Reflections from Brother Daniel Haqiqatjou

Bismillah.

Perhaps, instead of arguing or trying to explain a particular topic to a fellow Muslim, ask him to read a well-articulated reflection by this brother on contemporary challenges…in the future, some of these reflections ought to be conceptualized so that we can teach the next generation about taking a principled and well-argued Islamic stance on today’s issues.

Daniel Haqiqatjou was born in Houston, Texas. He attended Harvard University where he majored in Physics and minored in Philosophy. He completed a Masters degree in Philosophy at Tufts University. Haqiqatjou is also a student of the traditional Islamic sciences. He writes and lectures on contemporary issues surrounding Muslims and Modernity.

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American Muslims are a fickle bunch. One day they are celebrating the life of Muhammad Ali, a Muslim who sacrificed everything by refusing the military draft of an unjust war. The next day they are celebrating Humayun Khan, a Muslim who willingly enlisted in an unjust war and thereby became a participant in all the murder, rape, and destruction that was the US invasion of Iraq.

‪#‎CognitiveDissonance ‪#‎PoliticalExpediency ‪#‎SellingOurSouls‪#‎PrinciplesAreForLosersAnyway

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Some American Muslims can know about Clinton’s deep commitment to the zionist cause and still support her. They can know about her staunch devotion to the Israeli occupation and look past it. They can know about how she voiced her approval whenever Israel brutally pummeled Gaza over the past decade and not think that that is a big deal. These American Muslims might even know about how, as Secretary of State, she encouraged Obama to escalate war in Syria in order to further Israeli interests. They might know about how she was the biggest proponent of the US led invasion of Libya, plunging that country into chaos and lawlessness. And let’s not forget her strong support for the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and, of course, her senate vote for the invasion of Iraq in 2002. And if all that wasn’t enough, in 2008 she threatened to “totally obliterate” Iran if it even thought to show aggression toward Israel.

Some American Muslims know all these facts and more and can still support Clinton and enthusiastically declare ‪#‎ImWithHer. We should stand in awe of these Muslims and look up to them because they clearly have supernatural levels of cognitive dissonance. Imagine the unfathomable amount of psychological effort that would be needed to know about all of these crimes, all of the innocent blood that is on this woman’s hands and *still* find her, not only agreeable, but worthy of full-throated endorsement…

I mean, wow. It’s really impressive how these Muslims can bury all those facts deep in the recesses of their minds and not let the horrifying truth interfere with their smiling and cheering. Clearly, lesser people like us don’t have that level of mental fortitude and emotional control, so let’s give credit where credit is due.

 

 
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If you have ever wondered how the prophesied Dajjal, i.e., the anti-Christ, could have such a large following among people, including Muslims, despite his physical disfigurement, his tyranny, and the word kafir literally spelled out on his face, look no further than modern politics.

I always wondered this. Why would anyone follow such a clearly evil being? The answer is all around us. We see shades of the same thing happening today, in the East and West. You have politicians that openly commit all manner of atrocity against the human race. They massacre, drone strike, steal, corrupt, poison — all in full view of public scrutiny. But no one seems to care. I mean, does a person really care about the murder and oppression wrought by the hands of someone like a President Obama if him making a sappy, pandering speech is enough to elicit drooling praise and slack-jawed devotion from that person?

So many crimes are whitewashed in the minds of people. Bombing, invading, occupying — these are nothing more than “geopolitics” or “hawkish foreign policy.” Killing innocent people is nothing more than “collateral damage.” Militarizing a police force that then terrorizes society and is responsible for an endless stream of brutality and death is nothing more than being “tough on crime” and “serious about security.”

Does all it take for you people to fall in line wording? Just some carefully chosen terms and suddenly you can’t see the butcher’s knife mutilating the corpse? Is well-spun terminology like a magic elixir that your mind cannot resist?

If so, just try to hold on to one thing: God is not one-eyed.

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Want to know how cultural imperialism works? Check out the game plan, conveniently laid out in a colorful infographic.

You can make cultural imperialism so much more palatable by calling it “women’s empowerment.” Because Western women are empowered of course! The rest of the world’s women are under the yoke of oppression and are too stupid and feeble to realize it, let alone do anything about it. Thank God Western women are so beneficent and want to spread their brand of freedom and equality to all those poor ladies around the globe. Never mind the fact that Western women are suffering from epidemic levels of depression and loneliness and increasingly are of the opinion that the women’s movement and feminism have failed them. We need to export this kool-aid all over the world! Misery loves company, I guess.

#Feminism

 

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Daniel Haqiqatjou

24 July at 09:06 ·

It is often claimed by atheists that people believe in God primarily for emotional and not intellectual reasons. Atheists, in contrast, are more rational and scientific and their atheism is built on cold hard facts, not emotions.

Apparently that’s not the case. As the cited psychological study shows, for a large proportion of atheists, their disbelief in God is due to being angry with God or a traumatic event that has made them doubt the existence of God. Obviously, whether a Creator exists or not has no logical connection to whether you feel that that Creator has been fair to you or not. So to deny the existence of a Creator based on how one feels about Him and one’s life generally is purely emotional and has nothing to do with reason.

The interesting implication for me is that with careful manipulation, one could easily induce widespread atheism in a population. Simply toy with people’s emotions. Make them feel like life is unfair, that life is full of hardship, pain, and suffering. TV, social media, and a 24-hour news cycle, one that puts disproportionate focus on violent death and destruction, are the perfect tools for this purpose. Combine this with the notion that organized religion is burdensome and stifling and that the opposite of religion, i.e., liberal humanism, is life-affirming and a clear path to happiness and fulfillment, and before you know it, atheism is the fastest growing religion. But not due to the “triumph of reason and science.” Quite the opposite in fact.

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“A new set of studies in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology finds that atheists and agnostics report anger toward God either in the past or anger focused on a hypothetical image of what they imagine God must be like. […] Exline explains that her interest was first piqued when an early study of anger toward God revealed a counterintuitive finding: Those who reported no belief in God reported more grudges toward him than believers.

“At first glance, this finding seemed to reflect an error. How could people be angry with God if they did not believe in God? Reanalyses of a second dataset revealed similar patterns: Those who endorsed their religious beliefs as “atheist/agnostic” or “none/unsure” reported more anger toward God than those who reported a religious affiliation.”

 

http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2011/01/when-atheists-are-angry-at-god

 

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Daniel Haqiqatjou

20 July at 08:02 ·

Shouldn’t We All Support Freedom of Choice?

Question from a recent commenter: “Isn’t the main concept of liberal thought: Allow for individual choice and rights (you can apply this to problems with Ergdogan’s policies or the Muslim Brotherhood’s, also towards any of our social political dilemmas in this country). Plain and simple the individual choice and freedom is paramount and by in large there is no absolute standard to judge that. Ultimately isn’t that what liberalism is and can’t we as minorities in the west support that paradigm?

Answer: The problem is that the existence of law precludes individual choice in any and every society. All people are constrained by laws. Everyone’s will and freedom of choice is constricted by the law. But what liberal secularism claims is that laws are only justified when they prevent people from harming others. That’s why secular law is acceptable in its restricting of people’s unfettered freedom of choice and religious law is unacceptable. The former merely prevents harm, which is a universal interest of all human beings, while the latter is aimed at religious devotion, which only some people who belong to that religion care about and nobody else. There are many conceptual problems with this purported distinction. Chief among them the fact that what is or is not considered “harm” is irreducibly subjective. What is or is not harmful depends on one’s greater metaphysical commitments and beliefs about human nature and the world. These commitments are not considered “religion” per se, but are not categorically different from their religious counterparts. This is how liberalism smuggles in its metaphysical and normative imperatives, by masking them as universal features of human nature.

A simple and familiar example: Abortion. Depending on what you think about the fetus, its status as a “person,” the moral responsibilities of the biological parents, etc., abortion is or is not immoral and the subject of legal regulation. The position of the pro-life faction is considered to be driven by religious commitments (which it is), but the pro-choice side is seen as driven by secular concerns and a pursuit of freedom and individual autonomy, but their underlying beliefs about the fetus and the female body, etc., are no less metaphysical than the beliefs of their conservative interlocutors. But the debate is not framed in terms of one set of metaphysical beliefs against another, one religion against another. Rather, it is framed as religious conservatism vs secular liberty, religious conviction vs freedom of choice.

 

 

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Question you’re not supposed to ask: What is it about democracy that guarantees or is even conducive to just governance?

This is an important question because people throw around claims and accusations of someone or some regime being “democratic” or “un-democratic” as if these terms have some clear meaning we are all supposed to recognize. (Just look at all the Turkey coup bickering.) And I know that all Educated People know that democracy = good, non-democracy = bad and only sophomoric imbeciles and unserious simpletons would question that.

But logically, I never saw the connection between the notion of justice and the giving of people an opportunity to choose. If people are to choose justly, wouldn’t we have to assume that people know what is or is not justice? We would also have to assume that, given that knowledge, these people would vote according to justice as opposed to self-interest or something else. But then, if justice is known and the majority of people would choose it anyway, why is a vote even necessary? In other words, why would we want injustice to have a chance at winning an election? (And of course, there are many electoral matters that have nothing to do with justice and are simply a matter of preference, but those matters are at best secondary once the issues pertaining to justice have been resolved.)

Of course, there are those who don’t think there is something like justice or they think that it is hopelessly subjective such that each person has his own definition of justice, which is why democracy and the opportunity to vote is so important, or so it is claimed. But if that is the case and there is no real, objective justice, then there would be no basis to say that democracy is a more just system of governance than despotism or anything else. After all, all despots view their reign as just regardless. If justice is subjective, there would be no basis to disagree with those despots.

Well, if democracy is not logically tied to justice, maybe we can draw conclusions from empirical results. Is it the case that (ostensible) democracies in the world exhibit more justice than their non-democratic counterparts? It’s not clear to me at all that this is the case. For every example you can cite, there is a counterexample. And even in the purported examples of the just democracies, it is always a question whether the justice those societies enjoy is a result of the democratic process or in spite of it.

Even when you consider the US, the parts of the Constitution most associated with justice and protecting the weak are found in the Bill of Rights and the Constitutional Amendments. And the nature of those provisions are inherently undemocratic — meaning they serve as limits on what legislation can be passed and enforced by the other branches of government, i.e., those branches that consist of elected representatives, e.g., congressman, the president, etc.

These are questions we should be asking and finding ways to answer instead of regurgitating the received notions we’ve been force-fed our entire lives.

 

 

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Muslim Skepticism Against Liberal Secular Double Standards

“From my experience, skeptics of religion often are hypocrites in that they do not attack all thought systems equally. They save their most rabid lines of critique for religion, especially Islam, but give certain non-religious beliefs a free pass.

“For example, someone like Bill Maher, a self-proclaimed liberal, has no shortage of animosity in critiquing Islam. But does he take that same critical, skeptical mindset to his evaluation of, say, liberalism? Has he spent any time on TV delving into the many different critiques and questions plaguing liberal thought? Has he dedicated any of his programming to contemplating the amount of violence and death modern liberalism has wrought?

“Maher portrays himself as an objective, neutral analyst using the power of rational thought to discover the truth, but, in actuality, he is a propagandist, as detached from objectivity and rationality as the fervent Bible-thumpers he lampoons. The only difference is he proselytizes liberalism instead of Christianity.

“The Muslim skeptic, then, is someone who gives such hypocrites a taste of their own medicine. Why can’t Muslims turn the tables by expressing skepticism about liberalism, the nation-state paradigm, scientism, humanism, progressivism, and the rest of the unquestioned modernist dogmas of our times?”

