On lizard holes

How easy it is to find fault with the other. It is always our opponents that have entered the proverbial lizard hole, while we ourselves cling firm to authentic faith. Our orthodoxy is palpably correct, while the beliefs of our foes are obviously suspect. Thus do we wield in our armoury words famously attributed to the Prophet, peace be upon him, with which we trounce our opponents: Continue reading “On lizard holes”


The people of old find our bold proclamations of self-importance peculiar. What a strange thing, this annual celebration of the new orthodoxy, fostered in every nation on earth by the high priests of the age. In times past it was thought of as a chronic disease, associated with the tongue of Iblis:

He said, “I am better than him. You created me from fire and created him from clay.” — Qur’an 38:76

It is curious indeed: this self-glorification, self-exaltation, self-advancement which afflicts us. The good man is the one who is good in the sight of God, an unknown to mere mortals like us. The arrogant man confounds when dispensing advice, and rude when on the receiving end. Our belief that we are better than others is pure, unadulterated ignorance.

This bitter pride of ours is poison. The great man in the one who is great in the sight of God alone, and only He can judge. Until we stand before Him, gathered together at the end, we have no idea how we will be judged ourselves, let alone our companions on the road.

So shun this new-fangled Eid, devised to glorify the self en masse. We are but dust; no, less than an atom, or a quark. God guides whom He wills and leads astray whom He wills. Our state today could change tomorrow, or in an instant in between. So why this boastful declaration of pride, celebrating ourselves and our own? May our Lord make us humble, recognising that none of us is greater than the unknown servants of the Most Merciful, the Most High.

Open contempt

I note a growing trend for modern Muslamic teachers to openly and proudly declare their absolute contempt for women. But it’s okay, it’s dressed up as an attack on feminism, so we let it pass, for being a feminist is almost as bad as being a liberal. Anything can be justified these days by attaching it to the new insults of the age.

Skeptical Muslim

After twenty years moving in this community, and over a decade — on and off — amongst Muslims online, I have grown far too skeptical to take the latest manufactured controversy at face value. To our activists and leaders of opinion, amongst whom are the sincere and faithful, I am sorry; I am sorry that skepticism is my overriding reaction to the latest populist altercation online. Continue reading “Skeptical Muslim”

Retreat in silence

They say it is a travesty of justice, an affront to the notion of free speech. But take the wrong stance, or report the wrong facts, or question their narrative, and the very same attack will attack you: you are a heretic or a hypocrite; your website will be hacked; your personal accounts reported for closure; your presence and influence obliterated online and beyond. So make a choice: speak up and out, or retreat in silence. It’s up to you what it is worth.

The hidden self

One of the first lessons most of us learn when we set out on the path is, “Actions are by intentions.” It hardly needs to be said, for that is the primary concern of most seekers: to believe sincerely, without that prevailing sense of hypocrisy that gave birth to our search in the first place. But it provides a sound foundation for the journey ahead. It is one of a handful of narrations we know by heart, always quickly recalled. Continue reading “The hidden self”

This collective delirium

Do the hysterical supporters not realise that the collective delirium of their campaign to free their beloved saint only strengthens justice in its decision to maintain his detention? Continue reading “This collective delirium”

Just enough authority

By stripping husbands of authority — complains the new leader of opinion — modernist discourse renders the husband an unappreciated servant to his family, making him little more than a cash machine. He goes on:

According to this, the husband must provide income to support the family and the wife has no such responsibility. Insofar as the wife earns money, her family and certainly her husband are not entitled to a penny of it. But ALL of what a husband earns belongs to his family.

It sounds rather like a parody, with its hyperbolic representations of feminism, modernity and Muslim discourse, but the author is absolutely serious.  Continue reading “Just enough authority”

Sheikh of the interwebs

Sheikh of the interwebs has a following to propagate; twenty-two thousand and rising (he’s small-fry today, but tomorrow the world). A populist controversy daily keeps the disciples coming back for more: he’s a champion of the new voiceless, an advocate for forgotten reactionaries. Social media is manna from heaven: the glue that holds together a career giving lectures and writing articles, pending the advent of a proper job. To rest on your laurels is suicide: fail to cultivate your following on social media and you are nobody. A nobody with no influence; what a horrible thought, when there is just so much to say.

Ah, but listen for the sound of silence. There goes the sheikh with his minuscule following far from these virtual worlds, who shuns controversy, but nevertheless speaks the truth to the populist masses. Perhaps there is one we could learn from, as he toils by day in honest employment, and teaches at night to a humble circle of gentle friends. May God preserve us from the groupies and vast followings that teem on the interwebs, from being led awry and from leading others astray. May God preserve us from the lust for fame that this medium nurtures, from the pursuit of likes and mentions, retweets and shares, from seeking out a multitude of fans, who hang on our every word, whether we speak the truth or not. May God preserve us from the new sheikhs of the interwebs, and from the worst of ourselves.