Oh, Abu Eesa: An Apology Letter on Your Behalf

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Dear Abu Eesa,

My name is Nida Chowdhry. I only recently learned of you on March 8th, 2014, due to some jokes you made on and about International Women’s Day on Twitter and Facebook, as well as the subsequent explanations and apologies that you furnished on those same mediums.

It seems to me that you’re having a little PR problem. Lucky for you, one of my only transferable skills is writing, so I’ve taken the time to use my services to craft an apology letter (you seem to be having trouble writing one that is genuine). In place of the fapologies (fake apologies), here is one you can feel free to use:

Dear Everyone on the Internet that Has Seen My Posts Between March 8th and Whenever HR over at Al-Maghrib Institute finally asks me to stop: 

On March 8th, the 106th annual International Women’s Day (IWD), I, Abu Eesa, a teacher of Islamic Adab & Siyasah at Al-Maghrib Institute, made what I thought were some funny jokes about IWD on Twitter and Facebook, where I have about 20,000 and 40,000 followers respectively. I called IWD bakwas (rubbish), poked at ‘femininity‘, stereotyped men, made a cheeky comment about women getting ready on time, made another cheeky women-belong-in-the-kitchen joke, stereotyped women and inadvertently made a literal joke about women in Saudi Arabia, waved my male privilege around in women’s faces, and called it a night with this meme that blatantly dismissed all women in general.

I admit it was my first time trying out these jokes; I was hoping to test out my new material for a live performance in front of my students. It is safe to say I was not expecting so many rotten tomatoes! But things got really out of hand when I criticized my critics with a hyperbolic statement that I hoped would highlight the exaggerated weight that people were placing on what I  thought were harmless IWD jokes.

It is apparent that I have caused quite a stir on the Internet. Respected sister Rabia Choudry, a survivor of domestic abuse, was deeply offended by my aforementioned hyperbolic statement, and subsequently wrote a letter and launched a campaign to #FireAbuEesa (ouch). Her letter got over 53,000 shares on Facebook. There were several widely circulated public responses – a Huffington post article about the #MuslimMaleAllies Twitter campaign launched in response to my IWD jokes, Mohamed Ghilan was disappointed by the drama, Muslim Matters said my jokes went too far, AltMuslimah called out my ‘Brown Man’s Burden’, Islamic Monthly tried to clarify what feminism is, Suhaib Webb criticized the silence of leaders, Omid Safi said I was sexist and racist, Ahmed Kutty said I should speak good or remain silent, and a Canadian wrote me an open letter.

In response to criticisms, I got a little feisty and responded in a series of fapologies: the leave me alone apology, the women-are-oppressing-themselves not-an-apology, the I-stand-by-everything-I-said apology, the dismissive apology, and the my-fingers-are-so-tired-please-leave-me-alone apology.

Tongue-in-cheek recap aside, though it sadly took me an unexpectedly long few days to realize this, I now see that what I said was a big no-no. (Maybe if I had studied the fiqh of stand up comedy or tweeting, I wouldn’t be in this situation.) Here are some things I now realize that I didn’t before:

I understand now that if we are to go based on the definition that a ‘rape joke’ is any verbal or non-verbal construction in which rape is mentioned in the context of satire, irony, or humor of any kind, that I made a ‘rape joke’. Setting aside that the butt of my joke was not rape victims or victims of any type of violence against women, but actually those who frame Muslim men as nothing other than oppressors of women, it would still be classified as a ‘rape joke’. As a person in a position of power (teaching), of male privilege, with a significant social media presence, and a human being who is responsible for his words, it was not okay for me to make these jokes, let alone encourage the legitimacy of this brand of humor that can be deemed highly offensive, hurtful, harmful, and a troublesome promotion of an ugly global culture that accepts, makes excuses for, and encourages violence against women.

I understand that it was easy for me to use hyperbole regarding sexual violence to highlight my criticisms of a certain brand of white-centered feminism because I am not of the disproportionately affected female gender, many members for whom it is not as easy to take this subject in any form of humor because it affects them. And while some people were not offended by my hyperbolic statement, many were. I understand that I could have communicated my point of view in a much more precise and intelligent manner.

