As the fall-out to ‘Imam’ Asim Hussain saga begins to grow traction and social justice warriors (SJW) more commonly known as keyboard warriors spend long hours into the night speaking about his ills or – his good, we must ask ourselves was the monstrosity of his actions the making of the Brevli Pakistani community itself?
In brief, the allegations against the one-time popular young and charismatic Islamic speaker Muhammad Asim Hussain go back almost a decade to the beginning of his shot to fame in 2009 where allegations began to emerge of his misuse of power granted to him by those vulnerable seeking to find hope and support from his advise and words. Disturbing patterns about him began to emerge of how he had used his platform, of an “Imam” to abuse vulnerable females who were taken advantage of and make to feel humiliated and used.. These allegations were not contained only to a one off occasion but of multiple occasions where he had tried to use his platform of authority to abuse and manipulate vulnerable people. He had in fact been approached by concerned parents and loved ones with these allegations but were instead advised not to entertain these as they were small attempts to dirty the clean and noble station of being an “Imam” and that, people who were spreading these “rumours” were in fact jealous of his fame and status at such a young age among the Muslim community, albeit the Brelvi Muslim community of UK. It would later emerge however, his as well as his fan-base actions then started to spiral downwards to even darker places from making threats to using scare tactics to silence anyone who may have had genuine concerns of his actions towards females who came to him for support, guidance and reassurance.
Thankfully, these threats of intimidation and harassment to potential victims of “criminal nature” were not dissuaded from seeking to bring his actions to the public domain in order seek justice and warn others. As recently as 24th of January 2019 a meeting among a handful of people, some who were scholars and influential people from Bradford UK (where Asim Hussain was based) held a meeting to determine the authenticity and severity of these allegations. In the meeting which included scholars like Shaykh Asrar Rashid and Shaykh Saqib Shammi it was concluded that the allegations against Asim Hussain was true and he had admitted to his erroneous ways. The scholars then set a number of conditions and obligations for him to meet (read below) and more importantly to abstain and refrain from using any of his extensive social media accounts and offer a public apology, to which he later published a minute long video and statement of the apology admitting he had made mistakes and seeks the forgiveness of everyone involved, intends to step down from his position as an “Imam”, take a retreat to better learn the deen and spirituality.
When the #metoo movement went viral in Oct 2017 it mostly concerned itself with Hollywood elitists and how they had abused their positions of power to use young upcoming largely female actresses to obtain “sexual favours” to get major breakthrough acting roles that will catapult them into household names. Then the social media #metoo movement spread to encompass all industries of human endeavour where abused women found their voice to come out raise their concerns and silent pains they had been facing for years. Hearing and watching all this unfold in headline news where media moguls ran Hollywood like mafia bosses it was easy to think; ‘typical (white men) non Muslim (Kafir) in power having no limits abusing people whether it was through finance, physical, emotional, or mental dominance to maintain the control of power over others’. It was a way to think, ‘there was nothing to see, hear or watch but the usual day to day business of how a unfaithful, godless non Muslim lives and does business’. – Literally with the devil in many cases. However, then the Nauman Ali khan, the Tariq Ramadan case and now Asim Hussain #metoo moment have blown up in the face of an observant Muslim. Now it is not easy to simply brush it off as the “typical workings and life of a power hungry non Muslim”. This digs deeper into the underbelly of tribal Islam and how the Indian sub-continent fake amil baba and peeri mureedi plague is extensively used in religious cases to silence anyone with genuine cause for concern.
The peeri issues, where a certain fake peer (guide) will do unIslamic gestures towards a female mureed, groping, sexual advancement etc have had this abuse of power go on for generations in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, now it was being standardised here in UK, but things don’t work the same way here as they may do so in countries like Pakistan. You cant brush everything under the carpet and make the victims silent by manipulation and threats of “you will burn in hell!” for speaking up against abuse of power. When allegations against a famous Pir Zahid Sulatani of Pakistan also began to emerge same routes were taken; quickly silenced by the overwhelming power and threats made to the victims by his mureeds. This is not JUST a Peeri Issue either, the Salafi movement, the Ikhwani brotherhood movement all have these issues as well, others more so than some.
