In the past few years, as I have dipped my toes into the waters of the Muslim internet, I’ve noticed a few strange things, things I didn’t necessarily expect.
The first is that it’s 2017 and people are now sharing as memes the same “Alhamdulillah, say ameen” manipulated photos that were shared in Islamic newspapers, magazines, etc in the day, and in e-mail chains in the 90s and early 2000s.
The second is that we are well, well past Sep 11, well into the age of Al Q, Daesh, etc. and people are still hook, line and sinker for the exact school of thought that gave us these human travesties in the first place. We have more translators than ever, more “Islamic institutes” and “collectives” and all of that than we ever had, and people are still on some basic level. “Is it haram to clip your fingernails?” I still see people new to the deen – not just converts – being barraged with books and websites that contain too many vowels (Islaam, Bookhaaree, etc).
The third is that we can supposedly grow as a community, but our number one core concern is always going to be what women are wearing. We’re always saying “Hijab isn’t the sixth pillar! Let’s get over it!” But we don’t. We never will.
But by far the most surprising thing I’ve found is that the Grouchy Old Men of the Muslims – UK and America at any rate – are the Gen Xers, including those who call themselves Sufis. Unsurprisingly, they’re almost all men. And boy, are they pissed.
What are they pissed about? I’m not sure. I mean, most of you are still in your thirties and forties – it’s too early to be this angry. But they are.
They’re angry about LGBT people, about liberals, about voices for racial justice, about ex-Muslims and new atheists, about Bernie and Hillary, and women. They’re really angry about women. How reductive.
For some reason, they don’t seem as mad about IS-S, or the state of the Muslim world, but like whatever. But they do spend a lot – and I mean a LOT – of time on gay people and women. I mean, we all know what they say about right wing Christians and republicans who spend a lot of time talking about gay people… I wonder if that same applies to Muslim dudes who just go on and on about gay people.
They hate the woman behind Muslim Girl.com. I mean, yeah, she makes it easy, but they really hate her. They hate Mona Haydar. I mean, again, there’s a lot there, but they hate her because of that video she made calling out all their ikhwanbros who have a wife in every town. Of course, they hate Linda S, even though they would suffer a psychic breakdown if they received one fraction of the vitriol and hate she gets on a daily basis. They still hate Amina Wadud. They hate sisters who don’t wear a scarf. They hate sisters who wear a scarf, but who wear western clothes and makeup. They hate sisters who want equal access to the masjid. They hate sisters who are talking about their less than idea experiences in the ummah.
They hate sisters who want to see more female representation at ISNA or on panels at events. This is a particularly sore spot for some of them. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because they’re not getting invited to speak, and they think that they have more of a right to be on panels than someone with a uterus.
These bros spend a lot of time on social media. I mean, these are the same guys who mock women and millennial aged Muslims and liberals and other outcast Muslims AND non-Muslim Westerners for being on the internet/ their phones too much but wow. These guys must have all their Twitter alerts set up because they are always on Facebook or Twitter making comments and posting contentions I am sure sound extremely witty, edgy, and devastating in their minds.
These qwerty shaykhs claim to be the defenders of the deen, of the great heritage of the deen, that lost golden age, the era where the scholars were the celebrities.
I was going to include more screenshots of the pathetic circle jerk of their posts, comments, and tweets, but the reality is that whatever these guys are putting out there, it’s draining. You know how people talk about negative and positive energy? Well, these guys are almost all negative energy. I tried to read one guy’s new blog, and couldn’t get past the first page. Everything is terrible, everyone but me (and my devoted readers) is stupid / a bad Muslim. I can’t do that to you, my one reader.
Naturally, women are their favorite targets. Whereas back in the day, the Brotherhood and TJ preachers focused a lot on women and how women should dress and stay in their homes because they are the best thing everrrrrr, these guys are full of vitriol and hate – don’t call it misogyny! – for women. Women don’t exist in their world except as problematic SJWs or some absent idea who’s so high on the pedestal she can’t be seen nor heard.
