The Devil’s Deception of ‘Shaikh’ Abdullah Faisal
Bismillah al-Rahman al-Raheem
For an explanation of the terms used, click here.
I became aware of Shaikh Faisal over several months in 2000 and 2001, through hearing his tapes played in certain Islamic bookstores and meeting certain people who admired him and his lectures. Until last year, when he was tried for incitement to murder persons unknown and jailed for nine years (he may well serve less than that, and will probably be deported after the end of his sentence), he was little known outside the Muslim community, and many people within our community were unaware of Faisal’s simplistic, extremist and heretical views (I saw him referred to on a South African Deobandi site as “Maulana Faisal of Jamaica”!). I have acquired and listened to several of Faisal’s tapes: The Devil’s Deception of the Saudi Salafis, Imam Abu Hanifa, The Peak of the Matter, The Devil’s Deception of the Bareilawis, Cancers in the Body of the Ummah and (wait for it), The Devil’s Deception of the 21st Century House Niggers. It is clear from all of these tapes (except the second of them, which contains little which is controversial) that Faisal is an extremely dangerous character, whose inflammatory speeches are at the extreme end of the Wahhabi spectrum, and could cause a lot of damage.
It appears that the public (and the authorities) first came to know about Faisal when Abdul-Haqq Baker, one of the leaders of the Ibnu Taymiyya mosque in Gresham Road, Brixton , was interviewed by the BBC following the arrest of the “Shoe Bomber” Richard Reid, who had been among the congregation there, though he was lured away towards the extremist crowd. Since then the Times has publicly exposed him as “Britain’s Shaikh of Race Hate”, concentrating (as one would expect from a paper owned by Rupert Murdoch ) on Faisal’s anti-Jewish sentiments. The Times correctly stated that Faisal makes anti-Jewish jokes during his speeches (as he did on “Jewish Traits in the Ummah”), and that he endeared himself to the crowd by using streetwise language like “brain-dead” and “dodgy”.
So the Jews have the Times to take care of their interests; my intention is to warn the Muslims of the danger posed by Faisal’s idiotic rhetoric. It occurred to me that I should not have this published, lest he be deported to Jamaica and face some sort of evil there. However, ignorant leaders like Faisal have the potential to encourage groups of Muslims to act irresponsibly, and when this happens, the results are state crackdowns and communal riots, as we witnessed in Gujarat a few months ago.
Faisal’s errors fall into a number of categories. He quotes weak opinion as fact; he is insolent to major ulama, including Imam Shafi’i; he has errant opinions on what removes one from the fold of Islam - indeed, he appears to be obsessed with kufr and apostasy; and he has little restraint on condemning people. In fact, he also commits the classic Kharijite error of using verses revealed about the unbelievers, and interpreting them as if they referred to the Muslims.
The Peak of the Matter, or the first third of it, telescopes most of Faisal’s extremist views into about half an hour. He insists that for someone to say “Ya so-and-so” from a distance is shirk and kufr, as you are attributing to that person the ability to hear them wherever they are. He then says that when by the graveside of the Prophet (sall’ Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), it is permissible to give him (sall’ Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) salaams by saying “ya Rasoolullah”, but as for those who say it is permissible to say this from anywhere else, they “don’t have any evidence for it … even though they have a dodgy evidence; I won’t even bother to make mention of it”. The chief evidence, in fact, is that during our salaat we say “As-Salaamu ‘alaika ayyuha ‘n-Nabee” (Oh Prophet), which is precisely to address the Prophet (sall’ Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) from a distance.
He then goes on to “demonstrate” that anyone neglecting any of the five pillars is a kafir, using a series of defective evidences including a highly improbable debate in which Imam Ahmed allegedly confounded Imam Shafi’i. When his audience suggests that the majority view (about the position in Islam of the person who does not pray) is the strongest view, he says “are you introducing democracy into my study circle?”. He also accuses Imam Shafi’i of “refuting” an ayat of the Qur’an, an accusation he levels elsewhere against an American salafi preacher whom he charges with kufr. On top of this, he states (as fact) the opinion that the father of the Prophet (sall’ Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) is in the Hellfire, on the basis of one Hadeeth from Sahih Muslim; in fact, this is one of three hadeeth in the same collection about the same incident, and contains weaker narrators than the other two, which do not mention the father of the Prophet (sall’ Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam).
