Monday, 24 September 2007

Has Maajid Nawaz been double-faced?

The media, politicians and neoconservative thinktanks have a new darling - Maajid Nawaz - who announced his departure from Hizb ut-Tahrir in an interview with BBC's Newsnight. The interview was publicised in the Observer and the Sunday Telegraph and by Ed Husain on the Guardian CiF website. Readers of this blog will recall that in a previous article I raised the possibility that Nawaz was working with Ed Husain. I actually wrote that "...if Nawaz does come out with his own "kiss and tell" story about his time with Hizb ut-Tahreer, seeks to exacerbate divisions within the Muslim community or if Nawaz is closely associated with Husain, then this would place huge question marks in my mind over Nawaz."

On the eve of Nawaz's "coming out", Ed Husain was keen to give Nawaz publicity (he had previously claimed that Nawaz had left the group under his influence) and flatteringly and somewhat dishonestly described Nawaz as "the highest ranking Hizb ut-Tahrir member to leave the group as a matter of conscience". Nawaz used his interview with Newsnight to make equally sensational claims and the BBC focused on these, even issuing a press release to preview the interview. In the interview Nawaz alleged that Hizb ut-Tahrir advocate the killing of "millions of people" to unite and expand an "Islamic superstate". He said "They are prepared to, once they've established the state, to fight other countries and to kill people in the pursuit of unifying this state into one state...Hizb-ut-Tahrir privately and publicly condemn terrorism but the point I'm making is that's not the danger I'm concerned about...The danger I'm concerned about is creating a mentality, a psyche that can allow a state and it deems it acceptable for a state en masse to kill people in the cause of an ideology."

Nawaz also made rather grandiose claims that the global leader of Hizb ut-Tahrir approached him personally (he was barely 20 at the time) to establish a chapter of the group in Pakistan, which had shortly beforehand acquired nuclear weapons. It was also claimed in the Sunday Telegraph that Nawaz had alleged that Hizb ut-Tahrir in Britain had been recruiting British Muslims to go abroad and fight British troops. Interestingly, Nawaz chose not to repeat this allegation on Newsnight.

Nawaz also describes, in almost identical fashion to Husain, the murder of an African student at Newham College in 1994. Nawaz claims, as does Husain, that their activities on the college campus led to the murder. This is not surprising given that the two of them agreed the text of Husain's version of events in The Islamist. However, Maajid Nawaz's brother, the Islam Channel presenter, Kaashif Nawaz, disputes the account,
writing that "The murder at East Ham college was not of a man who was Christian, but of a man who was high on drugs, and carrying 2 knives with intent on attacking one of the students on campus, he was intercepted by a gang of Muslims, who intercepted him - nothing to do with Islamism or HT, but more do with gang wars which Muslims got involved in and HT members tried to resolve." Other primary sources have also cast doubts over Husain's account of events at the college.

Interestingly,
Nawaz says that his time spent in an Egyptian prison meant that he started questioning if there was a better way "than just meeting oppression and anger with more anger and more oppression". He says that he developed serious doubts, leading to a decision to leave the organisation.

His close confidante, Husain, also writes that Nawaz developed doubts whilst in prison, "In Sayyid Qutb's prison, Maajid studied with traditional Muslim scholars who had abandoned the jihadist cause. His own intelligence, combined with greater study of Islam, led Maajid to question the intellectual and scriptural premise on which the entire Islamist project is based."

On the DeenPort discussion forum, Husain praises Nawaz, writing, "Maajid Nawaz studied traditional Islam while in prison in Egypt with Azhari mashaikh who were once Islamists and/or Jihadists. Their influences and his independent thinking after returning to Britain in 2005 led Maajid to resign from Hizb ut-Tahrir. Please keep him in your prayers. May Allah strengthen Maajid and preserve this servant of God and lover of al-Habib."

