I was setting the table for lunch for my sister and I when I got the text message. It hit me like a wave at first, and then I said astaghfirullah. I quickly thought about it for a minute, drafted and sent my brief reaction message to the sender. And then resumed with the lunch for which I had slaved away two hours in the kitchen. I thought that that was probably more worth my time. And it certainly was. (DM me for my kabsa recipe, no pressure :p) There was no hyperventilating. No tears. No gasping. No omg, I need to blast this to all my contacts and share and retweet this to everyone I know so that this Earth is cleansed of haraj.
Ok it’s silly to hit ’round the bush now. It’s been a little less than 2 days since the international Muslim community was hit by a most devastating news which I’m not even going to attempt to censor since it’s all over the interweb already -the Nouman Ali Khan controversy. Woah. I never thought this day would come. Neither did he, I think.
You see, I was never a fanatic. Not for a long period of time, anyway. I am the kind of person who hardly gets obsessed over a personality, or a tv/book series, or a gadget what have you. (Except maybe the Apple brand, let’s make an exception for that. >.<). Although I never saw NAK as the scholar to learn all of one’s deen from, he certainly is a scholar of the Book of Allah for he had studied it in a certain kind of depth. Having said that, some people saw him as the only scholar they could relate to. My Chinese convert friend saw him as that. His lectures gave her hope, gave her more reason and logic than any scholar did give her in terms of affirmation. I can only imagine how she would receive this news.
When I finished reading the open letter of Omer M. Mozaffar, my honest and first thoughts were this: 1. Who is this person making all these claims? 2. How can I verify this atrocious claim? and things along those lines. I saw it as too risky of a message and never thought to even promulgate this message elsewhere. It felt too wrong. My fitrah said so. I didn’t even know that people were already sharing it by the hundreds on Facebook and on other social medias. So imagine my shock when I saw it on some of my friends’ walls uttering statements of disbelief, disgust and horror. Now I’ll know how these friends will react to if someone had posted something venomous about me. Hm.
At this point no one had yet read other sources. They simply hit the share button and took the news at face-value. Whatever claim of ‘years of thorough investigation’ this person has made- whether it is true or not should not even qualify as the ultimate truth. To my surprise people took his words without question and believed it. What further irritated me was the kind of commentary people wrote: “do not attach your deen to a personality..” and things along those lines. Let’s be real though. Is that REALLY the first thing people think of when this news comes to their knowledge? That their deen is over? Have we underestimated our community that much? Yes there are those who idolized NAK, but to associate NAK entirely to one’s deen is freaking stupid. Excuse my French. Over ONE NEWS of a Muslim figure, you think people are renouncing their shahadah? People’s reactions baffled me to the core because I thought people were smarter than this. And by these people I mean those who aren’t NAK’s fans to begin with. Some saw it as an opportunity to support their previous hunches- he didn’t dress sunnah anyways, he didn’t study in Madinah anyways. I also thought it would have been better for them to react like this: “How do know if this isn’t a slander?” “What is the point of this public message?” “Can anyone vouch for this brother’s words?”. Honestly I was disappointed.
With a single message exposing the sins of a brother, all hell broke lose. It suddenly gave people the opportunity to discuss his sins openly, thereby committing gheeba (backbiting) and then putting him down as if they had never done a single wrong thing in their years of living. With a single Facebook post, our brother in Islam’s honour is not just besmirched, but open to the wolves to devour whilst he wasn’t given a chance to defend it when it is his right to do so.
