Denying clear Islamic principles and inciting violence – both are unacceptable

The recent hullabaloo regarding Usama Hasan and his public pronouncements on matters of Islamic belief, has drawn an interesting line between the Muslim communities in the UK. There are many issues regarding Usama’s latest controversy, but I want to focus on two issues. Leaving aside the personalities, it’s very interesting how and where some people (those shouting the loudest) chose to draw their line.

Usama was asked the question, “You believe that Adam’s parents may have been apes”? To which he replied, “Sayyidina Adam alayhis salam… Yes, this is a matter of science etc. I will write a fuller paper on Islam and Darwinism later Inshallah”. He also wrote in the Guardian, “One problem is that many Muslims retain the simple picture that God created Adam from clay, much as a potter makes a statue, and then breathed into the lifeless statue and lo! it became a living human. This is a children’s madrasa-level understanding…”.

Whilst Usama later retracted his claims stating “I do not believe that Adam, peace be upon him, had parents”,  he took exception to those that remained silent to the “incitement to murder” and threats of violence. There is much speculation about this, but as the police have been informed (as I understand it) I’ll reserve comment on this until they’ve concluded their investigations.

Firstly some people either condemned Usama’s blasphemous comments only, and others condemned the threats of violence against Usama, again exclusively.

We saw much condemnation of Usama’s contradiction of the Qur’an and established Hadith – which he himself accepted by his retraction later. On the other hand, you have those that condemn, rightly, incitement to violence launching Facebook groups and other lobbying campaigns.

For the neutral observer, Muslims have been presented as either anti-science stuck in their backwardness or intolerant thugs who cannot bear difference of opinions. Both of these positions are false and far removed from the reality for the vast majority of Muslims. Those that drew the lines did nothing but a disservice to Islam and the Muslim communities – as their actions only went to reinforce the negative perceptions of Islam.

Where are the Muslims and organisations that criticise both what Usama has said (his retraction seems to be on very shaky grounds according to Inayat Bunglawala) and those that incite violence? Or more precisely what online group or campaign can people join to show the balanced view of the the silent majority?

Inayat Bunglawala is living proof that most Muslims are mature and balanced individuals – his support for Darwinism is not new and he is very much alive and kicking. He did get hassled, but I don’t recall any threat of violence – let alone death threats. One may argue that Inayat did not receive as much attention as Usama – but there is a good reason for that. Usama is an Imam, leading Muslims in prayer. Those that are being led in the worship of Allah deserve to be led by a person whose faith and belief in Allah and His miracles are unshakable. Had Usama not been an Imam, then he too wouldn’t have received much attention.

It is sheer foolhardiness on the part of some, and the zeal to conceal hidden agendas for others, that makes them choose one side or the other – the just position is to condemn them both in this context. Had Muslims or their organisations taken this balanced approach, they would have united the majority and avoided confounding Muslims into either extremes.

Finally, on the issue itself there are many questions that people have – some are just plain confused. So where are the scholars (both from a scientific and Islamic background) in the UK and where are their comments on this matter? We usually have scholars lining up to sign statements on other issues, why not this critical one?

15 comments to Denying clear Islamic principles and inciting violence – both are unacceptable

  • OK

    Salam to you br Azad. No doubt, a Muslim must speak and support what’s right on every end of the spectrum, so I think all should agree with the title of your article.

    To be fair to those who criticised Usamah Hasan exclusively, his statements were public and directly challenging (and insulting) the mainstream Muslim community as well as challenging Islamic orthodoxy. That’s very much unlike these purported death threats against him. Simply put, no one knew of this until it appeared in the news. Even then, the claimed sources for these death threats are dubious. See br Abu Zubair’s response to the BBC alluding to his comments as being the death threats: .

    I think everyone is getting used to these bogus bogeymen arguments of ‘death threats’ and ‘violence’ when these are not always true and the Muslim community has been denouncing these things for years now repeatedly. Al-Muhajiroun for e.g constantly make takfeeri claims etc but people don’t jump at it anymore as it’s something blatant and clearly rejected unanimously. But this new direct creedal challenge to Islamic principles by Usama Hasan in the context of Masjid Tawhid is no doubt going to spark a stronger response.

  • OK

    The key thing is it would only be right to demand a condemnation of death threats from Muslim organisations AFTER it’s been established these claims are true. Otherwise, it’s well-known by all where Muslims and Islam stands with regards to vigilante killings etc.

    As the hadith goes, “The [responsibility of bringing] evidence is for the person who claims.” Until it’s established, we should see Usamah Hasan’s claims as just claims that have a personal agenda to them, and avoid playing into this agenda of h

  • ahmad

    I agree with OK and I am very impressed with your article, br Azad. The scholars, leaders and institutes should make clear their opposition to the theory of evolution. i.e. it is confirmed that Dr Usamah holds these views despite his dubious retraction.

    The allegations of death threats are just that at this stage – mere allegations. Therefore, it isn’t necessary to state the obvious – condemn (unlawful) violence.

    What I found strange is that the East London Masjid recently waded into the water by stating on their website that making (alleged) threats against Dr Usamah was ‘unnacceptable’ and that they must be retracted. In line with the case that you made br Azad, shouldn’t they have also stated that Dr usamah’s views were even more “unnacceptable” and that he must wholeheartedly/genuinely retract such rejected views in Islamic belief and creed?

    Please comment.

  • ahmad

    As you have rightly pointed out, this issue doesn’t really differ with any other matter. Similarly, if we feel obliged to condemn acts of violence, terrorism or any other CRIME then we must be objective by also condemning acts of state terrorism, torture, illegal imprisonment, illegal invasion, grand theft of land and other obvious causes of terror.

    wallaahu a’lam.