Social media has seen a change for Muslims here. Muslim women are speaking up because social media lacks the structure and mechanics to deny women’s speech the way masajid and “Ibn Fulan Institute” and ISNA do. Whereas before, the only time we heard from women was literally never, now women are tweeting at shaykhs, commenting on their Facebook pages, making YouTube videos about their ideas and experiences in the worlIn a way, I guess it makes sense that the Gen X bros are the ones who are angriest about this. After all, they came of age / converted to Islam in a time where Khaliji petro dollars ensured that a great many mosques and conferences and books emphasized women’s need to be covered and silence. Women were praying off in some dark basement, while these men were ushered into the carpeted room with the chandeliers, and told that Islam’s greatest honor for women is that they are covered up and beloved as mothers, unlike the decadent West.
These men came of age in a time where imams, shaykhs, da’iyees, munshideen, and other assorted “men of knowledge” engaged in secret marriages, sexual abuse, predatory behavior, zina, secret polygamy and misyar and women had no recourse. They couldn’t tell their parents let alone the world. Now, the very men who laid the foundations of their identities as Muslim men are threatened with unveiling. Imagine if the man you admired, who set forth the opinions that shaped your world view, political opinions, social mores and religious practices is exposed as someone who molested female students or sent shirtless selfies to random women or engaged in secret polygamy all over the US. Most people would be disillusioned with that man, but the peculiar pathology of Muslims, particularly the edgelords of Islam, is that they can’t afford that disillusionment. After all, just because one calls oneself a skeptic doesn’t mean that one isn’t holding on for dear life to all manner of illusions and constructs. If you admit to yourself that yes, Shaykh So and So contracted a secret marriage to a female student, had his way with her, and then divorced her, and that he’s done this sort of thing for years – what else might come crashing down in your psyche?
Gen X bros were poised to fulfill the wet dreams of all the uncles at the masjid. They were raised here, speaking English, and were at the perfect age to learn how to become imams at a time when offers to “study abroad” were flowing all over. They went to jumu’ah, and Eid salah and everything else in the atmosphere that they were the chosen leaders of the next generation. Their female peers would be waiting at home for them to come off stage, their babies in arms, a clean house and table laden with food behind them.
And now here comes social media, which doesn’t require an ijaza to use and here come all these women, especially those pesky millennials, voicing opinions and dissatisfaction. As if women their own age and older – like Amina Wadud, perennially despised by the brostablishment – weren’t enough, millennial Muslims come to the conversation with ideas about citizenship and civil rights that were barely formed when Gen X was in the flower of their youth. Dudes like the ones above attended high school and university in a time when gay marriage wasn’t even a real thought, let alone the law of the land. Police brutality was a headline grabbing anomaly for many white people and in immigrant Muslim communities, not something African American and other people of color faced daily. They – we – came of age during a massive conservative backlash against the second wave of feminism. They don’t know or care of a time when a woman couldn’t get a credit card or bank account in her own name, or when society, including the police, believed that a man had a right to beat the crap out of a woman. And then Islam came along for them and reinforced all of that, whether it was Salafism or “traditional” Islam. All they know is “feminism bad” and Rush Limbaugh’s only pathetic contribution to American culture, “feminazis.
And now here come these women and Black people talking about racism within the Muslim community, about oppression of women in the Muslim community, about the fact that people who are gay and believe in Islam or identify with it exist. Identity is, of course, their favorite word to throw at young Muslims, women and Muslim activists. Never mind that they are playing hard at their own identity game. After all, do they not fill their “About Me” with information about all their degrees and ijazas? Do they not livestream their observations and post their brain farts — er, contentions? Do they not. use these things as the basis for an authority they claim for themselves and their words? The fact that several of these social media warriors (SMWs) have spent time in the clinker for terror and violence related charges is, you know, unspoken.
