Story of an ex-Hizbi

By a former member, Abu Uwais

BismillahirRahmanirRahim wa salaat as-Salaam ala Rasulihil-Karim, wa ahla ahli hi wa as-Sahabihi l-karim.

In my youthful, naive and over-zealous days, I was attracted to the group called “Hizbut-Tahrir”, it was when their main man was OBM. They appealed to my insecurities and gave me a channel to vent my anger at society and my community and be part of a wider identity driven by “youth”.

Anyway after spending a number of years, pamphleting and vandalising public and private property with “Khilafa is coming back” type posters and other such throw away slogans I really started to assess what all this was about and where I was heading as a Muslim. I could not reconcile our anti-kufr stance with most of my HT friends and their love of their designer labels and their materialistic outlook on life. I could not reconcile the fact that one of my acquaintances worked for a large bank in the city; the very ribawi institution that HT purportedly stood against. I could not reconcile the fact that HT did not hold the punishment of the grave as part of their aqida when Imam al-Tahawi clearly states it in al-Aqida al-Tahawiyya:

“80. We believe in the punishment in the grave for those who deserve it, …”.

Imam Tahawi was one of the early imams of Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l Jama’at who listed what the beliefs of Ahl al-Sunnah are in this short treatise. I was told by one of the more “knowledgeable” brothers that “we trust in the punishment of the grave” and that ahad hadith reports do not form part of our aqidah. I later found out that the ahad reports can form part of aqida if one condition can be met: that the tenet of faith mentioned in the hadith is salimun min al-muarada or “free of conflicting evidence”, as is the case for this hadith. Besides, I was recalling this belief in the dua after my five daily prayers: “rabana atina fi dunya hasanatan, wa fil akhirati hasanatan, wa kina azabin-naar. WA KINA AZABAN QABRI [and from the PUNISHMENT OF THE GRAVE], wa kina azaban hashiri, wa kina azaban mizan”. None of my questions were satisfactorily answered and so the inevitable end came ever closer.

Then OBM left HT and set-up the alternative “Muhajiroon”. This I never did quite understand and no one ever explained to me why OBM left seeing as though both parties are working towards the same goal? I also questioned the leadership of the one who allowed himself to be used by the media in the documentary “Tottenham Ayatollah” in which OBM was made to look like a fool. Needless to say my disillusion grew. All I seemed to be doing was pamphleteering and daubing walls with posters and memorising the odd ayat of the Quran to pull out on unsuspecting Muslims to prove my point. I decided to call it a day as I realised that these people were going nowhere and nowhere fast, the bus they were on, so to speak, had not only run out of fuel without the driver noticing; but was heading in the wrong direction in the first place. I could not see how their program would bring about the Khilafa when most of my peers could barely pray properly. All we seemed to concern ourselves with was “siyasa”. I increasingly became concerned with my own personal practice of my religion, I recalled the hadith that basically tells the Muslims that if he sees an ill in a brother make sure that ill doesn’t exist in yourself and what I saw with my brothers was not good and it existed in me. I wanted to know if I was praying properly ie knowing what the faraid, wajibat, sunan etc of my ibadah were but we just seemed interested in “establishing” the khilafa and nothing else. We were brainwashed into thinking that this was the single most important issue in the ummah today when in fact it was one of many. It seemed to me that if you want to build something like a khilafa it has to be done on good strong and solid foundations, HT/Muhajiroon have put foundations in place but matchsticks cannot hold much for long. Not only have they neglected the foundations but the ground upon which they hope to build on is sand and of no real substance. If they were to establish a “khilafa” it would be just an empty shell and the whole structure would come crashing down.

I now know that these people are totally deficient in the three areas of the Din (Islam, Iman and Ihsan). In fiqh they are pretty much la-Madhhabi, they don’t ascribe to any Madhhab and are pre-occupied with their own “ijtihads”, in aqida they follow a crypto-Mutazilite rationalism and they are completely devoid of anything spiritual and mock those who make dhikr and attend such gatherings. In short they are the flip side of Wahhabism.

HT/Muhajiroon’s goal of establishing the Khilafa is no different to those who are awaiting the Mahdi to do it. It is all to do with tawfiq that Allah bestows and from what I know personally there is no tawfiq in either HT/Muhajiroon and there will never be. In fact I have come to realise that if you don’t want the establishment of the Islamic state then the best way is to join up with one of these two groups.

I am much older now and I can see things a lot more clearly without the blinkers and naivety of youth. I know many people who have left this group after maturing and would urge the youth of this group to learn their deen first and expend their energies in creating an environment that would be conducive to da’wah and not prohibitive as is currently with HT/Muhajiroon. Once we all sort ourselves and the community out it will be fertile ground for the seeds of tawfiq to be sown and Allah will cause them to flourish in abundance with the rains of His Mercy.

In closing I am thankful to HT for at least awakening me to my deen even though they did very little to nurture it. I have had a few friends “burn out” from HT and go completely back to their jahiliyya state and this can be blamed on no one else but HT who will be questioned on That Day.

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  • Da Pauper

    Jazakallah Khair for the article Abu Uwais. I too am a ‘leftover’ from the hay day of HT and Muhajiroun and completely agree with what have said.

