Category Archives: Salafi-Movement

Of the Slandered, but not of the Fallen:

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gareth-bryant-eid-pics-23.jpg

There’s news around town that Gareth Bryant is a fraud.

They mean to judge me as I’m to be judged by my Lord.

 

I’m given no recourse for self defence, against offense which can’t be proven.

There’s a lot of behind the scenes envy at play, in shadows as a dank craven.

 

I’ve been viciously accused of carrying disease & bringing pestilence from the carrion.

Condemned to being sentenced to the Galleys of Gossip, on the Oceans of deception.

 

I wish I had wings, to fly away from the hurt of defamation’s blister.

To retire to the south & never return north to suffer the cruel winter.

 

I’m in the ring of threats, lies, and cries.

All those at ringside are those I despise.

 

My only weapons are the blade of my religion.

Accompanied by my shield of brass conviction.

 

Also with my armor of confidence.

And my helmet of sheer defiance.

 

My greaves protect my legs, my foundation, from being cut down.

My swift arrows, which can hit its target, without making a sound.

 

Constantly treading on the battlefield of life, drenched by the blood of the fallen.

The blades of grass, once emerald in hue, now stained with shades of crimson.

 

I’m the Slandered-Gladiator, pursued by mad Emperors, who enjoy bloodshed.

They know to kill one’s reputation is far more destructive, than killing one dead.

 

I’m paired against adversaries only wanting my life & property.

They think that their speech of 2-tongues can really scare me.

 

One challenger, two legions, three armies…more!!!

Come fight me, in public, let’s just settle this score.

 

No longer afraid of death, nor loneliness, we were born & will die by ourselves.

I am prepared to face anyone & on any day…such is the great fate of Warriors.

 

Victory belongs to those who are most just.

Those whom Allah favored, earned His trust.

 

Gareth Bryant/2014

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You’ll never find this on Salafi Publications: A Necessary Hujjah (Indictment/Refutation) against Saudi Arabia…a kingdom of Sectarian-Deviants, Tyrants, and Powermongers

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Author’s-Note:
Allah states, within His Noble-Book: “And, hold-on to the Rope of Allah altogether. But, do not divide/splinter-off (from) one another.”.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.3, V.103)…regardless to how clear this verse from the Qur’an is, sadly, we, as Muslims (mainly stemming from our natural negative-quality of ingratitude), pathologically yearn to do the opposite of what Allah advises/commands us to do. And, here’s where we get these Sectarian-Groups, that Muslims foolishly invent, that we’re not only prohibited from inventing (Noble Qur’an: Chpt.6, V.159), but also are informed about Nations (specifically/especially the Children of Israel & the Jews & Christians) who came before us, who splintered themselves, by making sects between themselves & were punished/destroyed.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.98, V.4 & 5) Ironically, no Sectarian-Group manifests this stubbornness & willingness to be sectarian more than the members of the Salafi-Movement, who are granted the full-support of the Saudi Kingdom, to attempt to enact religious dominance all throughout the Muslim-World, while blatantly being one of the leading causes of sectarian-division amongst fellow Muslims.

The Salafi-Movement is no different/better than the Catholic-Church: instead of Vatican City, they have Riyadh…instead of the College of Cardinals, they have the Permanent-Committee of Islamic Jurists…instead of a Pope, the reigning Monarchs of the Gulf-States (Saudi Arabia & Co.) are the Desert-Pontiffs of this “Saved-Group/Saved-Sect”:

Photo: King making dua with the rest of his salafi brothers , is he a salafi though?

Basically, these Rulers/Royals of the sands of the Arabian-Peninsula can waste the wealth of the Believers on unnecessary-extravagance, be Substance-Abusers, Fornicators/Adulterers, Homosexuals…Pimps…Prostitutes…Drug-Dealers…Human-Traffickers, investors in interest-based Financial-Institutions, the whole nine-yards-Their names are not mentioned at all in any Scholarly works, nor on any social-media outlets, nor on Salafi (religious) internet-tabloids (Salafi Publications being the tip-of-the-spear Salafi-Tabloid). Yet, ironically, when a brother takes his wife to a damn movie, the whole Salafi-World seems to just helplessly fall face-first off of it’s sectarian axis…There are so many ironically hypocritical nuanced/blatant, elements, of this, along with so many/too many other Sectarian-Groups among the Muslims.

The History of the Salafi-Movement, the Saudi-Kingdom, and how Saudi Arabia mimics the State of Israel almost identically:

The History of the Salafi-Movement-

All the Saud Kings Men pic

This movement, that everyone across the Muslim-World, who adheres to it, calling it “The Saved-Group/Saved-Sect”, “The Haqq/Truth”, “The Minhaj/Manhaj”, etc., really don’t know the true story behind how this movement started and/or evolved into what it has become today. Likewise, the opponents of the Salafi-Movement very unfairly attribute the founding of this movement to the wrong persons…don’t worry, I’ll explain. Now, in all fairness, most People, who know about the Salafi-Movement, either through name only, actually being Salafi, Former-Salafis (such as myself), etc., don’t know who’s actually the brain-child of it, they don’t know the true historical-architects of this movement.