Confessions of a Muslim Skeptic

 

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Daniel Haqiqatjou

11 July at 07:45 ·

Many of us have heard the silly claim that the account of Qawm Lut in the Quran is not about same sex behavior — rather it was about rape and lack of hospitality on the part of Qawm Lut. This is the argument that some Muslim reformers make in trying to normalize same sex behavior in the Muslim community. These reformers have mostly borrowed this argument from certain pro-LGBT Christian denominations who have engaged in this heavy-handed revisionism of the Bible over the years. They apply that same revisionism to the Quran, hoping that the Muslim community will think that this is an issue that is up for debate, where Muslims are wondering, “Does the Quran really condemn same sex acts?”

Well, now, we have the definitive rebuttal to this by Ustadh Mobeen Vaid.

This is a superb essay mashaAllah that goes into great depth in deconstructing the revisionist argument and showing how intellectually and academically bankrupt these revisionist attempts really are. The essay also has a wealth of notes that serve as a reference on the issue of Islam and homosexuality in general.

Bear in mind that this is a long essay because it is extremely thorough mashaAllah. Take some time to fully read it and digest it. Not only will you gain insight into this particular issue, you will also inshaAllah see exactly how revisionism by these Muslim “reformers” is conducted. Lots of selective quoting, outright misquoting, inconsistencies in methodology, extreme creativity with translation, fallacious reasoning by the truckload, and on and on and on. There is absolutely zero intellectual integrity in their efforts but they simply hope that by citing obscure texts from centuries ago, lay Muslims won’t know any better and will think that their arguments have merit or have some footing in the Islamic tradition. Alhamdulillah, Ust. Mobeen took the time to thoroughly lay the smackdown on one such reformist work. May Allah reward him for that.

Please share widely!

 

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Daniel Haqiqatjou

10 July at 08:47 ·

Popularity is everything these days. Everyone is vying to be seen, heard, and known. People define their worth by how many followers they have, what venues they are invited to, what connections they have, etc. It is a time of image without substance.

But the Prophet ﷺ gave us a potent antidote to this sickness of mind and heart.

It was narrated from ‘Umar bin Khattab that he went out one day to the mosque of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, and he found Mu’adh bin Jabal sitting by the grave of the Prophet ﷺ weeping. He said:
“Why are you weeping?” He said: “I am weeping because of something that I heard from the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. I heard the Messenger of Allah ﷺ say: ‘A little showing off [i.e., riya] is shirk and whoever shows enmity towards a friend of Allah [i.e., a wali] has declared war on Allah. Allah loves those whose righteousness and piety are hidden — those who, if they are absent, are not missed, and if they are present, they are not invited or acknowledged. Their hearts are lamps of guidance, and they get out of every trial and difficulty.’” [Ibn Majah]

In this image-obsessed culture, many of us know the feeling of being bypassed, looked over, generally unacknowledged, especially in our younger years. It hurts because that’s what humans naturally crave — to be loved. It starts with our parents. We love our parents and want them to love us, and that parental love is expressed through affection, attention, and acknowledgment. We all want to make our parents happy and proud. But sometimes things don’t work out for whatever reason. Some people have abusive parents. Some people didn’t even get to see their parents. And then, even as we grow into adulthood, our youth can be very lonely times. And some even fall into depression because of that lack of concern from anyone.

But the Prophet ﷺ is informing us that even if it might not seem like there is anyone to acknowledge or appreciate us, Allah, who is Al-Shakur, the Appreciative One, is there and in fact He loves those who cultivate piety (i.e., taqwa) but they are not known to anyone except Him. In contrast, those who attempt to project piety to those around them, especially in order get invited to gatherings, to be acknowledged, to be known in the minds of people, that is shirk.

Reflect on why Mu’adh ibn Jabal was weeping over this statement of the Prophet ﷺ.

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Edit: As a beloved teacher of mine pointed out, there is a difference between “minor shirk” and “major shirk,” though there is never anything “minor” about associating with Allah. What that means, as all the ulama have explained much better than someone like me ever could, is a Muslim can show off, not have the purest intention, and that can be a haze of shirk muddying one’s heart, but the person is still a Muslim — he simply has to work on purifying himself and clearing the waters till he is mukhlis. Then there are others, may Allah save us, who they have no concern for Allah in their heart and their showing off is just that — a show. And they are mukhlis for their own nafs, whether they are conscious of this or not. Ikhlas is so so difficult but absolutely necessary. No slacking off, no half measures on ikhlas — if you can’t weep about it, force yourself before it’s too late.

 

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Don’t kiss the boot that is stomping your face into the ground.

 

The irony is that Muslims are supposed to take from Christians and Jews that which accords with the final revelation and leave that which contradicts it. Instead, we are busy following them in the things that contradict deen and ignoring them, even denouncing them, in the things that they’re doing right!

 

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Daniel Haqiqatjou

27 June ·

There are so many options in terms of Muslim orgs to donate to every year in Ramadan. This year, I’m making a point not to contribute to orgs that made unprincipled, politically expedient statements on gay marriage and the LGBT movement post-Orlando, i.e., those orgs who went beyond condemnation and condolences and chose to make full-throated endorsements of the LGBT movement, equating “homophobia,” “transphobia,” and “islamophobia,” etc. There are plenty of excellent orgs that didn’t feel the need to win political points in such an opportunistic way who didn’t feel the need to sow all kinds of confusion in the minds of the Muslim community in the middle of Ramadan, so I would like to support them if I can. And as for the others, I’m sure the political capital they gained in the aftermath of the tragic shooting will more than make up for any lost contribution from the likes of me and others.

 

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Daniel Haqiqatjou

27 June ·

The more they push us to embrace something, the more we will resist it. The louder their insistence becomes, the stronger our resolve. The harsher their name calling and the more severe their bullying, the more steadfast we become.

They can paint the entire globe in rainbow colors. See if that will change us one iota.

 

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Daniel Haqiqatjou

27 June ·

Everywhere you turn you find apologetics. No one is willing to “bite the bullet” any more.

 

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Daniel Haqiqatjou

22 June ·

There are defining moments in every culture’s history. As far as American culture is concerned, we are in a transition period from an era where same-sex behavior was universally condemned to an era where it is universally accepted. In the future, I want to be able to look back on my life and say, in that important historical moment, I did what I could. I didn’t let that moment slip by while remaining silent or indifferent with regards to the truth. If I had been alive during the 1960s during the “Sexual Revolution,” I would like to think that as a Muslim, I would have been equally vocal in resisting those sweeping cultural changes that were going to negatively impact my people — the American people — on every level: materially, economically, spiritually.

Today, Muslims have been so beaten down that they are too afraid to let out even a peep of protest (i.e., those Muslims who haven’t already joined in the LGBT jubilation). Sure, people say that to oppose this cultural revolution is to be “homophobic” and insensitive, but we don’t have to accept that narrative or let it define us. We should forcefully oppose it and assert that Muslims can be principled about this issue and also be compassionate and understanding to those who are struggling with such desires. (And yes, there are many Muslims who have same-sex desires but they refuse to let that define them and refuse to call themselves LGBT — these brothers and sisters need our support.)

For those who are constantly preaching the importance of “American Islam” and how Islam needs to be relevant and part of the wider American cultural conversation and how Muslims needs to be a prophetic voice for all, now is the perfect opportunity — a historical moment of great significance. Yet they make every lame excuse to remain inactive and silent. Chief among those excuses: Look we are a minority. Most people here aren’t Muslims. We can’t expect others to accept our moral values. If we speak out, there will be backlash. This issue is not a priority, etc., etc.

As I have said over and over again, the only public issue Muslims have proven to care about is “Islamophobia” and racism because that’s the only social issue that directly impacts Muslim comfort levels and it fits in with a very popular national narrative. And I’m not saying that that isn’t a worthwhile cause but other issues that are far more negative in terms of sheer number of lives destroyed, both Muslim and non-Muslim, Muslims don’t speak out on, or advocate for, or even have on the radar. When was the last time you heard Muslims on a national level, as Muslims, protest the surveillance state and domestic spying? How about Wall Street corruption? How about alcoholism? How about minimum wage and the wealth gap? How about single parenthood and abortion? Criminal justice reform and the prison industrial complex? Usurious banking and financial structures? Militarization of the police force? The dissolution of stable families and the epidemic of institutionalization and assisted care? Rampant consumerism? Labor rights? Are any of these issues “important” enough for Muslims to come out and say, “We *as Muslims* do not stand for this”? Or is the only time we find a collective voice is when we are apologizing and offering condolences for some mass shooting, and only then because we want to avoid backlash?

So, it’s not really a surprise that Muslims have decided to sit back and watch things from the sidelines yet again. But next time I get lectured at by a Muslim “leader” on the importance of being principled and following in the footsteps of Malcolm X or Muhammad Ali, I will know what all the bluster really amounts to. You want to claim Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali for yourself, but you don’t want to face the unpopularity, the hardship, the backlash that they faced? Ok.

 

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Daniel Haqiqatjou

21 June ·

An American Muslim leader in the 1960’s explains why he supports the Sexual Revolution or, at least, won’t take a stand against it.

“Look, we all know that what the Sexual Revolution is calling for is haram. But we are a Muslim minority in this country. If we come out against this, we will look closed-minded. People will think Islam is opposed to progress. People will think Muslims hate freedom and equality. Just think of the backlash against Muslims! I, for one, don’t want to deal with that.

“I understand that the Quran and the Sunna and all Muslim scholarship for centuries have denounced the kind of sexual immorality that we are seeing promoted all around us, and God warned us in no uncertain terms of the terrible spiritual and social harms that are associated with these increasingly popular behaviors. But let’s be realistic. Revelation is only directed to Muslims — it has absolutely no relevance to non-Muslims or to how Muslims live in non-Muslim societies and and to how Muslims engage with non-Muslim cultures.

“Also, America is a free country. People can do whatever they want here! Who I am to express my disapproval at other people’s life choices? That would be nothing more than imposing my beliefs on others. I mean, how rude would that be?!

“Besides, do you seriously think Muslims should join conservatives, who are leading the charge against the Sexual Revolution? Don’t you know conservatives don’t like Muslims? That by itself disqualifies any potential cooperation. Furthermore, Christian family values aren’t exactly the same as Islamic family values, so clearly an alliance with them would be misguided and potentially confusing to younger Muslims.

“Let’s not forget that in the past, certain Muslims were into all kinds of sexual behaviors, so why can’t we be as open-minded today?

“All in all, people’s sex lives are not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, right? Sure, they call it the ‘Sexual Revolution’ but that’s just hyperbolic. I’m sure there will be absolutely no long term ramifications, so why risk being outspoken?

“Besides, it’s not like we’re going to tolerate or support something like gay sex, am I right? I mean, that would be really crazy.”

 

 

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Daniel Haqiqatjou

20 June ·

This is really an eye-opening article from Ahmed Shaikh on how some Muslim orgs use zakat funds. If you are paying your annual zakat this month, make sure you read this. Read the whole thing and share widely!

Personally, I don’t want my zakat to go to the flying of a speaker first class to a conference on politics in the Middle East. But apparently some orgs think that’s an acceptable use of the funds or groups like Muslim Advocates using zakat for general overhead costs. The most outrageous example cited is that of MPAC petitioning the Egyptian government to drop the word “sharia” from the newly drafted constitution and later celebrating and endorsing the Egyptian coup. And they consider funding such political activities as falling under zakat eligibility.

“The privileging of Zakat funds for expenditures on ornate buildings in wealthy neighborhoods, expensive hotel conference spaces, panel discussions on politics, airline tickets, press releases of dubious value, interfaith networking, awards and honorariums for the already-affluent over the rights of those families and individuals in genuine need is a racket Muslim donors have been either tolerating or enabling for too long.”

