Posted by: Dawud Israel | December 5, 2011

Commentary on AHM’s Contentions: Islamic Ideologies and Isms

Bismillah, alhamdulillah, was-salat wa salam ala Rasulullah

I strongly avoid sectarian discussions on this blog, however this is a part of the Contentions and there is no really getting around this. It is a crucial aspect of AHM’s work and it would not be dignified of me to shy away from highlighting these ideas. They are overall good ideas, they are not angry ideas, but they are theological ideas and have little to do with the ordinary Muslims but with scholarship.

I would NEVER use these points in a conversation with someone who considers themselves a salafi or shia or whatever, because they are a simple Muslims like me and are just trying their best. Most of these issues and most of what people call ‘heresiology’ has to do with issues between scholars, not between lay people. I feel we really have screwed up here since there are few practicing Muslims, and amongst them there is an obsession with refutations as if this is what Islam is all about. This is not how the Sahabas lived Islam and its not how they became great. When a group of new Muslims began to adhere to a problematic creed, Ibn Abbas went and explained to them in a few minutes and brought them back into orthodoxy. These issues are really not as big as we make them out to be. Imam al-Bayhaqi has said polemics are a bid’ah hasana, but polemic have clearly become a blameworthy bid’a. So AHM has also included a number of Contentions that deal with proper adab with difference and navigating the many intellectual errors present in the diverse community of Islam, and I have been careful to elaborate on those ideas and those are points which I feel are of utmost important for the ordinary Muslim to read thoroughly, namely: ‘Spreading mercy not fear’, ‘Emotional Islam’ and ‘Try this…’

So its important to approach this section in realizing the mistakes made are not that severe, but they should be noted should history repeat itself and many of these points are useful in refuting insipid extremist rhetoric. Many of the intellectual mistakes Muslims have made are mistakes the Jews made or secularists have made as you will see below. But it could be history will reoccur, when Imam Mahdi comes and then dies, you could see a new brand of Shi’ism emerge or when Eesa alayhi salam dies you could see many other cults and sects emerge. AHM says little about the Sh’ia is harshest with ideology, extremism and the Salafi movement since he sees this age as the ‘golden age of the Khawarij’ which I found startling. Proceed with caution.

False religion

-This section applies to the comparison of Islam to other religions, but also to problematic tendencies present among Muslims

11. True religion invites us to become better people. False religion tells us that this has already occurred.
-Self-satisfaction is a false chimaera, since we can always become better people and always journey ever-closer to God

85. A canon of self-scrutiny: false religion feels more like a wound than a bandage.
-Their is self-scrutiny which is like a surgery and healing and then there is self-scrutiny which is like firing a cannonball at yourself

3. False religion finds it easier to make holes than to fill them.
-Problematizing is easy and a lazy job, while finding or creating answers is a hard job requiring real sustained effort

51. The false scholar: a muezzin whose fingers are stuck.
-Can’t or won’t listen to others, just keeps shouting

4. In senescence, religions have two possibilities: Alzheimers (the amnesiac option of the secular elites) and manic-depressive (the false Salafism).
-Like senior citizen, when religions are in decline they follow two routes, that of Alzheimers which is essentially forgetting their history (secularism) or Bipolar disorder where their are high points of manic religiosity and low points of depression which seems to be the route Islam in Saudi Arabia
-The geriatric metaphor is suitable because we should treat people who may go astray in these ways with compassion and caring we would treat someone who is unwell or terminally ill, even if these fellow Muslims will not change they are still a test for us before Allah

37. Some religions out-narrate others.
-out-narrate is a Milbankian term and suggests how the story of Islam is continuing while the stories of other religions is concluding

Spreading mercy not fear

-AHM mentions, ‘One hadith tells the Prophet’s (salallahu alayhi wasalam)’s companions, who lived in the “Age of Felicity” (‘asr al-sa’ada): “You are living in a time when someone who renounces a tenth of what is enjoined upon him will be destroyed; but a time will come when someone who performs a tenth of what is enjoined upon him will be saved.” (Tirmidhi, Fitan, 79) Traditional Sunnism took this to mean that the law should be applied more gently as time went on. For instance, even one of the most rigorous of Ottoman jurists, al-Birgivi (1523-1573) thought that his age was so distant from the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam)’s time that it was forbidden for the jurist to apply any but the most easy and gentle interpretations of the Sharia.

