Last month Palestinian-American “Imam of America” Omar Suleiman denounced the handful of Muslim countries and groups militarily supporting Palestinians against Israeli genocide, a move that—surprise, surprise—aligns with US foreign policy objectives in the region.
“We don’t need them,” Suleiman said during a podcast with Muhammad Jalal of “The Thinking Muslim.” By “them” Suleiman was referring to the Axis of Resistance, comprising Iran, Syria, Lebanon’s Hizbullah, Yemen’s Ansarullah, Hamas, Palestine Islamic Jihad and the Islamic Resistance of Iraq. They are in the frontlines fighting Israel but he rejects them for defending Syria against the zionist-led bloody regime change operation that began in 2011.
Suleiman’s declaration uttered in the comfort of a studio in America is in stark contrast to the statements and actions of Palestinians in the trenches. They fight alongside their brothers and sisters in the Axis of Resistance, day and night, to stop Israeli genocide.
Spokesmen for Palestinian resistance groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad publicly praise the military efforts of these resistance groups, as they have for years.
“We thank the Islamic Republic of Iran who provided us with weapons, money and other equipment! [Iran] gave us missiles to destroy zionist fortresses and helped us with standard anti-tank missiles,” Izz ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades spokesman Abu Obadiah said in 2014.
In the latest article in this series on ulul amr, those whose obedience in political matters is obligatory after obedience to Allah and His Last Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), we discussed Allah’s warning to stay away from false scholars in our search for ulul amr. False scholars do not have correct political insights and mislead Muslims, resulting in generations of oppression with no seemingly effective way out.
Instead of amplifying Palestinian Resistance voices on the ground, Omar Suleiman is sabotaging their efforts by advocating for the rejection of key players of the Palestinian Resistance movement, demonstrating a deficiency in political understanding. In fact, several times in the last few years, he has had to publish “clarifications” and repentance videos (see also here) after criticism from the Muslim community in America accusing him of promoting liberalism, feminism, homo-acceptance, and Darwinism. He is not part of the ulul amr and should not be leading Muslims on Palestine solidarity or any other political affair.
But the irony is that he is. He has 900,000 followers on Twitter, 2.6 million on Instagram, and 2.8 million on Facebook. He is one of the most popular Muslim speakers in America and is the face of the Muslim American Palestinian solidarity movement, leading the March on Washington for Gaza that attracted a record-breaking 400,000 people in January.
It is not by chance that Islamic scholars and experts without political insight attain powerful and influential positions in western society. They are elevated and placed there as tools by the rich and powerful to keep control of the Muslim masses, who they know are mandated by Allah to de-establish the existing oppressive systems and replace them with peace and social justice.
These religious figures preach “American Islam,” a term coined by the late Egyptian scholar/activist Syed Qutb in the mid-1900s to describe an interpretation of the faith promoted by the existing power structure that allows Islam to be customized to their agenda.
Qutb said empires, colonizers, and tyrannical regimes use these scholars-for-dollars to get Muslims to primarily focus on their individual beliefs, practices and rituals. When these scholars do advocate for collective work, they push actions that are either ineffective in changing the status quo or, worse, further the empire’s objectives. This they do by Islamically sanctioning US foreign policies, such as legitimizing its allies (1980s Taliban) or rejecting its enemies (Axis of Resistance).
The late Egyptian scholar considered this an abomination to original Islam, which gives Muslims clear directives on arranging our political affairs, including how to free our lands from the colonizers.
“The danger of American Islam … is not less than the danger of America’s military and political tools,” according to the Rahbar (Leader) of the Islamic Republic of Iran Imam Seyyed Ali Khamenei. His predecessor Imam Ruhollah Khomeini used the term American Islam to describe “Islam of capital and capitalist rule over the oppressed and barefoot,” “Islam of the arrogant,” “Islam of hypocrisy,” and “Islam of the comfortable.”