 

Zakat, Poverty and the Kitchen Sink

 

 

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Daniel Haqiqatjou

20 June ·

Should Muslims Support Gay Marriage?

A lot of people have asked me what I think of Prof Jonathan Brown‘s recent article on Islam and Homosexuality. I look up to Prof Brown and I always recommend people read his excellent book, Misquoting Muhammad. His recent article makes several strong points. But towards the end, he states:

“As a Muslim American, I support the right of same-sex couples to have civil marriages according to US law.”

He explains this position in two ways.

First, he argues that no specific group in society should be able to dictate to everyone else who can and cannot get married. If specific groups could control marriage in this way, then who’s to say that the American majority might not one day decide to ban Muslim marriage? If Muslims are not comfortable with that possibility, then, to avoid inconsistency, they should defend LGBT marriage. (Prof Sherman Jackson made this argument in one of his articles on this topic several years back.)

Secondly, he argues that there is precedence in Islamic jurisprudence for allowing, i.e., tolerating, unconventional marriages from other faith communities. As evidence, he cites how Muslim judges in the past tolerated Zoroastrians practicing incestuous “self-marriage” within Muslim lands, while those judges acknowledged that incest is contemptible. He doesn’t provide a reference for this claim (correction: he does, I somehow missed the footnote), but Faisal Kutty made this same argument a couple of years back in a HuffPo article and he cited an opinion from Ibn al-Qayyim. I haven’t tracked this down to verify, but let’s just assume for the sake of argument.

Both arguments, in my opinion, are problematic.

As for the first argument, Muslim marriage is currently not legally recognized in the US in the sense that the nikah does not count as marriage as far as US law is concerned. Muslim couples still have to register a civil marriage in order to be legally married. As far as the requirements of civil marriage, there is nothing that is required civilly that violates an Islamic marriage or would be difficult for Muslim couples to abide by, so it is not clear how US law might be changed to prevent Muslims from registering a civil marriage. Would county registrars interrogate people to see if they’re Muslims and, if if they are, refuse to marry them on that basis? So, there are already some disanalogies between Muslim marriage and gay marriage.

Another problem is the Faustian nature of this reasoning. As a community, what other Islamic values would we be willing to bargain with in order to protect ourselves from possible majoritarian backlash? Where is the line? I don’t see a principled program here from those Muslim scholars who support gay marriage. This ties into some larger issues with Muslims’ understanding of liberal secularism and how it does(n’t) work, but I’m not going to delve into that here.

The main problem with the second argument is that, in premodern societies, prior to the emergence of the modern nation-state, the practices of one segment of the population would not necessarily transfer to or impact another, separate segment. Religious communities were separate, had their own identities, lived according to their own laws (as long as they were “people of the book” and even that was sometimes broadly defined to include Zoroastrians). In this way, the existence of incestuous marriages would not have had much impact on the dominant Muslim majority.

But we live in a very different circumstance. First of all, we are all subsumed into this larger American identity and the law of the land plays a big part in the wider cultural identity. Being American is slowly coming to include within its definition being pro-LGBT and to not be pro-LGBT means being unAmerican (just look at how GOP politicians reacted to Orlando and how quickly they were willing to throw Muslims under the bus as unAmerican, even though most of them had always been on the anti-LGBT side). So, endorsing gay marriage will eventually lead to a conception of American-ness which will marginalize those people who believe gay relationships to be immoral, i.e., an increasingly smaller number of Muslims, orthodox Jews, and Christians.

Secondly, as Americans, most people see no difference between legality and morality. Even if (some) Muslims today can endorse gay marriage while simultaneously believing it to be morally abhorrent, there is no chance the next generation will be able to maintain that logical distinction. And this is something easily observable in our current society. The laws and normative assumptions of the majority inevitably affect the views of the minority. Why else do first and second generation Muslims lose their Muslim values? Why would we contribute to that cultural tide by going out of our way to endorse gay marriage, rather than pushing back against it, given the opportunity?

Anyway, a have a lot more to say on this, but I’ll leave it at that for now.

If I could summarize my view, I would put it like this. We need to stop thinking solely in terms of whether our political positions will cause backlash or will lead to a curtailment of Muslim civil rights or a loss of other benefits Muslims currently enjoy. There are much, much bigger stakes here, most important of which is our ability to perpetuate the deen through the coming generations bi idhnillah, and sexual ethics is a critical part of that. Will Islam last in America? It definitely will not if we and our institutions (*cough* CAIR, ISNA *cough*) are willing to bargain with core values as soon as there is the slightest cultural pressure.

 

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Daniel Haqiqatjou

19 June ·

In the Quran, Allah gave us such a detailed description of Bani Isra’il and their crimes and spiritual deficiencies because the Muslims would mirror their evolution. The well known hadith of Muslims following the path of those before them, step by step, testifies to this depressing eventuality. And when we look around us, we see as clear as day that the Messenger ﷺ undoubtedly spoke the truth. Reflect on the relevant ayat and you will see the same behaviors and actions, not with a small minority of the umma, but increasingly the majority and their leaders.

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Daniel Haqiqatjou

19 June ·

In the twentieth century, communism was very popular with a group of academic Muslims. For these Muslims, communism represented the peak of justice. It represented the peak of worldly civilization, as the USSR at that time was ascendant. So these Muslim academics wrote fervently about how Muslims needed to adopt communism and how true Islam was communist at its heart. They interpreted the Quran and hadith in that light, pointing to verses about zakat and sadaqah as divine directives against private property.

Of course, there were many parts of Islamic law that take certain property relations for granted, but since these conflicted with communism, the Muslim communists attacked the fiqh, called it backwards, unjust, and nothing but a capitalistic distortion of God’s true religion. The classical ulama were obviously just serving their own interests as property owners, so they created fiqh to advance their bourgeois agenda and oppress the working class.

Other Muslims of the day pushed back against this, poked holes in their arguments, defended the ulama from their smears. Having been rebuffed intellectually and communally, these Muslims became more extreme little by little until they decided to leave Islam entirely. Didn’t Marx say that religion was the opiate of the people? Didn’t these traditional Muslims reject the clear justice of communism and the insights of historical materialism? It must be Islam itself that is the problem.

So they became apostates and denounced Islam and the stupidity of the Muslim sheep who followed it blindly. Despite it all, they had high hopes that in the near future the light of communism would overcome the darkness of the Islamic tradition and the entire Muslim world would follow them into enlightenment.

Soon thereafter communism went out of vogue. The USSR fell. By the end of the twentieth century, no one remembered anything these people had written or advocated for. Their movement was flushed down the toilet of history.

Today’s social justice, liberal Muslims — openly, militantly calling people to fahisha and disobedience, brazenly slandering the ulama and sowing the seeds of confusion in Muslims’ hearts — are on the exact same path. May Allah expedite their fate!

 

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Daniel Haqiqatjou

15 June ·

The next generation of Western Muslims that are coming of age will not, for the most part, be religiously literate. What does that mean?

They won’t be able to read the Quran cover to cover and not find something that will shake their faith and make them feel like the Quran is an archaic text that can offer little beyond affirming their liberal commitments.

Whether it is verses pertaining to women, qawm Lut, ma malakat aymanukum, etc., reading these passages will put these kids into some form of cognitive dissonance. Either they will disavow the Quran and apostate. Or some of them will become khariji, where in their minds, whatever the modern world rejects is by definition Islam.

But the majority will simply fall into disillusionment and will have to resort to various historicization schemes, i.e., “This only was applicable 1400 years ago, not today.” Little by little, more of the Quran will be historicized in this way until the entire book is just seen as an archaic scripture, much like how modern Christians and Jews, the vast majority of them at least, understand the Bible.

Why will this happen? Because that is what they will have been taught.

And yes, past generations saw their fair share of the religiously illiterate, but they were the minority. In the next generations, they will be the vast majority.

 

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Daniel Haqiqatjou

10 June ·

Just as one can suffer from diseases of the heart, so too can one suffer from diseases of the intellect. But in Islamic thought the heart and the intellect are intimately linked and inseparable such that they have a direct impact on each other.

Arrogance, for example, is typically understood as a disease of the heart, but arrogance also affects one’s intellect, i.e., one’s ability to understand and grasp truth. Arrogance can even affect the eyes such that one is blinded from truths that are right before one’s eyes. And this is an everyday thing that we can observe with people around us, where we wonder why some cannot see something so obvious.

Same goes for maladies such as jealousy, malicious hate, and greed. Such diseases are so severe that they not only lay waste to the soul but also infect the entire body, up to the point of clouding one’s ability to think clearly.

When you analyze the work of some Muslim reformers, you can see the telltale signs of these diseases in the arguments they make and the conclusions they draw. May Allah spare us from such a condition.

 

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Daniel Haqiqatjou

7 June ·

It is not that you consciously decide to be concerned with your own sins as opposed to scrutinizing others. Rather, your own sins are so overwhelming in your eyes that you are too preoccupied to notice, let alone worry about, the shortcomings of others.

 

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Daniel Haqiqatjou

6 June ·

In a world of hedonism, where fulfilling desires and satiating one’s appetites are considered the raisons d’etre of human existence and, for many, constitute the entirety of the meaning and purpose of life, the month of fasting is the definitive rebuttal.

 

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Daniel Haqiqatjou

3 June ·

Imagine if they invented a long distance military weapon that could kill the intended target and not do any “collateral damage” by killing civilians or destroying homes and property. Instead of engage in carpet bombing or drone strikes, etc., i.e., engagements that cause a large number of casualties, the military would simply identify the target(s), press a button, and those people are killed by some kind of space laser or some other precision technology, sparing the lives of nearby civilians, etc.

Would this new weapon become the weapon of choice for the world’s superpowers — the US and Israel?

I don’t think so. The excuse is often given that bombs and missiles are an imperfect solution in war. This is somehow supposed to justify the kind of indiscriminate bombing that a country like the US or Israel have engaged in periodically in their imperial and genocidal pursuits respectively. But I’m confident they wouldn’t give up the bomb for a cleaner, more precise weapon.

The bomb is too good at what it does. It shocks. It awes. It obliterates. It burns the life out of a people. That’s why they dropped the atomic bombs on Japan. To burn Japan to the ground. Precision weapons wouldn’t be nearly as satisfying and pleasurable to the sadists in the US and Israeli military complex. Especially not bloodthirsty Israel, who would irradiate an entire city subdivision with white phosphorus if a Palestinian child looked at them the wrong way. They want to hear the boom of the bomb, they want to see hospitals and schools and mosques reduced to rubble. It’s all so very satisfying to them in a carnal way. They wouldn’t trade the burning smell of charred flesh for the world.

 

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Daniel Haqiqatjou
 shared Cyrus McGoldrick‘s post.

30 May ·

Cyrus McGoldrick

30 May ·

Twitter

 

If Chinese soldiers were occupying the USA, would you admire the sacrifices they’re making “for China?”
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http://www.rferl.org/content/afghanistan-minerals-mapped/24651540.html


Daniel Haqiqatjou

29 May ·

Wow, the US Geological Survey is doing the Afghans such a great service by mapping out all their mineral wealth for them. Thank God the US is there to make sure the Afghan people are aware of all that wealth. Combine that with 90% of the world’s opium supply and you have quite a lot of resource wealth for all those poor Afghans. Not that the US and its allies would ever think of taking advantage of that. The only reason they’re there at all is to make sure Afghan girls are going to school to learn how to read and to make sure Taliban terrorists don’t prevent them from that. Go freedom!