56. Those who wish Islam to be feared and not loved cannot claim the prophetic kerygma in mission.
-They who treat Islam like a tribe have not inherited the teaching of Islam, which is to make Islam loved and spread it in a humane way that is realistic to people’s capabilities

78. If you put the Sunna before mercy, you have lost both.
-The sunna is mercy and he (salallahu alayhi wasalam) is the mercy to the worlds

38 Remember, today, everyone is weak.
-Be merciful and soft with the Muslim and be realistic as to what you can expect of them

40. People will not come closer to you if you hit them.
-Few people will want to come back to revisit the mosque if we hurt them

93. Without meaning there is only meanness.
-An Islam devoid of spiritual meaning and intentions of spiritual transformation will be full of anger and attitude and this can also applies to modernity’s absence of meaning which leads to such gross harassments as racism and

13. Which came first: intolerant preaching or its subject-matter?
-Did intolerant preaching come because of political and theological problems or did already intolerant preachers simply find new spicy material to use in their sermons

64. Religion begins where empathy tends.
-Religion starts whereever one finds empathy, with the poor, oppressed and the confused

77. You may show a man a thousand miracles, but if you show him no compassion, he will not believe.
-Mercy is the greater miracle or an aid to witnessing miracles

31. Being hard is the soft option.
-Being harsh with people is the easy option while being soft is the hard thing to do

73 Once we cried out hawqalas, now we cry out ‘How callous!’
-We have become used to criticizing people and the problems we see rather than fleeing to Allah and using it as a moment to declare that God is greater and more powerful than these instances

91. Justice may never be the consequence of wrath; but it may be its right assuaging.
-Justice for us is not simply a mechanical reaction from anger, but it may heal anger and pain

55. Allat, Manat and al-Uzza cannot compete with your potential for harm.
-There is no allure to idolatry so it cannot distract us from Islam, but rudeness and being harsh with one another will hurt the cause of Islam and pushes people away from the religion


89. Ideology must not be self-critical; religion must be.
-When ideology is self-critical it may mean killing people, but religion has to be self-critical since that is a sign of its life
-Elsewhere AHM says ‘umma semper reformanda- the ummah is always reforming’ referring to 1400+ years of Islamic history

81. Kerygma becomes paranoia when orthodoxy becomes ideology.
-Preaching becomes all about paranoia, anxiety and insecurity when they see religion as an ideology

20. The Caliph’s first task will be to flog those who call Islam an ideology.
-Islam is not an ideology, since an ideology is static and done, whereas a religion is dynamic and always growing, to use a metaphor ideology is a small house, while religion is a mansion that the more you walk in it, the more it grows, the more room and facilities it develops
-You have to work to belong to a religion, because not everything is laid out for you, whereas everything is laid out for you in an ideology and requires just a little knowledge
-I have used the word ideology since there aren’t many words that near it in meaning and usage but

91. An movement is Islamic to the extent that it truly succeeds.
-Allah has promised success to the believers, so if they are not suceeding it has to do with them, how attached to Islamic practice and how much they imbibe the religion

68. Dogma: less is more.
-Dogmatic thinking is strengthen by slogans and weakened by lengthy, nuanced literature and discussions

70. Islam is mainly threatened by those who mainly say that Islam is threatened.
-Many of the people crying wolf have an agenda, and alarmism is how they can gain in popularity, whereas they actually end up hurting Islam in the long run

37. The worst ideology is that which courts failure as a guarantor of martyrdom.
-Why? Because it will continue on and on and never see any reason to stop since its failures are beloved to it