I also understand that my dismissive attitude based on a generalization of feminism was highly ignorant and brash. The subsequent manner in which I dismissed those who criticized me – particularly women – as feminists or ‘feminazis‘ was even more inappropriate and offensive. I understand now that it was unfair of me to group feminism with the other ‘isms’ that I find to be unIslamic: consumerism, capitalism, imperialism, colonialism, racism. Furthermore, classifying things as ‘isms’ in a dismissive manner negates that these are actual problems that humankind is dealing with. Again, my objection is against a particular brand of feminism, and I should have communicated that clearly, and even then, in a non-condescending manner.

I understand now that I made light of a celebration – International Women’s Day (IWD) – without realizing or recognizing that this day means different things to different people, or the historical roots of this celebration. My jokes were insensitive. If I wanted to voice my concerns or criticisms of IWD, I should have articulated my point of view in a clear manner, rather than make passive-agressive jokes that could be misinterpreted and received in an unconstructive manner.

I understand that my comments highlighted deeper concerns and issues that Muslim women are facing within Muslim communities due to the malpractice of Islam and the deviation from its fundamental teachings about the respect, dignity, and rights due to women. My students, peers, and personal relations know me – they know that I do not condone such attitudes, behaviors, or policies, nor do I practice them. However, the insensitivity of my comments brought out the legitimate concerns women in our communities have that, and, while unrelated to me, were voiced more powerfully and articulately due to the offense I caused (or possibly finally heard because it was related to a male scandal, further highlighting that women in our communities need to be listened to and heard, and their grievances need to be addressed). Unlike their male counterparts, Muslim women must fight the additional struggle of being silenced within their communities, because to speak out would mean getting blamed for airing dirty laundry and opening the Muslim community to even more attacks from an already hostile and Islamophobic media (who often zealously exploits the plight of Muslim women in order to attack Islam as a whole). I hope that we all take the time to listen to what these women are saying, regardless of whether or not we agree with everything. That they have so much to say, that so many women have so much to say, and that there are commonalities in their concerns, says something alone.

I understand that in making these comments on Facebook and Twitter, I made a classic social media mistake: I assumed that the audience that would read and see my comments knew me as a person, had a clear understanding and sense of my voice, and would be clear on the intentions and implications of my comments. I understand and now know better that my use of this platform to communicate my thoughts in this manner have led to misunderstanding, miscommunication, and misinterpretation of my comments as they are not in the context of a personal interaction and personal relationship. I will take this as a lesson to exercise more wisdom and, yes, adab, in my online communication and of course, my personal communication and interactions.

Because I am sincere in my beliefs and a humble servant of God, I would like to take this moment to recognize the severity of the problems around which this issue has arisen. Domestic violence affected 2 million people in the UK last year alone – 1.2 million of which were women. In the United States, it is estimated that anywhere between 80,000 and 1.3 million women are raped each year. These are just two pieces of data that don’t take into account the global scale of these issues. The Muslim community is not free from these problems – we need not look farther than the safe houses and non-profit organizations that were created to specifically serve Muslim victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Even one woman, one person, suffering from any type of violence is one too many. We need to take a hard look at how and why these issues are taking place in our own communities and across the world, and I will be taking a hard look at myself to ask what I can do to raise awareness of these problems rather than make light of them in any form. Knowing the depth of these problems and the sensitivity of these issues, it is not okay for me or anyone to make a mockery of them even if it is for the purpose of highlighting other problems.

These women could easily be someone I know and I may never be able to comfort and support them, let alone address these issues as an individual, teacher, and community member, because they may be too afraid to speak with someone like me who has spoken so insensitively about these matters. If I had a daughter and she experienced this, would she ever be able to come to me for help? Or would my humor make her feel uncertain that she would get the reassurance and support that she needs? Would she be absolutely certain that I would not blame or shame her, that there is no place and no justification for belittling or oppression of any form against women in society? This level of empathy should be there for all women and people. I’m ashamed that it took me so long to imagine and realize all of this.