In an article with the sensationalist title "Why I joined the British jihad - and why I rejected it" in the Sunday Times, Nawaz again writes that his conversion took place in prison, "It was during this time in prison that I began to utilise my time by studying as much as I could about the ideology that I professed to be working for...As I studied various branches of traditional Islamic sciences, however, I grew more and more surprised. The sheer breadth of scholastic disagreement that I found, on issues I had believed were so definitive in Islam, surprised me. Where we had been willing to challenge, even overthrow, regimes on certain issues, traditional jurists of Islam had treated these as academic disagreements to be debated through books. It slowly dawned on me that what I had been propagating was far from true Islam. I began to realise that what I had subscribed to was actually Islamism sold to me in the name of Islam." In an interview with Jane Perlez of the New York Times, Nawaz again said, that his "doubts about Hizb ut-Tahrir crystallized" during his time in prison.

This is where I have a big problem - while it is now clear from Nawaz himself that he had serious doubts about Hizb ut-Tahrir in prison, he continued and indeed increased the intensity of his political activities on his return to the UK.

Brother Salman, who knows Maajid, writes that, "Since his return from Egypt, he has been an even bigger supporter of the Hizb and the rule of Islam in Muslim countries. It was as if the suffering and torture he endured in Mubarak's torture chambers "recharged his batteries" and made him a better Muslim. At least that was the impression I got when I spoke to him on numerous occasions at SOAS where he was finishing his interrupted degree studies. Also, the TV interviews he participated in since his return from Egypt show no sign of any ideological retreat. He was still calling for the rule of Islam in Muslim countries."

This exact point is also raised by readers of this blog who commented on an earlier thread. Brother Muhammed writes, "Back in january 2007 he was giving speeches outside the usa embassy (see utube) as one of the leaders of the hizb calling for khilafah. when he was released from prison he went on the bbc hard talk programme representing the hizb and on islam channel he regularly gave his opinions on political affairs on behalf of the hizb. he states in his article that whilst in prison he had serious misgivings of the method employed by the hizb for establishing khilafah. hence should one not ask why appear on many different platforms on the media, at demos etc calling for khilafah when he knew he would be jumping ship and go down the dark path of ed hussain et al. maybe he did this to gain respectability and leadership amongst the muslims, only allah knows." Brother Ismaeel-Haneef Hijazi of the Muslim Action Committee, who spoke at the US embassy demonstration with Nawaz, responds by saying, "Thanks Muhammad for reminding me of that demo back in Jan. I spoke at that demo too and briefly met Maajid who seemed at the time to be close with Aki Nawaz who at the time had just started making media appearances defending Muslims politically. Also Maajid left the Hizb only 2 months ago, so the question is very pertinent- if he came to all these conclusions whilst in prison why wait until now to declare them?" As photographs show, Nawaz was clearly at the front of the demonstration (second from the right) to the US embassy despite harbouring severe doubts.

On his return from captivity, Nawaz appeared on BBC's Hardtalk - given what we know now about his serious doubts about 'Islamism' in prison, one would have expected that he mention that his confidence had been shaken and that he was now questioning his conscience. However, on the contrary, in a confident performance, Nawaz assertively claimed that Hizb ut-Tahrir's ideas were peaceful and that they prevented him from becoming violent or aggressive despite the oppression he had faced. In fact he argues that his time in prison has "convinced me even more...that there is a need to establish this Caliphate as soon as possible". In the interview, Nawaz also claims that the regimes in the Muslim world are "propped up" by the West and that he would sue the Egyptian regime for the ordeal he and his compatriots underwent.

In addition, in a press conference upon his return to the UK, there was again no hint whatsoever of the serious doubts going through Nawaz's mind. Amazingly, Nawaz said, "I have become more convinced of the ideas that I went into prison with." Shortly thereafter, Nawaz also appeared with fellow former detainee Reza Pankhurst on the Ummah Talk programme on the Islam Channel where he again mentioned that his stint in prison had motivated him to work harder for the return of caliphate. Further to that, Nawaz made regular appearances on the Islam Channel and at talks across the Muslim community, yet he made no reference to his change of heart.

So how could it be that Nawaz was released in March 2006 with serious doubts about Hizb ut-Tahrir and having realised that what he had been propagating was "far from true Islam", yet he intensified his activities, defended Hizb ut-Tahrir before millions of viewers on Hardtalk, took up a position on Hizb ut-Tahrir's UK Executive Committee, gave talks across the country and spoke at rallies?