-AHM mentions the problem with, Utopianism is that ‘it leads to a chronic obsession with purity rather than an ethic of compassion and concern and that makes us incapable of being an example to non-Muslims’

92. Utopianism was the Jahiliyya of the 20th century.
-It is a naive mentality that falls into a childish fantasy that denies the nature of decay in the world

67. The hope for radical success is normally a sign of Westernisation.
-When Muslim fantasize about creating a utopia this has less to do with Islam and more to do with imitating the West since even the success of the Prophets was gradual

22. Fantasy is death.
-It is as good as death since it paralyzes people, mortifies them and if acted upon can lead to death

69. Utopia? The devil tempts you to attempt heaven on earth, as he tempts you with zina.
-We cannot create heaven on earth which will only happen when God decrees it
-Better explained by the next Contention

83. The Messianic exists to indicate what we should not attempt.
-Only Eesa (Jesus) alayhi salam will bring forth the closest thing to heaven on earth as propheisied in the hadith

47. They are not the solution; God is the solution.
-We aren’t ready to make mention of Allah when we detail the laundry list of our societal and political problems, and if we don’t turn to Allah then how is some angry brother at the mosque going to solve our problems?
-This hints to the real problem which is the problem of ego and hurt pride when ‘Umar said that ‘Our honour is Islam, if we abandon Islam then God will debase us’

89. The front line has grown too long.
-Too many Muslims feel they need to be defending Islam and rather than concentrate in one area of the line, they spread out, work alone, have little support behind them because they have detached themselves from the Muslim community and this makes it easy for the ‘enemy’ to penetrate the line

67. Utopians are un-Realistic.
-They are disconnected from God and are acting out more out of a distance from Him, seeing the debasement of Muslims as a sign of His abandonment when in reality the Propethic example is one of tolerating strife and alienation
-Utopianism always will fail because it is out of touch with reality and will create dystopia


1. ‘Islam is not Islamism – never forget this – but the latter operates in the name of the former, and this is the grave question of the name.’ (Derrida)
-Islamism could justify money laundering, scams, bank robberies, prostitution, drug trade and a host of other haram activities to fund what it sees as a battle for Islam
-The key idea here is Islamism, is unofficial repudiated Islam, does not represent nor assist Islam, except that it thinks it does, it is like someone who starts a fan club or dedicates fan fiction to a celebrity even though

69. Islamism replaces religion with the idea of it.
-Islamism advocates Islam, it likes and romanticizes the idea of it as glorious rather than actually living it as a life story, because it sees it as dead when it continues to live

71. Islamism: untie your camel, and trust in God.
-Islamism has no trust or reliance in Allah, it only has reliance upon itself and sees itself as the vanguard and sole force to protect Islam when Allah has promised to preserve this religion

92. Islamism is Orientalist.
-It takes on the caricatures that Orientalists have popularized about Islam, the marauding blood-hungry warriors, senseless and blind to reason and in this way Muslims Orientalize themselves

4. Islamism is the West’s only victory.
-AHM says elsewhere, ‘Even modern Islamism, which claims to be the Third World’s great revolt against the imposition of the West’s monoculture, typically defines itself in solidly Western terms as “vanguard” (tali’a), “movement” (haraka), or when finally ensconced in the palace of a fallen tyrant as an “Islamic Republic.” Hence John Gray’s diagnosis: “The idealogues of political Islam are western voices, no less than Marx or Hayek. The struggle with radical Islam is yet another western family quarrel.” Islamism is far from the liberal entailments of the Enlightenment, but it is closely allied to the more totalitarian possibilities which the Enlightenment unleashed.’

