I recently read a piece by one Muslim social commentator on the question of whether some Muslim reverts were superimposing their cultural baggage on Islam and in the case of Myriam I would have to say it seems that she is. Alas, just as many of us South Asian Muslims have been moulded by non-Islamic customs and practises redolent of our Hindu ancestry it seems that she seeks to infuse her very European adjunct into the chalice of Islamic dogmas and precepts. For her sake and for the sake of those that she misleads by her, undoubtedly sincere, articulate, impassioned rhetoric, I urge her to pause and rethink. She should look to her own Christian (Catholic I believe) heritage and consider carefully where the path of reformation inexorably leads to. It’s not a destination I, for one, ever want to arrive at.
Regarding the recent “Happy Muslims” production in which he also featured, Abdul Hakeem Murad recently wrote an article by way of “clarification”. You can read it here: http://www.masud.co.uk/ISLAM/ahm/clarification-happy-muslims-video.htm
Another participant in that production, noted Muslim feminist, Myriam Francois Cerrah took issue with some of the comments of the shaykh in his piece and posted a somewhat robust rejoinder on her Facebook page. I wont publish it here, as she seems to insist that it was not for public consumption despite it being posted on a publicly viewable forum. Below are my comments. Please note that although I speak harshly about the Shaykh I still admire him on other levels. My criticism of him should essentially be read as a call for him to come down off the fence or to stick his neck out above the parapet – whichever of the two idioms you prefer.
Being frank, I’ve never been a huge fan of Abdul Hakeem Murad (AHM or otherwise known as Timothy Winters) and his article on the Happy Muslims video only reinforced my perception of him as a vapid prevaricator. His diction is often detached, as if excogitating rather than addressing the reader and exudes a type of conceit borne from too many years spent in academe. His language is abstruse and quite often, I suspect, deliberately so, as he seeks to bedazzle his audience with grandiloquence coupled with occasional extraneous references to classical scholars and philosophers. It come across to the uninitiated as deeply profound but if you scratch beneath the surface it is actually hollow and meaningless – galimatias. To quote one of my favourite Shakespearean lines, “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.” Well maybe he’s not so furious and perhaps ‘idiot’ is too harsh a term but the ‘signifying nothing’ part is accurate enough. Any excuse to quote Shakespeare will do. 🙂
As to Myriam, having heard her speech at the misogyny conference I would expect nothing less. When you can malign one of the greatest luminaries in the history of Islamic scholarship with the brusque disdain with which she did then who is Zaid Shakir to escape a curt, scornful dismissal? She comes across supercilious in her tone and her arguments are, for the most, sophomoric – again the conceit of academia but perhaps in her case tinged also by that sense of inherent superiority many Europeans have traditionally felt towards what they view as regressive Oriental culture.
Living as we are in a non-Islamic post-modern cultural milieu where moral relativism is the order of the day AHM’s failure to provide lucid, definitive guidance on the questions and problems faced by many young Muslims constitutes a gross dereliction of his duty as a scholar. Surely the worth of an ‘alim is measured by how many people he can guide towards the straight path not by the number of recondite treatises he can pen and certainly not by the number of admirers he can garner.