CNN’s IGNORANCE: WHO IS MODERATE AND WHO IS EXTREME?
Recently the CNN invited Yasir Qadhi and a few of the staff of Muslim Matters to their studio and presented them as “moderates” who teach “traditional Islamic teachings”. The Muslim Matters staff was able to take advantage of this ignorance by CNN that did not even question them once about their support of Wahhabism and their differences with the majority of Muslims. The title of the video is “Moderates counter Muslim extremists”.
The CNN reporter said:
“Meet the staff of Muslim Matters, a website that answers questions using traditional Islamic teachings to counter arguments made by Islamic extremists.”
Amad of Muslim Matters, known for casting aspersions against Ahl-al-Sunna, said:
“Our goal was to be able to present an orthodox voice online and show that you can be 100% orthodox and 100% American.”
But who besides Wahhabis, neo-Wahhabis, or some manifestation of Salafi-Wahhabism say that Wahhabism and its different shades are “orthodox” and “moderate”? CNN failed to explain the definitions of a “moderate” and “extremist” though one can understand the shallow approach CNN was following.
CNN naively appeared to define an “orthodox” and “moderate” Muslim as any Muslim who condemned militants (so-called jihadists). This simplistic, bi-polar division of Muslims — condemners of militancy are “moderate” and “orthodox”; supporters of militancy are “extremists” – brushes over and obscures the various shades of extremism and, instead, lumps non-violent extremists with the real moderates: This is exactly what CNN did when they lumped Yasir Qadhi with Imam Hamza Yusuf and Imam Zaid Shakir, the latter two being genuine Sunni moderates while Yasir Qadhi being a rabid, unorthodox Wahhabi.
Had CNN done their homework, they would have invited Imams Hamza Yusuf, Zaid Shakir, and other teachers from Zaytuna College who represent ‘traditional Islamic teachings’ to their studio rather than Yasir Qadhi and Muslim Matters who are a pseudo-Sunni, Wahhabi minority.
ARE NON-VIOLENT WAHHABI EXTREMISTS “MODERATES”?
Did it not occur to CNN that a condemner of violence may possibly be contributing to the problem of extremism in other ways? By failing to mention the various shades of Islamic extremism, and mixing apples with oranges, CNN bestowed accolades on Yasir Qadhi and Muslim Matters as propagaters of “moderation” and “orthodox” Islam.
In actuality, Yasir Qadhi and his entourage are known to represent a minority neo-Wahhabi/Salafi sect of Islam that contradicts the beliefs of the Sunni majority: followers of the Ash’ari/Maturidi/Athari creeds and followers of the Hanafi, Shafi’i, Maliki and Hanbali schools of jurisprudence.
Even if many youngsters support neo-Wahhabi groups like Muslim Matters, Sunni scholars – now and in the past – who represent the Muslim majority have condemned such groups as unorthodox and extreme. This fact completely escaped CNN. This resulted in CNN praising extremist Wahhabis and distorting the image of genuine, orthodox Sunnis.
Even if Yasir Qadhi does not espouse violence, he is known to make takfeer (condemning Muslims as being out of the fold of Islam) against most Muslims, and accuses them of reprehensible innovation (bid’ah) and polytheism (shirk). In lock-step with Wahhabi teachings, he openly praises Ibn Taymiyah’s unorthodox understanding of creed, uses his categorization to explain creed, and casts aspersions against followers of the Ash’ari creed (and by extension the Maturidi creed) of being outside the fold of Islam.
CNN should have known that those who were being condemned by Yasir Qadhi collectively represent most Muslims in Islam’s history and are the real “moderates” and followers of “orthodox” Islam.
CNN should have known that a long list of orthodox Sunni scholars refuted Wahhabism in their books, treatises, and poems, and warned the Muslim masses from their reprehensible innovations in matters of belief and worship. A sample of these Sunni scholars is provided below.
WAHHABISM FUELS IDEOLOGICAL EXTREMISM
Wahhabism indeed fuels ideological extremism and a bi-polar vision of the world — similar to the keyboard “jihadists” and other pseudo-Sunni militants they set out to condemn. Indeed, one finds parallels in the role models the Wahhabis use. While non-violent Wahhabis and militant “jihadists” interpret the statements of Ibn Taymiyah and Muhammad ibn Abdal-Wahhab differently, they view both as legitimate and valid scholars in almost all accounts. Sunni scholars view these individuals as astray from orthodox Sunni Islam, mainly in matters of creed but also in matters of worship.
Wahhabism was the ideological fuel that inculcated Osama bin Laden, who then turned to a hybrid Wahhabi-Salafi “jihadist”. Those who say Wahhabism was not part of Osama bin Laden’s beliefs and worldview are naive. He was born and raised in Wahhabi Saudi Arabia, had a Wahhabi father who was close to the Saudi Wahhabi monarchy, and whose son Omar bin Laden in a recent book clearly stated that his father is a “Wahhabi”.
DOES CNN KNOW THE FOLLOWING ABOUT YASIR QADHI, MUSLIM MATTERS,
& AL-MAGHRIB INSTITUTE?
