This article is a brief overview of my position on the punishment for apostasy within Islam. Over the years, I have discussed it very few times, whether in video or on social media platforms. The reason being is because I never felt it necessary to discuss unless asked or challenged on a particular point. Most of my dawah work focused on refuting ex-Muslims and Islamophobes, yet there were few times it was relevant to bring up in debate.

That said, recently I’ve seen some individuals attempt to take advantage of my short comments on the issue – and it appears they will be using those comments in the future as a means to slander me and undermine my credibility. As such, due to having a bit more foresight than my detractors (Alhamdullilah for an education), I have prepared this document in advance prior to their smears.

Causing Fitna

An individual by the name of Saajid Lipham was the first to attempt to misconstrue my views on apostasy:

In response to an Ex-Muslim who essentially accused me of wanting to kill apostates, I responded that I “don’t support apostasy laws” because they “should no longer be operative because conditions have changed”. I then followed up that response with my usual explanation that, given there is a political element attached to the concept of ridda, the punishment “makes no sense today” in light of changing conditions.

Saajid responded by committing a straw man fallacy, accusing me of claiming the Shariah “make[s] no sense today to [me],” as though I were denying the prescriptions of Allah based on some arbitrary sentiment. However, I said no such thing. The Law of Allah makes perfect sense, but the application of a punishment without the necessary conditions (i.e. effective cause – ‘illah/manât) does not. This was the context of my statement for all who can read rudimentary English. Given Saajid can’t even comprehend the standard use of the word ‘medieval,’[1] it’s not at all shocking he made this error. That said, it has prompted me to make this response before such an interpretation becomes contagious.

Now, prior to elucidating my position, I do wish to concede that I may be wrong on this matter and am perfectly okay with being corrected. Unlike some in the dawah circuit today, I am more than willing to admit my errors. However, I will not concede to unwarranted claims that I’m “denying the Shari’ah” or think “it’s not part of Islam” and that I’m some “reformist”. This is completely unfair to me and what I actually believe.

My Position

My position is clear: The punishment for ridda (apostasy) is part of the Shariah and should be applied when all the conditions are met. However, such conditions do not exist today because the political element (i.e. religious identity being tied to the state) is no longer present. In the event that such an element is brought back into existence (i.e. a legitimate caliphate), then the punishment should become operative again.

The reason for my position stems from what I understand the effective cause of the punishment to be. Having read scholarly works on the issue, it is the consensus that a Muslim who commits ridda must be killed. However, little else is discussed beyond that. Although the Prophet (ﷺ) is referenced as justification for applying the punishment, the reason behind it is largely absent from most explanations. For instance, Ibn Rushd states the following regarding the punishment for apostasy:

An apostate, if taken captive before he declares war, is to be executed by agreement in the case of a man, because of the words of the Prophet (ﷺ), “Slay those who change their din”. [….]


Asking the apostate to repent was stipulated by Malik as a condition prior to his execution, on the basis of what is related from ‘Umar. One group of jurists said that his repentance is not acceptable. If the apostate becomes a maharib first and then an apostate, he is to be executed because of hiraba and is not required to repent, whether his hiraba occurs in the Muslim territory or later when he crosses over to the dar al-harb, except when he becomes a Muslim again. When the apostate muharib converts to Islam after he is captured or before it, they differ about his hukm. If his hiraba has occurred in the dar al-Islam, then his conversion to Islam absolves him of the liability to the hukm of hiraba only and his hukm is like that of an apostate for the offences committed by him during his apostasy in the dar al-Islam prior to conversion to Islam. The disciples of Malik however, differed in this with some, who took into account the day of offence, saying that his hukm is the hukm of the apostate, while others, who took into account the time of the hukm, said that his hukm is like that of a Muslim.

Ibn Rusdh (2000) The Distinguished Jurist Primer (Bidayat al-Mujtahid), Trans. Imran Nyazee, p. 552.

What’s fascinating about Ibn Rushd’s summary here is that although he doesn’t give an explicit reason behind the apostate’s execution, he writes something which suggests an implied characteristic of the apostate that goes beyond them simply not believing in Islam. In the first line, Ibn Rushd states clearly, “An apostate, if taken captive before he declares war, is to be executed”. The middle part of this statement appears to imply that it was expected of the apostate to declare war on the Muslim community, thereby suggesting that the act of ridda was not just a declaration of disbelief, but outright treason that served as a threat to the state. And the reason this condition is implied centers around the nature of the state itself. As history has shown us, the caliphate came into existence during the Age of Empires, where each polity was in a default state of war and your religion was your citizenship. As such, revoking that citizenship (i.e. ridda) was seen as a declaration of war against the state by necessity. It was not like the nation state of today where citizenship is based on nationality and all polities have a default status of neutrality/peace. As such, the conditions are no longer present to properly apply the punishment, because an apostate no longer serves as an actual existential threat to the Muslim ummah.

Now, the counter arguments I’ve seen and heard are that this is mistaken because an apostate is in fact a threat to Muslim communities by virtue of threatening the akhira of Muslims everywhere by poisoning their minds with shubuhat. However, I don’t see this position as sound for a number of reasons. Firstly, because I see no compelling evidence for this view in the Islamic tradition. Secondly, because it appears to contradict how deviants/innovators in the religion were typically dealt with. What I mean to say is, that if apostates must be killed because they’re spreading doubts, then why not just kill every single Muslim who has a deviant opinion? Why write tomes of refutations against their views when slaughter is the best method? Likewise, do not the kuffar spread doubts? So why are Muslims not simply calling to slaughter every single kafir for having an opinion contrary to Islam? Our intellectual tradition doesn’t seem to convey this idea that an apostate is killed for spreading shubuhat, because if so, it would apply in equal measure to numerous groups across the board – groups and individuals which were not typically killed.

Then there’s also another issue with the application of the punishment in the nation state system of today. That issue revolves around the fact that there doesn’t appear to be an actual Islamic authority or polity worthy enough of issuing said punishment (i.e. no caliphate or proper Islamically ruled polity is present).

And finally, there is the issue of what counts as an “apostate”. As a Muslim youth counselor, I’ve met a lot of young people who claim they “no longer believe in Islam”. However, most of the time, I find out their reasons for apostasy stem from a confusion of what Islam actually is. In fact, I can even say with a great deal of certainty that some of these young people were never Muslim to begin with – often raised in secular households where their entire understanding of the religion was centered around holidays, food, and Arabic/Urdu terms. So, would such a person, neither raised Muslim nor living under an authentic Islamic authority, constitute as an apostate according to our Law? Should I inform them that they should be killed when they don’t even understand what it means to follow the Qur’an and Sunnah to begin with – when they don’t even know what their aqida is?

Many Muslims I find online often proudly declare that apostates should be killed according to the Shari’ah, yet they live in Muslim-majority societies which neither implement the punishment nor properly educate their citizens in matters of Islam. The entire Muslim world is suffering from the hegemony of Secular Liberal Westernization, yet what appears to be one of the main talking points behind Islamic revival is that we implement the punishment for apostasy to “protect Islam”. But this solution is working backwards. Apostasy is a symptom of a larger problem in our communities, such as a lack of proper Islamic education and governance. Are we so quick to execute people before ensuring they’re Muslim to begin with? Are we so quick to demand execution when most of these individuals are physically harmless and simply confused about what they believe while living in a societies bereft of Islamic values?

Many Muslim nations like Bangladesh, Pakistan, Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, etc. are largely secular in nature and full of corruption and filth. Yet, instead of reversing those conditions and building Islamic values in our countries, some Muslims (at least online) think the solution is to just kill those birthed by the very shubuhat already present in their societies – doubts which they neither concern themselves with, attempt to address in an intellectual manner, nor understand the origins of to begin with.

So yes, I do not support the punishment for apostasy today, because the conditions have not been met that would warrant its implementation. Not because I disagree with the Law or believe it’s not part of Islam. No, but because it would be unjust to not fulfill the conditions in accordance with our Law. When those conditions return, then we can apply it. However, what I do support is that we educate our brothers and sisters and bring them back from the temptations of atheism and other religions. I also support that we establish Islam in our own societies before punishing our own for being un-Islamic. Blaming a young Muslim man or woman for leaving the religion when they live in societies which don’t even encourage them to remain Muslims – teaching them the sweetness of faith – is an injustice. Most of the time, it is we Muslims who are at fault for the conditions of our brothers and sisters, as it is our responsibility to make sure they don’t have an excuse to leave our beautiful religion. Instead, we call to the punishment in social media posts, scaring those who are confused and in search of real answers. We indirectly threaten their lives when they don’t even know why they’re Muslim to begin with. And we do so all in the comfort of our rooms, behind a computer screen, living in societies where deviance and sin are everywhere, and in some places the norm. We expect these people to remain Muslim when we haven’t even given them any reason why they should.

So, if my position is incorrect, I hope others will reach out to me to correct my view with sufficient evidence. That said, I will not concede being called a “liberal reformer” or any other such nonsense simply because I see this issue as complex and requiring justice. We live in a time like no other – the caliphate no longer exists and our new circumstances warrant evaluating how the Law operates in a just manner. If my detractors see this as a deviant position, then I merely ask this: “Why do you refuse to kill an apostate?” The answers will vary, no doubt. Some will claim that they “lack authority”. Others will say that “the law isn’t in place”. Others will say because they “live in a non-Muslim society”. All of these are legitimate and agreeable.

Now, I simply ask that my brothers and sisters uphold my rights by not assuming I “deny the Shari’ah” or am a “Liberal reformer” simply because I believe there is an additional condition that has yet to be met that would warrant the punishment.

Jazak’Allahu khairan.

For a concise, but scholarly view on the subject (that may or may not support my view, but is educational nonetheless), please refer to Sh. Hatem al-Haj’s article, “The Punishment for Apostasy – Can It Be Suspended“.


  1. “of, relating to, or characteristic of the Middle Ages,” https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/medieval

For mobile users, the Table of Contents can be found at the bottom of the page.

Introduction

And so, by now quite insane, he conceived the strangest notion that ever took shape in a madman’s head, considering it desirable and necessary, both for the increase of his honour and for the common good, to become a knight errant, and to travel about the world with his armour and his arms and his horse in search of adventures, and to practise all those activities that he knew from his books were practised by knight errant, redressing all kinds of grievances, and exposing himself to perils and dangers that he would overcome and thus gain eternal fame and renown. The poor man could already see himself being crowned Emperor of Trebizond, at the very least, through the might of his arm; and so, possessed by these delightful thoughts and carried away by the strange pleasure that he derived from them, he hastened to put into practise what he so desired.

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (2018) The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha, Trans. John Rutherford, p. 27.

This paper is a response to the distortions and lies found in Daniel Haqiqatjou’s article: “Reviewing Yaqeen Institute: A Source of Certainty or Doubt?”[1] Although I am a non-paid fellow at Yaqeen, this work is my own and does not represent the organization nor any other institution or persons that I may be affiliated with. I hope and pray that this review clears the names of those he has unjustly and dishonestly maligned. In summary, I have identified four systemic problems with Daniel’s approach:

  1. Dishonesty: Daniel employs dishonest tactics by literally doctoring quotes and attributing them to authors, or placing in quotation marks statements that appear nowhere in the original article. He cuts out words and sentences to attribute to authors the very views they are refuting. In addition, he takes words from authors that are polysemous (i.e. have more than one meaning) and deliberately uses them to mean something that conflicts with the authors’ more explicit claims. And he repeatedly and blatantly quotes others out of context, misrepresenting their opinions for shock value, while employing false analogies, etc. to undermine their credibility and reputations.

  2. Factual Errors: Daniel makes numerous demonstrably false claims about the Qur’an and Sunnah, the views of Muslim scholars, and about Islamic teachings in general. He even unwittingly labels the views of major scholars of Islam as “deviant”. This stems from his reliance on postmodernist philosophy as a basis for his views on Islam, owing to his philosophical training at university, rather than the Qur’an and Sunnah. As a result, he commits an exceedingly large number of factual errors in his arguments (roughly on every other page in his paper).

  3. Lack of Knowledge of Islamic Sciences: Daniel’s lack of basic knowledge of the Islamic sciences leads him to make a number of ignorant claims about Shari’ah, fiqh and other related topics. He then labels those who disagree with his conclusions as “modernists” even though said opinions are rooted in the books of traditional scholars throughout history. The repetition of this attitude, even after evidences are provided, I believe, is linked to point 1 above.

  4. Hypocritical Behavior and Claims: Daniel often engages in (and attempts to justify) behaviors and argument that expose him to the very condemnations he throws at others. For example, he frequently uses uncensored images he deems “impermissible” in order to accuse others of using impermissible images. Moreover, he often utilizes images that are far worse than those used by the accused.

I pray that this is beneficial to those who might have read Daniel’s works and wondered if there was credibility to his accusations. This missive hopes to show that his critique is thoroughly flawed and dishonest, while also not attempting to portray Yaqeen as beyond reproach. It is a human institution and by definition, fallible. That said, the organization has done its best to minimize errors by establishing a rigorous peer review process and editorial board including Islamic scholars of known repute.[2]

To Daniel, this paper was written out of concern for our community, but also concern for you. I am open to criticism regarding this paper in good faith, but also request the same from you. If you find any of the content below as true, I sincerely advise you recant those positions, repent and apologize publicly.

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About the Author

My name is Asadullah Ali al-Andalusi. I am a fellow for Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, member of the Muslim Debate Initiative, and founder of the Andalusian Project, an independent research platform which tackles Islamophobia and extremism in the Muslim world. I hold a B.A. in Western Philosophy from Benedictine University, an M.A. in Islamic Philosophy and Contemporary Thought from the International Islamic University of Malaysia, and an M.S. in Library and Information Science from Florida State University. I’m a revert to Islam, a husband, father-to-be, aspiring gardener, and I enjoy coffee. I also loathe Secular Liberalism.

So why have I volunteered to write this refutation? That’s a good question that I think requires a little more information about my background.

I was born 35 years ago in a poor immigrant community in the state of Florida, USA. My father wasn’t a NASA engineer, but a drug addict who beat my mother senseless and almost killed me while I was in her womb. He eventually abandoned us a couple months after I was born. I’m an only child and have never had any siblings, but I did have a best friend I considered my brother, until he died in a car accident 15 years ago. Because we were poor, I never had the privilege to attend any top-rated schools and was consistently assaulted by my peers, many of whom were part of the immigrant gang culture in our area. It wasn’t until my mother remarried a decent man, whom I now consider my father, that we were able to move to Texas and they could afford to put me in martial arts courses. Not only did I learn how to defend myself against my peers, but I eventually became so good I became a state and national champion in Taekwondo. This was during my mid to late teens.

However, I eventually had to fight an even greater battle – my mother had developed an extremely rare disease known as Scleroderma, which literally tore her skin and organs apart to the point where she would go into the fetal position, screaming in pain as she bled from the inside. I watched her dying in front of me every single day. It was also during this time that I became severely injured during a competition and was forced to go through physical therapy, eventually leading to my doctor’s recommendation that I no longer compete again, destroying my dreams of becoming a professional fighter. Both these events spiraled me into a deep depression and rebellion against society – and I’m not talking about some petty virtue signaling like not standing for the pledge of allegiance. I eventually dropped out of school and engaged in a number of criminal activities until I was finally arrested, beaten by police officers, and jailed for my crimes. However, Allah was Merciful and gave myself and my mother a second chance. Me? Several bruises, a light sentence of community service, and counseling. My mother? A miraculous chance to live by being selected to participate in an experimental stem cell transplant. My criminal record has since been expunged and my mother now lives in recession, although she no longer has fingers, toes, nor an adequate immune system. And my step-father, bless him, stayed with both of us during these troubled times.

I then returned to college, completed my associates, and aspired to do something worthwhile in my life. I also found religion again and tried my best to be a devout Christian. To afford my schooling and other expenses, I took on a number of part-time and full-time jobs. My parents have never been well off, so I also took out loans, and seeing as I had to grow up slightly faster than most, it was difficult for me to juggle both school and work, so my GPA was never any better than a low to mid-3 average. As such, I wasn’t privileged enough to attend an ivy league school like Harvard, but I did get to go to a local private Catholic university where I obtained my bachelor’s in philosophy. And it was there I learned the values of honor and integrity. I remember my Catholic professors teaching me that the primarily goal of a philosopher is to be true to yourself and to others around you; that the virtue of honesty was the only means to reaching the Truth. And this has been instilled in me ever since. Any violation of this virtue causes me to become visibly repulsed or even enraged. Also, I was never privileged enough to be unprincipled because those of us who actually have to work for our goals understand the amount of effort and sacrifice that goes into achieving them. Likewise, we tend to understand that violating our own principles often leads to severe consequences, unlike the privileged who always find the means to avoid them. Thus, I not only appreciate honor and integrity, but I need them in order to succeed in life.

More importantly, these virtues led me to revert to Islam during my final years of undergraduate education. Not only did I see the beauty of the religion as the Truth from our Creator, but I also learned that I was the descendant of Moriscos, and this assisted me in reconnecting with my ancestors. However, I wasn’t privileged enough to have the guidance and support of my family. On the contrary, I had to face a great number of repercussions which ultimately forced me to become homeless, living out of my car and a musallah for nearly a year. Of course, my parents would eventually come around, but it was quite a turbulent time for me, testing not only my faith, but my dedication to the virtues instilled in me prior. In other words, I had to fight for my convictions to the point where they became a matter of life and death, making me appreciate them more and reminding me never to play fast and loose with them.

After this, I wanted to pursue an Islamic education, so I applied to the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization (ISTAC) in Malaysia, founded by the Muslim philosopher, Prof. Syed Naquib al-Attas. I sold my car, many other belongings, and with some help from some generous Muslim donors, I was able to fly over and pay for my first year’s tuition. Over the next few years, I worked as an English instructor and edited theses, sometimes living off two-dollar meals a day just to survive long enough to acquire my masters degree. There I learned more about the values of honor and integrity and did my best to reform myself from my previous life. After graduating, I worked for the Universiti of Malaya’s Shari’ah Law department on counter-terrorism research. This eventually gave me the opportunity to work with the government in counter-terrorism efforts across the country. I had also become employed as a research assistant at the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies under Prof. Hashim Kamali. And although I didn’t agree with some of the professor’s liberal leanings, he too appreciated honor and integrity, going so far as to punish a senior fellow for attempting to steal my research. So, I respected him a great deal for upholding those virtues I valued most.

This was also during the time when Sh. Omar Suleiman offered me a non-paid position as a fellow for Yaqeen Institute. I graciously accepted and soon began working with Daniel Haqiqatjou, the ‘Director of Religion and Scientism’. Needless to say, I became acquainted with him and his perspective on many things (more than most). He peer reviewed my first paper and would discuss philosophy with me at times, often referencing postmodern thinkers. Eventually he was no longer with Yaqeen and we never spoke again. However, as time went by, I noticed his increasing hostility towards my peers and frequent posturing as some rogue orthodox alternative; relying on the privilege of his Harvard degree and former affiliation with the institute to gain clout as the “educated native informant” seeking to correct all the wrongs with the ummah by taking down the “misguided” organization he used to work for.

At this point the reader might be thinking I have a problem with privilege, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m very happy with the life Allah has given me – the test and trials I had to endure to get to where I am today. And frankly, privilege is something I certainly would never want to be tested with. Individuals who are given much often take their gifts for granted, eventually convincing themselves the rules no longer apply to them. Such people can succumb to viewing the world as though below their feet, exhibiting callous and hypocritical behavior as they make a mockery of the principles they claim to subscribe to. This is especially the case for those who hold positions of influence or power.

Hence my motivation for writing this article. I cannot stand by any longer as Daniel continues to violate the rights of other Muslims, dishonestly shaming scholars and students of knowledge, based on false claims about the religion of Allah. I can no longer sit idly by as he undermines the work so many have done for the sake of Allah. And I can no longer tolerate his lack of integrity. In summary, I’m writing this missive to remind my brother of his blessings and duty towards his principles, all the while defending the reputations of those he has dishonorably accused of wrongdoing.

Have I been put up this? No. I chose to do this knowing full well that only someone as broken as myself could break this false idol – someone who has been through enough in life to know when others are being authentic to themselves and their convictions or just posturing and misguiding the masses.

That said, I do hope the reader will benefit from my rejoinder. In the very least, they might find something of interest in this seemingly perennial war of words between Andalusians and Persians. However, rest assured, this time, the Andalusian is right.

Finally, I’d like to acknowledge that although I am the sole author of this piece, several individuals assisted me with evidence and suggestions, reviewing my arguments for their validity and soundness. For that I am grateful and would not have been able to publish this missive without them. Likewise, I wish to thank my loving wife for her comforting support over these last few months. May Allah reward them all for their time, efforts, and trust in my abilities.

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Purpose of Rebuttal

It is important for Muslims to adhere to the guidance of Islam in all aspects of life, and offering and receiving criticism is no different.

In the introduction to his work Masaa’id al-Nadhar, Imam al-Biqa’i (d. 1481 C.E.) expressed the importance of welcoming criticism, going so far as to say, “Had I the means, I would spend my wealth upon whoever notified me of my mistake, and give a dinar to anyone who told me about an error.” However, he discusses the phenomenon of insincere critics, who are more interested in smearing the reputation of their fellow Muslim than actually contacting them to correct or clarify what was written.[1]

Instead of following the Islamic method of criticism, many Muslims have begun to blindly follow the “cancel culture” of liberal social justice warriors. Ironically enough, this is especially the case among those Muslims who think they’re opposing Liberalism. To make matters worse, honesty and accuracy are completely lacking in celebrity critics, whose only goal appears to be fashioning tabloid style hit-pieces filled with memes and shocking headlines. This is particularly concerning since honesty and accuracy (adalah and dabt) are the two requirements in Hadith sciences for a transmitter. Lacking either of these qualities disqualifies someone as a teacher of religion, let alone a critic of others.

As such, the purpose of this article is three-fold:

  1. To evaluate the criticisms raised against Yaqeen Institute and its fellows.
  2. To highlight instances of clear dishonesty and errors on the part of Daniel Haqiqatjou.
  3. To teach fellow Muslims the value of proper argumentation and integrity.

With respect to the first, this missive will showcase that Yaqeen Institute and its fellows are innocent of accusations that the organization is attempting to “sneak in secular liberal ideologies” into the ummah or support the LGBT agenda and other such deviances. 

With respect to the second, this document aims to provide evidence that Daniel Haqiqatjou employs dishonest and fallacious strategies to undermine the credibility and reputation of Yaqeen Institute and its fellows. Attacking the reputations of scholars and students of knowledge with false accusations (based on dishonest representations of their words and opinions) is a grave sin in our tradition worthy of contempt. As Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (d. 1393) states:

As for someone whose purpose  for criticising scholars is known or understood to be to belittle or defame them or only to expose their faults, then he deserves punishment so that he and those similar to him will be prevented from these transgressions and forbidden actions….As for written words in compiled and authored books, they should be understood and assumed in the best possible manner (desiring to guide and bring good). Thus, when someone assumes otherwise in the word of someone whose knowledge and good character are recognised, he becomes similar to one who assumes evil in an innocent person, which is from the types of suspicion that Allah and His Messenger (ﷺ) forbade. So he falls under the saying of Allah, the Most Perfect: “But whoever earns an offense or a sin and then blames it on an innocent [person] has taken upon himself a slander and manifest sin” (Al-Qur’an, 4:112)….And, in this case, his refutation was only for the sake of exposing the faults and shortcomings of scholars (who desire to guide and bring about good), so he deserves to be countered with contempt and degradation.

Ibn Rajab (2016) Difference Between Advising and Shaming, Trans. Dar as-Sunnah Publishers, pp. 41-43.

As result of his unethical strategies, Daniel tends to espouse opinions about Islam which are quite deviant, having been derived from postmodernist philosophy rather than the Qur’an and Sunnah. Unfortunately, he has gained a following of individuals who not only refuse to question his methodology, but adopt it unconditionally. It is my hope that this paper will compel Daniel to repent and publicly apologize to those he’s harmed. Likewise, I hope his followers will be persuaded that he has misguided them and similarly repent and apologize for supporting his un-Islamic behavior and opinions.

With respect to the third, this paper intends to showcase proper academic methodology and argumentation, teaching Muslims how to assess the validity and soundness of claims while providing adequate references and explanations. It is my hope that by the end of this missive, the reader should be able to differentiate between sound reasoning based on academic integrity and fallacy-ridden tabloid polemics.

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Author’s Methodology

This document is a critical evaluation of Daniel Haqiqatjou and the Muslim Skeptic Team’s article “Reviewing Yaqeen Institute: A Source of Certainty or Doubt?”.[1] Considering their essay is roughly 57,000 words (114 pages), there is an overwhelming amount of content that needs to be addressed. However, given there are common themes and objections woven throughout, I will only focus on what I consider to be the most important topics. As such, only 68% of his essay (38,400 words or 77 pages) will be analyzed. This amount should suffice in fulfilling the stated ‘Purpose’ above. That said, I may add additional sections at a later point upon reconsideration.


Secondly, the topics I’ve chosen to focus on – corresponding to the section numbers from the target article – are as follows: 

TopicDaniel’s Review Section(s) %
Yaqeen Methodology1.0-1.66% (3,500 words)
Shari’ah 8.0-8.7, 5.2-5.4, 4.8  39% (22,500 words)
LGBT7.0-7.1, 3.29% (4,900 words)
Affiliations & Promotions9.0-9.63% (1,700 words)
CVE2.0-2.47% (3,700 words)
Age of Aisha 4.31% (500 words)
Evolution6.0-6.13% (1,600 words)

Note that the ‘Yaqeen Methodology’ sections are not addressed explicitly since they largely summarize the other topics. However, quotes from these sections may be utilized from time to time as supplementary evidence. Likewise, articles from Daniel’s website, videos from his Youtube channel, and his Tweets may also be included. 


Thirdly, in order to properly fulfill the purpose of this evaluation, I will emphasize and collect three types of errors throughout this document, counting and categorizing them accordingly. The three types and their explanations are as follows: 

1. Fallacies of Logic:

Since some readers may not be familiar with the proper names of certain logical fallacies, I will document and explain each one as they arise. In short, a fallacy can be thought of as simply an “error in reasoning”.[2] It’s very similar to making an error in a mathematical equation – if one step is off, then it’s impossible to reach the proper conclusion. Similarly, if an argument contains any fallacious reasoning, then it can be dismissed. Here is an example of a fallacy:[3]

The ‘Fallacy of Traditional Wisdom’ is even considered an error by the Qur’an. For instance, Allah condemned the pagan Arabs for relying on it over the Truth:

And when it is said to them, “Come to what Allah has revealed and to the Messenger,” they say, “Sufficient for us is that upon which we found our fathers.” Even though their fathers knew nothing, nor were they guided?

Al-Qur’an, 5:104

As shown above, pointing out fallacies is a legitimate means towards undermining arguments. Daniel himself would agree that fallacies are errors, because he too studied philosophy at the academic level. In fact, he even promotes and teaches courses on proper reasoning and argumentation:[4]

2. Errors of Fact:

This is somewhat self-explanatory. Errors of fact are simply errors involving the misinterpretation of information or inaccurate claims in general. It might also involve the misuse of sources (although this is usually a fallacy). 

3. Hypocritical Behavior/Claims:

Although hypocritical behavior and claims do not undermine the validity or soundness of one’s arguments, they do tend to undermine one’s credibility, especially if a person attempts to justify it. Islam’s emphasis on integrity should encourage us towards introspection and consistency in our actions. As such, one who engages in hypocritical behavior or claims should be regarded as lacking sincerity in matter’s they’re preaching about.

Fourthly, I will do my best to be as fair as possible while giving Daniel the benefit of the doubt when necessary. I will attempt to judge him according to what I believe he would find to be “fair” by his own standards of critique. For instance, I expect him not to make rudimentary mistakes in logic and English. Although mistakes do happen at times, even by those regarded as experts in their field, when a philosophy major consistently and overwhelmingly displays fallacious reasoning and errors of fact, it grants greater plausibility to the conclusion that they’re being dishonest rather than incompetent.


Fifthly, this missive will follow a structured format. As can be seen on the right-hand side of the reader’s screen, there is a ‘Table of Contents’ which should direct them to each section of the article. The reader will notice that each section is designed with the very same structure and elements. For instance, each section has a header title; body paragraphs with arguments and explanations; footnotes which lead to a bibliography; pictures marked with a black border or a slider function for multiple images, often displaying Daniel’s comments or other forms of evidence; block quotes with a grey background emphasizing evidence; an end summary concisely outlining each error, the number of errors found in the section, and the total number of errors found in his article; and finally a link returning the reader to the ‘Table of the Contents’:


Finally, this missive will assume everything written in Daniel’s review of Yaqeen Institute is by his own design and that he is ultimately responsible for its defects. That said, where another author is explicitly mentioned, it will be noted. However, Daniel will still bear the burden of his team’s errors, seeing as he oversees and publishes every article on his website.

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Summary of Findings

After an exhaustive analysis of the chosen sections for this missive, I have thus far found a total of 160+ major errors consisting of various fallacies of logic, factual inaccuracies, and hypocritical statements/behaviors which not only conclusively prove that Daniel Haqiqatjou is dishonest with regard to his accusations against Yaqeen Institute, but largely ignorant of many of the topics he discusses. Considering these errors undermine 68% of Daniel’s review, the reader should consider the entirety of his essay compromised and his academic integrity largely non-existent. At any credible educational institution, a thesis with this many errors would immediately be failed and the student expelled for having violated university honor codes. Such a paper wouldn’t even be accepted for peer review in an academic journal, and the author would most likely be blacklisted for unethical conduct. More importantly, our traditional scholars would warn against taking knowledge from such an individual and demand they repent for their sins.

That said, these findings will be updated in the near future given that certain sections have yet to be fully edited for publication. In the meantime, here are the total number of errors per section:

TopicDaniel’s Review Section(s) Errors
Shari’ah 8.0-8.7, 5.2-5.4, 4.8  101
Affiliations & Promotions9.0-9.6 13
Age of Aisha4.32
Evolution 6.0-6.1 19
LGBT   7.0-7.1, 3.2(forthcoming)
CVE2.0-2.4 18
TOTAL153

The severity of these errors cannot be overestimated. To provide a glimpse into what the reader should expect from this analysis, let us examine examples where Daniel commits tahreef which is the act of altering words and statements to change their meaning. Below is a small sample of some of the more egregious errors where Daniel literally modifies the statements of Yaqeen fellows/contributors to falsely accuse them of deviancy:

  • ERROR #13

Daniel accuses Senior Fellow Dr. Edward Moad of advocating for “pure, unadulterated liberalism” and then quotes him, framing the paragraph as though it represents Dr. Moad’s own convictions:

However, this is a clear case of dishonesty. How so? Daniel deliberately removes the first and last sentences of the paragraph where Dr. Moad explicitly summarizes that the middle passage is a view he disagrees with:

  • ERROR #64

Daniel quotes a statement by Justin Parrot and accuses him believing that Muslims have an “obligation” to “inwardly fulfill human rights and dignity” in order to receive salvation. He then goes on to accuse him of “making up his own religion” (i.e. kufr):

This is yet another case of dishonesty. How so? The bolded claim is not referencing “human rights and dignity”, but three Islamic virtues mentioned in the first half of the paragraph Daniel deliberately removes. This is made more evident by the fact that “human rights” and dignity” are only mentioned in this passage as something “we can pursue an understanding” of, not things meant to be “fulfilled”:

  • ERROR #116

Daniel quotes Yaqeen contributor Dr. David Jalajel and accuses him of believing Adam and Eve are “mythical” (i.e. kufr):

Again, Daniel deliberately misrepresents a fellow Muslim by removing surrounding statements. At no point did Dr. Jalajel claim that Adam and Eve are “mythical” akin to “allegorical stories of old” that some Christians and Jews concede to. On the contrary he’s describing the beliefs of those he disagrees with. First, we need to look at the paragraph prior to the one Daniel is quoting from where Dr. Jalajel explicitly states that he accepts the orthodox Islamic position on Adam and Eve and refuses to challenge it:

Now, let us examine the paragraph Daniel quotes from. The reader will immediately notice that Dr. Jalajel brings up the word “mythical” to describe what “scientifically-minded critics” would argue. He then examines the meaning of the word and then ultimately attempts to use the critics’ argument against them:

Dr. Jalajel offers a conditional statement to showcase how the critics undermine their own claims. He states clearly “If it could be argued that Adam and Eve are “mythical”…then by the same logic, it is impossible for science to critique the special creation of Adam and Eve”. But not only does Daniel leave out all the preceding context leading up to this sentence, he completely modifies the statement to make it appear as though Dr. Jalajel believes Adam and Eve are “mythical”. The reader should notice that Daniel only quotes the highlighted portion, removing “If” and the dependent clause after the comma. He then capitalizes “it” and replaces the comma with a period, transforming a very clear conditional statement into a declarative one. And he does all of this just so he can accuse Dr. Jalajel of kufr.

For those who may still not quite understand the problem here, let’s substitute Dr. Jalajels comments with the Qur’an, and then apply Daniel’s methodology. Utilizing the slides below, imagine someone quotes ayah 43:81, but removes the preceding context, the word “if”, and the dependent clause. Subsequently, they capitalize the second word and replace the comma with a period. The result? They conclude the Qur’an teaches “Allah had a son.” (Astaghfir’Allah). Would anyone consider this a legitimate approach? Would any sincere Muslims see this as honest? No.

  • ERROR #120

Daniel’s dishonesty extends to the way he defends himself from criticism. After some discovered Daniel’s deceptive tactics surrounding Dr. Jalajel, he attempted to respond by denying he ever accused the latter of believing that Adam and Eve were “allegorical”:

But this is patently false, as the preceding error shows. Daniel clearly attempted to connect Dr. Jalajel’s use of the word “mythical” to the concessions of some Christians and Jews who think their scriptures are “allegorical stories of old”. As such, Daniel even employs dishonest tactics to evade sincere criticism.

These four examples are only a very small sample of Daniel’s unethical methods. There are in fact many more scattered throughout his essay which I have identified, explained, and documented for the reader.


Finally, it should be noted that Daniel primarily uses rhetorical questions to make his accusations. As such, these inquiries should almost never be seen as neutral. On the contrary, Daniel will usually ask questions and then answer them immediately after. For instance, when he falsely accuses Justin Parrot of deviancy:

In some cases, Daniel is more blatant:

Although there isn’t anything wrong per se with rhetorical questions, the reader should not be led to believe that Daniel is engaging in serious inquiry. His questions are ultimately meant to persuade, not to provoke honest discourse or clarification.

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Yaqeen Institute & Shari’ah

In this section, I analyze Daniel’s most forceful criticisms of Yaqeen Institute where he challenges several fellows for their “liberalization” of the Shari’ah. More specifically we will be looking at Sections (8.0 – 8.7), (5.2 – 5.4), and (4.8), which make up roughly 22,500 words or nearly 40% of his entire article. After deconstructing his arguments, I found 101 major errors which completely undermine his claims and credibility.

The Scope of Shari’ah

In order to garner a more comprehensive understanding of these errors, let us start with the introduction to Section (8) of his article:[1]

From the very beginning, Daniel commits what is known as the fallacy of scope, which is “improperly changing or misrepresenting the scope of a phrase”[2]. He fallaciously limits the scope of Dr. Khan’s phrase “it [the Shari’ah] represents a holistic approach to increasing prosperity in society” to material/worldly prosperity devoid of spirituality and family. But this is clearly a misrepresentation. Not only does Daniel fail to offer evidence in support of his assertion, he neglects statements within the very same paragraph which run contrary to it.

Khan clearly states that among the five objectives of the Shari’ah, the preservation of faith and family are crucial – because faith and family make up society, they aren’t alien to it. Therefore, by making this objection, is Daniel inferring society doesn’t include one’s faith and family? This is absurd.

Also, what is the problem with Dr. Khan asserting the Shari’ah “represents a holistic approach to increasing prosperity in society”? The Shari’ah is for society’s prosperity both in the dunya and the akhira. Indeed, although the word means “a path,” it is the path to Allah (not “a path to Allah” as Daniel so carelessly misconstrues) which makes man prosperous in all his affairs. The Qur’an stipulates just as much:

Seek the life to come by means of what God has granted you, but do not neglect your rightful share in this world. Do good to others as God has done good to you. Do not seek to spread corruption in the land, for God does not love those who do this.

Al-Qur’an, 28:77

And when you have completed your rites, remember Allah like your [previous] remembrance of your fathers or with [much] greater remembrance. And among the people is he who says, “Our Lord, give us in this world,” and he will have in the Hereafter no share. But among them is he who says, “Our Lord, give us in this world [that which is] good and in the Hereafter [that which is] good and protect us from the punishment of the Fire.” (Al-Qur’an, 2:200-201)

Al-Qur’an, 2:200-201


The language used by Dr. Khan was simple and straightforward. Therefore, it is difficult to understand the source of Daniel’s misinterpretation other than sheer dishonesty.

Service to Humanity vs. Secular Humanism

Daniel quotes Yaqeen fellows who emphasize service to humanity, suggesting their sentiments undermine the Shari’ah by conveying a “distinctly humanist doctrine”. In response to Sh. Omar Suleiman’s statements he asks a very rudimentary question regarding Islamic doctrine: “Were humans created to serve humanity or worship Allah?”. Here, Daniel commits the false dichotomy fallacy, which is “a false dilemma fallacy that limits you unfairly to two choices,”[3] by assuming that these two actions somehow differ from one another. However, in Islam, serving humanity and worshiping Allah are one and the same. The Qur’an makes this clear in numerous places, first by informing jinn and mankind for what purpose we were created for: “And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me” (Al Qur’an, 51:56).

Allah then clarifies what this worship entails by designating man as khalifa (i.e. successive authority) over creation:

And [mention, O Muhammad], when your Lord said to the angels, “Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority.” They said, “Will You place upon it one who causes corruption therein and sheds blood, while we declare Your praise and sanctify You?” Allah said, “Indeed, I know that which you do not know.”

Al-Qur’an, 2:30

Indeed, we offered the Trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, and they declined to bear it and feared it; but man [undertook to] bear it. Indeed, he was unjust and ignorant. [It was] so that Allah may punish the hypocrite men and hypocrite women and the men and women who associate others with Him and that Allah may accept repentance from the believing men and believing women. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.

Al-Qur’an, 33:72-73

This is emphasized further when Allah declares that the purpose of the Muslim ummah is to serve as a witness and example unto mankind:

And thus we have made you a just community that you will be witnesses over the people and the Messenger will be a witness over you…

Al-Qur’an, 2:143

You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah…

Al-Qur’an, 3:110

Thus, worship is not simply an individual act, but a communal one meant for both our benefit and the rest of humanity. Allah even condemns those who go beyond the bounds of proper worship by practicing monasticism: : 

We sent other messengers to follow in their footsteps. After those We sent Jesus, son of Mary: We gave him the Gospel and put compassion and mercy into the hearts of his followers. But monasticism was something they invented- We did not ordain it for them- only to seek God’s pleasure, and even so, they did not observe it properly. So We gave a reward to those of them who believed, but many of them were defiantly disobedient.

Al-Qur’an, 57:27

Indeed, worshiping Allah only benefits mankind, as He states in numerous ayat:

O mankind, worship your Lord, who created you and those before you, that you may become righteous.

Al-Qur’an, 2:21

If you do good, you do good for yourselves; and if you do evil, [you do it] to yourselves… 

Al-Qur’an, 17:7

And whoever turns away from My remembrance – indeed, he will have a depressed life, and We will gather him on the Day of Resurrection blind.

Al-Qur’an, 20:124

We endowed Luqman with wisdom: ‘Be thankful to God: whoever gives thanks benefits his own soul, and as for those who are thankless––Allah is self-sufficient, worthy of all praise.’

Al-Qur’an 31:12

In authentic ahadith found in Sunan Abi Dawud and Sahih Bukhari, the Prophet (ﷺ) declares our lack of gratitude to people as an offense to Allah – equivalent to being ungrateful to Him – and our service to all living creatures as a means of reward:

Narrated Abu Hurayrah: The Prophet (ﷺ) said: He who does not thank the people is not thankful to Allah.

Sunan Abi Dawud, 4811 [4]

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “While a man was walking on a road. he became very thirsty. Then he came across a well, got down into it, drank (of its water) and then came out. Meanwhile he saw a dog panting and licking mud because of excessive thirst. The man said to himself “This dog is suffering from the same state of thirst as I did.” So he went down the well (again) and filled his shoe (with water) and held it in his mouth and watered the dog. Allah thanked him for that deed and forgave him.” The people asked, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! Is there a reward for us in serving the animals?” He said, “(Yes) There is a reward for serving any animate (living being).”

Sahih Bukhari, 6009 [5]

Allah declares elsewhere that He has no need of our worship and that it doesn’t benefit Him in any way: “O mankind, you are those in need of Allah, while Allah is Free of need, the Praiseworthy” (Al-Qur’an, 35:15). We find this more explicitly articulated in a hadith found in Sahih Muslim where the Prophet (ﷺ) narrates this Divine Sentiment as follows:

Abu Dharr reported Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) as saying that Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, said:“…O My servants, you can neither do Me any harm nor can you do Me any good. O My servants, even if the first amongst you and the last amongst you and even the whole of human race of yours, and that of jinns even, become (equal in) God-conscious like the heart of a single person amongst you, nothing would add to My Power. O My servants, even if the first amongst you and the last amongst you and the whole human race of yours and that of the Jinns too in unison become the most wicked (all beating) like the heart of a single person, it would cause no loss to My Power. O My servants, even if the first amongst you and the last amongst you and the whole human race of yours and that of jinns also all stand in one plain ground and you ask Me and I confer upon every person what he asks for, it would not. in any way, cause any loss to Me (even less) than that which is caused to the ocean by dipping the needle in it…”

Sahih Muslim, 2577a [6]

Therefore, Muslim worship necessarily entails benefiting mankind. So yes, the most beautiful part of the Muslim community is when we stand united in fulfilling our Divinely sanctioned purpose as khulafa of creation, worshiping Allah through service to mankind for the benefit of mankind – not simply ourselves. Indeed, this is the holiest ambition for any mu’min. As such, Daniel’s concerns with Sh. Omar and Dr. Khan’s statements are unfounded. In fact, Sh. Omar has even clarified the nature of faith-based service in his article “Faithful Activism: A Sunnah Framework”:

Preservation of faith:


Seeking to practice without being denied the right to fulfill any of the components of the deen. We insist on a dignified existence as American Muslims without having to relinquish our Islam to be acceptable to anyone else. Political acceptance without religious freedom in its true sense is of no benefit to us.


Participation with faith:


Beyond dawah, we seek to be people of service and active participants in the construction of a better society. This should not be for the sake of good public relations, but out of a sense of scriptural imperative. If the Prophet ﷺ was described as a mercy to the worlds, how do we become a mercy to our worlds? If we are called to be witnesses unto mankind that establish justice for all, what does that look like for us as an increasingly vulnerable minority?

Omar Suleiman (2020) “Faithful Activism: A Sunnah Framework” [7]

Likewise, Dr. Khan has an article on this very subject aptly titled “Divine Duty: Islam and Social Justice”.[8] With respect to Dr. Moad’s statement, his position is validated by the above proofs as well. That said, Daniel deliberately avoids quoting his statement in its entirety, committing what is known as the fallacy of quoting out of context.[9] How so? We need only read the entire paragraph to see that Dr. Moad argues against the very “humanist doctrine” Daniel accuses him of conveying:

Reverence for the Divine is therefore impossible without reverence for the human. Likewise, true reverence for the human is impossible without reverence for the Divine. In relation to this position, two opposite extremes can be conceived. One is that reverence for God requires the rejection of reverence for the human. The other is that reverence for the human requires the rejection of reverence for God. The first extreme has appeared, historically, in the guise of various so-called ‘fundamentalisms’—both religious and secular. It seems to be the implicit rationale that motivates takfiri extremism. The second extreme is the primary premise of the secular ‘humanism’ that claims reverence for humanity as its rationale for atheism and the elimination of all forms of religion.

Omar Muad (2017) “Honored Since Adam: Islam and the Value of Human Freedom” [10]

Even so, Dr. Moad’s statements regarding “reverence for the human” are rooted in the Qur’an:

And We have certainly honored the children of Adam and carried them on the land and sea and provided for them of the good things and preferred them over much of what We have created, with [definite] preference.

Al-Qur’an, 17:70

Based on the above, Daniel’s accusation that Yaqeen Institute is “conveying a distinctly humanist doctrine” is unfounded. Using his own standards, he would be forced to claim the Qur’an and Sunnah are “distinctly humanist doctrines”. It appears his misunderstanding is rooted in his assumption that Humanism merely entails concern for humanity. In reality, Humanism is distinct from Islam not because it seeks benefit for mankind, but because it is ‘humancentric’ as opposed to ‘theocentric’. As my brother in faith and mentor, Abdullah al-Andalusi, clarifies:

Some Muslims call for Humanism claiming it means to ‘only look after the rights of Humans’. But this too is naive and false. For Humanism refers to a human centric worldview, where humans ‘are the measure of all things’ and ‘this life’ is the primary concern of thought, and not anything else, including God. That’s why virtually all Humanists today are Atheists. If Atheism is their creed (aqeedah), then Humanism is the religion (deen) of this creed.

Abdullah Al-Andalusi (2013) “False Coins” [11]

For Humanists, the worldly life is all that matters, and man is the measure of all things – they separate service to mankind from worship of the Divine, defining benefit purely from the perspective of a non-religious paradigm.[12] For Muslims, however, the prosperity of man lies in both this world and the hereafter by the Will of Allah. Thus, the true difference between the two is that one seeks the benefit of mankind as defined by our Creator, whereas humanists seek it by way of their own desires: 

But the deeds of those who disbelieve are like a mirage in a desert: the thirsty person thinks there will be water but, when he gets there, he finds only Allah, Who pays him his account in full – Allah is swift in reckoning.

Al-Qur’an, 24:39

According to Daniel, serving others is only a means to an end and not an act of worship itself. Contrary to the Qur’an and Sunnah, he seems to view being a khalifa of creation as fundamentally distinct from the very goal he desires to achieve (i.e. worship of Allah). Ironically, this conveys the very “distinctly humanist doctrine” he accuses Yaqeen Institute of harboring.