In Cancers in the Body of the Ummah, he lists a number of sects, many of which don’t exist anymore, including the Murji’a and (in its original form) the Mu’tazila. However, the last “Cancer” he mentions, before Allah mercifully cuts his tape off, is the Asha’ira! This is the madhhab which included, almost from its inception, all of the Malikis, most of the Shafi’is, and some Hanbalis (including Ibn al-Jawzi) and Hanafis also. So he is grossly impudent to all of the Ulama of the deen going back centuries.
The Inter-Salafi Feud
The Saudi Salafis is of great concern to me as I have even seen it being sold in a Bareilawi mosque, as if it was a critique of Salafism in general. It is, in fact, an attack on “pro-Saudi” Salafis by a supporter of the violent extremist wing of the sect, primarily against their denial of the term “tawheed al-haakimiyya” - that is, that Allah is the only law-giver. While there is valid criticism of the Saudis and their supporters for their compromising of the Shari’a, Sunnis should beware that this is very much a Wahhabi critique, not a Sunni one. He clearly states, for instance, that the alleged practice of the Bareilawis of “making du’a to the inhabitants of the graves” is shirk, which it is, but nobody is advocating this anyway.
In his attacks on the “Saudi salafis”, he falls short of the adab due from a shaikh, or even a Muslim. At one point he accuses an un-named Salafi preacher in the UK of trying to deceive the Muslims by wearing a thawb and sporting a large beard; he then says “do not insult our intelligence; we do not accept you as a believer by the virtue of a beard and a thawb, because Fidel Castro of Cuba has a nice beard! And whenever I see the Pope, he always has a nice thawb!”. He repeatedly casts aspersions on people’s sincerity, alleging that “they [black pro-Saudi salafis] want to live off the deen; they don’t want to live by the deen”, and by his use of the term “house niggers”, meaning slaves who love their master: “revolution is not on his agenda”, “they love kufr, and they love kufr-dom”. He calls the pro-Saudi group the “Yahood of the Ummah”, alleging that “they oppress their wives, the way Jews oppress their wives”, citing the fact that they make niqab (face covering) obligatory for women, and driving unlawful - ignoring the fact that many other scholars agree, including some Deobandis.
Most ridiculously, in his conclusion to The Saudi Salafis, he says: “They are major hypocrites; there is no difference between a Salafi [meaning a Saudi Salafi] and a disciple of Musaylima”, because they “exchange the Shari’a”. This idiotic statement needs no enumeration. Furthermore, he says that any woman married to one of them should disassociate herself from him; merely to look at him, he alleges, should make her feel sick. (One wonders where they will get a group of ulama to pronounce their divorce; then again, Faisal has been known to pronounce divorces for women - and one must ask where his authorisation comes from - without looking into the full facts.)
In House Niggers, he starts by relating the Hadeeth Qudsi concerning Allah’s declaring war on those hostile to a friend of Allah; in Faisal’s rendition, he translates “wali” as “servant”! (It means friend or ally.) He repeatedly calls the black American Salafi preacher he is attacking a kafir, and at one point asks the crowd “what shall we do with this man?” and they reply, “Kill him!”. After this is repeated two or three times, he says, “I think that makes sense”. At the end of this lecture, he plays to the audience a private telephone conversation he had with Salim Morgan, confronting Morgan over his aspersions on Faisal’s sanity.
Faisal on Indian Muslims
Probably the most offensive tape, however, is The Devil’s Deception of the Bareilawis, with its cover showing a man worshipping at someone’s grave. His accusations all seem to be derived from a book by one Ehsan Elahi Zaheer, and it contains statements of gross ignorance, over-simplification, and the usual accusations of kufr and shirk. He repeats accusations that Imam Ahmed Rida was a shi’ite, accusing him of insulting Umm al-Mu’minin A’isha (radhi Allahu ‘anhaa), claiming that members of his family had names which were not commonly used by Sunnis, and accusing him of getting support from the British. He also claims that his shaikh was the brother of the bogus prophet Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, by the name of “Mirza Ghulam Qadir Baig”, and states that “they drank from the same fountain”. In fact, Imam Ahmad Rida’s shaikh was called Mirza Qadir Baig, and was no relation to Ghulam Ahmad at all. He also claims that “They do not have any scholars … no scholar would lower himself to be a Bareilawi”. However, they have huffaz, who have been “slandered” on a number of occasions, Faisal alleges, for sodomising little boys. Well, if this is slander, why does Faisal repeat it? He seems to want to fill his lectures with any dirt he can get on Imam Ahmad Rida and his followers, without investigating the facts.
