The Muslim Who?
For many Muslims, the New Year is marked by celebrations and fireworks. It is also marked by one dud firecracker that fizzles out: the Muslim 500 or, as a friend of mine put it after perusing it, “the Muslim who?” Why? Because he, a learned Muslim leader, had never heard of 99% of the people who appeared on the list of the 500 Most Influential Muslims published by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in Amman, Jordan in cooperation with the Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University in the United States. The source behind the Muslim 500 speaks volumes: the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center, which is a research center affiliated with the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought. Founded by the late King Hussein Bin Talal, entrusted to Prince Hassan Bin Talal, followed by Prince Hamza bin Al-Hussein, and then to Prince Ghazi Bin Muhammad, the Institute is behind The Amman Message (http://ammanmessage.com) and A Common Word Between Us and You (https://www.acommonword.com), initiatives that, at a first glance, appear to be innocuous.
Patronage aside, the Muslim 500 is actually produced by the Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, itself funded by a sinister Saudi known for supporting the Zionist Entity and virulently opposing Shiites and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Both Prince Ghazi and Professor Abdallah Schleifer are affiliated with the Maryamiyyah Tariqah of Frithjof Schuon (d. 1998), the pseudo-sheik and perennialist-Traditionalist who promoted the relativist “Transcendental Unity of Religions.” The charlatan from Switzerland claimed to have received revelations from the Virgin Mary after she appeared to him, exposed her breasts, and invited him to suck the milk of wisdom from them. He also happens to be accused of pedophilia and sexual perversions of all kinds. Members of the Maryamiyyah Tariqah are closely associated with the Deep State. They were closely linked to the Iranian monarchy and remain equally close to many of the remaining royal families in the Muslim World. Thanks to their intimate association with Western intelligence agencies, scholars belonging to the Maryamiyyah Tariqah have been embedded into academia to give them disproportional and unmerited influence over Islamic discourse.
Like the Luciferian spiritual leaders lurching in its shadows, the political forces behind the “moderate Islam” movement are equally insidious. They include the United States, Israel, the United Kingdom, and their loyal and servile allies, namely, the monarchies in the Muslim World. These political eunuchs include the Kingdom of Morocco, the Kingdom of Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates. Ironically, the nations that promote “traditional Islam” are ruled with an iron-fist, albeit covered with a silk glove. They are surveillance societies that suppress all sorts of freedoms and tolerate no substantive criticism. They are countries where any opposition is attributed, rightly or wrongly, to Islamists, as a convenient pretext to crush any bona fide Islamic opposition. They are nations that promote moderation at home while exporting extremism abroad at the request of Uncle Sam, Uncle Golem or their grandfather, Limey, the Planetary Pirate. They are countries that promote “moderate Islam” while violating some of the most fundamental laws, values, ethics, and obligations of the Muslim faith. Their motto is “Do as we say, not as we do.” In other words, “Be moderate, subservient, Muslims, while we act like hypocrites, infidels, and evil-doers.”
The 2018 edition of The Muslim 500 features a call to moderation by Sheikh Muhammad Al-Yaqoubi, a Syrian scholar who incited people to violently revolt against their government. Although he has openly opposed ISIS, he has supported groups that share the same Salafi, Wahhabi, and Takfiri ideology and that have committed war crimes of all kinds. The Muslim 500 places the Salafi School within the framework of orthodox Sunni theology, thereby attempting to legitimize its anti-Sunni and anti-Islamic doctrines. This follows in the line of The Amman Declaration that stressed that “it is neither possible to declare whosoever subscribes to true Salafi thought an apostate” (http://ammanmessage.com/the-three-points-of-the-amman-message-v-1). In effect, this means that Sunnis, Shiites and Sufis cannot accuse Salafis of infidelity despite the fact that their very creed calls for the excommunication of the former. In a subtle attempt to legitimize the teachings of Schuon, the proponent of Traditionalism, and place it at the center of Islam, the Muslim 500 places Sunnis, Shiites, and Sufis under the banner of Traditional Islam when, in fact, Traditionalism is as much a betrayal of Islam as is Takfirism. They are two sides of the same treacherous coin.
Determining the influence of rulers and politicians is not particularly problematic. Determining the influence of scholars and preachers most certainly is. Influence, in academia, is measured by education, academic rank, graduate teaching, number of graduate students, number of graduate dissertations directed, administrative positions, excellence in teaching, service on committees, serving on editorial boards, scholarly presentations, peer-reviewed publications, both articles and monographs, and the amount of citations generated.
