stopwatch1-282x300Typically I reserve only a small amount of time to discuss religious or political issues on YouTube given the frivolous nature of the exchanges on these sort of forums. There is very little to learn, much less discuss on websites where the majority of users are more interested in sound bites and drama. I must admit that I’ve been guilty of getting into longer discussions when I felt a point was necessary to make, but in this instance I have once again proven to myself why I shouldn’t bother.

After an argument I had about the nature of apostasy in Islam in the comments section, one of the more active ex-Muslims on the site by the name of CaptainDisguise decided to put up a blog post in response.[1] There were no arguments or objections. It was simply a poor attempt at making a comedy out of my arguments while posturing, hoping that his audience might be receptive to the idea that I’m just some crazy extremist who isn’t worth listening to.

You would think then that my comments would speak for themselves without having to be highlighted and given absurd interpretations, but as we all know, sub par minds find just about everything funny when it doesn’t fit their narrow perception of reality.

While I will be eventually writing a full blog article on the subject of apostasy in Islam, I feel like proving a point with this quick response: the individuals who oppose this understanding are in fact worse than the people they accuse. So, without further ado, I will respond in similar style with some added substance.

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“Boko Haram” is some group somewhere in Africa doing something wrong while claiming to be Islamic.

That’s about as much I knew or cared to know when I heard the news of some school girls being kidnapped. Not that I’m unsympathetic, but I didn’t much think it had anything to do with me or what I believed — naturally then, my interests would go no further than thinking this a horribly immoral act and hoping justice would be delivered by the proper authorities in the region. However, much to my dismay, I and the rest of the Muslim world are routinely called upon to denounce acts of violence in the name of Islam, for no other reason than the fact that we are somehow responsible.

And this is why I refuse to speak out; I should not be held responsible in any way for the actions and beliefs of others simply because we share the same label. By proxy, I refuse to give in to a narrative perpetuated by a culture of coercive disapproval, which threatens to place me in the same camp as extremists simply because they do not happen to hear my voice of opposition every time the media decides to highlight another act of violence in the middle east or elsewhere. Every time I stand up and say “that’s not me”, I am implicitly giving in to the idea that I am never free to define myself; I am never free of guilt. Always having to defend myself is not indicative of a free identity, but of a person on trial, whose jury doesn’t operate on the principle of “innocent until proven otherwise.”

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BismillahiRahmaniRahim. La Hawla Wala Quwwata illa Billah. Hasbunallahu wa ni’mal Wakil. 

I offer asalaamu’alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh to Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad.

I pray this letter reaches you in the best of health and iman. I write this in a public setting given that I feel it is beneficial for others to see this address. I would also hope that you don’t mind, given that the issue I am writing to you about has already been openly endorsed and explained from your end. I suppose then that this letter is not simply directed towards you, but also everyone else that has supported the #HappyMuslims project.

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BismillahiRahmaniRahim. La Hawla Wala Quwwata illa Billah. Hasbunallahu wa ni’mal Wakil. 

I offer asalaamu’alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh to both Br. Adam Deen and “The Honesty Policy”.

INTRODUCTION

This is a formal response to the current, and what may be considered petty, dilemma that has been caused by the recent release of a controversial video titlted”#HappyMuslims”. As a matter of formality– due to the public nature of this address —  I shall henceforth refer to Br. Adam and The Honesty Policy indirectly. This is also conducive as both parties represent a segment of the Muslim community that agrees with their stance on the matter now being discussed.  As such, this response should not necessarily be seen as limited to those being singled out. It should also be noted that in no way is this address meant to humiliate or insult all aforementioned, rather it is in hopes of affirming and manifesting a directive of the Qur’an:

[Prophet], call [people] to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good teaching. Argue with them in the most courteous way, for your Lord knows best who has strayed from His way and who is rightly guided. – (16:125)

I must admit that there have been many times in my life as a Muslim that I have not adhered to this criterion, so this is more a reminder for myself than anyone else. I do hope that my words, despite their opposing nature, will stay true to this. While I am not too familiar with The Honesty Policy members, I do know Br. Adam personally, though we are not close. I remember when he visited here in Malaysia to give a conference, and I was allowed the privilege of escorting him around Kuala Lumpur. We talked on a number of issues related to dawah and our backgrounds. From what I know of Adam, he is a sincere and passionate brother willing to give his intellectual talents for the faith. His academic background is similar to my own — Philosophy — despite the fact that we emphasize different methods in the discipline; he towards a more synthetic approach, whereas I more deconstructive. His is about reconciling differences, whereas mine is more about destroying opposing ideologies. One is constructive, the other destructive. Where the former builds, the latter takes apart; a thorn in the side, as it were. Adam then should be fully expecting what I’m about to write, though I hope he does not become frustrated with my approach. Where destruction occurs, the chance to rebuild is always there, so such criticism should not be viewed in an entirely negative light.

Adam and I at ISTAC, Kuala Lumpur

Adam and I at ISTAC, Kuala Lumpur

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#HappyMuslims?