The worst scenario here is that Nawaz was being double-faced. This scenario would have it that he had already decided that he was going to jump ship but he decided to increase his profile so that when he finally left the organisation it would garner greater publicity. If this indeed was the case, then he should be reminded of the Hadith of al-Habib (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) who said,
"One of the worst people is a double-faced man, who come to one group with one face and to another group with a totally different face." (Related by Al-Bukhari and Ibn Hibban). A similar Hadith is reported by Ammar ibn Yasir, an early companion of the Prophet, who quotes him as saying: "Whoever is double-faced in this life will have two tongues of fire in the hereafter." A big man then passed by and the Prophet said: "This is one of them." (Related by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad, Abu Dawood, Al-Darimi and others).

Only Nawaz himself can explain why he chose to intensify his activities despite these doubts. He may argue that he could not leave the organisation immediately, but that is not the issue here. No one was demanding that he should have left the organisation immediately upon his return even if he had serious doubts - rather the one with serious doubts would have discussed these doubts with people of knowledge and his compatriots in the organisation, rather than intensifying one's activities and then announcing one's departure on primetime television.

In this article, I did not set out to address Nawaz's documented reasons for his departure, and I am sure others more qualified than me will do so if necessary. Rather, I have sought to examine the inconsistencies in Nawaz's account of his conversion to Ed Husain's depoliticised version of Islam and all that brings with it.

As a final point, although Nawaz has warned that his narrative should not be "exploited to support the call for proscribing Hizb ut-Tahrir", this seems a little naive to say the least. The language he is using to describe his former compatriots is music to the ears of the powers that be. It is no surprise that Nawaz is now flavour of the month for Douglas Murray's band of neocons at the Centre for Social Cohesion and the likes of the right wing Zionist commentator Melanie Phillips. Nawaz will get lots of publicity and exposure via the right wing blogs and media, since it reassures them that nothing is wrong with their behaviour and helps deflect attention back to those "dirty terrorists" who "hate us for our way of life".

Brothers and Sisters!

Beware of those Muslims who wish to sell their Deen for a small price and remember that Al-Habib Rasoolallah (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said, "Indeed a servant speaks a word (which is pleasing to Allah) to which he pays no attention and for which Allah elevates him many grades. And indeed the servant speaks a word (which is displeasing to Allah) to which he pays no attention and for which he shall fall in Jahannam." (Bukhari)

"Among the words people received from early prophets are: if you feel no shame, then do as you wish."
(Related by Al-Bukhari, Abu Dawood, Ibn Majah, Ahmad and others).


Sumayyah

16 comments:

a said...

Jazakallah khair sister for highlighting the psychotic inconsistencies in maajid's tale so far. How could he propagate ideas with such intensity and apparent sincerity over such a long period of time after concluding that they were erroneous and amounted to a call to kill millions of people. Either he was double faced or was and still is utterly confused

Finally...The link below is a well written refutation of maajid's ideas.

http://abu-ibrahim.blogspot.com/2007/09/critique-of-evaluating-hizbut-tahrirs.html

Wasalam

The Neurocentric said...

Salam alaikum.

I mention the following purely out of fear, not as an attempt to belittle you - so do not take it the wrong way - and I am as much in need of such words as any one.


"O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion, for some suspicions are a sin. Do not spy on one another, nor backbite one another. Would one of you love to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Nay, you would abhor it. And fear Allah. Indeed, Allah is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful."

{Qur'an 49:12}


On the authority of Abu Hurayrah:

"Beware of backbiting, for backbiting is more serious than adultery. A man may commit adultery, and drink, and then repent, and Allah will forgive him. But, the backbiter will not be forgiven by Allah until his companion forgives him."

{Suyuti, Al-Jami` as-Saghir, 1/174, #2919, from Ibn Abid-Dunya, and Abush-Shaykh, Al-Tawbikh.}

Perspectives:
According to SunniPath.com
According to Islaam.com

Forgive me if I have made an error.

kashif said...

salaam aleikum,

excellent article, however there are two things i'd like to add:

1. His effendi and neo-con sock puppet friend "ED" Hussain who can't even stomach reviews of his third piece work, has taken to changing negative reviews of it from Wikipedia, which the Wikipedia editors themselves have had to warn him about:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Ed_Husain

NOTE to idiot: If your work was/is truthful and has merit it should stand on its own and you wouldn't need to try and play cat and mouse with the editors of Wikipedia.

