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Ed’s Pic ‘n’ Mix & Other Assortments

I have, in the past, worked with many British-Asian women, many of whom were free and liberated, women of the Muslim faith donning the hijab and at times the face veil. Fortunately, my understanding of the liberation of women is not based on how little a women wears nor how nonchalant she can be in public, but rather her views, attitude and understanding of the world around her. For quite a while now we have been bombarded with typical notions of the ‘oppressed Asian women’ who dons the ‘black garment of death’, and quite ironically, it is those individuals who claim that Islam (through the hijab) oppresses women, actually themselves subjugate believing women with their warped understandings of sexuality and freedom.

The same people, although claiming to be Muslim, consistently belittle their own faith via the media claiming that Islam needs reinterpretation and modernising, especially to meet the demands of Muslims who live in the West. However, this claim is an absurd and insolent fallacy that has graced the West, and more specifically the British Isles. Firstly, it is absurd as it calls for the shari’ah to be altered, and not necessarily for Muslims, but for the approval of secular Western culture, a culture which many ‘Muslims’ such as Ed Hussain would rather live by. Secondly it is insolent as it claims that Allah’s most perfect laws are outmoded implying that Allah the Most Wise lacks understanding of contemporary society, and furthermore, that Western society better comprehends a perfect way of life. {quotes}It seems that these days being a diligent Muslim in Britain is quite shameful, the shari’ah being one of the most shameful facets of Ed’s faith.{/quotes}

After reading his article in the Guardian, I (once again) glanced at the top of the page to re-affirm that the article was written by a Muslim, or at least an individual that calls himself one, and lo and behold, Ed Hussain once again manifested himself with that little dagger, the little plastic one, which represents his plastic words, counterfeits and lies. Although he may believe that he has once again ruffled the feather of the ‘radicals’, ‘Wahhabi’s’ and ‘mysoginists’, his plastic knife only serves to once again tickle our sides while his ridiculous drivel exposes his true nature.

And when it is said to them: “Make not mischief on the earth,” they say: “We are only peacemakers.” Verily! They are the ones who make mischief, but they perceive not.1

As ridiculous as he is, the issues, scholars and laws of the Most High which he commonly rants about, do have standing in our community and are free from the slander and defamation of this simple-minded agitator. In the past he has ranted about the same topics; the scholars, Imams, community leaders et al, all of whom are of course not free from error. But back then, Ed paid no mind to stop there insisting that ‘I don’t want Camilla’s (Ed’s daughter) generation to suffer the indignities of scripturally justified attitudes of domestic violence, or her testimony to be worth half that of a Muslim man in court, or her legal inheritance in a Muslim country to be one-third of a man’s.’2 while also defaming the Qur’an: ‘Just as in Leviticus we find references to stoning sinners, in Muslim scripture there are some unpalatable references3. Thus, I was sure he would have something else quite nonsensical in the pipeline again.

His new ploy is reminiscent of journalistic methods employed quite recently by the Daily Mail, Daily Express and The Sun, where any facts pertaining to Muslims are distorted, reinforced with concrete blocks of lying, lined with racism and nicely insulated with Islamaphobia. Such was the case with the article published recently4 where he ventured to blame the Shari’ah for forced marriages, claiming that the Islamic Shari’ah council is ‘a powerful all-male outfit controlling women’s lives’ and that Shaikh Haitham Al Haddad, a highly reputable scholar, leading member and judge for the aforementioned shari’ah council as well as director of MRDF5 is a misogynistic ranting Arab. Furthermore, Ed goes on to describe the MCB as a shameful organisation bowing to ‘extremist, literalist pressure’. Of course, lowliness knows no bounds and once again he will be exposed for his vile assertions. Additionally, I would like to make clear that this article is not intended to refute the Muslim Marriage Contract per se6, but to highlight the misperceptions and illusions that it may provoke, thus refuting Ed Hussain’s irrational claims.

The new ‘marriage contract’ was launched by the CityCircle, applauded by liberals and non-Muslims alike. Samiah Rahman called it ‘ambitious’ and ‘radical’, the latter definition obviously holding no negative connotation when used to distort our faith. {quotes}It has been heralded as the next step in providing women their rights and correcting what has been for 1400 years quite wrong.

The most learned scholars of Islam were obviously incomparable to the knowledge and understanding of the authors of the new contract, for how could the scholars of our Islamic heritage have missed their own misogynistic undertones, their misuse of theology and their ignorance of the philosophy of Islamic law (Maqaasid ash-Shari’ah)? These are the types of thoughts this contract typically induces, and even though such aspersions are quite absurd, Ed and Co. would have you believe them.