I realize now that I must carry with me an awareness of the issue of violence and sexual violence against women at all times, and that at any given moment, I could be speaking to a victim – or even a perpetrator. I understand that my male privilege affords me to not have to worry about or be as sensitive to issues of sexual violence the way that women do. Women walk, live, and breathe with these understandings. Even in the safest parts of the world, they are constantly concerned for their well-being. They have experienced these forms of violence; their sisters have experienced these forms of violence. As I write and as you read, there are women who are actually in this very moment experiencing: oppression, violence, abuse, and rape, regardless of their ethnicity, race, nationality, or religion. As we read and write, countless women are dealing with and struggling to heal from these abuses – if not suffering from them again.

I do not condone rape, female genital mutilation, domestic abuse be it psychological, verbal, or physical, child marriage, or the oppression of women in any form. For anyone who interpreted my statements as a validation for any form of demeaning, disrespecting, or abusing women and girls, as I mentioned before in a previous statement, I do not condone any of this type of behavior. It was not my intention to imply or insinuate that sexist, misogynistic attitudes or actions are okay.

From now on, I will be engaging with my students, peers, and faculty at the institution at which I teach to rectify the offenses of my comments. I will be attending a sensitivity training, as well as a social media training, and opening myself up to even more dialogue with women to gain a better understanding of their experiences as women within male-dominated structures, institutions, and communities, in order to better myself and better serve others. Please know that my comments were not indicative of any attitudes or behaviors of my peers or my place of teaching, or of my teachings themselves. These were a grave error, miscalculation, and misguidedness of my personal self.

I am appreciative for those who have separated my actions from myself, and have given me the benefit of the doubt of being an extremely fallible human being. Any good that I have said or done in my lifetime is due to the message and beauty of Islam, and any bad that has come is due to my poor judgment and straying from this message. I ask that you forgive me. I especially ask for the forgiveness for the people out there – and I know there are many – who have suffered from the abuses that I inadvertently made light of. I am truly filled with grief and regret that my insensitivity has harmed and hurt you. Please forgive me, and know that I have learned from my error, that I will continue to learn from it, that I appreciate the perspectives that help my broaden my own, and that I will use my own faults and errors as a means of addressing greater issues within our communities.

As a human who has made a mistake, please forgive me. As a professional and leader of a Muslim institution of learning, I will hold myself accountable for my comments and will reexamine my use of this brand of humor, especially because I know that there will come a day when I will be held accountable for everything I say and do. The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, is reported to have said, “I guarantee a house in Paradise for one who gives up arguing, even if he is in the right; and I guarantee a house in the middle of Paradise for one who abandons lying even when joking or for the sake of fun; and I guarantee a house in the highest part of Paradise for one who has good manners.” (Narrated by Abu Dawud) I hope that my mistake will continue to open up conversations, dialogues, awareness, and a betterment of our communities.


(Just sign here, Abu Eesa!)

I have not written this to make a mockery of this individual. As I thoroughly read through all of his posts related to this incident, and previous posts to gain an understanding of his voice, I realized that he has a certain brand of humor that – which I find anywhere between yawn, eye roll, and absolutely revolting – needs to be kept in context. As a human being, he really, really sucks at making apologies (and even more at making memes), but I can’t bring myself to derive from this that he is disingenuous or a bad person. As a teacher, his inability to understand what it is he needs to apologize for, and the silence or defensiveness of his peers, are rather chilling.

Whether or not he should be fired – beyond this individual – is an excellent point of conversation and policy-making in terms of a professional in a workplace, and even more so of a Muslim leader in a religious institution. Many people have been fired for making such comments in secular spaces. Many people have gotten away with it. Many people have learned from their mistakes. Some people have actually committed harmful actions in institutions – including Muslim religious institutions – such as the abuses that we are discussing, and gotten away with it, if not at least for a while. How and why is that even possible?

This person inadvertently highlighted some of the biggest problems that I have with Muslim institutions and communities – a disconnect from the realities of community members, and poisonous attitudes that are actually defended by people, while those who call out the attitudes and issues are the ones who are criticized. Sometimes, someone makes a mistake, and that mistake can actually highlight deeper issues and problems. I am actually thankful for this person making this mistake. This is bigger than him. I’ve been in this human being’s dumbass position. I’ve made really big and embarrassing and hurtful and harmful mistakes, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to recognize my mistakes, apologize to those who I have harmed, and learned to alter and shape my actions from the lessons that I’ve learned. This is a continual process of personal growth for me that will never be complete. What really matters is how we get up and walk away from this, and more importantly, what we walk towards.

