In the Name of the 49, The Beloved, the Lost
In Part II of my effort to hold the self-appointed leaders of the (Sunni) Muslim communities in the US and Canada responsible for their own words and actions, particularly in the wake of the Pulse massacre, I’m presenting some of the commentary of those who would generally be considered “Salafis.”
Muhammad Alshareef is a Canadian who graduated from the Islamic University of Madinah and who founded the Maghrib Institute, which offers popular seminars, conferences and courses on different aspects in Islam throughout North America and the world, and claims to have enrolled over 80,000 students. He also founded DiscoverULife, a personal development website that certifies life coaches.
Muhammad Alshareef, in part 3 (“Lut”) his Perished Nations series from 2008, says the following, as he laughs (at 24:25): “If people hear about a lecture like this at the masjid [mosque], they would say ‘homophobic.’ Correct? They’re like ‘Oh my God, they’re a bunch of homophobic people.’ And I thought to myself, that’s an amazing word to be called. Alhamdulillah [praise to God] that you’re homophobic. Now notice the propaganda and the indoctrination that you’ve been – when I just said, alhamdulillah, I’m homophobic, you’re thinking to yourself ‘How do you say alhamdulillah? That’s something bad.’ These are words that they flipped in our minds. Homophobia means a fear of homosexuality. Alhamdulillah we have a fear of homosexuality. And then they will say it as if it is a derogatory term, but in fact it is a praiseworthy term.”
Proud Canadian Homophobe
He later speaks approvingly of a friend who refused to move to Canada, because that friend said it was in “gross” rebellion, due to the legalization of same sex marriage there. He then goes on to happily quote the following hadith from ibn Majah: ‘Never does sexual perversion become widespread and publicly known in certain people without them being overtaken by plague and disease that never happened to their ancestors who came before them.’ “You know exactly what I’m talking about… diseases, and sicknesses,” meaning homosexuality. He expresses his hope that Muslim people will start to “speak up” and go out to protest at Gay Pride and gay rights civil rights rallies and to praise right wing Christians for “fighting back” against gay people.
Abdullah Hakim Quick
Dr. Abdullah Hakim Quick is an American born teacher in Canada who graduated from the Islamic University of |Madinah and the University of Toronto. A popular lecturer and teacher for many years, he’s also a teacher at al Maghrib and a member of the Canadian Council of Imams.
Dr. Quick has had this to say about gay people:
“One of the most dangerous groups to come up is the qawm al Lut, the homosexuals. For years, they stayed in the closet, they stayed underground. It was known in Greece, in Rome, in high circles of the aristocrats… but now, it comes to the surface, and it reaches the point where, in some of the most powerful cities, the qawm al Lut is taking over the society. And when they take over, know that the destruction is near. In Toronto, where the UN and many scholars had projected that Toronto is probably is the most cosmopolitan city in the world, and one of the best places in the world, they say, if you want to have a good time in the dunya. But qawm al Lut has come to the surface. Last year, when I returned to Toronto, the Muslims were reeling, they were in a state of confusion, because the qawm al Lut were marching in the streets. 750,000 homosexuals marching in the street. They said ‘We’re queer and we’re here and we’re not going away.’ And they stood boldly against the Muslims.
“And I remember being down in NYC. And seeing this. And I remember this parade that they have, we were upstairs, and a big noise came about. I woke up and said “What’s going on, is it workers? Is it the poor marching in the streets?” No, this is gay pride day. (ed: I call bullshit on this tale. The NYC Gay Pride parade starts at noon in a largely commercial area. I find it hard to believe the imam is still sleeping at noon. In addition to that, New Yorkers have long been used to seeing people who dress differently; Muslims are not aliens to New Yorkers.). I went downstairs, I had my kufi and a long shirt on, and a person came up to us and said “You’re strange!” I looked at the brother next to me and I looked at him. His hair was like a chicken, he had a chain neck shirt on, short pants, and big boots. And he said to me ‘You’re strange.’ I said ‘Sadaqa Rasul Allah.’ Islam started strange and it will return to being strange, so give glad tidings of a tree in Jennah for those who are strange. This is the end of time. But no, it was a day of pride. And what was the worst thing about the situation in Toronto? … I thought we had put an end to this. But now it reached a high level. When they first came to us 10 years ago – and I pray it doesn’t strike you – they called me when I was an imam and said “Mr. Hakim, there’s a new organization. It’s called Min Alaq… it is gay lesbian bisexual Muslim support group (audience gasps). They want a new tafsir of Surat al Hud. They want the story of Lut told in another way, politically correct. They said, ‘What is the Islamic position?’ I told them, ‘Put my name in the paper. The punishment is death, and I’m not gonna change this religion.’