    With hindsight, their Islam is one which is very dry and bland, totally lacking any sense of spirituality or real knowledge. I remember that only ‘knowledge’ that they gave was based of the ‘culture’ they used to give, which was based on a few small books which you were meant to read and learn in order to become a ‘debater’!

    I remember them being based out of many ISOCs across the UK, debating anyone and everyone, which initially was very attractive, but then lost is sheen as there was nothing of substance behind them. Them being oncampus eventually lead to all sorts of problems for muslims on campus, and fuelled the wahhabi call to ‘Ahlus Sunnah’, which I suppose at least was based on some knowledge, but then their calls against so called bidah and shirk after every other sentence became just as bad as it went against what the majority of muslims have believed in for 100’s of years. At the time though, they seemed right as the ‘traditionals’ were nowhere to be seen. True that there were some tablighi brothers around, but then again their passive attitude didn’t really help anyone much, especially the student Muslim trying to separate the wood from the chaff.

    I remember that a senior brother in HT and then Muhajiroun, questioned the senior leadership regarding the so called ‘government in waiting’ that they claimed to have in the Middle East. He wanted to go and visit them, to which no satisfactory response was given. The only response what that these people qualified and available and were ready to take up power when ‘nusra’ was achieved! I also found that all their talks were just repeats, being played over and over, no matter what the topic or subject of discussion.

    I too saw the many burnouts of such ‘dawah’ and felt unable to reconcile the evil west image being portrayed with the very same people allowing fraud, walking around in designers and having very little knowledge of basic fiqh and about their religion in general. Islam is based on humanity and appeals to the fitrah, so such ideas just didn’t seem right from the get go, no matter how they were justified.

    I think that the presence of HT (and Muhajiroun and the wahhabis) did wake up the traditional schools, which lead to somewhat of a renaissance in traditional Islamic thinking and following. I think I was one of the lucky ones that got out of the melting pot before it got too hot and started questioning just as you did, and had like minded brothers around me. This led me to develop somewhat of a balanced view and to look around to search for sunni scholars. Now almost household names amongst sunnis, names like Shaikh Yacoubi, Jifri, Nuh, Tahir Ul Qadri, etc, etc, were almost like gems back then!

    As you said, one thing they did do was so raise a level of awareness about Islam in the minds of the youth, which was a good thing, and for that I am grateful, but their work did do a lot of damage and turned many away.

    Now having lived for many years in the Middle East and (still learning) Arabic, has opened so many doors of knowledge, mercy and guidance.

    Thank you for a great article which make me grateful for where I am today in my understanding.

    May Allah guide us all to Him and make us from the pious ones on the straight path. Ameen.

  • Khan

    AA Judging by the misunderstandings exhibited by both of you, it looks like your time with HT was little more than a waste of time, where you did not benefit from any of their research and solutions to the political ills facing society. They are not a school, a university, a playgroup or a support group - they are an Islamic political party and make this clear. Rather than blaming yourselves for your own shortfalls you choose to blame them, in my opinion unfairly.

    As regards their intellectual positions, they adopt rationalism/ideationalism, asharite creed, shafite legal philosophy and ideological transformational politics - none of which is out of turn with classical Islamic scholarship and Islamic tradition. Much of these points are addressed at more substantive critiques undertaken by others which have been responded to more accurately than your claims (eg http://www.islamic-considerations.blogspot.com/ )

    Compared to the likes of Qadri whom you cite as mainsteam (since when???) who attempts like the mutazalite project before him to fuse Islam and democracy and has been refuted by a number of writers (eg http://caliphateordemocracy.blogspot.com/ ) they are much better.

    All this you appear to have missed - maybe you should revisit their publications where much of this is clarified - or read the work of the only writer who has bothered to undertake phd research on the group and have provided an unbiased summary of them - Taji Farouki.

  • To Khan: HT does not follow the Ash’ari aqeedah. This is as clear as ice for anyone that has studied Sh. Nabhani’s books or any other HT material. Sh. Nabhani doesn’t even try to hide this. In al-Shaksiyya Islamiyya (vol. 1) he clearly states that the Ash’aris/Maturidis (whom he refers to as “Ahl al-Sunnah” are Jabiris in their view of Qadar. Sh. Nabhani says that there are only two views regarding qadar, the Mu’tazillite view and the Jabiri view and the ahl al-Sunnah are essentially Jaabiri even though they use different words. Sh. Nabhani explains this and clearly sides with the Mu’tazillites. This is very clear and I’m surprised you don’t know this.

    Another concept is of dua (supplication), where HT literature (such as Islamic Thought) claims that dua has no effect on reality, and actions must only be linked by cause and effect. HT likens dua to any other form of worship and says it cannot have any impact on reality, it is merely done for worship or for getting close to Allah. This is another point where all three schools of Islamic Aqeedah (Ash’ari, Maturidi and Athari) have agreed upon, but HT follows the Mu’tazillite view on this.

    In both these examples, the three schools of sunni aqeedah are in agreement - along with aqeedah tahawiyya - and contrary to them is Sh. Nabhani and the Mu’tazillite who are in agreement - and clearly contradict aqeedah tahawiyya. These are just two examples where the ahl al-sunnah wal jamaat have agreed, but HT (and Mu’tazillite) disagree. Please look into the importance of aqeedah tahawiyya and ponder over the clear differences in it with HT literature.

  • Peter Savage

    Hey Abu, tell this to a therapist.