These posts were originally published on facebook, 5th August 2022
I was referred to a post written by an ostensibly Muslim and somewhat well-known blogger going by the moniker “The Usuli” who apparently wrote a rant-post about a Jummah Khutbah that irked him:
“The topic of the khutbah was about… Muslims’ need to establish the caliphate. I was furious, I wanted to punch something. I had no time to speak the khatīb after (which was probably a good thing) and walking out of the masjid made me even more angry as I saw that most of the attendees were teens or young adults.”
The obligation of the Caliphate (khilafah) is a foundational obligation from the collective obligations upon Muslims, with Ijma (consensus) across ALL schools of thoughts in Islam (yes, I mean ALL, well, except the 7th century anarchist Najdat Khawarij, but I don’t think anyone would like to be lumped together with them…), so whatever could he be angry about? Did the Khatib not do justice to the topic of the obligation of Khilafah? Perhaps the microphone wasn’t working properly so he couldn’t hear? Perhaps the Khutbah was in Arabic and so he was angry for the non-arabic speakers who couldn’t understand the important message? What sparked his anger?
“Dear khatībs: The minbar is NOT your soapbox for your ideological point of view. I don’t care whether you are Sufi, Salafi, Deobandi, Barelwi, Hizbul-Tahrir, Ikhwani etc etc. Be whatever you want in your more intimate religious gatherings. But the khutbah is NOT to fulfill your ideological or sectarian mission…you should be teaching them the basics of their faith!”
What?..how is the obligation of Caliphate a sectarian mission?? Which sect of Islam denies the Caliphate? The Nadjat Khawarij – who were anarchists – are long dead. Is “The Usuli” a Nadjat Khariji? If so, I apologise – but on the assumption he is not, saying the obligation of Caliphate is sectarian, is like saying the obligation to Salah is sectarian!
As for using the word ‘ideological’, I don’t think it means what he thinks it means. Since Islam is a Deen, and the word Deen means both beliefs and an entire way of life, simply being a Muslim is ‘ideological’, because Islam itself ‘ideological’.
To complain about ‘ideology’ in a Khutbah sounds very dangerously like a secular mind-set, that separates ‘religion’ from ‘politics’.
Historically, the Khutbah was delivered by the Prophet (ﷺ), and then his Caliphs – which would include public commands, laws and prohibitions and obligations. Khutbahs conducted not by the Caliph, were usually done by a deputised Imam with a chain of deputisation leading all the way up to the Caliph of the Muslims. All Khutbahs across the Muslim world, for centuries, started with asking of Dua to be made for the Imam of the Muslims. The Khutbah would discuss current events, and galvanise the Muslims to be united in mind and soul.
However, after colonialism, hardly many Khutbahs in the world talk about the obligation of Caliphate. Surely if they did, things would change for the better. But alas, the status quo after colonialism, is to keep the Khutbahs free of politics – something “The Usuli’s” actions seem to testify to wanting to keep it that way too.
Also, “the Usuli” implies knowledge of the Khilafah is not from the ‘basics of faith’, how ignorant. You can’t pick up a classical scholars book of principles of belief without Imamate/Khilafah being mentioned! Imam ul Haramain al Juwayni’s book on Conclusive Proofs for Principles of Belief has a chapter on it. Imam Ghazali too has a chapter on it in his book ‘Iqtisad fit Iqtiqad’ to name but a few.
“The Usuli” said:
“there are urgent practical, social and ethical issues of immediate relevance to your local community! There is so much to do before you even touch the edges of siyāsah”
And yet the Messenger (ﷺ) said:
“Whoever died without an Imam he dies a death of jahiliyyah (pre-Islamic times)”. (Musnad Ahmed Vol. 4, p. 96)
The Messenger (ﷺ) said, “Whoever dies without an oath of allegiance (bay’ah), dies the death of jahiliyya (pre-Islamic times).” (Muslim 1851).
I can’t think of anything more important than not dying in a state of Jahiliyyah, but perhaps the Usuli thinks he knows better.
Of course, the Usuli’s ‘opinion’ only highlights a problem. The Muslim world is in the state it is today, being assailed from without and within because it only thinks locally, while the issues it is assailed by are organised and planned globally and strategically.
Thinking ‘only’ locally, is fragmenting and isolating Muslims from collective work and action against those who use collective work and action against them.
