‘Shaikh’ Abdul-Qadir’s latest essay

I subscribe to a number of Yahoo groups on Islam and Bewleyupdates is one of them. The group was founded by Aisha Bewley, best known for her translation of the Qur’an, Qadi Iyaad’s Shifaa, Imam Malik’s Muwatta, and a number of Sufi texts including Imam al-Darqawi’s letters. I find it generally to be a very useful group, and it’s not moderated which means it’s not subject to the delays sometimes experienced by subscribers to Mas’ud Khan’s Al-Zawiya forum. It’s generally a very moderate Ahlus-Sunnah forum. Bewley is also a member of the Murabitun, and there are a large number of Murabitun on that group, for which reason I have given up trying to speak the truth about their dear Shaikh, Abdul-Qadir (the surname varies - it’s sometimes Al-Sufi, sometimes Al-Darqawi and sometimes Al-Murabit, but his family name is Dallas). A few months back I mentioned in passing that a Shi’ite “shaikh” called Fadhlullah Haeri got his ijaza (authorisation) from a well-known pseudo-Sufi, meaning Abdul-Qadir Dallas, and it blew up in my face despite being the truth. No real shaikh would give a Shi’ite authorisation because Shi’ites are heretics. You can read about them here (see the section “The Friendly Shi’a”).

The fact is that Abdul-Qadir is not an authorised Sufi shaikh in any tariqa. He was made a muqaddam (or local group leader) by Shaikh Muhammad ibn al-Habib, a famous Moroccan Darqawi shaikh who passed away in the 1970s; but I have it on good authority that the person who supposedly did give him authorisation was himself not authorised. Add to this the fact that he and his followers are not strict in following the Shari’a; they have published videos on the religion featuring soundtracks by Massive Attack and various European classical composers, and I personally witnessed members of the group listening to rock music in their “ribat” in north-west London when I briefly stayed with them over Ramadhan 1998-9. Their women do not wear proper hijab. People who are following the Sufi path are strict in their observance; their women cover properly, and learn how to cover properly, and they do not follow obscure dispensations. I have had personal contact with both middle-eastern and Indian Sufi tariqas and they are similar in this.

So I’m not going to offer my views on Abdul-Qadir’s latest piece, Hukum on England’s Future, on Bewleyupdates. Instead, I’m going to offer them here. Of course, some criticism of the Muslim Council for their letter to the mosques last week is justified, the MCB having no credibility whatsoever in the community (nobody elected it), the letter being unncessary for reasons already explained here, and attempting to palm off law enforcement responsibilities on the Muslim community. But he then launches into a lengthy history of England, from its various invasions until 1066, to the various changes of regime from a monarchy to a nobility-ruled society to a capitalist society after 1945. He alleges that “1914 to 1918 at its heart represented the historical collapse of Britain in a bizarre ritual of mass suicide by the European powers”. In fact, Britain and France were the two European powers which did come out of that war intact. The Austro-Hungarian empire fragmented into more than half a dozen nationalist states, and most of it eventually fell under Russian domination, while Prussia lost its Polish territories and southern Tirol, and its monarchy was overthrown. And as we all know, the Ottoman empire, having lost its Arab possessions, was destroyed from within.

Then he alleges that “[in] 1937 the new King Edward VIII abdicated the throne to his idiot brother, George, because the government refused to permit his marriage to a divorced commoner. This ended the last chance the Hanoverian monarchy had”. If George really was an idiot then one wonders how on earth he could have been made king; this country had had one mad king in the late 18th century, during whose reign we lost much of our north American colonial possessions. The fact is that the American commoner Edward wished to marry was a fascist. It was not just about her divorce record (which besides its unacceptability in the Christian religion, would give rise to the suspicion that this marriage would finish the same way as her others), but about her sympathies.

“The Anglican Church had been created to facilitate a royal marriage and it came to an end with its refusal to facilitate a royal marriage” is his next ridiculous statement. The Anglican church has not ended. It’s still in existence, a laughing stock though it is. Why does he write as if this is historical fact, when it’s only opinion? Anglicans in other parts of the world, in Africa in particular, have considerably less time for moral laxity than some British or North American clergy. Regarding the Windsor family’s recent family problems, he says “a church that began in the tragedies of divorce, bastardy and beheading, ended in the comedies of the collapse of the bastard House of Hanover”. Why is divorce a tragedy in the 16th century and a comedy in the 20th or 21st? In any case, the House has not collapsed. It’s still there until it’s removed, and there is currently no sign of this happening. It will take an act of Parliament, a foreign invasion, or a miltary coup. And Britain has not had a coup of any sort for several hundred years.

He follows this up with some pointless personal remarks about George Carey and his command of English, which he allegedly went to great lengths to improve in order to please his supposed masters in the world of finance. (In case anyone thinks Abdul-Qadir is a faqih by his statement, “part of his speech could, if examined ‘in camera’ by fuqaha, as is our legal practice in such a case, be construed as insulting the Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace”, he is definitely not. By the way, the reference to “a grisly piece of 2000-year-old flesh” in a later paragraph, in this writer’s view, also falls short in adab at the very least; of course the ritual he refers to is nonsense, but we do not talk of the flesh of a Prophet in such terms.) He makes a side-swipe at “Microsoft” language and “hip-hop creole” as evidence that English is in a state of disintegration, when in fact the language has always been changing, particularly given that it spread to the ends of the earth at a time when these ends could not communicate with each other very easily. One of his evidences is the fact that many English speakers do not pronounce the letter T except at the beginning of a word, but the letter R is often silent in middle-class southern (UK) English. Languages change.

His solution, apart from the usual calls for the Gold Dinar which is a central part of his (but almost no-one else’s) platform, includes the spread of Urdu. He claims that it is the third language in world usage (this is debatable; remember that India has dozens of languages including Tamil with hundreds of millions of speakers, and that Urdu is actually not the first language of most Pakistanis, and that it is the same language as that spoken by Hindus and called Hindi by them), that it is “already the lingua franca of the Muslims” (if this is true, it’s a very bad sign!), and that “Urdu teaching of the Deen has not, as in Arabic, been contaminated by Carey’s reformist fantasies”. Urdu has an unusual grammar, with no definite or indefinite articles, and an eccentric word order which may suit rhyming verse well but is confusing (though perhaps no more so than English spelling). But the biggest problem with Urdu as a language for Muslims in the UK is its corruption of Arabic words, notably its flattening of Arabic’s subtle D variations into Z’s, which many imams from the subcontinent bring into their recitation. The language of the Holy Qur’an is Arabic, and the language of all the most important texts of the Islamic religion is Arabic. Abdul-Qadir is Maliki, by the way, and he and his group have expended much effort propounding the virtues of the Maliki madhhab. What has Urdu, in which no major Maliki text has ever been written, got to do with his goal of calling to the ‘amal of Madinah? Imam Malik’s teaching went west, as Abdul-Qadir has said himself. It went to Africa, and some regions in the Gulf.

But the really puzzling thing about this essay is why it is labelled as the “Hukum” (judgement or judgements) about England’s future. He is in no position to predict that England will become Muslim any time in the near future; there is no real sign of it happening. Abdul-Qadir is well-known to be in no position to issue fatawa on anything despite the label “fatwa” on some of his essays; he does not tell us where he studied the sciences necessary to give fatwa (and the content of some of his books make any fatawa he might give unreliable anyway).

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