Tuesday, October 29, 2013

20 Questions for Hamza Yusuf & His Followers (2/2)

(Part II #11-20, Continued from Part I)

Disturbing Thoughts & Behavior of Groupies

11.   Like Boy bands and Britney Spears we are aware that you, "Sheikh" Hamza Hanson have your share of Groupies, lackeys, and even stalkers.  Given the sorry state of Islamic identity among Muslims in the West, most especially among the 2nd generation native born South Asian Muslims in North America (i.e. your core groupies) this problem is probably much more pronounced.  You see 2nd generation Muslims of a certain socio-economic status have a deep seated inferiority complex to American society, its why they have to go to Non-Muslim academic institutions in the West to learn Islam from Non-Muslim professors and teaching assistants in "Islamic" studies departments.  Never mind that many of these same institutions could care less about this subject or have historically been engaged in far more research and projects funded by the armed forces to grow/maintain the American empire overseas or are at war with Islam itself.

Your conversion to Sufi Islam as a Caucasian male is all the reassurance someone suffering from a deep seated inferiority complex or identity crisis and who lacks any type of backbone, spine, or thought process to assert an independent identity of their own needs to have to practice their own faith.  So bravo on that!

All that being said we find some disturbing patterns amongst your followers/groupies, particularly:

A.  Worshipping Hamza Yusuf (and other converts) to the point of shirk or idolatry, one example:
       The Voice of God: Hamza Yusuf

B.  Maybe it comes from the fact that the US Corporate Media markets and sells you as a "Rock Star"
      for 2nd generations Muslims: Rise of the American Rockstar Imams
      (incidentally the same "rockstars" mentioned in this link are the same ones mentioned as needing
       promotion and media hype by the British govt. above-- what sheer coincidence!)

C.  Maybe its this "rockstar" mentality that fosters groupies who go on to express sentiments such as this:
Adab, in my current context meant that we were NOT to question or challenge a shaykh openly, for “traditional learning” required that a student abide by the didactic method, and acknowledge the “superior education” of a shaykh. Politely written questions were okay, but we were in no place to be disagreeing with the shayookh. We were NOT allowed to refuse what was being fed to us.”

“The next evening, while we waited for Hamza Yusuf to arrive, I heard a young woman standing behind me tell her friend, “Even if Hamza Yusuf had three wives, I would kill to be his fourth wife!” What followed was the distinct sound of my brain shrinking.”
 Source:  Zaytuna's Smelly Kebabs, by Nassim Mobasher

Our questions are:

12.  Do you "Sheikh" Hamza Hanson agree with this mentality and borderline worship of yourself by
       your followers/groupies? If not, is it true that you offer your hands and body parts for your blind
       followers/sheep to literally kiss?

13.  Do you feel that these sentiments above are a natural biproduct of things that you yourself teach
       and are well known hallmarks of Sufism such as:  unquestioning blind obedience/taqleed to
       sheikhs? In your view does a mindset like this lead to any kind of political or intellectual revival
       of any kind?

Disturbing Associations with Known Neo-Con Backed Muslims & Arab Client Regimes Overseas

14.  The above then helps segue to questions regarding your associations with known neo-conservative
       endorsed Muslims/Muslim personalities.  The very first one that comes to mind is Hisham
       Kabbani.  Kabbani and the Sufi Muslim Council are fully exposed here.

       Given your photos here:

We understand that for matters of political convenience you had to condemn Kabbani when he made his ridiculous statements about Muslims in America and Muslim organizations (and was condemned by them in turn), but what exactly was/is your relationship with Kabbani and what is it like now? Part of the reason we ask, is that one of your cohorts, Mr. TJ Winter at Cambridge University aka "Abdul Hakim Murad" had this to say in his essay "Recapturing Islam from the Terrorists" after 9/11:
Two years ago, Hisham Kabbani of the Islamic Supreme Council of America, warned of the dangers of mass terrorism to American cities; and he was brushed aside as a dangerous alarmist. Muslim organizations are no doubt beginning to regret their treatment of him. The movement for traditional Islam will, we hope, become enormously strengthened in the aftermath of the recent events, accompanied by a mass exodus from Wahhabism, leaving behind only a merciless hardcore of well-financed zealots. Those who have tried to take over the controls of Islam, after reading books from we-know-where, will have to relinquish them, because we now know their destination."
Given your known associations and studying with TJ Winter a simple clarification on this would do.