 

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Daniel Haqiqatjou

24 May ·

The Danger of Fighting Islamophobia

Yes, there is a danger here and it is very obvious to anyone who has observed how this movement led by Muslim activists has evolved over the years. And I am not saying that we shouldn’t organize against anti-Muslim sentiment and overt government action against Muslims. Of course we should. But there is one thing to be very careful about.

In our haste to “normalize” Muslims in the public eye and make Muslims look like everyone else, as if to say, “Hey, Muslims are no different from anyone else!” we have in many ways neutralized what is supposed to make Muslims unique, namely our devotion to Islam, the Prophet ﷺ, and Allah. This is a major failing on our parts. Muslims are supposed to be outspoken and exemplary in our following of the truth and standing for what is just in the holistic sense of that word. We cannot do that if we just blend into the background and melt into the melting pot.

A good example of this comes from 10 years ago when Imam Zaid Shakir was organizing a march protesting liquor stores in Oakland, California. There was an uproar with a certain segment of the Muslim community, denouncing Imam Zaid, telling him he should mind his own business, that America is a free country and people drink here and who are we as Muslims to express disapproval of that, blah blah blah. But then somehow word got out that the protest was actually for a social cause against predatory liquor stores preying on poor black communities. Now the bourgeoisie, ivory tower Muslims ate their words. Imam Zaid was doing a great service and we should all protest such liquor stores, etc., etc.

It’s obvious what happened. There are certain moral causes Muslims are comfortable aligning themselves with. There are certain uncontroversial stances that are acceptable and others that are unseemly and “low class.” Obviously, Muslims should absolutely stand against businesses that prey on poor communities, whether liquor stores, payday loan shops, etc. But they should also speak out against other problems that are not as popular with the American middle-class mainstream. Gay marriage is one recent example. Muslims don’t have to sign themselves up for everything right-wing Christians are doing on that front, but there are other ways for us to be a moral voice and express our perspective on these issues. And we might be surprised at how many people out there are thirsty for the message we can and must deliver. Sometimes, the best strategy is not to blend in with the crowd.

Another example is cartoons of the Prophet ﷺ. When these cartoons came out at various points, the same group of high brow Western Muslims looked down on the protests that happened in the Muslim world in Pakistan and elsewhere. “How silly that these third world Muslims would show raw emotion at the Prophet being insulted.” But if the issue is positioned as Islamophobia and Muslims being stigmatized and racialized by these cartoons, then the Muslim elite are ok wagging a finger at Charlie Hebdo, et al. Being outraged because of racism is acceptable. Being outraged because of Rasul Allah ﷺ being disrespected, not so much. What a travesty.

 

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Daniel Haqiqatjou

12 May ·

What percentage of our duas concern matters of this life vs matters of the hereafter? Dont misunderstand. All duas no matter what the subject matter, small or large, worldly or otherwise, are beautiful and acts of worship when they are sincere and to Allah alone. Not trying to discourage anyone from turning to Allah even for the most insignificant or quotidian matters. Even the boy who prays that there is pizza and not liver for dinner tonight, even that can be a weighty act in the eyes of his Lord and He will respond and answer that prayer undoubtedly.

Related nasiha: if we are not regularly praying about how, where, and in what fashion we want to leave this world, that is a huge missed opportunity.

 

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Daniel Haqiqatjou

8 May ·

Why be a Muslim skeptic?

Allah says, “And if you obey most of those in the earth, they will lead you astray from Allah’s way. They follow nothing but conjecture and they only lie.” [6:116]

Conjecture, translated from dhann, is baseless opinion, assumptions, basically empty thought that is not grounded in truth, reality, and understanding. Allah tells us very clearly that most people live and breath on the basis of dhann. But they incorrectly believe that they are on solid ground, so much so that they try to lead people. In other words, they are confident and speak with authority and act like they know what they are talking about it. In this way, they try to get people to follow them in their error.

But the Muslim has to be skeptical of these false leaders. Even if a person speaks with authority or has credentials or uses charming, even persuasive language, be careful. Judge on the basis of the manifest, undoubted truths of Islam. More likely than not, such people are only speaking from dhann.

As an example, every few years a new scientific study comes out on the “health benefits” of drinking alcohol. These results are touted and secular, colonized Desis, Arabs, Persians, etc., point to the studies as proof of how backwards Islam is. But inevitably, all these studies turn out to be flawed and overturned or the results turn out to be ambiguous and ultimately un-repeatable and baseless.

 

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Daniel Haqiqatjou

6 May ·

How can a person be committed to “la ilaha illa Allah” and not maintain the five prayers? How can a person testify that “there is none worthy of worship except Allah,” but then not perform worship? The shahada is not an abstract, theoretical statement. It is a promise that one fulfills.

In reality, some Muslims quit salah because they don’t “feel anything.” What is the point of performing a ritual if you don’t get a special feeling? they ask. Why bother?

In reality, there is a special feeling and the Prophet ﷺ would refer to it: the sweetness of iman. But tasting that sweetness does not come for free. Like anything worthwhile, one has to strive for it and yearn for it and sometimes it takes time. And ultimately, it is a gift from Allah that He bestows upon whom He wills.

Other than very blessed people and awliya, one might not get that special feeling in most prayers, but submitting to one’s Creator and bowing and prostrating oneself in fulfilling the sacred covenant and testifying by one’s actions the truth of the shahada and devotion to Him who is without partner, that is the purpose. Is there anything in life that is more important, more significant, more meaningful, more powerful, more profound than this worship? O Allah, accept from us!

 

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Daniel Haqiqatjou

3 May ·

My kids are young. Like all parents, I worry about their future. If I had to estimate, I would say I worry about them being bullied or discriminated against or mistreated by Muslim haters only 5% of the time or even less. The vast majority of my worry is about them losing their Islam, leaving their faith, falling into deviation, shirk, or kufr. Being bullied is a part of life. Being mistreated or even oppressed by others is par for the course in this life. And of course, some have it far worse than others. But iman is our lifeline. Without it, what difference does it make whether one lives a materially comfortable life or not?

 

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1 May ·

From now on, when people ask me what is wrong with feminism, I will answer with one word: Beyonce.

[Mandatory Disclaimer: Being opposed to feminism does not mean one is opposed to women’s rights. And being in favor of women’s rights does not mean one is a feminist. Feminism does not have a monopoly on representing the interests of women. In fact, it often sabotages those interests. Case in point: Beyonce.]

 

http://www.theblaze.com/contributions/beyonce-is-destroying-your-daughter-not-empowering-her

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29 April ·

There are some Muslim leaders and imams who deliver a message of “relevance.” They say that if Muslims are going to be able to preserve their faith in non-Muslim societies, they have to be open to adopting the native cultural forms, to integrate with common social practices (so long as they are permissible), and let go of cultural baggage that the previous generations brought to the West.

This message is coming from a good place and it has truth in it but it should be exclusively directed to the older generations of immigrants, i.e., those over 45 or 50 years old. The same message, however, should not be given to the average Muslim youngster or young adult who will very easily misinterpret it.

The average Muslim teen or young adult, for example, has no trouble “fitting in.” In fact, he is a professional at it. Telling these kids to plug themselves into the wider culture is preaching to the choir. They are already plugged in to the max and most of the time need to be unplugged, if anything.

Being able to distinguish what components of wider social practice are aligned with Islamic ethics and values and what components are contrary to them is not a trivial task. But figuring that out is necessary before Muslims further engorge themselves at the socio-cultural buffet.

High school prom is a simple example. Nothing is more “relevant” and culturally significant in the American high school experience than prom. If Muslim kids are to fit in, attending prom is a given. And that is what these Muslim kids want to do anyway, and now, after hearing what shaykh fulan has said about being a part of the melting pot, they see their actions as religiously justified, so much so that even the thought that attending prom might be something bad, unseemly, or sinful never occurs to them. Until you have a generation of Muslims where 90%+ are attending prom. Some of them even attend prom in hijab and feel like they are sending a powerful message to their non-Muslim classmates: See, Muslim women are empowered! And the hijab means choice! And freedom! And blah blah barf.

 

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Daniel Haqiqatjou

25 April ·

When we look at the state of the world and, more importantly, the state of our own selves, it is easy to get overwhelmed. It is easy to feel that there is no point. It’s not worth the effort. The challenge is too great and the resources too little. Why bother trying to make the world a better place? Why bother improving our own selves, when it is an near impossible task? When no matter how much effort we exert, it will result in, at most, a drop in the bucket?

One of the most motivating hadith in this regard is when the Prophet ﷺ said, “If the Resurrection were established upon one of you while he has in his hand a sapling, then let him plant it.” [Musnad Ahmad]

Of course, the Day of Judgment is the end of the line, literally the end of time as we know it. And saplings require long periods of time to become mature trees that bear fruit. What is the point of planting a sapling when the Day of Judgment is about to take place?

No matter how bleak the circumstances and how low the chances of getting results, we have to keep on working.

There are countless scenarios where we can apply this advice. You might be a dawah coordinator faced with rising anti-Muslim sentiment in the wake Donald Trump. You might be a volunteer at a masjid, frustrated out of your mind by an incompetent and irresponsible masjid board. You might be a sibling and your brother or sister just don’t seem to want to get his or her act together. Should you just give up?

In such scenarios, practicality is not the concern. The least practical thing to do on the cusp of the Last Day is to plant a tree. But practicality is not the only reason a believer takes action. It’s not even the main reason.

 

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22 April ·

Dedicate time everyday to thinking, pondering, and reflecting. Just 15 or 20 minutes. Maybe take a walk in the neighborhood, or lie in bed and stare at the ceiling. But turn off the phone, turn off the laptop. No noise, no distraction. Try to think about the big things in life and not worry about day to day concerns. Try to think beyond your personal existence. Try to not think about your personal circumstances at all. Force yourself to reflect on meaning and the universe around you and inside you. You might surprise yourself. And it becomes easier the more you do it.

 

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Daniel Haqiqatjou

19 April ·

If you maintain a good, Godly intention for everything you do, whether it is your job, your quality time with friends and family, your other activities, then you will naturally never delay prayer. Because how can you have an intention for the sake of Allah but then delay and neglect an obligation to Allah?

Consider a Muslim volunteering to feed the hungry who, without valid excuse, delays or misses prayer. Or a Muslim activist working on a project who delays prayer. Or a Muslim student of knowledge doing da`wah online but consistently delays prayer in lieu of being on the computer.

If you are delaying prayer, that is an indication of your intention. And if you are diligent in praying on time, then that is evidence in favor of your intention, namely that it is true. May Allah help me and you to be excellent in our prayers.

 

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12 April ·

Children should be learning aqida and the fundamentals of faith at a very young age. Around 1 to 2 years old is when kids should be learning about Allah and regularly referring to Him. How so?

Kids can understand basic concepts like: Allah is the One that provides for us. All the good things we enjoy like toys and ice cream, etc., or anything pretty or beautiful we see are from Allah. We should thank Allah for these things. If your children love dinosaurs or trucks or dolls, then connect that to Allah as well.

Tell your kids about Allah being loving and protecting us and taking care of us. The masjid is also the house of Allah, which we should regularly visit. When we want to speak to Allah, we pray (salah) and when we want to listen to Him, we recite Quran. Also, we love the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and we send him salawat whenever we can. Kids love to imitate their parents, so as long as mom and dad are doing it, it’s like fun and enjoyment for the rugrats.

You also have to pick the right moments to talk to your kids about their Creator. The best times are when they are happy and having fun. Whenever it is time for ice cream, for example, we make sure to thank Allah (“Thank you Allah!”) and say bismillah, etc. Ice cream time thus becomes a time for dhikr and gratitude. For a 2 or 3 year old, ice cream time is the height of joy in life, so it’s important to pair these times with remembering and mentioning Allah. Bed time is also a perfect opportunity because that’s when the kids hang on to a parent’s every word (mostly because they want to delay sleep, that’s their “trick” so take advantage of it).