Now that isn’t to say that local problems can’t be addressed, but surely can there not be the occasional khutbah on the obligation of Khilafah, and can there not be be space in the weekly reminders in the khutbahs of the Ummah of the obligation of Caliphate – like for centuries there were reminders to make dua and support the Caliph in almost all the khutbahs of the Ummah?
“The Usuli” also then says:
“Why is this community that I visited not getting khutbahs about kids’ smartphone habits, how to parent, foundational Islamic theology, peer pressure in school, challenges faced by women, girls, LGBTQ rhetoric etc?! How stupid, arrogant and narcissistic do you have to be to look past all these issues and make the minbar about your personal or sectarian ideology?”
As someone who is actively engaging LGBTQI. left-wing (and liberalism and right-wing ideologies) on TV shows, debates, university campuses, online, and in dedicated online courses  but who also actively calls to the most important collective obligation upon the Muslims – i.e. the re-establishment of the Khilafah, I can honestly say that it isn’t either/or. Why can’t we do both? I do.
Furthermore, the topics that “The Usuli” wanted to see discussed are complicated and require a lot of time and depth to go into, even he said he “couldn’t do the topics any justice in 1 hour”.
If he can’t do justice to the topic, how is he going to expect a 30-40min Khutbah to do so?! Why can’t he simply advocate for Masjids to run classes for the youth, or perhaps invite an expert for an online programme?
Why can’t the Khutbah being used to remind Muslims of a variety of things, most importantly of all, their greatest collective obligation?
But by complaining and moaning in public, on his own personal minbar of Facebook/blog because he wants others to follow his own personal sectarian and parochial opinions (because it clearly goes against the collective ijma of the different schools of thought), isn’t the ‘Usuli’ doing much the same thing he decries others for?
However there was one comment “the Usuli” made that I do agree with:
“If you can’t get over your own narcissism, remove yourself permanently from community work. This is not the place for it!”
 Post dated 29th July 2022
 See: www.Thequran.institute/femcrt
My reply (restated below):
Waving around his Islamic credentials, and yet flagrantly disagreeing with the Ijma of the Classical Scholars of Islam – A disappointing response from “The Usuli”
The blogger known as “The Usuli” unfortunately decided to double down on his earlier post – where he waxed lyrical on his “anger” against one little friday Khutbah discussing the Islamic obligation of Khilafah (Caliphate) [when most khutbahs don’t].
Despite my post pointing out the various problems with his approach, and despite my offer to delete my post if he apologises and retracts his statement – we all make mistakes after all, and no Muslim should ever hold it against another if they were to own up to their overly-emotive and factually incorrect statements – The Usuli issued another post doubling down on his previous post. And the problem with doubling down on error, is that it doubles the error.
I responded to his attempt to play down the key importance of Khilafah (Caliphate), by citing clear narrations:
The Messenger (ﷺ) said: “Whoever died without an Imam he dies a death of jahiliyyah (pre-Islamic times)”. (Musnad Ahmed Vol. 4, p. 96)
The Messenger (ﷺ) said, “Whoever dies without an oath of allegiance (bay’ah), dies the death of jahiliyya (pre-Islamic times).” (Muslim 1851).
The Usuli then spent a number of paragraphs distracting the audience by arguing:
1. “all [schools of thoughts] quote verses and Hadith to justify their viewpoints”
My response: Well I hope so, otherwise it would just be people putting forth their opinions (on platforms like facebook) with no authority.
2. “Even Islamophobes and Ex-Muslims do it”
My response: So? Either respond to those evidences and clarify them, or stay silent. Imagine if the scholars argued between each other that way. A very unbecoming line of argument.
3. “I’ve not just studied, but taught Fiqh, Nahw, Sarf, Balaghah, Usul, Kalām, Hadith and Tafsir all to some level. You can’t expect me to take these kinds of critique seriously. I might already be aware of these texts, but see plenty of ways to understand them in ways that disagree with how they are used. If anything these kinds of responses overall demonstrate a lack of tafaqquh”
My response: Ah, argument from authority, an intellectually bankrupt tactic. Simply dropping all the subjects he has studied “to some level” does not mean he is right. A donkey can carry books, yet lack understanding, as the saying goes.