15.  What was/is your UK Followers associations with the neo-conservative backed and UK govt.
       funded Quilliam Foundation.  Again we are compelled to ask because this group openly claims
       you helped to "inspire" them and secretly endorse them.  You certainly didn't have a
       problem sharing a stage with one of them. They openly call for the following:
  • Advocating that the British govt spy on the ENTIRE Muslim community in the UK here and here up to and including what books children check out from the library, what kids talk about on playgrounds at Muslim schools, and the health, medical, and sexual histories of ALL Muslims up and down the UK through the government run health service. (Incredibly ironic considering the disclosures of Edward Snowden in the US regarding the NSA & UK govt)
    It is no wonder that this group with 3 personallyacademicallyIslamically suspect ,and failed 
    personalities at the helm of it has been thoroughly shunned by the Muslim community (at least from
    those not slavish  and degraded enough to need a job from them anyway).  With ZERO grass roots
    support (something admitted by its Director here):

        A Quilliam Foundation spokesman said it ran a political workshop and did not need 
        grassroots in the community because it was an ideological movement...We are not a 
        ‘representative’ organisation nor are we a local grassroots movement. We are a think-tank 
        which critiques and analyses the Islamist ideology.

    its no wonder they rely wholly on British govt support (even if they end up pocketing and stealing 
    some of it ).  When that wasn't enough to pay the bills, the Gaddafi regime in Libya (working through
    their intelligence asset Noman Benotman) helped defray some of the costs, as alleged (and not
    denied) here and here.  It also helps to explain why both co-founders of the Quilliam Foundation
    consider oil monarchies/dictatorships Islamicly legitimate forms of government:
 "But he agrees with me that the regimes in the Muslim world are legitimate and that just as the Ahl al-Sunnah persevered through the tyranny of Hajjaj bin Yusuf, we should counsel Muslim rulers, exercise sabr, be abundant in dua, and work for political change with and not against the hukkam"
          "Ed" Husain, Source: Comment on Blogpost 
"Islam, on the other hand, is ENTIRELY COMPATIBLE with not just democracies, but monarchies and dictatorships. Islam did not invent any of these, but can survive in all of them. This may come as a surprise to many “moderate” Muslims who claim that Islam is inherently democratic. However, again, I believe that such “moderates” make the same mistake as Islamists by imposing their own very modern political ideals on centuries-old religious scripture."

Majid Nawaz, Source: Leaving Religious Extremism
Given all of the above from publicly cited sources, when you were PUBLICLY questioned about  them you refused to given an answer.  What was and is your relationship with the neo-conservative backed Quilliam Foundation founders Ed (Mohammed Mahbub) Husain, Majid Nawaz, and Rashad Zaman Ali? Why is "Ed" Husain featured on your website as a 'success' story of your efforts:
He (Hamza Yusuf) has drawn criticism from both the extreme right in the West and Muslim extremists in the East. Ed Hussain has written that Hamza Yusuf’s teachings were 'instrumental' to his abandoning extremism. 

