Monday, 4 April 2016
Refutation of Ismail Menk's Lawyers
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
After Ismail Menk was banned from public speaking in Singapore, his lawyers, who I assume are quite new to this defamation business, sent me a laughable letter demanding some sort of response. Naturally, since it is in my good nature, I responded comprehensively.
Please find below, Ismail Menk’s lawyers on my alleged defamation.
This here, is my response. Special thanks goes to my in-house counsel, Zafirah Jeffrey, for the hard world of summarising my sixty-three articles into this. This is different from the format I sent out.
Regarding the defamation on the character and person of ‘Mufti’ Ismail Menk, I refer to your letter, dated 10th December 2015, in regards to the supposed defamation of your client, Ismail ibn Musa Menk. I acknowledge as well as point out several erroneous claims on your part in regards to the matter. The premise of this letter is based on the presumption that the addressee already knows the basics of Wahhabism in terms of its principles and origins. I will assume you know what you are talking about.
With regards to the Wahhabi ideology, that the ideology does not fall within the boundaries of the Ahl as-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah is common knowledge. There is no controversy here. Only those ignorant of the theology of Islam would claim it is. They have also been referred to in similar fashion by notable Muslim scholars throughout history. I refer you to the example, from Ihya’ al-Maqbur by the late muhaddits, Imam Abu al-Faydh Ahmad ibn Abi ‘Abdullah asw-Swiddiq al-Ghimmari (r.a.).
He said, “As for the Qarniyyun, their land has not been Blessed by Allah (s.w.t.) with any wali or swalih since the beginning of Islam down to the present day. Instead, He only Gave it the Qarn ash-Shaythan, ‘the Devil’s Horn’, whose followers were the Khwarij of the thirteenth and subsequent Islamic centuries. So fear Allah (s.w.t.) and do not be like he who is beguiled by them and supports their corrupt sect and worthless opinion and their state of misguidance which was explicitly described by the Prophet (s.a.w.). He characterised them as the ‘Dogs of the Fire’, kilab an-naar and informed us that they are the ‘worst of all who dwell beneath the sky’ and that they ‘swerve from the religion as an arrow swerves away from its target.’
The Prophet (s.a.w.) said that they mouth among the best of sayings in the form of their prattling about tawhid, and implementing the sunnah, and combating bid’ah - and yet, by Allah (s.w.t.), they are drowning in bid’ah. In fact, there is no bid’ah worse than theirs which causes them to ‘swerve from the religion as an arrow swerves away from its target’, in spite of their superficial efforts in worship and adherence to the religion. It is as the Prophet (s.a.w.) declared: ‘One of you would despise the prayer he says among them, and the fasting he completes with them; they recite Qur’an but it goes no further than their collarbones.’
It is for this reason that he refrained from making du’a for Najd in the way that he had prayed for the Yemen and for Syria, for he said, ‘Allahumma Bless us in our Yemen; Bless us in our Syria.’
And they said, ‘And in our Najd, O Messenger of Allah?’
But he repeated his prayer for the Yemen and for Syria; and they repeated their utterance; until he said, the second or the third time round, in order to explain why he would not pray for Najd. The Prophet (s.a.w.) said, ‘That is the place of earthquakes, and fitnah, and from it, the Devil’s Horn shall rise.’
This was narrated by Imam al-Bukhari (r.a.). Nothing has emerged from there to bring about earthquakes and fitnah in the religion like Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, who was astray and led others astray. Hence, he was the Devil’s Horn foretold by the Prophet (s.a.w.), and he abstained from offering prayer for Najd because of him, and because of the fitnah which would flow from his demonic da’wah. Whoever adheres to that da’wah has committed unambiguous kufr, and is destined for apostasy and ‘swerving from the religion’, as is visible in the case of the other heretical unbelievers of the age who are notorious for their ilhad, for in every case they began by holding fast to the sect of the Devil’s Horn, as is well-known to scholars of experience and insight.”
As Wahhabism originated in Najd, this hadits is in reference to the movement. We have included a list below of scholars and published works who have made similar statements to the above. Please note also that I am not the first individual to acknowledge the link between Wahhabism and extremist movements. Wahhabi jurists have also been known to reject medieval interpretations of Islam, and for being unsupportive of forging relationships with non-Muslims. I refer to the following contemporary sources purporting similar claims.
There is a Huffington Post Article dated 27th August, 2014 by Alastair Crook, titled ‘You Can’t Understand ISIS If You Don’t Know the History of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia’.
There is a report from the Library of Congress dated 17th January 2007, by Christopher M. Blanchard, titled ‘The Islamic Traditions of Wahhabism and Salafiyya’.