Also, around age 3.5 or 4, concepts like tawhid are comprehensible, i.e., that Allah is One, He has no partner, there is nothing like Him, etc. Of course, kids will learn things like the shahada and surat al-ikhlas well before that, but they won’t be able to grasp the meaning until around 4 years old.

By speaking to our kids about Allah and ingraining these core concepts at an early age, this will bi idhnillah have a huge impact on their faith later in life. May Allah make our children of the salihin!

 

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6 April ·

“There is also the need for Islam as a whole to challenge that interpretation of Islam, to isolate it, and to undergo a vigorous discussion within their community about how Islam works as part of a peaceful, modern society.” – Barack Hussein Obama

We’ll get right on that, Barry. Thanks for the pointers as always. What an inspiring President we’ve had for the past 8 years, amirite?

 

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Daniel Haqiqatjou

27 March ·

Is “Muslim extremism” a problem? Yeah, but it’s a problem in the same way that a leaky faucet is a problem in a house that is burning to the ground. By far, the greatest source of senseless violence in the world is not Muslim extremists or their terrorist groups. Nor is it white separatist groups or the KKK. Rather, it is state-sponsored violence commissioned and directed by governmental forces the world over. But when hundreds, thousands, millions of innocent people die at the hands of government power, especially if it’s a Western government, then that’s just geopolitics. That’s just the way the world works.

It’s never terrorism. Burning up hundreds of thousands of Japanese with the a-bomb is not terrorism. Murdering over a million Vietnamese is not terrorism. Invading Iraq and killing about a million Iraqis is not terrorism. Droning an entire population into submission by way of thousands of civilian “casualties,” that is certainly not terrorism.

Even the word “casualties” is worth pondering. Victims of state violence are always casualties — the word “casualty” comes from Medieval Latin casualitas which means chance occurrence. If you die from a government bomb, that is just misfortune. There’s no way anyone could have helped that. You were in the wrong place at the wrong time, so if it’s anyone’s fault that you were blown to bits, it’s your own. Nothing more than bad luck.

Meanwhile, the real danger, the real terrorism is coming from intermittent acts of violence committed by a pitiful assembly of dumb criminals, who themselves are often acting in response to state-sponsored death and destruction.

There are plenty of people stupid enough to fixate on the leaky faucet while the inferno is consuming everything around them. These people will issue condemnations of the faucet. They will spend their life’s work on institutions and programs to fix the faucet. They will froth at the mouth in anger at the faucet and its damnable leak. But the house fire? Well, there’s two sides of that issue and sometimes houses just burn down and we should really not lose focus on the real problem: the drip, drip, drip of that faucet.

 

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25 March ·

Does Islam Need Explanation?

A young man came to the Prophet ﷺ and said: “O Messenger of Allah, give me permission to commit zina (fornication).”

The people turned to him to rebuke him, telling him to be quiet. But the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Leave him alone.” Then he came closer to him and told him to sit down. He said: “Would you like that for your mother?” He said: “No, by Allah, may Allah make me your ransom.” He said: “No, and the people do not like it for their mothers either.” Then he said: “Would you like it for your daughter?” He said: “No, by Allah, may Allah make me your ransom.” He said: “No, and the people do not like it for their daughters either.” He said: Would you like it for your sister?” He said: “No, by Allah, may Allah make me your ransom.” He said: “No, and the people do not like it for their sisters either.” He said: “Would you like it for your paternal aunt?” He said: “No, by Allah, may Allah make me your ransom.” He said: “No, and the people do not like it for their paternal aunts either.” He said: “Would you like it for your maternal aunt?” He said: “No, by Allah, may Allah make me your ransom.” He said: “No, and the people do not like it for their maternal aunts either.”

Then he placed his hand on him and said: “O Allah, forgive his sins and cleanse his heart, and protect his chastity.” And after that the young man never thought of any such thing again. (Musnad Ahmad)

The Prophet’s response to this bold youth is very telling. He did not tell the youth that he should simply hear and obey (which is not to say that the concept of hearing/obeying is not important). He did not tell the youth that he should just become a better Muslim, work on his iman, and that will help him accept that zina is a sin (which is not to say that becoming a better Muslim and working on one’s iman are not important in terms of accepting Allah’s commands). Rather, the Prophet ﷺ gave him an explanation, or some words to convince him that the path he wanted to pursue was a bad idea.

Sometimes the right explanation makes all the difference.

 

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17 March ·

Muslim reformists, liberals, progressives who oppose gender separation are often very aggressive and their aggressiveness matches the indignation they feel at the notion that genders should be separated. But why is this such a problem? Even the most secular societies impose gender separation to some extent. Bathrooms are gendered. Locker rooms are gendered. Sports are gendered in general. Secular societies recognize male and female and operationalize those gender distinctions in countless ways.

Muslims simply operationalize gender somewhat differently. But since Muslim practices and gender separation differ from the dominant, Western model, that is a problem. Rather than just acknowledge that Muslims do it differently and that, from a truly secular perspective, there is no reason why the Muslim way is worse than the Western way, these reformists and critics of Islam make it seem like Islam is the only religion and worldview that facilitates gender separation and is therefore backwards and barbaric.

 

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Daniel Haqiqatjou
 shared Sarah A. Harvard‘s post.

10 March ·

10 March · New York, NY, United States ·

Just last week, 150 Somalians were killed by a drone strike under the Obama Administration.

No one in this country batted an eye, but will get riled up when Trump stupidly claims Islam hates America.

This is why I’m scared of the other presidential candidates more than I am of Trump. His crime is hate speech, and it exposed to us the ugliness and racism of our society that we were so willing to deny before he gained support.

But if Rubio, Clinton, Cruz, or really anyone else said something similar or worse, implemented policy that resulted in the deaths of hundreds or thousands, we wouldn’t be as outraged. If we’re lucky, the news would be featured in the ticker on the bottom of the TV screen when watching CNN. It’ll probably be featured in leftist publications, but let’s be real, Americans can be close-minded and dismiss it.

The fact that we live in a militaristic empire and everyone is desensitized from it scares me. I’m scared of policies that actually imprison and kill us. Not Trump’s incompetency and hateful words.

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Daniel Haqiqatjou

9 March ·

The Prophet ﷺ commanded us to love the needy. Not just to care for them, not just to be kind to them, not just to keep them in mind every now and then when we’re not busy. But to love them and be near to them.

He said: “O Allah! Cause me to live needy, and cause me to die needy and gather me in the group of the needy on the Day of Resurrection.” ‘Aishah said: “Why O Messenger of Allah?” He said: “Indeed they enter Paradise before the rich by forty autumns. O ‘Aishah! Do not turn away the needy even if with a piece of date. O ‘Aishah! Love the needy and be near them, for indeed Allah will make you near on the Day of Judgement.” [Tirmidhi collected this hadith in his Kitab al-Zuhd]
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9 March ·

The terrifying prospect of hidden shirk: when you love the idea of God more than God Himself.
Daniel Haqiqatjou A person can be fooled by his ego, thinking that he is devoted to Allah and that he will defend the deen, but really he is devoted to the idea of himself as a believer and will defend the deen in order to defend his own ego and identity as a believer.

Like · Reply · 7 · 9 March at 14:24

Daniel Haqiqatjou Also, as others have mentioned in the comments, it is possible for a person to love some aspect of Islam but internally not have that same love for Allah, yet that person mistakenly believes that their love for that aspect of Islam is really love for Allah.
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CVE:

Can CVE Mean An End to Islamic Inheritance?

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24 February ·

Telling Muslims How to Have Sex

Here is a perfect example of how Western governments actively conspire to control and dictate Muslim sexuality in service of Western interests and policy objectives.

For example, one component of Obama’s CVE program includes that idea that, “Terrorism stems from a lack of sexual activity among young men and that addressing this issue is key to reducing support for militant groups.” The “terrorism expert” making this recommendation went further to say, “I believe young Muslims are motivated to join radical groups because of sexual deprivation,” he writes, claiming further that “addressing the factors causing deprivation in this life can interrupt the radicalization process and reduce the number of suicide attacks by jihadists.”
https://theintercept.com/2016/02/23/department-of-defense-white-paper-describes-wearing-hijab-as-passive-terrorism/

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Shaykh Tim Winter problematizes a couple of stereotypes in this short video such as the Hanbalis and Ahl al-Hadith are opposed to or have no regard for tasawwuf as well as the stereotype that (true) sufis are quietists.

 

 

Imam Ahmad and the Sufis – Sheikh Abdul Hakim Murad

 

Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad talks about Imam Ahmad’s experience with the early ascetics and Sufis.http://quilliampress.com

 

YOUTUBE.COM

 

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11 February ·

Be firm on the Truth:

“Stick to the path of guidance, and do not be fooled by the small number of people who take this path, and beware of the path of misguidance, and do not be tempted by the large number of people who destroy themselves on this path.” (Al-Fudayl ibn `Iyad)

“If every single person began to have doubt in the truth, I would remain certain in it by myself.” (Abu Sulayman ad-Darani)

“Your being alone on the path to what you seek is a proof of your sincerity in seeking that thing.” (unattributed)

…in regards to the verse: {“Verily, Ibrahim was a nation unto himself, obedient and pure.”} “Meaning, he was the only believer, and the rest of the people were all disbelievers.” (ibn Taymiyya, Majmu’ al-Fatawa)

Selection of quotes from: https://www.kalamullah.com/hearts24.html

 

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10 February ·

Himma is a lost concept for Western Muslims. I’ve seen himma translated as “lofty aspiration” in some places, but perhaps “zeal” gives a better sense of the term.

Being religiously zealous is ridiculed by popular culture on the one hand (think Ned Flanders) and, on the other hand, is considered to be a leading indicator for “violent extremism” by many governments around the world, including the USA with Obama’s “Countering Violent Extremism” program. Also, in our recent history, over the past 20 years, himma has been misunderstood by some and somehow conflated with harshness, intolerance, rudeness, and, in extreme cases, takfir. And then you have the most extreme representation of this: ISIS, who are portrayed and widely considered to be the physical manifestation of religious zealotry. All of these things have given himma a bad name, even though they have nothing to do with true himma.

Even within Muslim communities, it’s increasingly seen as unsavory to be “too serious” about the deen, too fastidious about fiqh and sticking to the sunna, or as it is more commonly known “just sunna.”

To revive himma requires knowledge. Himma without the humility to learn and grow in one’s knowledge of Islam and to be corrected is nothing other than foolhardiness. If himma and ḥikma can be married, that’s the winning combination. The archetypal example of this from the Sahaba is Umar (rn) and a good example from the anbiya is Ibrahim (as), especially in his youth.
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2 February ·

Among otherwise well-respected Western Muslim academics, there are some who believe the highly illegal, genocidal invasion of Iraq in 2003 — which ultimately resulted in the deaths of over 1 million Iraqis — was merely a “case of bad judgment” and that US governmental officials in the Bush administration cannot be held legally accountable for the atrocities themselves or the fact that they actively deceived the American public and the world about pretenses for war. Apparently, war crimes are nothing more than a “case of bad judgment” to some.

