Monday, September 29, 2008

Zaid Shakir on Hamza Yusuf

(update: For some reason, this item was removed from Zaid Shakir's web site, and also from several other sites - this letter will remain here as a matter of record, especially since it is already in wide web circulation, and squarely in the public domain.

update 10/3/08: Imam Zaid has written another post clarifying reasons for why the original post was removed from his website. Further down this entry, you can find Imam Zaid's original statement, that (for now) will be kept here as a matter of record.

HOWEVER, it is clear that the sponsors of the Tony Blair Foundation event are not in any way to be blamed for Hamza Yusuf's participation, there was no treachery on their part. I assume that, with this statement, Imam Zaid and/or Hamza Yusuf are taking full responsibility, while also explaining the reasons, for Hamza Yusuf's erroneous participation at the event in question.

Click here for more information on the group Malaria No More that organized the event with the Tony Blair Foundation.


Misunderstanding Not Treachery

By Imam Zaid on 03 October 2008

The blog entry I wrote several days ago in defense of Shaykh Hamza Yusuf was based on my misunderstanding of the events leading up to Shaykh Hamza’s participation the malaria eradication program sponsored by the Tony Blair Foundation in Los Angeles, September 25, 2008. In reality, it was a lot of misunderstanding and a breakdown in communication that led to Shaykh Hamza’s participation in that event and not any treachery or deceit on the part of the organizers. The organizers tried to communicate that the venue, sponsorship, and participants in the program had changed due to the cancellation of the original host. Unfortunately, due to the fact that Shaykh Hamza was traveling right up to the day of the program, he never received the above information.

As soon as this was clarified to me, I responded by immediately removing my post from the NID website, as what I had written did not accurately reflect what had actually happened. Although that message was only posted for a few hours, it spread far and wide. I now encourage anyone who still has that message posted on their websites to remove it, and replace it with this one.

To reiterate, there was no treachery on the part of the organizers in their dealings with Shaykh Hamza. No matter what your opinion of any of the organizers, you should not allow a false accusation against them to stand uncorrected. To do so is to deviate from the teachings of our religion.

I further encourage anyone who has been involved in the vital work to eradicate malaria, one of the few remaining public health scourges on this planet, to continue that work with anyone who is making a difference. This is an issue that should transcend politics, and it is an issue that Muslims should be highly motivated to be involved in because of the disproportionately high numbers of Muslims who are suffering from it.

At the end of the day, we have to be submissive to the truth and the pursuit of good and justice, wherever they are to be found. We have to work hard not to allow our passions, especially those that are stimulated by the fleeting vicissitudes of the world and time to move us away from the truth. Let us be ever mindful of the commandment contained in the following verse:

O you who believe! Stand up firmly for God, as witnesses to fairness, and let not the hatred of a group of people lead you to deviate from justice. Be just! That is closer to piety, and fear God. Surely, God is well-informed of all that you do. Qur’an 5:9

A couple of comments regarding this letter by Zaid Shakir.

1. The news of who the event was being sponsored by was broken at least a week ago, not only by this site, but also by other Islamic forums. I do hope that, for the sake of minimizing any potential fitna, that in the future, better investigation about the sponsoring group will be done (I appreciate Imam Zaid's acknowledgment in this regard).

2. Please, Imam Zaid, don't patronize those of us who took Hamza Yusuf to task for his participation at this event - it is not about "political passions" it is about caring about the millions of human beings who have been victims of the likes of Tony Blair and Bush and others...

THAT is what moves those of us who question Hamza Yusuf, not only in this particular instance, but also some of his other affiliations and actions. And being moved and detesting oppression, and oppressors, is very much a part of Islamic teachings.

3. Finally, lets be clear, no matter what Hamza Yusuf has said at that event, it does not mitigate the reality that he gave credibility to Tony Blair by the very fact that he showed up. This indeed *is* a political issue, and something that the likes of Tony Blair, and those around him, are masters at... it would be useful if Muslims (especially those in leadership capacity) would also have some basic understanding of these kinds of politics, so as not to fall in this kind of a trap.

However, Imam Zaid's letter does indeed help clarify, and help minimize the damage done - and that is a good thing, and well appreciated.

Inshallah, this incident will serve as a lesson.