So, here we go: whenever the origins of the Salafi-Movement are spoken about, the name Muhammad ibn `Abd-il-Wahhab always (unfairly) pops up. Now, why do I say “unfairly”? Because, historical-records clearly show (both religious & universal) that this man wasn’t the founder of this movement. But, I’ll get into, later, why he’s been branded falsely as the movement’s founder a lil’ later on. For now, let’s dig a lil’ deeper to the actual founders of it: Muhammad `Abduh & Rashid Ridha…these two men, originally from Egypt, had enormous influences on the original intent of the Salafi-Movement of that time, which was a political-movement, with religious-elements: the political-elements were meant to simply dispel the growing, uncontrollable tyranny of the failing Ottoman-Empire…the religious-elements were geared towards reforming the general understanding of Islamic-Teachings based upon the example of as-Salaf/the Ancestors (the 1st 3-Generations of Muslims, following the revelation of the Qur’an: as-Sahabah/the Companions [Muhammad] & at-Tabi`in/the Followers [of as-Sahabah]).(Muslim) Both Muhammad `Abduh & Rashid Ridha lived & were religio-socially/religio-politically active during a very hotbed period in the history of the Ottoman-Empire: this was a time that the Ottomans were showing the very first blatant signs of internal bureaucratic-decay & the Middle-East was a prize for European-Powers, ever since the Crusade-Era.(Encyclopedia Britannica) And, also, as a result of the degeneration of the Ottoman-Empire, the Arabs (mainly) started to faction-off & pick sides in what would be the precedents of long drawn-out conflicts, that would have dynamic & also disastrous results for the entire Muslim-World, more specifically the Arab-World, in the centuries, decades, to come, longer after the deaths of people like those whom I’ve mentioned.

The History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia-
ibn Saud pic

You absolutely cannot speak about the history of Saudi Arabia, without first speaking about the leading causes for its inception. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, basically, evolved into 3-waves, the 1st 2-waves only limited Bani-Sa`ud (the ancestral clan of the current Saudi Royal-Family) to dominance over an-Najd, the central-region of the Arabian-Peninsula. Now, here’s where it gets interesting: Muhammad ibn `Abd-il-Wahhab, a native of an-Najd, who was a Muslim-Scholar, beginning his Islamic-Education very young, began to see the necessity to rid his people of the many long-practiced innovative practices which directly mimicked classic Pagan-Arab idolatry. So, of course, him being so young, so uncompromising in his convictions, he receives opposition rather swiftly, forced from his native hometown, `Uyaynah, into the interior of an-Najd, which is how he and the adherents to his religious-teachings began to be called Wahhabiyyun/Wahhabis (literally meaning: the Followers of Muhammad ibn `Abd-il-Wahhab…now, ironically, this term “Wahhabi” is made synonymous with the term “Salafi”). It is here that one of the most-important religio-political alliances ever forged in Human-History took place. Muhammad ibn-Sa`ud ibn-Muhammad ibn-Mijrin had agreed to protect Muhammad ibn `Abd-il-Wahhab, on the condition that he become the leading religious-figure of Al-is-Sa`ud/the House of Sa`ud (which of course he agreed to): here lies the pavement of the Saudi yellow-brick road, which led to the land of Sa`ud, some 2-centuries later, known forever as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia…for those who claim that Muhammad ibn `Abd-al-Wahhab founded the Salafi-Movement are actually, historically, incorrect. One of the historical-proofs that he wasn’t the founder of the movement is exactly what I’ve previously mentioned, concerning Muhammad `Abduh & Rashid Ridha. Also,  there were People within the Indian-Subcontinent who were teaching the exact same things which Muhammad ibn `Abd-il-Wahhab were & they never met one another, they are Ahmad ibn-`Abd-ir-Rahim, better known as “Shah Waliyyullah” & Muhammad Isma`il, better known as “Shah Isma`il Shahid”.(Encyclopedia Britannica)

Now, we’ll jump to about 2-centuries later: `Abd-ul-`Aziz ibn `Abd-ir-Rahman (commonly referred to as “ibn-Sa`ud”) of Al-is-Sa`ud (which would later be commonly known as simply the Saudi Royal-Family), one of many ancestors of the current Arab-World monarchs, rebelled against the Ottoman-Empire, much like the rest of his geo-political peers in the region, exclusively because the Ottomans were Non-Arabs (yes: contrary to popular opinion the rebellion of the Arabs against the Turks was exclusively racially-motivated & subsequently fueled by the support of the Allied-Powers). They felt ways about being ruled over by Non-Arabs.