American Islam and its fake scholars are not a new phenomenon. Their roots lie in the dynasties that grabbed political power soon after the establishment of an Islamic government in Madinah 1400 years ago. In fact, another one of Imam Khomeini’s names for American Islam was the “Islam of Abu Sufyan.” That is because Abu Sufyan was a powerful member of Arabian society and arch nemesis of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
Abu Sufyan fought tooth and nail to preserve the existing tribal power structure until the liberation of Makkah. Less than 30 years after the death of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), Abu Sufyan’s descendants seized power and began propagating a version of Islam that deemphasized Islamic directives on societal organization established by the Prophet (pbuh) while legitimizing allegiance to any established political structure of the time.
The Ummayad rulers did this by hiring mufassirs to write Qur’anic exegesis that left out social manifestations of the words of Allah, scholars to issue fatwas in their favor, and regular folk to fabricate hadith justifying their rule and attributing them to Prophet (pbuh). One such “hadith” is as follows: “Rulers after me will come who do not follow my guidance and my sunnah. Some of their men will have the hearts of devils in human body… You should listen and obey them even if the ruler strikes your back and takes your wealth, even still listen and obey.” (Sahih Muslim)
Such interpretations have allowed corrupt and power-hungry rulers to usurp power and rule over Muslims in the past and now. The US recruited Saudi Arabia—which is ruled by the self-serving Saud family akin to the Ummayads—to help spread their American empire-friendly Wahhabi version of Islam to other countries. They have corrupted mosques, schools and organizations in the US.
This campaign took off in 1979, when Iran’s Islamic Revolution and the Soviet Union’s communist ideology became threats to western influence in the Muslim world. In an interview with the Washington Post in 2018, Saudi Prince Muhammad bin Salman admitted, “Our allies demanded that we use our resources to accomplish this task [counter influence of the Soviet Union].” He added: “Saudi Arabia was not like this before ’79.”
Muslims who have studied at Saudi Arabia’s Madinah University or other institutions around the world that adhere to American Islam, whether affiliated with Sunni, Sufi, or Shi‘a schools of thought, are promoted to become our leaders. This happens through a system of well-funded and interconnected mosques, schools, Islamic institutes, and Muslim organizations and their online platforms.
Indeed, in 2011 the US global policy think tank RAND Corporation released a report that instructed government officials, non-profit organizations, and private funders on how to “encourage and empower credible, authentic, and constructive voices” that echo White House policies. Some of their suggestions included building alliances with existing “rock star imams,” creating new “Web sensations,” and funding technology, public relations and marketing training for “Muslim influencers.”
A decade later these are the people who are in power and leading the Muslim Palestinian solidarity movement in the US. Considering that America is the zionist entity’s staunchest ally, this leadership position holds so much power to potentially end US support of Israel.
It is of utmost importance that the pro-Palestine movement here be led by ulul amr because they are the ones who can quickly and effectively end US support for Israel and achieve victories, according to the Qur’an. But, unfortunately, the voices of ulul amr in America are drowned out by false scholars and gatekeepers who misdirect Muslim time, money, and energies towards ineffective actions.
These false scholars do this by talking the talk but then pushing Muslims to solve their domestic and foreign problems by participating in the very system that keeps them and others down and oppressed. This settler colonial political system was set up on the occupied lands of this continent to facilitate imperial spread just as the zionist political system was imposed on Palestinian lands for continuous expansion into neighboring lands.
Neither of them should be legitimized with involvement. The tools they offer to bring change, like voting, only bring cosmetic changes, never real transformation. Scholars who push their people towards these types of political actions are sabotaging real change.
Imam Ali said, “I warn you about the munafiqs [dual-loyalists]. They are misguided and they misguide as well. They have appeared in society in different colors and with different faces. Their speech is eloquent, profitable and even a cure for pain. But their actions are like an incurable disease.”
Some other influential Muslims (mis)leading on Palestine:
“Controlled opposition is vastly embedded in the western Muslim communities and even those who claim to be pro-Palestine are often part of it,” says British political commentator Syed Mohsin Abbas. “As far as I’m concerned, anybody who legitimizes any part of the Anglo-zionist imperialist structures, its elites or its puppets is one of them.”
Indeed, as Allah warns Muslims to stay away from false scholars, He also promises the ever-presence of true scholars, or ulul amr, equipped to guide us to freedom and prosperity. Insha Allah, in the next article we will continue on our journey to find ulul amr.