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and the Tony Blair Faith Initiative

*******Note that this letter contains erroneous information - there was no treachery involved, and the organizers did indeed attempt to inform Hamza Yusuf about the venue and sponsorship of the event. This error has been, acknowledged, clarified and corrected by Imam Zaid (see above).

As such, one can assume that Imam Zaid and/or Hamza Yusuf are taking responsibility for the erroneous participation at the war criminal Tony Blair's event.*********

By Imam Zaid on 29 September 2008

Insha Allah, This message finds you all in the best of health and spirits and enjoying the blessings of the last days of Ramadan. There is something you should know about Shaykh Hamza’s participation in the Tony Blair Faith Initiative Program recently held in Los Angeles. He was manipulated and set up by the organizers. He had absolutely no knowledge that the program was being sponsored by Tony Blair’s organization. I know because I was used by the organizers to help facilitate the set-up.

I had been working with an organization called “Malaria No More,” to help get Muslims involved in an effort to eradicate Malaria in Africa, a laudable goal as a majority of those suffering from Malaria in Africa are Muslims. Saleema Abdul Ghaffur works for that organization and had approached me about the issue several months ago.

I was asked by Saleema to help Malaria No More and the UN Development Fund to help get Muslims involved in the effort through a program they were sponsoring in the Los Angeles area to expand the effort at eradicating malaria. They also asked me to put them in touch with Shaykh Hamza because they wanted him to speak as a representative of Muslims, to be joined by Rick Warren as a representative of Christians, in an effort to raise awareness around the issue.

There was no mention of any involvement of Tony Blair’s organization as the sponsor of the event. In fact, Saleema knew that I would not help in any way if Tony Blair’s organization was the event sponsor because I had been invited to the launch of Tony Blair’s organization in New York a few months back, and had flatly refused to attend stating that Tony Blair was in part responsible for the murder of over a million innocent Muslims in Iraq because of the role he played in the current war there. Shaykh Hamza would not have agreed to participate either under those circumstances because he has consistently and vociferously condemned that war, which is part of the public record.

This is the background for Shaykh Hamza’s involvement with the event. All of this transpired over a month and a half ago. I stopped monitoring the events after that. In the couple of weeks leading up to the event Shaykh Hamza was in Morocco and assumed that the event was proceeding as a joint effort between Malaria No More and the UN Development Fund, and that it was timed to coincide with the convening of the UN General Assembly in New York, September 25, 2008.

Three days after he arrived back in the States, Shaykh Hamza went to LA for the event. Rick Warren had canceled at the last minute, something he was not informed of. He was taken to a hotel meeting room, having never been informed, or even it being hinted that the event was sponsored by Tony Blair’s group. When he arrived at the hall, he realized he had been manipulated by the Tony Blair people in order to attempt to give some type of legitimacy for his work among Muslims. He was constrained and did not wish to be there, as is clear from the footage of the event. I told him he should have left, but he felt he had given his word and preferred to take the risk of the kind of abuse he would receive for attending than to break his word, as he had promised to attend.

That is what happened and that is how Shaykh Hamza ended up at the program. He was set up and all of us involved should have been more diligent in monitoring the event and investigating the sponsors. However, the last thing any of us would have suspected is this type of treachery.
Since he was there, Shaykh Hamza condemned Tony Blair to his face and warned him of the sad fate he would have when he met his Lord, precisely because of the role he played in the war. He does not endorse in any way the work of Tony Blair’s organization, nor does have any past (or future) connection with Saleema Abdul Ghafur. His only intention was to help eradicate malaria, a disease he was personally afflicted with during his years of study in Mauritania, and a disease whose devastating effect he has witnessed first hand during his years of traveling and studying is West Africa.

Shaykh Hamza has not asked, nor would he ever ask that I write these words. I felt that I am obliged to write them because I was instrumental in getting him involved in this mess. I would caution those critics whose political passion moves them to cast aside Islamic teachings such as verifying news or having a good opinion of other Muslims or respecting scholars, as I would caution myself, to fear Allah.

These are the days of praying for Allah’s mercy and forgiveness, not the days of blind condemnation of other Muslims. Allah will treat us during this month as we treat each other. If we do not beseech Him to be merciful and to forgive others, He will not shower His mercy and forgiveness upon us. What we receive from Allah is a reflection of what we offer Him. Is there any among us so secure with Allah that we do not need His mercy and forgiveness? Is there any among so sure of his or her standing with Allah that we can squander the precious moments of this blessed month in slander and scandal-mongering, as opposed to trying to do some good for our souls?