And that’s at the heart of the problems in the Muslim community, not just here, but anywhere. Muslims say they are against terror, and then they get mad when you ask them to clarify it or explain why IS-S has all these scriptures they use to justify themselves. But they embrace men who have been involved in shady, shady shit. I guarantee you that when John W Lindh is released from prison, these guys and a whole lot of other people in the Muslim community will be waiting with open arms to embrace Ustadh/Shaykh Abu Sulayman.
These dillholes get caught engaging in violence or supporting terrorism or encouraging it or helping people go abroad to fight, thus contributing to stereotypes used to justify violence and hatred against Muslim Americans, and then, when they’re released, they become professional “extremism experts,” or they’re welcomed back into the jama’a while railing on social media against liberals, gays, women and ex-Muslims, none of whom have been jailed for terrorism, none of whom have been in trouble for promoting extremism. Say what you will about progressive Muslims – that they’re theologically weak, that they lack real charisma or organizing power, that they’re unable to articulate coherent challenges to mainstream Sunni Islam – but not a single one of them has ever been in trouble for the same stuff some of these SMWs have been in trouble for. And yet, naturally, they lack the status and respect that is accorded to these dudes.
They get caught sending shirtless selfies, or having secret polygynous marriages, or having had 17 divorces because they make misyar everywhere they go. There are some of them who have not shown shame about hitting their wife in front of students. And the QWERTY brostablishment is in a panic, because all those people now have Twitter and Facebook and blogs and YouTube. They’ve spent 20 years lecturing us about ikhlas, akhlaq and adab. They’re drilled it into our heads for 20+ years that we can’t take knowledge from people without beards, from women who don’t wear abaya (if they are okay with women at all), from divorced men, from people who have a pet dog, from people who issue statements of solidarity with the LGBT community after a Muslim massacres innocent people in a nightclub, and from any other number of people who don’t fit an idealized, 12th century AH lifestyle. If a person can’t have akhlaq with a female student, with a wife or wives, with a member of his congregation, then how can you take knowlege from such a person? Naturally, we are now beginning to hear that we should take from these abusive men “the knowledge that benefits” and leave that which doesn’t. Suddenly, taking knowledge from morally corrupt people isn’t a problem, as long as they have a beard, and use the correct ḑiācriticāl marks. What’s important now isn’t tawhid and character, but it’s that this deen – at least the one true correct particular sunni version of it is – is founded on male leadership. And if you can’t accept that, if you think that maybe Professional Muslim Men have some sort of financial self-interest at heart, well, maybe this deen isn’t for you. How quick people who cried over being called kafirs over mawlid are quick to show women (and others) the exit door.
According to their own understanding of the deen, of course, they’re out of line. But as with any group of people, they believe that their politics outweigh or excuse their public short comings. Now mind you, neither faith, nor charity, nor politics excuse or outweigh the public missteps of Amina Wadud, Amani Khatatbeh, Mona Haydar, Mona Tahawi, Linda Sarsour or any other Muslim woman. But that’s different.
سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ: إِنَّكَ إِذَا اتَّبَعْتَ الرِّيبَةَ فِي النَّاسِ أَفْسَدْتَهُمْ فَإِنِّي لاَ أَتَّبِعُ الرِّيبَةَ فِيهِمْ فَأُفْسِدَهُمْ.
Mu’awiya said, “I heard some words from the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, by which Allah helped me.” Jubayr ibn Nufayr said, “I heard him say that he heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, “If you openly show your suspicions of people, you will corrupt them.’ Therefore I do not show my suspicions of people openly so that I will not corrupt them.”
Apparently, this hadith only applies if the people you have suspicions about are guys who on their offtime from their local Quran In$titute send shirtless selfies to female students. Or at least, in Qwerty Shaykh land, that’s how it’s to be applied. I’m sure there’s some ahkam about this in an obscure book from 457 AH.
Above all, these men, regardless of what their intentions may be, strive to make the deen rough for people, especially for women, in direct contradiction to the commands of the prophet. They imagine that none of the common people can see that just moments after a Facebook post admonishing us about having smart phones turned on after maghrib, they have posted some snarky comment about an elderly Muslim sister, or posted their 58th clever tweet just today about gay people.
