Dear current and (would be) speakers, scholars and mentors,
Do yourselves a favour and stop dealing with women in your lectures, seminars and workshops directly. Save yourselves the unfortunate consequences of having to deal with the aftermath. Do away with your liberal attempt to interact with women in a one on one conversation with no third person present, or holding non segregated gatherings. Adapt the tried and tested approach of our elders when it comes to holding, organising and conducting classes or talks for men and women: segregate and always ensure there is a third person (a mehram) with you if you MUST engage with the opposite sex on a one on one basis for whatever reasons. The Prophetic hadith
is addressed for a reason; do not assume “it’s okay I won’t fall into any wrong and sticky situations”, because you will. Even if you hold pure intentions and do nothing wrong your encounter with a female “student” or fan (as they seem to be these days) will soon come back to haunt you. Take this root now and you will secure your future within the muslim community, free from scandals and it will not leave you open to any future occasions to be blackmailed, coerced, manipulated or humiliated.
Reports are now emerging of Tariq Ramadan, an Oxford don, government advisor on religious affairs, and an influential muslim speaker of ‘raping a female rights campaigner in France back in 2012′, although he has vehemently denied this accusation and is threatening to sue the accuser, it once again shows how naive speakers can become to easy victims to attacks, character assignation attempts and dishonour. This is a developing story and (at the time of writing this) it seems there are clear ulterior motives from the plaintiffs side. (I will not be naming this person here for various reasons), she is a self-described former salafi, turned “liberal muslim” feminist campaigner who happens to have a new book out in which she details her “ordeal” with Mr Tariq Ramadan, she claims occurred in a hotel in France. This news is on top of the ongoing fiasco facing Nouman Ali Khan and his “misdemeanors” further decimating the traditional space once held between a student and teacher.
The problem is (even if the accusations are false) with speakers who are trying to appease everyone with their ever-changing mode of delivering Islamic content moving away from traditional age-old principles of Islam due to mounting pressures accommodating modernist liberal approaches; guard your own back, use the safeguards placed by sharia and do not think you are above the rules.
This is NOT to say, muslim speakers be they the not-so-famous, up and coming, or a worldwide famous muslim speaker, use their power of authority to abuse, belittle, humiliate and threat others, sometimes they do. However, both the attendee at an event and the speaker should keep boundaries in which they should not cross. It helps everyone in the long run, they should ignore modernist ‘barking’ of it an ancient custom, barbaric example of living in the modern age etc. The problem today is speakers are moving away from trying to provide a service to growing a fan base groupies or followers, rather than having genuine traditional students, with whom traditional scholars always held any interaction only on a student – teacher relation, nothing else. These days, speakers are growing fan bases every where they go; selfie sessions, book signing, fan meeting, meet and greet are just some of the things that go on, opening themselves up to criticism and potential chance of being manipulated at a later date.
With popular #metoo hash tags and abuse victims speaking up following Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein abuse of power, claims and counter claims of abuse are being thrown around widely in almost all walks of life. Although sexual abuse is real and a re-occurring crime it must be said, the so-called female “muslim” women who are now coming out with claims of abuse must also be investigated if these claims are actually true or whether there are clear proxy wars being played, pawns used to serve sinister purposes:
1. Why didn’t all these female “muslim” claimants come forward before and wait for the hype of Hollywood scandals to come out before they announced it to the world?
2. It can’t be said, (like victims of Harvey Weinstein say) that they were scared or these muslim speakers were “too powerful to bring down”, as they are not global mega celebrities.
3. People like accusers of Tariq Ramadan who are open critics of his work, attacking sometimes on personal levels must also be thoroughly investigated, and any political links they may have also put under the spotlight along with any funding they may be receiving from any extremist agencies, organisations or foundations.
To muslim speakers and mentors who:
1. Are actually abusing their position of authority and trust to prey on vulnerable victims, know that you may be getting away with your crimes but your time will come when everything is exposed in spectacular fashion like Harvey Weinstein in this world or the next, fear Allah.
2. To genuine scholars, speakers, mentors or instructors: cover your back, take extra precaution if you need to, the world is a dangerous place and your influence and position can be used to bring you down. As someone once said a wise person is not the one who learns from his mistakes, he is an idiot. A wise person is he who learns from other’s mistakes and unfortunate situations. Do not open yourself up completely to anyone other than Allah and his Rasul sallahu alihi wasallam no matter how sweet a person may come across.