One of the many things about this br. Omer’s message that stood out to me was how vague he was. What kind of inappropriateness did he mean? Many of you know that I have worked in (not just with) several different Muslim organizations and I have had direct contact with many shuyookh. My friends who go through my contacts list on my phone know that I have some of the community’s most revered shuyookh’s personal numbers for work purposes. And I can tell you with full confidence- not that I was ever a victim in this, perhaps I’m not their cup of tea lol (ok sorry) but I have full knowledge of this phenomena if you want to call it that- that 6/10 of these “scholars” have made unnecessary contact with some of my female colleagues. Some of which are consensual (again, this word which was used by br. Omer triggers many thoughts, and I’m using it for the pun). This occurrence is pretty damn rampant, if you must know. Some of it were in the form of harassment in which the immediate course of action I often had to take is to report them to the correct ‘authorities’. Most of these ‘shuyookh’ that do do this kind of dodgy things though (with the exception of 1 or 2) were visiting ones; meaning they only fly in once for a job (conference or talk) and then leave after the job’s finished. (meaning to say that those who were permanent in the organizations that I’d worked with were mostly ala tareeq mustaqeem inshaAllah). True story- I’ve had a close person to a international qaari come to me after seeing that I was part of the event the said qaari was invited to, confessing every dirty little secret of this qaari. I had a hard time believing it even with hard evidences, but my point is, these things happen. Even to the best of us. Sigh. I forget that this kind of information is not something the public is often privy to, and so it might shock them, as they have in this case. But it didn’t surprise me. Not because I accept it, but because I have seen it many times before. It still doesn’t make it right, yes, but they are human beings and I have full belief that from a case-to-case basis, what knowledge I have taken from them, will not be rendered invalid. And my duty when this happens is to mind my own sins and move on with my life.
I’ve always seen Nouman Ali Khan as a smart, academic man, who happened to find the Book of Allah a linguistic miracle and genuinely wanted to share it with people and saw that creating Bayyinah would proliferate his ajr. Plus, Allah has gifted him with eloquence and with a tongue fluent in the language that appeals to the youth today. I am appalled at all the people who were quick to call it all a scam or that he is a fraudster. I don’t know about them, but he’s quite the scammer then, isn’t he? What with all the blood and sweat put into researching and diving into books of tafaseer and seerah and then putting together a whole organization with all of these materials that would become his life devotion.
Every night in Ramadan for the past 2 years, my family and I would watch and listen to one of his series in our shared Bayyinah account, although our favourite was Sh Omar Suleiman’s. But nevertheless we listened to him all the same (although sometimes he can be too American in nomenclature, we found). I personally prefer the more stricter shuyookh, but for family sake, I am okay. Ya3nee in short I never had a problem with him. And if I really had to be honest, my only issue with him was when he would give all of those miracle numbers regarding verses or tafseer/sharh of verses which I’m sure us in the Malay and Desi community are used to hearing on the daily. Even that, if he can prove it well, you can’t totally disregard it. You have to know that the Quran is miraculous in all aspects- mathematically, linguistically, semantically etc, even though some are weightier than others.
What do these people of camp of anti-NAK expect people like my Chinese convert friend to do? Or my family for that matter? Or my new-to-Islam born-Muslim neighbour who had put on the hijab after hearing NAK speak at an event? Or my friend who has juast asked me to donate to her Bayyinah Dream scholarship? Should we delete our accounts and dissociate ourselves from him and his work? Should I break it to all of these people that this man they have trusted in is in fact, so evil? At his last event in KL, tafseer of Surah Taha, I, along with some other friends had promised to memorize a page of the Quran after taking a picture of him (yeah weird consequence for a weird millenial tullab-al-ilm action, but it was a good deal, wouldn’t you agree?). I am ashamed to say that I’m still working on it (because I chose a difficult Surah in a pact I made with a friend lol) but am I still tied to this promise or am I now relieved of it, hmm? Camp anti-NAK would say I am relieved of this bid’ah deal.
I know people will tell me “but this Shaykh has verified it, and this Shaykh verified it..” Look hun, it was NOT zina, ok? Because if it was, then these people carrying out the allegations on their tongues would have had to have SEEN the act happening and I bloody well doubt that THAT many people would have been invited to such a scene. (Thanks to br.Omer’s ambiguous choice of words). Now thanks to Sh. Navaid, he has clarified that it was definitely not zina. (I am ashamed to even see this being clarified. Were people so eager to jump on to this accusation train?? Where do people put their heads? Wait.. don’t answer that.) Secondly I thought we were meant not to expose the sins of others so that Allah might conceal ours on the Day of Judgment? Honestly I cannot even bring myself to click the share button (even if the news is indeed true) knowing the consequences. Why should I assume the godly role of carrying out justice for the people? Ok perhaps all of these people are better than I am. I know for a fact that I have skeletons in my closet that I do not want people to know about. I pray to God, seriously, that they won’t be exposed on the DoJ. And I pray to Him that all of you who refused to share the vile post also be under His protection on that difficult day :(
Let’s assume this was as serious as most people think it is- how did the other shuyookh then verify it? Look, I’m not interested in the technicalities. Whether they interviewed 20 women who claimed to be victims or they got NAK to confess to a Whatsapp message to one of them. I really don’t care. But you know what I do care about? I want to know if the knowledge he’s delivered to us thus far was corrupted. I want to know if he has ever used his position to serve and pursue nasty interests. No? Then good. (How do I know this? Well, in case you didn’t know NAK has the right to give you his side of the story, he does. And go read that on his fb page).