More peculiar still is Daniel’s reasoning that these statements about service to humanity (found in only one video and two articles) somehow amounts to evidence that Yaqeen Institute’s mission is to spread Secular Humanism. He claims: “As they say, once is a fluke; twice a coincidence; three times is a pattern. Four or more times – well, that’s a bona fide doctrine.” But where does this reasoning come from? What validity does it hold at all? Who are “they” that say this? Cherry-picked statements aren’t “proof” of anything. From a logical standpoint, this amounts to the fallacy of confirmation bias, which is “the tendency to look for evidence in favor of one’s controversial hypothesis and not to look for disconfirming evidence, or to pay insufficient attention to it.”[13]

This is especially the case since Yaqeen Institute has far more papers on the spiritual aspects of worship than it does service to mankind. A quick perusal of the website shows there to be at least 24 papers on ‘Spirituality and Psychology’ alone, with titles such as “The Spiritual Psychology of Worship”, “A Loan of Love: Appreciating the Blessing of Family in Difficult Times”, “In Hardship and in Ease: How to Rely on God,” etc.[14] Also, under the section ‘Theology’ there are 25 papers which include titles such as “Repentance, Redemption, & Salvation: An Islamic Framework”, “Islam, Iman, Ihsan: Climbing the Spiritual Mountain” and an entire series on the “The Proofs of Prophethood.”[15] So, according to Daniel’s fallacious reasoning, do these 49 papers discussing spirituality and theological topics related to faith count more as evidence of Yaqeen’s perception of Islamic theology – contrary to his claims that they advance Humanism as “theologically central”? Daniel’s confirmation bias is dishonest and only damages the level of discourse in our community. May Allah protect us.

That said, Daniel may attempt to respond by stating that when he accused Yaqeen Institute of propagating “Humanism” he was simply referring to some benign theologically grounded variant and not Secular Humanism per se (the most commonly held understanding of the concept). However, this would clearly be false, because in Section (5) of his article he clearly singles out Yaqeen for “slavishly catering to [secular] humanism”[16]:


SUMMARY:

  • Commits the scope fallacy by unreasonably limiting the scope of Dr. Khan’s phrase.
  • Asserts the Shariah is “a path to Allah” and not “the path to Allah”. The use of the indefinite article here implies there is more than one path to Allah, which is an unorthodox position.
  • Commits a false dichotomy fallacy by unreasonably offering only two mutually exclusive options in his question.
  • Commits the fallacy of quoting out of context, by neglecting to cite the latter portion of Dr. Moad’s statements which reflect his opposition to Secular Humanism.
  • Claims that Muslims benefiting mankind (i.e. making society prosperous in this life and the hereafter) is only a “means to” worship and not worship itself, thereby promoting a theologically backwards view of the Qur’an and Sunnah. Also implies the perspective of the Qur’an and Sunnah is “[Secular] Humanism”.
  • Commits the fallacy of confirmation bias by selectively quoting only three sources to accuse Yaqeen of promoting Secular Humanism, despite the fact that there is far greater evidence to the contrary.
  • Effectively undermines his own argument (i.e. cherry-picked anecdotes = a doctrine of Secular Humanism) because there are far more instances where Yaqeen Institute focuses on purely spiritual aspects of worship.

Section Errors: 7 / TOTAL: 7

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Takfir is Contrary to Islam

In Section (8.1) of his article,[1] Daniel responds to another excerpt from Dr. Khan who attempts to explain one of the central dogmas of groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS. Here, he accuses Dr. Khan of conflating a normative Islamic praxis with extremism:

However, this is a strawman fallacy which is to “attribute an easily refuted position to your opponent, one that the opponent wouldn’t endorse, and then proceed to attack the easily refuted position (the straw man) believing you have thereby undermined the opponent’s actual position.”[2] Nowhere does Dr. Khan conflate the ideas of extremists with Islam – quite the contrary. The first clue is within the very excerpt Daniel quotes, which clearly states that the form of takfir utilized by extremists is the “excommunication of any Muslim who disagrees with their principles.” Although subtle in its emphasis, Dr. Khan clearly mentions the principles of extremists, not of Islam per se. He outlines these principles earlier in the same paper:

So what are the characteristic components of the ideology that defines modern-day groups like ISIS? Their mythology may be summarized as comprising five key pillars: 1) Caliphal Utopianism; 2) Dehumanization in the name of Walaa’wal-Baraa’; 3) Takfeerism; 4) Totalitarian Jihad; and 5) Apocalypticism.

Nazir Khan (2016) “Forever on Trial: Islam and the Charge of Violence” [3]

This is made more evident by the fact that the excerpt Daniel quotes follows the subsection title “Takfir Absolutism”, which further qualifies the type of tafkir Dr. Khan is discussing:

Daniel omits these portions of the article from the reader in order to cast doubt on the author’s position. Also, Islamic orthodoxy does not foster a principle known as “Takfeerism” or “Takfeer Absolutism” – a doctrine which apparently permits Muslims to excommunicate others simply for disagreeing with them (not Islam per se). This line of thinking is more in line with ISIS’ principles and contrary to centuries of scholarship. For further clarification regarding Dr. Khan’s statements, refer to his explanation of the nature of takfir in his article “Difference of Opinion: Where Do We Draw the Line?” where he states the following:

The act of pronouncing disbelief (takfīr) is a type of legal edict deemed the exclusive prerogative of trained theologians and jurists and is of two types: al-takfīr al-muṭlaq (generic pronouncement) and takfir al-muʿayyan (pronouncement on a specific individual). The former took the form of general pronouncements on actions (e.g., “Anyone who deliberately prostrates to an idol has disbelieved” or “Anyone who deliberately desecrates the muṣhaf has disbelieved”), statements (e.g., “Anyone who curses God and His Messenger has disbelieved”), beliefs (e.g., “Anyone who believes that God doesn’t know the future has disbelieved”), or groups (e. g., “The Jahmīyah are disbelievers”)


On the other hand, takfīr al-muʿayyan entails making a pronouncement on a specific individual, which the scholars in general were reticent to do; they therefore stipulated numerous conditions as well as various precluding factors (mawāniʿ). The latter included avoiding making pronouncements against those who were new to the faith, who grew up in distant lands with limited information, and those who lived in times and places where ignorance and misinformation predominated. It was ubiquitously acknowledged that takfīr of a statement or belief did not entail a judgment on the person. Ibn Taymīyah states, “Not everyone who utters a statement of disbelief disbelieves; rather it is only when decisive proof of its disbelief is established for that person.” The conditions Ibn Taymīyah stipulates for takfīr al-muʿayyan in the manifestly known matters of faith (al-masāʾil al-ẓāhirah) include maturity, sound mental health, intentionality, absence of coercion, and absence of unique extenuating circumstances (i.e., the aforementioned scenarios of one who lives in a distant land, a new convert, or someone living in a place of extreme ignorance), while in the less obvious matters of faith (al-masāʾil al-khafīyah) one could be excused for ignorance (ʿudhr bi-al-jahl), misconceptions (shubhah), or misinterpretation (taʾwīl khāṭiʾ)


There is an incredibly stern warning in Islam against making pronouncements of disbelief against a fellow believer. The Prophet Muḥammad ﷺ stated, “Whoever says to his brother, ‘O disbeliever’ then surely one of them is such.” In other words, it is a tremendous sin to declare someone outside the fold of Islam on the basis of presumptions, and this matter should never be taken lightly by a faithful believer. The matter of takfīr is a matter of issuing a religious edict and legal verdict when it is absolutely necessary to do so, and is a matter left to those with qualified scholarship.

Nazir Khan (2019) “Difference of Opinion: Where Do We Draw the Line?” [4]

Given the above, it’s evident that Daniel misconstrued Dr. Khan’s earlier excerpts. Even if one were to argue that the initial paper “wasn’t clear enough”, there is no excuse for accusing Dr. Khan nor Yaqeen of promoting “takfir is contrary to Islam”. It is all the more shocking considering Daniel admits himself to having read the very paper just mentioned.

Daniel’s next error relates to the following excerpt:

I agree with Daniel here that the hadith has not been translated in its customary form. That said, Dr. Khan’s rendering appears to reflect the meaning (mafhum) of the phrase “illa haara alayh” as understood by scholars such as Imam Nawawi in his Shar Sahih Muslim.[5] However, he has since edited the translation to its more conventional form. That said, notice here how Daniel essentially agrees with Dr. Khan’s views on takfir, but still claims the latter holds an opposing view, despite knowing this to be false. As he admits himself:

Instead of acknowledging his actual position, Daniel chooses to suggest Dr. Khan “contradicts himself” and that his views have somehow changed. He then goes on to ask why the paper has yet to be corrected. However, there is no evidence to suggest Dr. Khan contradicted himself or changed his views. On the contrary, Daniel has committed what is known as the hedging fallacy which is “when you refine your claim simply to avoid counter evidence and then act as if your revised claim is the same as the original.”[6]

First, Daniel accuses Dr. Khan of suggesting “takfir is contrary to Islam,” despite this clearly not being the case. Second, instead of acknowledging this, Daniel preemptively counters any evidence against his accusation by asserting Dr. Khan is “contradicting himself,” attempting to divert the reader’s attention towards Yaqeen’s peer review standards. The reason this is fallacious is because there are two mutually exclusive claims at play here – you cannot on one hand accuse the author of holding an erroneous position while simultaneously complaining they no longer hold that position (just to undermine their institute’s academic integrity). Either Dr. Khan actually believes takfir is contrary to Islam or he doesn’t and the organization didn’t catch the error. It can’t be both. In any case, Daniel’s insistence that the reader regard a vague statement as contradicting more explicit ones is contrary to Islamic ethos, especially with respect to how we interpret the words of our fellow Muslims. As the great scholar Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 1328 C.E.) remarked with respect to how a speaker/writer should be understood in matters of religion:

It is known that what explains the speaker’s words eliminates its ambiguity, and his explicit words take precedence over his figurative words. When he issues a statement explicit in its meaning along with an ambiguous statement, which might contradict that meaning or not, it is not unequivocally interpreted to contradict it unless it reaches the level of unbelief. Otherwise, it would be among the excesses of ignorance and wrongdoing.

Taqi al-Din ibn Taymiyyah (2005) Al-Istighathah fi al-Radd ‘ala al-Bakri, 1:346-347.

Daniel does the complete opposite of what Ibn Taymiyyah states and deliberately searches for unclear statements to read into them ideas about what the author believes and what the institute as a whole promotes, while ignoring the explicit statements to the contrary. We can see that this is completely contrary to ethical practice as elaborated by Ibn Taymiyyah above. In this case, Daniel takes a statement describing the excesses of extremists in takfir and uses it to make claims that the author and Yaqeen reject takfir altogether while disregarding the detailed elaboration on the Sunni conception of takfir by the very same author in another paper.

Finally, Dr. Khan’s initial paper was published in November of 2016. Prior to this, it was submitted for peer review with Daniel being part of Yaqeen’s peer review process prior to his departure in 2017 as ‘Director of Religion and Scientism’.[7] Why then didn’t he complain about Dr. Khan’s supposedly erroneous views at the time? Why wait three years to point it out? If the error was so obvious, then Daniel should have insisted on its correction during his tenure. Rather, he remained apathetic or completely unaware, and has now decided to do his job only after his departure. As such, his skepticism towards Yaqeen’s peer review standards is quite ironic considering he himself was involved in the peer review process at Yaqeen during the very time these very articles were published.


SUMMARY:

  • Commits the straw man fallacy by misrepresenting Dr. Khan as promoting the idea that “takfir is contrary to Islam,” despite counter evidence.
  • Commits the hedging fallacy by first accusing Dr. Khan of believing “takfir is contrary to Islam” and then preemptively undermining any counter evidence by suggesting Dr. Khan “contradicted himself”.
  • Effectively undermines his own integrity by impugning Yaqeen’s peer view standards (because of apparent mistakes found in Dr. Khan’s 2016 article) despite himself being part of the organization’s peer review process from 2016-2017.

Section Errors: 3 / TOTAL: 10

[Back to Top]


Mixing Liberalism with Aqida

In Section (8.2) of his article,[1] Daniel focuses his attention on Dr. Moad’s paper “Honored Since Adam: Islam and the Value of Freedom”[2] in an attempt to accuse Yaqeen Institute of mixing Secular Liberalism with orthodox Islamic theology. This section identifies some of the more egregious errors Daniel’s makes with respect to his unethical strategies.

Establishing A Theme Of Anti-Takfir

Daniel accuses Yaqeen of “muddying Islamic thought” through “baseless philosophical musings”. As initial evidence, he refers to a paper he critiques in Section (4.6) of his article,[3] entitled “’And We Created You in Pairs:’ Islam and the Gender Question” by Faatimah Knight.[4] Although not the substance of his criticism here, I think it necessary point out Daniel’s use of this paper as evidence to further showcase his dishonest methodology. In his criticism of Faatimah, he states the following:

He acknowledges the possibility that her statements can be read charitably, as long as one has “sound foundation and training in Islamic aqida”. So if her claims are “baseless,” then why would someone with a “sound foundation and training in aqida” be charitable or even understand what she was saying? By admitting to the possibility of a learned Muslim interpreting her statements without negative implications undermines his accusation that her claims are “baseless”. He then attempts to use his misrepresentation of Faatimah’s claims as a means to persuade the reader into thinking there’s a connection between her and Dr. Moad, but this is clearly deceptive, because he doesn’t even remain consistent enough to establish the first link in the chain.

Daniel continues this tactic of making dubious connections by subsequently claiming Dr. Moad’s paper “mainly speaks against takfiri extremists,” attempting to establish a link between his views and those of Dr. Khan (also misinterpreted). However, Dr. Moad’s paper isn’t mainly against one specific group, but a mentality that disregards the value of human beings, including “takfiri extremists” among many others:

But as we mentioned, this contempt for the intellect represents only the epistemological dimension of a general contempt for the human in the name of God. Some of its other manifestations are more evident in the Muslim world today. There is a race to degrade and destroy the human, and not just between takfiri militant groups executing human beings on video and destroying human heritage. What can we say about regimes that oppress and kill their own human subjects enmasse, and the supposedly moderate ‘traditional’ scholars who are silent when these human beings are disposed of, but then raise a cry when takfiri militants raze a tomb? And we have been told that a single human being is more sacred than the Kaaba (Sunan Ibn Majah 3932). It is clear that disregard for the sanctity of the human being among Muslims today is not limited to just one faction in the petty competition for political power through religious authority.

Omar Moad (2017) “Honored Since Adam: Islam and the Value of Human Freedom”[5]

As we can see above, Dr. Moad condemns more than “takfiri extremists,” but also political oppressors and even “moderate” scholars who support them or remain silent (something Daniel likely would agree with). So why present Dr. Moad’s paper as primarily being against “takfiri extremists”? Because Daniel is attempting to establish an ongoing theme within Yaqeen Institute – the disparaging of scholars for normative Islamic praxis (e.g. takfir). However, as shown above and in a previous section of this missive,[6] this is a far-fetched and exaggerated insinuation that only reveals how weak and desperate his arguments actually are.

Conflating Perennialism with “Perennial Realization”

Daniel goes on to accuse Dr. Moad of expressing a view about those “who…correctly understand the value of reason,” but this is a straw man fallacy.[7] Nowhere does this quote mention or imply anything about the “value of reason” or those who “correctly understand it”. Rudimentary English comprehension is all that is necessary to understand that Dr. Moad is simply saying the Qur’an expresses a perennial understanding of human destiny throughout history (i.e. time works against man who is humbled by old age).

After misrepresenting the quote, Daniel goes on to asks a rhetorical question regarding Dr. Moad’s use of the word “perennial,” insinuating he’s engaing in subversive thinking. This is obvious for a number of reasons. First, the standard definition of ‘perennial’ is “lasting a very long time or happening repeatedly or all the time.”[8] Second, Daniel himself has used this word in its standard definition on numerous occassions, indicating he’s clearly aware of what it means.[9] Therefore, he’s only asking this rhetorical question because he believes Dr. Moad is using the word contrary to its standard meaning. More specifically, Daniel is accusing Dr. Moad of promoting a philosophy known as ‘Perennialism’, which he defines as “the view that all ‘sacred’ religions are acceptable to Allah”:[10]

However, Dr. Moad never argues nor implies “all sacred religions are acceptable to Allah”. There is absolutely no evidence to support the idea that he does. In fact, there is strong evidence to the contrary. In an article published prior on Taseel Commons, Dr. Moad anticipates and rebukes those who might insist his use of the word ‘perennial’ refers to Perennialism:

No, this is not about ‘Perennialism’.  ‘Perrenial’ is an adjective with its own independent meaning.  Though I am using the word ‘perrenial’ here, I am not advocating the transcendent unity of religions.  Thus, if your interest in reading this was only peaked by the polemic opportunity represented by that possibility, you might find the rest of this a waste of time.


Rather, I want to talk about an aspect of Muslim life in the modern world, which, in spite of how it may appear to we Muslims who experience it, is not, I would argue, entirely exclusive to our experience, but is only our experience of a moral challenge perennially faced by humanity at large.   

Edward Moad (2017) “Empire of Desire: Technology, Capitalism, and the Perennial Moral Challenge” [11]

A simple Google search of Dr. Moad’s name and the word ‘perennial’ brings this article up and the clarification therein, but Daniel seemingly refused to do any real research with respect to his claims or simply didn’t care to. His carelessness with dealing with the words of fellow Muslims continues as he again attempt to insinuate Dr. Moad is promoting Perennialism by asking a subsequent rhetorical question, rendering his statement “The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism” as “Buddhist ‘truths’”. However, Dr. Moad never said anything about “Buddhist truths,” but simply mentioned the official name of a fundamental doctrine of Buddhism known as the ‘Four Noble Truths’ (Chatvari-arya-satyani) which emphasize four realizations every Buddhist must learn and experience: suffering, the cause of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the path to ending suffering.[12] Yet another quick Google search would have easily brought this to the attention of a sincere reader. Thus, Daniel has committed the intensional fallacy, which is “the mistake of treating different descriptions or names of the same object as equivalent even in those contexts in which the differences between them matter.”[13] To explain the fallacy more clearly, Dr. Moad simply mentioned the formal name of a doctrine of Buddhism (indicated by the capitalization) which “captures” a timeless understanding of mankind expressed within the Qur’an, not any Buddhist’ “truths” acceptable to Allah. That said, if Daniel still insists on accusing Dr. Moad of promoting “Perennialism” for merely pointing out that time works against mankind, he may as well insinuate every Muslim on earth (including himself) is a “Perennialist,” seeing as the Qur’an expresses many universal which can be known by the fitrah (e.g. God, mortality, the afterlife, good and evil, etc.).

Conflating Islam with Coercion

Daniel continues to asks more rhetorical questions suggesting Dr. Moad is contradicting the Qur’an and Sunnah by suggesting freedom defines “what is good or valuable” rather than Allah. However, the quote in question doesn’t mention who or what defines “what is good or valuable,” but merely states a “necessary condition” of moral value. For instance, does Daniel believe that when the the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “the reward of deeds depends on intentions [niyyah],”[14] he was claiming intentions define “what is good or valuable” above Allah? This would be absurd, yet Daniel’s own skepticism towards Dr. Moad’s statements applies equally to the Prophet’s (ﷺ), Astaghfir’Allah. As such, he’s committed yet another straw man fallacy.

That said, the obvious reason Daniel is asking this question is to further the narrative that Dr. Moad is conveying Secular Humanist principles (i.e. kufr) and denying Allah’s Rububiyyah. This is made clearer in his follow up question where he asks, “Where does Allah or His Messenger say that a ‘necessary condition’ of human moral value is freedom?”

The fact is that there are no explicit statements where Allah nor His Messenger claim “freedom is a necessary condition of moral value,” because it’s not necessary for such statements to be made when they are already clearly implied. For example, free choice is inferred in many Qur’anic passages concerning moral accountability. For example:

Indeed, we offered the Trust (amanah) to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, and they declined to bear it and feared it; but man [undertook to] bear it. Indeed, he was unjust and ignorant.

Al-Qur’an 33:72

Humans are accountable because they have taken up the amanah (trust), which scholars have linked to the concept of free choice. For instance, the late Egyptian scholar Muhammad Mutawalli al-Sha’rawi (d. 1998 C.E.) explained the above verse as follows:

All categories of things in existence besides humans, such as animals, plants, and inanimate objects, are subjugated. They do not possess free choice (ikhtiyar) in what they do or do not do. The Sun has no choice to say: “Today, I will shine upon these people or today I will not shine.” The air does not possess the choice of will. Every composition Allah has brought into this existence, except humans, has been subjugated for the believer and for the unbeliever. These compositions refused to bear the responsibility [amanah] of choice, but the human being said: “I have a mind with which to choose between alternatives and I accept carrying responsibility, for I have been given the power of choice.”

Muhammad Mutawalli al-Sha’rawi (1991) Tafsir al-Sha’rawi, p. 4662.

Likewise, when referring back to the Prophet’s (ﷺ) statement “the reward of deeds depends on intentions,” this implies the freedom to choose one’s actions and have them valued based on that choice. One cannot “intend” an action they’re being coerced to perform. If you coerce an individual to act a certain way (i.e. against their will), then by definition they’re not intending the act and it loses its moral value. Dr. Moad states this himself in his article:

God said that He created humanity and jinn for no purpose other than to worship Him—iman and amal salih. The hadeeth tell us that the value of our deeds—the condition of their righteousness—rests on the intentions behind them. And thus, “There is no compulsion in religion. Verily the right has been distinguished from the wrong” (Qur’an 2:256). Purity of intention requires that the act be a real choice, free from all forms of compulsion—physical or psychological. A creature that obeys God willingly must of necessity be one with the capacity and opportunity to willingly disobey. Any attempt to negate that capacity, then, amounts to an attempt to obstruct the human being from the purpose of his or her creation.

Omar Moad (2017) “Honored Since Adam: The Value of Human Freedom” [15]

Daniel neglects to quote this critical portion of the article as it would give the reader a very different understanding of what Dr. Moad was intending to convey. That said, evidence that ‘freedom’ is a necessary condition underpinning moral value can be found in numerous sound ahadith. For example, a woman who is raped cannot be held culpable for zina, because she never intended to commit the act to begin with:

And Safiyya bint ‘Ubaid said: “A governmental male-slave tried to seduce a slave-girl from the Khumus of the war booty till he deflowered her by force against her will; therefore ‘Umar flogged him according to the law, and exiled him, but he did not flog the female slave because the male-slave had committed illegal sexual intercourse by force, against her will.” Az-Zuhri said regarding a virgin slave-girl raped by a free man: The judge has to fine the adulterer as much money as is equal to the price of the female slave and the adulterer has to be flogged (according to the Islamic Law); but if the slave woman is a matron, then, according to the verdict of the Imam, the adulterer is not fined but he has to receive the legal punishment (according to the Islamic Law).

Sahih Bukhari, 6949 [16]

The negation of ‘free will’ is clearly implied above. But because the phrase “freedom is a necessary condition” is absent, Daniel is apparently unable to offer any reasonable explanation behind her lack of culpability.

Further evidence of freedom playing an essential role in moral value may be found in the Sunan of Ibn Majah (d. 887 C.E.), where coercion and intention are clearly contrasted:

It was narrated that Umm Salamah said:“The Prophet (ﷺ) mentioned the army that would be swallowed up by the earth, and Umm Salamah said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, perhaps there will be some among them who were forced (to join them)?’ He said: ‘They will be resurrected according to their intentions.’”

Sunan Ibn Majah, 4065 [17]

More evidence may be found in the 40 Hadith of Imam Nawawi (d. 1277 C.E.):

Ibn Abbas narrated that the Messenger of Allah said, “Allah has passed over, for my sake, my ummah’s mistakes and forgetfulness and that which they are forced to do.”

Sunan Ibn Majah, 2045 (40 Hadith Imam Nawawi, #39) [18]

In his commentary on this hadith, Ibn Rajab explains the nature of it in detail, clarifying what constitutes ‘coercion’ (ikraah). He states the following:

Second Section: On the judgment of someone who has been coerced


This is of two types: First, someone who has absolutely no choice and no power to prevent it, such as someone who is carried against his will and made to enter a place which he swore an oath that he would not enter. Or someone who is forcibly carried and then used to strike someone else until that other person dies, and the person has no power to prevent it. Or a woman who is laid down and raped without having the power to prevent it – then there is complete agreement that all of these above cases bear no guilt, and there is no consequent violation of an oath sworn according to the dominant majority of the people of knowledge.

Ibn Rajab (2007) “Mistakes, Forgetfulness and Coercion,” in The Compendium of Wisdom, Trans. Abdassamad Clarke, p. 648

With respect to the second hypothetical, Ibn Rajab clarifies further about the individual who is seemingly coerced to kill another; according to the majority view they may be held liable for the murder in the event they had a choice between their own life and the life of the one whom they killed. In other words, an act ceases to be coerced the moment a person has the choice not to perform the act.[19]

However, other scholars had a broader understanding of coercion. In this respect, some regarded coercion to be any forbidden act performed against the will of the agent by some immediate threat of harm upon themselves or others. Commenting on this hadith, Shaykh Jamaal al-Din Zarabozo summarizes what he views as the majority view’s definition of ‘coercion’:

Coercion, therefore, involves both a dislike for the act by the one being coerced as well as being forced to perform that act. Hence, it is a case where the person, if left to his own volition, would not perform a specific act. However, due to coercion from others, he performs the act “against his will”. His intention is not actually to perform the act itself but to avert the threatened punishment; if not for the coercion, the act would not have been carried out.

Jamaal al-Din Zarabozo (1999) Commentary on the Forty Hadith of Al-Nawawi, V.2, p. 1229.

Zarabozo goes on to clarify that “[f]or there to be a true case of coercion, either the act the person is being forced to perform must be something forbidden or he must be threatened with something forbidden.”[20] Thus, a judge forcing a man to pay his debts under threat of punishment is not seen as ‘coercion’ because it is not a forbidden act being coerced. However, the legality of the act needs to be distinguished from the moral value of the act. While we can rightly argue the judge is upholding a righteous deed through the threat of punishment, this doesn’t necessitate the man is committing an act of moral value. How so? Because if he still feels no guilt and simply wishes to avoid punishment, then he is not acting virtuously. In other words, his act becomes void of moral value, much the same as the munafiqun who perform good deeds other than for the sake of Allah:

It has been narrated on the authority of Sulaiman b. Yasar who said: People dispersed from around Abu Huraira, and Natil, who was from the Syrians. said to him: O Shaikh, relate (to us) a tradition you have heard from the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ). He said: Yes. I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say: The first of men (whose case) will be decided on the Day of Judgment will be a man who died as a martyr. He shall be brought (before the Judgment Seat). Allah will make him recount His blessings (i. e. the blessings which He had bestowed upon him) and he will recount them (and admit having enjoyed them in his life). (Then) will Allah say: What did you do (to requite these blessings)? He will say: I fought for Thee until I died as a martyr. Allah will say: You have told a lie. You fought that you might be called a” brave warrior”. And you were called so. (Then) orders will be passed against him and he will be dragged with his face downward and cast into Hell. Then will be brought forward a man who acquired knowledge and imparted it (to others) and recited the Qur’an. He will be brought And Allah will make him recount His blessings and he will recount them (and admit having enjoyed them in his lifetime). Then will Allah ask: What did you do (to requite these blessings)? He will say: I acquired knowledge and disseminated it and recited the Qur’an seeking Thy pleasure. Allah will say: You have told a lie. You acquired knowledge so that you might be called” a scholar,” and you recited the Qur’an so that it might be said:” He is a Qari” and such has been said. Then orders will be passed against him and he shall be dragged with his face downward and cast into the Fire. Then will be brought a man whom Allah had made abundantly rich and had granted every kind of wealth. He will be brought and Allah will make him recount His blessings and he will recount them and (admit having enjoyed them in his lifetime). Allah will (then) ask: What have you done (to requite these blessings)? He will say: I spent money in every cause in which Thou wished that it should be spent. Allah will say: You are lying. You did (so) that it might be said about (You):” He is a generous fellow” and so it was said. Then will Allah pass orders and he will be dragged with his face downward and thrown into Hell.

Sahih Muslim, 1905a [21]

The point here is that freedom to act plays an essential role in the judgment of the act itself. Even in the event that one may be forced to commit a righteous act by power of the state (e.g. paying a debt), this is not considered ‘coercion’ (ikraah) by the majority of fuqaha. That said, it would still be incorrect to suggests a coerced act is “virtuous”, because intentions are what ultimately determine the value of actions in the Eyes of Allah. As Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyah (d. 1350 C.E.) states:

For every deed must have a foundation and purpose, so a deed is not in obedience to Allah and an act of seeking nearness to Him unless it proceeds from faith. The motive for it is pure faith, neither is it a habit, nor a whim, nor seeking praise or status or anything else. Rather, it must be founded upon pure faith and the purpose of seeking the reward of Allah and His pleasure which is anticipated.

Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyah (1986) Al-Risalat al-Tabukiyah, 1:13

Additional evidence for freedom being a condition of moral value is found throughout the Qur’an:

…And do not compel your slave girls to prostitution, if they desire chastity, to seek [thereby] the temporary interests of worldly life. And if someone should compel them, then indeed, Allah is [to them], after their compulsion, Forgiving and Merciful.

Al-Qur’an, 24:33

Falsehood is fabricated only by those who do not believe in Allah’s revelation: they are the liars. With the exception of those who are forced to say they do not believe, although their hearts remain firm in faith, those who reject Allah after believing in Him and open their hearts to disbelief will have the wrath of Allah upon them and a grievous punishment awaiting them.

Al-Qur’an, 16:105-106

Had your Lord willed, all the people on earth would have believed. So can you [Prophet] compel people to believe?

Al-Qur’an, 10:99

There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong. So whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing.

Al-Qur’an, 2:256

Given the above, if coercion invalidates both conversion to and apostasy from Islam, Daniel’s insistence that freedom is not a necessary condition of moral value is clearly erroneous. Isn’t the foundation of our moral values (i.e. Islam) more valuable than the moral acts themselves?

But the deeds of those who disbelieve are like a mirage in a desert: the thirsty person thinks there will be water but, when he gets there, he finds only Allah, Who pays him his account in full – Allah is swift in reckoning.

Al-Qur’an, 24:39

This is why I find it strange when Daniel compares willful submission to Allah (i.e. Islam) to “coercion,” because his analogy is contrary to the Qur’an and Sunnah. As such, he commits the fallacy of false analogy, which is “when the analogy is irrelevant or very weak.”[22] Although we are all slaves to Allah in status, slaves can still choose to disobey – arrogantly rebelling rather than following His commands. This is why Iblis was considered a disbeliever for his disobedience, despite knowingly being a slave to Allah:

And [mention] when We said to the angels, “Prostrate before Adam,” so they prostrated, except for Iblis. He refused and was arrogant and became of the disbelievers.

Al-Qur’an, 2:34

The fact that punishments exists does not negate willful obedience nor willful disobedience. For example, the fact that I can be punished for murder doesn’t mean I’m “coerced” into not being a serial killer, nor is my lack of desire to murder necessarily predicated on potentially being punished – especially if I agree with and desire that murderers be punished.

What’s ironic is that, contrary to his claim that Dr. Moad’s views “give in to atheists and critics of Islam,” it is actually Daniel’s sentiments which conform to their criticisms, because only he argues that Islam (i.e. submission) is akin to “coercion”.

Daniel’s sentiments are made more obvious in his subsequent response to Dr. Moad:

Here, Daniel argues against Dr. Moad’s claim that coerced acts are “morally worthless” by offering an analogy of punitive reinforcement of children. But again, this is a false analogy. For one, Dr. Moad’s statements are not an attempt to deny coercion in Islam, only that acts performed because of coercion have no moral value. That aside, punitive reinforcement is not coercion to do good, but simply a means to curb bad habits by negating their value in the child’s eyes. When a parent disciplines their child, they are issuing a correction with the assumption the child will eventually understand their behavior as ‘wrong’. Therefore, when a child is punished and abstains from wrongdoing, this does not mean they are being “coerced” to perform good deeds, because abstinence from forbidden acts neither guarantees moral value nor the motivation to do good deeds. For example, if little Ahmed steals money from the Zakat box in the masjid, disciplinary action may lead him to refrain from doing so in the future, but it doesn’t necessitate he feels guilt nor does it compel him to do good deeds. Even if his parents force him to compensate by donating his own allowance to charity, this doesn’t necessitate he will possess the right intention when doing so. He could very well obey them, but only because he wants to give the impression of guilt for the purpose of quelling their anger (masking his real intent to eventually steal all the money back).

The point of this hypothetical isn’t to illustrate how naughty children can be, only that punitive reinforcement isn’t necessarily coercive nor does it confer moral value to a child’s abstinence from bad behavior (especially if they retain ill intentions). This is likewise the case with adults punished by the state or pressured to comply with the law. The value of their actions is not determined by the potential or actualization of punishment. On the contrary, one can be punished or pressured to perform a deed and still have their actions be void of moral value. As the great mujtahid Shaykh ul-Islam al-‘Izz ibn ‘Abd al-Salam (d. 1262 C.E.) states:

Allah only accepts those deeds that are done for His Sake. Actions are by their intentions. Many people do apparently pious deeds, but they get no rewards for them….Similarly, a person is not rewarded for leaving disobedience unless he intends to do it for Allah’s sake, then, he is rewarded.

Izz al-Din ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ibn ‘Abd al-Salam (2010) Rules of the Derivation of Laws for Reforming the People (Qawa ‘Id al-Akham fi Islah al-Anam), Trans. IBFIM, p. 241

Daniel’s Affinity for Postmodern Philosophy

Anti-Liberalism has become the lens by which Daniel interprets Islamic concepts and the means by which he understands the views of other Muslim thinkers and scholars. As such, his criticisms often extend to misinterpreting others’ statements as “Liberalism,” where in fact, no such relationship exists. This is exemplified in his understanding of ‘coercion’. According to Daniel, moral value isn’t recognized by Allah through freedom to act – the freedom of intent – but by force. This sentiment contradicts the Qur’an and Sunnah and also happens to be strikingly similar to the ideas of postmodernist philosophers like Michel Foucault who believed history could not be explained by the intentions or aims of individuals, but rather by institutions of power and control. For Foucault, discipline and social influence are all forms of coercion:

In the works of his middle years – Discipline and Punish and The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1 – Foucault traces the emergence of some of the practices, concepts, forms of knowledge, social institutions and techniques of government which have contributed to shaping modern European culture. He calls the method of historical analysis he employs ‘genealogical’…Rather than assuming that the movement of history can be explained by the intentions and aims of individual actors, genealogy investigates the complex and shifting network of relations between power, knowledge and the body which produce historically specific forms of subjectivity. In Discipline and Punish Foucault studies the practices of discipline and training associated with disciplinary power. He suggests that these practices were first cultivated in isolated institutional settings such as prisons, military establishments, hospitals, factories and schools but were gradually applied more broadly as techniques of social regulation and control. The key feature of disciplinary power is that it is exercised directly on the body. Disciplinary practices subject bodily activities to a process of constant surveillance and examination that enables a continuous and pervasive control of individual conduct. The aim of these practices is to simultaneously optimize the body’s capacities, skills and productivity and to foster its usefulness and docility: ‘What was then being formed was a policy of coercions that act on the body, a calculated manipulation of its elements, its gestures, its behavior. The human body was entering a machinery of power that explores it, breaks it down and rearranges it…Thus, discipline produces subjected and practiced bodies, “docile” bodies’ (Foucault 1977: 138-9).

Aurelia Armstrong (n.d.) “Michel Foucault: Feminism” [23]

In many ways, contemporary Feminism (and other postmodern movements) owes a great deal to Foucault, especially his redefining of power and control:[24]

Thus, when Daniel claims that submission to Allah (i.e. Islam) is “coercion” he isn’t deriving his opinion from the Qur’an and Sunnah, but from postmodern philosophical thought dedicated to undermining an essential aspect of man’s moral value (i.e. intention). This approach results in his rejection of the concept of freedom in Islamic ethos. Take for example this Facebook post where Daniel declares “freedom is an empty concept that is alien to Islam”:[25]

Among other erroneous assumptions in this post, Daniel argues that ‘freedom’ (hurriya) was merely a “technical legal concept” denoting a state contrary to enslavement and nothing more (whatever that means). He negates any reason as to why such legal categories existed to begin with, the differences between their obligations and limitations, and the fact that many slaves did in fact consider freedom an “aspirational state” (hence why Muslims are rewarded or expiated for freeing a slave). That said, even traditional scholars have used the concept of ‘freedom’ beyond its legal connotations to argue for the value of convictions. For example, Ibn Taymiyyah:

Indeed, the captivity of the heart is worse than the captivity of the body, and slavery of the heart is worse than slavery of the body. For whoever is enslaved and taken in body will not mind as long as his heart is at rest and peace…As for the heart, which is the king, [if it] is enslaved and infatuated with other than Allah, this is a form of humiliation and utter captivity…True freedom is freedom of the heart.

Ibn Taymiyyah (1995) Majmu al-Fatawa, Ed. ‘Abd al-Rahman Ibn Muammad Ibn Qasim, 10:186.

So no, freedom is not an “empty concept alien to Islam” just because it’s been exaggerated by liberal discourse. What is alien to Islam is Daniel’s exaggerated perception of coercion (ikhraah) and his preference for the thoughts of a sexually active gay philosopher qua feminist paragon over traditional scholars.[26] But this shouldn’t be surprising considering Daniel has openly promoted Foucault on his own website:[27]

This is quite ironic considering he claims to be against foreign elements introduced into Islam. Yet, in his anti-Liberalism agenda, Daniel has eschewed basic Islamic principles in order to achieve his goals. Even the slightest mention of “freedom” triggers him to respond in opposition, despite it being an essential element of moral value in our religion. In this way, anti-Liberalism has become the lens by which he understands his faith and everyone who disagrees with him. As such, I think Nietzsche’s famous warning serves as an apt summary of his approach:

He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.

Friedrich Nietzche (2008) “Aphorism 146” in Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future, Trans. Marion Faber, p. 68.

This is made more evident as he contradicts himself in the very same paragraph, writing, “Islamic character overall is developed by making sure one’s will is aligned with what Allah Wills and His commands”. But how can one’s will be sincerely aligned with Allah’s Will without the freedom to choose? What moral value is there in abiding by Allah’s Law if you’re coerced into doing so? This is a dangerous line of thinking that can lead to hypocrisy.

The next example shows, yet again, Daniel blatantly quoting Dr. Moad out-of-context:

Here, Daniel accuses Dr. Moad of promoting Secular Liberalism. However, Dr. Moad doesn’t believe “the only thing that makes any action objectively wrong is that it would unjustly restrict another’s freedom to act” because, again, Daniel is quoting out of context.[28] Notice he’s removed the first and last sentences of the paragraph:[29]

As the reader can clearly see, Dr. Moad is simply summarizing what he disagrees with and why. He clearly states in the first sentence of the paragraph “the sort of liberalism I am opposing” and in the last sentence “this form of liberalism turns out to be theoretically incoherent and practically impossible.” In other words, Daniel literally clipped the beginning and end of this paragraph to falsely accuse Dr. Moad of holding a belief he explicitly opposes. How else might we describe this error? What excuse could Daniel possibly give that doesn’t draw the conclusion that he’s deliberately misrepresenting Dr. Moad? This is inexcusable.

While I would personally not use some of the terminology Dr. Moad has adopted (because it’s loaded and requires some effort to unpack), my preference for style doesn’t negate the clear meaning he’s attempting to convey. Thus, this is yet another example of Daniel dishonestly reading “Liberalism” into the thoughts of other scholars, even to the point of omitting key parts of their statements to falsely accuse them of beliefs they’ve never held.


SUMMARY:

  • Daniel misrepresents Faatimah Knight’s claims as “baseless” when he himself affirms their acceptability to those with sound aqida.
  • Misrepresents Dr. Moad’s article as being mainly about “takfiri extremists”.
  • Commits a straw man fallacy by claiming Dr. Moad was making an argument for those “who understand the value of reason”.
  • Presents a rhetorical question falsely inferring Dr. Moad promotes Perennialism because he said the word “perennial”.
  • Presents a rhetorical question, committing the intensional fallacy with regard to Dr. Moad mentioning “The Four Truths” of Buddhism.
  • Commits another straw man fallacy by implying (through a rhetorical question) Dr. Moad was making an argument that “freedom defines what is morally valuable,” as opposed to Allah, when he merely mentioned it as a condition of moral value.
  • Presents a rhetorical question inferring Dr. Moad rejects Allah’s Rububiyyah in defining moral value.
  • Assumes conditions (and words) can only be derived if explicitly mentioned in the Qur’an and Sunnah, contrary to Usul ul-Din and Usul ul-Fiqh.
  • Commits the fallacy of false analogy by claiming submission to Allah (i.e Islam) is an example of “coercion” (ikraah). This is contrary to the Qur’an and Sunnah.
  • Commits another false analogy by claiming punitive reinforcement of children equates to “coercion” as evidence of the “moral value” of a child’s subsequent actions or refrain.
  • Subscribes to Foucauldian categories of “power” and “control” in his understanding of coercion (ikraah) and freedom (hurriya). This is in opposition to the Qur’an and Sunnah as well as traditional scholars.
  • Contradicts himself by asserting that ‘coercion’ equates to willful obedience.
  • Commits the fallacy of quoting out of context by removing whole sentences from a paragraph where Dr. Moad is summarizing a view he’s refuting, and falsely attributes said view to him.

Section Errors: 13 / TOTAL: 23

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Fiqh Is Human Interpretation that Constantly Evolves

In Section (8.3) of his article,[1] Daniel assesses the views of Dr. Khan and Dr. Moad again, focusing most of his attention on the former’s article, “Difference of Opinion: Where Do We Draw the Line?”[2] He begins with the following:

Daniel quotes Dr. Khan’s views on fiqh, calling them “problematic” and claiming he believes, “the views of Islamic scholars and fiqh are based on the cultural norms of society”. However, this is a straw man fallacy,[3] because nowhere does Dr. Khan state that the general views of Islamic scholars, or the entirety of fiqh itself, are “based on the cultural norms of society”. Reading the above quote carefully, Dr. Khan clearly says scholars “may have provided views based on the cultural norms of their society” with respect to “rulings [i.e. fatawa] related to women,” not the entire tradition of fiqh. Furthermore, no where does this quote mention “fiqh needs to be reevaluated,” only the societal norms these specific rulings are contingent on.

That said, the greater issue at hand is Daniel’s conflation of Dr. Khan’s views with “reformist tropes”. Any student of knowledge with rudimentary understanding of usul ul-fiqh would find this contention perplexing. For instance, Ibn Qayyim himself states that legal rulings need to be constantly reevaluated based on different circumstances and conditions found throughout time:

Whoever gives fatwá to people based only on what is transmitted from books despite the differences in their customs, norms, eras, localities, situations, and circumstances, then he is misguided and misguides others. His crime against the religion is greater than the crime of the physician who treats all people with what he finds in a single medical book while neglecting the differences in their lands, norms, times, and physical natures.

Ibn Qayyim (2002) I’lam al-Muwaqqi’in, Vol. 4, p. 470.

The great Maliki jurist, Imam Shihab ad-Deen al-Qarafi (d. 1285 C.E.) also speaks on the nature of customs and the need for changed rulings:

Whenever the customs change, take that into consideration, and whenever they die out, drop them (out of the equation). Do not be rigidly bound your entire life by what is written in books. Similarly, when someone from outside your region comes to seek your fatwa, do not apply to him the norms of your own town. Instead, ask him about the norms of his town, and base your fatwa on them, not on the norms of your town or that which is established in your books. This is the plain truth; rigidity in applying the transmitted edicts is misguidance in the religion and ignorance of the objectives of the Muslim scholars and the pious predecessors.

Imam al-Qarafi (n.d.) Al-Furooq, 1:191

With respect to these differences, one of the legal maxims for establishing rulings is the ‘securing of maslahah (benefit) and the prevention of mafsadah (harm)’. And in order to fulfill this maxim, a faqih is required to take into account the circumstances (i.e. customs, experiences, etc.) of those whom he’s issuing a ruling for. In this regard, the great mujtahid, Shaykh ul-Islam al-‘Izz ibn ‘Abd al-Salam explained the means of deriving maslahah and mafsadah as follows:

Note: Those things through which the maslahah and mafsadah of both the worlds can be known


As far as the maslahah and mafsadah of the Hereafter and their causes are concerned, these can only be known through the Shari’ah. If something of these things is hard to determine, it will have to be sought from one of the sources of the Shari’ah. These are the Qur’an, the Sunnah, the consensus (‘ijma), valid analogy (qiyas), and correct deduction (al-istidlal al-sahih).


As for the maslahah and mafsadah of this world and their causes, these are well known through self-evident facts (al-dururat), experiences (al-tajarub), customs (al-‘adat), and reliable presumptions (al-zunun al-mu’tabarat). If something from these is hard to determine, it will have to be sought from one of its sources.


The one who wants to know the munasabat (suitable), the maslahah, the mafsadah, the preferred and the preferred upon amongst them [i.e. the aforementioned], then, he should think about the matter using his reason provided the Shari’ah has not said something about it. Then, he should base the rulings upon this. There will rarely be a ruling derived like this except that which Allah commanded His slaves and did not inform them of its maslahah or mafsadah.

‘Izz al-Din ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ibn ‘Abd al-Salam (2010) Rules of the Derivation of Laws for Reforming the People (Qawa ‘Id al-Akham fi Islah al-Anam), Trans. IBFIM, p. 11.

Finally, another great Mailiki jurist, Imam Abu Ishaq al-Shatibi (d. 1388 C.E.) clarifies that varied rulings based on different customs do not undermine the Shari’ah itself:

Rulings that differ whenever customs differ are not [a reflection of] any difference in the Divine instruction itself, for the Shari’ah was revealed to be permanent and eternal. Hypothetically, were this world to remain without end, and the people remained liable [to uphold the Shari’ah] as well, the Shari’ah would not need any additions. In other words, whenever customs changed, they would fall under another [different] principle of Shari’ah that would govern them…

Imam Ash-Shatibi (1975) Al-Muwafaqat, 2:217

Given the above, does Daniel suspect Ibn Qayyim and all of these other great scholars of being “reformists”? Doesn’t he realize that his framing of Dr. Khan’s views as “reformist tropes” impugns those he’s trying to defend? In fact, the reference from Ibn Qayyim above was explicitly quoted by Dr. Khan himself in the paper Daniel focuses most of his critique. However, Daniel doesn’t mention it all:[4]

Why was this omitted? If Dr. Khan was in fact incorrect to reference Ibn Qayyim in support of his position, why not attempt to address it? Why leave this out if it was obvious he was conveying “reformists tropes”? Better yet, why does Daniel fail to address other passages showcasing Dr. Khan actually opposes what he’s being accused of? For instance:

The essential methodology for following Islam is evident from the very meaning of the word ‘Islam.’ Islam means submitting to the way of God, and striving to do that which God has asked of us. That necessarily entails following the guidance that God has revealed, which is found within the two foundational sources of Islamic teachings—the Qur’an and the teachings of the Prophet Muḥammad ﷺ (his Sunnah).