I might add, that because of this treachery, I have ended my relationship with Malaria No More, and have already initiated an effort to explore how Muslims might effectively address the disease through the auspices of Islamic Relief.

May Allah bless us all during the balance of Ramadan, and may He bring our hearts together and guide us to understand who our real enemy is.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

the battle for Islam

The article linked below discusses the official British regime's attempted colonization of the Muslim hearts and minds, so as to severely distort our understanding of Islam. There are both official and unofficial attempts at this distortion - it is not only the hired Muslim "thinkers" - but also those who are not necessarily on the official payroll, but who support and work towards the aim of the US/British regime's attempted distortion of Islam.

The most current incarnation of this colonial policy began under the former British regime's prime minister, and prime anti-Muslim/Islam war monger: Tony Blair. The current policy of the British regime is only a continuation of the fitna started by the Blair regime.

Tony Blair, himself, continues his work of distortions through his new "Tony Blair Foundation." Hamza Yusuf, in turn, gavee credibility to Blair's project by allowing himself to be called upon, and speaking at his foundation, and on the same panel. Mr. Yusuf has also been affiliated with the notorious Radical Middle Way project, along with a host of other so-called "traditional scholars."

(Note that according to Zaid Shakir, Hamza Yusuf was set up with regards to the speaking engagement at the Tony Blair Foundation).

The RMW recently, under the British Home Office's direction, expanded its project to spread their distortion to Egypt - under the title of "Projecting British Islam."

This article is an important read, especially to place the current imperial/colonial policies in historical context:

On 18th of July 2008, BBC News reported that the British government has devised a plan to hire “thinkers” from the Islamic world to discuss issues affecting Muslim communities. Some of the issues that are going to be examined will concern the role of Muslim women in society, loyalty to the State and of course the radicalisation of the Muslim youth. The government-approved list of theologians will be designated to re-interpret or “properly” interpret (as the government likes to put it) Islam so that it transforms into a politically flaccid, government-swayed version of religion.

Ms Hazel Blears, Communities Secretary, stated that ‘it was the government’s job to support the Muslim leaders on controversial issues.’ As to who will be asked to represent the Muslim community at this ‘elite’ gathering still remains a mystery, but one thing is certain, the panellists congregated by the government will have virtually no religious credibility in the Muslim community. Their ill-advised offering to the government has already sealed their fate. This government initiative is the latest project in a series of plans to win the British battle for hearts and minds.

‘Hearts and Minds’ campaigns are usually understood as Western attempts to emotionally and ideologically ‘liberate’ oppressed nations from tyrants, dictators and religious theocrats. The primary objective of ‘Hearts and Minds’ campaigns is for Western forces, who somehow always end up playing the role of the liberator (and never the occupier), to win over the loyalty and allegiance of native populations by selling them promises of freedom, security and development.

Today, ‘The Battle for Hearts and Minds’ is a cliché that is spearheading the American ‘War on Terror’. It somehow makes the current conflict all the more moral and principled.

Over the past few years, the Labour party has initiated a comprehensive plan to launch a major upheaval in the way that the Muslim community functions in Britain. Projects have been launched targeting almost every segment of the community. Through MINAB, the government has proposed the formation of a body that would generate government approved mosque imams, through Citizenship Foundation programmes such as the Bradford based initiative ‘Nasiha’, the government has attempted to penetrate Muslim families by encouraging them to report ‘radical’ members of their household to the authorities, and through government backed forums such as the Radical Middle Way, British Muslim Forum, and the Sufi Muslim Council, the government has attempted to siphon off Muslim affiliation away from the Muslim world. The Muslim community as a whole is viewed with suspicion. This attitude towards Muslims is not new; the current government has a well-established precedent to follow in the annals of the British Raj in India.

read more here

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hamza Yusuf and The Tony Blair Project

update to this post see Imam Zaid's clarification regarding Hamza Yusuf's attendance at this event.

(via the comments section - thank you Khalid)

From Tony Blair's website:

I (organizer of the event) am excited to be able to write to you today about a special event on 25th September 2008 that I will be hosting for the Tony Blair Faith Foundation in Los Angeles.

