Trouble at Tawhid Masjid Leyton

The ongoing quarrel between Shaykh Suhaib Hasan’s family (including his son Usama) and the Trustees of Masjid Tawhid, Leyton, shows no sign of abating.

It now appears that those opposed to the Hasan family have gained control of the mosque’s website. They have posted a ‘statement to the community’ together with an ‘update on the management situation’ in which they give their side of the story regarding the continuing dispute.

I don’t think it is wise to take sides in this type of dispute – which unfortunately is all too common in mosques across the UK. One can only hope that the management of the mosque falls on the shoulders of those in the local community who are honest and hard-working and devoted to serving God.

I will make a couple of observations though.

I believe the current management committee have made a huge mistake in seeking to portray Usama’s Hasan’s views on evolution as being in ‘opposition to the constitution of the [mosque] Trust.’ The theory of evolution is supported by the overwhelming majority of scientists. See here for my debate with Harun Yahya on this issue. In seeking to deny the truth of evolution – while also conspicuously failing to offer any credible scientific alternative – the management of the mosque display their ignorance and also help illustrate why the Muslim world is not exactly at the cutting edge of science in today’s world.

Having said that I can well understand why many in the local community have taken a stand against Usama Hasan. I myself was very dismayed when I found out a few years ago that he had agreed to be an official advisor to the government-funded Quilliam Foundation. I did not really know Usama well at all so I just assumed this was naivety on his part. Then, around two and a half years ago, just after the massive Israeli bombardment and invasion of Gaza in December 2008/January 2009, I met him at an event in Slough where we were both speakers. I found his speech which discussed the events in Gaza to be very disappointing because it seemed to me that he was equating the actions of the Islamic Resistance movement, Hamas, with that of the Israelis as if they were on a level playing field, instead of understanding that one party was the illegal and well-armed and well-funded occupier and the other was the largely defenceless occupied party. My dismay only increased when after our presentations had ended, he criticised me for speaking out against Zionism which I regard as a racist ideology. ‘You have to understand that most Jews are Zionists’, he said to me. ‘And what difference does that make?’ I responded.

Anyway, lets hope the dispute at Masjid Tawhid is resolved soon and in a just and fair manner.

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17 Responses to Trouble at Tawhid Masjid Leyton

  1. Usman Hasan says:

    Salaams Inayat. Afraid I AM going to take sides on this:

    On evolution, Usama’s position, although he does present evidence which runs in favour of scientific thinking, is ultimately an open and inquisitive mind. He encourages others to think likewise, and broaden their interpretation of doctrines.

    On Palestine, his stance during the brutal ‘operation cast lead’ was one of averting any knee-jerk reaction. This I feel was very responsible. The worldwide anger, although justified, could potentially have lead to words and actions based on anger rather than reason, which politically could have escalated.
    He took a step back to look at the bigger picture, and generally reiterated that most Muslims round the world would be perfectly prepared to accept the pre 1967 borders.

    Regarding Quillam, I think this was a well intentioned initiative on his part. On paper, The Quillam Foundation is a fantastic idea. Unfortunately, like any project, it’s only as effective as the integrity of those who drive it. On this score, I believe certain individuals (not Usama) have let it down badly.
    My very personal view is that he may be embarrassed by it.

  2. @ Usman:

    As someone once said, It is good to be open-minded, but not so open-minded that you allow your brain to fall out. I think Usama’s openness to multiple interpretations of Islamic teachings is commendable. It is his political judgement (supporting Quilliam, sending greetings to British occupation troops in Afghanistan, parroting neo-con rubbish about ‘Islamists’) that I question.

    • Usman Hasan says:

      As you say, multiple interpretations of Islam teachings are acceptable.

      ..Couldn’t the same be said, and to a far greater degree, of multiple interpretations in politics??

      • @ Usman

        Presumably you do give actual weighting to different views. Some views may after all have greater or lesser plausibility. The Quilliam Foundation may well be a fantastic outfit or it may not be so, for example.

  3. @ Usman:

    Just one more thing. It is only natural and proper that those that live in the local community would want to have a say in the governance of their mosque. I was trying to say that it is probably better for those of us who are not living in Leyton to refrain from taking sides in this Masjid Tawhid dispute because we may not be in full possession of the facts and to judge whether the claims of nepotism etc are true or not.

  4. Asim says:

    Mosques all around the country need to become better-organised. When mosque committees squabble amongst themselves they’re just doing no one any good.

  5. Humza says:

    My opinion is that every person is entitled rightfully to their own opinion. Having said that I consider Usama Hasan as a leading and influential figure of this community, hence not a normal person and so such a person of such an influence that holds such views in regards to evolution, is not exactly fit for this role. I would have had more respect for Usama if he had stood strongly about his beliefs but instead he cowardly informed the media about how he was threatened and forced to retract.

    He claims to have retracted his views on evolution and his father publicly apologised for him, but according to his interview broadcasted on tv, he said that he has retracted his views on evolution on the grounds that Islam is not ready for such a debate. He also said in his personal blog that he retracted some of his views on evolution especially the inflammatory ones. The word ‘some’ has a wide interpretation and could simply mean that he has not completely retracted all of his beliefs in regards to evolution. Any person in their right mind would realise that was not a sincere and honest retraction hence I personally think it should be rejected. By all means he has the right to hold his opinion without any fear but he should be reasonable enough to accept that that consequence of such beliefs will ultimately make him unsuitable as an imam or leader of the community.

