We hear you: there was a plot. A trap. A snare.
My question is how you, as a Muslim, walked into that trap, knowing what you do about the prohibitions of your religion. Your armoury is your freedom-giving law, which protects you from plots and traps and snares.
Note that Yusuf, to whom people like to compare you, turned his back and ran when presented with what looked like such a plot. He did not make appointments, send emails and private messages, and engage in months-long conversations, detailing his inner desires and yearnings, uttering vulgarities and sweet lullabies. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Yusuf said, ‘My Lord! I would prefer prison to what these women are calling me to do. If You do not protect me from their treachery, I shall yield to them and do wrong.’ — Qur’an 12:33
I quite agree with you: the mendacious paparazzi schemes, and the activist journalist plots and plans. Money changed hands, promises were made, messages exchanged. No doubt racism was at play, and fanaticism, prejudice, discrimination and blind hatred. A truly awful affair, honestly.
But beyond those plots to expose the hypocrisy of a teacher of religion — it does not wash that the teacher of the religion never taught religion, for all over he was and is found doing just that — stands a man who for years called to all that is good and virtuous, who won admirers by advising Muslims to tame their nafs, and take personal responsibility for their actions, and not blame anyone else, and be humble, and not transgress the limits.
Knowing all of this, which you preach by tongue before vast audiences all over the world, and in articles and books, on Twitter and YouTube, in conferences, lectures and intimate gatherings — the question hardly needs articulating. Once a mistake, twice a choice. Third, forth, fifth and sixth: addiction?
There may have been a plot, a trap, a snare — none of this is really secret anyway — but practice what you preach. To quote one of your recent lectures:
First, you are created, and you have the knowledge and the freedom, but you should know the limits. So intellectual capacity goes with intellectual humility. You should respect the limits. And if you transgress the limits, you should know you are personally responsible. You cannot blame anyone else. You are personally responsible for your own behaviour.