  • Suzan

    Excellent article i agree with everything you say mr ali


  • yousuf

    Why are Islamic institutions like mosques so eager to condemn threats that are not proven to be true? Isn’t it better to remain silent and not comment especially if these same institutions had nothing to say regarding Dr Usamah’s views on evolution?

  • km

    asalamu alaykum, i think it is wrong to equate condemnation of views with condemnation of threats, or to suggest to be balanced you have to do both, i dont agree with what usama has said, but i will leave it to the ulema to respond to him. but as a ordinary muslim i should speak out when people imply his blood is lawful. those who claim he wasnt threatened havent seen the leaflets that were distributed here in leyton, i couldnt believe one brother i know gave one to me and i dont think he realised how serious it is to treat usama as a disbeliever. i was just so pleased that the east london mosque spoke out, i dont expect them to get involved in debating the issues usama created, but it was totally right for them to speak out against the threats. i love to visit the east london mosque because it is one of the few places that keeps to our religion and at the same time tries to make the whole of its area a good place for people to live. this was not an issue to sit in silence, so i think the people of that mosque can be very proud. and may ALLAH guide usama to the truth.

    • Abdul

      km, it is arguable that ones belief in evolution whilst holding position of imam/khateeb of a masjid is worse than wrongly making death threats.

      Besides, even if they weren’t ‘equatable’ one mustn’t isolate one from the other as they are intrinsically linked. Cause and effect. In this case both were wrong.

      Sometimes we have legitimate causes that result in harmful consequences, even then, the world slams the legitimacy of the action. Take the middle east conflict for example… a terrorised, butchered and defenseless people resist and the international community sanction the illegal massacring of an entire innocent populace at the hands of the Jews. The blame is placed squarely on the palestinians.

  • Salam bhai. He’s figuring stuff out loud albeit a little clumsily, but through trippy tafsir. Not core stuff. Time we took some chill pills.

  • Muhammad

    Alhamdulillah! for once the verdict(s) are unanimous. I really do hate it when comments for a blog article go on, and on and on.

    Usamah Hasan was incorrect.

    The death threaters were incorrect.

    Masjid Such as ELM should not lower their standard by comenting on individual cases, especially with one sided comments.

    Lets move on…

    my suggestion for the next discussion:
    I guesstimate that only 10% of all the work of Islamic organisations, projects etc are doing the FARD direct da’wah work. shouldn’t it be the other way round 90% NON muslim work?

  • Captain

    “i dont agree with what usama has said, but i will leave it to the ulema to respond to him”

    We have to call a spade a spade. If Usama prostrated to an idol, will people also say “i will leave it to the ulema to respond to him”??

    He has gone against Ijma and clear cut versus of the Quran and therefore he has committed kufr without doubt. Whether he now is a kafir or not, THAT is a matter for the ulama to decide.

    However the lay Muslims must affirm the basic beliefs of Islam and condemn/correct any beliefs that goes against Quran, Sunnah, Ijma.

    This is what we do in the name of dawah all the time. That is to inform and invite people to what is right and warn against what is wrong.

    Likewise Usamah’s call to evolution is kufr and must be opposed by all Muslims. It is not a matter just for ‘ulamas’.

  • Abdullah

    This article is based in some fuzzy logic. It seems you call for institutions that condemned the alleged death threats to also condemn Usama Hasan’s stance on evolution. Yet, you support Bunglawala for both condemning the death threats, supporting his stance on evolution but criticising his flirtation with Quilliam. Si is it OK then for mosques to adopt the stance led by Bunglawala? I suspect you won’t.

    I thing ELM was right in speaking out against death threats, real or imagined. It shows maturity on their part that, unlike Quilliam, we Muslims do not shut out intellectual discussion either through violence or through Quilliam style non-engagement lists.

  • Zafar

    Well said. The point is U Hasan is an Imam and as such he needs to be an example for his followers. If he feels he needs to reassess certain beliefs let him do so by resiging as an Imam first. That was what most people said to him at the Mosque. But he was arrogant about it and caused all this by it.

    Abdullah – not sure if you read the article Azad isn’t supporting Inayat’s views he is just saying that people will not cause a fuss about it since he is not an imam. Also when did Inayat flirt with Quilliam?

  • abdallah

    Their was never any death threats, all they said was believing in evolution means death penalty, whats the matter with that, we all say eye for an eye should for soul its in quran, this is no different, believing in evolution is also a punishment of death penalty, no different to eye for eye as quran says, this too is based on quran and sunnah stated by sheikh uthaymeen, why are some muslims trying to impress the nonmuslim with this sucking up acts, have you forgotten the hadith, they will never accept you until you become one of them, you will fail and nothing but fail if you against quran and sunnah and thats one of the lessons of uhud disobedient to Muhammad saw only brings defeat.

    How can you defend a kafir, one who deserves to go through death penalty, and support a news spread by kafir which isnt even true, havent you learned your lesson from dispatches theyll never accept you its from the hadith not made up.

    IFE are the reason why many people are starting to hate ELM, because people think the imams of ELM support the IFE view, why are you making a mosque look bad, with your so called unextremist view, so your trying to say when muhamamd saw declared death penalty on someone that too was extreme

  • The Theory of Evolution is an accepted scientific model for the progression of life on Earth and perhaps other planets. It says nothing about the origin of life which could well have been the potted clay models of Allah, the dust of Yahweh or the regurgitating Japanese gods that were all the rage 3000 years ago. The thing is no-one has provided any real evidence for these claims. If the objective evidence demonstrated, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the origin of life had a supernatural origin this would STILL not disprove the Theory of Evolution because that it what is observed in the natural world.

    To suggest that there is a death penalty for this is beyond reason and why Islam gets a very bad name amongst the rational community. Please, I implore you all to consider your position on this and realise that genuine scientific understanding should not be punishable with anything at all.

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