Current Affairs

Sheikh Abdal-Hakim Murad falls victim to the hypocrisy of Liberal ‘tolerance’


On Thursday 2nd May 2013, the UK newspaper, the Daily Mail published an article attacking our brother, and esteemed scholar, Abdal-Hakim Murad for a recently available internet video expressing Islamic theological opinions on homosexuality given in a lecture that was 17 years ago.

Following on from this has been a myriad of calls from the LGBT students, and political pundits, such as Douglas Murray, for the dismissal of Sheikh Abdal-Hakim from his occupation teaching Islamic Studies at Cambridge University (a post he started 16 years ago). The irony is, this is the same Douglas Murray that said ‘The oxygen of free societies is freedom of speech’, of course, not when it comes to Muslims or Islam it would appear.

Unfortunately, due to this pressure, Sheikh Abdal-Hakim has since been forced to apologise for the manner in which he used to express his religious conscience. His apology we can only assume to understandably defend himself against further public stigma. But the reality of the Liberal intelligentsia’s protest, was not to the manner in which he expressed his views, as so much the views themselves, namely the Islamic view on same gender intercourse. The question is never asked as to why did he have to apologise for the expression of his opinion in a supposedly free society? Of course we know why, free society is not actually free, but merely comprised of a different set of taboos from other kinds of society. These taboos are not all necessarily enforced by legal action (although many Liberal states do use their law to effectively ban religious opinions being expressed in public), but rather they are enforced by a more powerful, and more tyrannical means of suppressing dissent – the Liberal use of social stigma.

Even the classical Liberal philosopher, John Stuart Mill, understood that censorship and oppression that occurs from society is worse than that which occurs due to government. Depriving someone of their livelihood, and attacking their reputation in society are just as effective in suppressing dissenting ideas, than locking people up:

“It is that [social] stigma which is really effective…In respect to all persons but those whose pecuniary circumstances make them independent of the good will of other people, opinion, on this subject, is as efficacious as law; men might as well be imprisoned, as excluded from the means of earning their bread…Our merely social intolerance kills no one, roots out no opinions, but induces men to disguise them, or to abstain from any active effort for their diffusion”

“Society can and does execute its own mandates: and if it issues…any mandates at all in things with it ought not to meddle, it practices a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself.”

John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

Liberalism, although it currently abhors torturing people within its own country (although not in other countries), has found a more ‘politically correct’ way to silence dissent. It threatens people with losing their jobs, and pressures halls, universities and community centres to not host illiberal views on their platforms. Websites can be taken down by servers due to pressure from governments. People who go out and shout illiberal opinions in the streets can be arrested for causing a disruption of the public peace. In fact, merely expressing an opinion on facebook is also punished! Although some may point to the tolerance of radical religious groups as proof of Liberalism’s tolerance – Liberalism still finds ways to punish them, for example the use of civil litigation in the case of Westboro Baptist Church which was sued for $6 million in punitive damages for ‘invasion of privacy’ (despite being approximately 300 m from the funeral, and allowed by Police to picket for only about 30 minutes before the funeral began) and $2 million for causing ’emotional distress’. It is interesting to note, that no one in the U.S. raises the issue of ’emotional distress’ caused when religious belief is insulted, and religious minorities vilified.

As we have seen, Liberalism has a variety of tools it can use to suppress dissent, and impose its opinions. Generally, in large urban societies it tolerates small and unimportant dissenters, but only because they are small and would not be able to access to mass media – effectively, Liberalism tolerates you until you are heard.

It was said that in the days of old, the function of law and social stigma is to protect public morals, but under modern ‘freedom’, morals are now a matter of private conscience. However, the function of the law and social stigma has not changed, merely the morals. Morality is still used to determine law and where social stigma should be applied, however Liberal morality is not neutral – it has a distinct and specific criteria to judge right from wrong – secular humanism. Under Secular Humanism, all morals are determined according to the criteria of individualism and materialism. As long as there is no material reason to prevent an action, all actions emanating from the individual are not immoral. Therefore, by default, all religious morals contravening what Secular Humanism has declared as ‘good’, are judged as ‘bad’ morals, and to merely utter them in public is viewed as undermining people’s ‘rights’, and is an unforgivable ‘sin’ in Liberal societies. And when it comes to rooting out these unforgivable sins, the Liberal media could give lynch mobs and the Spanish inquisition a few pointers about generating public outrage.

MDI has recently debated the issue of whether Liberalism (under the guise of ‘Human Rights’) could accomodate religious practices and conscience (see the debate here, and read the review). Although some may say that the cases of Liberal intolerance are exceptions to the rule, in the debate many cases were cited showing Liberal intolerance to religion – cases which were upheld by the European Court of Human Rights itself. The frequency of the exceptions have disproved the rule.