So, with the help of the Allied-Powers, who were fighting the Central-Powers (which the Ottoman-Empire was a part of), anyway, they succeeded in destroying the last (globally) recognized Islamic ruling-body of the Muslim-World, al-Khilafah, which has resulted in about 90% percent of all of the atrocities that have plagued the Muslim-World for the past two centuries (both the 1900’s & the 2000’s). ibn-Sa`ud was one of (as a result of demolishing his Arab-Competition within the Arabian-Peninsula) the main boots-on-the-ground military-commanders of the entire duration of the armed-opposition against the Ottoman-Empire, in the Middle-East, which made it easier for the Allied-Powers to flank the forces of the Ottomans, as well as further weaken the strength of the other Central-Powers, during World War I. ibn-Sa`ud was a shrewd politician, who manipulated & maneuvered people at will. One of the proofs of this is the fact that he was able to convince the members of the religious-wing of his regime, Al-ush-Shaykh/the Family of the Shaykh (`Ulama’/Muslim [Religious] Scholars, mainly from Bani-Tamim, the ancestral-tribe of Muhammad ibn `Abd-il-Wahhab, many of whom were most-probably even his biological-descendants), to issue Fatawa/Edicts (sing. Fatwa) against fellow Muslims in the Ottoman-Army, as well as the Muslims in the region, loyal to the Khilafah, to justify fighting against them, killing them, in favor of supporting the agenda of the Allied-Powers, that he may acquire their support of his domain in the Arabian-Peninsula. He established a military-wing of his regime, specifically for this purpose, to decimate his political-opponents in the Arabian-Peninsula: al-Ikhwan/The Brotherhood was a desert-military, made-up of Arab-Tribesmen loyal to Al-is-Sa`ud. Then, after the consolidation of his power in the Arabian-Peninsula was completed, he turned on his own army, raising another army to crush al-Ikhwan, because they wanted to shed more blood of fellow Muslims in the region, like in modern-day Kuwait, and because, he had decided that the fighting was over, that wasn’t good enough for them. He then sought the necessity to destroy al-Ikhwan, in order to maintain order in the Arabian-Peninsula, as to not allow al-Ikhwan to tamper with the very fragile/delicate alliances that he was able to establish with other future Arab kingdoms of the Peninsula.(Encyclopedia Britannica, War in the Desert) And, after the formation of the (official) Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Al-us-Sa`ud decided to (basically) hijacked the Salafi-Movement (they completely converted this movement, turned it inside-out, and made it something completely different from the intent of its founders & early influencers). From the founding of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia & onward, this movement changed direction in a 180-Degree perspective: instead of the Salafi-Movement remaining a political-movement with religious elements, it became a religious-movement with political-elements. The Salafi-Movement converted from having almost exclusively a political-identity to a religious-identity, that is reliant upon the good-favor of its political-patrons (Saudi & Co.), to continue to support this movement financially. Likewise, this movement is also the most influencial element in maitaining the psuedo-legitimacy of Saudi Arabia (existing as a nation-state), religiously giving Al-as-Saud the religious-greenlight to rule the Arabian-Peninsula, and (by default) be the deFacto puppet-masters of the other Arab-Kingdoms/Gulf-States, via immense political, military, financial, influence/dominance.

Now, the last-time that I checked, Islamically, the killing of anyone, especially a fellow Muslim, is a serious Major-Sin; yet, ibn-Sa`ud was allowed to indiscriminately kill fellow Muslims, to promote a (selfish/narcissistic) political-agenda centered upon racism & the pursuit of absolute-power, to not only help abolish a legitimate Islamic ruling-body, but, to establish a kingdom, which isn’t even based upon any Islamic precepts, because there’s no allowances (Islamically: relative to the Revelation given to Muhammad) for Muslims to make themselves leaders, based upon man-made political-concepts (like Kingdoms). And, there’s no Islamic allowances for Muslims to rebel against Muslims in-power; moreover, there’s no allowances, Islamically, to side politically and/or militarily with Non-Muslims, against other Muslims.(al-Kaba’ir/The Major-Sins, al-Wala’ wal-Bara’/Loyalty & Disloyalty) The natural-resources, namely Petroleum, found in the Arabian-Peninsula were later appropriated, based upon national boundaries carved out by agreements between the newly-founded Arab-Kingdoms of the Persian-Gulf region & Great Britain/America, who guaranteed to protect them militarily (so long as the Oil keeps following from underneath the desert), among the future kingdoms of this region and became tightly controlled by the elites of these kingdoms (mainly the royal-families themselves, and those in their financial, military, political, religious, inner-circles).

Some ironic similarities between Saudi Arabia & Israel-
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Regarding Human-Rights…
…Saudi Arabia is notoriously known to not fully comply with the minimum standards of anti-trafficking enforcement & are currently not any making significant efforts to do so. Saudi Arabia is a destination for both men & women, from South East Asia & East Africa, to be trafficked for the purpose of labor exploitation. Also, children, from countries like Yemen & Afghanistan, have very often been trafficking victims, for forced begging. Hundreds of thousands of low-skilled workers from places like India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Kenya migrate travel to Saudi Arabia, some fall into conditions of involuntary servitude, suffering from physical and sexual abuse, non-payment or delayed payment of wages, withholding of identification & traveling documents, restrictions on their freedom to travel within Saudi itself and non-consensual contract alterations. According to international organizations, such as the Ansar Burney Trust, young children from Bangladesh and India are also smuggled into Saudi Arabia, to be used as camel-jockeys. These children are underfed, to reduce their weights, in order to lighten the load on the camels used for racing. Saudi Arabia has been classified as having a Human-Trafficking Tier-3 status, since 2005.

In Israel (according to the World Health Organization), Men and Women are trafficked & often used for forced-labor and commercial prostitution. Low-skilled workers from China, Romania, Turkey, Thailand, The Philippines, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and India flock to Israel for contract-labor in the Construction, Agriculture, and Health-Care industries. Israeli migrant-workers are often confronted with terrible conditions of forced-labor. Many labor recruitment agencies in Israel charges fees ranging from $1,000 to $10,000. This causes migrant workers in Israel to become highly vulnerable to trafficking once in the country, and in some cases, situations of debt-bondage are ever prevalent. Israel is also a destination country for women being trafficked from Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Uzbekistan, Belarus, China, South Korea and possibly the Philippines, for the exclusive purposes of sexual exploitation. In addition, NGO’s note an increase in the internal trafficking of Israeli-Nationals, for commercial Sexual-Exploitation, and report new instances of trafficking of Israeli-Women abroad to Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom.