Recently, a video has gone viral on the web which shows a group of British Muslims dancing and singing to the son “Happy” by R&B artist Pharrell. Everywhere the video is displayed, the hashtag #HappyMuslims follows (as though you can’t be happy any other way?). This effort by certain British Muslims seems out of place, out of touch, and out of focus in regards to the image problem we are facing in the West today and across the world in general. I disagree with the project not only for reasons in the Sharia, but for reasons rooted in very basic logic and the reality of the society we are living in.

If the intention was to show integration into Western societies with hopes of dispelling common stereotypes, then the message has failed miserably and only justified said stereotypes. If that was not the intention, then it’s confusing that Muslims would create a “Happy” video with only Muslims involved, given that other faith communities find no necessity in doing so, much less have they (I’d be surprised if this was the case). So the video does in fact scream “accept me! Im like you!”. A less desperate effort to accomplish this would simply have been Muslims being in other “Happy” videos without having to make one exclusive to ourselves.

In any case, this video is sending out the message that we must go out of our way to show that we have “conformed” or that we are “not threatening”, thereby playing into the narrative that we are responsible for the unfair stereotypes and that we must correct them, despite the majority of us having nothing to do with terrorism or extremists acts. It also proves how low we are viewed in society and how we are willing to do anything to be accepted — a desperate need for white man’s burden. Even the gay community does not go out of its way to conform. Despite their unacceptable need for us to accept their lifestyle, they at least have the dignity to not try and prove to everyone else how normal (read “straight) they are. So we are actually lower than them in how we respect ourselves because we feel the need to cater to others ignorant perceptions.

Further, there is more than just one stereotype of Muslims. Either you are an “extremist” or you’re a “liberal/moderate”. Most non-Muslims discourse does not see anything beyond these labels. Either you are a staunch secularist (act and believe as everyone else while reserving your religion to the private sphere) and thereby a “liberal/moderate Muslim”, which many non-Muslims will label those in this video…or you’re an “extremist”, which are apparently the rest of us.

This video has only justified those terms and that fallacious dichotomy.

Library Take-Down Notice

Posted: 17/03/2014 in Uncategorized

Just want to inform my readers that I’ve taken down the library indefinitely after several DMCA notices and the possibility of this website being shutdown as a result. As you all may know, I am firmly against copyright, not because I want to steal or because I hate the fact that the producers of these works are somehow being paid for their services, but because I consider the laws of copyright to be against the principles of Islam. Knowledge in Islam is free. It is not to be claimed by anyone or sold for profit. One may ask how the producers of these works are to survive if their materials are spread around for free. Translators, writers, teachers, etc. would never be able to make a living if not paid for their services and time. This is true, which is why I’m not opposed to paying for said services — and the costs of the paper and ink. What I am opposed to, however, is being paid under the guise of ownership of the content. No one owns the Qur’an, but Allah. I don’t care how good the translation is — it isn’t yours. If someone wishes to be paid for the service, then so be it; this is a fair transaction. Under copyright? That’s haram.

Granting “freedom” across the world…

On January 8, 2014, the Coalition of Malaysia NGOs (COMANGO), made up of 54 separate human rights organizations, was judged by the Malaysian Home Ministry as an “unlawful organization” that “champions rights that deviate from Islam” and subsequently banned from operating within the Muslim majority country[1]. Two months prior, the Malaysian Muslim activist group, Jati, had declared “war” on COMANGO for their flagrant disregard of Islamic values and Malaysian sovereignty. Quoted in the Malaysian newspaper The Star, Jati president, Datuk Dr Hasan Ali had declared that COMANGO were “wolves in sheep’s clothing” who demanded a “call for the repeal of the Syariah law, which will eventually see the demise of Islamic laws that are a core foundation in Islam” after the latter had submitted a report to the UN, accusing the ruling party (Barisan Nasional) of human rights violations and suggesting reforms that would drastically alter the nature of the state.[2] COMANGO claims that the accusations and the subsequent banning were unwarranted, though their UN report unashamedly suggested otherwise.

The report calls on Malaysia to fully accede to the Declaration of Human Rights, which though advocates many good measures for mankind, in other ways clearly violates Islamic Law and disregards the historical and cultural differences that make up contemporary Malaysian society. For instance, the Declaration very clearly states in article 16.1 that “[m]en and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family”. To adopt this article, Muslims would be coerced into violating the Sharia by being made to allow marriages between self-proclaimed Muslims of the same sex.[3] Another article (18) states that “[e]veryone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance”. In other words, apostasy, which is considered a criminal act under Islamic Law for Muslims, would have to be abolished, and heretical views acting in the name of Islam, would have to be legalized and allowed to publicly challenge orthodox views, thereby undermining the state. The Declaration also calls for full freedom of expression, even if such expression violates the sanctity of Islam (A.19).  It further goes on to state that governments should be chosen strictly by the will of all the people within the nation (A.21.3), regardless of historical or cultural circumstances. This of course is detrimental to nations like Malaysia, which since independence, has declared Islam as the supreme religion of the land and granted Malays full government control. Calls to end the current nature of governance disregard very clear and justified concerns in light of an extreme anti-Islamic and materially privileged minority population seeking power.

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