This in no way lets the willing female participants in these exchanges off the hook either, many times it has also been found that these so called vulnerable women “offer” themselves to the person they are receiving guidance and support from, that’s where the issue of consent has come up time and again in court cases. As in the case influential french Oxford Islamic fellow Tariq Ramadan, where in a number of his rape cases women who had claimed to have been a victim of sexual abuse in fact had consented to the sexual relations, making it completely legal (in dunya point of view obviously)! Islamically it is zina and Haram pointedly showing the hypocritical nature of these so-called Islamic preachers! -Which in turn has done more harm to push away practising Muslims from Islam than anything the far-right has done as many had seen them as role models to emulate in troubling times. These abuses especially in Islamic settings happens in cases where the “victim” is unaware of basic shairah rulings of gender interaction and relations and the predator then uses this to his advantage to manipulate the victim to his bidding. The restraints shariah has placed on one-to-one meetings between a male and a female and the numerous hadiths that stands the test of time is for all people to follow no matter if a person is the highest ranking saint of the time, a
centenarian, a mufti, a layman or a non practising, non believing human. Living in the 21st century and with the quick ability for news to spread all across the world in minutes must make a person stop and think:
Shall i do this?
Is this halal?
Does a particular setting make me feel comfortable in the eyes of Quran and Sunnah?
This is why i believe (going back to the original question)
“was the monstrosity of his actions the making of the Brevli Pakistani community itself?” the Brelvi Pakistani community of UK are also to blame for this unfortunate series of events that has happened with regard to the Asim Hussain situation. For decades, seeing the rise and popularity of non brelvi sects amassing a huge following among the less eager brelvi youth it was for many older brelvi commuity elders a sigh of relief to see the likes of Asim Hussain burst through their doors: a young, charismatic, streetwise “Scholar”, a sunni “lion” (chuckle) was just the type they had been seeking to build up and find, to lead the brelvi youth back to the brelvi loving, gyarvi eating, endless (only) naat conference organising sunni aqeedah! Asim Hussain was their saviour they had been praying and hoping for, a powerful beam of light to drown out the other pleasant looking mirages of the deobandi/salafi motivational hyped speakers taking the sunni youth! In doing this and opening all doors to all brelvi masajid in the UK the leading lights of the brevli community had lost the one basic human thing they should have done; do a detailed background investigation into Asim Hussain and ask the following:
How long has this young, fresh faced looking, young lad, studied the Islamic sciences?
Does he have a shaykh and if he does, then has he spent a long time studying under his spiritual guide and master?
If so, then what has he learnt?
Has he had enough time to mature into a “scholar”, before he is thrust into the spotlight and is held responsible for leading a community?
In conclusion, it may be easy for the layman reading about all this fiasco to say, how dare these fools abuse the noble station of an “Imam”?! But due care must be given to this easy throw away comment, since we are not in a position of fame, name and honour we cannot fully understand the pressures that comes with such widespread popularity, the opportunities and temptations that easily come with being a household name, especially among the western, modern, 21st century, model loving celebrity hugging so called practising muslim and muslimah who follow influential imams like they follow celebrities of Hollywood actors and singers of the day. Where if they get a ‘like’ or a retweet from their beloved “Imam” on one of their posts it sends them into a swoon or fandom trance-like state which slowly builds into direct messaging (DMs) over soical media apps leading to other relations. The whole saga with Nauman Ali Khan, Tariq Ramadan and now Asim Hussain is the #metoo movement of the western liberal thinking 21st century modern Muslims, this is also a curse and a blessing in the same time, a curse in the sense a lesson on how not to disregard the boundaries of shariah and what happens to someone who does; abused and a blessing because these abuses need to be addressed when they genuinely occur among the community of believers. More importantly what this shows is any young guns eager to get out there on a national and international platform to begin giving out lectures like candy must hold back and question himself;
Am i ready for this?
Have i got enough spiritual maturity to take on the huge responsibility that will unavoidably come with this task?
Do i have enough protection around me to stop anyone from taking advantage of me? Blackmailing me? Putting me in a compromising position?
Do i know and recognise a potential unIslamic environment arising from any function i may to do?
and most importantly,
Will i be living by the preaching i will be giving others? Or just paying lip service and watching, wanting and waiting for the the social media following to sky rocket?