Regarding Iran…
…Both Saudi Arabia & Israel are equally-concerned about the political-relevance & military-superiority of Iran. It sends a clear message to both nations, and their benevolent geo-political big-brothers (the United States & the United Kingdom) that there has to be some type of mutual alliance between the Zionist State of Israel and the Salafi-Patron state of Saudi Arabia. The only issue is that while both countries need an alliance against Iran, they’re not the best of friends either, for obvious reasons, namely, the fact that Palestine is under the foot of the Israeli-Regime, which is largely unpopular all across the Muslim-World, as well as the Middle-East & also that the state of Israel has dominance over the Mosque known as Masjid-il-Aqsa, the third highest-regard Mosque in Islam, behind al-Masjid-il-Haram/the Sacred-Mosque in al-Makkah & al-Masjid-in-Nabawi/the Prophetic-Mosque in al-Madinah, present-day Saudi Arabia. So, now, what both nations must do is to consolidate, put aside, their obvious religio-political differences, at the risk of upsetting their very important in-house national power-bases, to come to some type of agreement that as long as Iran stands strong, they’ll have to stand together.

Now, there’s a lot of hypocrisy here:
The state of Israel, with the outlandish support of the U.S., U.K., and basically the whole damn World, has been given the greenlight to do with the Palestinian-People what they will, without any serious, realistic, international intervention or prevention of the atrocities that occur on a day-to-day basis. Does anyone aside from me, whom is a Muslim, find it ironic that a nation like Saudi Arabia, which promotes/sponsors the establishment Islam, based upon the Salaf, is willing to consort/ally with a nation like Israel, that is very overtly Islamophobic, known for its atrocities against People, more specifically fellow Muslims, against another Muslim-Country, like Iran? The last time that I checked, siding with Non-Muslims against fellow Muslims is a serious crime & can even take someone outside of the boundaries of Islam, according to the work, “Nawaqidh-ul-Islam/The Nullifications of Islam”, authored by Muhammad ibn `Abd-il-Wahhab…Honestly, I’m truly surprised that this book, Nawqidh-ul-Islam isn’t banned in Saudi Arabia, because when studying this work, by a man whom is so revered in Saudi & amongst the Salafis generally/especially, it’s so easy to see that at least 1/2 of all of the points mentioned in this particular work apply directly to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, bureaucratically.

So, in conclusion, don’t give your loyalty to any Sectarian-Groups, no matter how much glamorous & glittery their sectarian-presentation…”Everything that glitters is not Gold.”

Gareth Bryant/2013

My Fashion-Week/2013 in Pictures & Why my Love for Fashion matters:

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This year, I’ve decided to do something a lil’ different, referring to my many Fashion-Week exploits (…um, I mean adventures…HA HA HA…) via pictures that I’ve taken throughout the week of the Fashion-Week Fall/2013 extravaganza…And, there’s a lot of photos that I’ve taken…

Varsity Flow I

Photo-Shoot in Brooklyn: Photography by Aaron Mark

…The main reason why I’ve taken a sudden, some would dare say, an unusual,  non-conventional interest in Fashion, generally, is simply because, this is one of the main reasons why I was treated negatively, by so many other Muslims…

…Just to give you some background about myself: I’m Gareth Bryant, a 30-something, well-put-together, Muslim, of Afro-American descent, whom was at one point, in his life, a Salafi. In other words, I was a Saudi-Cheerleader (another post for another time to explain what that means). Anyway, according to the Salafi-Movement, the Salafis deem anyone/everyone whom doesn’t share their particular fashion-sense, based upon sectarian/culturally influenced standards is religiously off-the-mark…

Suit and Tie pic

Photo-Shoot in Manhattan: Photography by Alan Mildor

…And, there was even one time, when I was attending a Masjid/Mosque,  the Imam, at the time (by the name of Mustapha George), encouraged people to “boycott” me, as a result of not conforming with Arab-Dress, as the standard for Islamic-Dress, because I was wearing jeans, tees, dress-pants, shirt-and-ties, track-jackets, etc., I was considered & even called, by many, a “Deviant”, “Innovator”, “Heretic”, etc….

…So, instead of conforming, under-pressure, I fought back & enhanced my interest & love for fashion, despite the cruel antagonism of my peers, in this particular Muslim-Sect. And, this experiences encouraged me to look even deeper into the Islamic allowances of fashion elements. And, when I found all of the information that was necessary to fortify the validity of my fashion position, I was able to combat those whom deemed me a religious outcast, just because I wanted to be an individual…

Suit and Tie II pic

Fader & The GAP Opening Fashion-Week event: Photography by StudioBooth

…I’m actually very grateful to Allah, for testing me with these types of people. This trial of mine actually strengthened me in ways that I could’ve never perceived or imagined. It empowered me with the integrity to be different, and not just different -but that being different is okay. Allah didn’t create us to be the exact same people, or to eat the same foods, wear the same clothes,  or to enjoy watching the same sports, etc. Rather, he simply created us to use our minds, to come to the conclusion that He created all which exists & that He is the only one whom is worshipworthy…

501 Union V

501 Union Brooklyn Magazine Launch-Party: Phtography by WeLovePhotobooths

…Now, with all of this being said…Fashion is awesome, and it is my hope to make an even greater presence of Muslims, particularly Muslim-Men, within the Fashion World, because there is a very derogatory stereotype, among Muslims that Muslims cannot thrive in the Fashion-World, unless they’re Homosexual. Yes, it’s a very lame stereotype. Unfortunately, one that is very dominant within the Muslim-World, especially within Muslim communities in the West.

My take on Fashion, and any other secular arts, is this: We, as Muslims, for the past 5-centuries, have been told to conform to the artistic, fashion, standards of others, without any say of our very own. Now, is our chance, to reclaim rightful ownership over how we express ourselves, as Muslims, via art, fashion, etc. And, as long as we stay true to our Islamic principles, with whatever we do in any industry (whether it be Fashion, Finance, etc.), we owe it to Allah, the Creator of the Universe, to define ourselves for ourselves.

