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Swiss Minaret Ban Advocate – Converted to Islam

Quite recently there was some furore being made in Switzerland and beyond regarding the banning of minarets on mosques across the country. Much was made and discussed of the decision made by the so-called neutral state, who has a small minority of Muslims residing in its land.

A while ago, there has been news of the main advocate for the minaret ban, Daniel Streich – member of the Swiss People’s Party has converted to Islam. Supposedly Daniel had converted 2 years ago but this news remained secret until recently. The only coverage of this has been in the Nation and Jewish blog.

Pondering on this, I wonder about the issues this throws up in the air. Whilst being Muslim he was campaigning for a ban on minarets. Perhaps he had introduced this campaign prior to becoming Muslim, and in its duration changed his views.  Or maybe he subscribed to the strict Salafi understanding and wanted the minarets banned in accordance of forbidding “evil innovation -bidah”

Maybe the whole story is a hoax! More to come….

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Search for the Truth or Tooth?

The Muslim Sufi channel on Sky called Noor TV run by Pir Alauddin Siddqui from Birmingham features an interesting debate show on Sunday Evening called Search for the Truth. The format of the show consists of an incredibly biased individual who “chairs” the debate, along with a seemingly keen learner who is there to extrapolate convincing arguments from each debatee of which there are two.

The first of the debating panel is a sister of Salafi orientation with the typical characteristics of harshness, being dismissive and zealous. The other is our Sufi sister, probably a die hard Mureed of the Pir saab, with the typical Sufi persona. Together, they debate the most controversial issues ranging from Shirk, grave worshipping to kissing the feet of pious people. We have been watching this show for a while and the conclusion is almost always predictably in favour of the Sufis at the expense of the Salafi sister’s shortcomings and inability to formulate a convincing argument – at least not to her panelist, the channel or the audience mainly beause they are all sufis.

The show almost always typically ends with the Salafi sister left to say, ‘I will go back to my Shaykha and come back on this’ only they never continue with the same topic again, not that she would anyway. The arguments are convincing although surprisingly the notes of the presenter, the keen learner and the debater are all somehow synchorised and often gang up on the Salafi sister.

The last debate was on kissing the feet of the Pious, the sufi sister quoted a Hadith in favour of it which was denied by the Salafi sister as it did not exist in her version of Adab al-Mufrad of Imam Bukhari compiled by her Shaykh Al-Bani. The response which followed from all three Sufi panelists was not based on a discussion on strength of hadith neither the classfication, rather an attack was launched on Al-Bani, accusing him of tempering with the original texts – a debate the Salafi sister could not win. She failed to mention that Al-Bani was a Muhadith well qualified in sciences of Hadith possessing the necessary skills to scruitanise and reclassify hadith, a process of Renewal (tajdid) which is far from corrupting or tempering, but rather is a process of purification and preservation.

Anyway, week in week out they are debating complex issues using references which are literally read out from pieces of paper. There is lots of arguing and every effort is made to show the weakness in Salafi methodology in favour of an Islam which revolves around Shrines, Peers, kissing the hands and feet of the ‘pious’, Khatm, yarween sharif and such. Don’t get me wrong, I am not Salafi or anything but I certainly do not take any of these practices seriously.

As for the show, I think its a complete sham and a setup. If the Salafi sister was sincerely there to propogate the Salafi manhaj, she would do her “research” and present her arguments more convincingly and soundly rather than by ranting “and you should stop doing xyz, seriously-its bida’h” or “Memona can never break this argument, I say we finish the show here!” and expecting them to agree. The sufiesque sister on the other hand regularly goes off topic and begins to link random points to her arguments to make them seem more lofty, tolerant and inclusive, using the “impressionable keen learner” to acquiese with her point much to the chair’s satisfaction who often also sides with her and regularly joins the debate.

Makes for good Sunday night entertainment as long as you are not Salafi!