Sheikh Abdul-Hakim presciently spoke and wrote about Liberal intolerance against Islam in 2011, and now it seems he is to be its next victim.

12 replies »

  1. Salam,

    What many however are dismayed at in all of this is the degree of expediency and how one can be so ambidextrous.

    First of all, in evoking the hadith relayed in Mu’jam ul-Kabeer of at-Tabarani and noted in Jaami’ Sagheer of Suyuti, which is hasan, the Prophet said:
    “…wa undhur ma tuhibb li naas an ya’toohu ilayka fa af’alahu; wa ma takrahu an ya’toohu ilayka fadharahum minhu”
    [how you love for people to do to you, then do [unto them]; and what you dislike to be done unto you, warn them from it].

    Many cannot be help remember what occurred in the UK in 2007. Dr Winter participated in a documentary entitled ‘Undercover Mosque’ which sought to depict some Imams and preachers in the UK, many of whom did indeed say some ill-contrived things, as being part of an insidious “Wahhabi conspiracy”. Now some of those in the documentary did make remarks which reeked of intolerance, simplicity and religious ignorance. Yet in one important case in the documentary, particularly the portrayals of Birmingham’s Green Lane Mosque and one of its Imams, Abu Usaamah adh-Dhahabi from the US and now based in the UK, quotes were taken out of context [like when he was explaining views attributed to some of the noble Companions and Salaf]. There was also considerable editing of statements. To the extent that the West Midlands police and local inter-faith Christian groups condemned the portrayal of the Green Lane Mosque.

    Yet with this, Dr Winter at the time was brazen enough to feature in this tabloid style documentary and join in the debacle, making significant contributions. Ironically, in hindsight, Dr Winter referred to “…the Saudi radical agenda, to push out the more hospitable types of religious leadership and replace them with firebrands, trained and programmed in the major Saudi universities”.

    Some of the statements in that documentary were very much akin to what Dr Winter has only now apparently retracted from. Moreover, it is also noteworthy that Dr Winter only felt the need to retract when there was a tabloid media frenzy and the prospect of losing his Cambridge academic position due the gay student lobbyists at Cambridge University. Why do the tabloids dictate to what stances to take and when? Why has tabloid hysteria been given such a pedestal by Dr Winter? Or is it a case of there being issues with “the way things were said”? If this is the case, why on earth did Dr Winter in 2007 wade into condemn moreorless identical statements found among those whom Dr Winter refers to, in his archetypal ad nauseam quips, as adherents of the spectre of “Wahhabism”. Winter then tries to link this to terrorism, which inadvertently regards Salafiyyah (based on Dr Winter’s bizarre caricatures and surprisingly crude readings of the Salafi tradition) as a spring board to terrorism, militancy and paramilitary political violence.

    Generally, Dr Winter, before speaking, should be far more prudent in his critical discourse. Out of all of this then there does appear to be a level of double standards: When discussing other Muslims of the classical tradition with whom Dr Winter does not agree, such as Salafis, anything can be uttered without regard and in the most oversimplified and shallow of terms unbecoming of an academic; yet when talking about non-Muslims he must succumb immediately hereby rendering the tabloid press the authority to dictate. So effectively, non-Muslim homosexuals can be appeased, while Salafi Muslims not even regarded – this in itself reeks of the vice of pride.

    It is neither the tradition of the wayfarer to always have to pander to void tabloid opinion nor is it from the “traditional Islam” of the worshipping jurist to have to retract religious convictions at the behest and call of an ignorant people. It is all the more putrid to observe such a display of placation in ways which are not from the tradition of the four Imams, nearly all of whom stood by their convictions was true victors of tribulation.

    One also cannot help thinking that if a Salafi academic was in the same bother would the ever-poised Sufi academic be at the ready to throw in his few pence worth and berate him in the media for such “intolerance”.

    AbdulHaq al-Ashanti

  2. Can you please make this article more neutral given Timothy Winters (aka Abdal Hakum Murads) stance against the Salafis?

  3. The point of the article, is not to support a particular school of thought against another, or prefer one scholar against others. Rather, the purpose of the article is to highlight the intolerance of Liberalism against Islamic morality, and all Muslims who hold views deemed illiberal.

    • Brother, it kinda hurts to keep replying and focusing this issue. I suppose eventually every speaker/daee/intellect in this field has to come across it. There is no escape. In your article, you could always mention it as Abdul Hakim scholar in the school of Sufi Islam or something like that (what I meant by neutral)

      However, If that’s your spirit, then its understandable and I hope you show the same reverence towards other “schools of thought” be it Shi’ites, Druze, heck why not extend the same gratitude to Ahmedis as well if thats your definition of a school of thought and confuse the masses.

