Citing dubious historical ties, in 1975 King Hasan took his country to war in the Western Sahara that is costing Morocco over $1 million a day. Although the International Court of Justice ruled that Morocco has no historical claims to the territory, the US continues to back Hasan diplomatically and financially in his war to annex the area. The US also takes an active role in stopping coup attempts against the king. According to one dissident, the CIA gave Hasan a videotape that enabled him to catch the plotters before the fact. The favor was returned when Hasan visited Washington in 1982. He and President Reagan agreed that the US could use Morocco as an emergency base for its planes.
During the rule of Hasan II, political opponents were harassed, threatened, imprisoned, and disappeared. Hundreds were killed. Tens of thousands were sent to secret prisons. According to reliable sources, over 60,000 people were tortured under the rule of Hasan II, the sexual degenerate who maintained a harem with over 50 concubines, the oldest of which were merely 17 years of age, and who had over 3,000 servants catering to his every whim.
This is the “good family” that Hamza Yusuf admires!? This is the Moroccan “example” that Mr. Hanson wishes to place on a pedestal as a model for Muslims!? This is the “clean” family that he praises!? A ruling family that has exploited the Moroccan people for generations, sparing no worldly pleasure or luxury for themselves, while millions of their subjects suffer in poverty. A ruling family that is responsible for the deaths of thousands and the torture of tens of thousands of others. How on earth does Hamza Yusuf have the audacity to love and praise the royal family of Morocco?
The current king might be slightly better than his father. Compared to other rulers in the Muslim world, he is certainly a moderate. There is no doubt that some of his projects are good. However, this does not change the fact that he has usurped the wealth and resources of an entire nation and appropriated them as his personal property. And this does not change the fact that some of his policies are terrible, that he rules autocratically, and that he deprives his people of basic rights.
Mohammed VI, the current king of Morocco, who ascended the throne in 1999, was the embodiment of hope for most Moroccans who relied upon patience and constancy to endure the brutal rule of Hasan II. Plenty of promises were made but, after nearly 20 years as testimony, it is patently clear that few of them were ever fulfilled. An Equity and Reconciliation Commission was indeed created in 2004 to investigate human rights violations committed during the reign of Hasan II.
Although admitting to crimes and addressing them publicly has been cathartic for many Moroccans, and some compensation has been paid out, not a single culprit has been brought to justice. There can be no peace and reconciliation without justice.
When it comes to the violation of civil and human rights in Morocco, the wounds have not healed. And while human rights gradually improved in Morocco under Mohammed VI, observers have noted a precipitous decline in recent years. There has been a surge in arbitrary detentions of human rights campaigners, journalists, and social activists. Freedom of expression and association is limited. People who are detained by the police and security apparatus are routinely abused and mistreated. And while it is officially illegal, and the country claims that it is no longer a systematic practice, cases of torture continue to be reported.
For Hamza Yusuf, Muslims have no right to revolt against their rulers regardless of how oppressive they are. For him, Muslims do not have the right to rise in revolution. In his words, “We do not accept any rebellion [khuruj] against our leaders or our public affairs even if they are oppressive. This is the ‘aqidah [conviction] of the Muslims.”
What sort of Islam is this that sides with the oppressors instead of the oppressed? If this is his “Islam,” it is an Uncle Tom Islam and the Islam of the “House Negroes,” in the celebrated words of the late El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (aka Malcolm X). This is not an Islam that appeals to the indigenous people and African-descendants of the Americas. This is not the Islam that appeals to the wretched of the earth. This is not the Islam of rights but one that deprives human beings of their rights, the most important of which is freedom: freedom from tyranny and oppression. As Imam ‘Ali said, “Do not be a slave to others when God created you free.”
Mr. Hanson praises the Jordanian monarchy, the Emirate monarchy, the Moroccan monarchy, and even the Saudi monarchy, “I have seen the same thing with Al Saud but they are often surrounded by bad people.” Ah, yes… they are good people because they have good parents… The only problem is that they are surrounded by bad people. Let’s just call it “peer-pressure.”
And if it were truly the case that Muslims had no right to resist, why did Mr. Yusuf vocally support, encourage, and incite the terrorist insurgents who revolted against the government of Bashar al-Asad in Syria? Is it only the Moroccans, the Kuwaitis, the Emiratis, the Qataris, the Bahrainis, the Omanis, the inhabitants of Brunei, and the Saudis who are deprived of the right to revolt? And if Muslims do not have the right to revolt against their rulers, even if they are oppressive, then did Imam Husayn commit a sin by standing up to Yazid? And what about Hamza Yusuf’s beloved British-created Arab monarchies? Did they not revolt against the Ottoman Sultanate?
If this is the ‘aqidah or conviction of Muslims, it is the ‘aqidah or conviction of idiocy. It is a set of beliefs that serves the interests of oppressors. It is a theology of subservience and subjugation. It is the type of religion that was taught to slaves. It is a diabolical inversion of the Prophet Muhammad’s spiritual, psychological, religious, socio-political, and economic liberation theology. And while there is no shortage of traditions in Sunni sources, along with a smaller number of Shi‘i ones, that call for unconditional submission to sultans, they are all patent forgeries authored by Uncle ‘Abdullah ‘ulama’, the sell-out scholars of Islam and the servants of Satan. They are sons of shirk for “they have taken their scholars and monks as lords besides Allah” (9:31).
As much as evil-doers may wish to spread darkness, and extinguish the light of God, truth shines through falsehood. Consequently, a large body of authentic traditions supporting the right to resist have survived in canonical books of prophetic traditions. In fact, when the Prophet (pbuh) dispatched his companion Mu‘adh to Yemen, where the latter would represent the former, he warned him to “Beware of the supplication of the oppressed, for there is no barrier between it and Allah” (al-Bukhari and Muslim). The Prophet also stated that there were three people whose supplications were never rejected: one of them was “the oppressed when he supplicates and whose supplication is raised above the clouds and the gates of heaven are opened for it” (al-Tirmidhi).