Furthermore, the definition of Wahhabism according to Oxford Islamic Studies Online, Oxford University Press.
There is the book, ‘Wahhabi Islam’, by Natana J. Delong-Bas, published in 2004 by Oxford University Press.
There is the book, ‘The Post-Socialist Religious Question: Faith and Power in Central Asia and East-Central Europe’, published in 2006 by the Deustche Nationalbibliothek, chapter 3: Extreme Conversations: Secularism, Religious Pluralism, and the rhetoric of Islamic Extremism in Southern Kyrgyzstan’ by Julie McBrien.
There is the article, ‘Religious-Political Conflict in the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria’, written by Vakhit Akhaev, published by CA& CC Press.
There is the article, ‘A Clear and Present Danger: Wahhabism as a Political Foil’ by Alexander Knysh, in the academic journal Die Welt des Islams published in 2004 by Brill.
Note also the following published works by Muslim scholars in regards to the Wahhabi ideology.
Imam ‘Atha’illah al-Makki (r.a.) wrote as-Sarim al-Hindi fi al-‘Unuq an-Najdi, “The Indian Scimitar on the Najdi’s Neck.”
Imam ‘Abd ar-Rabbih ibn Sulayman ash-Shafi’i al-Azhari (r.a.), the author of Sharh Jami’ al-Uswul li Ahadits ar-Rasul, a basic book of uswul al-fiqh, wrote Faydh al-Wahhab fi Bayan Ahl al-Haqq wa man Dhallah ‘an asw-Swawab, “al-Wahhab’s Outpouring in Differentiating the True Muslims from Those Who Deviated from the Truth”, which comprised four volumes. ‘al-Wahhab’ here refers to Allah (s.w.t.), not the heretic, Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab.
Shaykh Salama al-‘Azzami (r.a.) wrote al-Barahin as-Sati’at. “The Radiant Proofs.”
Imam Muhammad Sa’id Ramadhan al-Buwthi (r.a.) wrote two major refutations: as-Salafiyyatu Marhalatun Zamaniyyatun Mubarakatun laa Madzhabun Islami, “The Salafiyyah is a Blessed Historical Period not an Islamic School of Law”; and al-Lamadzhabiyyah Akhtaru Bid’atin Tuhaddidu ash-Shari’ah al-Islamiyyah, “Non-Madzhabism is the most Dangerous Innovation Presently Menacing Islamic Law”.
Shaykh ad-Dahish ibn ‘Abdullah from the Arab University of Morocco wrote Munazharah ‘Ilmiyyah bayna ‘Ali ibn Muhammad ash-Sharif wa al-Imam Ahmad ibn Idris fi ar-Radd ‘ala Wahhabiyyat Najd wa Tihamah, wa ‘Asir, “Scholarly Debate between the Sharif and Ahmad ibn Idris against the Wahhabis of Najd, Tihamah, and ‘Asir”.
Imam Ahmad ibn Zayni ad-Dahlan (r.a.), the Mufti of Makkah and Shaykh al-Islam, highest religious authority in the Ottoman jurisdiction, for the Hijaz region, wrote three major works against them. They are ad-Durar as-Saniyyah fi ar-Radd ‘ala al-Wahhabiyyah, “The Pure Pearls in Answering the Wahhabis”; Fitnat al-Wahhabiyyah, “The Wahhabi Fitnah”; and Khulaswat al-Kalam fi Bayan Umara’ al-Balad al-Haram, “The Summation Concerning the Leaders of the Sacrosanct Country”, a history of the Wahhabi fitnah in Najd and the Hijaz.
Shaykh Hamdullah ad-Dajwi (r.a.) wrote al-Baswa’ir li Munkiri at-Tawaswswul la Amtsal Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, “The Evident Proofs against Those Who Deny the Seeking of Intercession Like Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab”.
Habib Muhammad ‘Ashiq ar-Rahman (r.a.) wrote, ‘Aqab Allah al-Mujdi li Junun al-Munkir an-Najdi, “Allah’s Terrible Punishment for the Mad Rejecter from Najd”.
Sayyid ‘Abdullah ibn `Alawi al-Haddadash-Shafi’i (q.s.), the son of Sayyid al-‘Alawi ibn Ahmad al-Haddad (q.s.), wrote as-Sayf al-Bathir li ‘Unq al-Munkir ‘ala al-Akabir, “The Sharp Sword for the Neck of the Assailant of Great Scholars”. He also wrote another, unpublished manuscript of about 100 folios titled Miswbah al-Anam wa Jala’ az-Zalam fi Radd Shubah al-Bid’i an-Najdi Allati Adalla biha al-‘Awamm, “The Lamp of Mankind and the Illumination of Darkness Concerning the Refutation of the Errors of the Innovator from Najd by Which He Had Misled the Common People.” This manuscript was published in 1907.