Gareth Bryant/2013

What is Islamic-Feminism/What is A Muslim-Feminist?!!!

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Author’s note:

Since Feminism has taken a very significant foothold, within the greater Muslim-World, in our modern-age, as a direct-result of the atrocities brought on by Misogyny, many Muslims, both Men & Women, whom are religiously in favor of Feminism, have decided to coin the term “Islamic-Feminism/Muslim-Feminist”, to identify with the greater Feminist-Movement, with an Islamic/Religious spin on how it should be applied to the lives of Muslims, Muslim-Women, particularly/especially. So, now, we have Muslims, from everywhere, whether their in Muslim or Non-Muslim nations, adhering to this new-wave of Feminism, called “Islamic-Feminism”, attempting to consolidate the fundamentals of Feminism & Islam, together, as though they are one in the same.

The following is my conclusion, after attending the highly-anticipated, highly-controversial, ICNYU Shuruq event, “Why All Muslims Should Be Feminists”:

A Muslim being forthright concerning the pursuit of socio-religious equality, between Men & Women, doesn’t make one an Islamic-Feminist/Muslim-Feminist, it simply makes one a Muslim. Just like: wanting to adhere to Islam, based upon the way of the Salaf (the Sahabah/Companions [May Allah be pleased with them all-together] & theTab’in/Followers [May Allah mercify them all-together]) doesn’t make one a Salafi-Muslim, wanting the global-unity of the Muslims make one an Ikhwani-Muslim, having respect/love for Ahl-il-Bayt/the People of the House (the Muslim-Relatives of Muhammad [Peace be upon him] & their descendants) doesn’t make one a Shi`i-Muslim, striving to establish a, solid, spiritual-connection with Allah doesn’t make one a Sufi-Muslim. The term Feminism, Islamic-Feminism, etc. are just excuses, among many others to attempt to monopolize elements of Islam, which have existed, before the inception of these respective coined-concepts & movements. In other words, calling to “Feminism”, regardless of intent, is just as divisive as calling to “Salafism”, “Shi`ism”, “Sufism”, ‘Nepotism’, “Ethnocentrism” “Racism”, “Nationalism”, “Classim”, “Chauvinism”/”Sexism” or any/all other ‘ism’s’ out there.

Gareth Bryant/2013

It’s okay to be Non-Sectarian: The Muslim’s guide to stay Sect-free

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Author’s note:
This particular article is exclusively based upon a discussion which I had with one of my Facebook followers. They had asked me a very fair & valid question, in regards to my religious-identity. They had asked me, “Why are you a Non-Sectarian Muslim?”. This term, that I very often refer to myself as, I’m sure, is something which was unfamiliar to this particular individual, as it is just as unfamiliar to many, if not most Muslims, globally, even though, in practicality, the vast majority of Muslims, regardless of their upbringing, are in fact Non-Sectarian, relative to their everyday-lives, as Muslims, without even realizing it. I decided to answer their question as honestly as Humanly possible, without concealing my general disdain for Sectarianism overall, and the following below is what my response to them was.

I consciously choose to be a Non-Sectarian Muslim, because of the Hadith/Prophetic-Statement of Muhammad (Peace be upon him), when he had drawn a line in the sand, among his Companions (May Allah be pleased with them), and said to them that this line is the as-Sirat-ul-Mustaqim/the Straight-Path. He then drew branched-off lines, like branches springing from a tree. He then stated that each branch has a Shaytan/Devil upon each of these diverted paths, springing off of the initial-line which Muhammad had drawn in the sand, calling people to misguidance.(ibn-Majah, Ahmad, al-Bazzar)

Primarily, anyone whom is calling you to individuals & ideologies, as opposed to calling you to Allah, His Messenger and knowledge+action, then this person/these people are to stay away from, as much as Humanly possible. Ironically, all Firaq/Sectarian-Groups have the (universal) pathological habit of giving themselves away, to those whom they are calling to, to join them, by doing exactly what I’ve already said, which is calling people to ideologies, as opposed to Allah, His Messenger, and knowledge+action.

I’ll give some examples of Muslim-Sects:

1. The Salafis-
Being a former Salafi, I have a pretty well-grounded, in-depth knowledge about how these people actually work, and my criticism about them is very fair & honest: The Salafis often attempt to monopolize the fellowship of as-Salaf (the 3-generations of Muslims after Muhammad [Peace be upon him]: as-Sahabah/the Companions [May Allah be pleased with them all-together], and generations 1 & 2 of at-Tabi`in/the Followers [of as-Sahabah]). Meaning, they basically claim that they are the only true religious-inheritors of as-Salaf, in both word & deed. Also, they specifically claim to be those included within al-Firqat-in-Najiyah/the Saved-Group (those whom are referred to as the only group of Muslims whom will be safe to never have to engage the Fire at all in the Hereafter). These claims of theirs are not only inaccurate & unfounded, but also very religiously-pompous & religiously-dangerous. These claims have caused many, if not most Salafis, to adopt a very negative, arrogant, entitled, religious-posture towards other Muslims, as though the Salafis are the most-elite among the Muslims, as though the Salafis some type of religious special-forces.