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) prohibited Muslims from committing injustice, “Protect yourselves from doing injustice, for injustice will be darkness on the Day of Resurrection” (Muslim). The Prophet of Allah forbade Muslims from oppressing other Muslims, “A Muslim is a brother of another Muslim. He should not oppress him, nor should he forsake him [that is, when he is being oppressed]” (al-Bukhari and Muslim). As the Prophet commanded, “Support the oppressed” (al-Bara’ ibn ‘Azib).
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) warned scholars against socializing with the rich and powerful. “One who shows respect to a rich man and in the greed of his wealth considers him good,” said the Prophet, “Almighty Allah becomes angry with him and puts him in a cage of fire at the lowest part of Hell” (Amili). “If one praises a tyrant king or shows humility due to greed [of his rewards],” said the Messenger of Allah, “then he will be in Hell with him” (Amili). And again, “Whenever a transgressor is praised, the heavens shudder and the divine anger envelops the one who has praised” (Qummi).
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) commanded Muslims to “Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or is oppressed.” Since this seemed contradictory, he was asked how this was possible. The Prophet responded, “By seizing his hand” (al-Bukhari and Muslim). By preventing oppression, you spare the oppressor from further sin and you save the oppressed from his oppression. As the Messenger of Allah warned, “When people see an oppressor but do not prevent him from [doing evil], it is likely that Allah will punish them all” (Abu Dawud and al-Tirmidhi).
As for scholars who argue otherwise, it would be wise to remember the words of Sa‘id ibn al-Musayyib who warned, “If you find a religious scholar remaining constantly with princes, then consider him a thief.” “Do not mix with the princes and sultans,” warned Abu Hamid al-Ghazzali, “and avoid seeing them; for seeing them and sitting with them and mixing with them is great mischief; and if you are compelled to do this, avoid praising them and commending them, for Allah (swt) is angered when an oppressor and an impious man is praised.”
When Amadou Bamba, the founder of the Muridiyah Sufi order, was invited to dwell at the door of sultans, he responded by saying, “God alone suffices me and I am content with Him. I only covet knowledge and my din. I plead not nor fear except my King because only He Almighty can enrich me and save me. I refer my conditions to those who were defenseless at the altar of themselves, in the manner of the Wretched Lowly ones.”
Call them thieves, calls them opportunists, call them materialists… I call them sell-outs, spiritual frauds, and merchants of religion. They are the Pharisees of Islam. As the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) taught, supporting oppressors is one of the major sins. In fact, during his Night Journey, Almighty Allah (swt) told the Prophet “Do not be a helper to the oppressors” (‘Amili). He warned, “One who prays for the long life of an oppressor is as if he likes the opposition of Allah on the Earth” (Ansari). In another tradition, the Prophet warns, “If one knowingly goes to help an oppressor, he has renounced Islam” (Ansari).
As much as the words of the Prophet (pbuh) have authority, the words of Allah Himself are even weightier in authority. As Almighty Allah (swt) said in a hadith qudsi, “O My servants, I have forbidden injustice for Myself and I have forbidden it among you, so do not oppress one another” (Muslim). As Almighty Allah warns in the glorious Qur’an, “Do not incline to those who do injustice” (11:113) and “…do not cooperate in sin and aggression” (5:2).
As Almighty Allah (swt) states in the enlightening Qur’an, “O you who are securely committed to Allah! Upon you is [responsibility] for yourselves” (5:105), namely, the right and duty to take charge of one’s destiny when there is a just cause and a just method. And as much as Muslims are called to be patient, tolerant, and forgiving, there are limits. As Almighty Allah establishes in the majestic Qur’an,
And those who, when tyranny strikes them, they defend themselves. And the retribution for an evil act is an evil one like it, but whoever pardons and makes reconciliation — his reward is [due] from Allah. Indeed, He does not like wrongdoers. And whoever avenges himself after having been wronged — those have not upon them any cause [for blame]. The cause is only against the ones who wrong the people and tyrannize upon the earth without right. Those will have a painful punishment. And whoever is patient and forgives — indeed, that is of the matters [requiring] determination [that is, on the part of those seeking the reward of Allah] (42:39–43).
If the oppressed revolt against the oppressors, the oppressed are not to blame. On this subject, the Qur’an is clear, “The cause is only against the ones who wrong the people and tyrannize upon the earth without right. Those will have a painful punishment” (42:41–42). As Almighty Allah (swt) promises, “Surely We have prepared for the iniquitous a fire, the curtains of which shall encompass them about; and if they cry for water, they shall be given water like molten brass which will scald their faces, evil the drink and ill the resting place” (18:29).
The punishment of those who aid oppressors is a promise that will be fulfilled. “If a person even hangs up a cane for the tyrant king so that he can beat the oppressed one,” warned the Prophet (pbuh), “Allah will change the cane into a snake, seventy thousand yards long, and place it in the Hellfire [to torment him]” (‘Amili). As the Messenger of Allah warned,
Those who take the affairs of the oppressor in their hands and help him in oppression will, at the time of death, be conveyed the divine curse and news of Hellfire by the angel of death. And Hell is an evil resort. One who guides the oppressor will be considered at par with Haman [the minister of Pharaoh]. And the punishment of those who help the unjust and the oppressors will be more grievous than other punishments of the inmates of Hell (‘Amili).
Keep away from the kings! Steer away from the sultans! Be a shepherd to the sheep, not friend of the wolves! God is everywhere. We are never alone. Repent and atone! Repent and atone!