I know and believe we can make the world a better place, and I am thankful that one persons very public mistake caused some real conversation. It is my hope that we can use this incident/indication as an opportunity to acknowledge, understand, realize, and address the experiences of women – Muslim and not, within and outside of – our communities. If this incident angered and upset you the way it angered and upset me, if it validated some grievances you haven’t been able to vocalize, if it demonstrated the disconnect of our institutions from truly addressing and working to rectify real social issues, then let’s not be quiet about it, and at the very least, let’s not belittle or dismiss our realities any longer.

Thank you to M. Hasna Maznavi for the edits. I am so grateful for your eye and support!  

EDIT (3/13/14 at 6:00pm EST): I wanted to share a message that I’ve received from a fellow sister in humanity. I will keep her identity anonymous:

“Reading that letter had me in tears. Because it made me realise how terribly alone I have been in my suffering yet unable to understand why that was. I never blamed any institute or any shayukh for not helping me because I never thought of them being responsible, I never went to them, I never asked for help. But that help should have been there without request. I still suffer. And I still won’t ask because even though your letter has lifted my spirits, I know what the real world is. I know how most muslims judge. I however wanted to thank you for making me, for a little while, feel as though there are people out there who would understand. Thank you.”

My heart is broken, not because I pity her, but because she deserves better, and we all deserve better. However, we won’t have a better community, a better society, a better world unless we do something. Please, have a conversation about these matters with your kids, friends, family members. Please donate to organizations like New Star Family Center and the North American Islamic Shelter for the Abused, or an equivalent organization in your local community. Please bear witness to these concerns, topics, and social problems, and do something about them, starting with taking a closer look at the environment we are creating with our own thoughts, words, and actions (silence is part of the problem). Strike a discusssion with your local community leaders and activists about the conditions within our communities. Let’s create conversations, actions, programs (while supporting these less ‘sexy’ causes and organizations that exist in our communities that are already doing important social work), and policies that strengthen our social fabric around issues that matter

More Perspectives:

34 thoughts on “Oh, Abu Eesa: An Apology Letter on Your Behalf

  1. This post is gold. Not only is the writing impeccable, but you highlighted many important issues and conveyed a multi-dimensional perspective in regards to this particular matter. I hope more people read and reflect on this introspectively and analytically. Insha’Allah, I also pray that this and pieces like this promote productive discussions leading towards solutions to the issues that both women and men face within our society. May the Most High allow us all to respect each other, individually and as a people. Thank you Nida and JZAK.

  2. Wow, this blew me away. Thank you for stealing my thoughts, infusing them with wit and intellect, and turning them into beautiful words

  3. SubhanAllah, I hope that this helps bring much-needed awareness and helps mend the hearts of those who were really affected by it. I loved what you wrote, may Allah (swt) continue to bless you with the articulate perception that you have and the power to express it in just that manner. You are an amazing Muslimah.

    JazakAllah khair.

  4. This article is breathtaking (the only word I can use to describe this amazing piece of workmanship)

  5. Okay, you totally hit the spot! Masha Allah, on all accounts, this is so impressive, and I’ll do my best to spread it widely. Jazaki Allahu khayran and waffaqakum Allah. Much love and dua from Toronto, Ontario.

  6. This pretty much sums up what most people are thinking about the whole ‘drama’. Thank you for this beautifully written piece.

  7. Love it. Thank you for your thoughtful and eloquent writing. You are a much-needed voice in this space.

  8. It makes me laugh how people just can’t let this issue go.. It really isn’t a big deal.. If only people would be so vocal about the more pressing issues which are going on around the world…

    People are blatantly using this so called ‘issue’ to take a stab at fame.

    Stop it and grow up!
    Focus on your own lives.
    Stop trying to get famous by attract likes and retweets on the back of this man. Pathetic.

    Do you not feel embarrassed?

    Btw I don’t know who Abu Eesa is but I’m sick of being inundated with FB posts about him.