حَدَّثَنَا الْغُدَانِيُّ أَحْمَدُ بْنُ عُبَيْدِ اللهِ، قَالَ: حَدَّثَنَا كَثِيرُ بْنُ أَبِي كَثِيرٍ، قَالَ: حَدَّثَنَا ثَابِتٌ، عَنْ أَنَسٍ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ: لاَ يَكُونُ الْخُرْقُ فِي شَيْءٍ إِلاَّ شَانَهُ، وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ رَفِيقٌ يُحِبُّ الرِّفْقَ.
Anas reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “If there is roughness in anything it is bound to disgrace it. Allah is compassionate and loves compassion.”
قَالَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم: يَسِّرُوا وَلاَ تُعَسِّرُوا، وَسَكِّنُوا ولا تُنَفِّرُوا
Anas ibn Malik reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Make things easy and do not make things difficult. Calm people and do not arouse their aversion.”
They imagine that the warnings of the Quran and Sunnah are for women – women who don’t have a real choice about their clothes – but never imagine that the warnings are meant for the ones who spend hours online making fun of Muslims who are different than they are, who lament the state of the Muslim community, and place the blame solely at the feet of Muslim women.
حَدَّثَنَا إِسْمَاعِيلُ قَالَ: حَدَّثَنِي مَالِكٌ، عَنْ سُهَيْلِ بْنِ أَبِي صَالِحٍ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ: إِذَا سَمِعْتَ الرَّجُلَ يَقُولُ: هَلَكَ النَّاسُ، فَهُوَ أَهْلَكُهُمْ.
Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “When you hear a man saying, ‘People are destroyed,’ then he has destroyed them.”
Not too long ago, I came across a conversation where several of these learned brothers – I heard they have ijazas in ḍiācriṭicāl marks – called several prominent Muslim American women dajjals. Why? Because their forearms show, or they wear nail polish. They have take off the highwater pants and thobes, and they’ve trimmed down their beards, but O Muslims! Don’t for one second be fooled that they’re any different than the salafiyoon of the 1990s, who screamed about jihad, and who forced women to live in purdah and 5 year old girls to wear the niqab. They are the same as they were 20 years ago, only they wear suits and have master’s degrees now.
People are confused about who to follow and where to get their knowledge from. After all, it seems you can hardly turn around without some shaykh being accused of impropriety, or seeing screenshots of a not-so-vanilla da’iyee. Many of these brothers, who spend a great deal online as part of their job – which is to make money off of this deen through their institutes, foundations, collectives and so forth tell you that they should be trusted because they speak Arabic, or because they wrote for Muslim Issues.com or what have you. They tell you that you can continue to take knowledge from a corrupt man who had three secret wives, but that Amina Wadud is a dajjalah who should be reviled because she expresses thoughts outside of Sunni orthodoxy – regardless of her actual character. But the prophet has made it easy for you to ascertain who you might seek companionship and knowledge from, and it isn’t the Shaykh Doctor Edgelords of Sunni Islam. Ask yourself if his ability to pay his mortgage or rent depends upon you believing that you can’t make a connection with your Creator without him. Ask yourself if he needs you to believe you are ajam, and unable to understand the Quran that your Lord has told you is a message for ALL people so that he can pay his mobile bill. If the answer is that yes, in fact, he does need you so that he can do these things, then take it with caution – if at all.
حَدَّثَنَا إِبْرَاهِيمُ بْنُ مُوسَى قَالَ: أَخْبَرَنِي يَحْيَى بْنُ زَكَرِيَّا بْنِ أَبِي زَائِدَةَ، عَنْ زَكَرِيَّا، عَنْ أَبِي إِسْحَاقَ، عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ سَعْدِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ: سِبَابُ الْمُسْلِمِ فُسُوقٌ.
Sa’id ibn Malik reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Reviling a Muslim is deviant behaviour.”