Notes from Sheikh Nuh Ha Mim Keller’s Suhba Part 2
From Al Miftah
Western “Apologetic Islam”
On the 17th of August a question was asked
“How should we treat non Muslims who are hostile or just ignorant and don’t treat us as they should, should we be confrontational and demand our rights etc”
The Shaykh responded, “No, demand Allah’s rights only.”, stating that we should not be demanding our own rights and whenever we could sacrifice our own prestige we should not hesitate to do so, but whenever something was for Allah swt we should stand up for it, as the Shaykh said “this is the way”.
The Shaykh continued: “Don’t compromise your deen, because of them (the non Muslims). Don’t do anything because of them and don’t. refrain from anything because of them, but just speak your truth”
He told the listeners to get over the idea that Islam needs people (in the form of new adherents) and so, Islam should be modified to be made more palatable for the non Muslims, he said
“Get over the idea that the truth needs people, So we have to water it down enough so everybody can accept it. Yeah .. Islam is really just flower power. Islam is really just a new health cereal like granola Islam is anything you want.”
The Shaykh said that whoever hears this from among the non Muslims will be disgusted with the Muslims and with Islam, rather Muslims should say: “No, Islam is the haq. Islam is the truth, and this is the way it is. Like it. Don’t like it. Here it is.“
The Shaykh went on to say that the apologetic trend of “many Islamic spokesmen in the west” is a “big fat mistake” that only makes more contempt for the Muslims and what we stand for. He said that while not apologising, we should speak out against wrongs such as suicide bombings and tell those people who think its an act of worship (i.e., fellow Muslims) directly that it is not, that we should “straighten them out”.
But he further warned that we should never be shy and try to make Islam into something it is not, a new species, or say to the non Muslims “Well we are just like Presbyterians , only we put our hats on when we go into our mosques. We don’t take them off. “
The Shaykh said that this is “a bunch of rubbish” that nobody is ever going to believe, rather we should say “I am a muslim and I am proud, for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala that he has made me muslim.”, and that this is what impresses the non-Muslims.
The Shaykh stated that this is what impressed him and that he started thinking about becoming muslim when he saw muslim who was like that. The Shaykh Specifically said
“He was a modernist but still he had that amount of decency that he wasn’t an apologist” and further emphasised the point stated above that Muslims should not be going out of their ways to apologise for this or that by saying (in a raised voice), “There is nothing to apologise for, nothing to apologise for!” “
The Shaykh went on to reiterate, and stating for the second time in the talk that Islam does not need new adherents at any cost, by saying:
“The haq doesn’t need people. People need the haq. Don’t make your self irrelevant by all this watering things down until they don’t even look like Islam or sound like Islam, and no one will recognise it.”
He narrated that he went to the Toronto Suhba in 2006 at the same time as the Canadian media was full of stories about a plot to kidnap and behead the Prime Minister. The Shaykh went into a medical clinic wearing his usual attire and when a 60 year old man saw him, he suddenly smiled at him thinking “this man has got crust”. Essentially that the man respected the fact that Shaykh Nuh was unfazed by all the publicity and went about things in his usual way including his attire.
The Shaykh continued with the story about the Muslim who had impressed him, namely his former lecturer in Islamic Studies at the university of Chicago.
In response to a question about why “Islam relegates women to an inferior position” by a group of feminist ladies the lecturer responded “actually, men and women are equal in Islam with regards to all their works with Allah swt however men are one degree higher than women because they work and they spend on women with their livelihood”
This straight answer without beating around the bush and without any fear of being un PC had deeply inspired the Shaykh, who said “So by being politically incorrect Allah swt will give you if your intention is haq”
The Shaykh warned against cowardice and especially fearing the opinions of the non Muslims and demonstrated the repulsive nature of cowardice by giving an example from the prophet sws. He said:
“The prophet sws was a man who really didn’t care about what anybody thought, except for Allah swt. And despite the huge, hugeness of his courage sws He used to take refuge from cowardice with Allah”
He went on to warn against some of the absurdities in the obsession with winning the hearts of the non Muslims and the futility of this approach by saying:
“So when people see that the Muslims are trying to say that Islam is flower power, Islam is a new vitamin packed cereal or Islam is a new species of Christianity or whatever they are saying to try to win the hearts of the Christians and Jews, You are not gonna win their hearts until you quit making sajdah with your head upon the ground my friends in that sense but stand your ground and say this is the way I am, like it or don’t like it.”
