys are such hypocrites it makes me sick – on one hand you praise the madhabs and the ‘sahih’ collections, say that ‘all of them are right in their own way’ and people should not disagree with them or reject hadith based on their ‘intellect’ blah blah BLAH, but when you find a hadith or fatwa which is inconvenient (like murdering non-Muslims and even MUSLIM slaves, babies and women is not punished – yes Shafis gave that fatwa too) – you suddenly become ‘modernist’. It’s like the hilarious argument you guys use to say that forced sex with slaves is not allowed because it comes under ‘harm’ – but no one gave that fatwa. You guys just become Mutazzilites and modernist when it suits you.

      I encourage the readers to follow the link and see the waffle for themselves. So stupid: according to these fools, we need hadith to understand Qu’ran. But now we need ‘exegesis’ to understand the hadith (even though Shafi and Ahmad already gave the ‘exegesis’ and took the hadith literally). So look at this nonsense: Quran is protected by God, hadith must ALSO be protected according to them (God ‘forgot’ to mention that though) and now even opinions and exegeses of scholars must also be protected and infallible (yep, you guessed, God forgot to mention that too).

      Wait till you meet some atheists who have a little knowledge of Usool of Fiqh or hadith. They will just crush you. You guys are just lucky you live in your bubble where you chat rubbish and people who are incapable of critical thinking nod along.

      I am sorry to be harsh, but you guys really make me angry. You try to ‘help’ people by giving them ‘answers’ but actually you are messing things up even more. One day someone will just come up to you and say; ‘You respect Bukhari and Shafi and they are Imams to you, yes? Well they said that killing the non-Muslims is fine’ and your only ‘answer’ will be to bring out your own interpretation (means modernism or you are mujtahid) or to say ‘look, I found this OTHER interpretation/narration!’ (which would mean Shafi and Bukhari are stupid or incompetent as they didn’t know it). You will just be stuck.

      Here is an honest answer: Shafi and Ahmad were wrong to give that Fatwa and Bukhari and others were wrong to include that hadith. It conflicts with:

      1) Reason
      2) Quran
      3) Morality

      All of those are reasons to reject anything according to Maturidis. We would have even rejected Quran if it conflicted with reason, so hadith of Bukhari or fatwa of Ahmad is nothing compared to that.

      You fools are so worried about the reputation of Imams that you will see Islam destroyed before telling the truth. All of those Imams are fallible and none of them are even safe from Hellfire. Don’t give people a rank God didn’t give them (unless you are Shi’a)

      Meanwhile, many of the honest people are just losing their faith, because of their honesty and using their intellect they can see through the inconsistent nonsense you guys peddle.

  13. That IS harsh, but excellent points, and I do agree that the links do not explain the hadith or fatwa AT ALL, and it is disingenuous to argue that they do. I think the author of this comment knows that. It is also highly disrespectful to the author to reply without reading the comment.

    If the ‘context’ of the hadith is warfare then:

    1) How come Prophet is so unclear in his language?
    2) Bukhari didn’t clarify that
    3) Nor other Muhaditheen
    4) Shafi and Ahmad didn’t accept that

    However, Quran said a life for a life and Hanafis rejected this fatwa anyway.

    BTW, she is right – your way is nonsense – purpose of Prophet is to explain Quran. But now you are saying we need scholars to explain what Prophet meant – even when it is explicit. This is silly.

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  15. Assad is not a Muslim and his government is an unislamic government. Therefore he cannot be supported by a Muslim independent who the rebels are as long as they can be considered Muslims.

      • The Syrian Arab Republic is a disbelieving state. It does not legitimize itself with Islam. Every legitimization that is not Islamic is rejected. Believing in the legitimacy of something that is non-Islamic is disbelief. Therefore the Syrian state is state of disbelief.

        The classical Islamic jurists have not used terms like “state of disbelief (kufr)”. They have used the the terms dar al-harb (‘House/Land of War’) and dar al-islam (‘House/Land of Islam). Dar al-islam were those lands that were governed by Muslims with Islamic rules. What made those lands effectively Islamic was the establishment of Islamic rules. The ruler being Muslim was not the essential criterion.
        Dar al-harb on the other hand were those lands ruled by non-Muslims with subsequently non-Islamic rules. They were called ‘Land of War’ because ultimate peace could only be found with those lands were the Islamic rules were established.

        Therefore it does not really matter whether the specific ruler is a Muslim or not. Bashar al-Assad could be Sunni, Alawi and even Christian and the state he runs would have the same ruling of disbelief because the rules that are established in it are not the Islamic ones. A ruler has to legitimize himself with the Islamic rules. Otherwise he will be deemed a disbeliever.

        “I like how you ARE sure that ISIS have correct aqeeda etc though.”

        Even though ISIS is not a good alternative to Assad I do not see anything in their aqeeda that would actually make the apostates.
        But ISIS is not the only rebel force in Syria. There are others from Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (former Nusra) to ‘moderate islamist’ groups to even more moderate ones. What matters is whether they agree that the law established in Syria has to be Islamic.

    • LMAO.
      You are SOOOOOO pathetic to keep making up new email addresses. But you can’t hide your mental illness or your tendency to never give any references.

      Caught and humiliated again!

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