Public opinion

It is not due to envy that I caution today’s sheikhs and public intellectuals about their vast followings online. Some have tens of thousands, others have hundreds of thousands, still others have millions. And maybe that is a good thing: there may indeed be baraka in those followings and great benefit for the masses. Continue reading “Public opinion”


Something biblical is afoot. It’s a sign of the times. It heralds the imminent arrival of the dajjal. It’s divine punishment for the Saudi war on the Muslim Brotherhood. It’s a curse on the House of Saud for their devastating war in Yemen. It is a warning to the custodians of Islam’s holiest sites to return to authentic, traditional Sunni Islam™ or else be afflicted by the ten plagues of Egypt.

In short, it is whatever you want it to be, when you take the copywriter’s spin at face value. “Swarms of locusts invade Mecca, for the first time in history,” reads the viral message landing in WhatsApp, forwarded by both the learned and wise, and the village idiot.  Continue reading “Locusts”

Blinded by contempt

It is that time of year when some Muslims celebrate the birth of the Prophet, peace be upon him, while others occupy themselves with condemning them. So enter Exhibit A. Some mischievous folk claim that the photo below shows Muslims following the Christians handspan by handspan, by setting up a Christmas Tree in their mosque to mark the mawlid. Continue reading “Blinded by contempt”


The crucial element of this video begins at 12 mins and five seconds.

Confirms my conspiracy about the growing army of flat earth conspiracists too, who have turned it (and the associated cover up) into an an article of faith, which they speak about at every opportunity. Distraction therapy.

Dear friend

You may assume, because I once wrote an article critical of a so-called islamist turned reformer whose path crossed with mine in my youth, that I am a champion of the ardent activists who stand against him. But you would be wrong.  Continue reading “Dear friend”

To be trustworthy

Faith does not mean forwarding every piece of spurious crap you receive on WhatsApp, believing everything you read on Facebook, or liking every Tweet shared by a Muslim personality. You still have to verify the information you receive, even if it comes from a trusted friend.  Continue reading “To be trustworthy”

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.

Faux boycott

Boycott Starbucks, reads the WhatsApp message, which goes on to highlight a series of completely (and obviously) made up facts about the company and its alleged support for Israel’s armed forces. Continue reading “Faux boycott”

These amalgamations

I am one of those exceedingly annoying people who, when presented with a collection of photos (especially concerning an incendiary issue), insists on running them through a reverse image search to check that they really are what the person posting them claims them to be. It may be an obsessive compulsive disorder, or it may be a concern about the truth: I’m not even sure myself. Continue reading “These amalgamations”