16.  This also ties in to a larger point about your activities overseas, specifically in regards to your TV program "Rihlah" or "Yallah ya Shabab" on MBC in the United Arab Emirates.  The questions are namely:
  • Who pays for this program?
  • How much were you compensated for lending legitimacy to the regime for putting this program on? 
  • Given the efforts of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain in suppressing dissent in the "Arab Spring", did that ever come up as a topic on any of your episodes? If not, why not? 
Here is one example that might help you understand why this is an issue in day-to-day life of people living over there.  Again, we are reminded of this quote by Desmond Tutu:

 17.  Along the same vein, when you held Rihla's and 'retreats' for your followers did you ever bother to raise a peep about people only a few miles away from you who were being tortured to death at the behest of the US Govt in dungeons in Morocco or by the Assad regime in Syria?  This, despite the fact, that the Moroccan regime has been well exposed and the Syrian one is currently poison gassing and killing its own people? Even if you couldn't or didn't seem to want to, these regimes in turn, certainly didn't have a problem in featuring you on their own state controlled television channels and newspapers. Moreover, you certainly had no problem studying and speaking alongside Syrian govt. mouthpiece, Sheikh Mohammad Said Ramadan al Bouti.

Furthermore, how is it that it came about for you  to speak at a conference in Dubai sharing a stage with and supporting the US backed Somali regime (and current CIA black site and drone targeting ground) especially after the overthrew of the previous government in Somalia by the CIA?

Do troublesome political issues ever come up when you are on holiday "studying" overseas?

Again, along the same vein, what was/is the relationship of your "sheikh" and teacher Abdullah bin Bayyah and the US National Security Council, you see we felt compelled to ask after having read all about his meeting here:

Bin Bayyah (2nd L) released this photo on his website, showing the June 13 meeting with Obama administration officials including Gayle Smith (2nd R) and Rashad Hussain (4th L)

Seriously Objectionable Public Statements Publicly Done in the Name of Islam & All Muslims

All the dubious and questionable political relationships above notwithstanding, it still begs the questions why you make seriously objectionable statements in the name of Islam & Muslims the world over.  We understand that in the celebrity "sheikh" mentality (see above) that there should be unquestioned blind obedience

18.  We simply ask who gave you the right to claim:
This issue is pretty irrelevant for Muslims as they were not the perpetrators of the Holocaust.  The critique of your supposed "evidence" was pretty effectively dismantled by brother Kaukab Siddiqui here.  Moreover their are well documented books (such as this one by Norman Finkelstein) about how the Holocaust has been used as an industry to enrich people (via reparations) claiming to have suffered from it.

None other than David Ben Gurion (founder of Israel) stated it best for Muslims here:
 "If I were an Arab Muslim leader, I would NEVER sign an agreement with Israel. It is normal; we have taken their country. It is true God promised it to us, but how could that interest them? Our God is not theirs. There has been Anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, the Holocaust, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They see but one thing: we have come and we have stolen their country. Why would they accept that?"
Source:  David Ben Gurion, founder of Israel,
             (Quoted by Nahum Goldmann in Le Paraddoxe Juif (The Jewish Paradox), pg 121).

Given all of this above, and given the fact that far far more Muslims from Africa were killed during the slave trade (with modern day African Americans far worse off because of it) or during the illegal invasion of Iraq, why don't you (in your next invitation to Washington by the political establishment) advocate that Blacks in America or Iraqis be given reparations by capitalists? That this is as credible as the Quran? That denial of this undermines democracy?

