Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Response by Jonathan Brown

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيم 

By Abd al-Nur ibn Ahmed
The truth is judged not by who said it, nor the way it was said, but by the points made.

Since I wrote the book review of Jonathan Brown’s book “Misquoting Muhammed” (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam), there has been a response by Jonathan Brown. This was made after shaykh GF Haddad shared my article on facebook.
Jonathan Brown is one of the leading academics and (associate) professors in the field of “Western Islamic studies”. As such, he is expected to maintain certain basic etiquettes/adab and I don’t take away the good that he has done, nor do I attack his intention.
Even if I am a “nobody” for Jonathan Brown, or my writing style/tone isn’t what he likes, the search for the truth means that one should not be narrow minded to the possibility that another person may be correct. To reject the truth because it comes from someone “lower”, is arrogance (kibr). Each point of mine should be considered because it may mean that he is incorrect and he needs to change his position. Even if I am incorrect on some points, other points might be correct. I would like to know if I am also incorrect in something.
The response of Brown has primarily consisted of attacking and insulting one of the leading hadith scholars and academics of today, Shaykh Dr Gibril F Haddad (see note 1), instead of responding to the points I made. This is a distraction from my points because shaykh GF Haddad’s article on Brown is from many years ago. Even if (hypothetically) shaykh GF Haddad made a mistake in his article (see note 2), Brown should (as a seeker of the truth), consider whether the rest of his points are correct, instead of generalising and brushing them aside.

To be frank, I expected a much more reasonable and intelligent response by Brown to my article, instead of his ad hominems, insults and emotional attacks. I am very disappointed. He has not countered any of my points in a substantive way (see note 3). He just asks people to "read his book" (a perfect way to increase sales). Instead he accused me of “misrepresentation or lying” when I quoted my discussion with him. I am not the one to clearly lie and insult the sahaba.
He still insists that the hadiths supporting women leading men (in prayer) are stronger than the opposite, despite the hadith he advocates (of Umm Waraqa), doesn’t even support women leading men.
As a public, leading academic, I ask Brown to do the following publicly:
  1)      Apologise for lying about and insulting the sahaba and admit the error 
  2)      Apologise for insulting shaykh GF Haddad (e.g. calling him “illiterate”, a “muppet” etc, see note 1) and having bad manners to him
  3)      Apologise for accusing Syed Naquib al-Attas of “noble lying”
  4)      Acknowledge his mistakes on his section on women leading men
  5)      Admit the errors and misquotes that I highlighted in my book. These should be corrected in his book (see note 5)
  6)      Acknowledge that he should leave scholarly matters to the qualified Ulema
It takes an honest and sincere man to admit his mistakes (see note 4 about shaykh GF Haddad's humility).
The people who care so much about Western academic methods, should do well to think about the methods that the sahaba and Salaf employed in engaging with disagreements, and that there can be different ways and tones of voicing disagreements (the Western method is not the only one). They should also have concern to defend their Islamic models (i.e. the sahaba). Did not the Prophet severely prohibit attacking his sahaba?  If their mothers or fathers were attacked, they wouldn’t be sitting back or just respond in an “academic way” (whatever that means).
I used to respect Brown a lot but the latest actions show the falsity of the myth that academics are better than scholars or that academics are objective people. Nevertheless, simple humility would restore much of his reputation.
I have heard that some people have been so narrow minded and brainwashed, that they have not even read most of my article because of its “tone”. This is not the intellectual, sincere way of seeking the truth, and such a person should question him/herself.
As for those who have sadly formed (I mean no offence) “academic cult”, believing that their non-Alim academic “Pir” is infallible and blindly following him, this is unhealthy. Notice that Brown said we should be "fracking grateful" that he, in his own view, defends Islam. This is like a thug demanding protection money when his protection is the last thing one needs and perhaps indicates arrogance of the academic layman lacking tasawwuf.  " They consider it a favor to you that they have accepted Islam. Say, "Do not consider your Islam a favor to me. Rather, Allah has conferred favor upon you that He has guided you to the faith, if you should be truthful." " 49:17
The Muslim community instead should promote intelligent, qualified Ulema, including those who combine academia and traditional Islamic scholarship. If the community relies on laymen masquerading as “ulema” purely because they have a PhD, then this will be the downfall of Muslims because they have no solid, consistent usul (principles).
Those who have intelligently thought about the principles and approach of Jonathan Brown, can see the long term harms of blindly accepting his approach, just like many Muslims blindly accepted Hashim Kamali's (another "leading academic") works and now he is a full on perennialist, misguiding people.

Note 1:

Note 2:
Shaykh GF Haddad’s review of Jonathan Brown’s other book is found at https://www.abc.se/home/m9783/ir/d/cano_e.pdf
See shaykh GF Haddad's humility:

Note 3:

Note 4

Note 5
Brown has refused to apologise for his lie about the Sahaba. He refused to remove the lie from his future edition of the book. However he said that he will change it to "there are reports that.." because he doesn't know that it actually happened. The Qur'anic verse applies "They follow nothing but conjecture..." (6:116) and "O ye who believe! If a wicked person comes to you with any news, ascertain the truth, lest ye harm people unwittingly, and afterwards become full of repentance for what ye have done." (49:6).  Just because there are false reports, doesn't mean it should be mentioned when talking about history or hadith (however it is okay to mention it when one says that it is false).
Nor did he ever mention to me that he will edit his book in the future about this incident.

No comments:

Post a Comment