    #rohingya #syria #palestine

    1. Maryam, thank you for taking the time to read my post, and for sharing your thoughts. I understand how you might find this to be a trivial matter. Even if you don’t feel that they do, I believe incidents like this do matter. Al Maghrib is an institution, and Abu Eesa is an employee of that institution. The way that the professional and the administration that deals with that professional’s indiscretions matters – not just to the students or community members, but all whom those voices reach, as well as those who view that institution as a representation of whatever knowledge it puts forth. In my meager assessment, this is how institutional/systemic injustice is kept in place – be it very small or extremely large. Magnify instances like this, and this is how women and other minorities voices and issues are sidelined when institutions are built, when policies are put into place, and even when nations are formed. “It’s not a big deal” until it affects one directly. “It’s not a big deal,” but if a Professor at a Public University made such comments – about women, or Muslims, or Jews, I doubt that’d be the case, because people would make the connection that this person is discriminating against others from their position of power/authority/privilege/salary.

  9. I appreciated this piece very much. It was well-written and very thoughtful. I have just one question. You wrote:

    “I understand that my comments highlighted deeper concerns and issues that Muslim women are facing within Muslim communities due to the malpractice of Islam and the deviation from its fundamental teachings about the respect, dignity, and rights due to women.”

    How do you define the malpractice of Islam? What do we do when inevitably, your criteria differ from another Muslim’s? When we try to create a consensus for what is the (in)correct practice of Islam, how do we avoid falling into the trap of spuriously imposing an arbitrary orthodoxy, and why should anyone listen to us? Yes, the argument in this article is appealing to many (in part because of the conceptions of respect, dignity, and rights that we have that have been so influenced by Western society and thought), but if someone rejects it, citing the Qur’an or Hadith or even just ideology and custom, where are we then?

    The point I want to make here is not a relativist one that denies the ability to make an Islamic argument in favor of a position. What I am reflecting on, rather, is the limited utility of such an argument on a society-wide scale. As we try to change our societies for the better, is it really worth it to try to win the battle of citing Hadiths and verses and legal rulings and historical examples with the many, many Muslims who disagree quite vehemently with each other about what the “fundamental teachings about the respect, dignity, and rights due to women” actually are and mean in practice? Is it not a distraction from the many objective points made elsewhere in this piece regarding the tangible reality of suffering and oppression embodied in the Imam’s comments?

    The religious argument can be a powerful argument, but the danger that comes with even mentioning it in passing is that people get all hung up on defining what is or is not the proper practice of Islam, and defending their own image of Islam, and we forget every other point made in this long article and especially the key point, which is that real people are suffering. This is what I have observed to have happened historically, and certainly not exclusively with Islam. On the one hand, it is important that people who love a faith, have a voice about what that faith means in this world. On the other hand, we shouldn’t make our argument for justice dependent on proving that our vast religion exclusively supports that particular version of justice. That simply doesn’t seem to work out well.

    Just some late night thoughts, I’d appreciate any input from others on this particular issue.

    1. D, thank you for reading, and for sharing your poignant thoughts. And sorry it took me a little while to moderate your comment – I like to fully read and understand the comments that people have posted before I approve them.

      You’ve raised some questions that are grander in nature / more thought-provoking than any response I can give, and you’ve articulated some questions that I have myself. “Where are we then?” seems to be where we are now. Where were we, where are we, where are we going, who is ‘we’, what does ‘justice’ look like for different peoples, can we have different world/(intra)religious views without imposing/infringing on others…

      Thanks again for reading and thank you for the thoughts to think on.

      1. Ah, it’s all right! I guess I was too impatient, haha.

        I think there’s a kind of natural tension between religion as personal and religion as communal that I’m still trying to negotiate myself.

        Thanks for the reply. Keep writing!

  10. I agree the post is masterfully written, ma sha Allah!

    … one issue, however: “… I only recently learned of you on March 8th, 2014…” Most people flaming him are in the same boat as you. Thus, I can understand, to some extent, why most of his memes and jokes during that time, especially when cherry-picked, would offend the readers. However, my sincere request would be to spend some time getting to know him – perhaps a year, at least, with no bias in mind (difficult, I know, since we’re almost-always biased in some way; I suppose it’s fitra); see if your perception changes, bi’idhni[A]llah.