19.  Ambiguous statements and actions regarding homosexuality.

We understand that (pre-9/11) you made a statement regarding homosexuality but feel we need further clarification given how quickly you add, subtract, and claim to "retract" statements for political convenience. You see we felt a bit compelled to ask after the NewYorker magazine made some strong assertions about your desire for acceptance and mainstreaming of the Zaytuna Institute here:
"And there’s no shortage of American Muslim academics who could offer a gay-friendly perspective at Zaytuna—such as the gay Muslim scholar Scott Kugle, the author of “Homosexuality in Islam,” whose chapter about Yusuf in another book Yusuf recently called the best thing anyone’s ever written about him. (Whether he admits or not, it seems that Yusuf has already managed some evolution on the question of homosexuality; over a decade ago, Alternet quoted him as saying, “If one considers it acceptable in Islam, then he or she is not considered to be a Muslim by consensus of the scholars”—and it’s unlikely that he’d have praised Kugle if he still felt that way.) 
"If Yusuf refuses to cross his line, there’s no doubt that he’ll remain safely within the mainstream of current orthodox Muslim thought. But it will also mean that Zaytuna will remain marginal among American liberal-arts colleges. If Yusuf had wanted to create a school that’s a Muslim equivalent of Bob Jones University, he wouldn’t have any problem—there’s a long tradition of intolerant American religious colleges that Zaytuna could fit into. But few of them have the élite academic reputation Zaytuna aspires to. One notable exception is Wheaton College, a Christian Evangelical liberal-arts school in Illinois, which has repeatedly been ranked the least L.G.B.T.-friendly college in the United States by the Princeton Review, but which is also highly regarded for the quality of its undergraduate teaching. It’s clear, though, that its anti-gay reputation is a matter of concern to Wheaton. In February, in response to activism by gay students, the school endorsed an L.G.B.T. support group as an official campus organization for the first time. “We want Wheaton College to be a community where people can wrestle with these issues,” its provost said. 
It’s inevitable that Yusuf, and Zaytuna, will have to argue over the lines he’s drawn. And that’s a good thing—good for Zaytuna, good for America, and good for Islam. But it will only go well if Zaytuna is willing, as Wheaton College has been, to be open to the debate. If that’s going to happen, then, as at Wheaton, the students will have to take the lead. As Korb points out, Yusuf himself once said in a lecture, “Sometimes standing for the truth means standing against the Muslims.” And when it comes to one of the most difficult questions in Islam and America today, Yusuf’s students may find that they have to stand against the best teachers they’ve found"

20.  All of which leads to our final question and one that holds the most relevance for us at iSiyasah.  You see the "Arab" Spring had the unintended effect of making both the tyrants of the Muslim World and the US Administration very very uncomfortable (despite you being in bed with both).  The US govt. is using all means to contain this revival such that their corporate and imperial interests are still secure and these disorganized rebellions don't grow into genuine revolutions, ripping apart 50-60 years of US policy of perpetrating power structures that were put in place there dating to post WWII.  This is part of the reason why the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates were allowed to come to power in Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt - they kept the same system from within but simply "Islamicized" from outside, not upsetting the status quo.

The biggest fear of these power structures and regimes is that they are replaced (via a revolution) by a new system entirely, one that doesn't rest on US foreign aid, military-to-military contacts, or IMF/World Bank funding.  Moreover, a system that was built on something other than US-style capitalism or discredited unIslamic ideas such as secularism, the separation of church/state, the marriage of corporation and state, or western-style democracy--would be a potential ideological rival for the US and its global empire.  Something the US already dealt with vis-a-vis Communism.  This was pretty eloquently stated by George Kennan here:
"We have about 50% of the world's wealth but only 6.3% of its population. In this situation we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world benefaction. We should cease to talk about such vague and unreal objectives as 'human rights', the 'raising of living standards' and 'democratization'.  The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better."

George Kennan, [Director of Policy Planning U.S.State Dept. 1948]
In order for that to be prevented, the US government is leaning heavily on it's spiritual and theological agents to prevent the "Arab" Spring from spreading and becoming an "Islamic" one.  Its why You and your associates are now going out of your way to make statements such as this:
3 related questions/comments on these points:

A.  We understand that, like a used car salesman or crooked politician, you have a self-confessed penchant for being ambiguous and playing games with words and that you have been called out on this before.  However, we here at iSiyasah believe in plain speaking i.e. mean what you say and say what you mean.

To that end, let us define some terms for you:

Ideology / Deen

The Oxford dictionary defines ideology as: “a system of ideas and ideals, especially one which forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy or a set of beliefs characteristic of a social group or individual.”