O You who believe, answer the call of God and His Messenger when they call you to that which will give you life! (Qur’an 8:24)


This necessitates that God has given us a system of guidance that is meant to be followed and, in order for one to understand that guidance, one must study it and acquire knowledge. This is a crucial point which leads to the concept of textual intentionalism—namely, that there is an intended meaning to the words of the scripture. In other words, we do not invent the meaning of scripture, rather we seek to discover—to the best of our human capacities—the meaning of scripture through study and scholarship. This stands in stark contrast to the post-modernist notion that there is no ‘correct’ way of understanding any text, or that Islam can be altered to mean whatever an interpretive community chooses for it to mean, a sentiment characteristic of much progressive Muslim thought. Any word whose meaning can be altered on a whim in actuality becomes meaningless. If Islam is to have any coherent meaning at all, then it has to involve following the faith as it was revealed by Allah in the Qur’an and explained and implemented by the Prophet Muḥammad ﷺ. Moreover, the collective understanding of those who learned Islam directly from the Prophet Muḥammad ﷺ, namely his companions, should be taken as authoritative since we believe that the Prophet was successful in communicating and clarifying his message to his audience.

Nazir Khan (2019) “Difference of Opinion: Where Do We Draw the Law?” [5]

Instead of acknowledging the claims and evidence provided by his intellectual opposition, Daniel simply chooses to act as though they don’t exists. In other words, he commits what is known as the fallacy of suppressed evidence, or “Intentionally failing to use information suspected of being relevant and significant…This fallacy usually occurs when the information counts against one’s own conclusion.”[6]

As such, Daniel’s assessment of this article is so flawed that it doesn’t warrant additional analysis. However, since I intend for this missive to be as comprehensive as possible, let’s continue examining his critique.

Man’s Fallibility “Compromises Islam”?

Daniel returns to Dr. Moad’s essay, “Honored Since Adam: Islam and the Value of Freedom,”[7] to ask yet another rhetorical question, implying concession of man’s fallible understanding equates to “compromising Islam”. However, this is a non-sequitur fallacy, which occurs “when a conclusion is supported only by extremely weak reasons or by irrelevant reasons.”[8] In other words, admitting man’s fallible nature doesn’t compromise those things being understood any more than admitting man’s ignorance compromises the existence of things man is ignorant about. For example, the fact that mankind cannot fully comprehend Allah and can err when discussing His Attributes doesn’t “compromise Allah”. The fact that man can err when comprehending the Qur’an does not “compromise the Qur’an” (Q. 4:46). The fact that scholars can err in comprehending ahadith does not “compromise hadith.” It would be absurd to draw these conclusions from simply admitting our comprehension is fallible. So what alternative does Daniel offer in return to these facts? If it’s wrong to believe our understanding of these subjects is fallible, then the only other option is that our understanding is infallible. However, this is opposed to the Qur’an and Sunnah, because the only individuals worthy of being deemed infallible (in matters of religion) are the Prophets themselves. Even our greatest scholars made errors and often conceded their own ignorance, so why is Daniel insisting it’s problematic to state our understanding of Islam is ultimately “fallible”? Does he believe fallibility equates to error 100% of the time? Because that too would be fallacious reasoning.

Furthermore, conceding man’s fallibility doesn’t necessitate Humean Skepticism. David Hume argued we could never reach certainty in our beliefs, primarily because we’re not able to empirically validate causal links. For him, cause and effect relations were just habits of perception, not objective realities in and of themselves.[9] That said, numerous post-Humean philosophers objected to his analysis while still believing man was fallible (e.g. Kant [10] and Reid [11]). Most contemporary philosophical schools of thought don’t even regard Humean skepticism as problematic, because they rely on other means – outside Empiricism – to justify knowledge and beliefs.

Even within the Islamic tradition we find our own theologians and philosophers admitting to the fallibility of mankind with respect to comprehension. Like Hume, Imam Al-Ghazali (d. 111 C.E.) famously argued against the possibility of knowing, by way of observation, the necessary connections between causes and their effects:

The one who enacts the burning by creating blackness in the cotton, [causing] separation in its parts, and making it cinder or ashes is God, either through the mediation of His angels or without mediation. As for fire, which is inanimate, it has no action. For what proof is there that it is the agent? They have no proof other than observing the occurrence of the burning at the [juncture of] contact with the fire. Observation, however, [only] shows the occurrence [of burning] at [the time of the contact with the fire] but does not show the occurrence [of burning] by [the fire] and [the fact] that there is no other cause for it.

Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (2000) The Incoherence of the Philosophers, Trans. Michael E. Marmura, p. 167.

Obviously, Al-Ghazali adopted a different approach from Hume to deal with this issue (i.e. Occasionalism).[12] But what of other scholars such as Ibn Taymiyyah? Dr. El-Tobgui summarizes Ibn Taymiyyyah’s views on man’s knowledge as follows:

We may illustrate Ibn Taymiyya’s point by considering the attribute of knowledge. While “knowledge” means the same thing with respect to God and to humans, namely, cognition of a knowable, the knowledge predicated of human beings applies to them in a manner commensurate with their underlying essential reality, namely, contingency, temporality, deficiency, and destructibility. Like our very essence, the attribute of knowledge we possess is created, contingent, non-necessary, limited, imperfect, and ultimately abrogable altogether— as, for instance, through dementia or other memory loss and, eventually, in a definitive manner through the death of the knower himself. God’s attribute of knowledge, by contrast, is fully commensurate with the essential reality of the(divine) essence in which it inheres. It is, therefore—like God Himself— necessary, unlimited (that is, it encompasses all possible knowables), perfect, and indestructible. So, while knowing means the same thing with respect to us as it does with respect to God (cognizance of a knowable) and, therefore, there exists a notional sharing between His knowing and ours, there is nevertheless a fundamental ontological distinction between the true reality (ḥaqīqa) of God’s (necessary and perfect) knowing, on the one hand, and our (contingent, deficient, and limited) knowing, on the other. It is precisely here that the fundamental—and, for Ibn Taymiyya, decisive—distinction lies between any and all of the attributes of God and the attributes of created things.

Carl Sharif El-Tobgui (2020) Ibn Taymiyyah on Reason and Revelation: A Study of Dar’ta’arud al-‘aql wa-l-naql, pp. 277-287. [13]

So even Ibn Taymiyyah admits man’s knowledge is fallible. And Daniel agrees with this assessment, because not only did he play a part in reviewing Dr. El-Tobgui’s book, but also promoted it.[14] Of course, one may argue Daniel simply considers this a great resource for understanding Ibn Taymiyyah. Fair enough. But why promote a book edited by Orientalists which teaches so-called “reformist tropes” if he doesn’t agree with the assessments made therein?

So not only are Daniel’s objections fallacious, but he doesn’t even appear to believe them himself. That said, this discussion relates to the subject of Epistemology [15] and isn’t within the scope of this missive to elucidate fully, but the point here is to show how absurd it is for Daniel to narrowly confine concession of man’s fallibility to one philosophical school of thought largely considered defunct and completely irrelevant to the Islamic perspective. So no, conceding man’s fallibility doesn’t “threaten to subjectivize Islamic ethics and jurisprudence as a whole” – it’s just a fact. What really threatens to subjectivize Islam are the justifications we use for knowledge and belief. And at this point, Daniel has yet to offer any good objection to, nor even mention, Yaqeen authors’ epistemic justifications.

All of Islamic Jurisprudence” or “Fiqh and Shari’ah”?

Ignoring (for now) Daniel’s initial accusations against Dr. Khan, let’s focus on his claim that the latter “misinterpreted” Al-Zarqa and believes “all of fiqh as being ‘constructivist’ and interpreted'”. Here, Daniel commits yet another straw man fallacy, along with the fallacy of equivocation, or “the illegitimate switching of the meaning of a term that occurs twice during the reasoning; it is the use of one word taken in two ways.”[16] This is evident by the fact that Daniel is misrepresenting Dr. Khan and Al-Zarqa’s use of the word ‘fiqh’ to imply they both mean all of Islamic jurisprudence. However, this is clearly not the case. Dr. Khan explicitly states that the reader needs to “distinguish between two terms frequently used to refer to Islamic Law,” which are ‘Shari’ah’ and ‘fiqh’. So here we already see an obvious distinction being made. Dr. Khan then goes on to quote Al-Zarqa who makes the very same distinction by emphasizing the difference between “the Islamic Shari’ah” and “Islamic fiqh”; the latter which he defines as “what scholars have understood from the religious scriptures”. Therefore, at no point did Al-Zarqa attempt to “distinguish between aspects of fiqh,” as Daniel claims, because one of those distinctions was fiqh itself.

Subsequently, Dr. Khan concurs with this distinction by stating fiqh is “constructivist in nature.” He elaborates further in the same paragraph, only two sentences later:

Thus, Islamic law contains a dual-layer morality—an immutable scripturally enshrined set of precepts (sharīʿah), and the human derivation and application of those principles sensitive to the changing of time and place (fiqh).

Nazir Khan (2019) “Differences of Opinion: Where Do We Draw the Line?” [17]

So no, Dr. Khan neither misinterpreted Al-Zarqa nor characterized all of Islamic jurisprudence as “constructivist,” because both he and Al-Zarqa are making a clear distinction between two terms which make up Islamic jurisprudence (i.e. Shari’ah and fiqh). This is not difficult to comprehend, but Daniel muddy’s this obvious distinction made by the author. Despite this, Dr. Khan felt the need to update his paper making this distinction more explicit and has since edited and added the following for emphasis:

First of all, this echoes what this paper has stated repeatedly from the beginning—the major parts of Islamic law are clear-cut while subsidiary issues are subject to human interpretation. Secondly, this distinction between “the Islamic Shariah” and “the Islamic fiqh” highlights the way these terms have been used by some scholars to draw a conceptual distinction between these two categories.

Nazir Khan (2019) “Differences of Opinion: Where Do We Draw the Line?” [18]

This erroneous nature of Daniel’s arguments become even more evident in his subsequent accusation:

Here, Daniel attempts to substitute substance for pedantry by obscurely demarcating between “overlapping” and “distinct,” in response to Dr. Khan’s use of the phrase, “dual-layer morality”. But this is nonsensical, because two things can be distinct and still overlap. For example, the fact that the heart and brain are distinct doesn’t magically make them both capable of surviving independently of one other; they both require each other to function so that the body can live. As per this analogy, the heart might be seen as the ‘Shari’ah,’ the brain as ‘fiqh,’ and the body as ‘Islamic Law’. As such, something being “dual-layered” doesn’t imply mutual exclusivity.

Given the above, it appears rather desperate for Daniel to engage in such sophistry. It’s also quite clear he’s incorrect that Al-Zarqa and Ibn Taymiyyah “don’t agree” with Dr. Khan. No amount of word play is going to take away from that. Dr. Khan, along with Al-Zarqa and Ibn Taymiyyah, believe there are immutable incontestable aspects of Islamic law, while other aspects are based on human derivation. Therefore, Daniel has committed the fallacy of irrelevant conclusion.[19] Moving on:

Daniel suddenly switches back to Dr. Khan’s previous essay, “Forever on Trial: Islam and the Charge of Violence”[20] to make his point. Here he suggests that Dr. Khan’s emphasis on the changing nature of rulings doesn’t support his point that “fiqh as a whole is ‘constantly evolving.” However, once again, this is a straw man fallacy. As shown above, Dr. Khan has never argued that “fiqh as a whole [i.e. Islamic jurisprudence] is evolving,” because he regards fiqh as only a part of Islamic law.

Misquoting Footnotes & Omitting Paragraphs

Here, Daniel continues his pedantry by arguing al-Sarakhsi never stated “a significant portion of Abu Hanifa’s jurisprudence was changed by his students Abu Yusuf and al-Shaybani”. Although this is correct, it’s clear Dr. Khan isn’t utilizing the reference to support the first half of the sentence, but the latter half where he states “,and this change was not due to disagreement over sacred texts but simply because of the changing circumstances of society with time.” This is subtly indicated by the comma separating the two statements. As such, the reference is apt because it clearly states (as per Daniel’s translation):

Then Abu Yusuf and Muhammad [al-Shaybani] witnessed the norms of Baghdad and all cities that they only do that in the head of sheep so they said he only breaks his oath in the head of sheep. Thus it is known that the ikhtilaf is the ikhtilaf of era (asr) and time (zaman) not ikhtilaf of ruling (hukm) and speech (bayan) and apparent custom (urf dhahir) is the most important in issues of oaths (ayman).”

Al-Sarakhsi (1993) Al-Masbut V. 8, p. 178, (Quoted in Daniel Haqiqatjou (2020) “Reviewing Yaqeen Institute: A Source of Certainty or Doubt?”) [21]

And the reason we can be certain that Dr. Khan was using this reference in support of the latter half of this sentence is because he makes this explicit in his “Difference of Opinion” article. What Daniel does is refer to a footnote of Dr. Khan’s older article (without mentioning it to the reader) rather than referring to a more explicit statement where this same reference is used to support this exact point. In other words, Daniel omits an entire paragraph from Dr. Khan’s “Difference of Opinion” article all just so he can frame his use of al-Sarakhsi’s Al-Masbut as inaccurate. We need only see how Dr. Khan uses the same reference in his main piece:[22]

Daniel knows this paragraph exist. He knows how Dr. Khan was attempting to use this reference. Yet, Daniel chooses to ignore this paragraph for a less explicit footnote of a prior article (without even indicating to the reader he was doing so). In other words, Daniel dishonestly attributes misuse of a reference by Dr. Khan through deliberate omission, all the while obscuring his sleight of hand from the reader. As such, Daniel commits the fallacy of quoting out of context,[23] once again exposing his lack of integrity.

That said, let’s entertain Daniel’s skepticism of the claim that “a significant portion of Abu Hanifa’s jurisprudence was changed by his students.” He seems completely unaware of this, so let’s allow the great Hanafi jurist and Ottoman era scholar, Muhammad Amin Ibn Abidin (d. 1836 C.E.) to affirm this statement:

And they [Abu Yusuf and Al-Shaybani] differed in more than a third of his [Abu Hanifah’s] madhhab.

Ibn Abidin (1971) Radd al-Muhtar, 1:66.

Perhaps Daniel will argue that “more than a third” isn’t the same as “significant enough” or that “differed” isn’t the same as “changed”. However, his pedantry won’t change the fact that he’s being dishonest and unjustly uncharitable in his approach.

“Modern Reformism” vs. Ignorance of Fiqh

Daniel reiterates his criticisms, again casting aspersion on traditional scholars as “reformist”. His claim seemingly arguing that all rulings from 1000 years ago are “still relevant today” is sheer ignorance, contradicting the very scholars mentioned above. Although it is undoubtedly the case that many rulings and principles are still relevant, it’s incorrect to suggests all books of fiqh are taught in such a way that they’re never challenged or that certain rulings haven’t been superseded. In other words, according to scholars such as Ibn Qayyim and Al-Qarafi, Daniel is misguided and misleading others.

That said, what’s most intriguing is what he says in the third paragraph; a statement which completely undermines his criticism of Dr. Khan’s articles. Daniel admits outright: “Could fiqh change as well? Yes, but it could change with new ijtihad from a mujtahid, not merely on the basis of changing time and circumstances.” This concession alone is self-refutation of his entire criticism. However, he attempts to make a distinction between his position and Dr. Khan’s by presenting the latter’s view of change as arbitrary. Apparently, according to Daniel, Dr. Khan believes fiqh magically transforms as new circumstances are revealed, entirely independent of scholarly contribution. But of course a mujtahid is necessary to alter rulings or introduce new ones – Dr. Khan never claimed otherwise. Only Daniel appears to think scholars don’t base their rulings on changing times and circumstance, contrary to all evidence from our tradition.

In summary, Daniel’s criticisms are entirely based on pedantry, semantics, facile distinctions, and zero evidence. More importantly however, his arguments are in total contradiction to the very tradition he claims to defend.


SUMMARY:

  • Commits a straw man fallacy by conflating Dr. Khan’s statements on past rulings regarding women and societal norms with the entirety of fiqh itself.
  • Claims Dr. Khan’s views are “reformist tropes,” despite traditional scholars holding the same views.
  • Commits the fallacy of suppressed evidence by neglecting to address Dr. Khan’s evidence.
  • Commits a non-sequitur fallacy by suggesting belief in man’s fallible comprehension of Islam equates to “compromising Islam”.
  • Erroneously conflates belief in man’s fallible comprehension solely with Humean Skepticism.
  • Hypocritically believes in the very view he’s criticizing (i.e. fallibility of human comprehension).
  • Commits another straw man fallacy by claiming Dr. Khan believes the entirety of Islamic jurisprudence is “constructivist”.
  • Commits the fallacy of equivocation by rendering Dr. Khan’s use of the word ‘fiqh’ with all of Islamic jurisprudence.
  • Relies purely on semantics (i.e. “distinct” vs. “overlapping”) to object to Dr. Khan’s description of Islamic jurisprudence as “dual layered”.
  • Commits the fallacy of irrelevant conclusion by asserting Ibn Taymiyyah and Al-Zarqa “disagree” with Dr. Khan.
  • Commits another straw man fallacy by asserting Dr. Khan claimed all of Islamic jurisprudence is “evolving”.
  • Commits another fallacy of quoting out of context by utilizing a slightly more obscure footnote over an explicit paragraph detailing precisely how Dr. Khan utilizes al-Sarakhsi’s Al-Masbut.
  • Seemingly and erroneously claims all rulings and principles in fiqh texts from 1000 years ago are still relevant today.
  • Admits himself that fiqh can change, thereby undermining his entire argument, but makes a facile distinction between his view and Dr. Khan’s.

Section Errors: 14 / TOTAL: 37

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Hudud Are “Symbolic” and Have No Place in the Modern World

In Section (8.4) of his article,[1] Daniel primarily assesses the views of Dr. Jonathan Brown and his article “Stoning and Hand Cutting – Understanding the Hudud and the Shariah in Islam.”[2] However, Daniel commits the far greatest number of fallacies in this section out of any other. He begins with the following:

Daniel starts by quoting Hamza Yusuf (someone who neither works with nor has contributed to the organization) and accuses Yaqeen of promoting the idea that the hudud punishments are “essentially ‘fictions'” or “purely symbolic”; existing as mere abstracta and having no function outside representing concrete realities. However, at no point has a Yaqeen fellow ever expressed or published an article promoting such a belief. As the reader will soon discover in this section, there is absolutely no evidence for this accusation and plenty contrary to it. For instance, Dr. Brown himself expresses quite clearly in his article that the hudud are concrete realities that must be accepted and can be implemented:

The most important point to note is that Muslim scholars have affirmed that what is essential for Muslims is to believe that the Shariah is ideal law and that the hudud are valid in theory. The actual implementation of the hudud comes at the discretion of the ruler/state and is not necessary for people to be Muslim.

Jonathan Brown (2017) “Stoning and Hand Cutting Understanding the Hudu and the Shariah in Islam” [3]

If Dr. Brown truly believed the hudud were “fictions” and “purely symbolic,” why would he state that the hudud are “valid in theory” and can be “actually implemented”? Fictions aren’t valid in any legal theory [4] nor can something “purely symbolic” be physically implemented by any means – it would be logically incoherent to suggests otherwise. Although Dr. Brown has mentioned that the hudud are in fact a “symbol,” his use of the term does not render the punishments as “fictions” to any degree nor “purely symbolic” abstracta. This will be discussed more in detail later, but for now it suffices to summarize Daniel’s criticisms as just being one massive straw man fallacy.[5] This is made more evident when he attempts to conflate Hamza Yusuf’s quote about the hudud being “legal fictions” with Dr. Brown’s views, because it reveals his accusations are so weak he’s compelled to draw statements from outside Yaqeen Institute just to make them stick.

Symbols vs. Abstracta

Daniel attempts to use Dr. Brown’s views about how hadd for apostasy should not being applied today (given conditions are lacking) as evidence he believes the hudud are “purely symbolic/fictions”. However, this is a non-sequitur fallacy [6] for two reasons: First, it doesn’t follow that believing the hadd for apostasy should not be applied today (due to a failure to meet adequate conditions) equates to believing the hudud in general are “purely symbolic/fictions”. Second, throughout Islamic history, more knowledgeable and practicing Muslims have refused to apply hudud due to special circumstances which remove the essential conditions for implementation. For instance, the second righteous caliph Umar bin Khattab decreed the hadd for theft not be applied because a famine had devastated the ummah.[7] So is Daniel willing to argue that Umar believed the hudud are “purely symbolic/fictions”? In other words, refusing to apply the hudud (for the benefit of Muslims) is part of the orthodox Islamic tradition and does not necessitate nefarious nor flawed motivations.

Daniel continues by rightly pointing out Dr. Brown argues the hudud are not meant to be applied (for reasons that will be discussed later and in more detail), however, this does not necessitate the hudud are “purely symbolic/fictions” with no physical applicability. Maximum penalties in any law can rightly be said to have no intended applicability due to high evidentiary standards, but this doesn’t necessitate they can’t or won’t be applied. For instance, the fact that someone owns a firearm and never intends to use it doesn’t necessitate they believe guns are “purely symbolic/fictional”. A person may need to use a gun (e.g. self defense), but this doesn’t mean they desire to do so. As such, the gun still functions as a means of self defense regardless if one actively intends to fire it or not – it’s not just a symbol of security, but can actually do harm. In summary, just because one intends something not to be used, doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t be used. Thus, Daniel has committed yet another non-sequitur fallacy. That said, Dr. Brown’s documenting of rare instances of the hudud being applied serves as sufficient evidence against the accusation that he believes them to be “purely symbolic/fictions”:

The Muslim judges who applied the rules of fiqh also took the command of the Prophet ﷺ to ward off the hudud by ambiguities as a divine command. All indications are that the hudud punishments were very rarely carried out historically. 

Jonathan Brown (2017) “Stoning and Hand Cutting Understanding the Hudud and the Shariah in Islam” [8]

Even so, Daniel contradicts himself by stating Dr. Brown believes the hudud are “more akin to symbolic deterrents” rather than “purely symbolic/fictions”. So does Dr. Brown believe the hudud are just similar to symbolic deterrents or that they’re purely symbolic? Daniel is quite careless with his language here, revealing his inconsistency yet again.

Daniel then quotes Dr. Brown, agreeing with him that the implementation of hudud ultimately falls in the hands of the ruler/state and not individual Muslims, thereby undermining his criticisms (again) against Dr. Brown believing the hudud are “purely symbolic/fictions”. That said, he goes on to ask a rhetorical question implying Dr. Brown believes the ruler’s discretion is arbitrary and not based in Islamic principles. However, anyone who has actually read the article in question (as Daniel claims to have done) would know Dr. Brown never advocates such a position. Note his recollection of a story involving the Mamluk Sultan, Al-Ghuri:

Hearing of this scandal, the Mamluk Sultan, al-Ghūrī, was livid at the corruption uncovered amongst his magistrates. So he asked for a ruling by a Shafi judge, who declared (correctly) that the couple should be stoned. The chief judge affirmed, and the Sultan, who had been acknowledged as overly zealous in punishment, was elated. He’d be commemorated for his justice, he exclaimed, since “history would record that someone was stoned for zinā in his time.”


But in the meantime, the couple retracted their confession. Leading scholars wrote that the hudud punishment would have to be dropped. The Sultan responded in outrage, “O Muslims! A man goes into the house of another man, commits iniquity with his wife, they are caught together under the covers, the man confesses to what he’d done and writes a confession with his own hand, and they say after all this that he can retract it?!” The Sultan convened all the senior judges and jurists at his court, including the then nonagenarian pillar of the Shafi school, Shaykh al-Islam Zakariyyā al-Anṣārī (d. 1520). One leading Shafi scholar, Burhān al-Dīn Ibn Abī Sharīf (d. 1517), replied to the Sultan, “That is God’s law,” warning that whoever executed the couple would be liable for their murder. Zakariyyā al-Anṣārī agreed. Enraged, the Sultan executed the couple anyway, fired all the chief judges and scholars from their judgeships and teaching positions and sent Ibn Abī Sharīf into exile.


We must appreciate what took place in this episode: several leading scholars and judges of Mamluk Cairo accepted dismissal from their posts and exile rather than affirming the application of a hudud punishment. Writing a century later, the historian Najm al-Dīn al-Ghazzī (d. 1650) remarked that the Sultan’s crime of executing two people without legal right and ignoring the protocols of the Shariah was a cause of the fall of the Mamluk state, which the Ottomans conquered only three years after this scandal.

Jonathan Brown (2017) “Stoning and Hand Cutting Understanding the Hudud and the Shariah in Islam” [9]

Given the evidence above, it’s inexcusable to be asking such rhetorical questions when it’s apparent what Dr. Brown believes by simply reading his paper. What is also inexcusable is projecting emotional states on to the author (as a means to imply they’re averse to the Shari’ah) without evidence. For example, Daniel subsequently states Dr. Brown “expresses concern (anxiety?) about the ‘return’ of hudud”:

However, there is absolutely no evidence Dr. Brown feels “concerned” or “anxious” about the return of the hudud. His question here regards Muslim perspectives generally and is subsequently followed by a discussion on scholarly opinions related to the hudud’s absence in the contemporary period:

How do Muslims make sense of the hudud’s absence? Can we justify it or, taking things one step further, can we justify not calling for their return? Muslim scholars have followed several tacks in negotiating these profound questions. In the mid-twentieth century some argued that the hudud were abandoned because of Western pressures during the colonial period and that, if restored, the hudud would help mold more law-abiding and harmonious societies. Once reaffirmed, these scholars argued, the punishments themselves would rarely ever be carried out. Others have more recently argued that a revival of the hudud would be inappropriate for the foreseeable future because our political and social environments make removing all ambiguities (shubuhāt) systematically impossible. It’s assumed that this situation is a result of colonialism and the globalization of Western values. But some scholars have argued that this had been the case for almost a millennium. Hence the extraordinary rarity of the hudud being carried out.


Taken to a higher level of detail, one Shariah argument for the hudud not being obligatory at present is that, like a person trying to perform ablutions on a missing limb, the ‘locus of the ruling’ has vanished. According to this argument, whatever the motivation for Muslim states abandoning the hudud, their absence makes them irrelevant until someone decides to revive them. Another argument is that our current era is an “age of crisis and necessity” (ḍarūra). Since in Islamic law ‘necessity makes the prohibited permissible,’ Muslim states under foreign domination or other constraints are allowed to lapse in ways that would otherwise not be allowed.


The Mauritanian scholar Abdallah Bin Bayyah has made the interesting argument that he based on the Prophet ﷺ prohibiting cutting off the hand of Muslim soldiers who stole while on campaign. Instead, the Prophet ﷺ punished them with lashes or delayed the punishment until the need for a full fighting force had passed. Though Muslims are not literally in the land of the enemy, Bin Bayyah writes, they are in “a land of anxiety” where many Muslims feel uncomfortable with the hudud’s harsh physical punishments. It’s as if the Abode of Islam has been culturally conquered, with Muslims becoming allergic to their own revealed tradition.

Jonathan Brown (2017) “Stoning and Hand Cutting Understanding the Hudud and the Shariah in Islam” [10]

Notice how Daniel omits what follows after the question, insinuating Dr. Brown is declaring his “concern” on the matter rather than simply addressing the potential concerns of the reader. Even so, the word ‘anxiety’ doesn’t present itself until Dr. Brown mentions the opinion of Sh. Abdallah bin Bayyah, who himself declares other Muslims are “uncomfortable” living in the “land of anxiety”. Dr. Brown himself doesn’t explicitly include himself as “allergic” to his own tradition nor is there evidence he’s implying it by mentioning Bin Bayyah’s opinion. As such, Daniel’s attempt to project this opinion on to Dr. Brown’s questions is nothing more than a duplicitous attempt to commit an ad hominem fallacy which is to “make an irrelevant attack on the arguer and suggest that this attack undermines the argument itself.”[11]

English 101: Fun with Adverbs

Daniel accuses Dr. Brown of claiming the hudud are “merely (syn. for ‘purely’) symbolic,” yet, as shown prior, this is false. However, this time Daniel adds the word “impossible” to his accusations. But, again, Dr. Brown never claimed the hudud are “impossible” to apply. On the contrary, he states the following in numerous places of his article:

Perhaps these stringent laws, which God’s mercy has made almost impossible to apply, exist primarily to remind people of the enormity of the sins that they usually get away with.

Jonathan Brown (2017) “Stoning and Hand Cutting – Understanding the Hudud and the Shariah in Islam” [12]

For those who may deem this response pedantic, allow me to clarify: the distinction here is not only significant, but relevant to the heart of Daniel’s accusations that Dr. Brown believes the hudud are “purely symbolic/fictions”. There is a huge difference between “almost impossible” and “impossible” – the former allows for instances of application (albeit rare) whereas the latter does not. As a matter of principle, it is factually incorrect to assert these two statements are equal. For instance, it would be absurd to argue that because someone said its “almost impossible to become a billionaire” they actually believe it’s “impossible” and billionaires don’t exists. Likewise, it would be absurd to claim someone “almost getting hit by a car” means they were actually hit by a car. The reason Daniel is arguing this way is because he’s deliberately attempting to frame Dr. Brown as promoting a deviant opinion about the essence of the hudud (i.e. that they’re merely abstract representations and not actual punishments sanctioned in Islam). As such, in this instance, he’s committed the fallacy of quoting out of context.[13]

Daniel further exhibits misrepresentation by quoting Dr. Brown’s statement “the hudud were really not much more than symbols of submission to the idea of God’s law” as support for his accusations. But once again, rudimentary English comprehension reveals this statement as irrelevant to his conclusions. “Not much more than” (i.e. more than, but not by much) is not the same as “nothing more than”[14] – the former is similar to “almost impossible” in its phrasing, conveying a nearness, but not the totality of the thing it’s describing. For instance, if I said “The Chinese government is not much more than a symbol of oppression,” I would not be claiming the Chinese government is only/purely/merely a symbol of oppression. If I said, “Money is not much more than a symbol of value,” I would not be claiming money has zero physical properties nor any functionality outside being symbolic. Daniel is educated enough to understand these distinctions, which can only lead the reader to conclude that he’s dishonestly forcing certain words (e.g. “purely/merely”) into Dr. Brown’s statements, while deleting others (e.g. “almost”). As such, he’s committed yet another straw man fallacy.

Daniel subsequently quotes a lecture by Dr. Brown:

Daniel once again falsely accuses Dr. Brown of believing the hudud are “impossible to apply” while subsequently quoting him saying the very opposite (i.e. “almost impossible”), thereby repeating an earlier straw man fallacy. Also, Daniel’s emphasis on the statement in bold renders his accusations moot, considering that “a lot is not meant to be implemented” does not equate to “nothing can be implemented,” as explained in an earlier lesson on rudimentary English comprehension and logical reasoning.

What’s more striking still is that Daniel goes on to accurately presents Dr. Brown’s position right after misrepresenting him, stating the latter believes the hudud are “nearly impossible to apply,” not “impossible”. However, he immediately goes on to commit yet another non-sequitur fallacy by suggesting Dr. Brown believes the hudud are “purely symbolic” or “legal fictions”. The inconsistency is baffling.

Daniel subsequently attempts to put more words into Dr. Brown’s mouth:

Again, Daniel provides no evidence Dr. Brown ever claimed or implied he believed the hudud were “irrelevant”. To the contrary, Dr. Brown merely explained “one Shari’ah argument” among many which argues “[the hudud’s] absence makes them irrelevant until someone decides to revive them” because the “locus [i.e. place/source of power] of the ruling has vanished”:

How do Muslims make sense of the hudud’s absence? Can we justify it or, taking things one step further, can we justify not calling for their return? Muslim scholars have followed several tacks in negotiating these profound questions. In the mid-twentieth century some argued that the hudud were abandoned because of Western pressures during the colonial period and that, if restored, the hudud would help mold more law-abiding and harmonious societies. Once reaffirmed, these scholars argued, the punishments themselves would rarely ever be carried out. Others have more recently argued that a revival of the hudud would be inappropriate for the foreseeable future because our political and social environments make removing all ambiguities (shubuhāt) systematically impossible. It’s assumed that this situation is a result of colonialism and the globalization of Western values. But some scholars have argued that this had been the case for almost a millennium. Hence the extraordinary rarity of the hudud being carried out.


Taken to a higher level of detail, one Shariah argument for the hudud not being obligatory at present is that, like a person trying to perform ablutions on a missing limb, the ‘locus of the ruling’ has vanished. According to this argument, whatever the motivation for Muslim states abandoning the hudud, their absence makes them irrelevant until someone decides to revive them. Another argument is that our current era is an “age of crisis and necessity” (ḍarūra). Since in Islamic law ‘necessity makes the prohibited permissible,’ Muslim states under foreign domination or other constraints are allowed to lapse in ways that would otherwise not be allowed.

Jonathan Brown (2017) “Stoning and Hand Cutting – Understanding the Hudud and the Shariah in Islam” [15]

In other words, one argument proposes that until a proper Islamic authority (e.g. a caliph/caliphate) attempts to revive the hudud, their application isn’t obligatory. This is something Daniel would likely agree with as he himself admitted earlier that he believes only a Muslim ruler (not just any Muslim) can carry out the hudud. That being said, Daniel has committed yet another fallacy of quoting out of context by attributing a position to Dr. Brown that is neither an accurate representation of what he was attempting to explain nor one he explicitly claimed to support.

Daniel then goes on to introduce Dr. Khan into the discussion, suggesting the phrases “stringent conditions…render their [the hudud’s] application essentially obsolete” and “primarily [serve] as psychological deterrents,” support his argument that Yaqeen Institute promotes the irrelevancy of the hudud. However, there are a number of issues with his use of this quote. Firstly, it’s a non-sequitur fallacy, because the hudud cannot possibly be “irrelevant” if they’re still serving their primary function as psychological deterrents. Secondly, it’s also a non-sequitur to suggests the hudud’s application being “essentially obsolete” equates to them being “impossible to apply”. Again, rudimentary comprehension of English adverbs tells a different story. The word ‘essentially’ means “in essence: fundamentally—used to identify or stress the basic or essential character or nature of a person or thing or to say that a description is basically true or accurate”[16] or “relating to the most important characteristics or ideas of something.”[17] As such, the word is used to emphasize the main/foremost characteristic of something or someone, not what it is or how it functions in totality (i.e. as an absolute). For example, if I said “Daniel is essentially dishonest,” I would not be claiming he’s always dishonest or that he’s only dishonest – just that he’s primarily dishonest and occasionally exhibits signs of integrity when he feels like it. Thus, it’s incorrect to render Dr. Khan’s statements in this fashion.

That said, I will admit Dr. Khan’s use of the word ‘obsolete’ was confusing, but not for the reasons Daniel suggests. The definition of ‘obsolete’ is “no longer in use or no longer useful,”[18] giving the impression that the hudud might have been applied more at a certain point in the past. But Dr. Khan’s point is that the hudud have generally always been rarely applied. Indeed, the evidentiary standard for certain punishments was so high that some claimed it was never fulfilled in Islamic history. For instance, Ibn Uthaymeen (d. 2001 C.E.) claimed, “Ibn Taymiyyah said the crime of zina was not established by testimony since the dawn of Islam until his time, but rather only by confession because establishing witnesses is difficult”.[19] That said, Dr. Khan has since edited the paragraph to more clearly convey his point:

These laws [i.e. the hudud] are subject to lengthy discussion in the books of Islamic jurisprudence which place upon them such stringent conditions so as to render their execution almost entirely non-existent —and this is precisely in line with the Prophet’s emphasis on the ḥudūd serving primarily as psychological deterrents and encouraging his followers to find excuses in favor of the accused so as not to apply them…

Nazir Khan (2016) “Forever on Trial Islam and the Charge of Violence” [20]

As the reader can plainly see, the phrase “their application essentially obsolete'” has been replaced with “execution almost entirely non-existent”. Likewise, the reason for the Prophet’s (ﷺ) discouragement is mentioned more explicitly. However, this edit doesn’t take away from my criticisms – Dr. Khan’s views remain the same and Daniel is still wrong.

Continuing with his criticism of the pre-edited quote, Daniel rhetorically ask whether the application of the hudud being “essentially obsolete” renders the hudud themselves “essentially obsolete,” but this too is a non-sequitur. The fact that something is rarely physically applied doesn’t necessitate it loses all function. As Dr. Khan notes, the hudud’s primary function is to serve as “psychological deterrents,” indicating their secondary function is to be physically applied.

Finally, Daniel rhetorically ask if the Prophet (ﷺ) ever made any explicit statements about the hudud being “primarily psychological deterrents,” insinuating a lack thereof renders Dr. Khan’s sentiments void. However, as discussed in a prior section of this missive, it is not always necessary for Muslim theologians and jurists to require explicit statements from the Prophet (ﷺ) when discussing the implications, reasons, or wisdom within the Qur’an and Sunnah – much less exact words. If this were the case, much of usul ul-din and usul ul-fiqh would be invalid. That said, there are numerous evidences within the Islamic tradition supporting Dr. Khan’s claims. For instance, with regard to discouraging the application of the hudud (through doubts or otherwise), a number of scholars referenced the Prophet’s (ﷺ) own statements and actions. For example, the renowned jurist, Ibn Rushd (d. 1198 C.E.), states the following with regard to the hadd for zina in his Bidayat al-Mujtahid:

The legal basis, for the majority, are the words of the Prophet (ﷺ), “Waive the (fixed) penalties [i.e. hudud] because of doubt”.

Abu Walid Muhammad Ahmad Ibn Rushd (2000) The Distinguished Primer, Vol. 2, Trans. Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee, p. 522.

With respect to the hadd for theft, Ibn Rushd references the Prophet (ﷺ) encouraging forgiveness over punishment:

They [the scholars] agreed that it is the right of the owner of stolen property to forgive the thief as long as the matter has not been brought to the notice of the imam, because of what has been related from ‘Amr ibn Shu’ayb from his father from his grandfather that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Pardon the hudud among yourselves, for when a hadd is reported to me it becomes obligatory”…

Ibid, p. 545.

Likewise, one of the founding imams of the four madhahib, Malik ibn Anas (d. 795 C.E.), frequently cited the words of the Prophet (ﷺ) in his Muwatta discouraging confession of hadd crimes. For example, this is what the great scholar narrated about confessing to zina:

Malik related to me from Zayd bin Aslam that a man confessed to fornication in the time of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ). The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) called for a whip, and he was brought a broken whip. He said, “Above this,” and he was brought a new whip whose knots had not been frayed yet. He said, “Below this,” and he was brought a whip which had been used and was flexible. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) gave the order and he was flogged. The he said, “People! The time has come for you to observe the limits of Allah. Whoever has had any of these ugly things befall him should cover them up with the veil of Allah. Whoever reveals his wrong action to us, we will perform what is in the Book of Allah against him.”

Malik ibn Anas (2004) Al-Muwatta of Imam Malik ibn Anas: The First Formulation of Islamic Law, Trans. Aisha Abdurrahman Bewley, p. 346. [21]

And what of Imam Malik narrating a case where a man’s confession (i.e. evidence) to zina was denied by the companions and consistently ignored by the Prophet (ﷺ) until the man made it impossible not to punish?

Malik related to me from Yahya ibn Sa’id from Sa’id ibn al-Musayyab that a man from the Aslam tribe came to Abu Bakr as-Siddiq and told him, “I have committed adultery.” Abu Bakr said to him, “Have you mentioned this to anyone else?” He replied, “No.” Abu Bakr told him, “Then cover it up with the veil of Allah. Allah accepts repentance from His slaves.” He was still unsettled, so he went to ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab and told him the same as he had said to Abu Bakr and ‘Umar gave him the same answer as Abu Bakr had done. He was still unsettled so he went to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and said to him insistently, “I have committed adultery.” The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) turned away form him three times. Each time the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) turned away from him until it became too much. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) then questioned his family, “Does he have some illness which affects his mind or is he mad?” They said, “Messenger of Allah, he is well.” The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) then inquired, “Unmarried or married?” They replied, “Married, Messenger of Allah.” So the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) gave the order for him to be stoned.

Ibid, p. 344. [22]

Is Daniel willing to accuse Ibn Rushd and his colleagues of promoting the hudud as “purely symbolic/fictions,” because they believed the Prophet (ﷺ) encouraged pardoning thieves before the hadd became obligatory? Is he willing to accuse Imam Malik of the same for referencing the Prophet (ﷺ) discouraging confession for zina? According to Daniel, shouldn’t we be encouraging people to report thieves and confess to zina so they can be punished? Is it not “obstruction of justice” to do otherwise?

With regard to the hudud being “primarily psychological deterrents,” the Qur’an provides evidence for this claim when mentioning the hadd for theft:

As for male and female thieves, cut off their hands for what they have done—a deterrent from Allah. And Allah is Almighty, All-Wise.

Al-Qur’an, 5:38

In another verse, the Qur’an mentions that legal retribution for murder was established to secure life (2:179). Drawing from the earliest era of the Islamic tradition, classical scholars such as the Qur’anic exegete, Ibn Jarir al-Tabari (d. 923 C.E.), explained this verse in the following manner:

Qatada said concerning {You have life in retribution}, “God made this retribution a source of life, and an admonition for the people of foolishness and ignorance amongst mankind. How many a person would have contemplated a crime and had it not been for the fear of retribution, he would have actually committed it.”

Ibn Jarir, Tafsir al-Tabari, 1374, 3:382.

Based on the above evidences and more, Saudi professor of Islamic Law, Sh. Abd al-Aziz al-Fawzan, summarizes the purpose of the hudud as follows:

The greatest purpose of these (hudud) punishments is to frighten and deter, which prevents their occurrence in the first place. It is not necessary to resort to them except in the narrowest of limits. Those who defame these punishments mistakenly imagine that they are ordinary punishments to be applied every day upon large numbers of people. So, they imagine there is a terrifying slaughter in Islamic society: this one being flogged, this one being amputated, this one being stoned. Rather, the reality is that these punishments are deterrents. They are almost never implemented except within a limited range upon a small number of people immersed in corruption, rooted in evil and depravity, harming the nation and disturbing its security and stability.

Abd al-Aziz al-Fawzan (2003) Dahd al-Shubuhat tuhar hawl al-‘uqubat al-shar’iyyah. al-Bayan, al-Muntada al-Islami, 18:193, p. 16.

As such, it is clear that the primary function of the hudud are to deter society from criminal activity. And seeing as being deterred (i.e. fearful or wary) is a psychological state, the only real issue with Dr. Khan’s phrasing is its repetitiveness. Even so, one may argue that the hudud lose their function as a deterrent by virtue of being rarely applied. However, this is nonsensical. In fact, Daniel himself admits that even if the hudud were rarely applied, it would largely be due to their effectiveness as a psychological deterrent:

Ignoring for a moment the obvious misrepresentation imbedded in the question at the end, it’s clear that even by Daniel’s standards, the hudud being rarely applied doesn’t remove their essential function since it only takes the “possibility” of their enforcement to instill compliance to the law.

Resorting to Sophistry

Daniel reiterates and confirms Dr. Khan’s and Dr. Brown’s claims that the Prophet (ﷺ) attempted to ward off the application of the hudud through doubts. However, he engages in sophistry by suggesting this doesn’t mean the Prophet “discouraged” applying the hudud. In an attempt to support his claim, Daniel goes on to demarcate between the terms ‘circumspect’ and ‘reluctance’. However, none of these terms are mutually exclusive. For example, a defense attorney may actively discourage a plea deal by being circumspect. Likewise, a judge may be reluctant to apply the death penalty because they’re circumspect. Being circumspect or “careful to consider all circumstances and possible consequences”[23] is not an antonym for ‘discourage’ or ‘reluctance’, it’s complimentary.

That said, Daniel’s use of the hadith to imply the Prophet (ﷺ) seemingly never discouraged the application of the hudud appears desperate. Although the hadith in question doesn’t narrate an instance where the Prophet (ﷺ) discouraged the application of a hadd, it does nothing to support Daniel’s argument. Here, the Prophet (ﷺ) is merely rebuking those who attempt to discourage applying hadd through favoritism and not through means sanctioned by Islam (e.g. doubts). Regardless, Daniel’s use of this hadith is irrelevant because Dr. Khan and Dr. Brown never argued that the hudud are discouraged in all circumstances or can’t be applied in general. As such, Daniel has committed the fallacy of irrelevant conclusion.[24]

Dr. Brown’s Evidence?

Daniel finally attempts to address Dr. Brown’s evidences, but first reveals his own inconsistency by again admitting the latter argues the hudud “are in large part symbolic” and “weren’t often applied” rather than “purely symbolic/fictions”. At this point, it’s difficult to determine if Daniel can’t comprehend the difference between these two positions or if he simply doesn’t care, although the second option seems more likely. That aside, Daniel goes on to misrepresent Dr. Brown’s use of evidence, suggesting he only relied on a lack of historical documentation to make his case. However, this is far from the truth. In fact, Dr. Brown primarily utilizes the scholarly tradition, relying on ahadith and basic principles of fiqh. He then goes on to mention historical anecdotes and records of scholars warding off ambiguities, alongside a lack of documentation on hudud being carried. For instance:

The Muslim judges who applied the rules of fiqh also took the command of the Prophet ﷺ to ward off the hudud by ambiguities as a divine command. All indications are that the hudud punishments were very rarely carried out historically. A Scottish doctor working in Aleppo in the mid-1700s observed that there were only six public executions in twenty years. Theft was rare, he observed, and when it occurred it was punished by bastinado. A famous British scholar of Arabic in Egypt in the mid-1800s reported that the hudud punishment for theft had not been inflicted in recent memory. In the roughly five hundred years that the Ottoman Empire ruled Constantinople, records show that only one instance of stoning for adultery took place (contrast this with colonial America/USA, where over fifty people were executed for various sexual crimes between 1608 and 1785).


Jurists’ theories of far-fetched ambiguities found real-life application. A Muslim woman in India in the late 1500s whose husband had died in battle was suddenly found to be pregnant and was accused of fornication. She claimed that her husband had been miraculously brought back to life every Friday night, when he would visit her. Jurists of India’s predominant Hanafi school of law were consulted on the case and replied that it was indeed technically possible for such a miracle to have occurred.