    A bit of an example: my siblings and I (3 brothers) have a relatively-unique way of displaying our affection to, and for, each other — we tend to be “cruel” to each other, and make snide remarks on each other’s behavior, and the like. Now, amongst us three, the affection is received, understood, and reciprocated Alhamdulillah. However, when outsiders see/hear us (even a relative), in their eyes, we’re outright mean to each other and are pushing each other away, yada yada yada. Now, who’s adhering to the stereotype in this particular example? The outsiders, because they judge based on what they see/hear from the outside, yet do not bother to understand.

    Seeing as you’re an exceptional writer, I’m assuming you read a lot (just going by own example – I fell in love with writing from reading a lot :P ). As such, I’m sure you’ve heard of Dostoyevsky, and Kafka, and Saint-Exupery, and many others besides. If not, try them out; then read up on their history, and their background, and see if their respective styles make sense to you. Whether or not you accept their methods, do you understand them? Ah and, do bear in mind that it takes several works of an author to get used to their writing styles and their methods, and to even begin understanding how and why they did what they did. Don’t be frustrated if it gets too boring! =)


    And, of course, Allah SWT knows best.

    ma Salama

    1. Waalaikumusalam Hamad! Thank you for reading and taking the time to share your perspective. When it comes to personal relationships, I feel it is extremely important to keep in mind people’s personalities in exactly the way you have mentioned. We can’t judge one another’s relationships according to our own. However, in this instance, this is not about an individual and that individual’s personality. It is about a Professional, and it is about the Institution at which that Professional is employed. It is about a Professional, about Policies and Standards, and about what type of precedent it sets when a Professional in a Muslim Institution can make sexist (or any discriminatory) comments, and not be held Accountable for their actions. Accountable meaning there is no systemic way to address their actions, and the true value and weight of their leaderships influence on others and the implications of all of their actions have not been accounted for. Thank you again for sharing your thoughts!

  11. If this isn’t a mockery, I don’t know what is. If a man has made a mistake or two (the jokes and then not apologizing immediately), are you going to ridicule him for that forever? How would you like it if you were ridiculed continuously for all the mistakes you’ve made? You guys all lack mercy. Be merciful so He will also show you mercy.

    Yes, abu eesa made a mistake, but so have TONS of you in how your reacted. To demand adab with a lack of adab is HYPOCRISY. Please read Kamal el Mekki’s post on this.

    “Hey Abu Eesa did you really think I would let you take all that hate by yourself? This is my territory yara! My apologies for the delay, I was oblivious to this thing for a while and then I was traveling internationally (I am actually writing this on the plane).

    Although this is the perfect opportunity to throw Abu Eesa under the bus and come out victorious; I have to come out of hiding for the following reasons;

    1. My potent combination of manliness and awesomeness dictates such.
    2. Nobody hates on Abu Eesa but me.
    3. I would gladly take a bullet for my friend (rubber only, and just one).
    4. I want to defeat Abu Eesa while he is at his strongest and on my own, I don’t need anyone’s help.
    5. I don’t want to resemble those who took this opportunity to win some brownie points with the women. You know very well what I put in my brownies!

    As for all the men who joined the bandwagon and attacked AE; I will deal with you on a separate post. It was an issue that didn’t involve you but you couldn’t wait to inject yourself into it. You will experience firsthand how a lion deals with hyenas.

    But on a serious note (and I do mean a serious note, I have resisted every temptation to make sardonic remarks):