To claim that Sheikh Hamza Yusuf Hanson is the 13th most influential scholar, and the twenty-seventh most influential Muslim overall, is comical, particularly since it places him ahead of his own mentor, Sheikh Habib Ali Al-Jifri, who is a person of far greater importance. Although they appear at the end of the list, in thirty-second and thirty-third places, respectively, there is no way that Professor Timothy Winter (Sheikh Abdal-Hakim Murad) and Dr. Ingrid Mattson, are among the most influential Muslim scholars in the field of Islamic Studies. Far from it.
Mr. Hanson co-founded Zaytuna College which is frequented by fewer than fifty students. He has no terminal degree of any kind. He has never held any academic rank at a university as either assistant, associate or full professor. He has never earned tenure. He has never published an article in a peer-reviewed publication. He has published a few books: none of them of an academic nature. He has simply translated a few booklets and authored a few forewords. This is not the measure of greatness in the scholarly world. Some may argue that Hamza Yusuf is a shaykh and not an academic; however, even according to traditional religious standards, his education and scholarship leaves much to be desired. He is a popular preacher and an influential leader and should be described as such: not as a scholar.
As for Professor Ingrid Mattson, she has held important positions in academia. She has published over a dozen peer-reviewed papers and given a large number of scholarly presentations. However, she has only published one book: The Story of the Qur’an. Although she is a qualified and competent scholar, she pales in comparison to other Muslim professors and academics based in Canada and the United States who, by neglect or deliberate design, fail to appear in The Muslim 500.
The promotion of subservient scholars at the service of imperialism is perfectly in line with the UK Home Office Proposal for Promoting Mainstream Islam, which “seeks opportunities through government engagement and recognition, to promote awareness of moderate scholars with followings amongst young Muslims, such as Imam Hamza Yusuf and Imam Suhaib Webb.” These are precisely the people who promote an “Islam” that is pleasing and palatable to the Empire. This Anglo-American Western “Islam” pretends to represent Muhammadan Islam when, in reality, it is merely the continuation of pre-colonial Sufi-infused Sunnism. This is the type of Islam that served the interests of despotic Caliphs. This time, however, it is backed not only by the dehumanized monarchies in the Muslim world but by their masters as well: the secular and pseudo-religious savages from the centers of Western power.
Although the Traditional Islam movement is not monolithic, and its leaders differ on some matters, they do share certain paradoxical points in common: 1) they profess to be tolerant of Jews, Christians, and Ahmadis while being intolerant of Shiite Muslims; 2) they oppose “Political Islam,” which they view as un-Islamic, while supporting the anti-Islamic policies of the Western world and their puppets in the Muslim world; 3) they claim to be “Traditional Muslims” while simultaneously claiming to be “Secular Muslims;” 4) they spend more time criticizing Islamic law than criticizing modern, Western, secular law; 5) they claim to be “Moderate Muslims” while supporting terrorist extremists in places like Syria and Iraq; 6) they claim to espouse “Classical Islam” while being openly supportive of gay marriage and the LGBTQ agenda.
Although I have only provided a few examples of scholars who have been unduly exalted by the powers behind the Muslim 500, the same can be said of many more, including individuals with little more to their credit than a series of self-published e-books. The Muslim 500 seems committed to pitting both Takfiri extremists, like Abu Ameenah Bilal Philipps, a man largely responsible for inciting anti-Shiite sentiments for decades, with subservient Sufis such as Sheikh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani, among others. And why would any Muslim in his right mind provide a list of “Top Muslim Extremists,” including such scum bags as Abu Bakr Baghdadi, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and Abubakr Shekau? So that young vulnerable youth can aspire to make the list? Evidently, there is no problem, per se, in providing a list of violent extremists and terrorists for the purpose of denouncing them. However, the Muslim 500 treats Takfiri leaders as if they belonged to the Islamic faith, when they most certainly do not. They are no more Muslim than the Anti-Christ is Christian.
The Muslim 500 is schizophrenic. It entrenches the good Muslim / bad Muslim dichotomy. It claims to condemn ISIS while clearly supporting the arming of anti-Assad forces in Syria and the campaign against the Houthi fighters in Yemen as legitimate efforts to curtail Iranian, namely, Shiite influence in the Arab world. It also attempts to exonerate the Saudi Kingdom for the radical Salafism that it has spread throughout the world by painting it as a victim of extremist ideology. Placed in broader context, it becomes clear that The Muslim 500, like the Amman Declaration and the Marrakesh Declaration, are merely global geo-political maneuvers, exercises in soft power which are used in conjunction with the brutal realities of hard power. They are tools in the toolbox of imperialists. Western imperialists and globalists control our countries. Our political leaders are in their pockets. It is only natural that they would dictate to us who the most influential Muslims in the world should be. Instead of endorsing the Muslim 500, we should treat it as the Academy Awards, honors bestowed upon actors in the ignominious theatre of world domination and catastrophic subjugation.