I (the organizer of the event) am going to be joined on the panel by Tony Blair; Hamza Yusuf, a significant and influential Islamic scholar; and Saleemah Abdul-Ghafur, of Malaria No More and an activist for Muslim women and Islam in the West.

Saleemah Abdul-Ghafur previously served on board of directors of the now defunct and discredited Progressive Muslim Union North America.

Hamza Yusuf has been part of the speakers "roadshow" of the British regime's colonial Radical Middle Way project.

Hamza Yusuf, a one time Islamic scholar, should of-course be fulfilling his responsibility of exposing the imperialists and neo-colonialists. They have slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine and now making noise about killing even more in Iran.

Unfortunately, Hamza Yusuf appears to have no shame, and instead of telling Blair to take a hike, he will sit on the same panel, at an event hosted by this war criminal's foundation - who acted as a partner with the Bush regime in the killing of Muslims.

While people like Yusuf and Abdul-Ghafur hob nob with war criminals, we see that a mostly non-Muslim group held a war crimes trial in Istanbul in 2005.

Following is part of a declaration from the trial, that calls for an investigation of both Bush and Blair for war crimes, and crimes against humanity:

That there be an exhaustive investigation of those responsible for the crime of aggression, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Iraq, beginning with George W. Bush, President of the United States of America, Tony Blair, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, those in key decision-making positions in these countries and in the Coalition of the Willing, those in the military chain-of-command who master-minded the strategy for and carried out this criminal war, starting from the very top and going down; as well as personalities in Iraq who helped prepare this illegal invasion and supported the occupiers.

That should be enough for any Islamic scholar of integrity, to not only refuse such an invitation, but to also organize a Muslim led trial of Blair and Bush.

It is interesting that supporters of Hamza Yusuf will (rightly) condemn extremists amongst Muslims who have killed other Muslims, yet they will not apply the same standard towards people like Blair who are also responsible for killing Muslims. They will, instead, come up with bogus one liners such as Yusuf's "from protest to engagement." It is this kind of double standards, amongst such so-called scholars, that leads to them losing whatever few shreds of credibility they still might have...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

the latest futile attack

Muslim Matters writes on the latest efforts of the neo-colonialists' attempt to distort Islam, in this case, yet another vulgar attack on the Prophet (pbuh).

It is interesting, as the article notes, that the proggie AltMuslim website (edited by Shahed Amanullah) interviewed the author, and even encouraged readers to buy this filth.

Sherry Jones’ interview with AltMuslim is apparently meant to allay suspicions,soothe tempers, and encourage us all to read (to buy!!!) her book before making judgments on it.

Click here to read the article.

Read also The Attack Continues, on Ummah Pulse.

my dear brothers and sisters, just when you thought it couldn't get any worse than offensive cartoons, preposterous videos, and poisonous essays published in national newspapers written by ignoramuses lacking even a shred of personal moral fibre (yes, I mean you Johann Hari), in comes the latest volley in the attempt to character assassinate our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and his family.

Amongst those coming to the defense of the author of this obscenity is none other than the notorious Asra Nomani, who wrote in the Wall Street Journal:

Literature moves civilizations forward, and Islam is no exception

That sentence says it all about the proggies, and their neo-colonial orientalist friends: First, to even regard this filth as "literature" suggests something is seriously wrong with Nomani's understanding of Islam (surprise surprise).

Then she also suggests that Islam is a civilization, no Nomani, Islam is a deen, it is a way, a religion - it may (or may not - depending on its followers) inspire civilization, but it is not a civilization. Our understanding of Islam may deepen, or it may remain shallow, or remain stagnant...


Islam does not move forward or backwards, or sideways - it remains a Religion as revealed by Allah. And within Islam, as a revelation, as a guide to humanity, there are bounds within which we humans are expected to live.

It is the liberals who refuse to acknowledge that there is indeed halaal (what is allowed and even encouraged, so that humans may fulfill our potential) and haraam (what is disallowed and discouraged, so that humans don't lose our humanity) for Muslims, and indeed for all humanity. Giving up on these bounds, the liberals then feel "free" to go about calling pornography "literature."

It is unfortunate that Muslims go on the defensive when we get attacked this way. There is no reason to feel that way - we should respond clearly, unambiguously, and without any hesitation - and expose the hypocrisy of these attackers on Islam, and their defenders.