An ideology is a set of conscious and unconscious ideas that constitute one's goals, expectations, and actions. An ideology is a comprehensive vision, a way of looking at things (compare worldview) as in several philosophical tendencies (see political ideologies), or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to all members of this society (a "received consciousness" or product of socialization).

Ideologies are systems of abstract thought applied to public matters and thus make this concept central to politics. Implicitly every political or economic tendency entails an ideology whether or not it is propounded as an explicit system of thought.

The word itself originated from the French Revolution and was coined by a French philosopher, Antoine Destutt de Tracy in 1789 derived from the word ide’ologie which originally means “science of ideas” and has since been used in the context of propagating ideas that are underpinned by political, economic, or social constructs with a view to propose the aims, functions and nature of these ideas to be practically instigated into the political and social life of all humans regardless of language, race or geographical factors related to human beings.

The role of Muslims in the advancement in the fields of sciences and humanities is directly related to the driving ideological force of Islam. It is this Islamic ideology or deen that deserves the credit and not the individual Muslims. Unlike Christianity, Judaism, and other religions, Islam is not merely a religion but rather a unique and comprehensive ideology that guides the life of the human being. The Islamic ideology, by the definition of an ideology, consists of both the idea and the method to implement the idea as a practical manifestation in reality.

The Islamic idea itself is composed of two essential components; the creed or doctrine (Aqeedah) and a system of rules and regulation founded on this doctrine (Shari'ah). The Islamic Aqeedah provides the correct and comprehensive answers to the fundamental questions regarding humanity' s existence and that of the universe. It addresses the issue of the human being's purpose in life, and links it with what proceeds life and what will come after it, thereby providing the basis for the Islamic system to properly organize human affairs.

The Islamic Shari'ah provides a comprehensive law governing the affairs of human beings. It correctly establishes: the relationship between the human being and his Creator, the personal affairs of individuals, and the various relationships (social, political, , economic, and international) that exist in society.

The Islamic methodology provides the means to apply the idea (the creed and systems) to practice.
Unlike Secularism, Capitalism, and Communism; Islam is built upon the correct worldview that is compatible with the human being. Islam does not ignore human beings' instincts or desires, but organizes them in the proper context, including the desire to acquire knowledge. The implementation of the Islamic system is neither confined to time or place nor dependent upon science and technology, and must address our instincts, needs and natural desires.

State / Dawlah

The Oxford English Dictionary defines "state" as
  • a nation or territory considered as an organized political community under one government: Germany, Italy, and other European states
  • an organized political community or area forming part of a federal republic:the German state of Bavaria
  • the civil government of a country:services provided by the state
The word itself comes from the 13th Century: Old French estat, from Latin status a standing, from stāre to stand

In Arabic, the word Al Dawlah means linguistically the “Ghalaba”, i.e. the supremacy, it is also a term used to indicate the change of time; it is also said: The days have alternated or rotated, i.e. they have changed; or Allah (swt) alternates it between people etc. States change and vary according to the change of concepts, the change of times and the change of peoples. The State is a word of terminology which refers to an authority that commands and prohibits a group of people who live in a certain piece of land. However, the definition of the state differs due to the difference of viewpoints and nations towards its reality.

The westerners for instance, despite the different viewpoints they hold towards the reality of the state and towards the type of rule within the state, whether this were religious, as was the case in medieval times, dictatorial, or democratic, all agree that the state is reflected in the land, its peoples and its rulers, and that these three represent the cornerstones of the state. To them, the state is established over a specific peace of land, in which a specific group of people live permanently, and over whom a ruling authority presides.
  • Matching entries from translational dictionary for dawlah
    country n(political geographic area)دولة

    The leaders of this country work very hard.
    يعمل قادة هذه الدولة باجتهاد شديد.
    power n(nation)دولة
    France was once a great power, and remains highly influential in world affairs.
    state n(country)دولة
    In 1948, a Jewish state was founded.
    في عام 1948م ، أسست دولة يهودية.
    nation n(political: state)دولة
    Spain n(country)

Given the definitions and uses above, can you please tell us how Islam does/does not fit into these definitions? If not then what was the society that Muhammad (SaW) established in Medina? Was Salahuddin a warlord or the head of a militia when he expelled the Crusaders from Jerusalem?