His distortion of the facts commences with a heart-breaking story about Amina who had fallen in love with an Asian Muslim man who came from a similar ethnic background in Pakistan. However, Amina’s father refused, as a wali, to consent to her marriage and insisted she marry her cousin from Pakistan. Her father also had a heart condition and used his illness to emotionally blackmail her. Eventually Amina gave way and married in Ed’s words; ‘Mr Pakistan’. The story is unfortunately common, and time and again we see such devastation of people’s lives throughout many different communities. However, if we analyse the story we find that as unfortunate as the situation was, Amina was not forced into anything, but instead coerced emotionally. She wanted to marry a man that her father did not approve of which inevitably led to difficulties on her part as her father was her guardian.

Furthermore, it may be noted from the narrative that she did not contact the Islamic Shari’ah Council before the marriage, who as an Islamic organisation may have helped in speaking to her father explaining the woman’s right to choose her life partner. Instead, she unhappily married her cousin willingly. Her consenting to the affair was something that neither the Islamic Shari’ah Council (according to Islamic law) nor the British legal system had the right to interfere with.

Returning to the point, would this newly devised ‘Muslim Marriage Contract’ have solved the issue? Of course not and such an assertion is ridiculous. The matter of fact is that she married her cousin out of love for her father (and cultural constraints), thereby choosing her father’s happiness over her own. Even if the marriage contract was available she would not have opted for it due to her father’s blackmail. Furthermore, had she married according to the new marriage contract, it would not have prevented her husband making death threats.

A similar circumstance betook a British-Asian (Pakistani) sister of late, whereby she wanted to marry a man from a different country (although still the sub-Asian continent). Her father promptly refused all the while with racist rhetoric. Soon after (and probably as a result of finding out about the first man), both of her parents turned on the emotional blackmail in order to coerce her to marry another suitor who was also Pakistani. Her brief visit to the Islamic Shari’ah Council didn’t relieve her of her distress in that she was looking for the easy way out and was encouraged to make an effort with her parents while it being stated equivocally that under no circumstance could she be forced to be married to anyone according to the law of Allah. Efforts by her parents intensified which concluded in an ultimatum – ‘marry who we want or you will be disowned!’ Of course she would have been free of blame for any disownment had she refused, but instead quickly gave in and married the new suitor. She was very much in love to the previous man but could not endure the emotional blackmail from her parents. As difficult as it was, it was her battle, a Jihad she had to undertake. In retrospect she stated that she married the new suitor out of weakness, and that even though Allah had given her a way out she feared her parents more (something for which she repented may Allah forgive her).

The fact is that many women are either forced into marriage or prevented from it due to culture, to the extent that even Ed (quite contradictorily) states ‘She sacrificed love to south Asian culture’. So what’s to blame, aspects of Asian culture or Shari’ah?

In reality, all types of women from various ethnic and religious backgrounds are forced into marriage, where at times they are also forced to remain within the same marriage, but can we then blame this on existing marriage contracts or agreements whether religious or secular? It’s quite funny that Ed seemingly forgets the millions of marriages contracted under shari’ah which result in loving partners who live together in security, peace and happiness. In fact, a new contract makes no difference to Amina’s situation, and in reality, if we really want to free our women of the oppression they face every day then we must encourage and support them to shed the shackles of oppressive and un-Islamic cultures, not Islam itself as there is no relation. Allah states: ‘When it is said to them: “Follow what Allah has sent down.” They say: “Nay! We shall follow what we found our fathers following.” (Would they do that!) Even though their fathers did not understand anything nor were they guided?7 Thus to blame the Islamic Shari’ah Council is unwarranted, and to further claim that they control women’s lives is preposterous. If they are indeed so controlling, why did Amina pay them a visit at all? Why do thousands of women contact them each year? Ed’s absurdities are akin to those who claim that Islam is oppressive to women, yet the vast majority of converts in the West are women!