But what do you really think, Abdullah?
In 2010, Quick tried to walk this statement back and issued an apology of sorts after he was confronted by a group of gay activists in the UK who highlighted some of his teachings about gays and others, saying: “It pains me to know that people from various walks of life have been hurt by something I’ve said. To all those people who have felt imperiled by what they have seen or heard I would like to offer my sincere apologies…. As a counselor I learned first-hand of the terrible violence inflicted upon gay people by bullies and thugs and I publicly spoke out against it.” On his statement that Islam requires the death penalty for gays, he wrote, “My statements were a moral reprimand only. I understand now that they did give off the wrong impression. For that, I am sorry. I have never advocated violence, vigilantism or disregard for the rule of law.”
Quick Again: Speaking of a gay Muslim who came to him for counseling and spiritual guidance, Dr. Quick tells us that he told the man, who had been a victim of childhood sexual abuse, that he’s sick. He then says “But we cannot allow, in the name of Islam, a gay masjid to come. We cannot allow this now.”
Quick Again: “We’re not bashing, we’re not attacking, we’re stating what we believe.” (This is after he says how hard Islamophobia makes it for Muslims to be openly anti-gay)
Quick Again: “In the wake of this crisis, people are making critical choices about Islam. Many are choosing to accept Islam, for despite the negative attacks, they realize that Islam is the only way out of the present corruption and tyranny. Islam is the only organized way of life that can categorically oppose homosexuality, racism and secularism. Only the Qur’an and Sunnah have cohesive arguments and a moral system that can be applied in conjunction with science, politics, business and everyday life.”
Quick Again (after calling homosexuals “disgusting” and quoting the same hadith recorded in ibn Majah that Hamza Yusuf used) says: ” And so incurable diseases moving in the society, and there’s more of them coming, we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg, because of what is happening now, social changes, we are in a very critical situation. And as I was speaking to the brothers coming in, the hurricane hitting Key West is no accident, with the homosexual population. And we recently had an earthquake in Toronto. It was 5.2 on the Richter scale. Coming to Toronto, we sort of got the edge of it, but buildings shook. And those who understand the changes in the earth and what is going on, we realise that it’s overdue because we had the second largest demonstration on Gay Pride Day in North America, 750,000. And so it’s long overdue for us.”
After the Pulse massacre, Quick was again confronted with his own words and had this to say: “”Many years ago I made hurtful comments against homosexuals for which I have apologized. My views have evolved over the years. I am fully committed to peaceful coexistence and respect among all people.”
An American who obtained his undergraduate and graduate degrees at the Islamic University of Madinah (I’m sensing a pattern here) and his doctorate at Yale, Yasir Qadhi is a popular teacher at the Maghrib Institute, a professor at Rhodes College, and another life coacher at DiscoverULife. Mr. Qadhi has been an adept user of social media and technology, using it to connect himself and his services to students and the press.
Yasir Qadhi: I remember as a kid in the 80s how homosexuals were looked down upon, and the names that were given to these people, and how disgusted the average masses were with that segment of society. Now look, at how we have regressed, not progressed, where it is impossible, forget a Muslim, even a Christian or a Jew cannot stand up in front of a non-Muslim audience speak against homosexuality, he’s a homophobe, he’s evil, how dare he speak hatred against these people. A group of people by the way, the likes of who were punished the likes of which no other nation has been punished. From the time of Adam until now, no other nation has been punished like the people of Lut. And to this day, the most evil water on this earth is the dead sea. Allah has not punished any other nation like he did them.