2. The Sufis-
I’ve had, historically & contemporaneously, significant contact & discourse with Sufis, from various persuasions & backgrounds. Their angle is basically this: Sufis very often attempt to monopolize upon Tassawuf (Spirituality/Spiritualism). Meaning, they largely claim that they possess the keys to “Spiritual-Islam”, where ironically, there’s really no such thing as “Spiritual-Islam”, because, Spirituality is an automatic/default element of Islam, that’s always existed within Islam. And, their call, I think is very unique & evasive, as opposed to the Salafis, or Shi`is (I’ll get to the Shi`is, don’t worry): they largely, almost exclusively, use tell-tale terms, to people, which won’t necessarily seem red-flagish. These terms are: “Teacher” as well as “Shaykh” (“Teacher” & “Shaykh” are always used interchangeably among Sufis). Very often, people whom are of a Sufi persuasion/orientation attempt to convince people that they need a “Teacher” for this or a “Shaykh” for that. And, this often sounds really good, to have a constant instructor to help you find your religious-way. The problem is that this is just one of many steps towards delving deeper into a sect, like any other sect out there.(For more info. about Spirituality, look here:https://garethbryant.wordpress.com/2011/12/04/mythoughtsonspiritualityvsreligiosity)

3. The Shi`is-
The Shi`is are perhaps the most outgoing, among these other groups whom I’ve mentioned, especially in light of what they mainly call to…yes…you’ve guessed it…they claim to monopolize the respect & love that all Muslims must, by default, have for Ahl-il-Bayt/the People of the House (the Muslim family-members & of Muhammad [Peace be upon him]). That sounds just-great, except with one major problem (among many other problems with Shi`is, but we’ll just focus upon this particular problem): Shi`is, largely, only consider the maternal-descendants of Muhammad (Peace be upon him) to be of Ahl-il-Bayt, which is very problematic, and has (both historically & contemporaneously) caused immense strife between the greater Sunni & Shi`i factions of our Ummah/Community.(For more info. concerning Ahl-il-Bayt, look here: https://garethbryant.wordpress.com/2012/11/04/theperfectsolutiontothewholeahlulbaytissue)

4. The Kharijis-
Better known as al-Khawarij/the Departers, these people have been held responsible for the deaths of `Uthman, `Ali, several other Companions (May Allah be pleased with them all-together), as well as other righteous Muslims, innocents generally, several political/military usurpations, upheavals, revolutions, terrorism, and the list goes on & on. At present, very few, if anyone would overtly refer to themselves as the Khawarij, simply out of fear of ostracization. However, there are several splinter-groups, which have adopted, either from their inceptions or later on in their evolutions as groups, the ideology of the Kharijis, which is “Restoration of the Khilafah”: this is their battle-cry, even though as a group/entity, ironically, they are the ones, among the Muslims, anyway, whom have largely contributed to the destruction of geo-political stability even when the Khilafah was established, and even in modern times (particularly post-WWII) have completely contributed to the Muslims’ disdain for even attempting to establish the Khialafah anywhere, because the vast majority of Muslims, especially now would much rather live under the conditions which they now face, then to have people like the Kharijis in any type of real governmental power/authority.

Unlike most typical Salafis, Sufis or Shi`is, most, if not all Kharijis will not be forthright and just say “Salam…hey, I’m a Khariji!!!”. However, there are some significant, modern, groups whom have amassed a particularly significant following within the past 2-decades, namely al-Muhaajiroon (originally starting in the U.K. & spreading to the U.S. during the 1990’s & fell apart shortly before/after 9/11), Revolution-Muslims, and Islamic-Thinkers’ Society. Now, with RM & ITS, they’re basically the exact same organizations, except with a different hierarchy of leadership & fellowship; but, in practicality, they’re both under one. With the exception of the Salafi-Movement, which in all-fairness has really only been in existence for less than a century, and other historical sectarian-groups (with their own separate roots, whom have died out and/or have had their ideologies absorbed into other sectarian-groups), basically, any/most other sectarian-groups, historically/contemporarily, would largely have either Sufi, Shi`i, or Khariji roots.

One of the other reasons as to why I so choose to not follow any sectarian-groups is the simple fact that none of these groups or individuals calling to these groups will have any say as to who goes to either the Paradise or the Fire. And, even on Yawm-il-Qiyamah/the Day of Standing, Allah describes it as a day when a person will abandon his own siblings, parents, spouses & children.(Noble Qur’an: Chpt.80, V.34-36) Now, just based upon Human-Nature, these 4-types of persons: siblings, parents, spouses, children…literally, in this order, are generally, universally, recognized as the closest people to any Human being, under normal, harmonious, circumstances.

So, if someone, regardless to what knowledge that they have, or what sect that they’re calling to, will abandon me on the day that matters most, then , I, as an individual, deem it, within my best-interest, necessary to abandon them/these sectarian-groups here in the Mundane, so that I won’t be heart-broken, as to when they won’t be in my corner in the Hereafter. And, by virtue of all that I’ve mentioned, regarding not adhering to any sectarian-groups, I choose to not risk treading upon the path that can/will lead me astray.

Gareth Bryant/2013


2012 in review:

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 29,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 7 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

Islam is my life & Fashion is my passion:

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I remember when I first became a Muslim, like so many us who reverted to Islam, I went through the whole “change your name”, change your look, and essentially change who you naturally, culturally are, as a person nonsense, and so-on. After my little street-life/party & drug-scene stint, I decided that I needed to be more religious. So, after High School, I dived head-first into the Salafi-Movement. Honestly, the Salafi-Movement, initially, was a very positive thing for me personally, mainly because it propelled my religiosity, my general pursuit for Islamic knowledge, and compelled me to take Islam a lot more seriously than I had been taking it previously.