ANWAR AL-AWLAKI. Does CNN know that Muslim Matters at one time supported Anwar al-Awlaki, the militant “jihadist”? Does CNN know that “moderate” Muslim Matters was very happy in 2007 when Anwar al-Awlaki was released from prison in Yemen, and devoted an entire article to this? This article was written by the same “Amad” that CNN invited to its studio. Muslim Matters said this of Anwar Awlaki:
“Alhamdulillah this is great news. I urge all the brothers and sisters to send a quick email to Imam Awlaki, telling him how happy we are that he has been released from his unlawful and undeserved imprisonment, back to his family and friends. May Allah protect our scholars and students of knowledge from the oppressors and the dictators of the world.”
SAUDI WAHHABI EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS. Does CNN know that many, if not most, instructors at al-Maghrib Institute (all of whom support Muslim Matters) studied and graduated in Wahhabi educational institutions in Saudi Arabia? Namely, the following instructors: Muhammad alShareef (the founder of al-Maghrib Institute), Yasir Qadhi, Yaser Birjas, AbdulBary Yahya, Shpendim Nadzaku, Navaid Aziz, Ahsan Hanif, and — the latest addition — Abdullah Hakim Quick.
SUNNI SCHOLARS REFUTE WAHHABISM. Does CNN know which moderate, orthodox Sunni scholars wrote against Wahhabis and warned Muslims from them? The following is a sample:
–Al-`Amrawi, `Abd al-Hayy, and `Abd al-Hakim Murad (Qarawiyyin University, Morocco): Al-tahdhir min al-ightirar bi ma ja’a fi kitab al-hiwar [“Warning Against Being Fooled By the Contents of the Book (by Ibn Mani`) A Debate With al-Maliki (an attack on Ibn `Alawi al-Maliki by a Wahhabi writer)”] (Fes: Qarawiyyin, 1984).
–`Ata’ Allah al-Makki: al-sarim al-hindi fil `unuq al-najdi [“The Indian Scimitar on the Najdi’s Neck”].
–Al-Azhari, `Abd Rabbih ibn Sulayman al-Shafi`i (The author of Sharh Jami’ al-Usul li ahadith al-Rasul, a basic book of Usul al-Fiqh: Fayd al-Wahhab fi Bayan Ahl al-Haqq wa man dalla `an al-sawab, 4 vols. [“Allah’s Outpouring in Differentiating the True Muslims From Those Who Deviated From the Truth”].
–Al-`Azzami, `Allama al-shaykh Salama (d. 1379H): Al-Barahin al-sati`at [“The Radiant Proofs…”].
–Al-Barakat al-Shafi`i al-Ahmadi al-Makki, `Abd al-Wahhab ibn Ahmad: unpublished manuscript of a refutation of the Wahhabi sect.
–Al-Buti, Dr. Muhammad Sa`id Ramadan (University of Damascus): Al-Salafiyyatu marhalatun zamaniyyatun mubarakatun la madhhabun islami [“The Salafiyya is a blessed historical period not an Islamic school of law”] (Damascus: Dar al-fikr, 1988); Al-lamadhhabiyya akhtaru bid`atin tuhaddidu al-shari`a al-islamiyya [“Non-madhhabism is the most dangerous innovation presently menacing Islamic law”] (Damascus: Maktabat al-Farabi, n.d.).
–Al-Dahesh ibn `Abd Allah, Dr. (Arab University of Morocco), ed. Munazara `ilmiyya bayna `Ali ibn Muhammad al-Sharif wa al-Imam Ahmad ibn Idris fi al-radd `ala Wahhabiyyat Najd, Tihama, wa `Asir [“Scholarly Debate Between the Sharif and Ahmad ibn Idris Against the Wahhabis of Najd, Tihama, and `Asir”].
–Dahlan, al-Sayyid Ahmad ibn Zayni (d. 1304/1886). Mufti of Mecca and Shaykh al-Islam (highest religious authority in the Ottoman jurisdiction) for the Hijaz region: al-Durar al-saniyyah fi al-radd ala al-Wahhabiyyah [“The Pure Pearls in Answering the Wahhabis”] pub. Egypt 1319 & 1347 H; Fitnat al-Wahhabiyyah [“The Wahhabi Fitna”]; Khulasat al-Kalam fi bayan Umara’ al-Balad al-Haram [“The Summation Concerning the Leaders of the Sacrosanct Country”], a history of the Wahhabi fitna in Najd and the Hijaz.
Many more Sunni scholars and their works exist that refute Wahhabism.
TEACHING THE WAHHABI FOUNDER’S BOOK. Does CNN know that Yasir Qadhi teaches Muhammad ibn Abdal-Wahhab’s Kitab ut-Tawheed? Ibn Abdal-Wahhab is the founder of Wahhabism whose followers massacred Sunnis and Shi’ahs and called it “jihad” because they accused them of polytheism (shirk). The orthodox Sunni scholars have refuted Wahhabism’s founder as well as his writings, including the books Yasir Qadhi teaches in Muslim Matters and the al-Maghrib Institute.