Jonathan Brown (2017) “Stoning and Hand Cutting – Understanding the Hudud and the Shariah in Islam” [25]

So while it is certainly true that “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence,”[26] Daniel’s criticism is misplaced, because the absence is only mentioned as supplementary to juristic principles and positive historical accounts confirming said absence. In other words, the fallacy doesn’t apply here because there’s enough evidence to suggests their should be fewer records. If anything, Daniel’s selective attention towards a supplementary aspect of Dr. Brown’s argument is an instance of the fallacy of confirmation bias.[27]

Worse still is Daniel’s attempt at playing devil’s advocate. While conceding Dr. Brown’s point for the sake of argument, he commits yet another straw man fallacy in his ending question, “If people had the impression that the hudud were not applicable or were never enforced, then would they be deterred at all?” As seen earlier, Dr. Brown has never argued the hudud were “not applicable or were never enforced”. Even Daniel himself knows this because he admits in the same paragraph that Dr. Brown’s actual argument is that “the hudud were almost never applied”. That said, Daniel’s question is quite revealing, because it gives the impression that he believes the rarity of the hudud’s applicability equates to people never being deterred at all. However, as shown earlier, this sort of reasoning is nonsensical. Furthermore, it seemingly implies the hudud are somehow the only means of punishment in Islam.

The hudud’s primary purpose is to deter, being the maximum punishment an individual can be sentenced to under the Shari’ah. Although rarely applied, their potential is still very real and it only takes one instance of their application to accomplish that goal. That said, even if someone were able to escape a hadd penalty, it doesn’t necessitate they won’t be punished harshly or at all. As Dr. Brown clearly states in his article, Islamic civilization has typically relied on judgments which require a lower threshold of evidence and aren’t canceled out immediately by doubt. These punishments, known as ‘ta’zir‘, can range from fines to literally being one less lashing than a hadd:

Of course, just because an ambiguity was found to avoid the hudud punishment, this did not mean that the alleged wrongdoer was off the hook. Rather, their offense simply dropped from the upper echelon of violations of the rights of God to the violations of the rights of human beings. Such offenses were punished according to taʿzīr, or discretionary punishment set by the judge. So a thief who had been caught red-handed by two, upstanding witnesses (the standard evidentiary bar for crimes) stealing a bar of gold from a safe deposit box could avoid the hudud punishment by simply denying he had done it. He would not have his hand cut off. But there was still sufficient evidence to convict him of theft at the level of ghaṣb, or usurpation (similar to petty larceny or the civil wrong of conversion in common law). An unmarried couple found naked in bed could not be punished for zinā, but they could still be severely disciplined. [….]


Discretionary punishment was historically the primary category of punishment in the Shariah. In some schools of law, jurists developed detailed tables of punishments within their schools of law for what taʿzīr punishments applied to what sorts of offenses. Lashing, the bastinado (smacking the soles of the feet with a cane) and, to a lesser extent, incarceration, have been the main methods of punishment. Although there has been disagreement on the details, the most common position among Muslim jurists is that the upper limit of taʿzīr punishments is that they cannot reach the punishment for the equivalent hudud crime. This was simple in the case of sexual indiscretion or intoxication, for which the hudud crime had a fixed number of lashes. The most that a taʿzīr punishment could be was 99 lashes for sexual crimes or one day less than one year of exile. Theft was a different matter. Petty theft was generally handled by lashing or short jail time, while repeat offenders could be sent to prisons for thieves (see for more on the types of punishments used in Islamic civilization.

Jonathan Brown (2017) “Stoning and Hand Cutting – Understanding the Hudud and the Shariah in Islam” [28]

It’s quite odd for Daniel to be so fixated on refuting the idea that the hudud were rarely applied considering they don’t even represent the vast majority of Islamic criminal law nor its normative application over the course of history. This unreasonable and excessive preoccupation with the hudud’s application is made more manifest in his subsequent criticism:

Daniel insists Dr. Brown is somehow “relying” on utilitarianism for his analysis, but at no point in the article did he claim or suggest “relying” on Bentham’s utilitarian argument to make his case, only that it is considered a “common approach” by scholars of criminal law to explain the rationale behind pre-modern societies’ harsh penalties. At best, this is a supplementary point that doesn’t distract from the primary arguments and evidences used throughout the essay. That said, even if we were to grant validity to Daniel’s observation, his criticism still falls short. For instance, at no point did Dr. Brown claim “the probability of getting caught is…solely reliant on the amount of police in society”. On the contrary, he also includes those who “do not busy themselves investigating crimes”. In other words, it’s not just the quantity of state authorities needed, but also those willing to apply the punishments justly. Therefore, Daniel again commits a straw man fallacy.

That said, being “caught” means very little legally if there are no state authorities present or able to carry out the punishment. And as Daniel has already admitted himself, only a state authority can apply the hudud. Thus, when he brings up “traditional Muslim extended families” living in close proximity to each other, this is largely irrelevant to being “caught” for zina, in any legal sense of the term, unless a state authority is able to judge the matter accordingly, especially given the nearly impossible standard for prosecution being four just witnesses who all happened to see the exact same thing, at the same time, in the same manner, with the same level of detail; all of whom are willing to put their reputations and literal skin on the line (i.e. 80 lashes) to testify in open court. So although it may be true that “illicit behavior was a rare commodity” among Muslims due to the presence of family members around every corner, it is completely irrelevant to Dr. Brown’s use of Bentham’s equation.

However, what’s ironic about Daniel’s claims is that he doesn’t seem to realize he’s arguing in support of Dr. Brown’s point that the hudud were rarely applied, because if it is true that “commiting illicit behavior was a rare commodity” then it logically follows from this that applying the hadd for said behavior would be rare as well. In summary, Daniel has unwittingly demolished his previous criticism.

Building the Final Scarecrow

Before going into the substance of Daniel’s next criticism, it first needs to be pointed out that he commits yet another straw man fallacy by once again accusing Dr. Brown for arguing the “impossibility of applying the hudud”. That said, his subsequent critique follows in the form of an attempt to build off the unsubstantiated assumptions of a scholar by the name of Shaykh Musa Furber.[29] After Dr. Brown had published his article, Sh. Musa assumed the former was using Imam al-Subki’s (d. 1355 C.E.) fatwa to argue that every condition listed was required prior to applying the hadd. Sh. Musa believed this to be the case largely because of an error by Yaqeen’s media team with one of the paper’s infographics:[30]

The infographic has since been edited to properly reflect the manner in which Imam al-Subki’s fatwa was used in the paper. At no point did Dr. Brown himself argue that every condition needed to be met. If Daniel still wishes to argue what Dr. Brown “meant” by his use of the fatwa was that every requirement listed had to be met, he needs to provide sufficient evidence. However, no such evidence exists. In fact, the only statement Dr. Brown makes about the fatwa is the following:

In the end, the list of requirements that Muslim scholars agreed on to eliminate all ambiguities reaches (see Appendix Requirements for Amputation for Theft from al-Subki).

Jonathan Brown (2017) “Stoning and Hand Cutting – Understanding the Hudud and the Shariah in Islam” [31]

The problem here is that if Daniel wishes to argue for the implications behind this statement, he would likewise need to condemn his own evidence, because Sh. Musa describes the fatwa with nearly the exact same wording in his response:[32]

In other words, if Sh. Musa’s statement can be given the benefit of the doubt with respect to how he understands the fatwa (i.e. as not implying all the conditions need to be met), then certainly so can Dr. Brown’s, despite the lack of any explicit qualifiers. Whether Daniel intends to be consistent in this respect is another matter entirely.

Daniel goes on to finally reveal the source for his accusation that Dr. Brown believes the hudud are “irrelevant”:

Although this statement has already been examined in detail prior – revealing its fallacious use to impugn Dr. Brown – it would be beneficial to revisit it so as to further showcase Daniel’s dishonest tactics. Firstly, this statement is not what “ends the essay,” but comes near the beginning of the second-to-last section of the paper. Why Daniel thought to describe this comment in such a fashion is uncertain to me, although it appears he’s implying this is Dr. Brown’s own final perspective on display. The reason I suspect as much is because Daniel ignores the various other opinions listed, most importantly the first one Dr. Brown mentions:

How do Muslims make sense of the hudud’s absence? Can we justify it or, taking things one step further, can we justify not calling for their return? Muslim scholars have followed several tacks in negotiating these profound questions. In the mid-twentieth century some argued that the hudud were abandoned because of Western pressures during the colonial period and that, if restored, the hudud would help mold more law-abiding and harmonious societies. Once reaffirmed, these scholars argued, the punishments themselves would rarely ever be carried out. Others have more recently argued that a revival of the hudud would be inappropriate for the foreseeable future because our political and social environments make removing all ambiguities (shubuhāt) systematically impossible. It’s assumed that this situation is a result of colonialism and the globalization of Western values. But some scholars have argued that this had been the case for almost a millennium. Hence the extraordinary rarity of the hudud being carried out.


Taken to a higher level of detail, one Shariah argument for the hudud not being obligatory at present is that, like a person trying to perform ablutions on a missing limb, the ‘locus of the ruling’ has vanished. According to this argument, whatever the motivation for Muslim states abandoning the hudud, their absence makes them irrelevant until someone decides to revive them. Another argument is that our current era is an “age of crisis and necessity” (ḍarūra). Since in Islamic law ‘necessity makes the prohibited permissible,’ Muslim states under foreign domination or other constraints are allowed to lapse in ways that would otherwise not be allowed.

Jonathan Brown (2017) “Stoning and Hand Cutting – Understanding the Hudud and the Shariah in Islam” [33]

The reader should know by this point that Dr. Brown was simply listing a number of contemporary scholarly opinions on the subject. So why does Daniel only bother to select one of them to represent how Dr. Brown’s “ends the essay”? The most obvious reason is because he’s being duplicitous and committing yet another fallacy of quoting out of context.

As for what Dr. Brown “means” by the opinion, it was explained earlier that the hudud’s absence makes them irrelevant in terms of being obligatory to uphold, because a proper authority – the “locus of the ruling” – has yet to reestablish them. This is quite clear. Thus, there is no “difficulty” in understanding this opinion.

Finally, Daniel concludes with the following:

Daniel’s response to Dr. Brown’s sentiments above is to first misrepresent him through rhetorical questions that he does “not consider zina [etc.] a grievous crime”. However, Dr. Brown said no such thing, only that, compared to murder and rape, zina etc. “are not necessarily the most grievous crimes in terms of the toll they take on their victims or society”. So Daniel once again ignores obvious adverbs to accuse Dr. Brown of something he never claimed, committing yet another straw man fallacy.

Finally, I have no interests in arguing for or against Dr. Brown’s sentiments that murder and rape have greater consequences on their victims than a man drinking by himself on the side of a road or someone spreading false accusations on social media. In many instances, I think it would be obvious, however, I’m certain Daniel could find some way to rationalize how a libelous Facebook post is equivalent to or more grievous than a woman being beaten, violently penetrated against her will and eventually murdered. So I’m not going to lower my dignity by entertaining that conversation any further.

But I will ask this: if false accusations are equivalent to or more grievous than murder and rape, why does Daniel continue to make them?


SUMMARY:

  • Commits a straw man fallacy by accusing Dr. Brown of believing the hudud are “essentially fictions or purely symbolic,” when he states neither of these nor implies them.
  • Unjustly conflates a quote by a non-Yaqeen fellow/contributor (i.e. Hamza Yusuf) with the position of Yaqeen fellows.
  • Commits a non-sequitur fallacy by arguing that Dr. Brown advocating for the suspension of some hudud necessarily equates to him believing they are “purely symbolic/fictions”.
  • Commits another non-sequitur fallacy by arguing Dr. Brown’s view that the hudud are “not meant to be applied” equates to them never being applied.
  • Contradicts himself by stating Dr. Brown believes the hudud are “more akin to symbolic deterrents” rather than “purely symbolic/fictions”
  • Asks a rhetorical question implying Dr. Brown believes the ruler’s discretion is arbitrary, despite evidence to the contrary.
  • Commits the ad hominem fallacy by projecting negative emotional states on to Dr. Brown against the Shari’ah.
  • Commits the fallacy of quoting out of context by rendering Dr. Brown’s statement “almost impossible to apply” as “impossible to apply”.
  • Commits another straw man fallacy by asserting Dr. Brown’s phrase “not much more than a symbol” equates to the hudud being “purely symbolic/fictions”.
  • Commits another straw man fallacy by claiming a quote by Dr. Brown stating “almost impossible to apply” equates to “impossible to apply”. Likewise, the statement “a lot is not meant to be implemented” does not support his accusations.
  • Commits another non-sequitur fallacy by suggesting Dr. Brown believing the hudud are “nearly impossible to apply” equates to them being “purely symbolic/fictions”.
  • Commits another fallacy of quoting out of context by attributing a position to Dr. Brown (i.e. “the hudud are irrelevant”) that is neither an accurate representation of what he was attempting to explain nor one he explicitly claimed to support.
  • Commits another non-sequitur fallacy by assuming Dr. Khan’s statements about the hudud primarily being “psychological deterrents” renders them “irrelevant”.
  • Commits another non-sequitur fallacy by suggesting Dr. Khan’s statement about the hudud’s application being “essentially obsolete” equates to them being “impossible to apply”.
  • Commits another non-sequitur fallacy by rhetorically asking whether the application of the hudud being “essentially obsolete” renders the hudud themselves “essentially obsolete”.
  • Rhetorically ask whether the Prophet (ﷺ) explicitly discouraged the application of hudud and considered them “primarily psychological deterrents”, although such statements aren’t always necessary to draw such conclusions. That said, there is evidence from the Islamic tradition supporting Dr. Khan’s/Dr. Brown’s claims.
  • Engages in sophistry by attempting to suggest being “circumspect” is mutually exclusive to “discourage” and “reluctance”.
  • Commits the fallacy of irrelevant conclusion by using an irrelevant hadith to seemingly support the conclusion that the Prophet (ﷺ) never discouraged the application of the hudud.
  • Contradicts himself again by stating Dr. Brown argues the hudud “are in large part symbolic” and “weren’t often applied” rather than “purely symbolic/fictions”.
  • Commits the fallacy of confirmation bias by only giving attention to Dr. Brown mentioning a lack of historical records as evidence of the rarity of the hudud’s application, rather than the primary evidence he utilizes to support his argument.
  • Commits another straw man fallacy through a rhetorical question asking, “If people had the impression that the hudud were not applicable or were never enforced, then would they be deterred at all?” But Dr. Brown never argued the hudud were “not applicable or were never enforced”.
  • Contradicts himself again by admitting Dr. Brown’s actual argument is that “the hudud were almost never applied”.
  • Commits another straw man fallacy by accusing Dr. Brown of claiming claim “the probability of getting caught is…solely reliant on the amount of police in society” when he clearly included a second factor (i.e. the ability of authorities to investigate crimes).
  • Undermines his own argument ny admitting that “commiting illicit behavior was a rare commodity” in Islamic societies, logically necessitating that applying the hudud was also rare.
  • Commits another straw man fallacy by again accusing Dr. Brown for arguing the “impossibility of applying the hudud” without evidence.
  • Commits another fallacy of quoting out of context by insisting one opinion among many listed is Dr. Brown’s position which “ends” his essay.
  • Commits another straw man fallacy by misrepresenting Dr. Brown’s sentiment that, compared to murder and rape,”Perhaps the hudud are not necessarily the most grievous crimes in terms of the toll they take on their victims or society” was him claiming zina etc. are “not grievous crimes”.

Section Errors: 27 / TOTAL: 64

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Jihad in Islam is Only Defensive

Forthcoming (In the process of editing)


Islam Supports “Human Rights” in All Nations

In Section (8.6) of his article,[1] Daniel examines the last two sentences of the concluding paragraph in Justin Parrot’s article “The Guiding Principles of Faith: Sincerity, Honestly, and Good Will in Islam”.[2] Therein, he audaciously misinterprets Justin with the following criticisms:

Daniel begins by affirming the main title of Justin’s article (i.e. “The Guiding Principles of Faith”) and neglecting to mention its subtitle (i.e. “Sincerity, Honesty, and Good Will in Islam”). Although there isn’t anything wrong per se with only mentioning an article’s main title (it’s usually more concise to do so), it will soon become apparent to the reader that this was done deliberately for ominous reasons. Daniel continues by declaring the Justin’s article expresses a “distortion of Islamic belief,” and then quotes the end of his concluding paragraph. From this point, Daniel unloads a barrage of rhetorical questions, the first asking what it means to “inwardly fulfil human rights and dignity across all religions and cultures”. He eventually concludes his questioning by accusing Justin of “mixing secular values…with Islamic aqida”.

The error should immediately be apparent to anyone who has actually read Justin’s essay: the virtues discussed as being obligatory and requiring fulfillment for salvation are neither “human rights” nor “dignity”. On the contrary, the virtues being referred to in bold are explicitly mentioned at the beginning of the paragraph Daniel only partially quotes:[3]

And as the reader may have already deduced, these virtues are also explicitly mentioned in the subtitle of the article, because they’re the focus of the essay. In other words, Daniel has committed the fallacy of quoting out of context,[4] by deliberately obscuring explicit statements by Justin about which virtues he was referring to. That said, it’s also clear from the above paragraph that “understanding human rights and dignity across religions and cultures” are only contingent on one of these virtues (i.e. goodwill) and are neither obligations nor necessary to fulfil for our salvation as Muslims. As such, Daniel’s accusation that Justin is presenting a deviant opinion is completely unwarranted.

Likewise, his subsequent rhetorical questions are utterly atrocious. For instance, at one point he implies Justin is “making up his own religion,” which is an accusation amounting to takfir. In another, he ask if dignity can be found in jahil cultures and kufr religions, seemingly unaware of the fact that Allah created man with a fitrah and that neither humans nor the religions they follow are entirely removed from this. If dignity were completely lacking from cultures of jahiliyyah, Abu Bakr as-Siddiq, Umar bin Khattab, Uthman bin Afwan, and Ali ibn Ali Talib would not have felt an affinity to Islam and eventually reverted. Likewise, if dignity were completely absent from those religions revealed before Islam, many Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, etc. would not have come to the Truth. And if all dignity were truly absent from everything other than Islam, my parents (one a Christian and the other an atheist) would not have instilled in me at a young age the virtues of sincerity, honesty and good will – virtues Daniel ironically continues to violate and make a mockery of throughout his “Islamic review”.


SUMMARY:

  • Commits the fallacy of quoting out of context by deliberately misframing Justin’s comments about which virtues are obligatory and need to be fulfilled.
  • Unjustly accuses Justin of promoting deviant opinions and “making up his own religion”.
  • Believes no dignity can be found outside of Islam and Muslim cultures, contrary to obvious facts.

Section Errors: 3 / TOTAL: 67

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There Is No Slavery in Islam

In Section (8.7) of his article,[1] Daniel criticizes a few board members and fellows of Yaqeen Institute for their statements on slavery. He begins by examining a lecture by Sh. Omar Suleiman:

Daniel quotes a part of the lecture and then summarizes Sh. Omar’s main point that there is a significant difference between slavery and riqa. He then goes on to frame the lecture as being an example of “denialism”. However, he doesn’t exactly explain how. The reader need only watch the lecture themselves to understand the full context of what Sh. Omar was arguing:

I’m gonna make a statement from now and it is the statement that the lecture is titled by. In Islam there is no slavery except to the Most High. Can I prove that? I will prove that and I’m going to repeat it one more time. In Islam there is no slavery except to Allah, to the Most High. And you might say, “That sounds apologetic and that’s not grounded in historical reality.” So let’s back up and force ourselves to not operate on the constructs that have been given to us and to force ourselves to not operate in a post-Atlantic slave trade Western construction of what riqa is in Islam and particularly how that relates to the entire question of slavery. And let’s go to a hadith of the Prophet (ﷺ) that proves that statement and then we’ll address the historical issues with that statement and how we address that statement. The hadith is narrated by Abu Hurairah (ra)…that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “None of you should say: My slave and my slave-girl, for all of you are the slaves of Allah, and all your women are the slave-girls of Allah; but say: My servant, my girl, and my young man and my young girl”[2]meaning, in terms of status there exist no slavery in Islam, in the true sense, except to Allah. There are circumstances and then there is your status as it relates to your position, your standing before Allah.

Omar Suleiman (2018) “Hadith #30 – Slavery in Islam | 40 Hadiths on Social Justice, 2:06-4:34.[3]

As should be clear to the reader, Sh. Omar utilizes a hadith to argue that true ownership of man is only for Allah (i.e. He is the actual Owner of everything). Hence why the Prophet (ﷺ) prohibited Muslims to call their slaves “abdi”. That said, Sh, Omar goes on to clarify that the term ‘slavery’ is loaded with negative connotations alien to the Islamic concept of riqa. As such, they need to be differentiated:

The term ‘slavery’ is loaded with all sorts of connotations and, from an operating perspective, is functionally [and] basically useless. Why? Because [for example] American today is probably the biggest slave holder nation in the world, [but] its just now called “mass incarceration” and its not called “slavery” anymore or “chattel slavery” anymore. I could go over all of these different things and quote all of the historians that talked about how that institution, how “slavery” existed in the Prophetic context, and none of it would erase the association in our minds with the transatlantic slave trade and brutality and racialized slavery and everything that comes with that term. So what does that mean? There’s a crucial difference, and clearly the Prophet (ﷺ) was highlighting something when he objected to the usage of that term. There’s obviously, first and foremost, [the fact] that we are all slaves to Allah in our worship and our unconditional obedience…but there’s a crucial difference between a raqiq and an abd. Raqiq is a term that would describe a “slave” within the Islamic context. Abd means ‘slave,’ [but] the Prophet (ﷺ) prohibited that term to be used, or did not allow for that term to be used, to describe anyone in accordance with their situation and their circumstances, instead saying that we are all the slaves of Allah.

Omar Suleiman (2018) “Hadith #30 – Slavery in Islam | 40 Hadiths on Social Justice,” 11:32-14:15.[4]

Why Daniel considers the demarcation between the English term ‘slavery’ and the Arabic qua Islamic term ‘riqa’ as “denialism” isn’t entirely apparent, but it’s clear Sh. Omar isn’t denying what is permitted in Islam. He is merely attempting to distance loaded Western connotations of ‘slavery’ from Islam. So, unless Daniel wishes to argue that the transAtlantic slave trade is equivalent to the Islamic conception of riqa, he’s committed a non-sequitur fallacy [5] by assuming a nuanced distinction equates to “denialism”.

Daniel moves on to critique an oft-quoted, older essay of Dr. Khan’s:

Dr. Kahn’s statement was in direct response to ISIS’s eschatological views and their practice of taking free persons as slaves. The full context of the quote can be found in the original article:[6]

That said, Dr. Khan has since clarified his position by updating the phrase in question to the following:

To claim that one should enslave people because in the end of times there will be more slaves is false—Islam sought to eradicate slavery.

Nazir Khan (2017) “Forever on Trial—Islam and the Charge of Violence” [7]

More curious though is why Daniel decided to quote from an older article by Dr. Kahn rather than a more recent one which expresses his position on slavery in detail. For instance, in his article “Divine Duty: Islam and Social Justice,” Dr. Khan elucidates the following position:

The economic context of pre-industrial societies resulted in the proliferation of coercive labor institutions such as slavery and serfdom.Thus, slavery and forced labor was the most common form of labor transaction in ancient civilizations and was the norm in pre-Islamic Arabia. Islam targeted the eradication of the maltreatment of slaves as a critical form of social injustice.


First, Islam ordained freeing slaves as an integral part of the spiritual journey towards God: What will make you understand the uphill climb? It is the freeing of a slave. Or feeding on a day of severe hunger the close orphan or the needy person lying in the dust. Then he will become one of those with faith, who urge one another to have patience and urge one another to show compassion and mercy. (Qur’an 90:12-17).


The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ stated, “He who frees a slave, God will set free every limb of his body from Hell in reward for every limb of the slave’s body.” To this end, the early Muslim community set about freeing many of the slaves in society, much to the irritation of the Makkan elites, the chiefs of the various powerful tribes in the city. Slaves like Bilāl ibn Rabāḥ and ʿĀmir ibn Fuhayrah attained great prominence in Islam, both of whom were freed by the Prophet’s companion Abū Bakr. The Prophet Muhammad himself personally freed 63 slaves during his life, his wife Aisha freed 69 slaves, and his companions freed numerous slaves, most notably his companion ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn ʿAwf who freed an astounding thirty-thousand. The exhortation to free slaves was not limited to those who were Muslim. The foremost compendium of Hadith, Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī, contains a chapter on freeing idolater slaves wherein it is mentioned that the Prophet praised Ḥakīm ibn Ḥizām’s action of freeing 100 non-Muslim slaves during the pre-Islamic period. [….]


Indeed, the influential Muslim intellectual Muhammad Rashīd Riḍā (d. 1935 CE) postulated that the gradual abolition of slavery was the final goal of Islam, and if Muslim rulers had been true to the Islamic code of ethics, slavery would have died out centuries ago. While many rulers continued the institution of slavery into the modern era for political and economic interests before eventually ceding to European pressure, the Tunisian ruler Ahmad Bey issued an abolition decree in 1846, arguing that freedom was the aspiration of Islam, with the support of the two highest religious authorities—the Ḥanafī Shaykh al-Islam Muhammad Bayram IV and Mālikī Mufti Abū Isḥāq Ibrāhīm al-Riyāḥi.

Nazir Khan (2020) “Divine Duty: Islam and Social Justice”[8]

Why didn’t Daniel quote from the above to represent Dr. Khan’s views on slavery? This article was published months prior to Daniel’s “review” and explains quite clearly what Dr. Khan believes. As such, his use of a vague quote from an article published years prior (now updated) to give the impression Dr. Khan is engaging in “denialism” is dubious at best and another case of the straw man fallacy.

Daniel moves on to focus his criticisms on Dr. Brown:

The fact that Dr. Brown’s innocuous argument is simply a “longer version” of Sh. Omar’s already undermines any problems Daniel should have with his statements. The fact that he insists on impugning it regardless is bewildering. That said, he commits a straw man fallacy [9] by stating Dr. Brown is arguing “we simply cannot define the word ‘slavery’,” because at no point was such a claim made. Dr. Brown merely argues “the word slavery has limited use as a categorical term or conceptual tool”. And this is true, because many societies view slavery with very different implications. For example, in the West, slavery is largely viewed as an institution which places people deemed “racially inferior” into forced labor, denying them rights and even the dignity of being considered human. This is not at all how the Islamic concept of riqa should be viewed. This is why the negative connotations loaded into the term ‘slavery’ (due to Western influence) need to be discussed and demarcated from Islam. The fact that Daniel thinks doing so amounts to “denialism” is quite ironic considering he claims to be fighting against the foreign influence of Secular Liberalism on Islam. As such, he has committed yet another non-sequitur fallacy with his misframing of Dr. Brown’s argument. Although Daniel goes on to attempt to explain his issue with the argument, he commits more fallacies in the process.

Daniel commits yet another straw man fallacy by insisting Dr. brown is making a “semantic argument” which asserts the word ‘slavery’ is “conceptually empty”. However, Dr. brown isn’t arguing on the basis of semantics, but is simply articulating a common sense view that people across the world have different perceptions of what it means to ‘own’ another person. It is simply a fact that the Islamic concept of ownership over individuals starkly contrast to its Western counterpart. So why is Daniel arguing against it?

That said, the Western mind isn’t offended by ownership of people per se (the success of Capitalism and the debt economy would suggest otherwise), but those non-essential negative connotations derived from the idea (e.g. brutality, kidnapping, dehumanization, etc.). This is why it’s quite common for Americans to compare debt to ‘slavery’, despite the fact that, technically, U.S. law would not define it as such. This is why Yaqeen Institute insists on focussing on conditions over definitions, making effort to distinguish between what people think about slavery and what Islam actually teaches. As such, Daniel is naive to suggest “it doesn’t matter” what ownership of people entails or how slaves are treated according to the definition. It does matter, especially if you want to differentiate between riqa and images of African Americans being brutally tortured like animals because they dared give a defying look to their “white superiors”. But Daniel is already aware of the importance of articulating this distinction, he’s only wary of when others do it. How so? Not long after publishing his “review,” he attempted to provide a nuanced explanation of riqa to an ex-Muslim in the following manner:

So you want to talk about slavery? There’s a very interesting quote from this anthropologist named David Graber. He wrote a book called “Debt: A 5000 Year History”…he says that, if we brought someone like Aristotle or someone [else] from the past to modern society, that figure from the past would think that most people in society are in fact slaves. They’re actually in fact slaves. Because our understanding of ‘slavery’, when we use that word, we think about chattel slavery, we think about “12 Years a Slave” [the movie] – things like this – images of racial chattel slavery. And this is actually not historically universal. That [image] is in America’s history of trans Atlantic slavery, but most slavery in history did not look like that. In fact, every civilization, without exception, practiced slavery and slave labor within history, including Europe and so forth….The slavery of Islam was not racially based. It was based on prisoners of war.

Daniel Haqiqatjou and Ridvan Aydemir (2020) “Muslim vs. Ex-Muslim (Apostate Prophet) on Hudud and Islamic Law,” 3:00:18 – 3:02:07 [10]

If the Liberal Western mind were truly only concerned about ownership per se, why even bother to explain the differences? This seems futile. Yet, Daniel feels the need to engage in the very same nuance he carelessly labels as “denialism”.

Daniel concludes by misrepresenting Dr. Brown’s claim, declaring he “concede[s] the main point of the debate,” suggesting he gave in to the ridicule of Alt-Right propaganda. However, this is another straw man fallacy, because Dr. Brown’s main essay (the target of said ridicule) wasn’t about whether or not slavery is prohibited in Islam today, just how it differs from other popular manifestations typically imagined. That said, this isn’t a new sentiment by Dr. Brown. He has consistently argued that Islam brought new regulations for slavery with the intention to eventually abolish it all-together. This argument is fully articulated in his recent book Slavery in Islam.[11] That said, Daniel attempts to frame Dr. Brown’s statement as merely reactionary, pulling it out the larger context of the article where he briefly mentions some of his evidence:

The Quran clearly sought to restrict and regulate slavery in Arabia at the time, and there’s a strong argument that it aimed to end slavery altogether. The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) freed every slave given to him. But how do I as a Muslim deal with the fact that God and the Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) did not abolish slavery altogether? Would it have been too economically disruptive, so that gradual abolition would be better? This was the answer offered by the famous scholar Rashid Rida, who pointed to the challenges America faced in integrating former slaves after the Civil War.


As a Muslim today, I can say emphatically that slavery is wrong and that Islam prohibits it. This has been the consensus of the ulama, and it’s well within the power of states to prohibit what was previously allowed if doing so serves some public interest (maslaha) (this is known as taqyid al-mubah, restricting the permitted).

Jonathan Brown (2017) “Apology without Apologetics” [12]

If Daniel wishes to contend that Dr. Brown is incorrect in his reasoning he may do so, but to suggests the latter is engaging in “denialism” and “conceding a debate” for merely being nuanced and articulating a position held by the majority of ulema today is disingenuous. In summary, Daniel’s issue with Yaqeen Institute’s views on slavery appear desperate, if not slightly pedantic.


SUMMARY:

  • Commits a non-sequitur fallacy by claiming Sh. Omar was engaging in “denialism” for merely utilizing a hadith to argue that true ownership of man is only for Allah (i.e. He is the actual Owner of everything) and that the term ‘slavery’ is viewed from the lens of Western assumptions.
  • Commits a straw man fallacy by misrepresenting an older and vaguer statement by Dr. Khan on the contemporary practice of slavery rather than utilizing a more recent article explaining his views in detail.
  • Commits another straw man fallacy by accusing Dr. Brown of arguing we “cannot define slavery,” when he was merely pointing out that people have varied and loaded perceptions of what the word means.
  • Commits another non-sequitur fallacy by asserting Dr. Brown is engaging in “denialism” for simply pointing out there are varied and loaded perceptions about what slavery means.
  • Commits another straw man fallacy by claiming Dr. Brown’s argument is a “semantic” one which asserts “slavery is conceptually empty”. However, at no point did Dr. Brown claim the concept is “conceptually empty,” only limited because of so many varied and loaded perspectives on how ‘owning people’ is perceived.
  • Hypocritically engages in the very same reasoning he claims is “denialism”.
  • Commits another straw man fallacy by suggesting Dr. Brown’s view that Islam prohibits slavery today is a “concession” to Alt-Right propagandists who attacked him for an article that wasn’t even discussing the permittance or prohibition of slavery in the contemporary period.

Section Errors: 7 / TOTAL: 74

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There is No Hadd for Leaving Islam

Forthcoming (In the process of editing)

Confusing al-Wala wal-Bara

In Section (5.3) of his article,[1] Daniel again focuses his attention on Dr. Khan’s article, “Forever on Trial — Islam and the Charge of Violence,”[2] this time critiquing his understanding of al-Wala wal-Bara (hatred and love for the sake of Allah):

Daniel starts off by framing Dr. Khan’s understanding of al-Wala wal-Bara as contrary to the Islamic tradition. However, this is a straw man fallacy.[3] After Dr. Khan states the concept has been “warped in the minds of militants,” he explains that extremists understand the concept as being a “classification of all human beings into good versus evil,” which leads them to believe all non-Muslims are somehow evil and should be treated with hostility. Daniel’s rendering of Dr. Khan’s binary as merely an “affinity towards Muslims” and “disassociation from non-Muslims” doesn’t even come close to what was stated as problematic. But Daniel is perfectly aware of this, because he later admits himself that the concept of al-Wala wal-Bara has “important nuances” which instruct Muslims towards “maintaining standards of justice and even goodness and generosity in certain circumstances with kuffar”:

Daniel recognizes that not all non-Muslims are evil and that they should not be treated with unbridled hostility, yet he openly objects to Dr. Khan’s critique of extremists who do regard all non-Muslims as evil and in need of being treated with hostility. The inconsistency here is patently absurd. Despite this, Daniel builds on his straw man in the next portion of his critique:

Daniel accuses Dr. Khan of claiming we should have “love for all” and that “belief in God and Islam is irrelevant as long as one is a ‘good person’,” essentially accusing him of committing kufr. However, at no point was such a claim made in the essay, neither in its initial publication [4] nor the updated version. This is yet another outright straw man fallacy.

Daniel subsequently quotes a verse from the Qur’an, suggesting it somehow supports his straw man, but neglects to mention various other verses which qualify the conflict as only being specific to a certain type of disbeliever:

Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes – from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly. Allah only forbids you from those who fight you because of religion and expel you from your homes and aid in your expulsion – [forbids] that you make allies of them. And whoever makes allies of them, then it is those who are the wrongdoers.

Al-Qur’an, 60:8-9

Daniel also neglects to mention other nuances, such as those verses which order Muslims to fight other Muslims in the event that some become oppressors, thereby indicating that affinity towards believers isn’t predicated on mere identity, but justice:

And if two factions among the believers should fight, then make settlement between the two. But if one of them oppresses the other, then fight against the one that oppresses until it returns to the ordinance of Allah. And if it returns, then make settlement between them in justice and act justly. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.

Al-Qur’an, 49:9

So not only does Daniel misrepresent Dr. Khan, but he resorts to cherry picking [5] the Qur’an to support his duplicity, implying the latter considers the Word of Allah “dehumanizing”. Again, another unwarranted accusation of kufr.

Daniel concludes with the following:

As the reader can see here, Daniel admits the concept of al-Wala wal-Bara is as Dr. Khan presents it, but he still accuses him of adhering to “interfaith pluralism” and essentially equating scholarly opinion to terrorists’ mentality. Again, the inconsistency here is baffling.

However, more importantly, Daniel doesn’t adhere to the very concept he’s attempting to defend. Based on indisputable evidence of his conduct featured in this missive, he has consistently violated the rights of his fellow Muslims through deliberate misrepresentations and accusations of deviance. Islam teaches us to be honest and just without discrimination between believer and disbeliever, yet I have seen him treat the latter better than the former in nearly all occasions. Whether in debates or simple discussions, Daniel has always seemingly attempted to represent apostates and Islamophobes to the best of his ability. But fellows for Yaqeen Institute? Suddenly his brothers and sisters aren’t afforded the same rights.


SUMMARY:

  • Commits a straw man fallacy by framing the binary Dr. Khan was objecting to (i.e. that all non-Muslims are evil and should be treated with hostility) as him objecting to the traditional understanding of “affinity towards Muslims” and “disassociation from non-Muslims.”
  • Admits that al-Wala al-Bara is a nuanced concept that instructs Muslims to maintain justice, goodness, and generosity in certain cases with non-Muslims, thereby agreeing with Dr. Khan and undermining his own criticism.
  • Commits another straw man fallacy by accusing Dr. Khan of believing “interfaith pluralism,” “love for all,” and that “belief in God and Islam is irrelevant” (i.e. kufr).
  • Commits the fallacy of cherry picking by selecting only one verse of the Qur’an (48:29) to support his point, while neglecting to mention the Qur’an’s nuanced presentation of disbelievers (Q. 60:8-9 and 49:9).

Section Errors: 4 / TOTAL: 78

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Allah May Forgive Dead Mushrikin Without Their Tawba

In Section (5.4) of his article,[1] Daniel attempts to critique Dr. Brown’s article, “The Fate of Non-Muslims: Perspectives on Salvation Outside of Islam,”[2] accusing him of deviancy and distorting the Islamic tradition:

Daniel points out that the initial article by Dr. Brown was criticized soon after being published. However, he misrepresents Mobeen’s sentiments. It is a blatant mischaracterization that Mobeen ever “strongly denounced” Yaqeen Institute and Dr. Brown. Although he clearly took issue with the article, he explicitly lauds both in his response without reservation, going so far as to claim that his criticism in no way cast doubts on Dr. Brown’s scholarship and piety:

A common misunderstanding among Muslims is that criticism is equivalent to denunciation. When people disagree, it must be out of a deep-seated hatred, or an underlying contempt for those with whom they disagree with. This, however, is rarely the case (though of course it sometimes is). Perhaps some of this is due to the WWE/Kardashian/Democrat v. Republican/etc. style of arguing that we have grown accustomed to witnessing and finding amusement in. At its core, there is something satanic about relishing unhinged disputation, and many otherwise kind people absorb this behavior and manifest it in their online persona. I pray to Allah that I am not of them, and welcome any naṣīḥa (publicly or privately) should it seem that I am headed down that path.


I offer this as a disclaimer for what follows. Below is an admittedly brief reflection and review of Jonathan Brown’s recent Yaqeen Institute piece on Salvation and Non-Muslims. Prior to proceeding, it should be noted that I think very highly of Dr. Brown as a scholar and person. He has an endearing personality (and odd interest in movies!), and his erudition puts him in rare company. Indeed, very few people exist today with his ability to defend the Islamic tradition against those who call into question its foundations. But it is not merely his abilities that are worth noting, but his willingness to employ those abilities in addressing some of the most complex and sensitive topics of the day. Here, he should be lauded for addressing – and rather directly so – the hadith tradition, the scriptural integrity of the Quran, the presumption of innocence, Islamic political engagement, homosexuality, slavery, the age of Aisha (ra), and much, much more. These are not easy subjects to broach, and plenty have elected to avoid them altogether. For that, Dr. Brown should be commended, and readers are encouraged to familiarize themselves with his scholarly works, including, but not limited to, his excellent treatment of the interpretive legacy of Islam in Misquoting Muhammad. [….]


On a final note, I wish here to remind my readers what I mentioned in the outset. Dr. Jonathan Brown is a scholar of the highest order, and this critique should not be construed as a slight in any form or fashion against his scholarship, integrity, piety, or contributions to the community. We are blessed to have him as a voice representing Islam, and I certainly look forward to future writings of his (particularly his forthcoming book, which as I understand is in the works). May Allah bless him, his family, and the Yaqeen Institute for the good that they do, and may He overlook their shortcomings. Ameen

Mobeen Vaid (2018) “A Review of Jonathan Brown’s ‘Perspectives on Salvation Outside Islam’,” pp.1 & 3 [3]


Yet, Daniel has a habit of presenting Mobeen’s criticism as though the latter believes Dr. Brown is deviant and even perhaps an outright kafir. For instance, in one video Daniel says the following:

Mobeen, Mash’Allah, is doing a favor to Dr. Brown by being very clear-cut that this is unacceptable, you are not even heterodox, okay, you are even below that!

Daniel Haqiqatjou (2020) “A**Holes, Jerks | Jonathan Brown Teaches Adab, Defends His Yaqeen Paper on Salvation of Non-Muslims,” 6:43 – 6:55 [4]

So not only does Daniel misrepresent his intellectual opposition, but he even resorts to misrepresenting his own sources. Why? Are his arguments so weak and unsubstantiated that he needs to do this? It’s quite telling. That said, Mateen Khan’s response is not as charitable and serves as the main source of Daniel’s grievances with Dr. Brown’s article.

Tormented Souls vs. Callous Dishonesty

Daniel claims Dr. Brown’s essay is “problematic,” because the tone of the piece seemingly conveys the thoughts of a “tormented soul grappling with the question of whether non-Muslims will be saved in the Hereafter”. However, this is a case of the fallacy of vested interest, a type of ad hominem fallacy which “occurs when a person argues that someone’s claim is incorrect or their recommended action is not worthy of being followed because the person is motivated by their interest in gaining something by it, with the implication that were it not for this vested interest then the person wouldn’t make the claim or recommend the action.”[5] Although such mockery may entertain the likes of those privileged to be raised in a Muslim household, it is not only fallacious, but disparages many reverts like Dr. Brown and myself who are constantly reminded of the fact that their cherished family members may never receive salvation. As such, the style in which the article is written may be of some comfort to those grappling with these concerns and in desperate need of answers. Perhaps some may find this approach unsatisfactory due to the erroneous belief that compassion is weakness, but I say better the souls of believers be consoled rather than ridiculed for simply loving their parents and siblings. More appalling still, Daniel’s complaint is a gross mockery of the Prophet’s (ﷺ) torment over the salvation of his own uncle, Abu Talib:

Narrated Sa`id bin Al-Musaiyab from his father:When the time of the death of Abu Talib approached, Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) went to him and found Abu Jahl bin Hisham and `Abdullah bin Abi Umaiya bin Al-Mughira by his side. Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said to Abu Talib, “O uncle! Say: None has the right to be worshipped but Allah, a sentence with which I shall be a witness (i.e. argue) for you before Allah. Abu Jahl and `Abdullah bin Abi Umaiya said, “O Abu Talib! Are you going to denounce the religion of `Abdul Muttalib?” Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) kept on inviting Abu Talib to say it (i.e. ‘None has the right to be worshipped but Allah’) while they (Abu Jahl and `Abdullah) kept on repeating their statement till Abu Talib said as his last statement that he was on the religion of `Abdul Muttalib and refused to say, ‘None has the right to be worshipped but Allah.’ (Then Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “I will keep on asking Allah’s forgiveness for you unless I am forbidden (by Allah) to do so.” So Allah revealed (the verse) concerning him (i.e. It is not fitting for the Prophet (ﷺ) and those who believe that they should invoke (Allah) for forgiveness for pagans even though they be of kin, after it has become clear to them that they are companions of the fire (Q. 9:113).

Sahih Bukhari, 1360 [6]

Although Allah prohibited Muslims from invoking Him to forgive those who never repented before death, it is clear that the Prophet (ﷺ) was deeply troubled by the fact that his dear uncle wasn’t saved. Thus, for Daniel to casually mock the torment many Muslims experience as they imagine their loved ones burning in the fire is not only callous, but a shocking disregard for the Qur’an and Sunnah.

Daniel continues by accusing Dr. Brown of “grasp[ing] for anything that might open a door for non-Muslims, anything that could be taken as an alternative to the unanimous consensus position in Islam.” However, this is a straw man fallacy,[7] as Dr. Brown explicitly states in the article that only the consensus view is the correct position to hold out of the three he mentions:

If one follows the scholarly tradition of Islam, transmitted and elaborated from the time of the Prophet ﷺ until today, then it is clear which of the above three positions is correct: Islam is the only valid religion in the eyes of God.

Jonathan Brown (2018) “The Fate of Non-Muslims: Perspectives on Salvation Outside of Islam” [8]

Daniel builds on his straw man in his subsequent criticisms:

First, Daniel claims that Dr. Brown is validating all three views as equal and “firmly within the Islamic tradition”. However, this is a case of the fallacy of suppressed evidence,[9] because Daniel neglects to mention Dr. Brown’s concluding thoughts on each position. Although Dr. Brown loosely refers to these three positions as part of the “Islamic tradition,” his use of the designation is purely in its academic sense and is not meant to convey any semblance of orthodox approval.[10] The reader knows this because, as shown above, he concludes that only one of these positions is correct in light of the “scholarly tradition”. Again, allow me to quote for emphasis:[11]

And this is isn’t the only statement, because Dr. Brown even analyzes the two other positions and explicitly criticizes them. For instance, with respect to the second position, he explicitly argues against Fazlur Rahman (d. 1988 C.E.) and others:

2. Belief in God and Doing Good Deeds

One might call this the moral theism school of thought. It holds that anyone who believes in God and does good deeds can attain salvation. [….]


This is not a position easily located in the pre-modern Islamic tradition. Explicit advocates of this school of thought seem to have emerged only in the twentieth century, especially amongst Islamic Modernists. It has been tenuously (almost certainly incorrectly) attributed to Rashid Rida (d. 1935). The influential Pakistani modernist scholar Fazlur Rahman (d. 1988) clearly advanced this position. He argued that verses like Qur’an 2:62 are obvious expressions of the Qur’an’s anti-exclusionary ethos and concluded that the verses’ meaning was obvious: “that those—from any section of humankind—who believe in God and the Last Day and do good deeds are saved.” This was, for Rahman, an inevitable result of God’s boundless mercy. The most articulate defense of the moral theism position comes from the South African liberation theologian Farid Esack, who builds on Rahman’s argument and offers responses to its critics. [….]


There are two serious flaws in the moral theism argument. First, some of the verses providing key proof for the exclusivist school seem to be statements made specifically to condemn Christians and Jews for refusing to embrace Muhammad ﷺ’s message. Verses like “Truly religion in the sight of God is Islam,” are immediately followed by criticisms of the People of the Book, upbraiding them for not heeding God’s final revelation (3:20-22). One could argue that these criticisms are only directed at certain deviant People of the Book (farīq minhum, mentioned in the next verse 3:23); i.e., the bad ones. But, as we’ll see below, the verses praising those pious folk among the People of the Book are conditioned on them then accepting the guidance God has sent with Muhammad ﷺ. It’s therefore hard then to read ‘islam’ in those verses as generic submission to God instead of a proper noun for a specific religion distinct from Christianity and Judaism.