 

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Hamza Yusuf – for those who call Islam a religion of war (YouTube video)
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28 January ·

No matter who you are, where you are from, your level of piety, your level of knowledge of deen, at some point in this life you will be asked to sell your soul. Maybe you will be offered a high price for your soul — wealth, fame, success. Or maybe you will be offered something minuscule — a moment of pleasure, a momentary boost to the ego, brief recognition from friends or colleagues. Whatever the case may be, the decision — and when I say “the decision,” I mean THE decision — is in your hands. So prepare yourself for that inevitable junction in your life. Practice fortitude (istiqama), repentance (tawba), and abject humility and reverence (khashya) before your Master so that He will guide you and envelop you in His mercy.

 

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26 January ·

Question: What is irrefutable evidence that jinn and angels exist?
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Answer: Allah tells us about them in the Qur’an and the Prophet (s) told us about them.

As a Muslim, if you expected the answer to have to do with some kind of empirical observation, the scientific method, or logical proof, etc., then you need to re-calibrate your notion of “irrefutable evidence.”

 

#The_Saheeh_Hadeeth_is_the_Evidence

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24 January ·

When an atheist tells me that only physical, material things that you can empirically touch and observe are real and everything else, e.g., God, is imaginary, I give him my bank account number and tell him to wire all his savings into my account. After all, the value inherent to money is not a physical, material thing. You can’t touch it and you can’t empirically interact with it. Therefore, it must be unreal according to his logic, and I’m sure he won’t object to me unburdening him of a figment of his imagination.

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Daniel Haqiqatjou

19 January ·

“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.”

Question: How do you effectively control a person?

Methods can vary, but history has shown that one of the most effective tools for this purpose is to tell people that they are in charge. That they are the masters of their own destiny. That they are their own gods.

Because humans are predictable. We make predictable choices: we submit to our desires, we do whatever we can to preserve and bolster our egos, we wallow in short-term pleasures, and we hoard shiny things. This is the base core of a human person.

If you tell people to be free and to do what they want and “follow their heart,” and all the other self-help, positive psychology, liberal philosophy cliches and doctrines we are being constantly fed — everything from the jingoistic promise of “liberty and freedom and empowerment for all” to a commercial slogan like “just do it” — then people are all going to converge on that same basic core, all the while believing that they are truly the masters of their own destiny and firmly in control of who they are.

It’s not unlike being a drug addict. Addicts feel like they are in control and feel like they are making their own decisions. And actually they are! But the problem is, those decisions are predictably bad and lead no where except utter destruction. This is also how imperial powers used the introduction of drugs and alcohol to destroy and gain control of once powerful native peoples around the world.

Point being, reduce people to their base selves and they can be effectively controlled for whatever purpose.

And here’s the kicker. The “Golden Rule” is nothing other than “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.”

“Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.” This, by itself, is an empty principle. It has no content. It cannot direct you to any action. It cannot help you make a moral choice. Why? Because it leaves open the question: what exactly would you have others do unto you? Treat others how you want to be treated? Well, how exactly do you want others to treat you? This is just another way of putting yourself at the center of the equation. What matters to you is *all* that matters. Your moral compass shall be your own graven image projected onto the world. That is not righteousness. That is idolatry.

Is it any wonder then that the Golden Rule is the central pillar of liberalism? And, yes, you will see those hackneyed posters about how all religions have a form of the Golden Rule. But that is deceptive because those versions of the Golden Rule are not meant to stand alone. They come in conjunction with religious law. So when the Prophet (s) says: “None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself,” he doesn’t mean that if a person wishes for himself to be married to his gay partner, for example, that he should wish that for others as well. No. What is meant is that a person wishes goodness for himself, and goodness is an objective feature of the world as decided by God and not open to anyone’s personal whims and interpretation.

So, by cutting off the Golden Rule from its religious context and cleaving it from its place firmly embedded in the edifice of God’s law — in truth, the Sharia — liberalism further propagates self-worship. And who was the first being to worship himself?

“Thou hast created me from fire, while Thou hast created him from clay.”

 

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11 January ·

This was my response to “je suis charlie” a year ago after the Charlie Hebdo shooting in France.

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I find these calls for “freedom of expression” and “freedom to offend” so hollow and hypocritical. All these people pining for blasphemous cartoons to be published have nothing to lose because they are either not religious or are a religious minority and feel the pressure to conform to the dictates of the secular establishment. If these people were real “freedom ofexpression” purists, instead of going for the easy target, they would advocate for the dissemination of something that really offends them, things that go against mainstream liberal secular values. You want to know what is really blasphemous in this post-religious age? Let’s see cartoons that denigrate women or their intelligence, cartoons lampooning the disabled, cartoons from the Westboro Baptist Church, anti-gay cartoons, cartoons that depict the President and other elected officials as pedophiles and sexual deviants, cartoons that mock military personnel as cowards, cartoons that insult the memory of Katrina victims, etc. How willing are people to see these kinds of cartoons in the NYT or Newsweek? Of course, I am not really advocating for such filth because I am consistent and don’t buy into hollow liberal ideology and empty slogans like “freedom to offend,” etc. But, my point is, until you are willing to see something that you find truly vulgar and utterly despicable plastered everywhere for you, your children, and your family to see, don’t tell me “je suis charlie” or whatever.

 

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10 January ·

It’s difficult thinking about all the things you want when you are busy being grateful for all the things you have. (Shukr is the antidote for tul al-amal.) If we ask ourselves, “How can I get what I want in life?” the dunya’s (false) answer is: obsess over what you want and make it the center of your concern. The true answer, the Quranic answer is: be grateful for what you have and make Allah the center of your concern.

 

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Islam and Rationalism

Muslims (and people in general) nowadays don’t have a clue on how to understand, evaluate, and respond to an argument. That’s why the level of discourse is so low in our communities, at the masjid, at the MSA/ISOC, on social media, on TV in the Muslim world, and so on. Instead of responding to the logical merit, validity, and soundness of a position or argument, we respond emotionally by resorting to name-calling, favoritism, and other forms of petty bickering, which have more to do with ego than with truth.

This is doubly shameful for Muslims because the Islamic sciences heavily emphasize logic (mantiq) and clarity in defining and employing terms. This is not just in the field of kalam, but in every discipline: tafsir, fiqh, usul al-fiqh, aqida, hadith, tasawwuf. Would any of these fields exist in their robust form and survive through the generations for hundreds of years without the disciplining force of logical and rational consistency?

Just think about the achievements of our scholars, think about the schools of thought. In fiqh, we have the four Sunni schools. How can ANY complex, sophisticated system of thought maintain its basic logical structure, its basic terminology, its basic ontology for centuries, involving millions of scholars and students and thousands of texts, commentaries, super-commentaries, spanning across hundreds of cultures and geographic regions across the globe? This is a monumental intellectual achievement, one of the greatest in all of human history, by the Blessing of Allah. Certainly nothing in modern Western thought has had this consistency, longevity, and geographic reach.

What is especially disappointing for us is that many Muslims today are suspicious of the concept of logical and rational consistency, as if these are foreign notions that will corrupt the purity of their faith. And, in one very specific sense, they are right — we should be very wary of introducing a kind of modernist philosophical approach to our understanding of faith or admixing scientific speculation into our interpretation of revelation, etc. In fact, I try to point out these breaches in my writing. But none of this has anything to do with the notion of rational consistency.

Rational consistency is simply the basis on which two people can have a meaningful conversation. Without rational consistency, how can you know that the words you are using to communicate a point are understood the way you intend them by the party you are trying to communicate with? And how do you know if you are understanding the words communicated to you were intended to carry that meaning?

All conversations happen in context of a shared language, but implicit to any language or system of thought are values and rules of engagement. Just like cities and institutions need core values and principles in order to be organized and successful, so do languages and systems of thought. If you want to participate and converse in context of a system of thought, say, the Maliki madhhab, you need to know the rules of engagement, otherwise you will just be speaking gibberish, no one will understand you, you will be confused, and all discourse breaks down. This is the meaning of Imam Shafi`i’s famous statement, “I debated a scholar and beat him. Then I debated a layman and that layman beat me.” The layman doesn’t speak the same language, doesn’t employ the right terms, in short, doesn’t play by the rules.

So yes, rationality is central to the Islamic sciences and central to our faith. Without consistency in language, how are we to understand revelation? (By the way, this is also why modern Muslim reformist movements are so deeply irrational — they believe it is possible to understand the language of revelation by cutting themselves off from all the context, linguistic nuance, and methodological principle, in a word, from all the rules of the game. May Allah guide these people out of stupidity.)

As for practical tips, take the time to learn the technical definitions of a “valid argument,” a “sound argument,” and some of the most common logical fallacies. These are universal features of all mature human discourse and knowing them will breed the beginnings of clarity of thought that we so desperately need in these dark times.

 

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Daniel Haqiqatjou

4 January ·

Free Speech in Islam

I have often critiqued the notion of free speech in my writing and defended the notion that some speech should be restricted and that, in certain contexts, some speech can be so damaging that, in theory, authorities should have the ability to bring criminal charges and convictions against offenders. The fact that we have such restrictions in classical Islamic law, I argue, is not only rationally and ethically defensible, but if we look at modern liberal secular states, we also see analogous restrictions on free speech. The only difference is that Islamic law deems certain ideas sacred while liberalism deems other ideas sacred and protects those ideas through all sorts of social and legal regulation. But of course, we are not conditioned to think in these terms which is why westerners continue to believe incorrectly (and naively) that their societies enjoy absolute freedom of speech while Islamic societies — i.e., societies following Islamic dictates such as the society of Muhammad ﷺ
1400 years ago for example — languish under totalitarianism.

All that being said, there is still one aspect of “free speech” Muslims should embrace. The ability to criticize rulers should be protected. This is something liberal thought recognizes, at least in theory, and it is something Muslim historical precedent also supports. In different respects, the four righteous khulafa (caliphs) were criticized openly (and usually unjustly) and the khulafa did not react by having their critics be silenced, imprisoned, or killed. If the righteous khulafa, who were the epitomes of just governance, could stand to be criticized, then how much more worthy of criticism are Muslim governments today?

It is a fact of human nature that those who are sincere, just, and honest do not care that they are criticized. In fact, they encourage feedback and appreciate being informed of wrongdoing and mistakes so that, if the criticism is valid, they can correct themselves and rectify matters. The wicked, however, despise criticism because they only are concerned with preserving themselves and protecting their interests. They have no concern for truth or justice, so they suppress criticism to the extent of their power.

In a well-known hadith, the Prophet ﷺ tells us that one of the main signs of hypocrisy is that when a person argues, he behaves impudently and quarrels in an insulting and evil way. The idea here too is that the hypocrite doesn’t care about the truth when he argues or debates. He cares about coming out on top no matter what the truth is. So, how much more is it a sign of hypocrisy that when a person or party raises complaints against a ruler, the ruler responds, not by investigation or a desire to address those complaints or an honest attempt to discover if those complaints are justified, etc., but instead the ruler responds with outright dismissal, crackdown, arrests, and even execution? What does that say about world governments today, especially in certain Muslim countries?

So yes, “free speech” is a significant part of Islamic ethics in this very particular sense and any rational person can see its importance. In all societies, whatever is considered sacred will be protected. The difference is, truly Islamic societies and governments — arguably none of which exist today — consider only God and His Message to be sacred and, thus, outlaw blatant blasphemy against God as that is attack on the very fabric of society and the very basis of justice. But all other regimes only consider their own power to be sacred and maybe a handful of other provincial notions as well, so they outlaw “blasphemy” against those while pretending to promote “free speech.”

 

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3 January ·

Narrated `Abdullah bin `Umar:
I heard Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) saying, “People are just like camels: out of one hundred, one can hardly find a single camel suitable to ride.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

Imam Bukhari put this hadith under the chapter: The Disappearance of al-Amana, i.e., the trust. Fulfilling our obligations to Allah and others and taking care of what Allah has entrusted us with, e.g., our faith, our bodies, our families, our time, etc., as well as what people may entrust us with: this is the minimum needed to be a decent, responsible, mature person.