Shaykh Ibrahim al-Hilmi al-Qadri al-Iskandari (r.a.) wrote Jalal al-Haqq fi Kashf Ahwal Ashrar al-Khalq, “The Splendour of Truth in Exposing the Worst of People”, which was published in 1934.
Sayyid ‘Amili, Muhsin al-Husayni (r.a.) wrote Kashf al-Irtiyab fi Atba’ Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, “The Dispelling of Doubt Concerning the Followers of Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab”.
Imam ‘Ulyawi ibn Khalifah al-Azhari (r.a.) wrote Hadzihi ‘Aqidatu as-Salaf wa al-Khalaf fi Dzat Allahi Ta’ala wa Swifatihi wa Af’alihi wa al-Jawab asw-Swahih li ma Waqa’a fihi al-Khilaf min al-Furu’ bayna al-Da’in li as-Salafiyyah wa Atba’ al-Madzahib al-Arba’ah al-Islamiyyah, “This is the Doctrine of the Predecessors and the Descendants Concerning the Divergences in the Branches between Those Who Call to as-Salafiyyah and the Followers of the Four Islamic Schools of Law”. This was published in 1977.
Shaykh Hasan Khazbik (r.a.) wrote al-Maqalat al-Wafiyyat fi ar-Radd ‘ala al-Wahhabiyyah, “Complete Treatise in Refuting the Wahhabis”.
Shaykh Muhammad Hasanayn Makhluf (r.a.) wrote Risalat fi Hukm at-Tawaswswul bi al-Anbiya’ wa al-Awliya’, “Treatise on the Ruling Concerning the Use of Prophets and Saints as Intermediaries”.
The muhaddits, Imam Muhammad al-Hasan ibn ‘Alawi al-Maliki al-Husayni (q.s.) wrote Mafahimu Yajibuan Tuswahhah, “Notions That Should be Corrected”. This was published in its 4th edition as Muhammad al-Insanu al-Kamil, “Muhammad, the Perfect Human Being”, in 1984.
Shaykh Mashrifi al-Maliki al-Jaza’iri (r.a.) wrote Izhar al-‘Uquq Mimman Mana’a at-Tawaswswul bi an-Nabi’ wa al-Wali asw-Swaduq, “The Exposure of the Disobedience of Those Who Forbid Using the Intermediary of the Prophet and the Truthful Saints”.
Shaykh ‘Abdullah ibn Ibrahim al-Mirghani ath-Tha’ifi (r.a.) wrote Tahridh al-Aghbiya’ ‘ala al-Istighatsa bi al-Anbiya’ wa al-Awliya’, “The Provocations of the Ignorant against Seeking the Help of Prophets and Saints”.
The qadhi and great muhaddits, Imam Yusuf ibn Isma’il an-Nabhani ash-Shafi’i (q.s.) wrote Shawahid al-Haqq fi al-Istighatsa’ bi Sayyid al-Khalq, “The Proofs of Truth in the Seeking of the Intercession of the Prophet”.
Shaykh ‘Abdullah al-Qadumi an-Nablusi al-Hanbali (r.a.) wrote Rihlat, “Journey”.
Imam Muhammad Hasan al-Qazwini (r.a.) wrote al-Barahin al-Jaliyyah fi Raf` Tashkikat al-Wahhabiyah, “The Plain Demonstrations That Dispel the Aspersions of the Wahhabis”, which was published in 1987.
Sayyid Yusuf ibn Hashim ar-Rifa’i, President of the World Union of Islamic Propagation and Information, wrote Adillat Ahl as-Sunnah wa al-Jama’at awar-Radd al-Muhkam al-Mani’ ‘ala Munkarat wa Shubuhat ibn Mani’ fi Tahajjumihi ‘ala as-Sayyid Muhammad ‘Alawi al-Maliki al-Makki, “The Proofs of the People of the Way of the Prophet and the Muslim Community or the Strong and Decisive Refutation of ibn Mani’’s Aberrations and Aspersions in his Assault on Muhammad ‘Alawi al-Maliki al-Makki”.
Imam Ibrahim as-Samnudi al-Manswuri (r.a.) wrote Sa’adat ad-Darayn fi ar-Radd ‘ala al-Firqatayn al-Wahhabiyyah wa Muqallidat azh-Zhahiriyyah, “Bliss in the Two Abodes: Refutation of the Two Sects, the Wahhabi and Zhahiri Followers”.