Yasir Qadhi teaching that Muslims need to be self-interested about non-Muslims
True to form, Mr. Qadhi goes on to exhort his followers to make their number one priority themselves. This is a man, after all, who wrote a book about the harms of showing off for his own private guidance, and then decided to publish it and sell it.
“The county that we’re living in is not going to derive it’s laws from theology and in a way, it’s better for us. We don’t want the government to get involved in theology. It’s not the role of the government to get involved in morality, ethics and theology. Our religious law and ethics are independent of any law in any land. Freedoms for any one group translates as freedoms for us. If the dominant majority had the power to ban any one lifestyle, they would have the power to ban our lifestyle. So that’s what we need to keep in mind. But we shouldn’t shy away from saying certain things are harmful to the body and soul; for example alcohol and drugs… We’re not going to shy away from saying it’s unhealthy, unethical and immoral. But hey, at the end of the day all we have the right to do is speak and believe. We don’t have the right to force others to conform to what we believe is ethical and moral. We’re not obligated to hate people who disagree with us. You can show love to a person who worships an idol. The worst sin in Islam is idolatry and you can be kind and loving to an idol worshiper. So how about the person who takes drugs, smokes weed or engages in this lifestyle? We don’t have to mistreat or dehumanize anyone. It’s our right to think it’s unethical and immoral, it’s their right to do what they please.”
Yasir Qadhi: And so this is why we are seeing an increase in many unnatural and perverse desires. Homosexuality is on the rise amongst non-Muslims, and now also amongst Muslims. … Lastly, even if you have acted upon this urge – and we seek Allah’s refuge from this – know that this would constitute a sin. Yes, a major sin, and one that most people would be disgusted by, but realize that it is a sin alone and not kufr. Hence, even acting upon it and committing a major sin does not expel you from the fold of Islam. However, to stand up and justify it, or defend it, or write articles claiming that it is Islamic, without a doubt constitutes kufr, and not merely sin…
“And remember that marriage is a solution, so you should seriously consider it. The Prophet Lut told his people, ‘These are my daughters, they are more pure for you.’ Some scholars say that when he said ‘daughters,’ he is also implying the women of the town and not just his own daughters. So he’s telling the men of his community who were guilty of this crime to go and marry women, for they are better and purer for them. Marriage is a solution, because sensuality and sexuality is something that can be satisfied – rather it should be satisfied – by the opposite gender within the confines of marriage.
“Try to repel these urges, do not act upon them, take immediate steps to get married…”
Just get married. Your spouse won’t mind that you’re not remotely attracted to them.
Post-Pulse Yasir Qadhi
Like many Muslim American activists, Yasir felt that Muslims have no responsibility regarding the environment that shaped Omar Mateen.
Yasir was very quick to jump on the “Omar Mateen was gay!” bandwagon. The Muslim American leadership has a long history of criticizing how the media covers terror attacks by Muslims, and how initial reports are often full of mistakes, but they were very quick to jump on the “He was gay!” reports, despite the fact that they were baseless rumors. However, claiming Mateen was gay has given Qadhi and the rest of the community’s leadership an easy way out. We don’t have to talk about Muslim homophobia, because he was gay. And probably not that religious. And gay Muslims, apparently, don’t exist. After all, asking “What are Islam’s teachings on homosexuality, and could mainstream teachings be construed as homophobic?” is, according to Yasir, a vicious onslaught.
Poor Yasir just wants to be left alone… in the spotlight
A Canadian who was born in Kingston, Jamaica, Mr. Philips graduated from (wait for it) the Islamic University of Madinah and later obtained his PhD at the University of Wales. He is distinguished among our list today for having been banned from or kicked out a number of countries because of his teachings, including Philippines, the UK, Bangladesh, Kenya, and Australia, while also being declared a murtad (apostate) by Daesh for not being extreme enough.
