Allahumma salli ala sayyidina Muhammadin wa-alihi wa-sahbihi wa-sallim
The recent inquisition directed against me and by implication all Qur’anically faithful Muslims triggered by two YouTube clips has started a debate among Muslims themselves about what I actually said and believe. This note is an explanation of my position, since every Muslim has the right to know.
I begin by apologising to Muslims for having placed us once again in the tabloid firing-line, and given ammunition to the anti-Islamic BNP and the EDL.
I have stated publicly that I withdraw the comments I made in the first clip, which was recorded at a small Rihla in 1995. The clip was uploaded by IslamOnDemand three days ago as part of their policy of making some of their old material available to the Umma. I was not consulted about the release of this material. However I am not holding the brother responsible; in fact he is a faithful revert servant of the scholars.
However the clip caused consternation when somehow it was forwarded to students at my college in Cambridge, and they lodged a complaint.
When I looked at the clip I saw a young man ranting. It was probably the worst thing I have ever done, tricked out with dubious science and many errors, and presented in a very aggressive style which is alien to the manner I now use. My views, knowledge and style have mutated in 17 years. So I asked IslamOnDemand to take it off YouTube, and they did this.
I believe – and Allah is my witness – that I was right, in Sharia, and considering the maslaha of the Muslims, to dissociate myself from the lecture and to apologise. How does it serve the interests of da’wa to offend? Those who say I should not have apologised should ask why we should gratuitously offend others, whoever they are. And the basic information in the lecture was unreliable or dubious, to say the least.
The more recent DeenIntensive clip, known to its detractors as the ‘TwoTube’ clip, is much closer to my views, and I believe gives a more authentic account of the Sharia wisdom in this issue. It can be misunderstood but it is entirely different from the earlier clip.
The key point is this: mercy and understanding are better than recrimination. I have seen this in my various opportunities to work with Muslims with this orientation who have come to me. Many of our khatibs are adopting a language of hate, but these people will not respond well to this. The inclination is not a sin, since an intention that is not acted upon is not sinful. In fact, as the ‘TwoTube’ clip states, such a person who struggles with his inclination will be rewarded. Perhaps he will reach Paradise before you and me.
But the acting-out of the desire is a sin: this is known by ijma and to deny it is fisq. In this we agree with the great majority of classical orthodox believers in other religions. We should not be intimidated and bullied into failing to state this ruling.
Ours is an age which increasingly finds it hard to understand a message of dignity, restraint, and sacrifice. Instead, the age favours hedonism. Muslims in the West must witness to the truth that hedonism does not bring happiness; happiness, which is every human’s birthright, comes from surrendering to the commands of Heaven.
Those of you who are shocked by the violence of the campaign against those who stand up for our teachings should take a sobering political lesson from the whole episode. Anders Breivik was strongly pro-gay. So was Pim Fortuyn. So is Marie Le Pen. Much of Europe is now rushing to embrace a new far-right Islamophobia in which the ‘alternative sexualities’ issue is used as a tool to demonise us. The liberal elites have said nothing about this. Instead of worrying about the far-right millions who want to deport us, they hyperventilate when a Muslim peacefully states his opposition to a particular sexual practice, without calling for any kind of persecution.
In the face of this inequality, we should calmly stand firm, and remember that right-thinking people will look at the contrast, and will choose their lifestyles accordingly. All this is a test from Allah, which means that we should look for what is good in it for us.
A brother in New York has emailed me to say this: ‘We must count these persecutions as blessings, since they are totally unmerited. Today, just to be alive, if you are a Believer, counts as an act of zuhd, replacing the voluntary prayers and fastings of zuhhad and awliya of previous times.’
May Allah make us firm in our love and proclamation of the Qur’an and Sunna, which are our true, unchanging and unfaltering lights in this age of darkness.