Imam Hasan ibn ‘Ali as-Saqqaf ash-Shafi’i, from the Islamic Research Institute in Amman, Jordan, wrote several books. They include al-Ighatsa bi Adillat al-Istighatsa wa ar-Radd al-Mubin ‘ala Munkiri at-Tawaswswul, “The Mercy of Allah in the Proofs of Seeking Intercession and the Clear Answer to Those who Reject It”; ‘Ilqam al-Hajr li al-Muthatawil ‘ala al-Asha’ira min al-Bashar,“ The Stoning of All Those Who Attack Ash’aris”; and Qamus Shata’im al-Albani wa al-Alfazh al-Munkarat Allati Yathluquha fi Haqq ‘Ulama al-Ummah wa Fudhala’iha wa Ghayrihim, “Encyclopaedia of al-Albani’s Abhorrent Expressions Which He Uses Against the Scholars of the Community, Its Eminent Men and Others”. This was published in Amman by Dar al-Imam an-Nawawi in 1993.
Imam Sayf ad-Din Ahmad ibn Muhammad wrote in English, “al-Albani Unveiled: An Exposition of His Errors and Other Important Issues”, which was published in 1994.
Imam Jamil Swidq az-Zahawi al-Baghdadi (r.a.), the Mufti of Baghdad and descendent of Khalid ibn al-Walid (r.a.), wrote al-Fajr asw-Swadiq fi ar-Radd ‘ala Munkiri at-Tawaswswul wa al-Khawariq, “The True Dawn in Refuting Those Who Deny the Seeking of Intercession and the Miracles of Saints”, which was published in 1905 in Egypt.
Shaykh Qiyam ad-Din Ahmad wrote in English, “The Wahhabi Movement in India”, which was published in New Delhi in 1994.
Therefore, please refer to the above material as such is my response to points 4.2, 5.3, anything related to the matter in the schedule under 5.4, and 6 in your letter.
Further, I found it logical to establish the link between Ismail Menk and Wahhabism based on recordings of his talks made publicly available on YouTube, as well as published statements on Facebook. These sources have made clear his position on nuanced matters in Islamic theology, particularly about intercession, tawaswswul, the commemoration of the Prophet Muhammad’s (s.a.w.) birthday, Mawlid. It is commonly known amongst those versed in the theology of Islam that the outright rejection of such concepts can only be found within the Wahhabi ideology. These are positions within Sunni Islam that are considered sawad al-a’azham. Only the Wahhabis reject them, and create a controversy where there is none. It is clear that they are not part of Sunni Islam.
Also, instead of denying that he is a Wahhabi, the very fact that you are contesting the legitimacy of the doctrine here implies that Ismail Menk does subscribe to the theological positions of the sect. That means my characterisation of him as a Wahhabi is a true statement and is, thus, not ‘defamation’.
The use of the terms ‘kafirun’, ‘mushrikin’ and such are technical terms used in ‘aqidah, theology. We do not take the definition of our religious nomenclature from English dictionaries. I do not consider this section 4.1 to be of merit, considering the substance of the charge has already been addressed above, but if you are interested, I recommend Lisan al-‘Arab.
Combining this with the sources listed in 1(b), my statements are thus, logical and not false. Therefore, there is no defamation.
I am not obliged to provide any evidence in regards to communications with the Singapore Government as it is a form of private correspondence. They are also not material to the complaint since they are not public, and thus, cannot possibly be defamation.
You have conveniently excluded the Singapore Government’s discretion on the matter. I may have written to the Government, but withholding Ismail Menk’s permit was not my decision to make. Also, this would not have been the first time Ismail Menk has been banned from public speaking as he has already been banned in the UK in 2014 for his homophobic comments, for example. Thus, according to the current international socio-political scene, I believe that the Singapore and UK Governments have withheld the permits where they saw fit.
I believe the above points are sufficient to clarify my position on the matter. Every statement I have made about Wahhabism and Ismail Menk has been in line with the scholars and published authors above. Therefore, to bring an action against me would necessitate bringing an action against them as well. As such, I will not rescind my published material nor will I issue any sort of apology to your client. Rather, it is Ismail Menk who should apologise to me for the inconvenience of actually having to address this frivolous legal action.
Of course, as is the nature of such drivel, I never had the pleasure of a response. I would have loved to have taken the case to court and I was quite prepared for it. It would have generated tremendous publicity, and I am confident I could have taken their arguments apart. It would have given me great pleasure to destroy any hope of Ismail Menk credibly pretending to be a Sunni scholar. I doubt that even Ismail Menk would be so stupid to have taken the case that far. It would have done him no good even if he had an unlikely victory.