Omar Suleiman is not a progressive

American Imam Omar Suleiman has been the recipient of a handful of puff pieces in various media outlets over the past year or so. Most notably he was featured in a BBC online documentary titled “United States of Hate: Muslims Under Attack”, plus recently in articles on Huffington Post, or in local media such as D Magazine which hailed him as “the religious leader Dallas needs right now”.

His act is to present himself to a progressive audience as a gentle, softly spoken, peace loving, and totally benevolent progressive activist with a big grin determinedly battling bigotry. But look beyond the façade of professionally shot profile photos and the progressive platitudes of tolerance across his social media profiles, and you will find a very different figure.

Advocacy for theocracy

First of all it’s clear beyond any doubt Suleiman is an Islamist. When asked about Sharia in front of a progressive audience, he will say that living in a non-Muslim country it merely “means practising my faith” and “so long as the laws of my land don’t stop me from personally practising my faith then I’m actually as a Muslim obligated to obey those laws”. He will then go no further and seemingly sound relatively benign.

However at Islamist conferences he has gone further and has explicitly advocated a caliphate. On an ICNA Shariah Council Panel Q&A Suleiman said “that the Sharia practised on a societal level as was practised by the companions of the prophet” was “a righteous system” and “we do believe this was divine law”.

At a previous ICNA event he stated “we ask Allah to allow us to witness a righteous khilafah (caliphate)”, and expressed disappointment at Arab Spring protesters demanding democracy rather than Islamic rule (although he did also offer the caveat that “at least democracy has its pros in the sense that it allows the best ideas to rise and the people do want Islam”).

Video: Suleiman explicitly advocating a "khilafah" (caliphate)

Defence of hudud punishments

Suleiman also defended the hudud punishments for adultery or theft at these conferences too. He couches these with qualifiers such as to stone an adulterer “you would need four trustworthy witnesses” so it was in effect only so “people would not be able to commit pornographic acts”, or that it was only the “skilled thief” who get their hands chopped off.

Additionally Suleiman’s think tank the “Yaqeen Institute”, via their scholar Jonathan Brown, has defended hudud punishments on the argument that it is the prison system in the West which is in fact the “cruel and unusual punishment” which “brutalises in lasting ways much more so than whipping or lashing or beating”.

Furthermore Brown in another video for the Yaqeen Institute has stated “that in my opinion […] the Islamic death penalty for apostasy […] is punishment for who really publicly leaves Islam”. According to Suleiman this man “writes great stuff”.

Video: Yaqeen Institute scholar Jonathan Brown's opinion on punishment for apostasy

Hateful homophobia

On the topic of homosexuality, Suleiman has written Facebook posts expressing disgust at increased tolerance towards gays.

Asking “when Allah describes homosexuality as a repugnant shameless sin and details his punishment of a people that practiced sodomy, how can anyone who believes in Allah not find it immoral?” and further adding that “if as Muslims we don’t take a clear stance on this, we will be forced to conform and watch this disease destroy our children”.

Previously Suleiman also stated on Facebook that “I am opposed to legalizing gay marriage because it destroys the fabric of our society”, and wrote a message to “applaud” an ICNA press release that “expressed dismay at President Obama’s support for same-sex marriage” arguing it “can only lead to the deterioration of […] society as a whole”.

Defence of Islamic sex slavery

According to Islamist Watch Suleiman has defended Islamic concubines and sex slavery. Whilst Jonathan Brown (again) also caused controversy earlier this year over a piece for Suleiman’s Yaqeen Institute defending sex slavery as well.

Retrograde attitudes towards women and sex

Suleiman has also done talks such as one titled “Fighting Zina” where according to Peace & Tolerance he preached women must not take off their hijabs in front of their cousins, being too close to their brothers may lead to incest, and should never be alone with a man outside of her family. He also has done other talks stating men and women “cannot be friends”.

In his advocacy for the hijab, he compares non-hijab and hijab wearing women respectively to “a bag of chips” and “a mink coat”, the latter being “preserved [...] hidden and concealed” and “that shows me this is a thing of value”.