It is very clear from the tape that Faisal does not believe in what is commonly (and mistakenly) called karaama - that is, out-of-the-ordinary events happening to demonstrate the status of the person around whom they appear. Faisal calls these stories “lies”. Concerning an incident in which the young Ahmed Rida Khan is unable to repeat a verse of the Qur’an after his father, whereupon it turned out that his father had recited it wrong, Faisal accuses the Bareilawis of making Imam Ahmad Rida infallible to a degree greater than the Prophet (sall’ Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) himself.
Later on he mendaciously alleges that they attribute to Shaikh Abdul-Qadir al-Jilani the power “to turn a woman into a man”, which seems to refer to a story in which a Christian priest, who could not accept the truth of the Mi’raj, was made to experience life as a farmer’s wife somewhere else in the world, bearing several children, all within the blink of an eye, in order to prove that this was possible for Allah. Allah knows best about the truth of this story, but nobody to my knowledge attributes any of this to the Shaikh; they attribute it to Allah, to Whom all Muslims attribute everything.
Faisal makes takfeer on the Bareilawis on numerous false grounds including their supposed making du’as to the people in the graves. Qadi Iyad relates in his Shifa’ that Imam Malik was asked by the Abbasid caliph, Abu Ja’far, whether he faced the qibla when he supplicated, or the Prophet (sall’ Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam). He replied, “Why would you turn your face from him when he is your means and the means of your father, Adam, on the Day of Rising? I face him and ask him to intercede and Allah will grant his intercession.” (See page 238 of the Madinah Press translation of this book.) Does Faisal dare call Qadi Iyad a kafir? Lest Faisal say, “Imam Malik and the Qadi made ijtihad, and were mistaken”, I say: Why is it an ijtihad error for Imam Malik and Qadi Iyad, but kufr and shirk for a Pakistani Bareilawi? Lest he say it is a weak report, I say: Then why does Qadi Iyad report it at all if there is any hint that it is haram, let alone kufr? Yet Faisal has said that Bareilawis are worse kafirs than the Christians, as the Bareilawi has the Qur’an in front of him and cannot claim ignorance; he has said: “You kill the Bareilawi before you kill the Christian”.
Not all of Faisal’s tapes are as inflammatory or obviously controversial as those mentioned above, and it is possible that some people listen to Faisal’s tapes not realising the nature of the man they are listening to; perhaps they think they will take what is true from Faisal’s work and leave what is bad. However, if one is not a scholar - and if one is, one does not need to listen to Faisal - how does one know what is true, or if falsehood is being slipped in that they did not expect? The ulama warned the common people against approaching Ibn Hazm, who was also noted for his extreme views on certain matters; however, the scholars do make use of his work on occasions, especially as his verdicts on ijma carry particular weight, as his criteria for ijma’ were more exacting than most other imams (Al-Misri, Keller & others, Reliance of the Traveller, Sunna Books, 1994 - section x161). It is clear that Faisal is not a shaikh at all, displaying none of the adab required; that his views are extreme and dangerous, and could lead to innocent blood being spilled. I call on the book retailers who still stock his tapes to stop doing so, and on the scholars to warn people against him, and on the Muslim public to rely for their deen on reliable scholars.
Lastly, if I have made any mistakes in this piece, I would welcome correction (see my email on the previous page). And Allah knows best, and He alone gives success.
 Rupert Murdoch is a Christian Zionist, who publishes the notorious right-wing rag The Sun as well as the more upmarket Times. One of his leader-writers stated, in response to some attack on “Israel” in 2001, that “we are all Israelis now”, apparently on behalf of the whole British nation! You speak for yourself mate.
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