Now I’m not so informed of the exact shariah rule in respect to the sins of someone teaching the deen, but I’m sure they’re humans too like us, and so the consequences to their sins do not differ from ours. They should get punished equally, shouldn’t they? Like personal advice. But they did that already, so scratch that. I’m guessing the reason the entire world (that’s how big of an influence NAK is, tabaarkaAllah) has to know is to ensure people get their knowledge from the purest people only, am I right? I really hope that that was the intention behind it. But what was the real aim of the message though? Was it worth besmirching your ‘friend of 20 years’ ‘ name, honour and dignity? Was it worth destroying his following and harming his career? Was it worth creating fitnah and doubt and discord among the Muslim Ummah? The average Melayu would say “ini semua konspirasi Yahudi!”. Yea I don’t think that needed any translation lol.
I am not taking sides. I am doing what I think is right and that is to safeguard MY aakhirah. Since I was never an obsessive fan of his, I do not feel a sense of duty to sing praises of him. But I am his sister in Islam and I will try my best to not expose his sins publicly and as his sister I will not ruminate over the affairs of his private life in Whatsapp groups. I will not speculate about what really happened. I will not further the hate that has already been lighted up. The milk has been spilled. The damage has been done. If this was a false allegation, then may those who conspired in this campaign rot in Hell. And if this was indeed true to the extent that they have implied it to be, then I leave the affairs of my brother in Islam to Allah. Is He not the Best of Judges?
Fame is dangerous. Not just because it is one of the biggest distractors of one’s deen, but also because fame invites jealousy. Fame makes you vulnerable to people’s many evils. We need to ensure that we see every side of the coin. Flip in over and over again. Check its ridges. Check its inconsistencies with other coins..
As for myself I will take and preserve whatever knowledge I have taken from him. (One of the striking ones that I remember is his and Sh Omar Suleiman’s favourite duaa (O Allah give me knowledge that is beneficial, rizq that is pure and accepted deeds) and will continue to practice it. And because of this event subhanAllah, I feel a strong sense of responsibility to make duaa for him that Allah accepts all the good that he has done to bring love for Allah’s Book. All of what he’s done is more than what I can ever dream to achieve. I pray that Allah accepts that. Most importantly, deep in my heart I do not believe that he is the devil people make him out to be. How quick are people to change camps when it is profitable for them. I cannot imagine anyone who deserves this kind of humiliation. What a time of fitnah we live in- we are literally turning against one brother out of a million others who are committing the same or even worse sins than he is and singling him out as the sinner of the century. I do not know for how long until his name is cleared, but I pray that justice will be served- in either of the two ways which I’ve previously mentioned.
Lastly I implore all of those who have shared the vile news to please retract it for the above reasons that I have expanded. It does not serve you in any way. On the Day of Judgment, Allah will not put you in Jannah for casting NAK out from the ummah. Newsflash guys, Allah will ask about what you memorized and implemented from all that deen-studying you did. I ask you to fear Allah’s wrath and seek His forgiveness. Perhaps it is the duty of the scholars to deal with this. Did it perhaps ever cross your mind that you might not be among them? :D
Focus on yourself.
Perhaps NAK will serve his time here in this Dunya. And remember, when Allah loves a servant, He tests them. And when He intends good for a servant, He makes him a faqeeh. Go learn at the feet of the scholars- yes, even if they are divorced, and make YOUR aakhirah your one and only concern. Unless your shaykh commits Shirk, then I think it’s best to avoid him entirely.
Allah knows best. To Him belongs all Haqq.