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Home / Current Affairs / Unscripted #18 | Veteran Imam Shakeel Begg opens up

Unscripted #18 | Veteran Imam Shakeel Begg opens up

Join us this week on our Unscripted podcast with Imam Shakeel Begg

They speak about reconnecting to our heritage, how Muslim communities have changed over the years, the Afro-Caribbean community and their fight against racism, advice to young Imams and students of knowledge, working with reverts, helping addicts, life as an Imam, plus advice he would give to his 20-year-old self, and much, much more.

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Source: www.islam21c.com

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2 comments

  1. On my second point, brother Umer posed an important question regarding the younger imams and if they were equipped to deal with the needs of the Muslim community today. He also specifically asked about the amount of time that Imam Shakeel spends on counselling and he replied that it was 2-3 hours a day. Personally, I don’t feel confident that the imams have enough knowledge about psychology and personality disorders to deal with certain marital problems and problems between siblings/parents and children/colleagues etc. May Allah protect these imams but sometimes their responses to family problems come across as naive because I think that for most people it takes being personally touched by the evil of others or seeing your loved ones being touched by their evil to come out of your naivety bubble and start gaining insights into how deeply messed up some people are. I’m specifically talking about the narcissists and psychopaths among us.

    The advice that I’ve heard imams give is useful and is typical advice that would work for ‘normal’ people who have problems because they are infringing on the rights of their spouse or in law etc. However, that advice doesn’t work when someone in the equation lacks sincerity, doesn’t feel empathy and is putting up a facade. I’ve read advice from scholars encouraging people to seek the advice of a psychologist (use psychotherapy) if their Islamic advice/reminders don’t work but that seems really flawed to me. Even western psychologists have admitted that psychotherapy or ‘talk therapy’ does not work with ‘evil’ people. They simply ‘learn’ how to modify their behaviour so that they outwardly cause less trouble but DEEP DOWN it doesn’t change them so the effects of the therapy don’t last. These ‘evil’ people among us have diseases of the heart and therefore need to purify their souls so the job of helping them requires Islamic knowledge that psychologists don’t have. However, most likely, the imams wouldn’t have the knowledge and insights into personality disorders that psychologists have to even recognise that the difficult counselling cases they are encountering are due to severe personality disorders. As most of the literature on personality disorders is from western psychologists, even if you tried discussing it with them, would the imams even understand where you are coming from?

    My point is that there needs to be a bridge between the knowledge that imams and psychologists have otherwise many problems will go unresolved in their counselling sessions. Like Imam Shakeel said, they do need support. I think that this is one area that they need support in that they possibly don’t even realise.

  2. Alhamdulillah, the brothers touched on a number of important issues and I’d like to focus a little bit on two of them.

    They mentioned the importance of unity among the Muslims and I think that Dr. Salman Butt and brother Umer themselves are great examples of Muslims who are giving a platform to those who may differ with them so that they can also have their concerns heard. Through the TV channel and podcasts on YouTube, generally the group of people that Islam21st Century represent seem more open to discussion and having their ideas challenged. I think that other groups are opening up too (but as individuals rather than as groups) as, like the brothers mentioned, we have an ability to see the good (khayr) in others even if they are from different groups, and we are beginning to form relationships with people who in the past we would have avoided simply because of the group that they belonged too. I think that we are getting better at seeing people as INDIVIDUALS who we can benefit from and who we can help. Also, Ustadh Tim Humble is another great example of someone who seems to have a unifying approach rather than a divisive one. In the last month he’s chaired a talk in Luton for men like Halabi and also appeared in podcasts with brothers like ‘Dawah Man’ and even our young brother Faisal on his ‘Freshly Grounded’ podcast. Certainly, in this time where we are trying to find the right balance when interacting with the disbelievers and with the larger Muslim community, being brave enough to listen to our critics is a good way of striking the right balance in-shaa Allah.

    Also, although I’ve written before about our relationship with the disbelievers here in the UK and that generally, based on who they are and how Allah Ta’ala describes them in the Qur’an, there will be distrust, enmity and coercion to make us assimilate, that’s largely on a ‘state’ level. I agree with Imam Shakeel that there is something about the British people that does make engaging with them as individuals possible. This is because some of them do have a tendency to support the underdog and dislike treachery and injustice but when the state and the media get involved, ultimately, they are part of their people and in the end that’s where their allegiance lies. On an individual level some of them remind me of ʿUtbah ibn Rabīʿah, the father of Hind and the father in law of Abu Sufyan. He was a reasonable man who you could come to reasonable agreements with, but at the end of the day, he was a man of his people and despite his good qualities and character he was influenced by his tribe and ended up being the first man to pick up arms against the Muslims in the Battle of Badr.

    My point is that we can and we should, as much as possible, engage in a positive manner with the disbelievers around us but I don’t think the problem is that our culture is holding us back. I think that for some of us, it’s being clear about what our intentions are for doing so. Some of us feel humiliated and brought low because our interactions are about ‘proving’ that Muslims are nice guys and fun. Instead, our interactions should be about concern for the destructive decisions these people make during their lives and their fate in the aakhira. In this way, we approach them with honour and in a way that shows that we have something to offer them that will benefit them, not us and certainly not Islam and Allah Ta’ala.

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