Unfortunately, a small percentage of all the people in the world meet these requirements, but we should always be striving towards that. Ask yourself, do I fulfill my religious obligations (assuming one knows what those obligations are in the first place)? Am I trustworthy? Can people rely on me? Is my word as good as gold? Too many people want to change the world but can’t even make good on their responsibilities to their immediate family and community.

 

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2 January ·

The Quran does not assume a progressivist view of history. When you read the accounts of the prophets, Musa, Esa, Yusuf, Ibrahim, in the Quran, you should not think, “These are stories of the past — we live in modern times. Our world is different, our societies, our institutions, our governments are more advanced and sophisticated.” No. Never think that for one second because those are the thoughts of the disbelievers as Allah mentions in the Quran itself, “Those who disbelieve say, this is nothing but stories of the ancients.”

There is a reason Allah gives us detailed historical information about the struggles of the prophets and their enemies. Because those are the struggles we face today. Just like there are “inheritors of the prophets” alive today, i.e., the righteous scholars, there are also inheritors of Iblis. There are inheritors of Pharaoh. There are inheritors of Abu Jahl and Abu Lahab. Let’s not be blind about this reality lest we be caught off guard because we did not heed clear warnings from our Lord.
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1 January ·

The hidden danger of Western Muslim social activism is that it often renders Islam as merely an identity instead of a religion. This is because Western secularism understands and authorizes identity politics but rejects religion and religious reason. That is how we can have Muslims who vigorously defend gay marriage and see no contradiction to their faith in that.

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30 December 2015 ·

The Jihad of Jesus

Have Christians not yet made the connection between “the passion of the Christ” and jihad?

The idea of striving and suffering for the sake of God even unto one’s physical death is the essence of jihad. According to Christian belief, this is the sacrifice that Jesus the Messiah made for humanity. This is what Muslims believe as well, except we do not believe that Jesus was killed. Rather, he was saved by his Lord and raised to heaven so that he may return to be the savior of mankind in the End of Times by killing the anti-Christ and establishing true justice and peace on earth.

Due to sensitive political circumstances and the very real program by Western and some Middle Eastern governments to violently crackdown on any kind of political dissent, many Muslims today tend to minimize or negate the physical aspect of jihad. Obviously, we reject the bastardization of the concept of jihad by terrorist groups who kill innocent people, Muslims and non-Muslims, and cause unrest and confusion in their sick distortion of Islamic tenets. So let there be no doubt that groups like ISIS are to be rejected and it is a terrible crime for anyone to join them. That being said, we should not let terrorists and criminals hijack our faith by losing our willingness to stand up for what is right and true and our desire to fight for the Highest Truth.

And all this might sound crazy or extreme in this secular age. But why? Many Americans across the political spectrum believe it highly noble of a person to be willing to join the military and sacrifice his life for the sake of country. If it’s noble to fight and sacrifice one’s life for something abstract and provincial like one’s nationality, then how much more so if one’s intention is for God?

Furthermore, from a very young age, children around the world are taught the importance of physical struggle against evil for the sake of good and justice. This is the premise of virtually every superhero story. The superheros aren’t fighting evil in the metaphorical sense. Superheros aren’t fighting the bad guys by doing jihad al-nafs (well, maybe some of them do that too). Superheros are engaged in a physical battle and that’s what makes them heroic. And even beyond childhood, how many films and TV shows also promote this idea of physical struggle and self-sacrifice for the sake of a Higher Purpose? The only thing that’s missing is the Godly aspect of it, but the form is still exactly the same. Again, modernity gives us the form but deprives us the essence and deeper significance.

And of course even the Christian understanding of Jesus’ crucifixion is perfectly in line with jihad.

Given all these cultural notions, then, why should Muslims be shy about one of the central tenets of their faith? Again, the fact that terrorists commit acts of terror in the name of jihad is irrelevant. The US military has also committed countless atrocities in the recent and distant past. Just recently, they deliberately bombed a Doctors Without Borders charity hospital in Afghanistan killing 19 patients and staff and 3 children. Crimes like that one, however, don’t turn Americans away from the concept of “sacrifice for one’s country.” If anything, plenty of Americans are even more devoted to militarism and “death for nation” in the face of war crimes committed by US armed forces. And just like I strongly denounce the idea of Muslims joining ISIS and other terrorist groups in the name of jihad, I also strongly denounce the idea of Americans joining the military in the name of “service to country.”

Taking it one step further, we could even argue that the notion of self-sacrifice is really a fundamental aspect of all moral systems. All systems of morality consist of some transcendental truths that go beyond the vicissitudes of our worldly lives. The struggle is for a virtuous person to realize this — that the body is nothing but mortal flesh, whereas truth and goodness are better and everlasting. To be willing to sacrifice the mortal body is the ultimate expression and proof of sincere faith. How can you have a religion or a moral system that does not have this notion of self-sacrifice? Jihad in Islam is the perfect expression of this and, therefore, as Muslims, we should be proud of that and not hide it.

 

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“Freedom is more important than la ilaha illaAllah because without freedom we are not free to believe whatever we choose.”

This is what one Syrian academic/activist told me several years ago regarding the Arab Spring. Seemed like he was setting up a false dichotomy, but he was just trying to emphasize the place of freedom as a value compared to everything else.

But freedom is a misunderstood concept. The truly free person, according to liberal philosophy beginning with the British empiricists of the seventeenth century, is the person who starts off with a blank slate, i.e., the tabula rasa. This person has no prior beliefs or commitments. His mind is not contaminated with falsely imposed ideas about the world, about God, about the state of nature. This person, with his free mind, is then able to form his own authentic beliefs from scratch. Ideally, those beliefs will be formed on the basis of sound scientific investigation — that’s what the empiricists hoped for at least in their philosophy of mind and epistemology. But, even if a person does not develop beliefs scientifically, at least he does so authentically and, hence, freely. In this way, it is ok for a person to be religious so long as that person started from a blank slate, which for all intents and purposes is a starting point of non-religion.

It’s interesting when you put it like that. If I was born into a family with a certain religion, and that family taught me that religion from Day 1, and I grow up professing that faith, does that mean I did not freely choose that faith for myself? I might argue that, as an adult, I am making a conscious choice and exercising my free will to commit to my particular faith. But, then, how can I know that it is really “me” making that choice and not the “me” that grew up in a certain household and is a product of a certain kind of “religious indoctrination”? Maybe I’ve been brainwashed, in which case my “choice” is not really a choice at all.

But if that’s the case for children growing up in religious households, then the same kind of indoctrination happens in non-religious households too. It’s just brainwashing of the non-religious variety. If a child is raised to not believe in a Higher Power and to not think much of faithful devotion, then if he grows up and decides to be an atheist and mock religion, etc., then was that truly a free choice? Or is he also the product of his environment?

Point being that the tabula rasa does not exist and neither does the neutral blank slate liberal thinkers imagined we could freely develop our beliefs from. There is no blank slate. We all are born into a certain condition and raised to believe certain ideas and values that are imposed on us as children and then throughout our adult lives. The only question is, are those ideas and values true and just? If yes, who cares if one arrives at them from a position of freedom, i.e., a blank slate that, in reality, does not exist? And if those idea and values are false and unjust, then the only way to counter that is with truth and justice, not with an abstract notion of freedom, which again, is a figment of the Enlightenment’s imagination. Either way, la ilaha illaAllah, as the ultimate expression of truth and justice, comes out on top.

Put another way, freedom of religion in secular nations assumes a starting point of non-religion. But why is non-religion the starting point, the neutral ground? Why are non-religious values the default? One might say, well, there are a variety of religious beliefs so rather than prefer/endorse one, the secular state chooses none. But this is a gross mischaracterization of the reality. Non-religion is also a particular set of beliefs. If the secular state choose non-religion, it has still preferred/endorsed a particular belief system over others. This is fundamentally no different from a theocratic state that also chooses one particular set of beliefs over all others. The difference is, the theocratic state does not delude itself into thinking it is neutral.
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The Rights of a Muslim Accused of Terrorism

Muslims who are accused of terrorism by governmental agencies are still Muslims. Even Muslims convicted of terrorism are still Muslims though they have committed an egregious crime. I am deeply disturbed by the way some within our community react to tragic events such as the recent San Bernardino shooting, which resulted in the death of 14 people as well as the 2 alleged Muslim shooters.

We have to be a principled community, not a reactionary one, not a politically sycophantic one. We cannot jettison our principles whenever we feel political pressure. The good news is, being principled in the case of Muslims accused of terrorism does not mean that we are uncooperative with authorities or that we don’t accept that Muslims can and sometimes do commit acts of terror. As Allah says in the Quran, “O you who believe! be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives.”

The fact of the matter is, even Muslims accused of terrorism have rights over us. And if we violate those rights, we will be held accountable for that. We may not have control over how federal authorities investigate and handle terrorism cases such as the San Bernardino shooting, but we do have control over our hearts and what we believe.

And thankfully, in the US, the law by and large respects our right to disagree and object. So nothing that I am saying here is illegal, though certainly some will consider it politically subversive. And that’s ok too, because, if we are to believe the hype, America is all about protest and free speech. Even politically incorrect ideas, especially politically incorrect ideas, should be expressed in a vibrant democracy. That’s what we have been told, at least. Point being that, in these cases, being principled in the Islamic sense happens to align seamlessly with key American values, and in fact may be entirely in the spirit of American free-thinking and political objection.

So, what are these principles and rights?

First and foremost, we owe people, Muslim and non-Muslim, the benefit of the doubt. In Islamic law, the burden of proof is on the accuser, not the accused. This is, again, concordant with western principles of justice. Everyone deserves a day in court, even if posthumously. If society at large conveniently forgets this principle in cases of terrorism where the accused are Muslims, that doesn’t mean we have to as well. And though we may face immense amounts of political pressure to go with the status quo and reflexively accept what the government claims, our principles are not so cheaply discarded.

This doesn’t mean that we should stubbornly reject the conclusions of investigators, but it also doesn’t mean we quickly accept whatever claims government officials make in the heat of an ongoing investigation. As we saw with the San Bernardino case, many of the initial claims made by the FBI about Farook and Malik regarding their association with terror groups, their possession of pipe bombs, their conflict with coworkers, etc., turned out to be completely baseless. We can attribute all that to the FBI and the media’s incompetence, but that is all the more reason we should insist on a full and open investigation being completed before we come to any conclusions about the accused. And even if we don’t publicly insist on that, we should at least not let our hearts settle on conclusions before all the facts have come to light.

Now, some might object that in the case of San Bernardino, it is crystal clear that the accused couple are guilty. I remain unconvinced due to all the irregularities and ambiguities in the investigation so far, as I have spelled out in detail in other places. There are still numerous scenarios that have not been conclusively ruled out. For example, we know that the FBI has had a long and dirty history of entrapping psychologically vulnerable Muslims who otherwise had no intent and no means to commit terrorism. This by itself should make us wonder whether something similar was going on with Farook and Malik. If so, then the couple would still be guilty, but the FBI should also be held accountable for the role it played in the deaths of all those people. But since the FBI has a monopoly on the investigation and they are not accountable to any oversight committee, we can’t expect them to implicate themselves. All in all, the sixth ayah of Surat al-Hujurat comes to mind.

Other important rights for Muslims accused of terrorism. We cannot say that they are not Muslims in our haste to disassociate our religion from acts of terror. For people who understand that Islam as a religion of 1.6 billion followers does not advocate mass murder, they understand that some Muslims can commit terrible crimes and that not implicate the entire religion. For people who don’t understand this, they are not going to be convinced either way, so why risk making takfir for the sake of incorrigible bigots?