SUPPORTING A SHAYKH WHO CONDONES VIOLENCE AGAINST CIVILIANS. Does CNN know that Yasir Qadhi has called Shaykh Salman al-Oudah his “mentor” even though he legitimizes the killing of civilians in Jerusalem? Does CNN know that Shaykh Salman al-Oudah was one of Osama bin Laden’s favorite scholars?
PRAISING AN OSAMA BIN LADEN SUPPORTER. Does CNN know Yasir Qadhi’s praise of an Osama bin Laden supporter — the late Wahhabi scholar, Ibn Jibreen? Yasir Qahdi had this to say of Ibn Jibreen when he died:
“Truly with the death of the Shaykh we have lost the last of the great giants of our era.”
WAHHABI MENTORS. Does CNN know that Yasir Qadhi’s colleague, Waleed Basyouni, who teaches at al-Maghrib Institute and who is supported by Muslim Matters, studied at the al-Imam Muhammad University in Saudi Arabia that was named after the founder of Wahhabism (Muhammad ibn Abdal-Wahhab)? Does CNN know that Waleed Basyouni was a student of the late Ibn Baz, the former Wahhabi grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, who had forbidden women to drive? Does CNN know that Waleed Basyouni also supported Ibn Jibreen, the Osama bin Laden supporter?
SUPPORTING ALI AL-TIMIMI. Does CNN know that Yasir Qadhi openly supports a Wahhabi, Ali al-Timimi, who was accused and convicted of being the spiritual guide of the “Virginia jihadists” and is currently serving a life sentence in a US prison? Yasir Qadhi wrote an entire article praising and defending Ali al-Timimi on the Muslim Matters website.
Here are some words of Yasir Qadhi’s strong support and admiration for al-Timimi, who shaped and directed him in the path he has taken :
“I personally owe a lot to Sh. al-Timimi, and I can say (with pride) that fifteen years ago, back in the early 90’s, he played an instrumental role in shaping and directing me to take the path that has led me to where I am today. I had the opportunity to be of the first batches of his students – in fact he was the first teacher who taught me the realities and intricacies of tawhid and aqidah, which, to this day, remains my primary focus and speciality.”
TEACHING UMAR FAROUK ABDULMUTALLAB. Does CNN know that Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, also known as the “Underwear Bomber” who tried to blow up a US-bound plane on Christmas in 2009, attended Al-Maghrib Institute’s seminars in both the UK and United States, including a class taught by Yasir Qadhi?
YASIR QADHI CONFESSES TO BEING A SALAFI. Does CNN know that Yasir Qadhi described himself as a Salafi as stated in this Washington Post article?:
“Yasir Qadhi, a lecturer with AlMaghrib Institute, an Islamic educational organization founded by a former prayer leader at Dar-us-Salaam, cited his own experience as an example of how Salafism has adapted in the United States.”
Wahhabism-Salafism has never represented orthdodox Sunni Islam. Wahhabism originated in the 1700s while Salafism originated in the late 1800s/early 1900s and branched of into offshots and hybrids later in the century. Orthodox Sunni Islam originated in the early Islamic period of Prophet Muhammad (peace & blessings upon him) and has been represented by scholars of the Ash’ari/Maturidi/Athari creeds and Hanafi, Shafi’i, Maliki, and Hanbali schools of jurisprudence.
YASIR QADHI, AL-MAGHRIB INSTITUTE, AND DAR-US-SALAM. Does CNN know that Yasir Qadhi is a leader and teacher of the Wahhabi Al-Maghrib Institute that has origins in Dar-us-Salam, the Wahhabi institute in Maryland, USA that was founded by Safi Khan who graduated from the Wahhabi Imam Muhammad ibn Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia? This has been explained in some detail in a separate post in this blog.
CONTACT CNN & TELL THEM THE TRUTH
The above are only selected examples of how Yasir Qadhi, Muslim Matters, and the al-Maghrib Institute contradict moderate, orthodox Sunni Islam. CNN should browse this blog carefully and examine the specific sources and citations noted. It is common knowledge that any Wahhabi group, including Muslim Matters, can never truly claim the mantle of “moderation” and “orthodoxy” even if they think they do.
The mantle of moderation and orthodoxy has always been represented by the Muslim majority who have condemned Wahhabism, including the likes of Muslim Matters, and similar splinter groups that appeared over the generations. CNN failed to understand and explain that extremists can still be in the non-violent camp as well — just as Yasir Qadhi and Muslim Matters are. This makes them poisonous to our society ideologically, if not in terms of brute violence. This should concern CNN just as much, if not more, than the orthodox Sunnis who truly practice “traditional Islamic teachings” and who have dealt with the Wahhabi-Salafi menace time and again. CNN should never have invited Yasir Qadhi and other Muslim Matters staff and represented them as promoters of “orthodoxy”, “moderation”, and “traditional Islamic teachings”. Rather, they should have invited the real moderates like Imam Hamza Yusuf, Imam Zaid Shakir, or Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad.
Please write to CNN and request them to qualify and correct their view of who exactly a “moderate” and “extremist” is. CNN has damaged its image and reputation as a trustworthy news source by portraying extremists as moderates, mixing the facts, and wrongly representing the moderate, Sunni majority.
Write to CNN and tell them the truth.