2. To try and cowardly hide behind "ghiba" is a tried and tested tactic that the Wahabis of the early 1990s used when any criticism of the Saudis was going around but which lost steam after events became too obvious to hide i.e. 140,000 U.S. troops stationed only a few kilometers away from the kaaba, with lurid tales of American servicewomen walking around in hot pants and miniskirts. It was this hypocracy more than anything else which gave birth to the madness of al Quaeda, of which we are now living with today. This article does an excellent job of explaining why "Amr bil maruf wa nahy anil munkar" is so vitally important:

http://www.muslimedia.com/ARCHIVES/movement00/amr-maruf.htm

Rather sad and ironic then to see "sufis for New Labor" taking up the same tactics.

keep up the good work.

salaam aleikum,
Kashif

Nour said...

Agreed. His behaviour does raise serious question marks. His current stance is that he didn't just start having doubts about his old ideas in prison but he in fact became deeply onvinced that they were wrong after intense and deep study with "scholars". But in his previous avatar after return he said that he was, again, "convinced" that the ideas he went to jail with were the correct ones. Well something doesn't jive.

If he had just stayed in the background after his return, as the other two of the Egypt 3 did, or again, on his departure from Hizb done so quietly, then no one would be raising these questions as you rightly did.

The theory you put forward is an interesting one. Was all the publicity really for himself to raise his profile so that when he left there would be a bigger bang? Who was guiding his moves? Ed Husain? Working with who? Why did Maajid speak so fervently for ideas he had so come to oppose based on "scholarly" research? These are questions that Maajid needs to answer.

It seems that he has painted himself into a corner since he cannot claim that he was conflicted because both his statements were absolute, direct and completely contradictory.

Good points raised. Keep up the good work. JazakumAllah khair.

Asalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah wa brakatuh

muhammed said...

asalaam alaikum,

very nice article.

the point made are relevant and appropriate.

i agree with kashif that those who dont like to be criticised hide behind "GHIBA"

An important point to make is that this issue is not about maajids 'intentions' or 'whats in his heart'. Only Allah (swt) knows this.

the reason why he is being criticised is due to his double faced actions and nothing else.

i think its a mistake that other muslims are questioning his intentions on his official blogsite, rather they need to concentrate on his actions which are the real cause for concern.

From reading maajids comments on his blog he seems to be revelling in his notariety. it is sad to see him say that his appearence on newsnight pleased the non muslims and upset the so called islamists and hence he had achieved his objective !

my advice to other muslims is not to comment on his website since this is what he wants and the more people insult him the happier he is.

Nour said...

Forgot to add that the strategy of accepting something just for the sake of undermining it when you leave is a real political tactic which has also been explained to us by Allah (swt) in the Quran. In 3:72 Allah (swt) told us (to the nearest of meaning), "A section of the People of the Book say: "Believe in the morning what is revealed to the believers, but reject it at the end of the day; perchance they may (themselves) Turn back."

Lest there be any confusion, I am not calling Maajid a disbeliever, I am simply making a comparison òf this situation to the political tactics that Allah (swt) told us the disbelievers used.

Islamic Revival said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ismaeel said...

Salaam,

apologies sister, i just wanted to correct a factual error I made, which was that i didn't speak at the January demo at the US embassy, rather it was one that took place last summer just after the end of the Lebanon conflict, the rest of the details are however correct- Maajid was there, speaking and prepping Aki Nawaz and seemed quite happy.

Just thought i'd correct my mistake in case old Maajid commented on the discrepency.

iqbal said...

salams sister

may Allah (swt) reward you for upholding the truth and so eloquently exposing the falsehood

Enlightened Thought said...

AA

JZK for your lucid, eloquent and enlightening article. It would have been good to have included some comparatives for contrast; however with so many to choose from in our history who would you pick? Ataturk, Alkami, Sharif Hussain, Abdul Aziz bin Saud, al-Maliki, Karzai, Chalabai, Maher... and of course, there's everyone's favourite, Ed Hussain.