Second, ecumenical expressions in the Qur’an face the obstacle of the book’s revelation over the twenty-two years of the Prophet ﷺ’s career. Many verses referring to the People of the Book might well be overtures to Arabian Christians and Jews who were being presented with Muhammad ﷺ’s message for the first time. The Qur’an thus would offer confirmation of the revealed truth lying at the core of their religions, and even praising the pious and goodly among them, while also calling them to heed the Messenger whose revelation replaced theirs. If those Christians and Jews chose to ignore Muhammad ﷺ’s call to follow God’s final revelation, then they would be guilty of denying the truth regardless of how valid their belief and practice was prior to that. Muslim scholars over the centuries have understood verses such as ‘no fear need they have and neither shall they grieve’ either as referring only to those People of the Book who had also affirmed belief in Muhammad ﷺ’s message, or as being abrogated (mansūkh) by verses revealed later that stress Islam’s exclusive claim to truth and salvation.

Jonathan Brown (2018) “The Fate of Non-Muslims: Perspectives on Salvation Outside of Islam”[12]

What’s more, even Daniel’s own sources admit Dr. Brown explicitly opposed the other two positions. For instance, Mobeen states the following in his response:

Brown should be credited for a number of things in this piece. He correctly asserts, and categorically so,the correct position, namely, that salvation is found in Islam alone. This should not be made light of,particularly given the many voices misrepresenting Islamic soteriology, either on account of alternative philosophies/worldviews, or after succumbing to the ‘all paths’ model as cohering more readily with a pluralistic and ecumenical society (a notion Brown discusses well in the piece). Aside from the correct position of salvific exclusivity, Brown attends to two approaches that admit a more expansive notion of salvation. In presenting these two approaches, Brown problematizes key arguments made by their exponents and proceeds to ultimately repudiate them as inconsistent with Islamic teachings found in the Quran and Sunnah.

Mobeen Vaid (2018) “A Review of Jonathan Brown’s ‘Perspectives on Salvation Outside of Islam’,” p. 1. [13]

Even Mateen concurs:

After an introduction, Brown poses the question his article attempts to answer: “But what about non-Muslims who are informed reliably and accurately about Islam’s teachings and yet do not convert? What is their fate in the Afterlife?” Dr. Brown attempts to answer his question with three approaches. However, the three are not equal by any means. The first opinion is “the position of almost all Muslim scholars across the board for fourteen hundred years, and it is the position of all traditional schools of Islamic theology without exception” and “If one follows the scholarly tradition of Islam, transmitted and elaborated from the time of the Prophet ﷺ until today, then it is clear which of the above three positions is correct: Islam is the only valid religion in the eyes of God.” The last statement is particularly significant as it is the very definition of normative Sunni Islam and in which, the path to guidance is found. The next two opinions – both revisionist and deviant – are wholly inadmissible from the standpoint of Islamic tradition, and Dr. Brown seems to suggest as much. However, he then meanders through a short discussion on Allah’s mercy and suggests a deviant creedal opinion.

Mateen Khan (2018) “When Yaqeen Leads to Doubt” [14]

Examples like these and many more provide Daniel no excuse for suggesting Dr. Brown is arguing that all three positions are within the realm of orthodox Islam. Furthermore, at no point did Dr. Brown claim that he “wasn’t advocating any particular” position, as Daniel claims. On the contrary, Dr. Brown clearly states that only “at this point” (i.e. at the point of summarizing each position) was he not informing the reader which position he’s advocating for. However, as shown above, he does eventually state which one is the correct view. Thus, no “muddying of water” has taken place here. All of this isn’t difficult to see for any sincere individual who bothers to actually read the article rather than simply relying on Daniel’s gross misrepresentation.

Daniel Believes Ibn Qayyim is “Deviant”?

Daniel continues by claiming Dr. Brown makes “his deviance on this issue absolutely clear,” because he concedes to not being able to conclude whether or not there is salvation outside of Islam. However, this is a clear case of the fallacy of quoting out of context,[15] as Dr. Brown was referring to casting judgment on specific individuals (who may or may not have an excuse), not whether Islam is the only means towards salvation:[16]

Dr. Brown cites scholarly support for his indecisiveness about specific individuals being saved. Daniel is aware of this and concedes this exact point himself, only then to misrepresent the Islamic position:

Daniel is factually wrong to state that we “withhold judgment because we do not know if the person is Muslim”. The reason we don’t pass judgment on the fate of deceased individuals is not because of some infinitesimal chance that they may have been secret Muslims, but rather because we cannot reliably assess whether or not they may have an excuse with respect to qiyam al-hujjah (the establishment of proof upon an individual). Even when we think that someone has received the message of Islam, we do not possess the capacity to ascertain the extent to which it was sufficiently clarified for them such that they could recognize its truth. Only Allah knows whether someone truly exerted sincere effort in attempting to find the truth, was free of any ailments or obstacles clouding their rationality (e.g. mental illness), and whose knowledge about Islam was sufficient enough that it would persuade any reasonable individual to recognize it as the truth. Ibn al-Qayyim even discusses the possibility of those who may have been blindly following disbelief simply because they did not find a better religion (although they wished to be guided and were dissatisfied with their condition):

And Allah will judge between His servants on the Day of Judgment with His Wisdom and His Justice, and He will not punish anyone except one against whom the proof of His Messengers was established, and this is severed with respect to a category of creation. And as for whether “Zayd” in particular or “Amr” in particular had the proof established against them, then that is something that is not possible for one to enter into between God and His servants. Rather, what is obligatory for the servant is to believe that anyone who follows a religion other than Islam is a disbeliever and that Allah Most Glorified does not punish anyone except after establishing the proof against them with Messengers – this is on a general level, and ruling about specific individuals (al-taʿyin) is entrusted to God’s Knowledge and Wisdom.

Ibn al-Qayyim (2008) Tariq al-Hijratayn, 2:900

So does Daniel regard Ibn Qayyim as a “deviant” who is “twisting the Islamic position”? Allah forbid, but this wouldn’t be the first time Daniel indirectly disparaged traditional scholars with his ignorant opinions.

Resorting to Sophistry

Daniel accuses Dr. Brown of “ambivalence” while framing the subsequent quote as a question the former is asking for himself, as though to suggest he’s uncertain about his own faith. However, Daniel is commiting yet another fallacy of quoting out of context in order to give the impression Dr. Brown is a deviant. This is made clear by the fact that Daniel removes the last two sentences where Dr. Brown indicates he’s describing the doubts of Muslim minorities living in non-Muslim societies (e.g. reverts with non-Muslim family members):[17]

The reader should recall the previous discussion on the tone of this article. Dr. Brown is merely pointing out how some Muslims think with respect to their loved ones – the torment they feel knowing that their own family members and friends may be destined for the fire. These doubts may arise in the mind as a result of Shaytan’s whispering, but they are in no way a sign of active “irreverence,” only confusion and emotional turmoil. However, Daniel wishes to condemn his fellow Muslim brothers and sisters for these whispers, despite this being contrary to the Qur’an and Sunnah. For instance, the companions themselves complained to the Prophet (ﷺ) about the doubts in their mind, yet they were not rebuked, but told they had “sincere faith” for their concerns:

Abu Huraira reported: Some of the companions came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and they asked him, “We find within ourselves that which is too grievous to speak of.” The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “You have indeed found it so?” They said, “Yes”. The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “That is sincere faith.”

Sahih Muslim, 132a [18]

Yet, when Dr. Brown mentions the very real doubts some Muslims may be experiencing in their minds, this is “irreverence”? Is Daniel belittling the companions because they too had whispers from Shaytan? And how does he expect us to address such doubts within our community if we can’t even mention what they are?

Dr. Brown’s Correction

Daniel is correct that the original article had these two statements eventually removed, but not for the reasons he suggests. The fact is that Yaqeen Institute was alerted of the feedback from Mobeen and others and decided to edit the article due to how it could be misunderstood. Adding further clarification may have taken away from the main message, so it was decided that it was better to just delete these two sentences entirely.

DANIEL: To quibble, or not to quibble, that is the question.”

Daniel concludes his criticism by complaining Yaqeen Institute removed the two statements from Dr. Brown’s article without announcing what those corrections were despite Dr. Brown and other fellows advertising those criticisms in a positive light:[19] [20]

Even Mobeen Vaid himself commended Dr. Brown for accepting criticism and editing the article accordingly:[21]

As such, there was nothing “quiet” about removing these two statements as even Dr. Brown’s main critics were aware of the changes made. Furthermore, in the podcast interview in question, Dr. Brown never claimed that the reason for the correction not being mentioned in the paper had to do with people “being exposed to a deviant belief,” just that they might be “misled” and “confused” about what was written. He explains his reasoning as follows:

So I went back and looked at the article right now and it doesn’t mention that it was changed. And actually, this is something we’ve discussed, actually agreed upon at Yaqeen, that when theirs a change made to an article – a significant change, not when someone added something to a footnote – that we’re just going to say “This article has been updated”…But, I would just say right now, we took those two sections out, those two sentences out, and that was it. I mean, I’m not sure what critics would prefer. Would they prefer that we have something at the bottom that says what I originally said so that somebody can be misled by them? I mean the whole idea is that you remove these [statements] because they’re confusing to people.

Jonathan Brown, Shadee Elmasry. & Mohammed Hijab (2020) “Controversial Questions to Prof.Jonathan Brown and Dr. Shadee Masri (MH Podcast #6),” 1:09:00 – 1:09:56 [22]

Thus, Daniel has committed yet another straw man fallacy by misrepresenting Dr. Brown’s reasons for the removal of these statements, along with why he believes a public correction shouldn’t be issued by Yaqeen Institute. Even so, the organization has since published an ‘Updated Articles’ page for greater transparency.[23]

However, what’s ironic about Daniel’s complaints is that, when faced with criticism, he has never publicly issued a correction nor apologized for absolutely anything he’s ever wrongfully said or done against Yaqeen Institute and its fellows. In fact, when asked if he ever had regrets or guilt over the last two years, he shamelessly admitted:”Alhamdulillah, I sleep like a baby. Alhamdulillah. I don’t have any regrets,” as though he were guiltless.[24] Yet, he has the audacity to chastise others for not making their mistakes more obvious? As far as the evidence is concerned, Yaqeen Institute and Dr. Brown possess far more integrity and humility than Daniel seems even willing to entertain.

The Answer to “Are Disbelievers Saved?”

Now that the reader is fully aware of Daniel’s blatant misrepresentations, it would be apt to summarize Dr. Brown’s article. The tone of the paper was fashioned in such a way to appeal to those Muslims who feel a deep sadness and are experiencing doubts at the thought of their loved ones being placed in the Hellfire. The positions mentioned throughout the paper were all properly explained and analyzed until only the orthodox position was accepted as the correct view. And the final answer given to those tormented souls? Dr. Brown implores them to have trust in the Justice of Allah:

But how do we reconcile the tremendous emphasis on God’s mercy with the evidence that the Qur’an and Sunna provide for salvation coming through Islam alone? How do we reconcile, on one hand, the repeated declaration that it is only belief in the one God and doing good deeds that can secure someone peace in the eternity after death, with, on the other hand, how clearly we see the moral virtue and excellence in many non-Muslims we interact with every day? In my opinion, one can only reconcile this through a complete trust in God’s justice. As the Qur’an says on three occasions, “God does not wrong any of the slaves (i.e., human beings)” (3:182, 8:51, 22:10). The Prophet ﷺ explains that, when fates are apportioned in the Afterlife, “God does not wrong anyone of His creation.” Commenting on this hadith, al-Nawawi (d. 1277) adds, “Injustice is impossible for God’s truth.” With this firmly in mind, we can say with confidence and inner ease that, while we do not know the fate awaiting any one person after death, no one will be wronged before the “Best of judges” (95:8).

Jonathan Brown (2018) “The Fate of Non-Muslims: Perspectives on Salvation Outside of Islam” [25]

As a revert to Islam with non-Muslim family members, this is a perfectly orthodox answer to the dilemma. For those privileged enough not to have to worry about such questions, perhaps they should be a little more considerate towards those of us who had to sacrifice much of our former lives to join them in faith. And maybe they should try being a little more thoughtful about what Dr. Brown is trying to convey to Muslims like ourselves, even if they disagree with the style of the article.[26]


SUMMARY:

  • Misrepresents Mobeen Vaid’s sentiments about Yaqeen Institute and Dr. Brown as “strongly denouncing”.
  • Commits the fallacy of vested interest by problematizing the tone of the article for conveying the thoughts of a “tormented soul grappling with the question of whether non-Muslims will be saved in the Hereafter”.
  • Callously mocks the despair of reverts with non-Muslim family members and even the Prophet (ﷺ) himself with regard to his love for his uncle, Abu Talib.
  • Commits a straw man fallacy by accusing Dr. Brown of searching for alternatives to the consensus position in Islam, when in fact he explicitly mentions that only the consensus view is correct.
  • Commits the fallacy of suppressed evidence by presenting Dr. Brown’s initial analysis of three positions on salvation as evidence that he considers all of them “equal”, but neglects to show his refutation of two of them and his concluding thoughts in favor of the orthodox view.
  • Commits the fallacy of quoting out of context by framing Dr. Brown’s indecisiveness about specific individuals being saved as though he believes Islam is not the only means towards salvation.
  • Makes the false claim that the reason we don’t judge the salvation of others is because “they might be secret Muslims,” when in reality it has to do with the fact that we cannot reliably assess whether or not they have an excuse with respect to qiyam al hujah (the establishment of proof upon an individual).
  • Unwittingly disparages scholars like Ibn Qayyim as “deviant” because he too believes we cannot decide who is saved or not.
  • Commits another fallacy of quoting out of context by attributing “irreverent” questions to Dr. Brown when he was merely describing the whispers of Shaytan experienced by Muslim minorities.
  • Unwittingly belittles the companions by suggesting their thoughts were “irreverent”.
  • Incorrectly claims that Yaqeen Institute’s update of Dr. Brown’s article was a “quiet” affair, when Dr. Brown and other fellows publicly shared criticisms towards the article, which even the main critics were made aware of.
  • Commits another straw man fallacy by misrepresenting Dr. Brown’s reasoning behind removing two statements from his article, along with why he believes a public correction shouldn’t be issued by Yaqeen Institute.

Section Errors: 12 / TOTAL: 90

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Striking (Darb) the Wife is Prohibited in Islam

In Section (4.8) of his article,[1] Daniel utilizes the analysis of self-proclaimed “Shaykh” Haytham Sayfaddin to critique the Yaqeen article, “Women in Islamic Law: Examining Five Prevalent Myths,”[2] where he accuses the authors of “distorting the fqh tradition” when it comes to the permissibility of striking a wife who commits nushuz (rebellious conduct):

Haytham begins by only partially quoting the conclusion of this section. He then asks, “What authorizes the Yaqeen authors…to tell us how this ayah should be understood?” subsequently questioning their credentials and accusing them of “proffering [a] novel interpretation of the Qur’an”. What’s fascinating about his opening objections is how quickly he’s able to undermine himself through his own dishonesty and lack of self-awareness. Firstly, what authorizes the authors’ interpretation is all the relevant evidence shown throughout the article – evidence which Haytham fails to adequately address in his response. For instance, the paragraph preceding the one he quoted:[3]

Notice how Haytham commits the fallacy of quoting out of context [4] by deliberately removing the phrase “In other words,” from the passage to make it appear as though the authors’ were issuing a statement with no prior evidence to support their conclusions. This is quite misleading as it gives the impression that they arrived at this position on a mere whim.

Secondly, it is disingenuous to claim that “nothing” in the author’s biographies indicate they have qualifications to discuss matters of tafsir and fiqh. For instance, Dr. Nazir Khan’s biography plainly states the following:

Dr. Nazir Khan MD FRCPC ​is the President of Yaqeen Canada and the Director of Research Strategy at Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research. He is a Neuroradiologist and Assistant Professor at McMaster University. He has also served as an Imam for many years and has memorized the Qur’an and received traditional certification (​ijāzah​) in the study of the Qur’an, Ḥadith and Islamic theology (ʿ​aqīdah​) from various scholars across North America. He has taught Qur’anic studies classes, workshops, and seminars and is a consultant for the Manitoba Islamic Association Fiqh Committee. 

Yaqeen Institute (2020) “Team Members: Dr. Nazir Khan” [5]

Dr. Khan received his ijazah in ulum al-Qur’an (including tafsir) from Sh. Ammar Khatib and his teacher Sh. Ghanim Qaduri al-Hamad, who is among the foremost authorities on Quranic sciences in the contemporary period. More generally, Yaqeen Institute’s review board – those who ultimately authorize the publication of articles – are far more qualified than both Daniel and Haytham combined. For instance, Sh. Tahir Wyatt, Sh. Yasir Fahmy, and Mufti Abdul Rahman Wahid.[6] [7] [8] And if that isn’t enough, the respected Sh. Hatem al-Hajj [9] was the primary reviewer of the article in question. So, if Haytham truly wishes to impugn the credentials of Yaqeen Institute’s fellows and staff, perhaps he should refrain until he himself is qualified enough to do so.

That said, having greater or lesser qualifications doesn’t necessitate that one’s opinions are somehow valid or invalid by default – the former can still make mistakes and the latter can still be correct in many respects. However, what makes Haytham’s question ironic is the fact that he has no problem working with Daniel Haqiqatjou, who not only admits to having zero credentials, but has consistently made unsubstantiated and frankly unorthodox statements about the Shari’ah throughout his “review”:

So, first of all, I don’t have the ijaza (the formal degree or certificate). I haven’t graduated from an alim program, but that doesn’t mean I am not learned or I haven’t studied fiqh or usul ul-fiqh or Arabic. In fact, I have studied these things for many years. I’m still studying these things and Arabic and so forth. So…that I feel is a big distraction from the actual issue – to bring up someone’s credentials – because if I were to argue against someone that they are violating some issue within usul-ul fiqh, or some maslahah within fiqh, or aqida, then yeah, there would be a bone to pick [i.e. a legitimate grievance] to say “he’s not qualified to question us on these issues,” but those aren’t the issues I am raising…

Daniel Haqiqatjou & Dilly Hussein (2020) “Daniel Haqiqatjou | ‘Beef’ with Yaqeen Institute | Blood Brothers #39,” 1:42:30 – 1:43:37 [10]

As such, it’s quite difficult to take Haytham’s stance here seriously when he’s not only outranked, but doesn’t even abide by his own standards. He continues:

Haytham quotes the remainder of the concluding paragraph, rhetorically asking if the Yaqeen authors are “issuing their own ruling on the permissibility of darb?”. However, this is a straw man fallacy,[11] because the authors aren’t discussing darb here, but “physical abuse”. This is made more obvious by the fact that they explicitly state prior that striking with a siwak (toothbrush) was permitted by scholars such as Ibn Abbas, so long as it didn’t cause harm to the wife. Haytham’s confusion seems to stem from the fact that he’s conflating ‘beating’ (i.e. darb mubarrih [12]) – or “an act of striking with repeated blows so as to injure or damage,”[13] – with darb.

Furthermore, the authors explicitly mention that while darb was generally considered haram, in exceptional matters (i.e. nushuz) it was permitted, but disliked:

Despite accepting the common notion of a husband’s disciplinary authority, classical Muslim scholars maintained a strong aversion to violence; historical court records demonstrate that Muslim judges routinely ruled that husbands who caused any physical harm to their wives were to be punished. Moreover, it was explicitly written in jurisprudential manuals, like that of the Maliki jurist al-Dasuqi (d. 1230 H), that if a woman complained to a judge of being harmed by her husband’s insults, abandonment, or physical hitting, then the judge could order that the husband himself be physically beaten in retribution. In the minds of pre-modern jurists the general rule remained that hitting one’s spouse was sinful and prohibited (haram) but in exceptional cases as a last resort it was deemed a disliked dispensation (rukhsah) and abandoning it altogether was always preferred. By providing a stepwise framework for marital conflict resolution, verse 4:34 was actually intended to eradicate spousal abuse and domestic violence.

Nazir Khan, Tesneem Alkiek, and Safiah Chowdhury (2019) “Women in Islamic Law: Examining Five Prevalent Myths” [14]

With regard to what jurists have said on the matter, the above passage concurs with sentiments found within the Islamic tradition, such as those of the Ottoman era jurist, Muhammad ‘Abd al-Ra’uf al-Munawi (d. 1621 C.E.):

This demonstrates that hitting one’s wife is haram except for nushuz (rebellious conduct), so when she commits it he may hit without hitting severely (mubarrih) nor persistently, but if she is not deterred by it then both severe hitting and non-severe hitting are haram, and abandoning hitting is categorically preferable.

Al-Munawi (2001) Fayd al-Qadir sharh jami al saghir, 1:86

Therefore, Haytham is incorrect to state that the Yaqeen authors aren’t conveying the thoughts of Islamic jurists. So, unless he believes the Islamic tradition permits a husband to batter his wife into a bloody pulp because she put too much salt in the biryani, he should have no objection to the authors’ conclusions.

In reality, there isn’t much more to say, because the remainder of Haytham’s argument is essentially pedantry and a desperate attempt at repeating his dishonest straw man above. However, let us continue for the sake of comprehensiveness:

Where Haytham is Correct

Haytham is correct that this has been mistranslated. This was an oversight that requires immediate correction. As such, I have requested it be edited as soon as possible.

Adding to the Straw Man

Haytham dishonestly suggest the authors deliberately left out the latter portion of the hadith as a means to promote that “darb is prohibited in Islam”. However, as made obvious prior, the authors have never argued this. Therefore, Haytham commits the fallacy of jumping to conclusions [15] by falsely accusing them of misleading their readers, when the reality is that the latter portion of this hadith wasn’t relevant to the point being made in the passage (i.e. to treat women well and not physically abuse them).

Of Pedantry and Pugnaciousness

Haytham goes on claim that the hadith found in the footnotes has been “mistranslated” in an attempt to impugn the integrity of the Yaqeen authors yet again. However, he subsequently contradicts himself by acknowledging this hadith is correctly translated in an edition of al-Adab al-Mufrad. Thus, to claim the Yaqeen authors “mistranslated” (as though to fulfill some agenda), when they merely derived the text from an edition he just so happens not to prefer, is disingenuous at best. Furthermore, when we examine the commentary on al-Abani’s edition by none other than Husayn ibn ‘Awdah al-Awayishah (one of the most prominent students of Al-Albani) we find that he reverts back to the wording of the hadith that Haytham criticizes and explains that this is precisely how it appears in all the manuscripts of Al-Adab al-Mufrad available to him:[16]

So is Haytham willing to accuse Husayn al-Awayishah and those who published the most recent edition of the book of “dishonesty”? First we find that Haytham disingenuously claims the above hadith is a mistranslation. Then he subsequently contradicts himself by acknowledging its correctly translated in one edition, but insists said edition isn’t reliable despite the fact that the one he prefers has a commentary which favors the wording he rejects. In other words, Haytham is either grossly incompetent or incapable of making an honest point. He continues:

Haytham rightly points out that the hadith is mursal, however it’s matn is correct given that more authentic reports carry similar meaning. For instance a sahih hadith from Sunan Abi Dawud narrates the following:

Do not hit Allah’s handmaidens, but when Umar came to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and said: Women have become emboldened towards their husbands, he (the Prophet) gave permission to hit them. Then many women came round the family of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) complaining against their husbands. So the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: Many women have gone round Muhammad’s family complaining against their husbands. These men are not the best among you.

Sunan Abi Dawud, 2146 [17]

That said, Haytham still tries to bring in some supplementary pedantry for good measure:

Haytham complains about the use of secondary sources to cite ahadith. He mistakenly treats this like some academic sin, despite the fact that there is benefit in referencing a secondary source (in addition to primary sources) to demonstrate which scholars cited the hadith in later periods. And lastly, he again accuses the authors of “dishonesty” for not quoting the latter portion of the hadith, despite it not being relevant nor contrary to their argument. In summary, his objections are so incredibly facile that if we were to apply them to his paragraph above, we could argue he’s “dishonest” because he wrote “secondly,” skipped thirdly, and went directly to “fourthly”.

Burning the Straw Man Down

Haytham claims the Yaqeen authors “distort the fiqh tradition,” subsequently quoting a passage from the article already addressed above. So does he believe scholars like al-Munawi were “distorting the fiqh tradition”? That said, he goes on to rightly point out that qadi Abu Bakr Ibn al-Arabi (d. 1148 C.E.) never claimed in the stated reference that “striking the wife was prohibited” in toto, but neither do the Yaqeen authors. Once again, rudimentary English comprehension is all that’s needed to see the obvious second independent clause in the sentence:[18]

The fact that I have to explain something this simple is frankly absurd and embarrassing to any educated person. Unsurprisingly, Haytham completes his criticism by reinforcing his status as exemplar of the Dunning-Kruger Effect:

Again, he repeats the same errors as earlier, only then to cite the opinion of ‘Ata ibn Abi Rabah (d. 733 C.E.), Ironically, Haytham uses an even stronger translation for the term karahah, translating it as ‘offensive’ rather than ‘disliked’, which is even stronger in serving the point being made by the Yaqeen authors. What’s apparent is that he doesn’t even seem to understand the passage being referenced by Ibn al-Arabi, claiming ‘Ata “simply deemed striking offensive and encouraged offending it.” What does it mean to “encourage offending it”? Does Haytham believe ‘Ata encouraged people to do something offensive? His analysis is not only misplaced, but entirely incoherent.

In conclusion, it is not only irresponsible for Daniel to include in his “review” the analysis of a bad faith actor who’s not even competent enough to comprehend basic English grammar, but it’s yet more evidence of his dishonesty. The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter how much you’ve read if you can’t even understand what you’re criticizing nor possess enough integrity to do so – for even a donkey can carry books on its back. And in this case, Daniel’s Rocinante is most certainly lame.


SUMMARY:

  • Commits the fallacy of quoting out of context by deliberately removing the phrase “In other words,” from the passage to make it appear as though the authors’ were issuing a statement with no prior evidence to support their conclusions.
  • Claims that “nothing in the author’s biography indicates necessary qualifications, despite Dr. Nazir Khan holding ijazah, along with the reviewers of the article.
  • Impugns the credentials of the Yaqeen authors, yet hypocritically works alongside and supports Daniel, who has zero credentials.
  • Commits a straw man fallacy by accusing Yaqeen authors of arguing darb is impermissible in toto, when they were merely discussing physical abuse (i.e. violent hitting/beating).
  • Incorrectly asserts that the Yaqeen authors aren’t conveying the thoughts of Islamic jurists, despite scholars like Al-Munawi supporting their conclusions.
  • Commits the fallacy of jumping to conclusions by suggesting the authors deliberately left out the latter portion of a hadith as a means to promote that “darb is prohibited in Islam”.
  • Pedantically accuses the Yaqeen authors of being dishonest for “mistranslating a hadith” approved by the publishers of the latest edition of Al-Adab al-Mufrad and Al-Albani’s student, Husayn al-Awayishah.
  • Incorrectly assumes a weak hadith cannot be used despite its matn being correct in accordance with an authentic narration.
  • Pedantically problematizes the use of secondary sources to cite a hadith.
  • Incorrectly attributes a position to the Yaqeen authors because he seemingly can’t comprehend the second clause of an English sentence (i.e. “but in exceptional cases as a last resort it was deemed a disliked dispensation (rukhsah) and abandoning it altogether was always preferred.”).
  • Unwittingly accuses scholars like Al-Munawi of “distorting the fiqh tradition”.
  • Seemingly accuses ‘Ata ibn Abi Rabah of “encouraging” something he deems “offensive”.

Section Errors: 12 / TOTAL: 101

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Yaqeen Institute & LGBT

Forthcoming (In the process of editing)


Yaqeen Institute & Who/What It Promotes

In this section I shall analyze Daniel’s accusations of Yaqeen Institute’s supposed affiliations and support for certain individuals and organizations. Here we will be examining Sections (9.0-9.6) of Daniel’s article, which accounts for 1,650 words or 3.0% of his criticism. After thoroughly deconstructing his arguments, I found 13 major errors which completely undermine his claims and credibility.

Margarita Rosa

Daniel begins Section (9.1) of his article [1] by claiming that Yaqeen Institute supports and promotes a “queer feminist Instagram model” by the name of Margarita Rosa. He rightly points out that in 2017 she identified as “queer” and in 2018 she wrote two pieces about Muslim slaves in the Caribbean (based off her Ph.D research) and was subsequently allowed to give a talk on her essays:

Daniel then goes on problematize her being featured in a Yaqeen conference in 2018, seemingly tying her current behavior on Instagram with the organization’s values:

What Daniel doesn’t inform his audience of is that during 2018, Rosa was dedicated to becoming a more practicing Muslimah (having converted a year or so prior from a Catholic family). During her brief contributions to Yaqeen Institute, she had started to wear the headscarf and perform other obligations, especially after becoming engaged to her male fiancé. Whether she still identified as “queer” during this point is unknown to me, but it appears Daniel’s dua was answered long before he made it. That said, I fail to see the conflict between her struggling with a queer identity and Yaqeen Institute publishing her historical research (not aqida or fiqh related) about Muslim slaves in the Caribbean. Likewise, I don’t see why her current regressive behavior should be linked to the organization. Even so, Yaqeen Institute lists her as a “former contributor”:[2]

So what exactly is Daniel attempting to criticize here? Blame Yaqeen for a sister’s behavior when she’s no longer with the organization? Does he expect Yaqeen Institute to take down her essays on Muslim history because she’s now on Instagram behaving in a non-Islamic fashion? It seems quite desperate for him to make this connection, especially since she’s never been a fellow, but just a guest contributor. However, if Daniel wishes to play this game, perhaps he’d like to explain why he promotes the thoughts of an active homosexual postmodernist philosopher on his website:[3]

Perhaps he’d also like to explain why he promotes the thoughts of other non-Muslim liberal philosophers such as Wittgenstein and (again) Foucault in his reading list:[4]

In summary, Daniel’s criticism here is extremely shallow to the point of being ludicrous. In any regard, it’s good that he finally took the time to blur out at least some of the glamour shots he shares, because he rarely does. 


SUMMARY:

  • Provides no reasonable justification why Yaqeen Institute should be impugned for allowing an academic article to be published by a revert sister attempting to practice her deen in 2018, all because she’s regressed in 2020. Also doesn’t acknowledge Yaqeen Institute cites her as a ‘former contributor’.
  • Promotes the ideas of a practicing homosexual philosophers and other non-Muslims on his very website, undermining his own shallow criticism.

Section Errors: 2 / TOTAL: 103

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Arnold Yasin Mol

In Section (9.2) of his article [1] Daniel attempts to associate Yaqeen fellow, Arnold Yasin Moin, with the “reform movement” and Amina Wadud:

In an effort to associate Yaqeen with Amina Wadud, Daniel dug up some old tweets of Arnold Yasin Mol praising her. While it is true that he once considered himself a Quranist and found that approach compelling at some point after converting to Islam, Arnold is no longer upon that methodology and has (for a few years no) been a student of Mufti Amjad M. Mohammed.[2] His bio is explicit with regard to his traditional leanings:[3]

Given the above, it is unjust to hold him to his past when so many of us have progressed as converts through various cycles ourselves. Was Daniel not once a Twelver Shia? He could’ve easily validated this by merely reaching out to Arnold and asking about his views instead of wasting time searching for tweets and older articles to weaponize his past against Yaqeen. As such, it seems Daniel prefers the tactics of Liberal cancel culture. How quaint.


SUMMARY:

  • Accuses Arnold Yasin Moin of positions he hasn’t subscribed to for awhile now, refusing to do his due diligence to ask him what he really believes and if he still holds to those older positions and associations.

Section Errors: 1 / TOTAL: 104

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Jazz Musicians, Female Rap Artists, and Ilhan Omar

In Section (9.3) of his article [1] Daniel examines a single video lecture, featured on Yaqeen Institute website discussing the history of African-American Muslims in the United States and their rise from slavery to eventually become positive cultural influences on American society.[2] He begins his critique by complaining about Ilhan Omar being present for one second in the introduction clip:

Daniel begins by rhetorically asking why “Ilhan ‘The Shariah is Barbaric’ Omar” is present in the video, accusing Yaqeen Institute of promoting her. Through the use the nickname he gives her, he insinuates that Yaqeen Institute is promoting her opinions on the issue by having her present in the video. However, Daniel is clearly misrepresenting why she’s in this video. Even if we grant his argument she’s being “promoted,” the statements about Shariah he’s referring to were not made during the production and publication of these video lectures, but two months after: [3] [4]

Daniel goes on to accuse Sh, Omar Suleiman of “prais[ing] her glowingly” in connection to these comments. However, I could find no evidence for this assertion. The only place where Daniel mentions some sort of “high praise” is in his tabloid piece, “Imam Omar Suleiman, Which LGBT Rights Do You and Yaqeen Want Muslims to Support?,” where Sh. Omar Suleiman commended Ilhan in 2018 for winning an election – a full six months prior to her comments: [5]

So unless Daniel has somehow been convinced of the absurd notion that Yaqeen Institute has come into the possession of a time machine (e.g. a DeLorean) and are “praising/promoting” her in advance, then I’m afraid I’m compelled to simply label Daniel’s insinuations as yet another dishonest representation of the facts. That said, for good measure, it should also be noted that Sh. Omar doesn’t unconditionally praise anyone. He judges based on actions, not identities, and has publicly and explicitly stated his policy. As such, why does Daniel assume Sh. Omar would support Ilhan Omar’s egregious comments?[6]

Daniel continues by critiquing a statement made in the video by Iesha Prime:

Daniel misrepresents the video again, asserting that Christian hip hop artists Lauryn Hill and Jill Scott are being promoted as “icons for the Muslim community,” thus committing the fallacy of quoting out of context.[7] How so? Iesha wasn’t mentioning these women as icons for the Muslim community to follow, but cultural icons (i.e. cultural representatives) who were positively impacted by the dawah of black Sunni Muslims in American — so much so they began referencing Islam in their music in a positive light. The context of course referring to prior history where African-American Muslims were treated with disdain or alienation. We can understand this by simply examining the part of the video Daniel purposefully omits. After mentioning figures like Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X, Iesha states the following:

Not only were these men responsible for ushering in a new understanding of Islam as a normative movement, but they would also be responsible for ushering in a certain culture that would begin to affect Muslims and non-Muslims alike. And now we get into the section of how African-American Muslims, and their take on Islam [as a movement], had a powerful impact on American society...One of the most famous women in hip-hop has several references to Islam…One of the most famous women in hip-hop has several reference to Islam and that’s Lauryn Hill and several of hers and her lyrics she says don’t forget about the deen, the sirat al-mustaqim and even Jill Scott gives references to Quran in several of her lyrics. How is it that we have come so far? How is it that we have come from a people who were originally enslaved, who were originally so oppressed and considered to be some of the lowest of society to having some of the most powerful, long-lasting effects on pop and current culture?

Iesha Prime (2019) “Ep05: Cultural Muslim Icons” [8]

In summary, this is merely a history lesson about the African-American Muslim community having a positive impact on American culture. That’s it. However, Daniel dishonestly portrays the video as Yaqeen Institute promoting non-Islamic practices and certain figures as some kind of religious exemplars.


SUMMARY:

  • Dishonestly portrays Yaqeen Institute has promoting Ilhan Omar in the video after she apparently made her “Shari’ah is barbaric,” despite the video being published 2 months before these statements.
  • Dishonestly claims Sh. Omar Suleiman “praised” Ilhan Omar after she apparently made these comments, but the only evidence he provides (outside of the article) is him commending her 6 months before for winning an election.
  • Commits the fallacy of quoting out of context by misrepresenting Iesha Prime’s comments as promoting Christian women like Lauryn Hill and Jill Scott as “religious examples” that should be followed, when she was merely talking about how American cultural icons were so positively affected by African-American Muslims, they would mention Islam positively in their music. Also, this is just a video lecture discussing history, not promoting people as religious exemplars that should be followed.

Section Errors: 3 / TOTAL: 107

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Glamour Hijabi Models Everywhere

In Section (9.4) of his article [1] Daniel singles out Sh. Omar Suleiman regarding his marketing material at Al-Maghrib Institute and Yaqeen Institute, claiming he has a “history of promoting glamour hijabi models” (as per the title of this subsection). As evidence, he provides the following images:

According to Daniel, the above images of these sisters are all examples of “glamour models”. But what exactly does it mean to be a “glamour model”? A quick Google search brings up a couple of top definitions. For instance, on The Balance Careers ‘glamour models’ are defined as:

Glamour models are women who possess a certain kind of sex appeal and who aren’t afraid to show off their bodies. Their poses tend to be more sexually suggestive than those of other models and are typically geared toward a male audience. A quick flip through magazines like Maxim, Sports Illustrated (Swimsuit Edition), or even Playboy will give you a good idea of what glamour modeling is all about. 

Vanessa Helmer (2020) “How to Become a Glamour Model” [2]

Modeling Advice defines ‘glamour modeling’ as:

Glamour modeling is modeling for photos with a sexual theme. This might be a simple cheesecake or beefcake photo. They can include bikini, sexy outfits and lingerie modeling.

ModelingAdvice.com (2010) “Types of Modeling” [3]

Collins Dictionary defines ‘glamour models’ as an English euphemism for:

: a woman who models topless or nude for photographs

Collins Dictionary (n.d.) “Glamour Model” [4]

Wikipedia defines ‘glamour photography’ as:

Glamour photography is a genre of photography in which the subjects are portrayed in erotic poses ranging from fully clothed to nude. The term may be a euphemism for erotic photography. For glamour models, body shape and size are directly related to success.

Wikipedia (2020) “Glamour Photography” [5]

And finally, perhaps the most general definition of ‘glamour modeling’ comes from Modeling Wisdom:

Glamour modeling is a type of modeling where the subjects, often female, are portrayed in a romantic or alluring manner….glamour modeling covers a broad range of subtypes. The very word ‘glamour’ connotes an attractive or appealing quality. Take it one step further and it can also be associated with sex appeal. The main aim of glamour modeling is to showcase the physical beauty of the model, either to promote him or her or to achieve a particular set of images for the benefit of the photographer or the viewer. It can cover a variety of non-nude themes as well as ones that might require varying degrees of nudity, from everyday fashion to bikini shots to even sexier ones.

Jonah Levi Taylor (2014) “What Is Glamour Modeling?” [6]

Given the above, it appears Daniel believes fully clothed sisters smiling into a camera, praying, taking a selfie with their friends at a restaurant, looking to the side as they’re walking, and taking notes while on the phone, are all essentially equivalent to Maxim, Playboy, and porn models – or in the very least, some other form of licentious women who earn money by intentionally seeking sexual attention from men.

Now, before assessing his sentiment, let’s see how Daniel justifies it and what more he says on the matter. In a Facebook post, he states the following:[7]

Here, Daniel tells his male followers to refrain from marrying sisters who post “glamour shots” on social media, all the while warning against “dayuth shuyukh” who sit with “highly made-up” women, use “glamour hijabis” to advertise their classes, and “share glamour pics of their wives and daughters”. He then concludes these actions amount to “normalizing tabarruj [impermissible displays of beauty]”.

From what can be garnered from his post, Daniel believes women who put on too much make up in attempt to over-sexualize themselves are “glamour models”. To this, I sympathize considering there are in fact sisters who often do display themselves on social media in overtly sexual ways. However, none of the women Daniel exemplifies in the above images fit this description – not in the slightest. They just look like normal sisters going about their day. Even if Daniel were to argue that one of them is wearing fitted clothing (e.g. jeans), the sister is sitting in such a manner that nothing is being shown which could possibly illicit a lustful reaction. So while he may find some complaint with one of the sisters’ clothing on a technicality, it’s an unwarranted exaggeration to assert this picture is a wanton display of ‘tabarruj’ equivalent to a “glamour shot”. This is simply degrading and defamatory. That said, the one image in question was removed by Yaqeen Institute quite some time ago, a fact Daniel notably ignores.

What’s quite ironic about Daniel’s accusations is that, despite depicting the sisters above as “glamour models,” he has no problem using them as promotional material for his own classes. It’s quite repulsive to degrade a sister as an object of sexual gratification, only to then use her as a marketing tool for his marriage course:[8]

Still, there is no clear definition of what Daniel considers ‘tabbaruj’ other than an abundance of makeup. However, if we take a look at his Twitter page, we find one tweet seemingly outlining his criteria:[9]

Here, Daniel complains about “smiling young women” who wear “colorful hijabs and makeup”. So it appears his criteria for tabbaruj essentially comes down to women smiling, wearing colorful hijabs, and wearing makeup. Of course, he offers no evidence for the impermissibility of women smiling, wearing colored hijabs and makeup. However, that’s beside the point, because a sister smiling, wearing colors and makeup doesn’t warrant accusations of being a “glamour model”. That said, given Daniel’s lack of argument and unsubstantiated exaggerations, it’s difficult to determine the justifications behind his views, especially since he doesn’t even bother to abide by his own principles. How so? Daniel often uses these very same uncensored images to promote his own views. Case in point, we need only examine a selection of his articles, videos, and Facebook posts: [10] [11] [12] [13]

If these images are truly representative of tabarruj and cause fitna, why hasn’t he censored any of them in the slightest? Why does he allow his own followers to ogle them? The excuse may be “because he’s refuting tabbaruj,” therefore making it permissible to show impermissible things. But this would be an excuse. Going by that logic, would it be permissible for Daniel to post uncensored porn videos for the sake of “refuting them”? No, it would not. So, either Daniel truly believes these images are impermissible to post or he doesn’t. He can’t have his cake and eat it too.

Worst of all still is Daniel’s general lack of concern for censoring actual glamour photos and images where men and women have their private areas exposed. Although he makes exceptions at times (e.g. Margarita Rose), this is rare. For example, to show some of the images Daniel has used, I had to censor them myself. Some of them were so bad I actually had to get a sister to censor them for me. For instance, on his blog, Daniel shares numerous photos of Amani Al-Khatahbeh posing provocatively and in some cases even revealing her chest.[14] [15] In his video “‘YASS QUEEN!’ My Response to a Lesbian Hijabi Muslim,” he even reveals a woman’s full cleavage for nearly 20 seconds on screen.[16] And in a recent tweet, he exposes a man’s ‘awrah by not fully covering the lower crotch and belly button, forcing me to add more censoring to the image:[17]

It’s clear from Daniel’s frequent and careless display of images he deems haram that his concerns for modesty (haya) are superficial. Through this obvious double standard, Daniel is encouraging his readers to ogle the very women he explicitly tells them not to ogle and shares the very images he tells them not to share.

But it gets worse still. One cannot escape Daniel’s careless disregard for modesty even in his own academic articles. For instance, in his article titled, “Islamic Sexual Ethics and Homosexuality,” on page 22 he attempts to reference a view by Imam Al-Ghazali, but rather than quote an actual work by Al-Ghazali, he links to a gay porn website:[18]

Why would Daniel do such a thing? Why would he expose his readers to such disgusting images? Why didn’t he quote Al-Ghazali directly from translations already available online? Why attribute a gay porn site to this great imam? Does Daniel support LGBT? Is he a “taghut,” “humanist,” “liberal,” “compassionate imam,” etc?

Here, my questions should be read as sarcastic. Despite his carelessness with sources, Daniel isn’t entirely at fault here. In fact, when he wrote this paper back in 2015, the link in question went to a blog site that spoke out against homosexuality.[19] However, after some time, someone bought the domain and changed it to a porn site. At least that’s what appears to be the case.

So why bring this up? Simple. If this link was found in a Yaqeen Institute article, it is doubtful Daniel would give the same benefit of the doubt. Knowing his methods, it’s guaranteed he’d use it as evidence of Yaqeen’s “liberal agenda” and “lack of knowledge of Islam,” all the while making certain none were the wiser.

But why has his hypocrisy been allowed to go on without rebuke for so long? Don’t his followers see the double standards at play here? Although they actively engage in liking his posts and cheering him on as the gatekeeper of orthodoxy, Daniel’s supporters have yet to correct him for using these photos nor the unwarranted pejoratives he uses to label our sisters in Islam. Is it because they believe these women deserve to be maligned at any cost, simply because they reveal their faces in public? Although there are differences of opinion regarding what constitutes a woman’s ‘awrah, the majority view is that a woman is allowed to show her face. As the Ibn Rushd summarized in his Bidayat al-Mujtahid:

Most of the jurists maintained that her [the woman’s] entire body constitutes ‘awra, except for the face and hands. Abu Hanifa maintained that her feet are not a part of the ‘awra. Abu Bakr ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman and Ahmad said that her entire body is ‘awra….The reason for their disagreement is based on the possible interpretations of the words of the Exalted, “And to display of their adornment only that which is apparent” (Q. 24:31), that is whether the exemption relates to defined parts or to those parts that she cannot (help but) display? Those who maintained that the intended exemption is only for those parts that she cannot help but display while moving, said that her entire body is ‘awra, even her back. They argued for this on the basis of the general implication of the words of the Exalted, O Prophet! They your wives and daughters and the women of the believers to draw the cloaks close around them. That will make them recognizable and they will not be exposed to harm” (Q. 33:59). Those who held that the intended exemption is for what is customarily not covered, that is, the face and the hands, said that these are not includes in the ‘awra. They (further) argued for this on the grounds that a woman does not cover her face during hajj.

Abu Walid Muhammad Ahmad Ibn Rushd (2000) The Distinguished Primer, Vol. 1, Trans. Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee, p. 126.

And it is clear the vast majority of scholars never pejoratively labeled non-niqabis as “glamour models”. This is because, unlike Daniel, they followed the edicts of the Qur’an and Sunnah with regard to how to treat their fellow Muslim sisters. For example, the Qur’an is explicit that such labels are prohibited:

O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule [other] women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames. Wretched is the name of disobedience after [one’s] faith. And whoever does not repent – then it is those who are the wrongdoers.

Al-Qur’an, 49:11

Furthermore, the Prophet (ﷺ) also sets the standard with his interactions with beautiful women:

Narrated `Abdullah bin `Abbas: Al-Fadl bin `Abbas rode behind the Prophet (ﷺ) as his companion rider on the back portion of his she camel on the Day of Nahr (slaughtering of sacrifice, 10th Dhul-Hijja) and Al-Fadl was a handsome man. The Prophet (ﷺ) stopped to give the people verdicts. In the meantime, a beautiful woman From the tribe of Khath’am came, asking the verdict of Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ). Al-Fadl started looking at her as her beauty attracted him. The Prophet (ﷺ) looked behind while Al-Fadl was looking at her; so the Prophet (ﷺ) held out his hand backwards and caught the chin of Al-Fadl and turned his face (to the owner sides in order that he should not gaze at her. She said, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! The obligation of Performing Hajj enjoined by Allah on His worshipers, has become due (compulsory) on my father who is an old man and who cannot sit firmly on the riding animal. Will it be sufficient that I perform Hajj on his behalf?” He said, “Yes.”