      Also you mention “His apology we can only assume to understandably defend himself against further public stigma”. Just to avoid public stigma, he is ready to retract on his views on gays, rather than stand his ground – and just for reference what I posted in the other article where some MP’s are being jumped upon for voting for gay marriage.

      Sorry if I may sound harsh/mocking. But my intent to be so. It is just my advice.

      • Brother, I suggest you leave it, the MDI are non-sectarian, and trying to defend the Muslims in the West from being persecuted. MDI do not get involved in sectarian conflicts.

        As for Druze, Ahmadiyyah, alawites and secularist muslims – they are clearly not sects or schools of Islam, but rather clearly have gone outside the fold of Islam by contradicting clear texts.

        Lastly, Abdul Hakim Murad does not take back his statements that homosexual sex is a sin – he merely apologised for the manner he expressed his opinions – read his statements clearly.

  4. @Selima (idk why the reply function is disabled, maybe a nesting limit)

    I have read his clarification on his website, which sounds much better than what he tells to the non-Muslim audience.

    In an email to the Standard, Mr Winter said: “I have explained to the students that the YouTube clip they understandably objected to was at least 15 years old, and represented (emphasis) views I no longer hold(emphasis).”

    and if that wasn’t clear enough

    ‘I am happy to confirm that I certainly do not see homosexuals as an “inexplicable aberration”. The other views expressed in it should not be taken as indicators of what I currently believe – we all have our youthful enthusiasms, and we all move on.’


    A Cambridge University spokesman said: ‘Mr Winter has apologised for these remarks, recorded nearly twenty years ago, and has emphasised that (emphasis)he no longer holds these views(emphasis).’
    —–end quote—-

    At the end of the day, your going to have an article by some non-Muslim point out the double standards/shaky beliefs of this person. Like they did to Zakir Naik when he changed his stance on apostasy / death penalty.

    Like I said, if MDI is truly non-sectarian, then they should take an absolutely neutral stance on it. This is not an example of a neutral stance. For an un-informed Muslim/non-Muslim, this Shiekh is going to be an influence and guess what, the author just made himself an accessory to someone who will keep repeating non-sense like “Hey we are the cool Muslims, all this trouble in the world, is cause of those Salafis/Wahabis, who arent even tradition Muslims”

    Thanks for apologists/cowards like Tim Winters, we have Hollywood and other western media now bashing Salafis as the cancerous strain of Islam.

    • @Mehran —
      “…which sounds much better than what he tells to the non-Muslim audience.”

      English may not be your native tongue because there is absolutely no incongruity between what Sh. AHM told his non-Muslim audience and what he told his Muslim audience. It doesn’t sound “better” – that is YOUR nafs attempting to stir up negative feelings against the honorable Shaykh, and may Allah protect us from this disease.

      I) Views he no longer holds. Yes, he probably no longer has simplistic views on the nature of homosexuals. How do you know what his views were and what his views are now? Stop pinning down meanings of your own. His views have learned to accept complexity and have much more wisdom on how to deal with the issue of Muslims who have these orientations than the views he may have held on this issue during his youth. Nevertheless, he has clearly stated that acting on homosexuality is a grave sin – he stated this without ambiguity in his relatively recent DeenIntensive clip (which a close friend of mine attended) and in his article in which he attempted to clarify his views. So, where is the issue?

      Perhaps, the nuances of language and failure to understand semantics is what you are unaware of. But that’s YOUR problem and YOUR failure in perception and understanding. Merriam Websters’s definition of ‘view:’
      – extent or range of vision : sight
      – the act of seeing or examining : inspection
      – a mode or manner of looking at or regarding something

      So, yes, his view on this issue has become more expansive in vision. He’s not saying that he sees the sin of the people of Lut any less grave or sinful. He explicitly condemns it.

      II) He apologises. Look. He is knowledgeable of the Sharia, and he calls Allah as his witness. He knows what he is doing. He is certainly more knowledgeable in the deen than either you or me. I doubt you have his credentials, and I doubt that you have studied at Al-Azhar. Therefore, he deserves husn al dhan, which is a commandment for us to observe. If it’s really bothering you, contact him directly to ask his views instead of forming assumptions and slandering him, which is dangerous territory and holds serious consequences in Islam. Fear Allah.

      III) Arrogance and the nafs is how Iblis became the first disbeliever. And, I’m afraid that you accusing Sh. AHM of being an “apologist” and a “coward” is anything but genuine nasiha and, according to my judgment, is purely the expression of the lowest form of the nafs, and may Allah protect us from this disease.