However, like so many others, who got swept up by the religious glamour & grandeur of the ideals of the Salafi-Movement (which are actually valid when properly implemented with justice), the problem was that I had begun to change in ways that were contrary to the very fundamental teachings of Salafiyyah (The Way of  the Salaf: following the religious examples of the Sahabah, the Companions of Prophet Muhammad [May Allah be pleased with them all-together] & the two generations of the Tabi`in, the Followers of the Companions [May Allah mercify them all-together]). I began to acquire this superiority-complex, which was encouraged by many of the so-called “Salafi Scholars” & popular Salafi-Propagators & “Students of Knowledge”, (the likes of Rabee` ibn Haadee `Umayr Al-Madkhali, and his subordinates, like Dawud Adib, Mustapha George, etc.), to view other Muslims, who either did not make the claim to be Salafis (those who claim to adhere to Salafiyyah) or were just not Salafi-enough, as being less Muslim than ourselves.

Then, before you know it, I was just another, ignorant & arrogant youth, just running my mouth, insulting other Muslims & people in general who were not even Muslims, with the complete green-light given to us by the Salafi leaders in our respective communities. Not only were we taught that all Non-Salafis were off-track religiously, but also, we were indoctrinated with the monstrous fallacy that the only true persons of knowledge were the “Salafi-Scholars”, from Saudi & graduates from Saudi and/or Saudi-funded Universities, or scholars & “Students of Knowledge”, from other countries who were “Salafi-Sanctioned”, and that the only way to practice the Sunnah (Prophetic-Tradition) was to do it the way the Salafis said to do it, which became so extreme-Everything that was done, from the way that I thought, to the way that I walked, to the way that I wore my clothes & especially what types of clothing I wore, were all controlled by the teachings of the Salafis-This became staple/default indoctrination (i.e. if the Salafis/Saudis didn’t do it, it’s not from the Sunnah).

We were all warned to not be like Non-Muslims, so this whole “Not imitating the Kuffar” wave came into play (the word Kuffar is the plural of the Arabic word Kafir, which means Disbeliever [someone who disbelieves in Allah, or any other crucial Islamic core theological belief, or or someone who rejects any major theological and/or religious tenet of Islam]). We were told that this was necessary for us to maintain an “Islamic identity”, but in all reality, it was nothing more than a typical control-mechanism, which meant that anything that was not Arabized and/or Saudified was therefore “Non-Islamic”. So, I went from being a free-thinker to being a robot, from being a leader, to being a religiously manufactured follower, we went from wearing sneakers to sandals, from fitted-caps to Kufis, Kiffayahs & Turbans, from GAP jeans to Daffah Thawbs (Arab long-body/full-body garments for men), from shorts to Izars (male waist-wraps/man-skirts), from Puma socks to Khuffs (Arab leather-socks). From 2000-2003, I had went back-and-forth, between Arab-dress & my regular cultural-dress. It became more & more difficult to decipher which dress was really for me.

I had to make a very serious decision, whether to keep this new-found Salafi-culture, or to revert back to my regular culture. I then decided to actually investigate this whole issue of “Imitation of the Kuffar”. I found out that what I was being taught was not at all, what was being projected by the Salafis, the truth, when it came to “not imitating the Kuffar”. I ended up learning that when it comes to fashion, from an Islamic perspective, the regulations of dress for Muslim men are not as extensive or conservative as it is for Muslim women, mainly because the parameters of our `Awrat (Private-Areas) are not the same as the `Awrat of the women, the `Awrat of men are only limited to what lies between our navels & knees, whereas the `Awrat of women extend to every part of their bodies. In fact, as long as a Muslim man doesn’t wear gold, silk, images (things primarily with eyes), transparent clothing, we can realistically wear whatever else that we want.

So, after learning this, and with me being me, I said to myself, “Fuck dis shit…..Imma wear what the Hell I wanna wear!!!”. Then, all Hell broke loose in the Salafi-World for me. Just because I didn’t want to dress like an Arab, I was ridiculed, mocked, made to feel uncomfortable, unwanted, ostracized, and it wasn’t until these events (I’ll explain some of them in a minute) took place that I realized that the Salafi-Movement was just like Roman-Catholic Christianity. Instead of a Pope, you have the King of Saudi Arabia, who even though is clearly in his religious practice a Non-Salafi, and if not the King of Saudi Arabia, would most definitely be considered & called a Hizbi (Religious-Heretic), the de-facto top religious figure, by virtue of the fact that every religious edict that comes out of Saudi must be personally approved by the current King of Saudi Arabia, or it’s not a go.

Then, for the first time in a long time, I started to actually think about what I was doing and what I had allowed myself to get into. I began to realize that this was exactly the way that Christians taught us how to act, just do…..don’t question, don’t challenge, and if you do, you’re not a good Christian. Well, it was just like that back in those days with the Salafis, if you questioned anything, or question any Salafi-Scholar, Salafi-Propagator or Salafi “Student of Knowledge”, then you were no longer considered a good Salafi or Salafi at all.

Okay, here’s when things got hot-and-heavy for me: As a result of my new-found fashion independence, I was immediately black-listed as a rebel, heretic, and everything else a Salafi never, ever wants to be called. This got so bad, that I almost ended up getting into fist-fights, with several Muslims, over this whole fashion issue, and to add insult-to injury, Mustapha George (whom I mentioned earlier) had actually tried to call me out during a Khutbah (weekly Islamic-Sermon given on Fridays) no-less. He had named his Khutbah for that week, “The Ettiquites of the Mosque”, when he explicitly said, “A Muslim brother should not come to the Mosque, like he’s going to a party.” Now, it was very obvious that he was taking a clear shot at me, by virtue of the fact that I was the only person in the Mosque that day, not dressed as an Arab. So, people actually started looking directly at me. This is just one particular example of how people tried to handle me, just on the issue of fashion.