48. Islamism: the Holy Prophet marching.
-It is the only image of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) that Islamists think of or know of

14. Islamism’s fire will leave only ashes.
-The fire will not spread but will die out and leave only ashes of the Muslims

32 Islamism is the Frankenstein of Frankistan.
-Islamism is a zombie resurrected from the dead and defunct ideologies of the West’s past; the Orientalist blood-thirsty caricatures, the utopianism of the Communists, and often somehow ending up serving the political interests of the West in some way, shape or form by making Muslims look bad

86. Do not fear any extremist; fear the consequences of his acts.
-An extremist often is not to be feared since they are merely angry and frustrated but what they may do is what would cause harm to themselves and to Muslim lives and the future of Muslims

41 Islam thinks dyadically; Islamism thinks dialectically.
-Islam thinks about both the Muslim and the non-Muslim, whether they be enemies at the time or not, how to bring about harmony between them as Allah healed the hearts of the mushrikeen to accept Islam, while Islamism because of its distance from true Islam assumes no such thing can ever happen and thinks in terms of an forever us vs. them tribalistic mentality

27. The zealot is wrong, even when he is right.
-Because ultimately he will be wrong in the end


-AHM says in one of his papers: ‘the other extremism is to give way to the lower desires, revenge, anger, venting one‟s sense of outraged pride, which is a reversion to the days of the jāhiliyya. Remember the old suicide warfare of the pagan Arabs, the ittifād, one of the phenomona of the furious rage, the h’amiyya, of the people of the jāhiliyya, who couldn‟t stand it when their honor and their pride was challenged by others, was a ritual suicide on the battlefield and to show them that these people were not afraid of death. One of the jahili practices that were abolished by Islam. Unfortunately this practice has come back in some contexts, but it is alien to our tradition. Think of earlier ages of the occupation of Palestine for instance, however much we stretch our imagination, can we imagine somebody in the Palestine occupied by King Baldwin in the time of the crusaders, walking into the now substantially Christianized market place in Jerusalem and engaging in act of suicidal terrorism against the men, women and children there? Before explosives, how would one have done it? Blindfolding oneself perhaps and lashing out with a sword at whoever happened to be near. History of course, because our history is a history of futuwa, of honorable warrior-hood, records no such thing.
That rage, that desire to self annihilation, to lash out and the men, women and children, whoever in the vicinity, is now becoming a global epidemic. And the „ulama who opened the little door now see these legions rushing through it in every place don‟t know what to do about it. That door has to be closed. Islam is too good for such practices, for such baseness, for such wild expression of futility and despair and vindictiveness.
This arbitrary brutality that has now come to the streets of this city and has caused such despair and confusion and division and battlement amongst Muslims and such joy and celebration amongst those who really wish we weren‟t here at all. This has to stop. And we should have a policy of zero tolerance of those who try to fudge the issues, and say, well in some places it‟s all right, but here it isn‟t, because this is a moral absolute. The practices is qabeeh, it is ugly, and Allah is Jamīl yahibbu al- Jimāl. He is beautiful and He loves beauty.”’

-AHM says in one of his speeches: “Bin-Ladenism, with its fury against global imbalance, is unveiled as simply another manner of being Western, as John Gray has calculated. If world trade is currently iniquitous, attacking the World Trade Center is no less iniquitous, like growing a rank weed in the same fetid soil of greed, envy, and lack of compassion.”

65. The suicide bomber is not afraid of death, because already, there is nothing left in him to die.
-AHM was once asked by a journalist if suicide bombing is mentioned in the Qur’an and used to say no, but then started to respond, “Uh huh, yes there is one verse: ‘It [Hell] almost bursts with rage.’ (Surah Mulk, v. 9)”

29. Extremism should preoccupy us only when it becomes the cause as well as the consequence of failure.
-It is neither the cause nor the consequence of our failures, it is a failure but the cause that needs fixing is our spiritual problems

53. No pure purism pushes people into impurity.
-Extremist rhetoric cannot be pure if it pushes people into sins

15. Extremism is tolerable because it is always transient.
-It is short-term and dies out quickly

92. Faith cannot yield despair; despair cannot yield martyrdom.
-The Qur’an states none despair the mercy of God but the disbelievers, but true faith remains strong when faced with adversity and there is no martyrdom when despair is the true reason, since it is an escape
-It requires more courage to live for Islam now, than it does to die for it and in a way those who embody Islam today are ‘living martyrs’ in the exoteric sense though the Qur’an states the martyrs are not dead but living in the unseen
-There are hadith that state the reward of the righteous near the endtimes will be like that of 40 Sahabas

