// ICNA Shariah Council responds to al-Awlaki (excellent article)
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se7en
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« on: Mar 20, 2010 02:46 PM »


as salaamu alaykum,

I found this piece very well written, especially as someone who has listened to countless CDs of Anwar al-Awlaki's over the years and have personally felt troubled and a sense of disappointment by his progression to such extreme positions.  may Allah grant us clarity and steadfastness on the truth, ameen.

--7.


from http://www.icna.org/2010/03/icnas-shariah-council-responds-to-anwar-al-awlaki/

Imam Omar Ahmad Suleiman, member of ICNA’s Shariah Council appeals to the Muslim youth in response to Anwar Al Awlaki’s audio message:

 
“In the name of Allah, the most Compassionate, the most Merciful.
 
May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His final messenger Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).

First and foremost, everything that is written is in assumption that the messages from Imam Anwar that have recently surfaced are indeed from him and no one else.
 
As American Muslims, many of us used to wonder at how Allah has blessed Imam Anwar with such a degree of eloquence, and the gift of storytelling if you will, that he could move you to tears within 5 minutes of his lecturing. The news that he was detained a few years ago in Yemen brought many of us into a state of shock and depression. We invoked Allah (SWT) to free our beloved Imam nightly until we heard the wonderful news that he had been freed on December 12, 2007. I remember all the text messages, emails, and blog posts with ecstatic Muslims around the country praising Allah for his release.

Then something happened. Slowly, we began to see the post-prison Anwar Al Awlaki express strange radical views. Lectures that were as fiery as ever were being published on various websites that called on Muslims to join the “global jihad.” Out of our blind love for him, most American Muslims simply dismissed his new lectures and writings as tainted by his frustration with what had happened to him in prison. As a community, we were willing to forgive him for his new bitter and pessimistic attitude towards the world because of the ordeal he had faced.
 
On November 7, 2009, 2 days after the Fort Hood shooting, the love affair between conscience American Muslims and Imam Anwar suffered a huge blow. Although Imam Al Awlaki was sounding increasingly radical in his lectures, he never once before condoned terrorism. In fact, he very clearly denounced the attacks of 9/11 in various interviews and sermons both within public and private circles. This time was different. He not only condoned the Fort Hood shootings but even went so far to say that Muslim organizations and scholars in the United States were guilty of cowardice, treason, and hypocrisy for condemning the shootings. As American Muslims who loved the old Anwar Al Awlaki so much, most of us immediately declared that these words were probably forged in his name to create dissension amongst the community. Then as the interviews started to come out, we couldn’t believe what was happening. Some of us probably questioned our own faith and principles because of our attachment to Imam Anwar. We watched Imam Johari of Dar Al Hijra, where Imam Anwar once delivered a powerful condemnation of 9/11, as he had to stand and denounce one of his former closest friends and a man who captured our hearts for so many years.
 
Then came Imam Anwar’s praise of the failed Christmas day terrorist plot of Umar Farouk AbdulMuttalib. This left us even more baffled since this was an attack intended to kill 278 innocent airline passengers, many of whom were Muslims. How could an Imam who once seemed so level-headed now be a proponent of such a clear transgression of Islamic law?
 
Our search for answers and excuses for Anwar Al Awlaki have run out. Today we are hearing the words of hate and violence in the voice of the very same Imam which used to bring us so much good through the stories of our prophets and the remembrance of the hereafter. His call today for us as American Muslims to take up arms against our own country serves no other purpose but to wreak havoc and destruction. It is the same call of the kharijites that has been repeated so many times that feasts on the frustration and uncontrolled emotions of vulnerable youth that do not have the foundation or knowledge to recognize its illegitimacy.

In the next few days, I sincerely hope that American Muslim scholars will repudiate this call of hate using the injunctions of the Quran and the authentic Sunnah of our beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). In the long run however, as Muslim communities and organizations we must seek to offer avenues of positive energy, in accordance with the Quran and Sunnah, for our zealous youth. We also should not shy away from repudiating calls of violence and hate that recklessly ignore the manhaj (methodology) of our pious predecessors. It is only through the dissemination of authentic knowledge of our religion that such calls can be drowned.

To our dear young brothers and sisters who grew up listening to the lectures of Imam Anwar and are overcome by emotion, I can only advise you with the words of the late Imam Al Ghazali (ra): “Islam is a commitment to principles, not people.” Think about the repercussions of this call to the religion of Allah. Will yielding to this pessimistic view of world destruction bring about any good to the ummah? Will it really end the occupation of Palestine or the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Or will it simply make matters worse than they already are. Allah desires from you that you bring about a positive change in your society, not chaos and destruction that will only further jeopardize an already delicate situation.