Video: Suleiman compares non hijab and hijab wearing women to "a bag of chips" and "a mink coat"

Meanwhile Suleiman has written Facebook posts warning of “sinful or degenerate” nudity “creeping into” TV shows and that “pornography, even in its unrecognized forms, is destroying us as individuals, families, and communities” and not to “unashamedly make reference to these shows publicly”.

He’s also posted quotes such “if you want to destroy any nation without war, create [...] nudity common in the young generation”, praised an organisation called “Purify My Gaze”, and even forwarded a weird post from somebody who thinks his daughter’s death was caused by him watching pornography saying “Allah showed me the result of my disobedience to him”.

Other joyless austere religious social conservatism

Suleiman’s austere religious preaching ranges to trivial matters too. His contributions to the “Hadith of the Day” website include recommending that time spent watching movies “should be limited as much as possible” and avoiding playing chess is “safer for one’s faith”, both “wind and string instruments are haram (forbidden)”, that “having a beard is mandatory for men” and “it would be sinful and punishable to shave”, if spaying pets “can be avoided then it should be”, or that sandwich making jobs that may touch ham “clearly falls into the prohibited category”.

He also advises parents that public school is not an option as “the system encourages haram” it is “too risky to ever put your kids in that environment” and only to go to either “Islamic school or homeschool”.

Anti-“Zionist” hatred and conspiracy

Unsurprisingly much like every Islamist Suleiman is extremely anti-Israel. He frequently has referred to Israel as “JSIL” (Jewish ISIS), and compared them to both Nazis and the KKK.

In his own words “the Zionists are the sincere enemies of God, His Messengers, sincere followers of all religions, and humanity as a whole”, and in reference to Israel has stated that “may Allah destroy the oppressors”.

He’s also pushed classic conspiracy of how “Zionists” are controlling the world. Including forwarding posts from Yasir Qadhi saying “how servile America is to the interests” of Israel, himself called the US government a “Zionist pawn”, and said that celebrities and politicians are “afraid of Zionist influence”, and complains of “the Zionist media”.

However he’s merely just an “anti-Zionist” of course...

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Anwar al-Awlaki
Anwar al-Awlaki was “our beloved Imam” and “so beloved to our community”

As a member of the ICNA Shariah Council, Suleiman authored a condemnation of senior Al Qaeda recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki following his praise for the 2009 Fort Hood shooting.

However Suleiman’s condemnation also stated that prior to his release from Yemeni prison in 2007, al-Awlaki had been “our beloved Imam”, “who once seemed so level-headed”, and “was so beloved to our community”. That his arrest “brought many of us into a state of shock and depression”, and he recalled how “ecstatic Muslims around the country” were on news of his release.

For the record, al-Awlaki was hardly a moderate before 2007. In 2002 due to his frequent links to Jihadists, al-Awlaki was added to an early version of what is now the federal terror watch list. In 1998-99 he had served as vice-president for the “Charitable Society of Social Welfare”, an organisation later identified by the FBI as a “front organisation to funnel money to terrorists”. The 9/11 commission report stated two of the hijackers had “reportedly respected [al-Awlaki] as a religious figure and developed a close relationship with him”. He also published articles such as one titled “Why Muslims Love Death” praising Palestinian suicide bombers.

To portray al-Awlaki as being someone who had been up until 2007 “so beloved to our community” is fairly astonishing.

As an aside, Suleiman also praised in that “condemnation” how al-Awlaki “very clearly denounced the attacks of 9/11”, which doesn’t give the whole picture, as he also wrote on 17 September that Israelis may have been responsible for them and that the FBI “went into the roster of the airplanes and whoever has a Muslim or Arab name became the hijacker by default”.

Aid al-Qarni: “one of the greatest scholars and thinkers in the world”

Elsewhere Suleiman has described Saudi cleric Aid al-Qarni as “one of the greatest scholars and thinkers in the world” and “our beloved teacher”. This is a man on the US do not fly list and has a long record of extreme statements.