93. Fundamentalism imitates the future, not the past.
-It imitates the dystopia that comes from utopianism and ignores the example of the Sahabas
-How the Companions behaved in Mecca, Madina and in Abyssinia is how we should behave under various societal situations

2. Fundamentalism is the belief that revelation forces us to be stupid.
-That we are not to use our intellect when the Qur’an clearly encourages us to in several places

15. The definition of extremism: any act that leads to extreme misfortune.
-Better explained by the next Contention

49. Suicide bombing is an extreme way of shooting oneself in the foot.
-If it flops, which it often does, the bomber ends up in jail and injured and if it succeeds innocent people die and it destroys the images of Islam

9. Ghuluww is not an excess of piety, it is a lack of it.
-’Halaka al-mutanata’oon, destroyed are those who go in extremes.’ (Hadith)

58. Extremism has no enemy save those it claims to defend.
-Often the greatest casualty are the extremists claim to protect and this is the same for American extremism as well
-Often there is a hatred of the people it claims to defend

30. Extremism: just say know.
-Islamic knowledge and learning is the answer to the ideas and problems posed by Muslims with extremist tendencies

40. Suicide bombing: al-fana’ fi’l-shaytan.
-Absorption and annihilation into shaytan since it is the triumph of despair and Allah says in the Qur’an none despairs in Allah except the disbeliever, while saying about the Awliya that they shall have no fear nor shall they grieve
-Better explained by this Contention, ‘9. The devil, not God, heareth the zealot’s prayer.’

7. Terrorism is to jihad what adultery is to marriage.
-It is the form of the act that is what makes the difference

50. Don’t get even. (‘God is witr , and He loves the witr .’)
-Do not take revenge
-AHM is particularly brilliant at combining Islamic and English language and vernacular to show that perhaps God has left signs and moral guidance hidden in those language

22. Islam provides hope; the umma provides fear. ‘Whoever unites both wings shall fly.’
-Islam promises us transformation and Muslims scare us about our future, and in a way this is good since we get our share of fear and hope

62. Do not let a false radicalism diminish your desire for a radicalism that is true.
-Better explained by this Contention, ‘58. ‘Moderate Islam’? Do not be an extreme Muslim; be extremely Muslim.’

False salafism
-A manifestation of scientism and skepticism inside the Muslim world
-change the edifice and foundation of building and make it collapse on them
-It carries with it a spirit of independence and autonomy reminiscent of feminism

67. “Back to the Sources!’ Pulling up the bucket is not helped by cutting the rope.
-The constant cry of the Saudi-trained scholars that never seems to progress much further
-If we want to get to the sources we have to follow the chain and historical Islamic scholarly tradition, but we can’t because the Salafi scholarship has detached itself from that tradition

7. The false Salafism should recall that some creatures can only survive in deep water.
-The superficial reading of Islam may work and be enough for the simpleton Nejdi Muslim but that doesn’t mean it is enough for every Muslim
-Some Muslims require more spiritual and intellectual depth and Islam has been quite capable of providing that throughout the ages

18. Wahhabism: the war on polychromy. (Vermeer: the perfect Protestant.)
-The rejection of the diversity of Islam and the multiplicity of religious opinions in favour of the ‘correct opinion’ which when asked on what basis or criteria it is considered ‘correct’ little explanation is given
-In a self this tendency might have its roots in the Monoculture though it is true many Muslim groups have proselytized their interpretations of Islam

50. History for the false Salafis is what the Holocaust is for the Jews.
-It is a revisionist paranoia that only sees the ugly moments in Muslim history and says ‘never again’ but like the Jewish state today it precipitates and brings about what it claims to combat

60. The false Salafism: veiling the Prophet with the Sunna.
-Hiding the Seerah via selective quoting of hadith, and thereby giving not giving each hadith its place, since context is absence