    I am also absolutely disgusted in his family’s behaviour. The way Shaykh Suhaib Hasan uses the mimbar as a platform to insult trustees is disgusting and unfair. I personally witnessed how they verbally insulted and humiliated the opposing trustee members in front of many , in the masjid astaghfirullah. They were acting like a bunch of baboons. Do they not know that their Lord is watching them and they will be answerable? Is this how the prophet (pbuh) and his companions behaved in this way if they had difference of opinions or even with their enemies? All I witnessed was pure ignorance and jahiliyya. I always had great respect for Usama and thought he was a man of religion, an intellect, an academic but I was completely shocked and appalled by his behaviour and never expected a person of his calibre to be so aggressive, which I personally witnessed. I actually thought him and his brothers were actually going to physically attack the other trustee members. Surely they could be more civilised and perhaps find a constructive way of moving forward but it appears that despite several invitations to discuss the issues by the opposing trustees, the Hasan family has rejected all of them. I read an article in the independent where Usama claims that he and his father was not present when he was sacked making it seem that they were not informed about the meeting but according to the mosque website, the trustees have attempted many times to mediate with the Hasan family but they have ignorantly rejected all calls to dialogue.

    To me it appears that Masjid Tawhid is not the House of Allah but it is the House of the Hasan family. Many sisters have boycotted the masjid especially from the Somalian community because they have been physically and verbally abused by the wife of Shaykh Suhaib Hasan which can be googled as well. It appears that this masjid belongs to the family, like a family run business and when the Shaykh finally retires his sons becomes the next leader, which is really backward village like thinking. His wife mashaAllah use to wear the full works burqa, hijab and niqab, now the burqa and niqab is off but the headscarf still remains, it may just take a few more months before the headscarf comes off as well. May Allah save us from this fitna and guide us all.

    I just want them out and I hope Allah accepts all my salaah that I have prayed behind Usama, Allah may accept my salaah but I don’t think I can since I was ignorant of Usama’s beliefs, it is my fault for ignoring the facts, hence till this day I am doing qazaa of all the prayers I have prayed behind him for my own peace of mind. Because as far I’m concerned and the many respected scholars such as Shaykh Bin Baaz, according to them evolution is not compatible with Islam and any Muslim with such a belief is an apostate and out of the fold of Islam. If Usama is truly and sincerely regretful, just the way he publicly announced his belief in evolution, he should publicly announce his retraction of all of his belief in evolution. But if he
    chooses not too then all I can say is that he will be answerable to his Lord in the hereafter.

    May Allah guide us all to the truth and who knows if someone like hafiz Usama whom we all had great respect for can be lead astray, then who can guarantee our iman? So let’s make dua that Allah keeps our iman and faith strong and our children’s.

    There is hadith that states that the prophet (pbuh) warned us of people like Usama Hasan, that he will amongst us, he will be a man of knowledge and respected, he will be scientist with strange new views and will try to lead people astray. Beware of such a person and stay away. This was a warning from the prophet (pbuh), let’s try listening to his warning for once!

    • Usman Hasan says:

      Humza, your phrase of “I just want them out” would have sufficed.

      That Usama’s wife no longer wears the full burqa, therefore she will soon be ditching the headscarfe too, or comparing his family to a bunch of baboons, are not very helpful.

  6. Bill says:

    It’s just becoming ridiculous! They are all still at it. What makes me really sad is that regardless of the theological right or wrong of the matter, the ruddiness with which I have heard people talk about and to their sheik is sickening and scary.

  7. Usman Hasan says:

    I completely agree Bill.

    Among so many other examples, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) also showed us how to debate with dignity, without interrupting, raising the voice, pointing fingers, and above all that ‘agreeing to disagree’ IS AN ACCEPTABLE OUTCOME.

    • zakki says:

      I don’t think there is a single instance where the Prophet allowed inter-Muslim “debates” on core issues of belief. Your hanging onto a fraudulent theory of evolution and trying to give it an “Islamic identity” is tasteless and deserves the type of response that it got. I have read many comments on your blog that actually counter your nonsense point by point, with all due respect and you been left dumbfounded despite your inconsequential PhD’s and secular background.

  8. Zainab says:

    Usamas mother has taught me since I was 5 years of age and now I am 18 years old, she taught me everything, and now my younger sisters still attend. She has different method of discipline which is good but she is a great teacher in all respects the amount of years she’s been teaching and the amount of knowledge she holds is amazing I fully respect her and I feel what she does is amazing. The masjid is a place that us muslims go to and it stands strong and respected in the community. There may be people that disagree but is it right that muslims who follow islam spend time pointing out other peoples flaws, or is it that they should be interested in their deen and to be good muslims.

  9. KMH says:

    Hi Inayat
    Off topic slighlty. I’m just curious, from your own experience of the muslim people you know and encounter how do you feel evolution is being regarded, i.e. are more or fewer people taking it on board, or is there no trend one way or the other?

    Cheers, KMH

  10. @ KMH: As there is very little understanding about evolution amongst the traditionally educated Muslim religious leaders – the curriculum in the overwhelming majority of Imam training academies does not include science – many Muslims grow up thinking that to even seriously consider Darwinism as a framework for how fauna and flora came to be as they are today is ‘unIslamic’. It is a sad and very regrettable state of affairs.

    • KMH says:

      @ inayatscorner: It is regrettable, I am quite sure that those bright stars of the Golden Age are turning in their graves. I read an interesting article a while ago that suggested that the Islamic world was on course for an Enlightenment some 200 to 300 years before Europe was but didn’t happen because the rulers of the day chose to implement Al-Ghazali’s ideas and so ending a glorious era where breadth of thought and creative thinking were nourised and encouraged. There interesting times ahead for religiously orhordox (particularly Christian and Muslim), I only hope it won’t be too painful.

  11. The Holy Our’an is addressing the conflict of Evolution; or rather Creation overall in Verses 19-21 of Surah Al-Inkabot. To get full knowledge of how to solve this conflict between Qur’an and Science, you may visit my site and read about it.

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