Further clarification: Usama Hasan

After I posted my article on Usama Hasan the other day, I found that my blog had been linked to by the secularist Spittoon blog, which had been copied by Harry’s Place. The author of the Spittoon article seemed to think I had something to do with whatever was being said at the Islamic Awakening site, which is where much of the discussion about this issue has been going on. There has also been the suggestion that any accusation of kufr or apostasy against a purported Muslim is tantamount to a death warrant, because that is the penalty for apostasy in Islam.

The fact is that I have nothing to do with the Islamic Awakening board, am not a member of it and never have been. I followed the story of Usama Hasan’s pronouncement at Kashif Aziz’s blog, Peace, Bruv, and made my first comment on it on DeenPort last Friday and then posted my reaction to his clarification on my blog last Saturday. I’ve never been to Leyton mosque, even when I used to make regular trips to east London (which is a long time ago), and wasn’t at the meeting where he made his inflammatory statements. However, I’ve read some of his interviews in the media, and it is clear that he has been drifting away from what anyone would recognise as mainstream Islamic opinion for a long time, long before this. Those who have opposed him in the recent evolution controversy have also noted some of the things he has said about the status of the hijab, for example.

The claim that any pronouncement of kufr (unbelief) or apostasy is tantamount to a death threat is simply wrong. Anyone who listened to Abdullah Faisal’s taped lectures from the 1990s will hear several individuals named and called kafirs, mostly black American "salafi" preachers such as Abu Usaamah (who presently works as an imam in Birmingham) and Dawud Adib, for defending the legitimacy of the Saudi regime and opposing terrorist attacks on such institutions as the Egyptian army. In one tape, Faisal asks his listeners, "what shall we do with this man", and he makes them repeat "kill him!" three times before saying "I think that makes sense". Yet the person named has not been murdered. He also explicitly called Bareilawis (the majority of Pakistani Muslims) kafirs, but we have not seen Faisal’s followers going around killing Bareilawis.

I do not know who, if anyone, is threatening Usama Hasan’s life. I certainly am not, and I haven’t told anyone to harm him, and I am not in contact with the sort of people who would (and I seriously doubt they read this blog regularly — they know I have a long-standing antagonism towards "salafis"). The issue is that Usama Hasan should not be an imam, regardless of his current status, and if it were not for being Suhaib Hasan’s son, would have been removed from any position of influence the same day he made the statements that caused all the fuss. Nobody needs to get hurt over this; what needs to happen is for Usama Hasan to resign, or be sacked. Of course, as a British citizen he does have the right to freedom of conscience, but that means nobody has the right to harm him for exercising it; it does not mean he has the right to stay an imam if his community no longer wants him.

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