4 The false Salafism: an unsuccessful flight from complexity.
-Though it seeks simplicity it only ends up making things needlessly complicated by forcing people into making Islam a do-it-yourself project

25 The false Salafism: to make progress, we need to start at the beginning every day.
-The slogan is always to return to the basics of tawhid, those things every Muslim knows and has known since childhood

3. The false Salafism: an optimism about the present which justifies a pessimism about the past.
-In this sense it is an heir to European triumphalism of liberalism, secularity, modernity and the Enlightenment which looks back at history negatively and because of that is satisfied with itself and this is precisely why it is deaf

39. The false Salafi is Pharoah in the robe of Moses.
-The age-old Muslim problem of personality cults among religious students

88. The false Salafism: the revolt of the ego against the Caliph.
-This may refer to the revolt of would-be Saudi leadership against the Ottomans for selfish purposes of conquest, rule and the fervor of nationalism

41. The false Salafism: only the Arab has a salaf.
-In other words, the Arab Islam is the most authentic which forgets Bilal, Suhayb and Abdullah bin Salam, who were not Arab; rather many of the Sahabas and the Salaf were non-Arab in ancestry and region

80. The false Salafism: it is better to lose angrily than to win calmly.
-Related to the Contention, ‘54. Beware him that would fail violently rather than succeed peacefully.’

33 The false Salafi should disbelieve in angels.
-The absence of the spiritual is crucial since tasawwuf has to do intimately with the study of angels

43 The pleasure of false Salafism: the exegete stands above, not below, the ulema.
-The man who simply says this hadith is sahih or daef or rejected has a greater status than the ulema who will explain that hadith, contextualize it, compare it with related hadith, criticize it and derive lessons and rulings from it

36. The false Salafi is enraged because Sufism has been taken away from him.
-There is a dearth of spirituality, and a great disconnect between the ascetics, pious men, al-baka’un weeping saints among the Salaf and the early Sufs and the scholars of Saudi Arabia today

80. Only Karaite Muslims demand adherence to a detailed creed.
-Karaite Judaism rejects Jewish rabbinical tradition, demanding strict adherence only to the Torah, detached from the rabbinical scholarship tradition, and the comparison is that Ahl al-hadith and other literalist movements are characterized by what they are not, as opposed to what they are

49. Literalism is the laziness that masquerades as courage.
-Critical thinking requires courage and a boldness to go dig deeper, and the literal reading is the easiest and least demanding reading for the scholar

65. Literalism is a playpen.
-A pun since it plays with words, childishly

90. Literalism is literally a type of tahrif .
-It is a literal distortion of an Islamic text since it hides the metaphorical or other layers of meaning

35. Literalism: have you seen him that worships God on a harf?
-Worshipping God on the tip of a word and being ready to change if someone says that word has changed, has no adherence to the spirit and spiritual power of Islam; it has little regard for context and moral depth

18. Literalism is defensible on all levels save the sacred.
-There are verses in the Qur’an that are clearly non-literal such as ‘And whoever is blind in this (world) he will be blind in the Hereafter…’ which are clear indications to the spiritual which is the hallmark of the sacred

11. The idolator is he who takes symbols literally.
-The Khawarij would not recite Surah Yusuf in prayer because they thought it was just a story

36. Without the batin, the zahir is an idol.
-It is for itself and to itself and does not have any spiritual connection to God
-This may have connection to the Mu’tazilite doctrines involving the corporeal nature of God

24. Be patient with literalists; but absolutely impatient with their extremists.
-Literalism is a simple matter, since in Islam there are literal readings which are valid and invalid so its a matter of simply showing and explaining
-But one cannot be patient with literalist extremists since they are perhaps the most dangerous of any extremist, who will act and kill on a typo
This clip of Hamza Yusuf is highly relevant to this discussion

Ahl al-Hadith
-The recent Indian movement that advocated the usage of hadith alone and dispensing with 1400 years of Islamic scholarly tradition which has taken root in Saudi Arabia

100. The ahl al-hadith have only four madhhabs.
-The limit on opinions that can be derived are those in the four fiqh madhabs?