The truth is that Ed has once again publicised his ignorance, lacking even the slightest inclination of shar’ii (legal) knowledge as well as realities on the ground. The fact that the Islamic Shari’ah Council and MCB did not support the new contract is unbeknownst to him incorrectly stating that it was ‘endorsed, much to my surprise, by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and the men who supported Amina’s husband: the Islamic Shariah Council.’ The MCB have never endorsed the contract, it was actually endorsed by one individual, not the whole organisation, thus the assertion that they ‘back-tracked’ is completely erroneous. Additionally, Ed displays his own typical arrogance by stating ‘And in typical MCB male arrogance, they dismiss the contract and promise to issue their own after “due consultation” with their “affiliates and ulema [religious scholars]”. Why? The shariah is a diverse body of law’. Undoubtedly there are different schools of thought, but the notion of ikhtilaf (legal differences) does not necessitate one to abide by something s/he does not theologically agree with, which in this case is the majority of faithful Muslims who reject the new contract. Ed further states ‘why can’t the MCB accept another interpretation?’ but ironically, why can’t Ed accept MCB’s interpretation? If one is to call for acceptance, surely it must be a two way process, and as they say, you can’t have your cake and eat it. And finally the most ignorant rant about the MCB’s statement was ‘And why consult only clerics and affiliates, and leave out women and human rights groups?’Firstly, this is a matter of scholarship and therefore most qualified individuals are to be consulted regardless of gender or race. Secondly, what do human right groups have to do with Islamic law? Of course all unintelligible to Ed.

The reality of the contract is that it is a farce, a fake, a phoney, a justification to take that one step closer to shedding our faith to join our secular brethren. It is riddled with inconsistencies which contradict the sources of Islamic law, misunderstandings which invite the breakup of the family, and attempts to de-shari’ah8 the contract of marriage, attempts which many scholars past and present amount to heresy. This is what the scholar Shaikh Haitham Al Haddad alluded to in a lecture (watchable here), where he quite simply unravelled the marriage contract to expose its incongruity and divergence from the Islamic legal texts. As a result, the shaikh was first slandered by being called a misogynist, after which Ed continued ‘Saudi-trained clerics don’t simply stand by and watch their last grip over Muslim family life slip away so easily. First, as expected, came an Arab male cleric with extreme Wahhabi leanings…

To begin with, Shaikh Haitham did indeed seek Islamic knowledge in Saudi Arabia, but also in Sudan and is currently completing his PhD at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). Does this then imply that he is also Sudanese and British ‘trained’? Ed’s comments show a typical form of racism, in fact, such racism is continued, ‘First, as expected, came an Arab male cleric’. What importance does Shaikh Haitham’s ethnicity play in this debate, and why was it expected given that most clerics in the UK are Asian? The shaikh’s being an Arab is purely coincidental as are all people’s race in that no individual has a choice in their ethnicity. Similarly, Ed’s evident racism and Islamaphobia has nothing to do with his being ethnically Bengali. His depravity is something that he has consciously felt the need to manifest.

“Verily, the most honourable of you with Allah is that (believer) who has At-Taqwa (God consciousness)”9

Racist undertones towards Arabs can also be found in his book The Islamist which at times portrays Saudi Arabians to be misogynistic and pro-‘extremism’. His racism, however, was not confined only to shaikh Haitham, but also in the aforementioned story where he named the man who Amina married, ‘Mr Pakistan’. Such a naming is to imply all Pakistani men (especially those born and bred in Pakistan) are somehow complicit to rape and violence, an insinuation which is despicable. The fact is that we find amongst all peoples domestic violence, abuse and other forms of oppression, but for all intents and purposes, oppression has no colour, race nor religion. Can it be that Ed has, in a form of an inferiority complex, not only rebelled against his being Asian, but rejected it to the point of metaphorically bleaching his skin? As one blogger noted ‘O congratulations for Eddy, a quick burst of applause for Mahbub, sorry Eddy…Hang on, this guy, his wife and kid are all East London Bengalis so whats with the names Ed… Oh sorry, I should have read the foundations intro more carefully…”Western Muslims should revive Western Islam, our Andalusian heritage…” I guess a return to traditional Andalusian Islam entails dumping our Arabic names too in favour of Ed…I guess the die-hard Quilliam staff will adopt names such as Gonzales and Manuel Santos to really fit into the Andalusian scene.’10

Additionally, Ed comments on his readers (after describing Amina’s harrowing ordeal) stating that ‘White, liberal eyes reading this article will be astounded to know these things happen in Britain. I am sorry, but they do. And it gets worse.’ The fact that Ed addresses the readers by their ethnicity not only indicates his apologetic sense of shame for being a Muslim, but also his inferiority to Liberals amongst white people. Why not mention any other ethnic group? Such a colonialised mentality was in fact what Shaikh Haitham was alluding to when questioning the motive of the authors behind the contract. Never did Shaikh Haitham denounce the actual contract as kufr (disbelief), but rather alluded to the mentality of the authors, stating that such individuals would only attempt such depraved designs on the community due to either a colonialised mentality or hypocrisy fostered in their hearts (among other things). Consequently, the claim that the shaikh made takfeer (excommunication) of the contract, that is to say, those ignorant of Islamic law using the contract as disbelievers is no more than another false allegation.