      Even if the Shaykh made a mistake in one area, YOU (judging by your foul language and attacks against a fellow Muslim) have a mistake in your iman, and that is far far more egregious. You know why? Because you have slandered and have foul-mouthed a Muslim who says “la illaha il Allah…” This is not the behaviour of the Salaf, the Pious Predecessors.

    • Mehran,

      Thank you for your thoughts. We are aware of the opinions of many of scholars and Sheikhs, and are aware that many of these Sheikhs disagree with the school of thought of others, and have publicly expressed their thoughts.

      MDI is a debate organisation focusing only on the engagement of Islam with other world views. It is not MDI’s remit to get involved in matters of difference of opinion. Rather, we are neutral in that we support all sheikhs equally when they are being targeted because they merely espoused standard Islamic orthodoxy.

      MDI’s mentioning of any sheikh in this regard, is not due to our advocacy of that Sheikh, but rather we are highlighting a greater issue. In this regard, all Sheikhs who suffer the same treatment by the media and political pundits, because of their expression of Islamic orthodoxy, will get their cause highlighted by us – and supported by us.

      MDI are neutral to matters of difference of opinion within Islam, but we are not neutral to the commonly agreed orthodoxies that form the indisputable basis of Islamic morals, law and worldview. In that regard, we aim to protect such positions, and the right for Muslims to believe in them without suffering persecution.

  5. Speaking of language:

    When I google the meaning of view, guess what shows up:

    Synonym for Opinion

    Also if Google is not your style, then maybe Oxford is:

    “particular way of considering or regarding something; an attitude or opinion:strong political views”

  6. I dont know why my previous response did show up, but anyway:

    Can you show me where he explicitly condemns the acts of homosexuality in all the interviews he gave to the tabloids? Dont show me stuff much later for his Muslim audience where he goes into damage control. But okay, he made “a mistake” and “apologized” to the Muslim crowd. I pointed out the apparent shaky opinion. Let Allah be the witness of his intents and the way he handled the situation.

    The second issue:

    Your calling me arrogant for simply pointing out how he sells his “Salafis are evil” stories to the West to save his own self, and yet your “Shaikh” is free from such diseases, when he attacks scholars and Imam’s whom Salafis commonly refer and quote to (recent and past).

    Don’t try to put me in a guilt trip, knowing what Tim Winters has done and is doing. Fear Allah.

    To warn people about this person misguiding others on Salafis is not arrogance, back-biting, or whatever disease that fancies your mind. Your so quick to jump the gun on me and remind me how close I am to a Kafir’s traits, when your beloved Shaikh encourages the Non-Muslims to target the Salafis and he is to be respected.

  7. Homosexuality is a sin and and a universal aberration which our Creator advises whomever has the perception of Him and wishes to worship Him and has homosexual inclinations, to do effort at avoiding homosexual intercorse and work on desiring the opposite sex, which is easily achievable with a little nafs Ijtihad. Women and men come in multiple levels of sensibilities and even the most inclined of homosexuals can find a desirable partner from the opposite sex. This is before, today hormonal modification and psychological assistance can turn Tootsie into a napolitan Fernando. If you perceive Allah and want to have his blessings then homosexual intercorse is a sin and a universal aberration you r advised to avoid and work on modifying it, sister. If you’re without perception and unable to identify a Creator and unable to recognize that He’s worthy of worship then do as you please.

  8. I think that you are looking at this from the wrong perspective. The themes you are discussing here are the limits of freedom of expression. I am sure there is material for further inquiry concerning this in the relevant court-material of the European court of human rights related to cases concerning matters of “freedom of speech” and “hate-speech”. However, you are discussing this under the fallacious impression that “Liberalism” implies that there should be no limits nor consequences at all for some individuals to express negative views about a certain sexual, racial, ethnic or religious minority.
    For example, no liberal of today would argue that it should be allowed for some people – say a Christian pastor – to publicly express claims about jews being inherently wicked or misguided because they do not recognize that Jesus is the messiah, without facing legal or social consequences. This does not fall under “freedom of expression”. The pastor cannot claim that he should have the right to publicly denounce another group because that the particular ideological view he is holding, in this case Christian fundamentalism, has negative opinions concerning this particular group. Similarly, a racist cannot put forth similar justifications for potential remarks concerning the qualities of black people. This does not mean that you cannot say that you are of the view that homosexuality is a sin, if we are to return to the case if Abdal Hakim Murad, but if you call them ignorant and or use another similar negatively loaded word describing them, it is still fully acceptable to the basic “tenets” of current mainstream liberal thought that you can face consequences like risking losing you job (especially if you choose to work for an institution, as a university, open to and for everybody, including homosexuals).

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