37. Takhrij is no substitute for exegesis.
-Simply sourcing a hadith and saying whether you think its authentic or not doesn’t actually derive any wisdom or lessons for the hadith

-Formalism is another part of the Khawarij tendencies focus on the form, rather than the spiritual content, the focus on religious observance of rites and practices rather than the meaning
-a static, ossified, tradition, which you either are or are not inside this form- the strict adherence or observance of the deen, but in a way that ends up destroying the spirit of Islam and this formalism, differs starkly from the organic nature of the Sunnah, which is about always developing, always coming closer to Allah, always learning, always improving, and therefore, never seeing yourself as pious or knowledgeable because it is an infinite journey.

76. Formalism is just another variety of materialism.
-It is a superficial focus on worship as little more than a commodity rather than as a healing or spiritual journey
-The immediate, perfunctory rituals have more virtue because they are material, they can be seen as substantial, and easy to show, “This is what Islam looks like!” where as education and tazkiya are in solitude

91. Formalists prefer the political to the spiritual because their political failures are less extreme.
-A spiritual failure is harder to confront than a political problem to which one can resort to slogans and sound-bites to attempt to solve
-Spiritual transformations are what true political change is about

21. Tradition: the signs of tawakkul are an authorisation. Formalism: the signs of anger are an authorisation.
-Acting based on anger like the Hulk rather than acting on trust and reliance upon God like the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wassalam)

73. Formalism: to esteem his fingers over his soul.
-AHM may be referring to the finger raising in prayer or he may be referring to pointing fingers rather than acting from the soul and healing the soul

49. The formalist is the corpse of an angel.
-The material nature of formalism sees what is material as real, but angels are made of light and to have a corpse of an angel is a metaphor to the death of spirituality

80. Shi‘ism is a schism, lacking the sea of Mercy.
-This is related to the Contentions, ‘78. Mu‘tazilism: unity and justice. Ash‘arism: unity and justice and mercy.’

33. Shi‘ism: He was infallible, except in his choice of wives.
-If the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasalam) is infallible it applies to all his choices, yet the Shi’a find fault in Aisha (radiallahu anha)

74. He is the Alid who does not accuse him of lacking rida.
-A true supporter of Imam Ali is someone who doesn’t accuse another personof lacking rida (satisfaction and acceptance of divine decree)

77. We are the Shi‘at Ali.
-Perhaps AHM is referring to Sunni Islam being the true partisans of Imam Ali

99. Rafidism: the first Muslim conspiracy theory.
-Rafidi Shi’ism where all sorts of ideas of a divine mistake being made where the Prophethood should’ve gone to Ali
-Like all conspiracy theories it has more to do with the love of scandal than of any truth

3. Sunnism is built on manaqib ; Shi‘ism on mathalib.
-Sunnism, instead of requesting of others, is built upon far sightedness, planning and doing
while Shi’ism is built upon requesting of others to do things

36. ‘Whoever has me as his Mullah, then Ali is his Mullah.’
-A reference to a hadith that connects the Risala of the Prophet with the honour of Imam Ali who is the ‘gate of knowledge’ and at the head of the Sufi orders
-AHM mentions that one of the books chanted by the Shi’a regarding Ahlul Bayt is written by Abu Wa’iz al-Kashifi, a Naqshbandi Sunni Sufi

23. The Sunna: both/and. The Shi‘a: either/or.
-Better explained by the next Contention
59. The Siddiq and the (Ali) Murtada are like Isaac and Ishmael: we do not say either-or, but both-and.