Sahih Bukhari, 6228 [20]

When the Prophet (ﷺ) saw this beautiful woman, he did not declare her a “glamour model” nor accuse her father, brothers, or husband of being “dayuth”. And when his companion became captivated by her beauty, he did not blame the sister, but turned his companion’s face. And later, he did not announce to the world that women like her were “unmarriageable” and their male family members a bunch of unprincipled cucks. Although there were individuals who may have fit these descriptions, the Prophet (ﷺ) did not rebuke women for merely being attractive in public. Yet, Daniel feels privileged enough to do so, all the while thinking the rules don’t apply to him.

At this point, what we’ve learned is that according to Daniel, when Yaqeen Institute posts images of fully clothed women in hijab, this is equivalent to promoting ‘tabbaruj’, but when he posts the very same images and far worse, it becomes “righteous dawah”. In other words, despite all his preaching about modesty, Daniel’s sentiments amount to nothing more than virtue signaling.

So maybe this should give him pause to reflect. If he and his followers have become angry at me for exposing their hypocritical behavior – due to “gheerah” – then maybe they should consider the anger of every sister they’ve unjustly accused of being equivalent to Playboy and swimsuit models. Maybe they should consider the anger of every husband, father, and brother of these sisters; men they’ve gratuitously labeled “dayuth”.


SUMMARY:

  • Unjustly accuses Sh. Omar Suleiman of “promoting glamour models” and sisters of being “glamour models”.
  • Callously uses the very same “glamour models” to promote his own classes.
  • Hypocritically shares the same “glamour shots” with little to no censorship.
  • He and his team share worse images than Yaqeen Institute ever has.

Section Errors: 4 / TOTAL: 111

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Mixed Gatherings

In Section (9.5) of his article,[1] Daniel falsely accuses Yaqeen Institute of promoting “casual” intermixing between men and women:

First, the reader should notice that Daniel doesn’t link to the video where Yaqeen is apparently “promoting casual social mixing”. The reason he doesn’t is because the video in question isn’t promoting any such thing. On the contrary, the video promotes the use of a conversation kit discussing controversial talking points and confusing issues related to Islam – to be shared in a halal manner among family members, business peers, friends, non-Muslims, and Muslim student organizations:[2]

In other words, Yaqeen isn’t promoting “casual intermixing”, but simply marketing a tool kit to assist Muslims with doing dawah. The screen shots that Daniel carelessly ripped out of context shows a Muslim Student Association (MSA) meeting between students, in a public setting, utilizing Yaqeen’s conversation guide as a means to better understand and articulate their beliefs. Perhaps they’re preparing for the next ‘Islam Awareness Week’? Or maybe they were preparing the Q&A session for their event hosting Daniel Haqiqatjou? Who knows. But what we do know is that Daniel himself isn’t really averse to intermixing, especially when it comes to dawah and Islamic education more generally. For instance, in 2017 he attended a university to give a lecture, literally sitting next to Nour Goda while addressing a mixed audience. And the recording is still being promoted on his YouTube channel:[3]

As such, not only has Daniel misrepresented the video in question, but he’s also shown himself to be rather hypocritical. And, as quaint as always, none of his followers have objected to his wanton display of “casual intermixing” (note the scare quotes).

That said, neither Yaqeen nor Daniel have done anything to violate Islamic etiquettes in their educational ventures. The fact is, some intermixing is allowed within the Islamic tradition, especially when it comes to dawah and religious education – as long as general guidelines of modesty are still followed. In this regard, Sh. Hatem al-Haj has written a comprehensive book on the subject titled A Guide to Male-Female Interaction in Islam where he elucidates all the various permissible and impermissible forms of intermixing. Therein, his position on the permissible forms is summarized in Appendix A:

Intermixing is a concise expression. There is the permissible of it as well as the impermissible. Of this and that there is the agreed upon and of it is the differed over.

If what is intended by it is the basic gathering of men and women in open places to take part in shared acts of religion or worldly affairs – along with the consideration of the Sharia etiquettes of hijab, lowering the gaze, and organizing the gathering with what aids that, then there is no harm in it. Of this is the gathering of men and women in the open spaces to attend the two Eid prayers, the rituals of Hajj, the open gatherings of knowledge whether they are in the mosque or elsewhere, and the going out of women to tend to their needs amidst the people. This is so alongside seeing that the women properly observe Hijab and they are distanced from men as best they can. Also, both parties are to observe reservation and the lowering of the gaze.

Hatem al-Haj (2015) “Appendix A” in A Guide to Male-Female Interactions in Islam, pp. 150-151 [4]

In conclusion, Daniel’s criticism is yet another display of dishonesty with a bit of pedantry and hypocrisy mixed in for good measure – the only mixing here truly in need of correction.


SUMMARY:

  • Misrepresents Yaqeen Institute as promoting “casual intermixing,” when the video in question was marketing a conversation tool kit designed to assist in dawah efforts and to be shared in a halal manner among family members, friends, Muslim student groups, etc.
  • Hypocritically promotes the very intermixing he condemns in his own lectures and YouTube channel

Section Errors: 2 / TOTAL: 113

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Desi and Arab Muslims are Racists

In Section (9.6) of his article,[1] Daniel unwarrantedly accuses Yaqeen guest contributor and woman of color, Nisa Muhammad, of claiming all immigrant Desis and Arabs are “racist” in her article “Black and Muslim: How Chaplains Can Empower Marginalized Students”:[2]

As the reader can plainly see, there’s really no evidence behind any of these accusations. Much of what Daniel writes here is just unsubstantiated offense at the comments of a woman who is expressing her experiences of marginalization in Muslim American communities. The remainder of his commentary is just him pedantically reading into her intentions about the types of words she chooses to use. In any regard, I don’t believe I need to fashion a complex argument to convince the reader that there is indeed racism within the Desi and Arab community, but not necessarily involving all Desis and Arabs. And I don’t think its controversial to say that much of that racism is directed towards darker skinned individuals. As a light skinned Spanish-American revert who has traveled the world, I am often complimented by Desis, Arabs, and other South-East Asians generally for having lighter skin, and I’m often treated far better than my wife and inlaws (Bangladeshis) because of it. And nearly every Desi on the planet will tell you that there are many segments within their communities who are absolutely obsessed with “whiteness” and consider dark skin “dirty” and “ugly,” even taunting their own children for not being “light enough” (albeit not all, but a significant number). I’ve seen this all myself. And once again, this is not a testimony that all Desis and Arabs are racist (far from it), but it is a problem that needs to be rectified, much like racism and general prejudice in other cultures needs to be rectified. The fact that Daniel takes offense to a black Muslim woman complaining about real marginalization is simply absurd and outright cruel. As such, I cannot do much other than label this entire section one massive appeal to emotions fallacy, or “when someone’s appeal to you to accept their claim is accepted merely because the appeal arouses your feelings of anger, fear, grief, love, outrage, pity, pride, sexuality, sympathy, relief, and so forth.”[3]


SUMMARY:

  • Commits the appeal to emotions fallacy by merely attempting to spark outrage by reading into the author’s words and intentions, implying she was being “racist” for simply expressing how Black skinned Muslims are often marginalized within and outside the Muslim community.

Section Errors: 1 / TOTAL: 114

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Yaqeen Institute & CVE

In this section, I analyze Sections (2.0-2.4) of Daniel’s article [1] which accounts for 3,700 words or 7.0% of his criticism. Therein, he accuses Yaqeen Institute and its fellows of having “direct involvement” with the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program – a U.S. policy initiative which specifically targets and oppresses Muslims both domestically and abroad. However, after thoroughly deconstructing his arguments, I found 18 major errors which completely undermine his claims and credibility.

That said, prior to analyzing Daniel’s arguments, I think it necessary and informative to give an overview of Yaqeen Institute’s general sentiment towards CVE and counter-extremism efforts over the years. The organization has published a number of anti-CVE articles explicitly criticizing and undermining the program. For instance, Senior Fellow Dr. Tarek Younis focused an entire essay on the problems with CVE and counter-radicalization titled, “Counter-Radicalization: A Critical Look into a Racist New Industry” the abstract of which states the following:

Radicalization is the process by which individuals develop an intent to support or commit acts of political violence. The industry of counter-radicalization, or countering violent extremism as it is known in the United States, is quickly growing across the Western world. In the UK, the government’s Prevent policy has made it mandatory for public bodies such as schools and hospitals to identify and report individuals suspected of being vulnerable to radicalization. The definition of radicalization however is not only vague, it is contingent on the political climate. The purpose of this article is to outline two fundamental issues with counter-radicalization practices. First, counter-radicalization practices, such as those enforced by policies such as Prevent, have dismissed the most basic tenets of scientific rigor: validity and reliability. Such practices are quintessential examples of policy-based evidence, not evidence-based policy. Second, terrorism is strongly associated with Islam and issues of Muslim integration in public consciousness and political discourse. Thus, the practice of counter-radicalization in the War on Terror inevitably results in a racist and disproportionate impact on Muslim communities, in much the same way the War on Drugs has resulted in the mass incarceration of Black youth in the United States. This paper will discuss the dangers of Muslims engaging in counter-radicalization practices and the importance of identifying institutionally racist practices in a supposedly post-racial society.

Tarek Younis (2019) “Counter-Radicalization: A Critical Look into a Racist New Industry” [2]

Likewise, Yaqeen contributor Nour Soubani writes the following in her paper, “What is Islamophobia? The Politics of Anti-Muslim Racism”:

Even today, Suspicious Activity Reports are used as part of a state apparatus that has ordinary citizens reporting on one another in a way that propels implicit bias. Through state-funded programs like Countering Violent Extremism and other counter-radicalization policies, people in communities—both Muslim and non-Muslim—are asked to identify “suspicious” behavior and report it to law enforcement. The problem is, what law enforcement describes as potentially suspicious includes physical indicators like growing a beard, wearing hijab, wearing traditional clothes and activities such as being politically outspoken, attending the mosque, and/or reading holy scripture. Through community partnerships, the state then trains everyday people to recognize these characteristics as being associated with the potential for extremism or violence. In this way, we can see that the everyday activity of Muslims and their physical appearance is criminalized, making it so that just being Muslim is a problem.

Nour Soubani (2019) “What is Islamophobia? The Politics of Anti-Muslim Racism” [3]

Discussing the U.K. variant of CVE, Senior Fellow Dr. Naved Bakali states the following in his paper, “Islamophobia and the Law: Unpacking Structural Islamophobia”:

One of the most widely criticized aspects of the United Kingdom’s response to countering violent extremism programming has been the Prevent strategy. The Prevent strategy forms a branch of the UK’s overall countering violent extremism policy referred to as Channel. Prevent came about in the mid-2000s and was aimed at identifying individuals who may be on a trajectory towards violent extremist activity and to prevent such individuals before they engaged in these activities. In 2015 the program was instituted on a statutory basis. This required people working in the public sector, such as teachers, nurses, and other healthcare professionals, to report individuals they suspected were vulnerable to radicalization. Not doing so could involve institutional repercussions. The Prevent strategy did not claim to target any specific ethnic or religious group; however, in practice, the Prevent strategy has unfairly and overwhelmingly targeted Muslim communities in the UK. According to data collected by UK government in 2018, ‘Islamist extremists’ are 17 times more likely to be referred to Prevent than individuals engaging in ‘far-right’ extremist activities. Despite only representing 5% of the UK population and accounting for roughly 5% of the terrorist-related activities in the nation, Muslims represent 65% of the referrals to Prevent. Furthermore, 95% of the Muslim referrals to Prevent require no further Channel intervention. In other words, 95% of the Muslims referred to Prevent are falsely identified and pose no threat to UK society. Muslims are 40-50 times more likely than non-Muslims to be referred to the Prevent strategy, a quarter of these referrals are youth under the age of 15. Clearly, the Prevent strategy has disproportionately targeted Muslim communities in the UK and consequently has had far-reaching effects in these communities. Many Muslims in the UK feel stigmatized because of the wide net cast by this program. Muslim parents have to think twice about how they educate their children about Islam and may even encourage them to engage in self-censorship out of fear that they may be flagged through this program. These concerns are very real and legitimate, as Muslim children as young as four-years-old have been misidentified by this program. A similar process of structural Islamophobia can be observed in North America through legislation policing visual signifiers of ‘Muslimness’ and through state surveillance and securitization programming.

Naved Bakali (2019) “Islamophobia and the Law: Unpacking Structural Islamophobia” [4]

Yet another Yaqeen contributor, Todd Green, couples CVE initiatives in with other oppressive Islamophobic government actions in his paper, “’Why Don’t Muslims Condemn Terrorism?’ Western Violence and Scapegoating in an Age of Islamophobia”:

The Bush administration went to war linking Islam with violence, labeling the threat posed in the war on terror variously as “Islamic radicalism” and “Islamo-fascism” and infamously referring to the war as a “crusade.” Registration programs, detentions, deportations, extraordinary renditions, surveillance, profiling, Countering Violent Extremism initiatives, the Muslim ban, anti-sharia laws, and other government practices since 9/11 all assume violence is endemic to Islam and that Muslims must be treated as a suspect and securitized population that is predisposed to terrorism.

Todd Green (2019) “’Why Don’t Muslims Condemn Terrorism?’ Western Violence and Scapegoating in an Age of Islamophobia” [5]

President of Yaqeen Institute, Sh. Omar Suleiman has even gone on record explicitly condemning CVE and denouncing any allegations that the organization receives funding from such initiatives:

I have never participated in CVE work, nor has Yaqeen ever taken CVE money, and I am opposed to it as a framework due to how it’s used exclusively against the Muslim community.

Omar Suleiman (2019) “Questions About My Political Activism” [6]

Even outside the website, many Yaqeen fellows have openly denounced CVE. For example, Director of Research, Dr. Jonathan Brown stated the following in his personal blog:

In the late 2000’s, the cultivation of ‘moderate Muslims’ gradually dovetailed with other law-enforcement efforts aimed at identifying and preventing ‘radicalization’ amongst Muslim youth, efforts that came together under the rubric of CVE (Countering Violent Extremism) (Sidebar: even more so than with the notoriously vague term ‘terrorism,’ there has been no agreement on exactly what ‘radicalization’ means. It is often used to mean adopting extremist beliefs… which, of course, leaves us to define ‘extremist,’ which seems generally to mean ‘not mainstream’ or ‘not popular.’ This is very problematic, since it’s entirely relative, as some Christians have noted when they saw where they fit on the ‘extremist’ spectrum. In the UK, discussion over the problem of defining extremism has been lively. Ultimately, it is clear that there is no coherent methodological anchor in defining ‘extremism’). The Obama administration launched its articulation of CVE in August 2011, hitching its wagon to the CVE Prevent program developed in the UK after the 7/7/2005 London bombings.


Government efforts to police how Islam was understood and expressed and to promote ‘moderate Muslims’ led to, by 2011, what Samuel Rascoff has called an ‘establishment Islam’ – the official Islam of the American government.2 The contours of this establishment Islam are well known to us by now, having infused our lives through the relentless pressure of constant expectation. I would contend that Muslims had already exhibited a commitment to democracy, the rule of law and toleration of others (this was well documented by the 2011 Pew study of Muslims in the US).


But ‘moderate Muslims’ had to do more. They had to announce that the only legitimate violence was that carried out by the militaries of the US and its allies. No other violence, even that done in self-defense by occupied or invaded peoples, was acceptable. And, as Arun Kundnani has ably demonstrated, they had to depoliticize themselves of any opinions or sentiments that challenged the fixed features of American foreign policy.

Jonathan Brown (2017) “’Moderate Islam’ & Muslim American Leadership: Reflections Before the Deluge” [7]

And finally, perhaps the most passionate condemnation of CVE comes from Research fellow Sh. Muhammad Elshinawy, who was as victim of the New York Police Department’s surveillance program. He recounts his experience in horrifying detail:

In 2013, my fears were confirmed. I found out from an Associated Press investigation that I was a victim of the New York Police Department’s aggressive surveillance of Muslims. After 9/11, the NYPD began to track large swaths of us. Officers secretly labeled entire mosques as terrorist organizations, then spied on imams and recorded sermons. The department conducted at least a dozen of these “terrorism enterprise investigations” since 2001, often without specific evidence of criminal wrongdoing and minimal oversight from judges. No charges were ever brought as a result of the activities of the so-called “demographics” unit.


Entire congregations were targeted. Entire Muslim communities — from bookstores to restaurants — were monitored. Those practices turned innocent people into suspects, making us feel isolated and afraid of the police. Because of the NYPD’s widespread use of informants, we stopped trusting our neighbors as well.


Though I’d suspected that local cops were spying on innocent Muslims, the extent of their surveillance surpassed even my worst fears. The police had been following me everywhere, according to documents unearthed in the investigation. Once, a man came to my home claiming that he would do anything for a certain Egyptian delicacy his late mother had made for him years prior. Others in the community warned me later that he’d been asking about me. An informant even infiltrated my wedding, videotaping everyone who attended. My wife and I had been surveilled while shopping for rings earlier that day, according to internal police documents. “We have nothing on the lucky bride at this time but hopefully will learn about her at the service,” one NYPD lieutenant wrote in a report about me that was uncovered by the Associated Press.


After the AP revelations, I wasn’t just uneasy. I was terrified. I felt like I lived in a house without walls, vulnerable to police scrutiny all the time. I was constantly anxious about what I said and whom I talked to. I feared for my wife as well. I suspected those around me, including friends and family. People from outside our community — they appeared to be undercover officers or informants — were asking about me. Friends and colleagues distanced themselves out of fear that they, too, would be swept up in the NYPD’s net.

Mohammed Elshinawy (2016) “I’m a Muslim, not a terrorist. So why did the NYPD spy on me for years?” [8]

Knowing that Yaqeen Institute actively publishes articles critiquing and condemning CVE and counter extremism in general, it’s fellows and staff disparage it even outside the website, and one of its own was a victim of the program, how is it that Daniel has come to the conclusion that the organization is colluding with this government initiative, directly or indirectly? Aren’t these articles bad marketing for the CVE program? Would a victim as traumatized as Sh. Mohammad really work for an organization affiliated with an initiative that nearly ruined his life? Daniel’s reasoning is akin to suggesting that someone leaving a bad review of a restaurant after getting food poisoning is “evidence” they’re being paid by the manager to convince people to eat there.

That said, against the backdrop of the aforementioned information, let’s analyze Daniel’s arguments to see how he comes to the conclusion that Yaqeen Institute and its fellows have “direct involvement” with CVE and counter extremism.

Yaqeen’s Alignment with CVE?

In Section (2.1) of his article,[1] Daniel offers his first argument which apparently showcases that Yaqeen Institute is affiliated with CVE and counter extremism:

Here, Daniel asserts that Yaqeen Institute only addresses the topics of Muslim extremism/radicalization in two articles. However, as shown above, this is patently false. In what appears to be an attempt to minimize the focus of Yaqeen Institute on the topic of CVE and counter extremism, Daniel resorts to the fallacy of suppressed evidence [2] to give the impression that the chosen sample represents the organization’s sentiments on the topic. And seeing as these articles “fundamentally contradict each other,” they effectively cancel each other out, rendering the organization lacking in any sufficient response to the issue. It’s a subtle yet clever trick which gives the impression Yaqeen Institute is only presenting a façade of non-conformity.

This leads Daniel to emphasize a previous article by Dr. Khan – one much focused on in his “review” – where he again accuses the latter of conflating orthodox Islamic positions with extremism. However, as the reader should recall, these accusations have already been dismantled in Sections (2.2), (2.6), and (2.10) above, where it was showcased that said labels are in reference to extremists distortions of orthodox Islamic beliefs. As such, Daniel is committing a straw man fallacy.[3] He then goes on to build on his fallacious reasoning by unreasonably conflating the “ideological indicators of extremism and eventually terrorist activity” with Dr. Khan’s article:

Even if one were to admit some of these might fall under Dr. Khan’s own list of labels (e.g. “dehumanization”), the fact that Daniel has already misrepresented the article as conflating orthodox teachings with extremists beliefs is enough to dismiss any significant similarity. That said, Daniel commits the fallacy of cum hoc, ergo propter hoc (i.e. “with this, therefore because of this”), which is when the reasoner unwarrantedly assumes a correlation equates to a causal relationship.[4] In other words, Daniel’s argument is equivalent to how Islamophobes often attempt to accuse most Muslims of being “ISIS sympathizers,” simply because they both claim to believe in Shari’ah. As such, just because there may be some similarities in what two entities perceive as “extremism” does not necessitate Dr. Khan is drawing influence from CVE and counter extremism initiatives or that Yaqeen Institute is affiliated with the government. Dehumanization should be regarded as an extreme, regardless of who endorses it. To suggest otherwise would be absurd and contrary to the Islamic tradition:

O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allah, witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do.

Al-Qur’an, 5:8

A Summary of Falsehoods

Daniel attempts to connect a 2018 survey conducted by Yaqeen Institute with CVE markers for “extremism”. However, he doesn’t explain precisely how either overlap in the slightest. The former is a survey given to Muslims regarding their doubts about Islam, whereas the latter is a list of “signs” of extremism. That said, Daniel misrepresents the survey, which was simply a quantitative analysis utilizing a purposive sampling method via Qualtrics. The results found that the major factor behind doubts among Muslims were fellow Muslims who engaged in hypocritical or intolerant behavior. No where did the study conclude that “intolerant religious [i.e. scrupulous and conscientiously faithful] Muslims” were the source of doubt, but that “the intolerance of some religious people [i.e. those who follow religion]”:[5]

Daniel frames the survey questions as though it’s accusing virtuous Muslims of spreading doubts, implying that Yaqeen Institute has a problem with devotion to Islam. However, he commits the fallacy of equivocation [6] by presenting the word ‘religious’ as conveying its secondary meaning of “being faithful,[7] and placing it in front of ‘Muslim’. Naturally, there is a difference between describing someone as a follower of a religion and being a religious follower. It’s a subtle distinction, but one that Daniel takes advantage of in order to make a loose connection between many absurd CVE markers and Yaqeen’s survey.

That said, it’s quite odd that Daniel has a problem with pointing out the intolerance of fellow Muslims. In fact, he argues in his own work that Muslims should not bully or unjustly harm those who identify as homosexual. For instance, in his paper “Tough Conversations: Explaining the Islamic Prohibition of Same-Sex Acts to a Western Audience,” Daniel reminds Muslims of the following:

Despite all these caveats, as it turns out, as Muslims, we can stick to Islamic ethics while also defending certain things that are considered by Western society as “gay rights” but we consider “human rights” as understood in the Islamic ethical-legal tradition. According to Islamic law, a person cannot be bullied, harassed, prosecuted, detained, or harmed in any other way simply because that person is considered by people to be “gay.” The scholars of Islam have discussed the rulings and hadd punishments for those who have committed the act of liwat and the requirements for prosecuting such individuals, who, if convicted, can only then be called luti. But, as we have discussed above, this is not equivalent to “being gay.” There are undoubtedly many in our societies today who consider themselves “gay” but have not committed liwat or any other same-sex erotic act. In a sense, these are “celibate homosexuals,” and from the perspective of Islamic law and all else being equal, there is no functional legal distinction between a “celibate homosexual” and anyone else. So if such people are being harassed, detained, killed, etc., either by private citizens or by state actors, Muslims should certainly object to this.

Daniel Haqiqatjou (2016) “Tough Conversations: Explaining the Islamic Prohibition of Same-Sex Acts to a Western Audience,” p. 11 [8]

So, shall we now consider Daniel to be affiliated with CVE and counter extremism because he advises Muslims not to be intolerant towards homosexuals? It’s quite alarming that that he can’t even see that his own reasoning can be used against him.

As for his other claims regarding what Yaqeen Institute is attempting to portray Islam as, at this point, after all the evidence presented in previous sections attests to, I am confident the reader is aware that such allegations are false.


SUMMARY:

  • Commits the fallacy of suppressed evidence by limiting Yaqeen’s anti-CVE/counter extremism output to one article to give the impression that the organization isn’t concerned with opposing CVE/counter extremism.
  • Commits a straw man fallacy by misrepresenting Dr. Khan’s article as pro-CVE/counter extremism.
  • Commits the fallacy of cum hoc, ergo propter hoc by unwarrantedly connecting some of Dr. Khan’s views on extremism with CVE identifiers of extremism (implying he’s influenced by the latter).
  • Commits the fallacy of equivocation by presenting the word ‘religious’ as conveying its secondary meaning, rather than the primary meaning used by the Yaqeen study. Does this in an attempt to tie a basic survey study to CVE/counter extremism.
  • Problematizes anti-intolerance of others, such as homosexuals, yet hypocritically calls on Muslims not to be intolerant towards homosexuals, thereby implicating himself in CVE/counter extremism (by his own reasoning).

Section Errors: 5 / TOTAL: 119

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Dalia Mogahed

In Section (2.2) of his article,[1] Daniel attempts to malign Dalia Mogahed, who serves as an advisor to Yaqeen Institute as well as multiple Islamic organizations in the United States. Not only does he accuse her of “playing a central role” in the development of CVE’s oppressive policies towards Muslims, but that she actively promotes those policies within and outside the organization:

Daniel asserts that Dalia “played a central role” in the development of CVE. He then cites a Brennan Center report showcasing numerous problems with the government initiative so to persuade the reader that Dalia is actively engaged in oppressing the Muslim community. However, this patently false because Daniel is omitting pertinent information which reveals a narrative contrary to the one he’s promoting. For instance, we need only examine his first piece of evidence where he highlights that she “provided significant contributions to the Homeland Security Advisory Council’s Countering Violent Extremism Working Group recommendations”:

What Daniel isn’t telling the reader is that Dalia’s “significant contributions” were in 2010, before the creation of CVE and in direct opposition to its policies. How so? Firstly, the reader should be directed to Dalia’s own testimony surrounding her involvement with the working group:[2]

Secondly, there’s sufficient evidence to corroborate Dalia’s account. For instance, we can confirm that she did in fact advise the working group “in the capacity of a researcher at Gallup” by simply referencing a PowerPoint presentation hosted on the Department of Homeland Security’s website:[3]

Likewise, we can confirm that Dalia “shared data on how terrorism was unrelated to religion” and that she was there to prevent the initiative from becoming what he eventually became – means to oppress fellow Muslims. Her research was eventually published on Gallup’s website under the titled, “Views of Violence” and concludes the following:[4]

Dalia et. al. assert that the empirical evidence they provide runs contrary to the idea that Islamic beliefs need to be reformed to combat violent extremism, because “religious identity and level of devotion” have little to do with terrorism. The reason these findings are significant is because they directly contradict CVE and counter extremism policy. Even Daniel’s own reference from the Brennan Center shows this to be the case:

CVE is a counterterrorism strategy that recruits community leaders, social workers, teachers, and public health providers ostensibly to assist the government in identifying individuals that may be “at risk” of becoming violent extremists. But the idea that there are predictive risk indicators has been discredited by decades of scholarly research. They have been targeted almost exclusively at Muslims and employ spurious criteria, such as religiosity and political activism and vague feelings of alienation, as proxies for violent tendencies. [….]


CVE programs are designed around the erroneous idea that there is a discernible process of radicalization that results in terrorist violence. The key assumption of radicalization theory is that individuals who adopt “extremist” ideologies start down a conveyor belt that leads inexorably toward becoming a terrorist.


While this proposition may have some intuitive appeal, decades of empirical research disproves it. Many people hold views that can be described as “extreme” and never support or commit an act of violence based on those beliefs. And many who commit terrorist violence have little or no attachments to an extreme ideology.

Brennan Center for Justice (2019) “Why Countering Violent Extremism Programs Are Bad Policy” [5]

In other words, empirical research like Dalia’s disproves the central ideology behind CVE and counter extremism. Therefore, Dalia did not participate in the working group to oppress Muslims, but to try and stop the government from doing so. She attempted to advise the CVE architects in an effort to persuade them to abandon their Islamophobic ideas. After she was unsuccessful, she promptly distanced herself from the program.

So not only is Daniel incorrect about Dalia’s involvement with CVE, but he has effectively slandered her by way of committing the fallacy of suppressed evidence.[6] It is inexcusable for him to label her an enemy of the Muslim community when she sacrificed her reputation (perhaps even her livelihood and safety) to try and protect her brothers and sisters from government oppression.

Conspiracy Theorists’ Rationale

Daniel continues by suggesting that because the organization Dalia works for hosts debates over CVE, this somehow means she has a positive opinion of CVE and counter extremism. However, this is a non-sequitur fallacy.[7] An organization hosting a debate between two sides does not necessitate that a person working for said organization is, by default, promoting or opposing a motion. Furthermore, hosting a debate does not mean that the organization in question sees validity in both positions. Daniel’s reasoning can be equally applied to him when he discusses and debates ex-Muslims. For instance, does his appearance on the Atheist Republic platform (founded by ex-Muslim Armin Navabi) make him culpable for giving the impression that an “argument can be made” for deviant and kufr views?[8]

More absurd still, Daniel doesn’t seem to realize what Dalia does at ISPU. In fact, he appears completely unaware that she co-authored a report rebutting CVE and counter extremism policies:

In this apples-to-apples study, ISPU’s research reveals perceived Muslim perpetrators of violence are subject to more severe legal charges, up to three times the prison sentence, and more than seven times the media coverage compared to non-Muslim perpetrators. Perpetrators perceived as Muslim are also much more likely to be targeted for undercover law enforcement operations providing them with weapons or fake explosives.

Dalia Mogahed (2018) “EQUAL TREATMENT? Measuring the Legal and Media Responses to Ideologically Motivated Violence in the United States” [9]

Not only that, but the Brennan Center (Daniels own reference) played an advising role in the study:[10]

In other words, why would Dalia publish a study opposing CVE and counter extremism, through ISPU, with consultation from the Brennan Institute, if she was involved with CVE? Despite this, Daniel goes on to repeat his false accusation that Dalia “played a central role in the development of the CVE program”:

Although it’s already been established that Dalia has explicitly opposed the CVE program from the beginning, Daniel is trying to prove the impossible through the guilt by association fallacy, which occurs when “a person is said to be guilty of error because of the group he or she associates with. The fallacy occurs when we unfairly try to change the issue to be about the speaker’s circumstances rather ithan about the speaker’s actual argument.”[11] The fact is that whatever associations she may or may not have do not necessitate she approves of or supports CVE. This can be best exemplified by simply picking one of the names from Daniel’s small sample. For instance, Dalia is considered guilty of being involved with CVE because she apparently associates with Irshad Manji in the context of supporting Muslim reform movements. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, Dalia has often been seen, on record, opposing Irshad on the topic reforming Islam. For example, in 2012 Irshad argued that terrorists held the “orthodox” understanding of the Qur’an when it comes to violence and that Muslims should reinterpret these verses for the modern era. Dalia then rebuts her by arguing that the terrorists themselves are the reformers opposing classical Islam:

Where I would differ with Irshad is that the bold reinterpretation of the verses that talk about violence have already occurred. They occurred with the terrorists. The terrorists are reinterpreting these verses. The original, classical interpretation is the one the “moderates” – if we’re calling them that – are using to in fact respond [to terrorists]. The underlying fundamental issue where I think we [I and Irshad] differ…are the terrorists using the authentic orthodox interpretation of the verses…or, in fact, are they the reformists? Are the terrorists in fact reinterpreting the verses to justify what they’re doing?

ReplytoIrshadManji (2012) “Dalia Mogahed Refutes Irshad Manji: The terrorists are the reformists,” 1:18 – 2:25 [12]

Dalia’s sentiments are in stark contrast not only to Irshad’s reformist notions, but the fundamental assumptions underlying the CVE initiative. So why is Daniel attempting to argue that her association with Irshad is proof she’s involved with CVE? This absolutely makes no sense. We cannot conclude that someone is for or against something simply by virtue of the fact that they share a stage with someone. To make such a judgment prior to examining the context of the association and the actual contributions of the individuals involved is not only unreasonable, but unjust.

But Daniel is already aware of this, because he once acknowledged and lauded Dalia’s position on this very subject:[13]

Daniel goes on to try and make more spurious connections:

Again, this appears nothing more than a guilt by association fallacy. First, how is it that Dalia is involved with CVE simply because she happened to publish an article in the Harvard International Review with Michael Chertoff, especially when her contribution had absolutely nothing to do with terrorism? Her article, titled “Cartoons and Controversy: Free Expression or Muslim Exceptionalism in Europe?” was about anti-Muslim prejudice in European media.[14] Yet, according to Daniel, she’s guilty for what someone else wrote in that magazine. Perhaps then we should try similar reasoning on Daniel:

  1. Michael Chertoff wrote an article in 2008 for the Harvard International Review, which is published by Harvard University.
  2. Daniel attended Harvard University up until 2008.
  3. Therefore, Daniel supports Michael Chertoff’s article.

If this logic looks fallacious to the reader, then they would be correct, because it is. Once again, by negating the context of the association in question, one can come to any number of absurd conclusions. Yet, this is the same sort of reasoning Daniel is engaging in.

That said, what is the context of her sharing a platform with Michael Chertoff under his wife’s organization? Was it to support CVE or to present research in opposition to its foundational assumptions about Muslims? Daniel doesn’t bother to inform the reader of any relevant connection in this regard nor does he provide any causal link between these associations and Dalia’s eventual appointment to Obama’s Advisory Council. Despite this, he continues to try and make spurious connections:

Again, Daniel impugns Dalia for sharing a stage with reformers, yet he doesn’t provide any relevant context as to why she did so. Although he admits she participates as a “conservative counterpoint to progressives,” he concludes that she’s “giving credibility to these figures”. However, not only does his reasoning undermine his own platform sharing, but the video he links to completely undermines his argument. How so? Dalia continuously debates against reformist ideas during this panel. And during the Q&A, she answers a question related to reform in the following manner:

I think the main issue is misdiagnosing the problem. And you misdiagnose the problem by analyzing the facts in isolation rather than looking at [it] historically and globally. So what Ayaan [Hirsi Ali] tends to do is find problems in Muslim societies and then attribute Islam to those problems, and then comes up with a solution that we need to fix Islam. Whereas she ignores the socio-economic/political drivers of many of those problems and ignores the fact that those exact same problems occur in other societies where Islam doesn’t exist. So, the idea of “fixing Islam” comes from a misdiagnosis of the problem, in many cases by isolating that problem. The other danger of “reforming Islam,” or this idea of “let’s make Islam whatever we want it to be” is actually what the terrorists did – that’s what ISIS did!…So the idea of letting everyone do what they want with Islam doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get an outcome you like.”

The Aspen Institute (2015) “Deep Dive: How Big of a Threat is Terrorism to World Order?,” 53:12 – 54:17 [15]

Why Daniel continues to insist on using “evidence” which refutes himself is nothing less than astonishing. He appears completely apathetic to what Dalia believes and says on these panels, preferring to narrate what he wants his readers to see rather than what’s actually there. As such, he commits yet another guilt by association fallacy.

Daniel goes on to muddy the water by including references to LGBT:

So, apparently because Dalia contributed an article which mentions that Muslims in the United States “do not include an anti-gay agenda” and think that homosexual individuals “should be accepted by [American] society,” in a book co-chaired by Madeline Albright, this means she’s involved with CVE. But this is a red herring fallacy, or “a digression that leads the reasoner off the track of considering only relevant information.”[16] What does Dalia’s description of Muslim attitudes towards LGBT individuals, in a book co-chaired by a former government official of the Clinton administration (from 1997 – 2000), have anything to do with her supporting the Countering Violent Extremism initiative? Even if one were to take issue with her participation in such a work, it’s completely irrelevant to proving Daniel’s point.

Moving on, Daniel attempts another connection based on chair seating proximity:

Here, Daniel accuses Dalia of nefarious motives because she attended a ceremony to receive an award for her research from a Muslim-run organization called ‘El-Hibri Foundation’. And why? Because she happens to be sitting next to a man – who we are led to believe is involved with CVE and counter extremism – who is at the ceremony in support of his wife. In other words, Dalia is apparently a CVE mastermind and super-secret agent of the government because of the seating arrangement at an awards ceremony for her research largely undermining the CVE program’s perception of Muslims.

I’m not even going to attempt to explain the absurdity of this reasoning to the reader as I don’t wish to insult their intelligence in the process, so I’m just going to label this yet another guilt by association fallacy and move on to the next section where Daniel makes his “big reveal” about Michael Chertoff:

If the reader was not already aware at this point, Michael Chertoff was indeed the co-author of the oppressive Patriot Act legislation. So take a step back and recall what Daniel has argued up until this point. Dalia is apparently guilty of developing and supporting the CVE initiative because:

  1. She participated in the working group (prior to CVE’s manifestation) where she was trying to stop government officials from oppressing Muslims.
  2. She works for an organization that hosts debates about CVE while co-authoring studies opposing CVE (with the help of Brennan Center).
  3. She sits on panels with reformists to oppose reformists and CVE.
  4. She contributed an article, unrelated to CVE, to the Harvard International Review in the same year as Michael Chertoff contributed his article.
  5. She gave a talk at the Aspen Institute, which is run by Michael Chertoff’s wife.
  6. She contributed an article rebutting stereotypical claims about Muslim Americans (which the CVE relies on) to a book co-chaired by a former government official for the Clinton Administration.
  7. She sat/stood next to Michael Chertoff at an awards ceremony unrelated to CVE where she received an award for her research largely rebutting CVE assumptions about Muslim Americans.

In other words, Daniel has zero evidence for Dalia’s involvement with the CVE initiative. Even if one were to take issue with her affiliation with Aspen Institute (because of Meryl Chertoff), at no point has it been established that her association is for the sake of supporting CVE initiatives. In fact, all evidence points to the contrary, especially when we closely examine her panel discussions where she argues against reformists.

But Daniel doesn’t stop here. Rather, he continues trying to “connect the dots” like some QAnon conspiracy theorist with a tack board, a ball of string, and thousands of sticky notes:

According to Daniel, Dalia is responsible for “whitewashing” Michael Chertoff’s crimes and “threads of batil radiat[e] from her appearances with…deviants she collaborates with”. Never mind the fact that her appearances with said individuals was in the spirit of opposition when it came to CVE. Never mind the fact that all her research has been opposed to CVE, no matter what panel she speaks on or what book she contributes to. However, none of this appears relevant to Daniel Haqiqatjou – only seating arrangements. As such, perhaps we should try the same line of reasoning on him? How would we go about measuring the deviancy of an individual by way of proximity? Is there some sort of “deviancy equation” we need to solve?

I’m not too good with math, so perhaps Daniel might be able to elucidate how all this works. In the meantime, however, let’s continue analyzing his accusations against Dalia. He continues by attempting to implicate Dalia’s organization ISPU and Omar Suleiman in more “LGBT activism” and “CVE”:

Daniel asks why ISPU gave an award to Sh. Omar and then repeats the false accusation that Dalia “has a long history deeply involved with government counter terrorism efforts”. He then impugns Yaqeen Institute for utilizing ISPU research material. And finally, he attempts to connect that research material to ISPU executive director Meira Neggaz, who happens to promote abortion.

At this point, I don’t even think I need to answer the remainder of these accusations, as the reader can already see that ISPU, Dalia, and Sh. Omar are neither advocates of nor engage with CVE and counter extremism. So, it should be clear that the reward in question and the toolkits being used have nothing to do with any pro-CVE conspiracy theory that he’s managed to concoct out of thin air. Furthermore, the loose references to LGBT and abortion are all merely another example of a red herring fallacy, because these have nothing to do with whether or not anyone supports the Countering Violent Extremism initiative.

In summary, Daniel has not only slandered Dalia, but has exemplified perhaps the most egregious display of conspiratorial thinking I’ve witnessed since Russell Crowe’s portrayal of John Nash in A Beautiful Mind.


SUMMARY:

  • Commits the fallacy of suppressed evidence by falsely accuses Dalia of developing and supporting the CVE initiative, despite evidence showing the contrary (i.e. she tried to stop the program’s oppressive policies from the beginning).
  • Commits a non-sequitur fallacy by suggesting that the organization Dalia works for is somehow giving the impression that “an argument can be made for CVE” because they host debates about CVE.
  • Hypocritically participates on panels hosted by ex-Muslims without realizing he could be accused of giving the impression that “an argument can be made for kufr”.
  • ISPU’s own research (authored by Dalia and backed by the Brennan Center [Daniel’s own reference]) rebuts CVE policies, therefore undermining Daniel’s argument they support CVE.
  • Commits a guilt by association fallacy by accusing Dalia of supporting CVE based off her apparent associations, although she opposes their views on CVE policies (e.g. Irshad Manji).
  • Commits another guilt by association fallacy by accusing Dalia of supporting CVE because she published a paper and gave a talk in 2008 on the same platforms as Michael Chertoff.
  • Commits another guilt by association fallacy by accusing Dalia of supporting CVE because she shared a platform with reformists, despite the fact that she was in opposition to them.
  • Commits a red herring fallacy by attempting to make an irrelevant connection between Dalia’s description of Muslim sentiments towards LGBT individuals with her supporting CVE.
  • Commits another guilt by association fallacy by accusing Dalia of supporting CVE because she was sitting/standing next to Michael Chertoff at an award ceremony completely unrelated to CVE.
  • Commits another red herring fallacy by attempting to falsely connect LGBT activism and abortion to Omar Suleiman, when these are irrelevant to whether or not someone supports CVE.

Section Errors: 10 / TOTAL: 129

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Yaqeen Collaborates with CPOST?

In Section (2.3) of his article,[1] Daniel accuses Yaqeen Institute of working with the independent research institute CPOST in an attempt to connect the former with CVE and counter extremism. His evidence? A single Facebook post showing Sh. Omar Suleiman shaking hands with the organization’s director, Dr. Robert Pape:

Daniel accuses Yaqeen Institute of being involved with the Countering Violent Extremism initiative based on a meeting between Sh. Omar and Dr. Pape in a hotel lobby. However, he conveniently ignores the key part of his post, which states that the former was looking forward to working with his team on research in the context of his books furthering “understanding the political root causes of violence and terrorism” – once again, an idea in complete opposition to CVE principles. Daniel also fails to mention that he himself was an employee at the time of this meeting (March, 2017) and never once brought it up as a concern. So, did he support CVE and counter extremism efforts during his time at Yaqeen Institute?

That said, I have confirmed that Sh. Omar has neither spoken to Dr. Pape since then nor did any collaboration ever materialize with them directly or indirectly by Yaqeen or its employees. As such, it is incorrect to accuse Yaqeen Institute of collaborating with an organization (and CVE) simply off the basis of a social media post advertising a desire to work on research that runs contrary to CVE policy. Yet, that hasn’t stopped Daniel from promoting detailed conspiracy theories regarding Yaqeen’s workings with CPOST.

Once again, I bring the reader’s attention to explicit statements by Sh. Omar himself regarding CVE:

I have never participated in CVE work, nor has Yaqeen ever taken CVE money, and I am opposed to it as a framework due to how it’s used exclusively against the Muslim community.

Omar Suleiman (2019) “Questions About My Political Activism” [2]

So, unless Daniel has actual evidence of Yaqeen’s involvement with CPOST and CVE, his argument is rendered invalid and is merely a case of the fallacy of jumping to conclusions.[3]


SUMMARY:

  • Commits the fallacy of jumping to conclusions by suggesting Yaqeen Institute is working with CPOST based on a 2017 Facebook post discussing a desire to coordinate on research, which never materialized.

Section Errors: 1 / TOTAL: 130

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Yaqeen and WISE

In Section (2.4) of his article,[1] Daniel accuses Yaqeen Institute of supporting CVE and counter extremism initiatives by virtue of the fact that Sh. Omar Suleiman participated in a panel hosted by the Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality (WISE) organization:

Here, Daniel commits the guilt by association fallacy [2] because he neglects to mention the context of Sh. Omar’s contributions to this discussion. In said panel, Sh. Omar serves as the opposing motion to the CVE narrative:

I find that religion is often the disguising language of the essentially political grievances…I do think they’re essentially political grievances, and I think it’s important for people to step up and speak to those political grievances as well, and to not shy away from them. And it’s very difficult when, if the same voice that is being used to speak against extremism is silent on state sanctioned terror or on war or legitimate political grievances, [then] that voice is automatically discredited.

WISE Muslim Women (2017) “WISE Up Summit: Understanding Extremist Recruitment and Early Intervention with Mehdi Hasan,” 8:10 – 9:14 [3]

Those who attended or watched this lecture were also aware that he was the only one to focus on political grievances over ideology:[4]

As such, Daniel needs to rethink his assessment with respect to what he claims others are associated with. If not, then is he willing to concede to supporting the opinions of those he sits on panels with, despite debating against those on the same platform?


SUMMARY:

  • Commits the guilt by association fallacy by accusing Sh. Omar Suleiman of supporting CVE because he took part in a panel with WISE, despite him opposing CVE principles on stage.

Section Errors: 1 / TOTAL: 131

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Julio Rivera

Also in Section (2.4) of his article,[1] Daniel accuses Yaqeen Institute of being involved in CVE and counter extremism due to hiring a former political analyst for the Department of Defense and research analyst for CPOST, Dr. Julio Rivera, as the Director of Research Operations. However, Daniel is incorrect to make this connection. Although Dr. Julio’s Linkedin profile [2] may cause some alarm for Muslims, there is a great deal of context behind his former career path that should dispel any reservations about his commitment to the Muslim community and his opposition to CVE and the counter-radicalization industry as a whole. Below is a summary of his earlier life and the path to his current position at Yaqeen Institute, told to me by Dr. Julio himself.

Dr. Julio Rivera grew up in an American military family. When he was five years old, he started living in Ankara, Turkey where his mother was stationed. There, he had a positive experience of the Muslim world and grew to love the culture and Islamic ethos. During this time, his mother married a Turkish man and they had two sons together. Young Julio therefore grew up in a household where Islam was respected and religion a core component of his upbringing. While in high school, his interest in religion grew into a desire to become a Catholic priest, so he began visiting seminaries in his local area to see if that’s the life he wanted to live. Needless to say, his interest in a religious life eventually led him down a different path.

September 11th occurred while Julio was in high school, and lead Julio to explore Islam (as many others during the time). He sought to reconcile the positive experiences he had growing up in a Muslim country and the negative media portrayals he was seeing. And although he didn’t accept Islam at this phase, his readings planted the seeds for his conversion. Upon graduating high school, Julio was accepted into Georgetown University where he went to obtain a degree in foreign service. Given that the only life he ever knew was government and military service, this seemed the most logical path to take for his career. And during this time, he met with the Muslim Student Association (MSA). As he started to interact with the Muslim community on campus and continuing his quest, he finally took his shahada. Afterwards, he remained a member of the MSA and continued to learn Islam, including the plights of Muslims everywhere in the world. It was his hope that by entering public foreign service, he could assist his brothers and sisters by bettering their lives – an understandable conclusion for someone raised in a military family.