As for the Imam Anwar of today who spreads messages filled with hate and violence, perhaps no one could refute you more effectively than the Imam Anwar that was so beloved to our community who once said in a sermon back in October, 2001: “We as Muslims… we want to bring an end to terrorism more than anyone else. Our position needs to be reiterated and needs to be very clear. The fact the US has administered the death and homicide of over 1 million civilians in Iraq, the fact that the US is supporting the deaths and killing of thousands of Palestinians, does not justify the killing of 1 US civilian in New York City or Washington DC.”

I sincerely ask Allah to guide Imam Anwar back to the path of moderation, and enlighten him to renounce this new methodology which stands contrary to the Quran and Sunnah. May Allah protect our community and allow us to be amongst those who call to guidance and are guided, and not amongst those who call to misguidance and are astray. Ameen.”

 
Imam Omar Ahmad Suleiman, New Orleans, LA
Member of ICNA’s Shariah Council

 
ICNA Scholar’s Committee was renamed as Shariah Council in 2009. Among it’s various responsibilities, the council plays a key role in advising the organization on matters of religion.
lucid
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« Reply #1 on: Mar 20, 2010 05:29 PM »

this really makes me upset.  

his CDs used to be massively expensive (50 quid or so for a pack of CDs on the prophet's life, etc...).  many people bought his CDs because we thought it would be cool to have seerah you could listen to.

i listened to one set of CDs and I found him somewhat unpleasant then because of "jew this, jew that" as I vaguely recall and what seemed like pretty hardlined opinions even then.

now that he has gone all super-extreme on us.  we all have have to dump our 50 quid CD collections and erase all links that we even bought stuff like that.
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« Reply #2 on: Mar 20, 2010 11:14 PM »

I don't particularly agree with the article... and frankly am very confused by all of this.

I've listened to many of his audio sets, and as a result I feel like I know him, I admire him, and I look up to him. The author of this article, however, I don't know at all - so my opinion is definitely biased.

I don't want CNN to assassinate his character, to defame him to a level where we exclude him from a brotherhood which is meant to be the least exclusive (and least excluding) of all: Islam. 

Why do we as Muslims quickly buy into the soundbytes that the media feed us, and drop all support of a man who helped support us, as a community and as a generation? How can we even suggest that our excuses for him have "run out"??  Isn't that also contrary to the principles we're holding high..

Yes I pray that we all remain within the folds of moderation - and I agree that terrorism is a crime... but I'm saddened that we have quickly abandoned one of the greatest contemporary minds and voices of our Ummah.  And on that note brother lucid, don't throw away his CDs - they really are inspiring...

I'm still confused...
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« Reply #3 on: Mar 20, 2010 11:17 PM »

salam


Send them to me, I'll pay P&P



Wassalaam

And when My servants question thee concerning Me, then surely I am nigh. I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he crieth unto Me. So let them hear My call and let them trust in Me, in order that they may be led aright. Surah 2  Verse 186
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WWW
« Reply #4 on: Mar 21, 2010 12:23 AM »

ws,

Quote
I've listened to many of his audio sets, and as a result I feel like I know him, I admire him, and I look up to him. The author of this article, however, I don't know at all - so my opinion is definitely biased.

The stuff on his published and edited CDs are nothing compared to what he has said at live regular talks in various places and in recent writings. Really they are like worlds apart. You'll be shocked, I was. Look for his live lectures from 2004 on (which are probably only available via torrent but be ready to be tracked immediately) or if you can get ahold of his recent blog articles that have now been removed. Also read that article examining his methodology posted in the Dear terrorist, thread. We can get inspiration and Iman from many ppl (including non-Muslims). It doesn't mean the person is perfect or without mistakes. Also people might be a certain way/thought at one time in their lives and change later on. That seems like what happened with Awlaki and it's even happened in other ways with others like Hamza Yusuf becoming more moderate. Ppl change.

Quote
Why do we as Muslims quickly buy into the soundbytes that the media feed us, and drop all support of a man who helped support us, as a community and as a generation? How can we even suggest that our excuses for him have "run out"??  Isn't that also contrary to the principles we're holding high..