With regards to the evidences quoted by Maajid's "supporter" in the comments section, they are not relevant to this discussion and do not make the halal (fard) into haram.

They seem to have a habit of misquoting classical scholars and now they have moved onto divine texts.

The rule of ghibah (backbiting) prohibits stating something negative (that which would not be liked) about another Muslim in their absence, despite it being true, with no Sharah permissable reason - there are a number of exceptions to this rule which the poster has omitted.

For instance, there is no backbiting when:
- seeking one's right and resolve from oppression,
On the authority of `A'ishah : Hind, the wife of Abu Sufyan, said to the Prophet (pbuh), "Abu Sufyan is a miserly man, and he is not giving me what would suffice me and my child, unless I take from him without his knowing." He said, "Take what suffices you and your child according to common usage." [Bukhari, Muslim]
"Allah does not like that the evil should be uttered in public except by him to whom injustice has been done."
The prophet (S.A.W.) said, "Not paying a loan back, when able to do so, allows a person, the loaner to mention it publicly, and the lender be punished." (Bukhari)

- when the issue of marriage and such like requires a character witness
On the authority of Fatimah bint Qays : she said, "I came to the Prophet (pbuh) and told him, "Abu Jahm and Mu`awiyah have [both] proposed to me." He said, "As for Mu`awiyah, he is a poor man with no money, and as for Abu Jahm, his stick never leaves his shoulder (ie he is a harsh man)." [Bukhari, Muslim, Malik]

- when someone is propagating or doing sin openly, spreading corruption or committing treachery and treason - their case
"There can be no backbiting of one who casts off the mantle of modesty." [Suyuti, Al-Jami` As-Saghir, 2/519, from Bayhaqi.]
From Zayd ibn Arqam (RA) who said: We set out on a journey with the Prophet(pbuh), in which we faced many hardships. 'Abdullah ibn Ubayy (the hypocrite) said to his friends: "Do not give what you have in your possession to those who are with the Prophet(pbuh) until they desert him. And in this case, when we return to Madinah, the honourable will dive out the meaner therefrom." I came to the Prophet(pbuh) and told him about this. He sent someone to 'Abdullah ibn Ubayy and he asked him whether he had said that or not. He swore an oath to the effect that he had not done that, and said that it was Zayd who had lied to the Prophet(pbuh). Zayd said: I was very disturbed on account of this until this Ayah was revealed attesting that I had spoken the truth: "When the Hypocrites come to you..." [al-Munafiqun 63:1]. The Messenger of Allah (SAAS) then called them in order to seek forgiveness for them, but they turned their heads away..."
With regard to this, Imamal-Shawkani (may Allah have mercy on him) said: The clear evidence concerning that is the Hadith which was reported concerning al-Nasihah (sincerity) to Allah, to His Book, to His Messenger, to the leaders of the Muslims, to their common folk and to their elites. Exposing lies and liars is one of the greatest forms of Nasihah which is obligatory towards Allah (SWT), His Messengers and all the Muslims. He also said: Likewise, exposing a person who has given false witness with regard to property, blood or honour, is also a form of the Nasihah which Allah (SWT) has made obligatory on us.
From 'A'Ishah (RA): A man asked permission to see the Prophet (SAAS) who said: "Let him enter! What a bad member of the tribe he is!" Al-Bukhari concluded from this Hadith that it is permissible to speak about wrongdoers and those about whom one has misgivings in their absence.
From 'A'ishah who said: The Prophet(pbuh) said: “I don't think so-and-so and so-and-so know anything about our religion. AI-Layth said: They were two men of the Munafiqin (Hypocrites).

These and other exceptions are well known and documented amongst the jurists (e.g., Nawawi in his Riyadh al-Saliheen on the chapter of Backbiting)

Fugstar said...

thats a huge post. my eyes hurt. anyway, one rumour i heard was that the bro opted fro brainwashing while it was the other two who got the torture.

faith said...