After graduating from Georgetown, Julio was hired on as a civilian political analyst for the Department of Defense. He was not a soldier nor was he engaged in CVE or counter-radicalization work. Given his background, he was given the task to monitor the political situation in Syria beginning in 2009. His job was limited to reporting political updates and advising government and military officials regarding what they should do to assist civilians in the region. Having become disillusioned with the his government’s lack of concern for the well-being of the Syrian people, he eventually resigned and went back to school to complete pursue his PhD.

During his PhD candidacy, Julio joined the university’s research institute CPOST in 2015 as a University of Chicago graduate student researcher, in hopes that his expertise could be used to better benefit the Muslim community. As such, he was hired specifically to assist Dr. Pape with building upon prior research disassociating religious ideology from suicide bombings and other acts of violence – a narrative that the CVE program opposes.[3] His research findings revealed that foreign occupation and drone strikes were ineffective in combating terrorism, a notion in stark contrast to the War on Terror narrative.

In 2018, Julio resigned from CPOST to complete his PhD and sought a career outside of the security domain, and temporarily shifted into business process/management consulting. In the same year, he moved to Texas to take care of his nephew while his sister was receiving treatment as a result of having been diagnosed with cancer. It was during this phase that he started to see security work as no longer cohering with his desire to help the Muslim ummah.

At this point, he connected with Sh. Omar Suleiman in Dallas as a regular attendee at the Valley Ranch Islamic Center. Upon learning of his expertise in the field of research and his desire to recommit himself to more spiritual benefits, Sh. Omar spoke with Dr. Julio in an effort to explore better ways to utilize his talents related to process and research management, which ultimately resulted in Dr. Julio being hired at Yaqeen.

With that background in mind, it should be asked how Daniel would explain why Yaqeen has never published a single pro-CVE/counter extremism piece before or after Dr. Julio was hired? On the contrary, Yaqeen has published multiple anti-CVE/counter extremism articles after his hire (i.e. Section 5.0 above), including the piece by Dr. Tarek Younis, which Daniel approved of. Ironically, the Yaqeen article by Dr. Nazir Khan (the main article Daniel incorrectly points to as being pro-CVE) was published in November 2016 while Daniel was still working with Yaqeen, years prior to Julio’s appointment in 2019. As such, based on Daniel’s evidentiary standards, doesn’t that article implicate himself more than Julio?

Likewise, how could the research administrator at Yaqeen, Sr. Faduma Warsame, who has been a staunch anti-CVE activist in Minnesota, Dr. Jonathan Brown (the son in law of Dr. Sami Al-Arian) who has written so frequently against counter-radicalization, and research fellow Sh. Muhammad Elshinawy, who was victimized himself by surveillance practices, all work alongside Julio and have no issues with him? Even after all of that, Julio has personally confirmed to me that he is entirely opposed to CVE, counter-extremism and counter-radicalization in theory and practice, like everyone else at Yaqeen.

In summary, Dr. Julio is a revert with a background in government work and counter terrorism research who became disillusioned with the security field and eventually decided to dedicate his talents to more spiritual endeavors. He wasn’t hiding that because he never thought it would be used against him in a vicious smear campaign by a brother who never bothered to clarify his past before spinning together wild Pamela Geller like conspiracy theories. To treat him with disdain because of his past, or accuse him of being some sort of mole, all without seeking any basic verification of who he is just to further a smear campaign against Yaqeen as a whole is incredibly low. Julio is an upright Muslim with outstanding character that every scholar at Yaqeen who has interacted with him would readily testify to. As a revert myself with a past and knowledge of the learning process and experiences we go through to arrive at our place in this ummah, I find it unjust to accuse my brother of engaging in activities that oppress his fellow Muslims. He has since moved on from his role in the security sector and should be afforded the benefit of the doubt that any Muslim should be given, especially considering Yaqeen’s consistent anti-CVE and anti-counter-radicalization stances.


SUMMARY:

  • Falsely accuses Dr. Julio Rivera of working with CVE or supporting CVE based on his former employment, even though he never worked with CVE or supported it even when he was employed with the government and CPOST. Also didn’t bother to inquire with Dr. Julio himself regarding his stance on CVE.

Section Errors: 1 / TOTAL: 132

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Yaqeen Institute & Aisha’s Age

In this section, I analyze Section (4.3) of Daniel’s article [1] which accounts for 1,650 words or 3.0% of his criticism. After thoroughly deconstructing his arguments, I found 2 major errors which completely undermine his claims and credibility. Here, Daniel targets Yaqeen Institute’s collection More Than Just a Number: Perspectives on the Age of Aisha (RA) [2] claiming its inclusion of one paper is an example of the organization “muddying the water”:

Daniel states that there is “no reason” for Yaqeen to include an eccentric opinion in the collection and that it “undermines” all the other papers. However, this is nonsensical and contrary to the Islamic position for two reasons. The first being that an eccentric opinion may be cited when it constitutes a secondary or tertiary matter which may aid in keeping Muslims from leaving Islam. As the esteemed Sh. Hatem al-Haj notes in paper “In Defense of Faith: Principles and guidelines for Islamic Apologetics”:

It is vital to remember that the goal of apologetics differs from the goal of edicts (fatwá). The apologist is focused on calling people to faith in Allah and helping them embrace the message of Islam. It is far better for a person to believe in Allah and His Messenger ﷺ and follow an eccentric view on some secondary or tertiary matter of the religion than for them to reject Islam altogether. In the area of apologetics, one’s aim is to defend the mainstream positions but simultaneously keep an eye on the people on the fringes and seek to gradually bring them back from the cliff. This would mean that the mention of some eccentric positions may be deemed necessary.

Hatem al-Haj (2020) “In Defense of Faith: Principles and Guidelines for Islamic Apologetics” [3]

For example, although Ibn Taymiyyah held an eccentric view that Hellfire isn’t eternal, we may utilize it in the event that a Muslim is struggling to comprehend or sympathize with the mainstream position (for various intellectual or psychological reasons), all for the sake of keeping them from apostatizing. As such, other views may be mentioned for this reason, as long as they conform to the proper methodology and don’t deny essential tenets of the Islamic faith. With respect to the age of A’isha, Sh. Hatem elucidates further:

Consider the controversy over the age of ʿĀʾishah رضي الله عنها at the time of her marriage to the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. We have a text in Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī where ʿĀʾishah herself states that she was 9 years old when she consummated the marriage with the Prophet. Most apologists defending this position cite extensive historical evidence concerning the cultural norm of early marriage in pre-modern society, the fact that ʿĀʾishah was actually engaged to Jubayr ibn Muṭʿim before marrying the Prophet ﷺ, the data concerning early physical maturation prior to the industrial revolution, other physiological and psychological data, and so on. Naturally, these justifications require some time and effort, as well as educational background on the part of one’s audience to comprehend. Some apologists instead have relied on extrapolations and inferences from other evidence (including other hadith as well as biographical sīrah works) to build a case for an older age at the time of marriage, saying she was 18 years old. Is this an invalid (bāṭil) position or an eccentric (shādhdh) one that may be still mentioned in the course of our apologetics? Here, methodology is critical; how you arrived at your conclusion is more important than simply looking at the conclusion itself while disregarding methodology. If someone rejects the hadith in Bukhārī because they do not believe that the hadith of the Prophet ﷺ or the Sunnah have a role to play in Islam, their opinion will be considered void and invalid (bāṭil), since their approach does not align with orthodox methodology and accepting such a viewpoint entails nullifying the scriptural sources upon which Islamic teachings are built. On the other hand, however, if a scholar argues that the collective weight of inferences from other reports raises the possibility of a subtle flaw (ʿillah) or discrepancy (shudhūdh) in the particular report mentioning the age of 9, their argument may be speculative and deemed less probable but it does not rely on methods foreign to Islam.


While there are some who have advocated this view, like the contemporary Hadith scholar Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn al-Idlibī and others, this position, while being alluded to by some imams, has not been explicitly upheld by any of them in Islamic history. How one interprets the various hadith on this topic does not impact one’s theology nor does it have a real impact on Islamic law (since any rulings derived from this hadith are also established by other evidences in Islam). So it’s important to ask what is truly at stake here. While the view that ʿĀʾishah is 18 years old may be an eccentric view, the speculative inferences from other reports in combination with the historical evidence drawn upon makes it a possibility that could still be mentioned to leave a crack open and not shut the door completely in the face of an audience that will be unable to comprehend the justification of the mainstream position. If we take the route of mentioning the eccentric position to facilitate an easy answer to a problem many find otherwise intractable, we must also ensure that the majority of energy in one’s apologetics is focused on justifying the mainstream position.

Hatem al-Haj (2020) “In Defense of Faith: Principles and Guidelines for Islamic Apologetics” [4]

Thus, this is one of the reasons why the opinion was included in the collection. So for Daniel to state there is “no reason” to mention it is a little naive and removed from what is permissible to reference in the Islamic tradition. That said, there is also a second reason for including the opinion which appeals more to those who follow the mainstream position. In this regard, Sh. Hatem notes that the inclusion of such a view is necessary for comprehensiveness and to ultimately showcase its flaws when compared to the mainstream position:

Eccentric positions are not all of equal weight. Some may be closer to invalid positions than minority positions, while others may be plausible interpretations. It is important that the mention of those positions for the sake of debate is done in a way that will guard against their promotion as viable alternatives to the mainstream ones. As well, it is important to note that in an academic discussion of a subject, the mere mention of an extremely shādhdh or even bāṭil position, for the sake of comprehensiveness and thoroughness in one’s treatment of the subject, does not constitute endorsing or promoting such positions. This is well known in Islamic scholarship. In fact, scholars in almost every Islamic discipline frequently enumerate long lists of opinions on a particular matter, some of which are so far-fetched that they do not even warrant a rebuttal. Indeed, when dialoguing with audiences that are familiar with heterodox views, it may compromise the credibility and persuasiveness of one’s approach to omit such positions and thereby appear less familiar with the breadth of views expressed on the subject.

Hatem al-Haj (2020) “In Defense of Faith: Principles and Guidelines for Islamic Apologetics” [5]

In other words, the inclusion of invalid or eccentric opinions does not necessarily equate to the endorsement of said opinions. In fact, to the contrary, an opinion mentioned alongside its own refutation and a comprehensive defense of the mainstream position cannot possibly be seen as approval. In this regard, Yaqeen included an essay by Faraz Malik titled “The Age of Aisha (ra): Rejecting Historical Revisionism and Modernist Presumptions”[6] directly refuting the arguments made in the paper Daniel has a problem with:

So if Yaqeen were truly “muddying the water,” why would it include a refutation of the eccentric view absent a rebuttal? If the organization were truly seeking to confuse the masses by making all positions equal, why even include an uncontested refutation to begin with?

Imagine if Yaqeen published Daniels “review” on its website without a response. How would this be perceived? Would this act by Yaqeen been seen as “muddying the water” or as a concession of defeat? Rightly, it would be perceived as a concession and that Daniel were correct in his criticisms. Yet, when Yaqeen includes an uncontested refutation of an eccentric view, Daniel regards this as “undermining”.

Clearly Yaqeen is promoting the mainstream position here. Although it mentions an eccentric opinion, it primarily acts as a means to bolster the mainstream view, while holding a secondary function as a potential means of saving those dangerously close to leaving Islam. This is not “muddying the water,” but being as comprehensive as possible towards meeting the needs of the Muslim community. Thus, Daniel commits a non-sequitur fallacy with his criticism. His insistence that Yaqeen not mention any eccentric opinions at all is not only contrary to the Islamic tradition, but is anti-intellectual and unbecoming of a self-proclaimed “skeptic” who seeks to inform and educate others.


SUMMARY:

  • Claims there is “no reason” to include eccentric opinions in Islamic works/collections despite there being two very good reasons for doing so: to save Muslims who are doubting their faith and to be comprehensive in understanding the subject (so to bolster the mainstream position).
  • Commits a non-sequitur fallacy by accusing Yaqeen Institute of “muddying the water” for presenting an eccentric view, despite publishing its uncontested refutation alongside it.

Section Errors: 2 / TOTAL: 134

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Yaqeen Institute & Evolution

In this section, I analyze Sections (6.0-6.1) of Daniel’s article [1] which accounts for 1,600 words or 3.0% of his criticism. Therein, he focuses most of his attention on Dr. David Jalajel’s piece, “Tawaqquf and Acceptance of Human Evolution.”,[2] which was released as a guest submission as part of a larger collection of perspectives on evolution that all affirm that all human beings are the descendants of Adam and Eve (who were real, not allegorical). After thoroughly deconstructing his arguments, I found 19 major errors which completely undermine his claims and credibility.

He begins by summarizing the orthodox Islamic position on the concept of human common ancestry in evolutionary theory:

Daniel concludes his summary with the following:

Daniel commits the fallacy of suppressed evidence [3] when he claims “nowhere does Yaqeen convey that accepting the evolution of human beings from another species is Islamically unacceptable”. This is patently false. For instance, Dr. Khan and Sh. Yasir Qadhi dedicate an entire section to defending the orthodox Islamic position in their piece, “Human Origins: Theological Conclusions and Empirical Limitations”:

In the opening passage of Surah al-Nisa, God describes all humanity as descendants of Adam and Eve: “O Humankind, be mindful of your Lord, Who created you from a single person, and made from him his mate, and from the both of them He created many men and women” (Qur’an 4:1). The verse is patently explicit: all of mankind, without exception, originates from one couple.


The evidences from the Qur’an and Sunnah on humanity being descended from these two parents are too numerous to recount in the span of this article. Suffice to say that the entirety of the Muslim ummah in every generation since the beginning of Islam has understood that humankind is descended from Adam and Eve, who were created directly by God. [….]


Clearly, in light of such an explicit and vivid narrative, claims that human beings have descended from other species besides Adam are not theologically tenable. Some may attempt to confine the meanings of the texts as tightly as possible and discard any textual inferences (dalalat al-nass) in an effort to squeeze in human evolution from creatures alongside Adam. However, as the subsequent discussion shall illustrate, a sound approach would entail according both scriptural theology and philosophy of science their appropriate epistemic weight, using both scriptural and scientific knowledge to arrive at a deeper understanding. The discourse on reconciling reason and revelation is not new but rather the subject of voluminous writings in Islamic history. Essentially, three different approaches have arisen in Muslim history corresponding to three famous historical figures: Ibn Sina (d. 428 H), Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali (d. 505 H), and Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728 H).[….]


How do these three approaches pertain to the topic of evolution? In the case of the story of human origins, we have such an explicit narrative, one that is deeply rooted in countless passages throughout the entire Qur’an and numerous Prophetic statements, that there is no choice other than to accept that this is what Allah intended for us to believe. The sheer quantity and diversity of nouns, adjectives, and verbs used simply make any linguistic re-interpretation (or taʾwīl) implausible. Meanwhile, attempts to describe the entire account as symbolic or allegorical (takhyīl) may be tempting for some contemporary Muslim scientists, but it leads to logically incoherent theological ramifications and contradicts the Qur’an’s own emphasis that these accounts are literally true narratives (3:62). Developing an epistemologically sound foundation upon which both scriptural and scientific truths work in concert is a far more fruitful endeavor.

Nazir Khan and Yasir Qadhi (2018) “Human Origins: Theological Conclusions and Empirical Limitations” [4]

Likewise, Dr. Jalajel states the following in his paper, “Tawaqquf and Acceptance of Human Evolution”:

It is safe to say that the idea that Adam and Eve were directly created and were ancestors for all human beings living on the Earth in later times is something that has never been called into question by pre-modern Sunni scholarship, and that this assumption accords with the apparent meaning of the texts of the Qur’an and Sunnah. This, then, can be regarded as the classical, orthodox Sunni position on the matter. The rest of the paper will take this to be the case and will not challenge it.

David Jalajel (2018) “Tawaqquf and Acceptance of Human Evolution” [5]

So, not only does Daniel misrepresent the Yaqeen articles on this subject, but the very paper he chooses to focus his criticism on already undermines everything he claims is problematic with the institute’s approach.

Daniel Commits Tahreef of Dr. Jalajel’s Statements

Daniel partially quotes a paragraph from Dr. Jalajel’s paper and accuses him of believing that Adam and Eve are “mythical”. But this is a clear case of the fallacy of quoting out of context,[6] because Dr. Jalajel is simply describing the beliefs of those he disagrees with. To showcase this, the reader should be reminded of the paragraph that comes prior to the one Daniel references, where Dr. Jalajel explicitly declares his acceptance of the orthodox position:[7]

From this point, the reader should be skeptical of Daniel’s accusation, because it is not logically possible for Dr. Jalajel to believe both the orthodox view that Adam and Eve are real and that they’re “mythical” simultaneously. So why then was the word brought up to begin with? We need only examine the full paragraph Daniel quotes from:

The reader will immediately notice that Dr. Jalajel brings up the word “mythical” to describe what “scientifically-minded critics” would argue. He then examines the meaning of the word, its negative connotations, and ultimately attempts to use the term as a tool to undermine the argument of said critics through an if/then (i.e. conditional) statement. He states clearly “If it could be argued that Adam and Eve are ‘mythical’…then by the same logic, it is impossible for science to critique the special creation of Adam and Eve”. But not only does Daniel leave out all the preceding context leading up to this sentence, he completely modifies the statement itself to make it appear as though Dr. Jalajel believes Adam and Eve are “mythical”. The reader should notice that Daniel only quotes the highlighted portion of the text, removing “If” and the dependent clause after the comma. He then capitalizes “it” and replaces the comma with a period, transforming an obvious conditional statement into a declarative one. This is nothing short of pure deception.

For those who may still not quite understand the problem here, let’s substitute Dr. Jalajels comments with the Qur’an, and then apply Daniel’s methodology. Utilizing the slides below, imagine someone quotes ayah 43:81, but removes the preceding context, the word “if”, and the dependent clause. Subsequently, they capitalize the second word and replace the comma with a period. The result? They conclude the Qur’an teaches “Allah had a son.” (Astaghfir’Allah). Would any sincere Muslim see this as and honest an legitimate means of criticism? No they would not.

Making Excuses for Dishonesty

It should be clear to the reader at this point that Daniel committed tahreef. He literally changed the words of Dr. Jalajels statement in his paper. This is obvious and indisputable. Not too long after Daniel published his “review,” a brother by the name of Rameez Abid found the above error and wrote about it in a Facebook post:[8]

Daniel subsequently responded to the above post in his follow up article, “Yaqeen Institute Promotes Evolution of Humanity from Apes”:[9]

Rather than admit his error, Daniel doubles down and attempts to justify his deceptive alterating of the statement. And how does he do this? By arguing that Dr. Jalajel “describe[s] Adam and Even as mythical throughout the paper” and that it’s “central to his whole argument”. But this is a red herring fallacy, or “a digression that leads the reasoner off the track of considering only relevant information,”[10] because it is not a proper defense against the accusation that he deliberately misrepresented that quote. Daniel literally modified a sentence, removing key words and a whole clause, to make it appear that Dr. Jalajel believed the very thing he was using to undermine his critics. And now, in addition to this, Daniel has the audacity to commit a straw man fallacy [11] by further misrepresenting the paper. How so? Daniel states that Dr. Jalajel claims that Adam and Eve are “mythical throughout his paper,” but the only place where the words “myth” or “mythical” are mentioned is in the very paragraph shown above where he is attempting to refute those who claim this. And secondly, at no point was this one paragraph “central” to the argument of his 9,000+ word essay.

Daniel goes on to to evade further:[12]

Daniel claims he “never accused” Dr. Jalajel of saying Adam and Eve were allegorical. But this is patently false, because he clearly does accuse him of this in his initial argument:

If Daniel never accused Dr. Jalajel of saying that Adam is “allegorical,” then why claim he and Yaqeen are “trying to introduce these same concepts to describe Adam”? The only “concepts” mentioned in this paragraph are “mythical” and “allegorical stories,” which some Christians and Jews adopt with respect to their own scriptures. Anyone with rudimentary English comprehension and basic reasoning skills can see the obvious deception here. A such, Daniel has committed the fallacy of hedging, which is when “you refine your claim simply to avoid counter evidence and then act as if your revised claim is the same as the original.”[13]

Perhaps more importantly, however, if Daniel truly “never accused” Dr. Jalajel of believing Adam and Eve were “myths” in the pejorative sense, why even bring this up as a problem to begin with? If Daniel truly knows that Dr. Jalajel holds the orthodox position with respect to Adam and Eve (i.e. that they existed, were miraculously created, and are the parents of all mankind), then why accuse him of deviancy?

Finally, Daniel recognizes that Dr. Jalajel himself responded in an article defending himself against these accusations.[14] Despite his passionate defense, however, Dr. Jalajel eventually felt forced to edit the document due to the confusion spread by Daniel and his followers. Daniel then proceeds to claim victory, completely oblivious (or apathetic) to the fact that had it not been for his flagrant dishonesty and the subsequent fitna caused by it, Dr. Jalajel wouldn’t have felt the need to clarify to begin with:[15]

What’s ironic about Daniel’s reasoning here is that he appears completely unaware of his own hypocrisy. If Yaqeen editing the paper vindicates him, then doesn’t his editing of Dr. Jalajel’s statements vindicate Yaqeen? Why distort his statements to begin with if the paper was clear enough to merit the accusations? Daniel’s conclusion is so absurd it undermines everything he’s argued for up until this point. As such, no amount of pitiable sophistry is going to save him from his slanderous error. “What a joke,” indeed.

But Daniel is already aware of his sophistry, because he consistently quotemines that one paragraph to make it appear as though each statement is scattered in various places of the article, having no immediate connection or context to the other. For example:

As the reader should recall, the quote Daniel is using here is the statement which comes immediately after the conditional sentence qua refutation of Dr. Jalajel’s critics. Yet, Daniel misframes it as though this is a point where the author is attempting to convince Muslims to accept human evolution, because he seemingly believes “Adam and Eve are myths”. As such, this is yet another fallacy of quoting out of context. That said, Daniel’s subsequent analysis of this quote is far more problematic.

Adam and Eve: Empirically Verifiable?

Daniel claims Dr. Jalajel’s is wrong to classify Adam and Eve as part of the ‘Unseen’. However, he is severely mistaken in doing so, openly contradicting the Qur’an’s explicit references to the beginning of creation and stories of Prophets being regarded as the ‘unseen’. This is apparent in numerous passages:

I did not make them witness to the creation of the heavens and the earth or to the creation of themselves, and I would not have taken the misguiders as assistants.

Al-Qur’an, 18:51

It was said, “O Noah, disembark in security from Us and blessings upon you and upon nations [descending] from those with you. But other nations [of them] We will grant enjoyment; then there will touch them from Us a painful punishment.” That is from the news of the unseen which We reveal to you, [O Muhammad]. You knew it not, neither you nor your people, before this. So be patient; indeed, the [best] outcome is for the righteous.

Al-Qur’an, 11:48-49

And he raised his parents upon the throne, and they bowed to him in prostration. And he said, “O my father, this is the explanation of my vision of before. My Lord has made it reality. And He was certainly good to me when He took me out of prison and brought you [here] from bedouin life after Satan had induced [estrangement] between me and my brothers. Indeed, my Lord is Subtle in what He wills. Indeed, it is He who is the Knowing, the Wise. My Lord, You have given me [something] of sovereignty and taught me of the interpretation of dreams. Creator of the heavens and earth, You are my protector in this world and in the Hereafter. Cause me to die a Muslim and join me with the righteous.” That is from the news of the unseen which We reveal, [O Muhammad], to you. And you were not with them when they put together their plan while they conspired.

Al-Qur’an, 12:100-102

That is from the news of the unseen which We reveal to you, [O Muhammad]. And you were not with them when they cast their pens as to which of them should be responsible for Mary. Nor were you with them when they disputed.

Al-Qur’an, 3:44

Anyone with rudimentary knowledge of orthodox Sunni creed knows that all of the matters mentioned above are regarded as “unseen”:

Of the matters of the unseen in the past: information about the creation of the heavens and the earth and Adam, and the story of Iblis, and then after that the stories of the Prophets who came before, and the previous nations.

Encyclopedia of Sunni Theology (2020) “News of the Unseen” [16]

Does Daniel believe that the Qur’an and Sunnah aren’t enough to confirm the existence of Adam and Eve? That we need the approval of “modern academics” who require “hard empirical evidence” to believe in the existence of our first father and mother? He appears to suggest as much in his response to Rameez:[17]

Here, Daniels reliance on his secular education appears to be taking precedence over the Qur’an and Sunnah. Ironically, by contesting clear evidence from Allah and the Islamic tradition, he reveals the lingering influence of an Atheistic Liberal paradigm for the necessity of empirical qua scientific verifiability. Does Daniel wish to continue disputing with the Qur’an and Sunnah regarding the status of Adam and Eve? Does he wish to dispute Allah and His Messenger (ﷺ)? Astaghfir’Allah.

Finally, his erroneous conclusion appears to come from a very basic error in logic known as a the fallacy of hypostatization, which is “inappropriately treating an abstract term as if it were a concrete one” and is a type of category mistake.[18] Daniel’s confusing the the term’s ontic usage with its epistemic one. In other words, although it is true that Adam and Eve aren’t like angels or jinn (i.e.categories of entities formally referred to as ‘Unseen’) they are empirically unverifiable by those who came after them (i.e. cannot be known by the senses).

A Lesson in Logic

Daniel attempts to explain the supposed logical implications behind Dr. Jalajel’s statements by providing three premises. He then asserts that the only conclusion one can come to is that Dr. Jalajel believes all of humanity are descended from both Adam and Eve and some “ape-like creatures in the distant evolutionary past”. However, this is a straw man fallacy. How so? Dr. Jalajel’s subsequent paragraph explains an example of how this would be possible:

If God created all the creatures by way of evolution and then decided to honor one individual member of one species by creating it ex nihilo, then there is no reason to assume that He would be obliged to furnish that individual with physical or genetic markers to set it and its descendants apart from their fellow creatures. A distinction enjoyed by Adam was the honor he had in God’s regard, but this was not necessarily due to some physical or mental characteristic, and even if it were, we have no way of pinpointing with any level of certainty what that characteristic might be. The distinctions that can be found in the hadith, as we have seen, are all honors that God bestowed on Adam, and not inherent physical or mental qualities. Therefore, the idea that Adam was directly created does not make his descendants any less a part of the broader biological human family that they are genetically a part of, any more than Jesus being born of a virgin makes him any less human—biologically or otherwise. Admittedly, Jesus’s miraculous birth has a direct consequence on his historical lineage—he is not attributed to the family of any man but rather called “the son of Mary”—but his membership in the broader human family is not in the least way compromised. [….]


Science, for its part, can only speak about the empirical evidence it finds, which indicates that Homo sapiens evolved from other hominid species. If an individual specimen of one species were created by God ex nihilo, this would leave no empirical trace for scientists to identify. For believers, it would be a miracle, grounded in scripture, and by definition, beyond the laws of nature—something which science cannot address and has no interest in exploring.

David Jalajel (2018) “Tawaqquf and Acceptance of Human Evolution” [19]

In other words, it’s very much possible that Allah could have simply created the Hominid species and then made Adam a separate creation with similar biological characteristics. So all human beings today are from Adam, but not from the other Hominid species. Thus, while scientists may classify Homo sapiens with specific genetic markers, this doesn’t necessitate that the Adamic variant evolved from a common ancestor. This is not at all difficult to comprehend and is quite within the realm of logical possibility. However, Daniel attempts to address this possibility with yet more fallacious reasoning:

Daniel states that Dr. Jalajel “confirms” his interpretation, which is clearly false. He then goes on to commit yet another straw man fallacy by insisting Dr. Jalajel believes the reader may potentially not be from the line of Adam, but “descended from pre-hominid apes”. But as was shown earlier, Dr. Jalajel already conceded that every human being on earth today is a descendant of Adam. Again, for emphasis:

So no, this is not “undiluted deviance,” but Daniel refusing to accept the fact that Allah can do as He pleases and that the Adamic creation can share properties with other living beings without necessarily being related to them. Do we not have hearts like other animals do? Lungs to breathe oxygen? Brains to think and manage our organs? Digestive systems to consume food and water? Did not Allah make Adam from the substance of the Earth itself (i.e. dirt)? Does Daniel believe mankind is only special because we have different genetics? If Daniel concedes the possibility of this scenario, then he concedes the debate and undermines his entire argument.

Evolving Integrity Any Time Soon?

Daniel commits yet another straw man fallacy by suggesting Dr. Jalajel accuses every Muslim in history of “not understanding the Quranic account of Adam’s creation,” because they all “understood the creation of Adam as a biological origin of humanity”. But this is patently false. Dr. Jalajel only accuses contemporary Muslims of reading too much into the Qur’an on account of being faced “with the question of human biological origins” related to the preceding discussion on the nature of evolutionary theory and common ancestry, not biological origins per se. The nature of this question is made clear in the paper:

The same distinction between theological and scientific considerations applies to the belief that the people on Earth today are descended from Adam. This is, as we have determined, the position of classical Islamic theology. Anyone who believes this cannot doubt that Adam’s descendants have diversified in color, stature, and physical appearance as they spread throughout the Earth. In the absence of any unequivocal textual evidence describing Adam’s earliest descendants in detail, there would be no way to gauge the extent or rate of genetic and phenotypic change that has taken place among Adam’s later progeny. Therefore, scriptural evidence cannot be used by theologians to indicate whether Adam’s earliest descendants would have been classified biologically as Homo sapiens or possibly as some earlier human species. This means that theologians would not attempt answers to questions like whether Homo neanderthalis were from Adam’s descendants, any more than they could argue whether or not creatures that scientists would classify as being biologically Homo sapiens had already evolved on Earth and were populating it before Adam’s arrival upon it. All the evidence for hominid evolution, up to and including the evolution of Homo sapiens in a direct line of descent, is empirical, and there is nothing in Islamic scriptures that confirms or contradicts the existence of those hominids. Consequently, it is not a matter of religious belief to accept or reject the scientific account of hominid evolution up to and including organisms which are taxonomically Homo sapiens. It remains purely a scientific question. From a scriptural standpoint, it is not possible to determine precisely when Adam and Eve made their appearance on Earth nor whether they may have met any pre-existing hominid species.

David Jalajel (2018) “Tawaqquf and Acceptance of Human Evolution” [20]

Daniel continues building his straw man:

A shown prior, not only was Dr. Jalajel discussing contemporary biological theories, but believing the evolutionary account of Hominid origins is not mutually exclusive to believing in the existence of a distinct and unrelated Adamic variant.

Daniel goes on to write:

Here, Daniel makes four egregious errors. First, he essentially accuses Dr. Jalajel of lacking expertise in his own field, when in fact he was a lecturer in Islamic Theology and Legal Theory in Darl-Uloom Cape Town, South Africa,[21] unlike Daniel whose credentials only qualify him to lecture on Youtube and have thus far proven he’s incapable of comprehending basic Islamic creed (e.g. “Adam and Eve are not ‘Unseen'”):

Second, he commits the fallacy of equivocation [22] by framing the word “possible” as meaning ‘permissible’, whereas Dr. Jalajel is using it to mean ‘conceivable’. Third, he complains that Dr. Jalajel shouldn’t refer to said possibility as “some Muslims,” because their views are heterodox. However, Daniel yet again showcases his ignorance of orthodox Sunni creed. Just because someone holds a heterodox belief (even one of kufr) this does not automatically make them a kafir, because they may simply have a misinterpretation that requires clarification prior to judgment of their status as Muslims.[23] And finally, Daniel commits yet another fallacy of quoting out of context, because he isolates this statement from Dr. Jalajel’s other possibilities and ultimate conclusion that said position is heterodox:

As such, this should be sufficient for any serious student of knowledge to understand what is expected of someone to be and remain Muslim.

Finally, Daniel concludes his criticisms with the following:

Daniel accuses Dr. Jalajel of wanting to accept some “status quo,” attempting to negatively read into his intentions and motivations. But this is a type of ad hominem fallacy known as the vested interest fallacy, which is “when a person argues that someone’s claim is incorrect or their recommended action is not worthy of being followed because the person is motivated by their interest in gaining something by it, with the implication that were it not for this vested interest then the person wouldn’t make the claim or recommend the action.”[24]

In conclusion, Daniel’s assessment of Yaqeen Institute’s views on evolution is marred by dishonest portrayals of the entire collection and, more specifically, Dr. Jalajel. Even after being called out for his deceptive tactics, he chose to double down, refusing to admit to any fault through additional misrepresentation. Even Dr. Jalajel was humble enough to edit his paper despite the false accusation, but Daniel could not even be bothered to entertain the possibility of being wrong. Furthermore, he commits to a number of inconsistencies when discussing the Islamic tradition’s position on Adam and Eve, unwittingly contradicting the Qur’an and Sunnah with his ignorant claims. As such, Daniel should engage less in critically evaluating his peers and more in critically evaluating his own understanding and unethical behavior.


SUMMARY:

  • Commit the fallacy of suppressed evidence by claiming “nowhere does Yaqeen convey that accepting the evolution of human beings from another species is Islamically unacceptable,” despite evidence to the contrary
  • Commits the fallacy of quoting out of context by altering Dr. Jalajel’s statements, thereby ascribing to him the belief that Adam and Eve are “mythical,” despite the fact that he was simply using his critics own argument against them.
  • In response to criticism against his deceptive tactics, he doubles down with a red herring fallacy by arguing it was justified for him to alter the quote because Dr. Jalajel “describe[s] Adam and Eve as mythical throughout the paper” and that it’s “central to his whole argument”.
  • Likewise commits a straw man fallacy by mischaracterizing the nature of Dr. Jalajel’s argument, because the word “mythical” was only used in one paragraph when discussing the evaluation of critics.
  • Commits the fallacy of hedging by denying he ever accused Dr. Jalajel of claiming/believing Adam and Eve were “allegorical,” contrary to the obvious.
  • Undermines his own argument by suggesting Dr. Jalajel’s editing of his paper to clarify vindicates the accuser, without realizing his own edits of the latter’s statements vindicate Dr. Jalajel and Yaqeen Institute.
  • Commits another fallacy of quoting out of context by rendering Dr. Jalajel’s statements about “Biologist are not concerned with mythical beings…” as a means to persuade Muslims to accept evolutionary theory, when in fact it was a continuation of his refutation of his critics.
  • Erroneously claims that Adam and Eve are not of the Unseen and Dr. Jalajel is mistaken, despite Quranic evidence to the contrary, unwittingly disparaging Allah and His Messenger.
  • Ironically holds to Atheistic-Liberal sentiments necessitating empirical qua scientific verifiability.
  • Commits the fallacy of hypostatization by confusing the ontic meaning of the word ‘unseen’ with its epistemic meaning.
  • Commits another straw man fallacy by suggesting the only logical implication behind Dr. Jalajel’s views is that the Adamic creation shares descendants with “ape-like creatures,” despite evidence to the contrary.
  • Commits another straw man fallacy by insisting Dr. Jalajel believes the reader could possibly be of non-Adamic descent, despite evidence to the contrary.
  • Unwittingly limits the Power and Wisdom of Allah by mocking the possibility that Adamic creation could possess similar traits to hominids without being related.
  • Commits another straw man fallacy by suggesting suggesting Dr. Jalajel accuses every Muslim in history of “not understanding the Quranic account of Adam’s creation,” because they all “understood the creation of Adam as a biological origin of humanity,” despite evidence to the contrary.
  • Wrongfully accuses Dr. Jalajel of lacking qualification in aqida when he posses the credentials to teach Islamic Theology and Legal Theory in Darl-Uloom Cape Town, South Africa.
  • Doesn’t realize his own lack of credentials and how that affects his understanding of aqida (e.g. “Adam and Eve are not ‘Unseen'”).
  • Complains that Dr. Jalajel doesn’t make takfir, yet doesn’t comprehend there is no established justification for doing so (yet) according to orthodox creed.
  • Likewise commits another fallacy of quoting out of context, despite Dr. Jalajel concluding that it is heterodox to deny the special creation of Adam.
  • Commits the fallacy of vested interest by ascribing negative intentions and motivations to Dr. Jalajel.

Section Errors: 19 / TOTAL: 153

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Daniel’s Windmill

“Fortune is directing our affairs even better than we could have wished: for you can see over there, good friend Sancho Panza, a place where stand thirty or more monstrous giants with whom I intend to fight a battle and whose lives I intend to take; and with the booty we shall begin to prosper. For this is a just war, and it is a great service to God to wipe such a wicked breed from the face of the earth.” [….]


“Look you here,” Sancho retorted, “those over there aren’t giants. they’re windmills, and what look to you like arms are sails – when the wind turns them they make the milestone go round.”


“It is perfectly clear,” replied Don Quixote, “that you are but a raw novice in this matter of adventures. They are giants; and if you are frightened, you can take yourself away and say your prayers while I engage them in fierce and arduous combat.”

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (2018) The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha, Trans. John Rutherford, pp. 63-64.

For over a decade I have dedicated myself to the defense of Allah, His Messenger (ﷺ), and the ummah against the vulgar and hateful propaganda of Islamophobes. As a result, I learned a great deal about their mentality and tactics over the years, meticulously deconstructing their erroneous claims through the use of my education in philosophy, which Allah blessed me to have. This is the reason why I joined Yaqeen Institute, utilizing it as a platform to continue dismantling doubts and strengthening the iman of my brothers and sisters. As such, I never thought the day would come where I would have to focus my attention on the beliefs and actions of a fellow Muslim.

As I mulled over Daniel Haqiqatjou’s “review” of Yaqeen Institute, I not only felt betrayed, but utterly disappointed with what was presented to me. Here I saw a graduate of Harvard and Tufts University completely violating the academic codes of conduct he swore to uphold in acceptance of his credentials. I still cannot fathom how someone of his aptitude would resort to such fallacious reasoning and dishonest representations of his intellectual opposition. More egregious still, I could not believe my brother in faith would resort to the very same tactics employed by our enemies – tactics so obvious that, having memorized the various polemics of Robert Spencer, David Wood, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Pamela Geller, etc. over the years, there were times during my writing of this missive where I literally had to remind myself I was responding to a Muslim.

I cannot say with certainty that Daniel Haqiqatjou is some “disgruntled ex-employee” of Yaqeen Institute, nor do I care any longer if that’s the case. But what I can say with certainty is that his desire to combat the reactionary hegemony of Secular Liberalism has led him to become a reactionary himself, totally devoid of any semblance of integrity or honor. His obsession with the institute and its seeming “liberal tendencies” strikes me as in the very least misguided, if not bordering on pathologically delusional. Not only is there no evidence for his abrasive accusations of many of its fellows, but he has systematically undermined himself and his agenda in almost every conceivable way through the publication of his duplicitous “review”. As Allah states in the Qur’an:

Do not mix truth with falsehood or hide the truth knowingly.

Al-Qur’an, 2:42

Although I must concede, without any hesitation, that Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research is by no means perfect or without error. It is young and it is growing. It’s fellows and staff are human and therefore fallible. I have seen them make mistakes, err in judgments, and at times express themselves in anger, fear, and even tears. But at no point have I ever met any of them who exhibited a lack of integrity or honor in their sworn dedication to Islam and the Muslim ummah. While we may never agree on everything, I can safely say I am the worst among them, for they inspire me to be a better Muslim every day. As such, their reputations are far more valuable to me than my own. Unlike Daniel, who proudly declares he “sleeps like a baby” because he has no regrets, the members of Yaqeen Institute I’ve come to know and love over the years have always struck me as individuals who take their deen seriously, encouraging one another to fear Allah, willing to accept criticism for their flaws and correct them accordingly. They do this because they abide by the Sunnah of our Prophet (ﷺ):

Aisha narrated: “There was no behavior more hated to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) than lying. A man would lie in narrating something in the presence of the Prophet (ﷺ), and he would not be content until he knew that he had repented.”

Jami` at-Tirmidhi, 1973

What can be said of Daniel Haqiqatjou, who spends his time unjustly destroying the reputations of his spiritual family members? Would the scholars of old have accepted his behavior? Would they have accepted knowledge from him? Or would they have warned against him? In the narration of hadith, integrity was paramount the validity of a source. As Abu Bakr Kahtib al-Baghdadi states:

One who lies about something besides the hadith of the Messenger of Allah (s), his narrations are rejected. We have previously mentioned the opinion of (Imam) Malik ibn Anas in that regard. His hadith must be accepted if his repentance is (publicly) confirmed…Abdullah ibn Mubarak said: Among the punishments of a habitual liar is that he is rejected even when he is honest.

Abu Bakr Aḥmad ibn ʻAli Khatib al-Baghdadi (1970) Al-Kifayah fi ’Ilm al-Riwayah, p. 117.

And of course, narrating hadith is not exactly the same as what you claim of other Muslims, but is it not a proper analogy with regard to those we should take knowledge from? Is the honor of a Muslim not sacred? Are not the heirs of the Prophet (ﷺ) due respect? Do we truly wish to say that dishonesty against each other is acceptable as long as it doesn’t pertain to hadith? Where is the gheerah for the Prophet (ﷺ) and his Sunnah if we deny his hatred for such a vice?

But even if the reader doesn’t find this good enough reason to reject Daniel Haqiqatjou’s teachings, they must accept the overwhelming evidence presented in this missive. In other words, if a lowly student of knowledge like myself can completely eviscerate the arguments of him and his twelve member team of “Muslim Skeptics,” what does that say about the quality of their scholarship and the value of their opinions?

Advising the Ummah

O you who have believed, if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful.

Al-Qur’an, 49:6

Asalaamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

First I wish to thank you all for taking the time to sincerely read over this missive and grasp its contents. Many these days are apathetic towards properly comprehending a text, and you should be commended for your efforts. That said, I do not wish to take up too much more of your time. I only ask that if you believe the contents of this document that you defend its integrity. Many may attempt to destroy my reputation in response, thinking that by dishonoring me they can undermine everything I’ve stated herein. You may even witness these smear tactics. As such, I only ask that you do not concern yourself with my reputation, but the reputation of my peers – that you defend the integrity of this document for their sake, not my own. I give my reputation to them freely for for the sake of the truth, and I only desire that this missive not be belittled by such tactics.

Some of you reading this may be my students or friends. You know me very well and you know that I hold to my integrity more than anything else. You have witnessed me refute the enemies of Allah in the past with utmost precision and honesty, and you have even witnessed me apologize to those enemies when I have done them wrong. For all the flaws that I may possess, you know that lying is not one of them. So please, trust this document, even if you can no longer see much good in me because of those who try to poison the well.

As for those who support Daniel and have contributed to his dishonest tactics and propaganda, I ask you to reconsider your loyalties and repent to Allah for the shameful judgements you’ve made against my peers, based not on honest mistakes, but your own willful ignorance. The mere fact that I had to write this missive is a damning testament to that, because none of this would have needed explaining if most of you just took the time and effort to read beyond a meme or a few sentences from one of his articles. I say this with disappointment, but also with hope that you will do the right thing and cocede. May Allah guide you.

As for every single of you, my brothers and sisters, you have an obligation to stand against injustice, especially when one Muslim oppresses another. As the Qur’an declares:

And if two groups of believers fight each other, then make peace between them. But if one of them transgresses against the other, then fight against the transgressing group until they ˹are willing to˺ submit to the rule of Allah. If they do so, then make peace between both ˹groups˺ in all fairness and act justly. Surely Allah loves those who uphold justice.

Al-Qur’an, 49:9

So please, do not be passive. We cannot allow such tactics to become the standard of our dawah. We must stand for Truth, not sully it with the methods of our enemies. Not only must we fight against the lies of Islamophobes, but we must fight from becoming like them. We are Muslims, and if we do not value the Truth above falsehood, then what value do our convictions hold?

With that said, I human and therefore flawed. Thus, this document too must be flawed. As such, where I have erred, I request from all of you to correct me. And if it is as you say, I will do so and provide a statement of correction in the ‘Update’ section of this document.

Advising Daniel Haqiqatjou

Narrated ‘Abdullah: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Truthfulness leads to righteousness, and righteousness leads to Paradise. And a man keeps on telling the truth until he becomes a truthful person. Falsehood leads to Al-Fajur (i.e. wickedness, evil-doing), and Al-Fajur (wickedness) leads to the (Hell) Fire, and a man may keep on telling lies till he is written before Allah, a liar.”

Sahih Bukhari, 6094

Asalaamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh, Brother Daniel.

First, I want to emphasize that we are brothers in Islam. Even if things are a bit heated right now, we must strive to love one another for the sake of Allah. We have certain rights and obligations towards each other, and I hope that you understand that this work was written in the spirit of upholding truth and defending the reputations of my peers from lies and distortions. This work was not written for the purpose of disparaging you, but rather as a clarification of the many falsehoods that originated from your pen. I pray that Allah accepts this work and forgives me if my intentions ever wavered. And I ask for forgiveness for anything I may have said that violated your honor. Allah knows I have thought about this much during the writing of this missive, and I have been burdened by this task in every waking moment, feeling no other desire but to finish it so that I might retreat into solace.

Second, I would like to offer you some brotherly advice, as our deen is naseeha. Please have an open mind to the critiques laid out. Putting our emotions aside, the truth is the truth, and that’s all that matters. Please try to remove any animosity from your heart. You need to understand that I wrote this all in defense of those you’ve treated unjustly. So please, if you acknowledge any of the errors that I have documented in this missive, I implore you make those corrections, apologize to those you’ve wronged, remove the content from wherever it may be published, and of course, turn to Allah in sincere repentance, for He is All-Forgiving. If you do this (and I know that this is not an easy thing to do, trust me), perhaps He will open up His doors of mercy to you, strengthening you and granting you a greater purpose in service of our deen.

Lastly, I would like to share a vision for the future. Allah gave you the gift of a sharp intellect. You should be using it to combat the ills of Liberalism with greater integrity. You don’t have to engage in these unethical tactics, because they are beneath your capabilities. Please, reaffirm your commitment to academic standards so that you can be a true defender of the Truth. There is a great deal of fitna out in the world for Muslims to deal with, and it should not be because of what we bring upon ourselves. It would be an inspiring example for the next generation to watch this conflict end, because I believe you could be a great asset to this da’wah, if only you could concede that your current methods are without merit and unsustainable. Of course, this does not mean that we should ignore the ills within (we must rectify our internal affairs as well, as I am trying to do now), but let us agree that going forward, any accusations towards your fellow brothers and sisters are to be thoroughly validated prior to public announcement, and that whatever the issue, it is as it is understood by the author or speaker, lest we wrongly accuse someone of deviance. Know that we carry the flesh of our brothers and sisters to present before Allah on the Day of Judgment, and He will ask why we filled our stomachs with their honor. As such, let us take advantage of the presence of senior scholars from our community and not deride them as they are the heirs of the Prophet (ﷺ). Even if they may be flawed, they are the protectors of our tradition, and we will lose it when they pass. So let us make shura with them regarding our understanding of the deen and where issues may fall into deviance or legitimate ikhtilaf, because soon Allah will take them from us, and we will no longer be blessed with their wisdom.

