Anwar al-Awlaki: trauma and extremism

Recently we heard that the Yemeni-American Muslim preacher, Anwar al-Awlaki, may have died in air strikes in Yemen, although other reports said he was miles away from where the strikes happened and was safe. Some people said “good riddance”, including some commenters on the “Muhajideen Ryder” blog. This provoked a predictable flurry of acrimony. (More: Ginny.)

For my part, I’ve never listened to Awlaki’s lectures, since I’ve maintained a strict policy of taking knowledge only from reputable Sunni scholars whose own teachers are well-known, i.e. not those with dubious scholarly credentials. I don’t want a repeat of my experience of repeating things I heard from a certain London-based preacher and finding out that they were nonsense. Still, he was known as a moderate even after 9/11, but since his imprisonment in Yemen from 2006 to 2007, his pronouncements have taken on a rather extreme quality, as typified in his “Nidal Hasan is a hero” blog post last month.

I don’t think we should be celebrating even if Awlaki has died. This is not, after all, a mass murderer. We should not be falling over ourselves to excuse his positions on grounds of al-wala w’al-bara or anything else when he embarrasses us with a stupid diatribe at a sensitive time, i.e. after a Muslim has sprayed bullets around an army base. His change in position may well be the result of his experiences in prison, in which case we might have a little understanding, but his words should in no way be taken as guidance and we should not be struggling to defend them in public.

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  • maghi85

    I am impartial in asking this question. it was actually thrown at me once… i did not answer! what would you do if you were the psychiatrist for military personals returning back from their duty from Afghanistan or Iraq telling you all the intricate details of how they killed innocent Muslim civilians… you’ve heard it many times. You keep reporting their cases to authority and get no response. but now you see new soldiers on their way to repeat the same sordid cycle.

  • Assalamu alaikum, well, I don’t know how to answer your (commentor’s) question, but I Inshallah can safely say that I know what I’d not do and that would be, that I’d not go and shoot up a roomful of recruits, and whoever else just happened to be there at the time.

    Maybe I’d right a book, maybe I’d try to get out of the service as fast as I can, maybe I’d just make Dua, but I’d not kill innocent people and justify it by the innocent people killed by the US military.

    See, this is what bothers me any time we talk about Nidal Hasan, or Anwar Al-Awlaki, or terrorism in general, is the people who come and say “hey look at what the US is doing to Muslims”, etc., and all I can think is “so that makes it OK? Arent we… shouldn’t we… as Muslims be better than this? Why not leave it with Allah and let Him deal with “the US military” in His own time?” That is… If we truly believe in the Last Day and that Allah will judge all of us, and if anyone is responsible for killing any innocent person, that Allah will Inshallah judge them and award them according to what they’ve done… Because surely Allah can dispense Justice far better than we humans ever could. And that’s what bothers me, is that people will justify violent actions done in the name of Islam by saying something like “I don’t condone violence but …” and then proceed to try to justify what Nidal Hasan did, or justify the opinions that Al-Awlaki and others may have held. Listen, if you’re for violence against people why not just come out and say it. If you think that’s what Nidal Hasan shoulda done, just “be a man” as it were and just come on out and admit it, instead of speaking in platitudes about how “you don’t agree with”, etc., “but you understand”.

    I get angry, upset, feel hopeless and helpless about the wrong done against Muslims and others, in this world, however, I’d not walk into a roomful of innocent people to avenge that wrong either, because I know that there’s a God who will deal with those who’ve committed those wrongs in a much better way than I ever could.

    And that’s a thought that’s just occurred to me… And that is… So-called Muslims playing God by taking matters into their own hands and killing innocent people, both Muslim and non, to avenge whatever “wrong” they feel has been committed against them and other Muslims. How interesting… And how very sad… Because they’re not making things better for us, as Muslims, at all, in fact, they’re probably going to make things worse. Much worse. But I don’t think they’re thinking about that too much. .-= Ginny´s last blog ..On Anwar Al-Awlaki =-.

  • Thersites

    “if you were the psychiatrist for military personals returning back from their duty from Afghanistan or Iraq telling you all the intricate details of how they killed innocent Muslim civilians… you’ve heard it many times. “

    That assumes that they did kill innocent Muslim civilians. In fact, even ifsomeone had killed innocent Muslim civilians a doctor would be bound by his medical oaths not to report the fact.

  • Bismillah…

    As-Salamu `Alaykum wa Rahmatullah…

    This is totally off-topic so feel free, Sayyidi Mathew, to delete this comment.

    @Sidi Maghi85: Why did you delete all your youtube videos? They were excellent.

    Was-Salam .-= Suleiman Bin Salim´s last blog ..Mawlid with al-Habib `Umar : 24th December 2009 mp3 =-.

  • DrM

    “In fact, even ifsomeone had killed innocent Muslim civilians a doctor would be bound by his medical oaths not to report the fact.”

    Wrong, therShites is talking out of his idiotic anti-Muslim backside as usual. All health care workers(especially doctors) in the US are bound by the law to report any criminal activity by their patients, especially murder to the authorities. The patient-physician relationship cannot be used to conceal any such acts. .-= DrM´s last blog ..Tarek Fatah lies yet again =-.

  • Thersites

    Ah, it’s Dr. Mabuse, the man who took the Hypocritic oath. Are U.S. psychiatrists bound to report to the authorities something they have been told in a medical consultation when the patient is supposed to have a right to confidentiality?

  • LeedsLad

    It is the problem when people enter into wars from their TV sets. People at war don’t know the word “kill”, they just “disable” “threats” with their armour. Maybe these “psychiatrics” or any other people working with soldiers should be required to gain experience before they become the emotional punch bag of the soldiers.

  • Actually, Thirsites, I think that DrM is right here, the right to confidentiality is not all-encompassing. i.e., if I say something to my therapist that leads them to believe that I could be a danger to myself and/or others, then they are duty bound to report that. .-= Ginny´s last blog ..Monday Morning =-.

  • Thersites

    It varies between professions of course, Ginny, but I think that what happened in the past- or what people claim happened in the past- would be more confidential than possible future behaviour. Certainly, there was considerable discussion of the topic among British psychologists some years ago.

  • DrM

    Your stupidity and ignorance knows no bounds, therShites. The Hippocratic Oath is ceremonial at best(its not even used in most graduation ceremonies in the US) and not in any way legally binding. As for the answer to your question, reread what I already posted : confidentiality goes out the door the moment criminal activity ranging from child abuse to murder(and even stated intent of such) is even suspected. Nor is there any statute of limitations. Failure to report such is a violation of federal and state law. The only reason you’re even arguing such rubbish is to justify criminal acts against Muslim civilians. I expect nothing less from an scumbag who insisted that Palestinians blow up their own ambulances to make “israelis” look bad.If your head was up your behind any more, you’d be wearing your colon for an Easter bonnet. Leave the discussion to the adults, twit. .-= DrM´s last blog ..Update =-.

  • Thersites

    Ah, Dr Mabuse der Spieler didn’t get a new lie for Christmas and has to use his old one. To begin with, he has the delusion that the US military in Afghanistan is exclusively engaged in crimes (Oh Gee, Sir, Not rape again!) We were doing rape only last week!). Secondly, he assumes all US military personnel receiving psychiatric treatmrnt have committed murder or comparable crimes. In fact in guerrilla warfare civilian deaths are inescapable, but no less regrettable and no less psychologically damaging for all that.