True that western media is pretty quick to draw and quarter any Muslim, but in this case it is the Muslim ulema that are saying the same things as well. Awlaki was never known as a scholar. He was always known as a Dai'y (never as a 'contemporary mind of the ummah') and even years before many people said he was saying strange things. And even from 2 years ago people stopped buying/owning his Cds. So it's not CNN. If someone, anyone, scholar or not, says things that are wrong, other scholars have a right to point it out. And we should heed their concerns. 'Cuz we got no pope Smiley It's all self-regulated u know what I mean... Scholars point out the mistakes with other scholars/ppl who are saying things about Islam.
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« Reply #5 on: Mar 21, 2010 06:37 AM »

Asalaamu Alaikum bro

I was fortunate enough to hear him speak in London once post 9/11 and that memory compared to what has recently been attributed to him could not indeed be more worlds apart.

I remember reading the blog that came out after the Fort Hood attack and wondering if this could really be the same person?

When all is said and done, it is very hard in this day and age to know who said exactly what about whom and when.


In such a scenario, having a firm commitment to principles and not people (as the original article states) can be the only guide.

Say: "O ye my servants who believe! Fear your Lord, good is (the reward) for those who do good in this world. Spacious is God's earth! those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward without measure!" [39:10]
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« Reply #6 on: Mar 21, 2010 07:18 AM »

as salaamu alaykum,

Honestly speaking I would say you would see a move towards this more hard-lined approach even in some of his later CDs.  I'm speaking specifically about the later parts of his Seerah series.  You can see a difference from the earlier recordings, and he said a number of things that made me uncomfortable (though obviously not to the extent of his present teachings).

JustOne I can understand your feelings, and if these things were just coming out of CNN or a similar media outlet I would share your skepticism, but it is coming from a number of different sources including his own blog (before it was taken down), al-Jazeera, etc.  He has such a large following I feel that he could clarify his stance if need be.  I also know someone who was a long time member of his community and grew up with him up until their MSA years, and was still in contact with him before he left the U.S., and before he left he told them basically that he did not feel that the U.S. was a good place for Muslims to live anymore.  I know it's a leap to go from that statement to the ones presently being attributed to him, but at the same time I think you can sense a progression taking place here that is not far-fetched.

I have no desire to falsely accuse anyone of anything, especially someone who has obviously done good for our community in the past as an imam and through his recordings, etc, however there is a point where I feel like I can no longer be so quick to defend someone.  His words and his present stance will do nothing but cause havoc, confuse young Muslims who still remember and love the old Imam Anwar, and perhaps cause them to do something dangerous and foolish and harm innocent people, and raise the suspicions and fear of the general American people which will make life for all of us more difficult.
  
Someone I know made a very cogent point, they said now we have to endure those naked body scanners at airports because of the actions of that Nigerian kid, what will be next?  Can you imagine what will happen if some sister takes the more recent quotes of Imam Anwar to heart and decides to put something under her abaya or hijab?  Can you imagine what the TSA would do?  May Allah protect us.  

I really think that ICNA did the right thing in publishing this article and taking a firm stance. (and also capturing and addressing that emotional upheaval and confusion many Muslims may be in at the latest news about Imam Anwar)  Like the article said we feel attachment to the old Imam Anwar for teaching us about Islam, but in the end our commitment is to Islam, the principles of our deen and not to individuals.  There's a statement you will read in many books of Shari'ah when a scholar disagrees with another, they will say "We love this shaykh but we make this correction because we love the truth more."  

Allahu a'lam.

wsalaam,
7
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« Reply #7 on: Mar 21, 2010 11:36 AM »

Thanks for the responses - very helpful...

I do think the problem stems from all the petty divisions amongst the Muslims... there is no real perspective anymore... and all these little factions have a great possibility of having wacko leaders.
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« Reply #8 on: Mar 21, 2010 08:47 PM »

AoA,

I have not really followed this individual's ideas etc. but the debate leads me to reaffirm a something I have come ot believe over time i.e. we follow the idea and not the individual - it seems the message is about particular actions e.g. the qur'an talks of people to be followed only in connection with their acts i.e. "believing men and believing women" where the characteristics of such people are defined. In other words if you follow an individual, you are bound to be disappointed since he, by definition, is a human and thus subject to faults. However, we follow those of his actions which are good and refrain from supporting those that are dubious or suspect. It all follows from the belief that we have to justify our actions to an entity which knows not only what and how we did those actions but also why. It we keep this principle in mind then the answer we get will always be right - we we follow it or not is another matter. There can be no justification for agreeing with any uncivilized actions or even suggestions of such a nature...

 
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