After famously being deported & banned from Germany for his homophobic teachings (namely, defending the Shari’ah teaching that homosexuals and/or adulterers should be killd), Mr Phillips said, “All of a sudden if you asked the average American, they said ‘Alternative lifestyles.’ (laughs)… And the psychiatric profession removed the illness from the book and replaced it with homophobia: those people who still have the nerve to consider homosexuality to be sick and despicable.” He later compares homosexuals to Black Widow spiders and women who are termed “black widows.” This is a favorite analogy of his when it comes to homosexuality, leading one to wonder if he also has questions about women. Well, he must, as he as infamously said that there is no such thing as marital rape.
Mr. Phillips also wrote the following: “The consequence of AIDS is enough to prove that homosexuality is evil and dangerous to society.”
Another Maghrib Institute instructor, this Louisianan teacher who has multiple undergraduate and graduate degrees. He sits on ICNA’s Shariah Council and has been active in initiatives to support special education awareness among Muslims.
In 2012, he posted his support for ICNA’s stance on gay marriage (the usual), implying that Muslims who stay silent on the issue would be punished as the wife of Lut (Lot) was punished.
In 2013, he wrote the following on Facebook: “If as Muslims we don’t take a clear stance on this, we will be forced to conform and watch this disease destroy our children.”
Mr. Suleiman appears to have softened in some of his views in the last three years, as much as a conservative Muslim can anyway. In the Dallas News:
“I did go and stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community. Because the idea of homophobia, which is a real problem in this country, is that people should be targeted as less than human because they choose to live their lives in a particular way, and I think that’s what’s problematic. … The question of: can a person be a Muslim and be a homosexual? Yes. Because being a homosexual does not negate a person’s theological Islam.
“It’s an interesting path forward for people trying to come to terms with a very real cultural reality, especially for conservative Muslims still staying true to their scripture. What I always preach is a compassionate orthodoxy. You don’t have to change your value system. If you believe that homosexuality is immoral, that’s fine, but you do not treat someone who’s gay as less than you because they don’t hold that belief. And that’s a realistic social contract that we can try to come to terms with.”
Kamal el Mekki
A popular lecturer and instructor… at Maghrib Institute. I don’t know where he studied, but I’m sure if it was at Madinah, they would’ve told us on their webpage. I normally wouldn’t include him in a look at Muslim American leadership, but his hamburger analogy was truly original.
Kamal el Mekki: “…Because the truth is that’s what homosexuality is, it’s a desire, and a desire is never a lifestyle. True? I desire hamburgers all the time. You can wake me up at two in the morning and give me a hamburger and I’ll just eat it. I love hamburgers but I don’t walk around saying ‘It’s my lifestyle.’ You like fried chicken, it’s not your lifestyle. It’s a desire. Since when is a desire your entire lifestyle? It’s not. So we’re going to look at the truth, what is really behind those people with the loose limbs and the ligaments and stuff. What’s their issue? So the truth is it’s just a desire. It’s not a lifestyle, it’s not a right.”
William “Suhaib” Webb, an American imam who studied at Al Azhar and was the first imam of the controversial Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center. He’s now leading some sort of freelance project in the DC area. Imam Suhaib has varied at times between being a Salafi and being a Sufi. For clarity’s sake, I put him here, even though he probably defies categorization.
From a Q&A session at Darul Hijrah masjid in VA, at 5:01: What is our position on gay marriage? We already know what our position is on homosexuality. But why are we so quiet? Why? We have something to offer society. And we should ask America nicely ‘What on earth has happened to your values in 40 years? And not be shy! And not be all military about it, but real talk. ”
A few years later, in an interview with the Boston Globe:
Webb tweeted that he had made “mistakes,” and, in an interview last week, said he had rethought the gay marriage issue. Even if Islam regards homosexuality as a sin, Webb said the constitution guarantees the rights of everyone to get married.
Webb said he is reluctant “to start arguing about other people’s liberties,” given his concerns about recent talk in Congress about surveillance of mosques and other potential infringements on Muslims’ rights.