So who is right? Well, if he won’t take those evidences on face value, perhaps he’ll take the explanation of a respected classical scholar Imam Taftazani, telling us to take those narrations at face value:
‘There is (scholarly) consensus on the appointment of an imam being obligatory. The difference of opinion is only on the question of whether the obligation is on Allah or man, and whether is it by textual or rational evidence. The correct position is that it is obligatory upon man by the text, due to his [ﷺ] saying, ‘Whosoever dies not knowing the Imam of his time dies the death of jahilliyah’, and because the Ummah (the companions) made the appointing of the Imam the most concerning of important matters after the death of the Prophet [ﷺ] to the extent that they gave it priority over the burial; similarly after the death of every imam, and also because many of the other shari’a obligations depend upon it.”
Imam Taftazani, a scholar and polymath, writing in his book ‘Sharh al-Aqaid al Nasafiyya’ (A Commentary on the Creed of Imaam An-Nasafi).
Perhaps “The Usuli” thinks Imam Taftazani “lacks of tafaqquh” too?
How about Imam Ghazali?
‘there must be an Imam in every age…two things to be pointed out to those seeking guidance on it..(1) It is seen from the first generation that the sahabah rushed to appoint an Imam and pledge allegiance after the death of the Prophet [ﷺ], and they believed that it is an obligation binding upon them and a right that should be fulfilled immediately, and they avoided its postponement which even made them delay preparing the Prophet [ﷺ] for burial since they were busy with the appointment of an Imam; all this because they knew that, should there be a moment in which they have no leader that unites them under one opinion and they face a problem, and they differ in the mode of solving it, then their system would be a mess, unity would be nullified and the laws (ahkaam) would cease (to be lived by). It is because of this that they prioritised rushing towards appointing a leader and they did not occupy themselves during this time with anything else other than that. (2) The defence and championing of Deen is undoubtedly necessary and obligatory…[without the Imam] The conflict of wills and passions would lead to the neglect of the afterlife and the triumph of munkar over ma’aroof, and of the ignorant over the learned with the consequent dissolution of the protections given by Deen and worldly power. So it is clear that the Imam is an indispensable necessity of men’
[‘Al-Mustazhiri’ (Fadiah al-Batinyah wa Fadail al-Mustazhariyah of al-Ghazzali)]
Ghazali also said:
‘it has been said that Deen and sultan are twins, and also that Deen is a foundation and the sultan is a guard: that which has no foundation collapses and that which has no guard is lost.’
[Imam al Ghazali, Iqtisad fil Iqtiqad]
Or perhaps Imam Ghazali “lacks tafaquuh” too according to “The Usuli”?
I could cite Mawardi, Ibn Taymiyyah, Juwayni, Qurtubi, the list is endless…
I can’t speak for Hizb ul Tahrir (HT), a movement known for working for re-establishing Khilafah – but I can only point out that the Caliphate being the most important collective obligation of the Muslim Ummah – and not simply just being ‘important’ as “The Usuli” likes to play it down as – is not an “HT opinion”. They didn’t come up with it, they don’t ‘own it’ or have a monopoly on it.
That the Khilafah is the most important collective obligation of the Muslims, is the ijma of all the classical scholars (of every living school of thought today, every single one) and the Sahabahs – who delayed burying the Prophet Muhammed (ﷺ)!! to appoint a Caliph (‘successor’).
Excuse me, but anyone who has any knowledge on what the classical scholars said about this, would take “The Usulis” words as ridiculous and ignorant.
“The Usuli” claimed:
“The post was mainly about ensuring that khutbahs are appropriate and useful for their audience based on their immediate needs, not what the khatib believes is useful according to their personal/ideological/denominational inclinations.”
The problem here, is that without stating anything from a Islamic standpoint, he merely offers a personal opinion that could, and probably is, in line with his own personal/ideological/demonination inclinations. Perhaps he views citing evidences from the Quran & Sunnah as passe or trite, but without evidence, his opinion isn’t worth the fb post it is written on.
Finally, the Usuli said:
“Last I checked, scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets, not Islamist movements. So I will never agree with them on this”
Yet he doesn’t follow the ijma of the scholars on this…
Oh, and btw, the scholars are the inheritors of the prophets in knowledge (as the hadith says) NOT authority or command (Amr).
Do you want to know who inherits the Amr of the Prophet (ﷺ)? His Caliph (lit. Successor).
And currently, there is no inheritor of this today. If only we can make it a priority to re-appoint one…