These experiences from my life as a Salafi (by the way, I officially renounced being Salafi back in 2007) taught me some important things: One, be Muslim, without trying to be other than your true self. Two, don’t let anyone tell you to believe, say or do anything, regarding the practice of Islam, without exclusive, explicit proof from the Qur’an & Prophetic-Tradition-That was the main problem among the Salafi youth, being indoctrinated to don a culture that is not only foreign to them, but also having no Islamic relevance, and unfortunately, it still remains a problem that has purposely not been fixed, because some people always want dominance over others, which is pretty damn sad.

Now, on to my clothing line that I had attempted to start: In spite of the Dark-Ages of my life as a Muslim, I acquired the intense need to express myself fashionably, as a Muslim first, but also as a man of my times, as an Urban-Dweller, as a Hip-Hopper. I love fashion, and since this is the case, I feel like I’m obligated to be a fashion trend-setter, for each & every Muslim, living in Non-Muslim countries, shackled to a foreign interpretation, understanding & practice of Islam, which brings Khaleeji Clothing Co. into play: Rashaan Rashid (the brother that I had tried to get this clothing company off the ground with) & I had seen the need for Muslims (Muslim men particularly/especially) to be able to be Muslim, and at the exact same time feel to dress as they please, without being made outcasts, for not conforming to a cultural dress that is not theirs.

It is so important for Muslims in the West (Non-Muslim countries specifically) to take ownership over their own practice of Islam, the first way to acquire authentic knowledge, in the context of the Arabic-Language, to free ourselves of being shackled to any peoples’ or country’s relative, subjective, culturally biased interpretation, understanding & practice of Islam (i.e. learning the Arabic-Language, so we will be able to equip ourselves with the tools to go into classic Islamic works, to gain benefit for ourselves, as opposed to relying upon biased/inaccurate translations of classic texts, or relying upon biased/inaccurate translated lectures & classes) which takes a little more time, and another way is to free ourselves from being unnecessarily & unjustifiably fashionably shackled to any foreign peoples’ or foreign country’s clothing.

And, this is exactly what Khaleeji Clothing Co. had aimed to accomplish at the time: To give Muslims in Non-Muslim countries the confidence to dress the way that they want to, without scrutiny from those who don’t even live among us, yet have influence/control over us. We want Muslims to know that as long as whatever you’re wearing is Islamically-Compliant, then no one else, Muslim or Non-Muslim has the right to have an opinion about whatever you choose to wear, period.

When my business partner first approached me with the idea of helping him with starting this clothing line, I was honestly very apprehensive. I’ve seen a lot of Muslim clothing companies in the past, and those coming up, and I wasn’t very impressed, because I just saw that a lot of Muslim clothing designers were just revamping and/or modifying Arab-style trends. I wanted to be as distant from Arab-clothing, as well as Arab-style fashion influence as possible.

But, then I started to let the whole idea of me becoming a clothing-designer grow on me. I began to envision that I would have a perfect opportunity to display Islamic-Fashion, in a suitable context, for Muslims outside of the Arab-World. It became very important for me to speak on behalf of Muslims, who want to be Muslim of course, but don’t want to feel that they have to be Arabs, in order to be Muslims. In fact, I remember having a tense discussion/debate/argument, with another Muslim, about the whole idea of Islamic-Fashion. He had asked me, “Hey, when did Muslims stop wearing Kufis?!!!”, and, of course as only I can responded sarcastically, “When we found out that Kufis are not religiously required!!!”. That started this long, drawn-out talk, between two brothers & myself, basically they were double-teaming me about this issue, they were clearly pro Arab-domination, while I wasn’t. It even got to the point where one of the brothers said, “African-Americans don’t even have a culture.” (keep in-mind that he himself was an African-American). This literally knocked me off of my feet!!! I was so disgusted by his statement, which intensified the already deep-rooted tense conversation between the three of us.

The more that I gave the idea of being a part of this clothing company a thought, the more I began to realize that I could push a completely different mindset, that is very revolutionary. This new mindset would compel Muslims outside of the Muslim-World/Arab-World to accept the obligation & opportunity to define themselves in an Islamic context, instead of having foreigners defining them. The last thing that we as Muslims in Non-Muslim countries is to be told how to dress.

As Muslims in the West, we need to be defined by our current condition, which is not only unique in the history of Muslims, from among the Ummah (Nation/Community) of Muhammad (Peace be upon him), but also unique to our own outlooks about the world & life, outside of the Muslim-World/Arab-World. Yes, we are all Muslims, but we don’t have to think the same, talk the same, walk the same, act the same, or dress the same. Being unique is very important for a Muslim, and a Human being generally. Our individuality is what makes us who we are, and our uniqueness has value, and that uniqueness must & should be celebrated, not denigrated, by ethnic/cultural dominance, which has absolutely nothing to do with the tenets of Islam.

This is why Islam is my life, and Fashion is my passion: My existence in this Universe & my life on Earth, as a Human being, is predicated on worshipping Allah, the Lord of the Universe, and Fashion is something that helps me, as a Muslim, to acquire the freedom to express myself as an individual, without being worried about whose approval I have to seek. I no longer worry about how people view my fashion-sense, and I no longer wait or seek the unnecessary religious scholarly & not-so-scholarly approval of anyone: If I wanna wear jeans & tees, then Imma wear jeans & tees; if I wanna rock a two-piece or three-piece suit, then that’s what I’ll rock; if I wanna sport a cardigan or track-jacket, then Imma sport a cardigan or track-jacket.

Gareth Bryant/2013