    1. The Prophet salalahu alayhi wa salam described the hypocrites as severe when they disagree. You could have just objected to the jokes. But sadly, you had to ask for firings and such. Others tried to drag Almaghrib into this as well. The believers would have only commented on the offense and not gone beyond. It is amazing that some quoted ahadith about correcting brothers. Is this how you correct your brother?
    2. There were companions who committed major sins, yes MAJOR sins (adultery, slander), but they were still considered believers and their good deeds in the past were not forgotten. Mistah ibn Uthathah slandered a chaste woman but his good deeds and his participation at badr were not forgotten. Allah still commanded Abu Bakr to do good to him (24:22). Someone said Abu Eesa is not to be called a shaykh. So that’s how it works? You cancel out years of good work and speech if someone makes one mistake (I’m not saying he made a mistake by the way)?
    3. We all hate it when the kuffar go into an innocent Muslim’s history to try to dig up dirt, and when they find nothing they quote statements out of context. They do this because they don’t fear Allah and they don’t care for the truth. Some tried to going back in time to prove their case against AE using past jokes and posts. What is the value of knowing about Allah and His Messenger salalahu alayhi wa salam if in the end, you behave just like someone who never heard of Allah and His messenger?
    4. Be the one insulted and not the one insulting. You lost the minute you started to personally insult the man. Which is worse; a joke about women that is tasteless (in your eyes) or actually insulting an individual? How can someone possibly think they’re on the higher ground when they directly insult and assail someone else for telling a joke? Put the two on both sides of the balance and see which is worse. By what standards is it ok for girls in their twenties to insult a speaker who is older than they are, has gray hairs and is a father? At what point did we lose all the adab in our communities, and think it’s OK to publicly insult people?
    5. Or perhaps you think it’s ok to try to ruin and tarnish someone’s reputation? So you’re religious enough to ‘correct’ and to state what is wrong, but you are not God fearing enough to realize that launching a campaign against someone is far more serious? You lie against someone saying he promotes rape and still think you’re in the right and they’re in the wrong?

    What does it say about you when you try to ruin someone’s life because of something you didn’t like (not a major sin mind you)? Can we claim to be any better than the tyrants we hear about on the news? Why aren’t we able to separate between what we like and what we dislike about an individual?

    I would like to conclude by telling you about the most unique and incredible battle in the history of mankind, the battle of Siffin. Believers would fight during the day and after the battle would go into the other camp and chat and converse. Unlike us, they could clearly separate between disagreeing with someone on the one hand, and still seeing them as brothers and as believers on the other. They didn’t allow their quarrel over an issue to spill into every other dynamic of their lives.

    Brothers and sisters, we are mistreated and dealt with unjustly in the world today because we do the same to each other. Let’s change ourselves and change will come.

    Be the hated and not the hater.

    Be the insulted and not the one insulting.

    Be the killed and not the killer.


    1. Dear Abu Musa, thank you for reading and taking the time to share your thoughts! I didn’t say that this isn’t a mockery – I said, “I have not written this to make a mockery of this individual.” Meaning I have not written this with the purpose of making a mockery – implying my intentionality. As to whether or not you perceive this to be a mockery, you have every right to perceive what you may as you may.

      ‘To demand Adab with a lack of Adab is hypocrisy’ – I completely agree. I’m not demanding Adab though – I’ve merely raised questions around Accountability for a Professional employed at an Institution, and further an Institution of Higher Learning. This goes beyond an individual and raises questions and concerns around the precedents that are set – and have been set – by instances like these.

      I still see Abu Eesa as my brother in humanity, and as a human being, as someone who will be accountable for my actions, and as someone who should hold Professionals in Institutions accountable for their actions especially because of the Power and Influence they have and hold, I cared to write what I felt should have been said.

      I haven’t claimed to possess impeccable Adab, not am I criticizing this person as an individual (my post would have been very different otherwise).

      I understand though where you are coming from. He’s your friend, and you are defending him. Though I was not satisfied with how things went, I won’t be reducing him as a human being to this one incident. Sadly though, many people have reduced and dismissed the people who have been speaking out against Abu Eesa’s inappropriate remarks as: insincere, secular, leading a smear-campaign, slandering, unislamic, feminazis, led by an ‘agenda,’ bad Muslims, not real Muslims, and worse (even by Abu Eesa himself).

  12. Thank so much for this, truly.

    I don’t care to imagine what he “probably meant”, or to read between the lines of what he was “maybe trying to say”. Abu Eesa’s perpetuation of sexism and racism is glaring enough, and has surely stifled any possible good intentions.