As shaikh Haitham said, the contract easily evokes feelings of anger, if not disgust. Similarly, so too does Ed Hussain for his manner of lying, distorting the truth and abhorrently attacking the scholars, those who have given years to study the faith they so dearly love and work at the grassroots level interacting with the community trying to bring about real change in the lives of ordinary people. This is the grassroots ladies and gentlemen, the level where government money doesn’t reach, the level where people are unaware of ‘Wahhabism’, ‘extremism’ or even the liberalisation of their faith. This is the level were real scholars count.

“And when it is said to him, “Fear Allah”, he is led by arrogance to (more) crime”11

Unfortunately, that isn’t the case for all. Those who claim to abhor ‘political’ Islam are the same individuals who openly politicise their faith. As shaikh Haitham stated, what will your excuse be when you stand before God for reckoning? ‘On that Day man will say: “Where (is the refuge) to flee? No! There is no refuge!12’ Although we are bombarded with a false sense of spirituality, the truth is that many have forgotten their relationship with Allah, and Islam has become an intellectual challenge debated by uninformed individuals in the public arena. When individuals like Ed and countless others cannot clearly distinguish what side of the fence they’re standing on they should take a good long look in the mirror and ask themselves: why are we embarrassed of our faith?

 

 

Notes:

source: www.islam21c.com

[1] 2:11-12
[
2] http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/ed_husain/2007/10/the_gender_agenda.html
[3] http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,2220483,00.html
[4] http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/aug/20/islam.religion
[5] The Muslim Research and Development Foundation. See www.mrdf.co.uk
[6] i.e., Scholastically from a juristic approach.
[7] 2:170
[8] By attempting to collate all the irregular opinions of scholars over time in order to formulate a jurisprudence contradicting legal texts, a form of jurisprudence which is rejected and condemned by the consensus of Islamic scholars.
[9] 49:13

[10]
link
[11] 2:206
[12]
75:10-11

About Ahmed Ali

5 comments

  1. Dealing with the misguided
    Ed Hussein is not anyone knowledgeable about Islam, does not represent Muslims, is not significant and is a person I would not particularly want to meet. As Allah says, ‘…enjoin the ma’roof, and turn away from the jahiloonn’ I do not disagree with the article or needing to respond. Hopefully not too many people (esp Muslims) will come across his name or what he has to say.
    It comes down to this : What is the Prophetic way of dealing with such type of people and such errors ? (not a rhetorical question, I am thinking about this myself and don’t know the answer). What is the BEST way of dealing with such types? How do scholars deal with them in their writings if they do respond? Does journalistic writing or commentary allow more licence then scholarly writing? Should there be a difference?

  2. one way mud-slinging
    I completely disagree with SOA. Although I do believe that mud-slinging is somewhat below a sense of Islamic decency, I fail to see how Nizami’s article managed to be construed as ‘mud-slinging’. Firstly, it reads much more like a retort and clarification of recent events, all the while with a vehement tone. The problem with us (British Muslims) is that we, at times, don’t get the balance right. Either we go too far or not far enough. As much as I believe that we shouldn’t allow guy’s like Ed a platform (nor the time of day), when he manages to get into mainstream media and vilify standing members of our Muslim community, somebody has to set the record straight which fortunately Nizami has done.

    To not respond would simply allow many simple minded non-Muslims who have no knowledge of Islam be cheated by Ed’s foolish remarks. I personally have spoken to some of these types of Muslims who previously would have entertained Ed, but after reading this article they were better informed of the situation may Allah guide them and us.

    As for Islamic decorum (muslim decorum sounds rather relative), I totally agree, but what was the problem here? I fail to see the point being made. As for islam21c, made Allah reward the effort (thumbs up!)

    waSalam and tally ho for now…

  3. Rising above mud-slinging
    The article is perhaps not inaccurate about this individual. However, Hussein’s mud-slinging should not be countered with more of the same by Muslims who know better. “Repel with that which is better”. We should not stoop to the same level as such individuals- this gives them more significance than they deserve. This site is called Islam21c- so it’s content and conduct should be completeley in line with Muslim decorum

  4. very nice article

  5. Guardian It!
    A very very nice article which should really be posted in papers like the Guardian. It’s a shame that we haven’t heard more of a condemnation from the Muslim community, especially from our respectable scholars. However, at least the people on this website are doing something right.

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