Jazakallah khair for your article.
I have been meaning some time to contribute to the debate about Maajid Nawaz's mysterious u-turn. I would like to add the following points - which i would readily detract if Maajid states they are wrong - but I am convinced they are accurate and Allah knows best:

1. When Maajid was in prison in Egypt he was the instigator behind an appeal letter to Tony Blair
http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,849053,00.html. The letter states "We wonder how much of our humanity needs to be violated before your government decides to intervene at the highest level on our behalf," says the 13-page letter, adding: "Surely being brutally and mercilessly tortured by electricity is sufficient to arouse the national sense of justice".

The letter was roundly criticised by HT in Britain and according to sources by the then leader global Abdul Qadeem Zalloum (who later passed away) for 'begging' to Blair at a time when he had unleashed his war machine on Afghanistan and was developing the false narrative for war in Iraq.

At the time Maajid claimed it was instigated by the Egyptian branch of HT, in fact it was confirmed later that the letter came solely from Maajid and the Egyptian branch of HT was unaware of this.

Maajid also wrote a letter to Husni Mubarak - asking for pardon and claiming he had been 'misguided'.

2. Maajid's claim that he was personally asked by Abdul Qadeem Zalloum to go to Pakistan is laughable and a total fabrication. Rather Maajid wrote a letter in mid-2001 to the leadership as a member of HT requesting for them to advise him on whether he should go to Pakistan or elsewhere. Their response was standard - they said he can go where he feels he will best serve Islam - and as he was aware of Urdu - then Pakistan was an option. It must be stressed here - that it is a step too far to say they personally requested him to go! Rather they responded to his question.

3. Maajid went to Pakistan but the HT branch there realised that he was not getting involved in their Islamic political activism but instead would engage in endless discussions about non-issues which was a bit distracting especially since President Musharraf had allied with the US in the so-called War on Terror. So a few months after he arrived they told him to return to the UK as his personality was not conducive to political activism.

kashif said...

My major complaint or recommendation(s) would be the following:

1. Point out the facts from the posts above, collate them, and post it officially on websites of the party which should also be made available to members of the media.

2. Someone from the party or from among any of the informed individuals on here should consider writing a Guardian CiF piece laying out all that has been written. There is no need to fear any kind of rebuttal from the munafiq ED/Mahbub since all he has to do is open his lying mouth and people can judge for themselves who is telling the truth (the Tory/Neo-con promotions notwithstanding).

salaam aleikum,
K

Fatima Husain said...

I listened to Maajid's speech at Al-Quds and must say now very surprised by his hypocrisy.

In the speech he rejects the legitimacy of the Israeli state and says that we want to replace the Zionist state.

You can listen to his speech at:

http://www.inminds.co.uk/qudsday2006.php

Mohammad said...

Salams All,
I see a clear difference between Maajid and the rest of the HT abandoners. Maajid seems to be facing his critics head on and is inviting whoever wants to meet him to discuss this in person with him. Do you see the rest of them doing that?
As for the double facedesness, he actually addresses it in one of his blog comments (on 24 Sep 2007..I don't want to cut and paste the whole text as it's quite long, I'm sure you can all find it).
As somebody who left HT in the late 90's in the US, long time before any of this started I can tell you the feelings and emotions people go through in these matters are never simple. It's not an on or off switch, "now I believe in HT ideas" and "now I don't". I believed and agreed with many of the ideas of HT and still do to this day. A lot of them are of course Islamic ideas. When you have been associated with a set of ideas and people for years, you go through these mind battles at a couple of different levels:
1. Ideas - Are my reasons for disagreement valid, can they be reconciled? What do I do after this? etc.
2. Social - To a lesser degree, but you do wonder how will your all your (HT) friends and family view you, after all that is the majority of your acquaintances after years in the party. They are going to think I have left the Dawa, something wrong with him, he was always weak etc?

These mind battles go on for a while and in this incubation period, one continues Dawah normally, giving talks, Khutbah's, leafletting, whatever the member does. Perhaps you might talk to somebody within the party but often you don't. Why? Because there is always a standard party explanation for every doubt you have.

There does come a point though when you just cannot continue as you are being insincere to yourself and to the ones you are giving Dawah to.

Just to reassure you, I am not coming out with a book telling my story and you will not see me on your local TV channel!

And Allah Most High Knows Best
Mohammad

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