    To Mr. Abu Eesa and his army who are urging us to read his remarks in the context of his general social-media-demeanour, let me say this: the majority of those the posts have reached are not avid followers who recognize his every nuance, and nothing changes the fact that what he said is wrong. So please, AE, take this as an opportunity to either:

    1) RE-LEARN basic Islamic etiquette (you obviously weren’t paying attention in that class), REEVALUATE your own prejudices regarding sex and race, and ADJUST your behaviour accordingly. Or,

    2) Stop acting as a public figure and ambassador for Islam, and keep your jokes to yourself – and to those who share your affinity towards laughing at the VERY REAL social ills plaguing our Ummah and mankind as a whole.

    I really never rant like this, but thank you for reading nonetheless.

    – S

  13. Qur’an 16:125 Invite all to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and
    beautiful preaching and argue with them in ways that are “best and most suitable” for Allah knows
    best those who are guided from those who are strayed….

    When speaking to Muslims and non- Muslims we should ask ourselves how
    did Rasulullah (saws) speak to people and what does Allah say in Qur’an.
    Wow in my limited time on earth I have never seen so many opinionated and
    suspicious Muslims, so quick to character assassinate each other, do not the
    Muslims give each other the benefit of the doubt? A man came to the Rasulullah
    (saws) said something about
    seeing something bad in a Muslim’s character he asked him does he pray the man
    said yes, Rasulullah (saws) said leave him be. There is nothing wrong with
    criticizing and correcting someone when making mistakes or misstatements as the
    Sister who corrected the Caliphate Umer (RA) during Jumaah Khutbar and
    Caliphate Umer who realizing he was wrong and the Sister right acknowledge his
    wrong in public. We need to study the inner Apartment Sura 49 and the many
    hadiths in respect to forgiveness, scandal mongering and suspicion. One of the
    greatest gifts from Allahu ta Ala’ is the gift of recognizing our own faults,
    seeking forgiveness and never repeating the same. Am a little old school born
    and raised in NYC having respect for our home grown limited knowledge Imam
    (ulum amri minkum) but in my 35 years in Deen I have never seen Muslims so
    quick to attack and demean Muslims who have devoted their lives in pursuing
    Islamic knowledge and teaching it to others. We read a few ayats and hadith and
    we attack, so sad. We should think of 70 good reasons for a Muslim before we
    think up one bad reason for the Muslims. Instead of seeking the mysteries of
    the universe we should understand the basics of ADAB. Allahu ta Ala protect us
    from the deception of shaytan nir Rajeem.

    One learnt Muslim is harder on shaytan then one thousand ignorant
    worshippers…..the ink of the scholar is like the blood of the Shahid. ….the
    best of you are those that learn the Qur’an and teach it to others…. and
    finally the learnt are the heirs of the Prophets just a few sayings from
    Rasulullah (saws). Also leaders should act like leaders
    not clowns and buffoons, and when confronted should be humble and lower their
    wings of HUMILITY to the believing man and women, and should not attack other
    people’s ways of life as the Rasulullah (saws) was admonished by Allah-“Attack
    not their ways for out of ignorance they may attack Allah (our ways)”.

    1. Orlando, thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts! “When speaking to Muslims and non- Muslims we should ask ourselves how did Rasulullah (saws) speak to people and what does Allah say in Qur’an.” I completely agree.

      Do you feel that the comments we are having this discussion around are an example of how the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) would have spoken? Do you feel that the apologies that were in reference to those comments, are the kind of apology that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) would have made? I don’t think so as you’ve also mentioned that “leaders should act like leaders not clowns and buffoons, and when confronted should be humble. ”

      Not referring to you, but I am finding it very troubling that people are asking for Critics to take heed of the Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) example yet are looking the other way for the Professional that began this public commentary in the first place. In fact, the people who have been speaking out against Abu Eesa’s inappropriate remarks have been labeled: insincere, secular, leading a smear-campaign, slandering, unislamic, feminazis, led by an ‘agenda,’ and ironically in light of the fact that Abu Eesa was the one who initiated the hating – they’ve been labeled haters!

      I believe that we need to separate ’70 excuses’ of someones Intention from the Actions of a Professional in an Institutional setting. If we were to give 70 excuses for each indiscretion of a Professional in a Muslim institution, we would have an immense amount of corruption in our communities!

      Peace and respect, and thank you again for reading and sharing your thoughts.

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