I do have an optimistic vision of the future, although I have chosen to no longer be part of it. However, I truly believe that if you follow the guidelines I’ve expressed above, you can me among those who unite and return this ummah to glory. And I would certainly love to live long enough to witness that.

May Allah unite our hearts on Islam. Ameen.

The believers are but one brotherhood, so make peace between your brothers. And be mindful of Allah so you may be shown mercy.

Al-Qur’an, 49:10

As a gesture of good will, and as evidence I only intend good for you, I will remove this document from the public eye and never speak of it again if you heed my advice. However, if you insist on doing otherwise, know that I give my reputation freely to defend my peers and seek refuge in Allah from whatever you have planned for me. And I I pray He guides you to a better way and rewards me for my struggles.

Advising Myself

Abu Darda reported: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Whoever defends the reputation of his brother, Allah will defend his face from the Hellfire on the Day of Resurrection.”

Sunan al-Tirmidhi, 1931

Finally, and this may come as a surprise to the reader, but in spite of everything said and done, I do not consider myself superior to Daniel or any other believer. Rather, I believe my own sins and shortcomings to be numerous and I consider it more urgent to advise myself to repent to Allah before anyone else. I know I am flawed and my past is filled with mistakes. If someone were to respond to this by highlighting my sins, shortcomings, blunders and lowly state, I welcome it so that I may seek rectification in this life than face Allah’s punishment in the next.

And this is why I intend for this to be my final refutation. For the last twelve years I have been submerged in the poison of debate, suffocating in the darkness of conflict and never ending antagonism. I have known very little peace within the refutation culture of dawah, increasingly becoming spiritually numb by the day. I no longer have the mental or emotional strength to continue – and I fear that if I don’t stop now, I may lose myself completely to hatred or apathy. I thank Allah that I have at least been able to keep to the two principles I hold dear: honor and integrity. For these have allowed me to remain consistent and capable of coming to this decision. Although I will always have love for dawah, I have chosen to resign myself to the solace of the Qur’an and the memorization of ahadith, so that I may finally become the Muslim I’ve always desired to be. Meanwhile, I may now finally have the time to work on my garden, insh’Allah.

I pray this missive is of benefit to everyone, including myself. I pray that my efforts towards defending the reputations of my brothers and sisters will tip the scales in my favor when I meet Allah. And most of all, I pray I never have to do this ever again.

Jazak’Allahu Khairan,

Asadullah Ali al-Andalusi


Bibliography

SECTION 1

  1. https://muslimskeptic.com/2020/04/20/yaqeen-institute-review/
  2. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/yaqeen-institute/meet-the-editorial-board-and-peer-review-committee/

[Back to Section]


SECTION 1.2

  1. Al-Biqa’i (1987) Masa’id al-Nadhr ila Maqasid al-Suwar, V.1, pp. 104-5.

[Back to Section]


SECTION 1.3

  1. https://muslimskeptic.com/2020/04/20/yaqeen-institute-review/
  2. https://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/
  3. https://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#TraditionalWisdom
  4. https://www.alasna.org/courses/jadil-program-level-1

[Back to Section]


SECTION 2.1

  1. https://muslimskeptic.com/2020/04/20/yaqeen-institute-review/#Sharia
  2. https://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#Scope
  3. https://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#Black-or-White
  4. https://sunnah.com/abudawud/43/39
  5. https://sunnah.com/bukhari/78/40
  6. https://sunnah.com/muslim/45/70
  7. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/omar-suleiman/faithful-activism-a-sunnah-framework/
  8. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/divine-duty-islam-and-social-justice/
  9. https://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#QuotingoutofContext
  10. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/omar-edward-moad/honored-since-adam-islam-and-the-value-of-human-freedom/
  11. https://abdullahalandalusi.com/2013/09/19/false-coins/
  12. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/humanism
  13. https://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#ConfirmationBias
  14. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/category/islamic-sciences/spirituality-and-psychology/
  15. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/category/islamic-sciences/islamic-theology/
  16. https://muslimskeptic.com/2020/04/20/yaqeen-institute-review/#Interfaith%20and%20Pluralism

[Back to Section]


SECTION 2.2

  1. https://muslimskeptic.com/2020/04/20/yaqeen-institute-review/#Takfir%20is
  2. https://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#StrawMan
  3. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/forever-on-trial-islam-and-the-charge-of-violence/
  4. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/difference-of-opinion-where-do-we-draw-the-line/
  5. https://islamweb.net/ar/library/index.php?page=bookcontents&ID=234&idfrom=0&idto=0&flag=1&bk_no=53&ayano=0&surano=0&bookhad=0
  6. https://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#Hedging
  7. https://muslimskeptic.com/2020/04/20/yaqeen-institute-review/#Disclaimers

[Back to Section]


SECTION 2.3

  1. https://muslimskeptic.com/2020/04/20/yaqeen-institute-review/#Mixing%20Liberalism
  2. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/omar-edward-moad/honored-since-adam-islam-and-the-value-of-human-freedom/
  3. https://muslimskeptic.com/2020/04/20/yaqeen-institute-review/#Humans%20Have%20God-Like%20Powers
  4. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/faatimah-knight/and-we-created-you-in-pairs-islam-and-the-gender-question/
  5. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/omar-edward-moad/honored-since-adam-islam-and-the-value-of-human-freedom/
  6. “Takfir is Contrary to Islam” (Section 2.2)
  7. https://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#StrawMan
  8. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/perennial
  9. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arsfQWaz1PM, 5:55-6:00
  10. https://muslimskeptic.com/2018/12/13/traitors-in-our-midst-the-scholars-of-colonization/
  11. https://www.taseelcommons.com/philosophy/empire-of-desire-technology-capitalism-and-perennial-moral-challenge
  12. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Four-Noble-Truths
  13. https://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#Intensional
  14. https://sunnah.com/bukhari/63/124
  15. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/omar-edward-moad/honored-since-adam-islam-and-the-value-of-human-freedom/
  16. https://sunnah.com/bukhari/63/124
  17. https://sunnah.com/ibnmajah/36/140
  18. Ibn Rajab (2007) “Mistakes, Forgetfulness and Coercion,” in The Compendium of Knowledge and Wisdom, Trans. Abassamad Clarke, p. 641
  19. Ibid, p. 648
  20. Jamaal al-Din Zarabozo (1999) Commentary on the Forth Hadith of Al-Nawawi, V.2, p. 1234
  21. https://sunnah.com/muslim/33/218
  22. https://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#FalseAnalogy
  23. https://www.iep.utm.edu/foucfem/#H1
  24. https://www.iep.utm.edu/foucfem/
  25. https://www.facebook.com/haqiqatjou/posts/2071446816407363
  26. I want to be clear that I’m not averse to utilizing the thoughts of any thinker as long as they don’t circumvent the Qur’an and Sunnah. In the event where the Qur’an, Sunnah, and our traditional scholars are clear on matters essential to the deen, any ideas opposing them should be discarded. As such, Daniel shouldn’t be using Foucault to define coercion (ikhraah) and then applying that to our understanding of submission to Allah (i.e. Islam).
  27. https://muslimskeptic.com/2017/06/08/678/
  28. https://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#QuotingoutofContext
  29. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/omar-edward-moad/honored-since-adam-islam-and-the-value-of-human-freedom/

[Back to Section]


SECTION 2.4

  1. https://muslimskeptic.com/2020/04/20/yaqeen-institute-review/#Fiqh%20Is
  2. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/difference-of-opinion-where-do-we-draw-the-line/
  3. https://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#StrawMan
  4. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/difference-of-opinion-where-do-we-draw-the-line/#ftnt_ref112
  5. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/difference-of-opinion-where-do-we-draw-the-line/#ftnt_ref2
  6. https://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#SuppressedEvidence
  7. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/omar-edward-moad/honored-since-adam-islam-and-the-value-of-human-freedom/
  8. https://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#NonSequitur
  9. https://www.iep.utm.edu/hume-cau/
  10. https://www.iep.utm.edu/kantview/#SH2b
  11. https://www.iep.utm.edu/reidmind/
  12. https://www.iep.utm.edu/occasion/
  13. https://brill.com/view/title/55796
  14. https://twitter.com/Haqiqatjou/status/1246492913095315457
  15. https://www.iep.utm.edu/epistemo/
  16. https://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#Equivocation
  17. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/difference-of-opinion-where-do-we-draw-the-line/
  18. Ibid
  19. https://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#IrrelevantConclusion
  20. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/forever-on-trial-islam-and-the-charge-of-violence/#ftnt24
  21. https://muslimskeptic.com/2020/04/20/yaqeen-institute-review/#Fiqh%20Is
  22. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/difference-of-opinion-where-do-we-draw-the-line/#ftnt_ref110
  23. https://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#QuotingoutofContext

[Back to Section]


SECTION 2.5

  1. https://muslimskeptic.com/2020/04/20/yaqeen-institute-review/#Hudud%20Are
  2. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/jonathan-brown/stoning-and-hand-cutting-understanding-the-hudud-and-the-shariah-in-islam/
  3. Ibid
  4. https://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/validity
  5. https://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#StrawMan
  6. https://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#NonSequitur
  7. Azhar Wan Ahmad (2003) Public Interests (Al-Masalih al-Mursalah) in Islamic Jurisprudence: An Analysis of the Concept in the Shafi’i School (Kuala Lumpur: International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization, 2003), pp. 27-28.
  8. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/jonathan-brown/stoning-and-hand-cutting-understanding-the-hudud-and-the-shariah-in-islam/
  9. Ibid
  10. Ibid
  11. https://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#AdHominem
  12. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/jonathan-brown/stoning-and-hand-cutting-understanding-the-hudud-and-the-shariah-in-islam/
  13. https://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#QuotingoutofContext
  14. https://www.collinsdictionary.com/us/dictionary/english/nothing-more-than
  15. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/jonathan-brown/stoning-and-hand-cutting-understanding-the-hudud-and-the-shariah-in-islam/
  16. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/essentially
  17. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/essentially
  18. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obsolete
  19. Ibn Uthaymeen (2002) Sharh al-Mumti, 14:257.
  20. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/forever-on-trial-islam-and-the-charge-of-violence/
  21. The hadith may also be found here: https://sunnah.com/malik/41
  22. Ibid.
  23. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/circumspect
  24. https://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#IrrelevantConclusion
  25. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/jonathan-brown/stoning-and-hand-cutting-understanding-the-hudud-and-the-shariah-in-islam/
  26. https://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#AppealtoIgnorance
  27. https://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#ConfirmationBias
  28. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/jonathan-brown/stoning-and-hand-cutting-understanding-the-hudud-and-the-shariah-in-islam/
  29. https://musafurber.com/2019/04/24/imam-al-subkis-long-list-of-requirements-for-amputation-for-theft-all-ambiguities-matter-fact-or-fiqhtion/
  30. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2875204942520354
  31. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/jonathan-brown/stoning-and-hand-cutting-understanding-the-hudud-and-the-shariah-in-islam/
  32. https://musafurber.com/2019/04/24/imam-al-subkis-long-list-of-requirements-for-amputation-for-theft-all-ambiguities-matter-fact-or-fiqhtion/
  33. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/jonathan-brown/stoning-and-hand-cutting-understanding-the-hudud-and-the-shariah-in-islam/

[Back to Section]


SECTION 2.7

  1. https://muslimskeptic.com/2020/04/20/yaqeen-institute-review/#Islam%20Supports
  2. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/justin-parrott/the-guiding-principles-of-faith-sincerity-honesty-and-good-will-in-islam/
  3. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/justin-parrott/the-guiding-principles-of-faith-sincerity-honesty-and-good-will-in-islam/
  4. https://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#QuotingoutofContext

[Back to Section]


SECTION 2.8

  1. https://muslimskeptic.com/2020/04/20/yaqeen-institute-review/#post-4050-footnote-ref-236
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9d6sZJRNYQ, 2:06 – 4:34
  3. https://sunnah.com/muslim/40/13
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9d6sZJRNYQ, 11:32 – 14:15
  5. https://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#NonSequitur
  6. https://web.archive.org/web/20190426034849/https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/forever-on-trial-islam-and-the-charge-of-violence/
  7. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/forever-on-trial-islam-and-the-charge-of-violence/
  8. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/divine-duty-islam-and-social-justice/
  9. https://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#StrawMan
  10. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yeNFrOZTSE, 3:00:18 – 3:02:07 & https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpaAjvqVz4U
  11. https://oneworld-publications.com/slavery-and-islam.html
  12. https://muslimmatters.org/2017/02/16/apology-without-apologetics-jonathan-brown/

[Back to Section]


SECTION 2.10

  1. https://muslimskeptic.com/2020/04/20/yaqeen-institute-review/#Confusing%20al
  2. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/forever-on-trial-islam-and-the-charge-of-violence/
  3. https://iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#StrawMan
  4. https://web.archive.org/web/20190426034849/https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/forever-on-trial-islam-and-the-charge-of-violence/
  5. https://iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#SuppressedEvidence

[Back to Section]


SECTION 2.11

  1. https://muslimskeptic.com/2020/04/20/yaqeen-institute-review/#Allah%20May
  2. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/jonathan-brown/the-fate-of-non-muslims-perspectives-on-salvation-outside-of-islam/
  3. https://www.academia.edu/36158073/A_Review_of_Jonathan_Browns_Perspectives_on_Salvation_Outside_of_Islam_
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydlkVMTtN30, 6:43 – 6:55
  5. https://iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#VestedInterest
  6. https://sunnah.com/bukhari/23/114
  7. https://iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#StrawMan
  8. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/jonathan-brown/the-fate-of-non-muslims-perspectives-on-salvation-outside-of-islam/#ftnt_ref40
  9. https://iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#SuppressedEvidence
  10. The word ‘Islamic’ in academia is often synonymous with the word ‘Islamicate,’ or “pertaining to Islam” in some form or fashion. For example, ‘Islamic Studies’ programs in secular universities don’t just teach orthodox views, but also examine heterodox positions in relation to the mainstream, the history of Islamicate civilization, art, science, literature, and the practices of Muslim populations. For a more comprehensive understanding of how ‘Islamic’ is generally used (and misused) in academia, refer to Shahab Ahmed (2016) What is Islam? The Importance of Being Islamic, published by Princeton University Press.
  11. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/jonathan-brown/the-fate-of-non-muslims-perspectives-on-salvation-outside-of-islam/#ftnt_ref40
  12. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/jonathan-brown/the-fate-of-non-muslims-perspectives-on-salvation-outside-of-islam/#ftnt_ref17
  13. https://www.academia.edu/36158073/A_Review_of_Jonathan_Browns_Perspectives_on_Salvation_Outside_of_Islam_
  14. https://enterthesunnah.com/2018/04/04/when-yaqeen-leads-to-doubt/#_ftn6
  15. https://iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#QuotingoutofContext
  16. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/jonathan-brown/the-fate-of-non-muslims-perspectives-on-salvation-outside-of-islam/#ftnt_ref36
  17. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/jonathan-brown/the-fate-of-non-muslims-perspectives-on-salvation-outside-of-islam/
  18. https://sunnah.com/muslim/1/247
  19. https://www.facebook.com/jonathanacbrown/posts/10156208447784850
  20. https://www.facebook.com/elshinawy.mohammad/posts/1637271809675446
  21. https://www.facebook.com/mobeen.vaid/posts/968500523325377
  22. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jXye1-Wbug, 1:09:00 – 1:09:56
  23. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/yaqeen-institute/updated-papers/
  24. Daniel Haqiqatjou & Dilly Hussein (2020) “Daniel Haqiqatjou | “Beef” with Yaqeen Institute | Blood Brothers #39,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6Uql5ZuJbE, 2:20:40 – 2:20:56.
  25. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/jonathan-brown/the-fate-of-non-muslims-perspectives-on-salvation-outside-of-islam/#ftnt_ref51
  26. Hatem al-Haj (2018) “Stephen Hawking, Islam, Salvific Exclusivity, and Facebook,” https://www.facebook.com/drhatemalhaj/posts/stephen-hawking-islam-salvific-exclusivity-and-facebookbismillahi-wanted-to-shar/1616272665123355/

[Back to Section]


SECTION 2.12

  1. https://muslimskeptic.com/2020/04/20/yaqeen-institute-review/#Striking
  2. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/women-in-islamic-law-examining-five-prevalent-myths/#ftnt_ref26
  3. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/women-in-islamic-law-examining-five-prevalent-myths/#ftnt_ref47
  4. https://iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#QuotingoutofContext
  5. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/team/dr-nazir-khan/
  6. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/team/sh-tahir-wyatt/
  7. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/team/sh-yasir-fahmy/
  8. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/team/mufti-abdul-rehman-waheed/
  9. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/team/dr-hatem-elhaj/
  10. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6Uql5ZuJbE, 1:42:30 – 1:43:37
  11. https://iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#StrawMan
  12. Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (2005) Fath al-Bari, V.11, p. 641
  13. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/beating
  14. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/women-in-islamic-law-examining-five-prevalent-myths/#ftnt_ref38
  15. https://iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#JumpingtoConclusions
  16. Husayn al-Awayishah (1990) Sharh Sahih al-Adab al-Mufrad, 1:35
  17. https://sunnah.com/abudawud/12/101
  18. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/women-in-islamic-law-examining-five-prevalent-myths/#ftnt_ref40

[Back to Section]


SECTION 4.1

  1. https://muslimskeptic.com/2020/04/20/yaqeen-institute-review/#Yaqeen%20Articles
  2. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/margarita-rosa/duas-of-the-enslaved-a-journey-through-images/
  3. https://muslimskeptic.com/2017/06/08/678/
  4. https://muslimskeptic.com/reading-list/

[Back to Section]


SECTION 4.2

  1. https://muslimskeptic.com/2020/04/20/yaqeen-institute-review/#Leaders%20in
  2. https://www.irtis.org.uk/about-irtis/team/
  3. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/arnold-yasin-mol/aisha-ra-the-case-for-an-older-age-in-sunni-hadith-scholarship/

[Back to Section]


SECTION 4.3

  1. https://muslimskeptic.com/2020/04/20/yaqeen-institute-review/#Jazz%20Musicians
  2. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/ieasha-prime/cultural-muslim-icons-and-islam-in-the-lyrics-islam-and-the-black-american/ & https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=25&v=ZlPdCp6GDLw&feature=emb_logo
  3. Ibid.
  4. https://twitter.com/haqiqatjou/status/1129912354425249792
  5. https://muslimskeptic.com/2019/10/15/omar-suleiman-lgbt-rights-yaqeen-muslims/
  6. Omar Suleiman (2019) “Questions About My Political Activism,” https://muslimmatters.org/2019/10/17/questions-about-my-political-activism-imam-omar-suleiman/
  7. https://iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#QuotingoutofContext
  8. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/ieasha-prime/cultural-muslim-icons-and-islam-in-the-lyrics-islam-and-the-black-american/, 1:02 – 1:34

[Back to Section]


SECTION 4.4

  1. https://muslimskeptic.com/2020/04/20/yaqeen-institute-review/#Glamour%20Hijabi
  2. https://www.thebalancecareers.com/how-to-become-a-glamour-model-2379404
  3. http://modelingadvice.com/typesOfModeling.html
  4. https://www.collinsdictionary.com/us/dictionary/english/glamour-model
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glamour_photography
  6. https://modelingwisdom.com/what-is-glamour-modeling
  7. https://www.facebook.com/haqiqatjou/posts/2788039838081387
  8. https://www.alasna.org/courses/match-made-in-janna?fbclid=IwAR2D_hAzeMwlvU4rJG8mdzvMYiPtVdle1iysjmAyy98WwDPASOBoXM7C0VE
  9. https://twitter.com/Haqiqatjou/status/1170352321567571971
  10. https://muslimskeptic.com/2019/04/02/muslimgirl-and-friends-wage-ideological-war-on-the-muslim-community/
  11. https://muslimskeptic.com/2019/04/04/dalia-mogaheds-response-to-our-muslimgirl-article-touting-ispus-pro-lgbt-advocacy/
  12. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6d-qaSkmtB0
  13. https://www.facebook.com/haqiqatjou/photos/a.1647337535484962/2717401215145250/
  14. https://muslimskeptic.com/2019/04/02/muslimgirl-and-friends-wage-ideological-war-on-the-muslim-community/
  15. https://muslimskeptic.com/2019/04/04/dalia-mogaheds-response-to-our-muslimgirl-article-touting-ispus-pro-lgbt-advocacy/
  16. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6d-qaSkmtB0, 3:53-4:20
  17. https://twitter.com/Haqiqatjou/status/1262828644659015690
  18. https://www.academia.edu/14279430/Islamic_Sexual_Ethics_and_Homosexuality
  19. https://gaymuslims.wordpress.com/2009/07/14/imam-al-ghazali/
  20. https://sunnah.com/bukhari/79/2

[Back to Section]


SECTION 4.5

  1. https://muslimskeptic.com/2020/04/20/yaqeen-institute-review/#Mixed
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_JZwggKF7Q
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rpo6lNEEcf8
  4. The Appendix can also be found here: https://www.amjaonline.org/declaration-articles/decisions-and-recommendations-of-amjas-sixth-annual-convention-canada/

[Back to Section]


SECTION 4.6

  1. https://muslimskeptic.com/2020/04/20/yaqeen-institute-review/#Desi%20and
  2. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nisa-muhammad/black-and-muslim-how-chaplains-can-empower-marginalized-students/
  3. https://iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#AppealtoEmotions

[Back to Section]


SECTION 5

  1. https://muslimskeptic.com/2020/04/20/yaqeen-institute-review/#Ties%20to%20CVE%20and%20Counter%20Extremism
  2. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/tarekyounis/counter-radicalization-a-critical-look-into-a-racist-new-industry/
  3. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nour-soubani/what-is-islamophobia-the-politics-of-anti-muslim-racism/
  4. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/navedbakali/islamophobia-and-the-law-unpacking-structural-islamophobia/
  5. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/toddgreen/why-dont-muslims-condemn-terrorism-western-violence-and-scapegoating-in-an-age-of-islamophobia/
  6. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/omar-suleiman/questions-about-my-political-activism/
  7. http://drjonathanbrown.com/2017/moderate-islam-muslim-american-leadership-reflections-before-the-deluge/
  8. https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/02/04/im-a-muslim-not-a-terrorist-so-why-did-the-nypd-spy-on-me-for-years/

[Back to Section]


SECTION 5.1

  1. https://muslimskeptic.com/2020/04/20/yaqeen-institute-review/#Yaqeen%E2%80%99s%20Alignment%20with%20Counter%20Radicalization/Extremism
  2. https://iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#SuppressedEvidence
  3. https://iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#StrawMan
  4. https://iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#CumHoc,ErgoPropterHoc
  5. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/youssef-chouhoud/what-causes-muslims-to-doubt-islam-a-quantitative-analysis/
  6. https://iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#Equivocation
  7. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/religious
  8. https://www.amjaonline.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Final-Tough-Conversations-Daniel-Haqiqatjou-formatted.pdf

[Back to Section]


SECTION 5.2

  1. https://muslimskeptic.com/2020/04/20/yaqeen-institute-review/#Dalia%20Mogahed
  2. https://www.facebook.com/imamomarsuleiman/posts/3280541448632540
  3. https://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/hsac_cve_working_group_recommendations.pdf
  4. https://news.gallup.com/poll/157067/views-violence.aspx & https://news.gallup.com/poll/149369/religion-not-color-views-violence.aspx
  5. https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/why-countering-violent-extremism-programs-are-bad-policy
  6. https://iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#SuppressedEvidence
  7. https://iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#NonSequitur
  8. Atheist Republic (2019) “Islam Unboxed – Part 1 (With Imam Tawhidi, Daniel Haqiqatjou, and Armin Navabi), https://www.facebook.com/AtheistRepublic/videos/1110343359138491/
  9. https://www.ispu.org/public-policy/equal-treatment/
  10. Ibid.
  11. https://iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#GuiltbyAssociation
  12. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsNZ8oea8Hs, 1:18 – 2:25.
  13. https://www.facebook.com/haqiqatjou/posts/1779167422301972
  14. https://www.jstor.org/stable/42763198
  15. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoO0oZ5PNZM, 53:12 – 54:17.
  16. https://iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#RedHerring

[Back to Section]


SECTION 5.3

  1. https://muslimskeptic.com/2020/04/20/yaqeen-institute-review/#Yaqeen%20Collaborates%20with%20CPOST
  2. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/omar-suleiman/questions-about-my-political-activism/
  3. https://iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#JumpingtoConclusions

[Back to Section]


SECTION 5.4

  1. https://muslimskeptic.com/2020/04/20/yaqeen-institute-review/#WISE
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJKKVK267MU, 8:10 – 9:14.
  3. https://twitter.com/Dr_Maha_Hilal/status/923656679803244544

[Back to Section]


SECTION 5.5

  1. https://muslimskeptic.com/2020/04/20/yaqeen-institute-review/#WISE
  2. https://www.linkedin.com/in/juliorivera77/
  3. See Robert Pape (2005) Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism & (2010) Cutting the Fuse: The Explosion of Global Suicide Terrorism and How to Stop It

[Back to Section]


SECTION 6

  1. https://muslimskeptic.com/2020/04/20/yaqeen-institute-review/#Mother%20of%20the%20Believers,%20Aisha,%20Married%20When%2018%20Years%20Old
  2. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/collections/collection-more-than-just-a-number-perspectives-on-the-age-of-aisha/
  3. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/hatem-al-haj/in-defense-of-faith-principles-and-guidelines-for-islamic-apologetics/
  4. ibid
  5. ibid
  6. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/faraz-malik/the-age-of-aisha-ra-rejecting-historical-revisionism-and-modernist-presumptions/

[Back to Section]


SECTION 7

  1. https://muslimskeptic.com/2020/04/20/yaqeen-institute-review/#Evolution%20Is
  2. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/dr-david-solomon-jalajel/tawaqquf-and-acceptance-of-human-evolution/
  3. https://iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#SuppressedEvidence
  4. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/nazir-khan/human-origins-theological-conclusions-and-empirical-limitations/
  5. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/dr-david-solomon-jalajel/tawaqquf-and-acceptance-of-human-evolution/#ftnt_ref16
  6. https://iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#QuotingoutofContext
  7. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/dr-david-solomon-jalajel/tawaqquf-and-acceptance-of-human-evolution/#ftnt_ref16
  8. https://www.facebook.com/rz4321/posts/10158145227610973
  9. https://muslimskeptic.com/2020/08/06/yaqeen-supports-evolution/
  10. https://iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#RedHerring
  11. https://iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#StrawMan
  12. https://muslimskeptic.com/2020/08/06/yaqeen-supports-evolution/
  13. David Jalajel (2020) “Adam Is No ‘Myth’,” https://asadullahali.com/2020/08/07/adam-is-no-myth/
  14. https://iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#Hedging
  15. https://twitter.com/Haqiqatjou/status/1292162445100945408
  16. https://tinyurl.com/yxpq27kx
  17. https://muslimskeptic.com/2020/08/06/yaqeen-supports-evolution/
  18. https://iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#Hypostatization
  19. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/dr-david-solomon-jalajel/tawaqquf-and-acceptance-of-human-evolution/
  20. Ibid.
  21. Ibid.
  22. https://iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#Equivocation
  23. Abu Ala-al-Rashid (2004) Dawabit al-Takfir al-Mu’ayyan ‘inda Shaykhay ibn Taymiyyah wa ibn ‘Abd al-Wahab wa ‘Ulama al-Da’wa al-Islahiyah, pp. 59-69.
  24. https://iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#VestedInterest

[Back to Section]


Updates

  • CORRECTION (8.31.2020)
    Footnote #16 of Section (7) linked to the wrong website. It has since been changed.
  • ALLOCATION OF ERRORS (8.17.2020)
    Removed two errors/arguments from Section (5.2), so to be placed in the future Section (3) discussing LGBT. Error count has been adjusted accordingly.
  • NEW PUBLICATION (8.17.2020)
    Sections (5.0-5.5), discussing Yaqeen Institute and CVE, have finally been added and the error count adjusted accordingly.
  • CORRECTION (8.10.2020):
    It was brought to my attention that the quote I used from Ibn Juzayy in Section (2.11) didn’t fit the context of Dr. Brown’s original argument and hence has been removed and the error count adjusted accordingly:

.

  • This is a response by Dr. David Jalajel to criticisms of his paper.
  • For further clarification, please refer to Dr. Jalajel’s podcast on the subject.

I wish to discuss some confusion that has been circulating through social media, alleging that my article describes Adam (peace be upon him) as a “myth”, or alternatively, that it claims Adam is supposed to be taken allegorically. Nothing can be further from the truth. I have been encouraged to respond to these allegations by Asadullah Ali, Shoaib Malik, and others.

My purpose for writing the 2018 paper was to look at the question of human evolution strictly from a classical Sunni theological perspective, meaning the Ash`ari, Maturidi, and Athari/Salfi viewpoints. Essentially, I wanted to ask how would scholars like al-Ghazali, al-Nasafi, and Ibn Taymiyah have dealt with the issue of human evolution if they had been confronted with the question in their day?

I then identified an important principle that the three classical Sunni schools agree upon. When it comes to matters known to us only by way of scripture, Muslims are to believe what the scriptures say but make no assumptions about matters the scriptures are silent about. This is the principle of theological non-commitment (tawaqquf). To apply this principle, it is crucial to understand what the Qur’an and authentic Sunnah are saying and what they are not saying.

So, I began by discussing the various Qur’anic verses and hadith on the subject and the understandings that classical Muslim scholars had about them, and I concluded the following:

  1. Adam was created directly from clay/dirt.
  2. Adam and Eve were both created without parents.
  3. All people on Earth today, without exception, are direct descendants of Adam and Eve.

I conclude this section by saying:

This paragraph, in fact comes immediately before the paragraph that has become a point of contention. It clearly says that the rest of the paper “will not challenge” these propositions.

Then I start the next paragraph – the one that is being confused, by asking a question:

Here I am asking, if we as Muslims believe these things about Adam and Eve, what do the scientists have to say about it?

I go on to say:

Here I am bringing up a response often heard from scientifically-minded people. They call it a myth because it cannot be empirically proven. They do this to dismiss it. I even say that many of them mean it pejoratively, that they intend it as an insult. Footnote [17] attributes this adjective use to no other than Richard Dawkins:

Here is his statement. He is clearly using the word “myth” pejoratively, He wants to discredit the concept of original sin. He does so by attributing it to the “myth” of Adam and Eve.

Since I repeatedly say in my paper that I am exploring the issue exclusively from a traditional Sunni perspective, it is strange how someone can assume I am adopting Dawkins’ perspective, and from The God Delusion no less!

I then go on to unpack their claim, saying:

Here I make it clear that their only gripe with us is that we are taking our knowledge of Adam from the Qur’an. I also show that the truth value of something received in that way depends on the truth-value of the source. If you believe the source, then it is true for you. We admit that we have no other proof for Adam than the Qur’an and Sunnah. That is all we need. We believe the Qur’an is the word of God and so we believe in Adam.

Why do I say that their accusation, in spite of being mean-hearted and a bad choice of words, is “reminiscent of the way Sunni theologians have always looked at them”? Why am I making this statement? It is because I am throwing their accusation back at them. In more colloquial terms, I am saying to them: You are telling us that Adam is a “myth” only because we believe in him because of the Qur’an. Well, to that we say: “Guilty as charged! We believe Adam is real, because the Qur’an tells us he is.”

Then I turn their argument against them:

Here I say, if you wish to call Adam a “myth”, then by your own admission, you scientists have to keep quiet about him. Science does not deal with “myths” but only with empirical evidence. So, if you call him a “myth”, you have just taken yourself out of the conversation! You have nothing more to say. Keep out of it.

It is interesting to note that my if-then argument was misquoted in a work of criticism written against my article. It states the following:

You will notice that the word “if” is removed from the beginning of the sentence, but the author obligingly capitalises the next word for the sake of grammar! (or maybe to give the impression that nothing is missing from the beginning?) Then the author deletes the entire second half of the sentence that starts with “then”, and which answers the “if”, and places a tidy full-stop punctuation where he does so, so that no one will ever suspect that there was more to come.

What is ironic, is that even after these major alterations to the text, it still does not have me saying that Adam is a myth. It just says that the term can only be taken in the sense that belief in Adam and Eve rests on our belief in “the divine origins of the texts”. THE DIVINE ORIGINS OF THE TEXTS! Therefore, not only does the author misquote me. He then has to misinterpret his misquote!

Getting back to what I really said, you might ask: Why am I making my if-then argument? Who am I addressing?

Ever since I wrote my book, Islam & Biological Evolution back in 2009, my severest critics have been a number of scientifically-minded Muslims who are harsh on traditional Islam and who reject the possibility that God can work miracles. They have accused me of “Creationism” and of contradicting scientific fact.

I wrote this paragraph to refute them. I am arguing that they can have no scientific evidence about Adam and Eve and their creation, because scientific evidence is limited to empirical evidence. They can never produce that evidence one way or the other. They need to keep quiet. However, they accuse me of contradicting science. Please consider the following critique of my book by Nidhal Guessoum in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia:

[Jalajel says:] “Science can never hope to be able to determine the manner in which a single human being, Adam,… was specifically created … What the sacred texts say about the creation of Adam has led classical scholars to the conclusion that his creation was unique, even miraculous.” He adds: “there is no reason to assume that the creation of Adam had to follow the same pattern as the creation of other life forms.” Needless to say, this fully contradicts not only the whole scientific perspective on the subject, but tons of empirical evidence as well.

Nidhal Guessoum (2016) “Islamic Theological Views on Darwinian Evolution,” Religion: Oxford Research Encyclopedias.

You can see that he quotes where I mention Adam’s miraculous creation. He is focusing on Adam, not on human evolution or anything else, just the idea that Adam was created miraculously without parents, and then he says that this particular point “…contradicts the whole scientific perspective…” — on Adam? — as well as “…tons of empirical evidence…”. Again, is he claiming that he has tons of empirical evidence relating to Adam’s parents or lack thereof? I would love to see it. I wrote my paragraph to tell people of this persuasion that they do not have such evidence, they can never have such evidence, and they cannot tell believers in Adam’s miraculous creation that they are opposed to science. Science has nothing to say about it one way or the other. (Please note that I am not saying Guessoum considers Adam to be a myth, just that he claims Adam’s miraculous creation is contrary to science).

I hope it is clear now that I never said Adam is a “myth”. I never said he was “allegorical”. In my article, I repeatedly emphasise that the story of Adam and Eve is to be understood as true and on its face value, that they are two real people created directly without parents and that all human beings on the Earth today are their descendants. I never even insinuated anything else.

However, to make matters clearer, I have made a few minor adjustments to the paragraph. It still says the same thing, but hopefully with a wording that is easier to understand, and more difficult to doctor. This will be how it will appear henceforth on the Yaqeen website. (The new version will be distinguished in print and PDF by having a 2018 as well as 2020 copyright date):

Does this conclusion, however, conflict with the prevailing scientific account of human evolutionary origins? Since belief in the existence of two particular individuals called Adam and Eve, for traditional Sunni Muslims, rests squarely upon the revealed texts, some scientifically-minded critics of this belief describe it as “mythology” and certainly, many of them intend the term pejoratively. However, they make this accusation based solely on the fact that what we know about Adam and the events associated with him are by way of a received narrative and not by way of empirical evidence. This says nothing about the actual truth-value of the claim made about the person or event. What matters is whether you believe the source. Sunni theologians have always looked at Adam and Eve as a matter of the Unseen which comes under the category of the samʿiyyat, something that is known to us exclusively through scriptural sources without any empirical evidence, and accepted by believers on the strength of faith.


Actually, these scientists’ argument backfires on them if they are trying to deny Adam’s existence “scientifically.” In fact, it is against them. If they wish to say that Adam and Eve are “mythical,” then by their own admission, it is impossible for them to employ science to critique Adam and Eve’s special creation. Biologists are not—and cannot—be concerned with what their perspective would classify as “mythical beings.” Scientists can only deal with the empirical world. It would be ludicrous for a biologist to argue the merits or demerits of various theories regarding the “mythical” origins of “mythical” people or to talk about the “scientific” evidence for their existence, since no such empirical evidence can conceivably exist. The only time a scientist could think of objecting to a “myth” is where people use it to explain particular natural phenomena. As long as that is not the case, then these scientists have no grounds on which to argue. They need to keep out of it. Consequently, there can be no scientific objection to the idea that Adam and Eve were created miraculously without parents. Such an argument would take scientists far outside of their field.

Forthcoming Edit

I pray that this puts an end to the confusion and allows people to consider my article’s thesis on the value of its merits.

iJihad #1

Lost in Time-Translation

Let’s say that you had the ability to travel back in time and wanted to visit somewhere in the 7th century. Your purpose? You desire to better the future by explaining the true nature of the world (as understood by your superior 22nd century brain) to people in the past.

So, you hop into your DeLorean and travel back 1500 years to desert Arabia. Upon reaching the tormenting heat of the peninsula, you encounter a small group of Bedouin pitching their tents. Astonished at the flash of light and you suddenly materializing, they stand in awe, averting their gaze as though they’ve just seen an angel sent by God.

You calm them down as best as you can (with your nifty futuristic translator) and inform them that you were “sent from the future through a quantum tunnel to better their primitive lives and advance global civilization”.

They look at you in a confused state, wondering what you even mean by your statement.

Noticing their puzzlement, you realize you’ll need to explain things in far simpler terminology so that they might better comprehend your vast knowledge. You remind yourself that your scientific vernacular would not be developed or comprehended in full for another millennia and a half. As such, you need to explain things to them in a language they can easily understand; relying on their own relative experiences as a reference point.

So you begin. Many of the things you attempt to explain they appear largely disinterested in. For example, the moment you start discussing the shape of the earth, they react apathetically. Some of them even laugh, wondering if what you’re saying is even relevant to their lives.

One of the Bedouin even interjects, asking you, “How can I increase the yield of my harvest?”

Another asks, “How can I make better weapons than my enemies?”

And yet another asks, “How can I lead a good life?”

You begin to grow frustrated, but then realize that you’ve taken for granted many of the things people during this time consider a luxury — most of all your 120 year lifespan. Many of the 30 year olds before you are essentially your elders, despite you being a healthy 75.

Still, you attempt to impart to them some wisdom. Maybe, just maybe, if you explained one invention of the future, they might develop it sooner than your timeline.

“Airplanes!” you think to yourself excitedly. You’ll tell them about airplanes.

So you begin to inform them about the invention of maned flight. First, they laugh at you, asking: “Man will fly? That sounds like magic!” You protest, stating that it’s very possible.

They inquire further, “How will this be possible?”

Attempting to break down the language as best as you can in accordance with their 7th century experiences, you explain how an airplane works: “It’s a giant metal bird which doesn’t flap its wings!”

They laugh, wondering how a bird can be made of metal and not flap its wings, but you continue.

“It flies by shooting fire out of its butt!”

They laugh harder.

“And it carries people in its belly!”

At this point they’re on the ground rolling in laughter. Angered by their primitive minds, you announce that you are in fact an angel sent from God and that they should believe you. They pause, reflecting on how you arrived, your strange clothing and means of transportation. Convinced by your claims, they apologize and accept.

Sighing with relief, you bid them farewell, hoping they will eventually take this knowledge and build a better world with it. You then return to your DeLorean and go back to the future.

Upon arriving back home, you realize nothing has changed. It’s exactly the same as you recall. How could this be? Didn’t you impart to them great scientific knowledge?

You begin to wonder what went wrong, so you go on the internet looking for any historical accounts of your visit to 7th century Arabia. Your first search result is a FutureTube video by some kid mocking ancient cultures. The title reads “The Man-Eating Metal Bird Cult of the 7th Century”.

You click the video, listening to the young vlogger describe the myths of these 7th century Bedouin and how they were informed by an angel of the existence of giant metal birds in the future which shoot fire out of their butts and carry people in their bellies. He laughs, eventually concluding his commentary by insulting the messenger:

“Whoever told them these things was scientifically illiterate! What an idiot!”

You close the video, scoffing at the young man’s ignorance regarding how communication and language work.

Fin

Abstract:This paper examines contemporary arguments attempting to justify or discredit the scientific credibility of the Qur’an. Special consideration is given to Surah 86:5-7, which discusses the genesis of mankind through reproductive fluids emitted from “between the backbone and the ribs”. Many contemporary Muslim apologists reference these verses as evidence of the Qur’an’s miraculous scientific nature, while many anti-Islam polemicists believe it proof of its scientific inaccuracy. This paper argues both these approaches erroneous as neither conform to the scope of the Qur’an’s intended message nor to the classical scholarly tradition of Quranic exegesis. Based on intertextual and extratextual evidence it is argued that the phrase “between the backbone and the ribs” should be interpreted as a euphemism for sexual relations between parents and as an allusion to humanity’s first parents, Adam and Eve.

PDF Download

Introduction

The first time I read the Qur’an was sometime back in 2008 when I was still completing my undergraduate degree in philosophy. At the time I was attending a private Catholic University run by a local Benedictine monastery. It was a highly academic institution, yet tranquil and devout – minus the occasional tipsy monk who would wander on to the school grounds. I recall him greeting the students with red cheeks and hearty laughs while he discussed the finer details of Christian theology in our local student cafeteria. I never partook in these disoriented conversations but noticed them from afar. If anything, the contradiction of virtue and drunkenness put a smile on my face. I would compare his state of being to my thoughts on religion at the time – when I started to lose my faith in Christianity. And although my degree wasn’t necessarily the reason for my apostasy, it was beneficial in my journey to Islam. My degree was all about critical thinking and rationally assessing the thoughts of man. It certainly assisted me in reconciling many doubts I had about the conception of a triune god, the divinity of Jesus, and the authority of the Church. But it was the Qur’an which eventually brought my doubts to rest through the clarity and beauty of its message.

“Was it the Qur’an mentioning the Big Bang? Was it when the Qur’an mentioned embryology? Was it when it mentioned the boundary between fresh and salt water?” are inquiries I often receive from Muslims regarding my reversion to Islam. For the over a decade now, my answer has remained the same. I give them a puzzled look and a frank response: “No, nothing of the sort.” The subsequent reaction to my comment is usually a mix between stunned confusion and an incredulous smile; a foreshadowing of an inevitable lecture on the Qur’an’s “scientific miracles” to relieve me of my ignorance.

Now, to be fair, I never saw these impromptu orations as ill-intended – quite the contrary – but they always brought to mind an unfortunate reality that many Muslims believe that science is the measure of the Qur’an’s divine nature, and that nothing else about the Qur’an really matters. And in those moments I feel like my religion has been cheapened; completely undermined by superficial appeals to modern sensibilities.

You see, it never occurred to me that the Qur’an was miraculous because it revealed scientific truths. In fact, it never occurred to me that there was science therein to begin with. I have literally never read the Qur’an in this fashion. From the very first moment I opened a translation of the Qur’an and began reading Surah Al-Fatihah till the very end of Sura An-Nas, not one ayah, not one word, not one iota of the Revelations screamed out “science!” Rather, every utterance appeared to be referencing common sense observations, the life of the Prophet (ﷺ)  and his companions, or stories from previous scriptures. And to this day – as I now read it in Arabic – it still appears to me in this manner, albeit far more eloquently than before.

What strikes me as miraculous is the Qur’an’s coherency, its prose, and its power to influence, a power so remarkably other-worldly that it molded a seemingly insignificant group of desert dwelling merchants and farmers to fashion the most cosmopolitan civilization overnight, to overcome two of the most powerful empires of antiquity in only a few decades, and to expand a following beyond the boundaries of an arid land to the farthest points on earth; from the lushest jungles, to the greenest pastures, atop the highest mountains, through the tongues of every major known language, indiscriminate of every shade of skin, young and old, rich or poor.

This is why I grimace when I read tabloid apologetics attempting to justify the Qur’an through contemporary science. For me, these sort of arguments obscure the beauty of the Revelation and rob it of its timeless message, reducing it to a set of ‘facts’ understandable only by those of us privileged to live in the 21st century. But for something to be timeless, it needs to be understood by everyone, including the generations preceding us. However, proponents of these arguments will claim that the Qur’an’s meanings are so vast that it can reveal itself differently to different people at different times in various ways. Although I agree with this notion to a degree, I believe many Muslims today have extended this principle beyond its intended scope, suggesting not only that the Prophet (ﷺ)  and his companions were oblivious to these interpretations – thereby indirectly implying them to be more ignorant than ourselves – but that the Qur’an’s message is ultimately relative and unfixed. To me, such claims make the Qur’an appear capricious and a slave to the subjective lens of its readers, rather than allowing the Revelation to speak for itself.

Unsurprisingly, contemporary scholars on Qur’anic exegesis (both secular and religious) affirm my sentiments and cite historical precedent as evidence. For example, the late Andrew Rippin (d. 2016) contrast current exegetical trends with the classical scholarly tradition:

As an aside, it may be noted that especially some modern Qur’an interpreters have taken advantage of this flexibility of Arabic in their desire to derive modern science from the text of the Qur’an. This emphasizes a fundamental point that an exercise that considers the issue of historical context must be clear about its goals. Those who argue for science in the Qur’an generally take the position that while the historical context of the Qur’an is relevant, it does not dictate that the text was fully understandable in the time of Muhammad. Such interpreters more commonly take the approach of asserting that there are multiple meanings to the text and that a more ‘true’ meaning – a divinely intended message – has become apparent only in today’s context. For most classical Muslim commentators, however, historical context is linked to contemporary intelligibility: that is, the life and milieu of Muhammad sets the context, and the text as intelligible to Muhammad himself (even if not all of his compatriots, let alone those who came later, fully understood the finer points of the text). So, it is a fundamental axiom of classical interpretation that Muhammad understood the text (to the extent that God allowed him access to its meaning) and that it ‘made sense’ within his historical context; that is, of course, a legal point in essence, embedded in the concept of Sunna, Muhammad’s practice, which was in full accord with the Qur’an and God’s wishes – Muhammad as the living Qur’an – but it also applies at the grammatical and textual level.[1]

As such, I find it surprising that others are surprised by my lack of enthusiasm for “scientific miracles” in the Qur’an. Not only is it an approach that has only been recently popularized since the 19th century (a topic that will not be discussed in detail), it lacks any real justification – such a reading is wholly unnatural to the intentions and scope of the Quranic message per intertextual and extratextual evidence. In step with this understanding, any notion of “scientific errors” should automatically be disregarded as well given that if the intention behind a text were to exclude any expression of scientific information it would be impossible to regard said text as “scientifically inaccurate