The last very powerful statement about making sajdah on the ground really summed it up, that Muslims should not be apologetic cowards, should be proud of the truth of Islam, that Islam is not a commodity to be marketed in an attempt to get as many customers as possible and that any attempts to “win hearts” by watering down the truth would be futile
Minority Fiqh – Fiqh al Aqaliat
After a very brief pause the Shaykh proceeded to speak about the topic of “Minority Fiqh” and the damage done to the Muslims by this invalid approach.
The Shaykh said that somebody had come to him and told him that his wife had taken of her hijab. “Why? Because somebody gave her a fatwa one, of the students that studied abroad for 86 years now he is back being a modernist so he can win peoples hearts”
The Shaykh said that such a person giving such a fatwa is not a faqih, and that finding discrimination in the work place is not a reason to take of the hijab.
The Shaykh said that a modernist would argue: “Well the masalih mursalah sharia countenance interests permits exceptions to rules after all, discrimination , Who wants to be discriminated against?”
The Shaykh said the sister was a consultant and what was a consultant supposed to do?
Supposed to come up with solutions, creative ways out of problems. He proceeded to say “Paid to do what? Paid to take off her hijab? No paid to think, come up with some good ideas, do your work proficiently and people wont care, “
The Shaykh stated that the mistake of the fatwa was from several different points of view:
1. Civil Liberties:
civil liberties in a society do not go forward and never retreat rather they are going forwards and they are going forward and going forwards and going backwards at all times John Gray said in his heresies …Progress is the Prozac of the thinking classes, there is no progress in that sense, lock step, Civil liberties continually improving folks It doesn’t work like that, there are all sorts of trends forwards and backwards
The Shaykh said that Somebody who gives a fatwa take off your hijab will erode the civil liberties of all the ladies that won’t take off their hijab, make it harder for those ladies in the society.
The Shaykh explained it creates differences amongst the Muslims about the way that Islam should be practised. The Shaykh said, If someone says ,Well this is fully valid – I can take off my hijab because I am discriminated against at work What do you get? A situation like in Judaism, Reform, Orthodox and, Conservative. , 3 different groups practising in entirely different ways. Saying Well this is valid, we got our fatwa and we are practising our valid hijab-less Islam, and these others are practising their hijab.
The Shaykh said in such a situation What’s to stop a government like France from saying, “well both are valid so what’s your beef you either wanna just take it off”
So the second reason it’s a mistake is the tafriqa it makes division. The Shaykh asked how can it not be a social issue between Muslims How? can it not become a social split amongst Muslims in practice.
The Shaykh said:
“It’s better to have someone who is taubana who knows she is doing rotten in the deen, who knows she is not observing the deen that’s why she has her hijab off , but when she wants to make tauba, and come back, better than to give a fatwa its ok, splits up the Muslims, validating those different kinds of Islam, this Islam and that Islam “
3. The imperativeness of Hijab:
Hijab is thabit, something that is established by the text of the Qur’an itself. The Shaykh said that Shaykh Ali Gomaa “who is more liberal than many in some issues”, said that one of the few example of something which is absolutely concurred upon by everyone is the imperativeness of the hijab. The Shaykh said there is no disagreements about it by “anybody, whose disagreement counts”
4. Masalih Mursalah:
Lastly the Shaykh said that with regards to the sharia countenance interests, the Masalih mursalah that are invoked to make it easy ,”Making it easy isn’t any of them, But rather the necessities”
The Shaykh proceeded to list the necessities
Deen: if you cant practice your deen except by doing something, that is obviating someone, then you can obviate them even though it might involve subterfuge.
Survival: The second one (nafs),
Aqal – sanity: The third one, if one can only do something to keep ones sanity by making exceptions and exceptions can be made disobeying ones parents, even to the extent of moving away from them (rather than as in the example given shaving ones beard). As the Shaykh said, If ones parents say “look reasonable and shave that beard off pressuring you and putting all these things upon you until you cant practice”, practically losing your mind you can take off and preserve your sanity”
Nasal (Progeny): the Fourth sharia countenance is progeny, having children
Property: – The firth sharia countenance is property.