Muslim Matters is an online magazine of sorts, often associated with Yasir Qadhi, that calls itself a platform for positive change. Unlike everything else on the list, it’s an idea, and not an individual person. However, Muslim Matters is influential and often looked to for information. Here are some of the things they have written about LGBT people over the years.
Hena Zuberi, calls the Day of Silence (an annual day on which students are encouraged to observe silence to draw attention to the bullying of LGBT youth) “propaganda,” and says “Parents must actively oppose this hijacking of the classroom for political purposes.” She encourages Muslim parents to learn lessons from fundamentalist Christians with regards to attitudes towards LGBT people.
Umm Zakiyyah, writing for Muslim Matters, after reminding her readers that many people find homosexuality “repulsive” compares homosexuality to bestiality and pedophilia, and warns several times that gay Muslims are on a path to kufr.
In an Open Letter to the Muslim Community in Light of the Orlando Shooting, Daniel Haqiqatjou writes:
“Rather, this movement and the lifestyle it assumes and enables is harmful to the very people it purports to liberate — harmful in the physical and metaphysical senses. So, how could I or any other Muslim lend support?
“Along these same lines, if ‘standing with the LGBT community’ means supporting the LGBT movement in all its implications and demands and, hence, enabling those identifications and those lifestyle choices that I, as a Muslim, believe to be incorrect, immoral, and, ultimately, harmful, then clearly I do not and cannot take such a stand. But again, that does not mean that I do not care for the well-being, happiness, and success of my fellow human beings. In fact, from my perspective, I care a great deal more than others who are eager to enable and normalize what I and my religion maintain are self-destructive behaviors….But, at the end of the day, Muslims’ most deeply held beliefs on this issue do not allow them in good conscience to support, let alone ‘celebrate,’ the LGBT movement … before launching into the arguments usually seen from conservative Christians that somehow, the government will ignore the First Amendment and regulate and restrict what the masjid (church) can do, namely restrict them from preaching against homosexuality or force them to officiate weddings.”
He then looks at the argument that LGBT groups have stood by the Muslim American community in fighting bigotry and now, after Pulse, LGBT groups are looking at Muslim America, wondering if they will get the same. No, says Muslim Matters, they won’t. Just because you support us as Americans doesn’t mean we should support you as Americans.
He laments the wording of the craven Orlando Statement, asking “Given that the entire thrust of the statement is to express condolences for the death of LGBT community members and to emphasize the importance of ‘inclusivity, tolerance, and respect for all,’ it would not be a stretch to assume that many will interpret the statement in a ‘pro-LGBT’ light as typically understood in contemporary American society (including full endorsement of the moral neutrality of same-sex behavior).” Only someone desperately worried that they’re not being anti-gay enough would worry that anyone in the rest of America could see the Orlando Statement – which only mentions once that Pulse was a gay nightclub, and never mentions that the victims were mostly LGBT people killed for being LGBT people – as some major endorsement of LGBT liberation.
For someone who says he went to Harvard and Tufts, he seems very intent on purposefully ignoring the real questions that the LGBT community – and Americans as a whole – have been asking about Islam.
Muslim Matters recently published a tl;dr piece on “Muslims And Same Sex Attraction” by a Brother Yusuf. I’ll be honest – I didn’t read it. I’ve heard this all before and compiling these posts had me weary – I waded through video after video after blog post after blog post of hateful stuff (I had to read a lot of other hateful stuff about Jews, non-Muslims, etc to get to the stuff about LGBT). He did plead with fellow Muslims to stop saying things like “gays should be killed” though, and for a Salafi oriented website, that’s kind of a big step.
So there you have it, interested people. A very quick survey of the kinds of things that Sunni Muslim leaders in North America say about LGBT people to Muslims seeking guidance on their religion and living here in the West. The things that are said that get repeated at home, or played in the car while taking the kids to soccer practice, that get taught and re-taught until it becomes a widely held attitude. Yasir Qadhi, Hamza Yusuf and the rest are also products of a culture. Not just Muslim culture and Islamic teachings, but American and Canadian culture – one that still mocks and makes plain its disgust at homosexuality, particularly male homosexuality, even as attitudes and legal status changes.