The other important right is the right to burial and the funeral prayer. This is a collective obligation (fard kifaya), so if no one from the community does this, everyone accrues sin. The accused husband and wife were washed, buried, and prayed over on Tuesday, so this obligation has been lifted for us in this case.

Overall, there is much at stake in these cases. We have souls that we have to protect. We also have our community’s larger interests to protect. And there are other lives at stake too, because if we don’t understand the full details of the San Bernardino investigation, how can we as a community make informed decisions to prevent this from happening again? All of these factors far outweigh the knee jerk reaction of wanting to be politically correct, but as just an everyday member of this community, I am disappointed by the calculation we have made. We can do better.

WaAllahu `alam.

 

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16 December 2015 ·

In these times of anti-Muslim bigotry, MSAs on our college campuses play an ever more important role and the challenges young Muslims face is greater than ever before. The positive impact that an organized MSA driven by sincere intentions can have for a given campus and, hence, society as a whole is immeasurable.

I was part of one MSA or another for over 10 years, as a high school student, college student, then grad student, so I am very familiar with the variety of challenges that MSAs face. Everything goes back to intention. Those MSAs that have a clear understanding of their purpose and mission on campus as a student group are the most successful and are best able to deal with the major challenges that all MSAs face. And trust me, I have yet to hear of an MSA that has not experienced a major, sometimes even traumatizing challenge, whether due to internal dynamics or external pressure from the campus or community at large.

The transition from “social club” to brotherhood/sisterhood for the sake of Allah, coming together to increase in good, to support one another with true fidelity, is not an easy one, but how can you even begin to make that transition if you are not aware of that as a goal?

Toward that end, I have put together a brief list of characteristics of an MSA that may need to reevaluate its mission and reconsider its purpose on campus and in the lives of Muslims (and non-Muslims) on campus.
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Excellent review of The Study Quran by Ustadh Mobeen Vaid.
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14 December 2015 ·

Atheists make a big fuss about the “problem of evil” and how they cannot in good conscience accept that God exists in the face of a world full of innocent people suffering tremendously due to disease and poverty. Curiously, they are not equally perturbed by the prospect of innocent people suffering tremendously at the hands of the wicked who themselves live comfortable lives and will never have to face any consequence or repercussion for their crimes.

And when you think about it, which scenario ought to be more troubling? In the world of the theist, innocent people who suffered due to disease and poverty will ultimately be recompensed for the pain they endured. But in the world of the atheist, evil is never requited.

How ironic, then, for atheists to accuse the God they don’t believe in of being unjust when they are otherwise perfectly content with the idea of a world without ultimate justice.

 

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Muslims as usual giving Obama a round of applause for this, but he clearly says that an “extremist ideology has spread within some Muslim communities.” Obama’s CVE program was an attempt to address this by essentially imposing additional scrutiny on mosques. His outlook is not substantially different from Republican presidential candidates calling for the surveillance of mosques. Both Obama and the Republicans believe that Muslims have a unique problem with extremism and, thus, have an extra burden to police themselves and allow themselves to be available for state scrutiny. This is the exact racism and hypocrisy that Muslims denounce when they note the stark differences in media coverage between alleged Muslim acts of terror and those of other religions and ethnicities, which happen with more frequency and have taken many more lives. But if the same hypocrisy comes from the Oval Office, all is forgotten.

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7 December 2015 ·

O Muslims! Stand for Truth or be like sea foam and see where that gets you.

 

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Daniel Haqiqatjou

6 December 2015 ·

Surat al-An`am: 111-117, relevant to current events.

“Even if We did send unto them angels, and the dead did speak unto them, and We gathered together all things before their very eyes, they are not the ones to believe, unless it is in Allah’s plan. But most of them ignore (the truth).

“Likewise did We make for every Messenger an enemy,- evil ones among men and jinns, inspiring each other with flowery discourses by way of deception. If thy Lord had so planned, they would not have done it: so leave them and their inventions alone.

“To such (deceit) let the hearts of those incline, who have no faith in the hereafter: let them delight in it, and let them earn from it what they may.

“Say: “Shall I seek for judge other than Allah? – when He it is Who hath sent unto you the Book, explained in detail.” They know full well, to whom We have given the Book, that it hath been sent down from thy Lord in truth. Never be then of those who doubt.

“The word of thy Lord doth find its fulfilment in truth and in justice: None can change His words: for He is the one who heareth and knoweth all.

“Wert thou to follow the common run of those on earth, they will lead thee away from the way of Allah. They follow nothing but conjecture: they do nothing but lie.

“Thy Lord knoweth best who strayeth from His way: He knoweth best who they are that receive His guidance.”

 

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30 November 2015 ·

Being a “traditionalist Muslim” is a reactionary term. The term had to be coined in order to make the necessary distinction against “modernist” and “reformist Muslim.”

The defining feature of a traditionalist is respect for the intellect of past Muslims and a skepticism in the validity of modern exceptionalism. The modernist, in contrast, is skeptical of the intellect of past Muslims and a firm believer in modern exceptionalism.

In other words, modernists believe we live in a unique time and that that necessitates practicing Islam in a way that it has never been practiced before. Modernists also tend to believe that, in modern times, we have unique knowledge that past Muslims were not privy to, and that knowledge licenses us to practice Islam in a way that it has never been practiced before.

The traditionalist, on the other hand, finds this reasoning not only unconvincing but even irrational. What is so unique about modern times that merits the adoption of unprecedented beliefs and practices? Over the past 1400 years, we are still the same species with the same needs and basic mental makeup, the same tendencies, the same weaknesses. Which is not to say that Islamic law does not accommodate certain kinds of changes and variation across time and place. But our times are not exceptional and unique enough to even begin to justify some of the things modernists call for.

Traditionalists also respect the intellect and spiritual insight of the collective body of Muslim scholarship over the past 1400 years. If there are beliefs and practices that the vast majority of, if not all, scholars upheld, that in itself is evidence of the validity and soundness of those beliefs/practices. The community does not agree on error. What makes us so special, what unique intellectual capacity do we have to go against the tide of historical unanimity?

28 November 2015 ·

Islam, Pluralism, and Tolerance

When it comes to certain fields, there is no such concept as pluralism. In science, for example, it is assumed that there is only one right answer. Sure, there can be multiple competing theories, but ultimately one theory is assumed to be the correct one and it is the job of scientists to investigate, to debate, to analyze, to carefully consider, and to work to come to that answer.

In contrast, today we are not taught to think of any given religion as being right or wrong. Rather religion is about personal identity, personal feelings, what you subjectively feel to be the case. Religion is not about facts and knowledge, therefore, the reasoning goes, how can any given religion be considered “correct” or “true”? If you are coming from this “subjectivist” view of religion, then you might be prone to think that, in a sense, “all religions are true” in one way or another.

But historically, people did not have this view of religion. Religion, especially in the Abrahamic tradition, was thought of in a similar way to how people today think of science in the sense that understanding reality means understanding God and understanding God means understanding what God has said. It was no coincidence, then, that typically the most knowledgeable and educated people in society in the past were also the most religiously learned. It is also not a coincidence that inter-religious debates in the past happened on the theological level, e.g., Christians and Muslims debating about the nature of God, His attributes, etc., whereas today, most of the handful of inter-religious debates that happen focus on moral concerns like human rights, women’s rights, tolerance, etc.

It is important to note that having an “objectivist” view of religion does not in itself contravene tolerance. For example, our present secular society has an objectivist view when it comes to science, but there is still tolerance for people who are scientifically illiterate or who may even be downright wrong about what they scientifically believe. BUT present society draws the line when it comes to people’s incorrect scientific beliefs harming others, where harm itself is defined according to what is considered to be the correct scientific paradigm.

A simple example is the whole vaccination debate. People can believe whatever they want about the impact of vaccines to children, but at some point, the government was given the mandate to intervene and say that children must be vaccinated, etc. This is because there was a belief that if people were allowed to pursue their incorrect beliefs past a certain point, that would have wider negative ramifications.

Perhaps we should understand Islamic tolerance in the same light. In past Islamic societies, this kind of tolerance also existed. Muslim and Islamic law’s tolerance for Christians, Jews, and their respective religious practices are well known and documented. In other words, there was room for people to be wrong from the perspective of the dominant paradigm but there were limits to that tolerance. This is something we see in present secular society as well, though things aren’t conceived as such.

 

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20 January 2015 ·

When less than 2% of terrorism in EU is religiously motivated, but you look at the media’s coverage, ask yourself: What are they trying to do?

 

Less Than 2 Percent Of Terrorist Attacks In The E.U. Are Religiously Motivated

 

 

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15 November 2015 ·

iCondemn

This is a satirical piece I did earlier in the year in response to the Charlie Hebdo shooting. Seems as relevant as ever today.

I tried to raise several issues through the satire. For example, does it bother anyone else how sentimental displays of mourning are cheapened by social media? Is social media the right kind of forum to express grief or emotionally charged condemnations? Like, “OMG, no words.‪#‎prayforparis” or “ISIS scum can burn in hell!” right next to a Facebook or Twitter ad for, say, Fritos Barbecue-Flavored Chips and right below your friend’s photo dump of his latest restaurant meal.

Also, there is something artificial and contrived about collective acts of mourning as facilitated through social media. If you are devastated by what happened in Paris, do you need to Tweet that? And if so, how does the medium of a tweet diminish the expression of that sentiment, or the sentiment itself?

It’s interesting from a sociological perspective because social media started with a very simple purpose in mind: to maintain social connections. But not all social activities and functions can be successfully translated into that virtual world. If a person is really distraught by some tragedy, in the past they would go talk to a friend, talk to a counselor or religious leader, or just keep it inside and work through it alone. But that process of dealing with grief or reacting to tragedy is not something, imo, that can be done in the same way online in a social network without getting weird, distorted, emotionally-askew expressions of sentimentality.

Other points the piece raises:
1. Tis silly for Muslims to keep condemning every crime committed by other Muslims.
2. Tis silly for others to expect such condemnations from Muslims.
3. It is apparent that some Muslim personalities and groups try to win political points by bending over backwards to condemn things and making grand displays of mourning.
4. These same personalities and groups are unprincipled because they only save their moral posturing for issues that have mainstream support.
5. The death of brown people in brown countries is sad but expected. The deaths of white people in Western countries are the true tragedies.

 

Get the Muslim iCondemn App!

 

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http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-32063587

26 March 2015 ·

Deliberately crashing plane killing 150. Terrorism? No! Just “suicide” as pilot had “no connection to extremism” ie not Muslim.

 

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10 November 2015 ·

Apparently, conspiring to bomb black churches and “start a race war” does not get you charged w/ terrorism.
http://www.nbc12.com/story/30481405/fbi-white-supremacist-suspects-planned-to-bomb-black-churches

 

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Daniel Haqiqatjou

25 November 2015 ·

Over the decades, Israel has successfully trained conventional American media, e.g., TV, newspapers, print, etc., how to more “fairly” cover what they like to call the “Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.” Translation: how to whitewash Israel’s genocidal occupation of Palestine. Next on the agenda is making sure new media knows the script and censors anything that contravenes it.

Israel meets with Google and YouTube to discuss censoring Palestinian videos

 

Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely has met with representatives of YouTube and Google to discuss ways to cooperate in what she calls the fight against “inciting violence and terrorism”.Israel’s Maariv newspaper reported yesterday t

MIDDLEEASTMONITOR.COM|BY MIDDLE EAST MONITOR
#Judge organizations by their actions, not by what they “say,” i.e. using words like fair, peace, etc.

 

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