The Shaykh said “and by property they don’t mean enhancing ones career, they mean that if the woman can not survive , here this one has a husband that can support her, who says it’s a sharia countenance interest that both the man and the woman be working, as a family as a mum and dad they can support her”
After having listed the necessities above and the limitations of these the Shaykh proceeded to describe the concept of ”Minority Fiqh” and called it the buzz word of out time, saying
“There’s a lot of flee bitten fatwas and the “Fiqh al Aqaliat”, fiqh of minorities which is a buzz word in our time,” The Shaykh said that this is something a small minority of fuqaha find: “that anybody who is a minority is.. has an excuse to behave, ..has a different Islam than countries where Muslims are a majority”
The Shaykh voiced his opposition to this mode of thinking and said “Its not like that! , its sloppy thinking, its bad fiqh”
The Shaykh said that the fact that somebody gets harassed in London on the tube, does not make it ok for a woman in Sacramento California to take off her hijab with the excuse that both are minorities., he proceeded to say that “Minority is the least precise description statements that covers both of these two people, it doesn’t mean anything “
The Shaykh explained that rather the Sharia already has exceptions built in it case by case, and each case its decided upon by its own merits Not by making a generality by saying “oh they’re minorities here so they can have a different Islam, that’s easy, take it off, your careers may be hindered”
The Shaykh summed up his view of Minority Fiqh and the problem with its popularity among western Islamic spokesmen by saying.
“So the Fiqh al Aqaliat, fiqh of minorities this is something that none of the shaykhs in Damascus who are fuqaha and who are the shaykhs agree with its countenance all of them think its a big batil, there are some of the shaykhs from Egypt who have popularised it in books and some of the westerners who have adopted it who are Western Islamic spokesmen this Its baatil fil baatil, and the way of taqwa is far from it”
After having explained the invalidity of the concept of Minority Fiqh and its incompatibility with taqwa the Shaykh concluded by saying
“So Be proud of who you are and people will respect you, proud of who you are for Allah swt “
“Ghazali says you have to understand something about fiqh so Depend on the conservatives for your religious practice and you will find a safe way to Allah swt.”
Throughout the Suhba the Shaykh made references to statements made in this short lesson, but most clearly in the last Q&A session on the last day of the Suhba where a specific question was asked on cooperating with Modernists and Salafis.
A question was asked: “What should be the approach of someone in the tariq towards working with other Muslims with different beliefs e.g. modernists or salafis”
The Shaykh responded that we should help them with ourselves. He proceeded to say that The modernists are doing a disservice to Islam, because their fatwas are against the interest of the Muslims (and the Shaykh referred back to the example of the hijab fatwa mentioned above).
The Shaykh warned against the divisions modernists create amongst Muslims and warned against the geographical segmentation of the Muslims and said (about the Modernists) “They divide up the Muslims, They validate things that are slack in Islamic practice, they divide up the Ummah, with fatwas like we’re a different society here we’re a muslim minority here”
The Shaykh said “We say to the modernists nothing needs to be modernised” and referred to them (the modernists) as pernicious. The Shaykh further stated that Salafism seems to be fleeing and in the state of reversal, that they had “spent their coin”. He stressed that we pray behind everybody in the masjid, but that we should be firm in case anyone tries to give us a dars about this or that.
The Shaykh went on to explain that the Qur’an commands us “ask those who know well, (Ahl ul dhikri)”, and that “A modernist is someone with an inferiority complex, so he’s not of the Ahl ul dhikri, not someone who knows well about the things of his deen.”
The Shaykh finished off by warning against what he called the insidious poison of the modernists appealing to the vanities of the educated Muslims, and said:
“We don’t have a superiority complex, we don’t have a supercilious way of looking at others, but tell plainly in word and deed to the Modernists whose poison more insidious and worse and more likely to have a detrimental impact than salafis”
“Modernists they do manage to steal a lot of the
hearts of educated Muslims who think that being an educated muslim consist in repeating their phrases and so forth and having zero taqwa”
He described the way of zero taqwa displayed by the modernists as “The way of giving someone who is a diabetic more candy – Rukhsa city oh boy” and , “it’s the way of making the person more sick so they cant get any better so they don’t feel anything so their hearts become further and further from Allah swt”
His concluding remark was that those who say “I’m just making it easier” only made it easier for the Shaitan to take people.
The above was one of the last statements of the Shaykh in the UK 2007 Suhba.
May Allah swt preserve Shaykh Nuh and reward him for his warnings against being apologetic Muslims or cowards, against in his words “the batil of Minority Fiqh/Fiqh al Aqaliat” and against the insidious poison of the modernists who are pushing for a geographical segmentation of Islam and who in the shaykhs words “are more likely to have a detrimental effect than the salafis”.
Such a strongly worded warning from a scholar and a man who has devoted the better part of his life as a muslim and scholastic career to refuting the batil of the salafis is not to be taken lightly, and may Allah swt protect us from the above mentioned perils.