B.  In your lecture on why you state an Islamic state is a "fantasy", you state this:

"If Muslims from the 8th century would be dropped in Norway they would think it was the Caliphate of Umar ibn Abdul Aziz"

FYI: Here is what actually goes on in Norway and Scandinavian countries and is considered "legal" there today:

Animal Brothels legal in Norway:
"Laws in both Denmark and Norway are fairly open when it comes to a person’s "legal right" to engage in sexual activity with an animal. The law states that doing so is perfectly legal, so long as the animal involved does not suffer. According to the Danish newspaper 24timer, this interesting gap in the law has led to a flourishing business in which people pay in order to have sex with animals." 
Q: Would the Caliphate of Umar ibn Abdul Aziz recognize such practices as from Islam? Is this something that you and your followers also consider to be Islamic?

C.  Lastly, refutations of your 2 statements above are posted here and here, and ironically enough by you, yourself (pre-9/11) here (apparently part of what you "retracted" after your invitation to meet with Bush post 9/11).  You are free to try to clarify and respond if you choose.

Closing Message

We have deliberately stayed away from theological, ibadat, or aqueedah related actions and utterances of "Sheikh" Hamza Yusuf Hanson primarily for 3 reasons:
  1. We didn't feel it was consistent with the Mission of our Blog here at iSiyasah nor are efforts.
  2. We feel that these issues are deliberately subsumed in the dichotomy and polemic of "Sufi vs. Salafi" debates so as to avoid discussing or holding "Sheikh" Hamza Yusuf Hanson accountable for what he actually says/does.
  3. Others far more knowledgeable than us can take these efforts and work in that area.  Indeed a cursory search online would show that many already have.
Much of what is written above will make those who are emotionally (and in some unhealthy cases, sexually) attached to "Sheikh" Hamza Yusuf Hanson feel angry, upset, hysterical, and possibly even unhinged.  First, if you claim that this post is somehow ghiba or backbiting, please read here for a review of the necessity of amr bil maruf wa nahy anil munkar (Enjoining the Good & Forbidding the Evil) and of how this is the covenant Muslims make with Allah (SwT) in Islam (Indeed the failure to do this amongst themselves and their rabbis is why Jews were condemned for breaking their covenant with God).  Secondly, we simply ask that you go through the evidences collected (most are of words, actions, and statements of Mr. Hanson himself), then (here is the critical part) GO BACK and ASK HIM to ANSWER FOR THEM.  You see this is the key part, like a drug addict you will not overcome your inferiority complex and need for affirmation from a Caucasian American male convert for weaknesses in your own faith, unless you first admit that you have a problem and start confronting the symptoms and causes that made you reach for "Sheikh" Hamza Hanson as a solution in the first place.

Admittedly there is a lot of political turmoil in the Muslim world and heavy discrimination against Islam and Muslims in the West, but this is no excuse for treasonous grandstanding, hyperbole, or rhetoric uttered by an unelected person in the name of our collective faith.  This quote best explains a subtle but unappreciated observation of this problem:

"I came to the conclusion many years ago that Arafat, Hussein, Fahd, Mubarak and other leaders are not totally responsible for our problems. The majority of sheikhs, imams and other Muslim 'leaders' are actually the reason for Arab and Muslim problems."
--Ali Baghdadi
Publisher, Arab Journal (5/27/98)

Like Arab dictators overseas, Western "sheikhs" and American celebrity "Imams" should be held accountable for their deeds, words, and actions done in the name of all Muslims and Islam.  If we are to break this cycle of corruption, fitnah, and political exploitation, the culture of  accountability begins with You.

Please do forward to all who may take benefit from reading this.

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