Emotional Islam
44. We are offering to the world a chalice for the soul, filled with our emotions.
-The Prophetic example is not to preach his grief and anger along with tawhid though he (salallahu alayhi wasalam) was more tried than any of us

70. Pessimism is part of the impiety of the periphery.
-Being pessimistic damages the man of Muslims who live in the West: it can make Muslims in the East feel even more hopeless and it can make us Muslims self-defeating and powerless

45. Only movers are shakirs.
-Only people who achieve change are grateful, people who are always complaining and ungrateful usually will never attempt anything

50. Religion is only worth doing when it is better than opera
-If religion is just more theatrics and drama being added to our life then it is of no avail and of no use

95. Decadence is to protest more than to invite.
-Again, AHM visits the idea of decadence and how we Muslims protest more than welcome or do dawah
-When was the last thing Muslims held a rally for dawah for non-Muslims?

16. Have we become like the Incredible Hulk, ineffectual until provoked?
-An apt metaphor about Muslims who are on auto-pilot angry 24/7 when it comes to doing anything
-There is a Twitter account that plays off of this idea: MuslimHulk

97. Those who curse do not transform; those who do not curse transform.
-The difference between the spiritual state and its effects

64 We have replaced contrition with shame.
-We feel shame and our inferiority complex in the way that we should be feeling remorse and repentance to God for our sins

13. Know when to feel ashamed of feeling ashamed.
-Prolonged self-pity and mourning over oneself and the state of the Muslims is much more pathetic and embarrassing than actually being embarrassed by Muslims, its shaytan rubbing salt in the wound

100. Despair of self is the door into religion; despair of God is the door out of it.
-When we are overcome by the difficulties of life we turn to Allah for solace and ease, but when we imagine despair of God’s assistance we abandon religion
-The Prophets are the most tried amongst humanity and they did not fear sins as much as they feared disbelief

78 It is time to rise from the emotion-bath, and recall where we left the libas al-taqwa.
-We should stop bathing our mind, body and soul in emotions and anger, and instead put on the garment of piety and God-consciousness

54. Beware him that would fail violently rather than succeed peacefully.
-When someone decides that violence is the nobler route or carries with it more success simply because of what they have seen in films its a sign of stupidity and as AHM says elsewhere in his Contentions, ‘an extreme way of shooting oneself in the foot.’

3. Today we grow up quickly, but into something childish.
-Brings new meaning to the saying, ‘The child is the father of man’
-The idea of the ‘kidult’ and the fact so many divorces occur
-Elsewhere AHM talks about the modern day Muslim as a child in the robes of an elder sultan

31. See things coolly. You will not think more clearly by worrying that you worry.
-In biology, the part of the brain that worries is the ‘reptilian brain’ since it has similarities to the animal world where it initiates a flight or fight response, and this impairs any cognition with the upper parts of the brain

52. We can curse, or we can be discursive.
-We can keep cursing and getting angry or we can start using our reason and find ways to mitigate the reasons for our anger

71. Do not trust those who readily close their eyes.
-We put people in the driving seat who aren’t ready to open their eyes and we all crash and get hurt

100. ‘The conspiracy theory of society comes from abandoning God and then asking: “Who is in his place”?’ (Karl Popper)
-Even the philosophers understand why conspiracy theories have grown, that its a symptom of our distance from God

Try this…

96. If their defences are strong, it is because you have not used the weapon of mercy.
-’I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends’ (Lincoln)
-People know how to react with anger and hostility, but they become confused and don’t know how to react when their enemy uses compassion against them and eventually they cave

84. Expect only a little. If you impose everything on everyone, you will drive everyone away from everything.
-Taddaruj or gradualism is the way Islam grew and it is the convention even in the Qur’anic revelation

10. Use silence to suffocate falsehood, not truth.
-When we speak to someone idiotic we lower ourselves and acknowledge that they are to be listened to

43. Use words in your preaching only if absolutely necessary.
-Often the Muslim who remains silent and talks little people note his/her character and actions much more closely and it is in there that only the good stands out clearly

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.


  1. Masha’Allah so many great things said. There is great wisdom behind each and every point made. Thank you for sharing this knowledge with us.

  2. thnxx 4 sharing…informative

  3. […] Commentary on Abdal Hakim Murad’s Contentions – Islamic Ideologies and Isms […]

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