According to MEMRI in 2004 al-Qarni praised Hamas co-founder Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi and criticised Muslims who are “incapable of taking action, of being useful, of harming the Jews” and said “I pray to Allah […] he will destroy the Jews and their helpers from among the Christians and the communists and that he will turn them into the Muslims’ spoils”.

He then moved onto praising jihadist opposition to American troops in Iraq stating “I praise Jihad, sacrifice, and resistance against the occupiers in Iraq. We curse them, all of them, every night and pray that Allah will annihilate them, tear them apart, and grant us victory over them”. Plus that “the Jihad in Fallujah is a source of pride […] downing their planes, destroying equipment, slaughtering them, taking them hostage, and proclaiming 'Allah Akbar' from the mosques”.

Before finally finishing off his tirade violently by saying “throats must be slit and skulls must be shattered this is the path to victory, to shahada, and to sacrifice”.

Video: Aid al-Qarni on jihad against Jews and American troops 

Furthermore al-Qarni is also on record saying “women driving cars is a sinful thing” arguing the consequences of allowing it in Saudi Arabia would include “the spread of corruption, women uncovering their hair and faces, mingling between the sexes, men being alone with women and the destruction of the family and society in whole”. He’s also referred to Jews as “the brothers of apes and pigs” and compared them to Hitler.

Reminder this is a guy Suleiman says he regards as “one of the greatest scholars and thinkers in the world” ...

How awesome is this!

Suleiman also ecstatically posted “how awesome is this!” in reaction to al-Qarni and a Kuwaiti preacher Muhammad Al-Awadi sharing one of his videos. There isn’t much online about Al-Awadi in English, but a brief search of his Twitter shows he posts images from the anti-Semitic holocaust denying lunatic “conspiracy artist” David Dees of a Jewish octopus around the White House.

Others who Suleiman has celebrated “how awesome” it is they are sharing his videos include Syrian preacher Mohammed Rateb al-Nabulsi, who has reportedly written on his website “all the Jewish people are combatants”, that “the wicked Jews are a collection of defects and imperfections, and a hotbed of evils [...] the worst enemies of God”, plus endorsed suicide bombings.

As well as Saudi preacher Salman al-Ouda, who was recorded by MEMRI in 2012 saying “the role of the Jews is wreak destruction, to wage war, and to practice deception and extortion” and promoting the Jewish blood libel.

Video: Salman al-Ouda on Jews, the holocaust, and drinking human blood

Suleiman seems to be a big fan of this man as he has posted videos and quotes from him numerous times, refers to him along with another well-known anti-Semitic Islamist Yusuf al-Qaradawi as “true scholars”, and gave him a “special note of thanks” for “inspiring” some of his work.

Both al-Nabulsi and al-Ouda were recently in May banned as hate preachers from entering Denmark.

“No one is more beloved to me than my teachers”

According to a biography of Suleiman, he also “sought knowledge and studied” under Salah al-Sawy and Hatem al-Haj, who are both scholars on the “Fatwa Committee” at the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America.
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Among the contributions to AMJA from al-Sawy include stating that repentance for insulting Allah or His Messenger “shall not be accepted” or “lift up the set punishment” of execution because the Prophet is” not alive to practice his right to forgive” and “no Muslim is ever entitled or authorizes to forgive on the Prophet’s behalf”.

On the topic of Islamic law al-Sawy preaches that “not ruling by Shari`ah is the reason for all that the Ummah is afflicted with […] misfortune, neediness, adversity and disaster” and that “if only they would uphold the Book of Allah and apply His Divine Law […] Allah would remove from them the humiliation which has enveloped generations and which has grabbed them by the throat”. He also bemoans that “the Devil” has “deceived them into believing that the Shari`ah is not appropriate for every time and place” and that “applying the hudud” is “harsh and barbarous”.

He has also stated the situation in Gaza should be used by Muslims to “revive the obligation of jihad”. His answer to somebody asking about FGM is that it is “neither obligatory nor rejected” but is “considered an honourable thing for females” and that “it is good if you do it”.

Suleiman eulogises al-Sawy saying “I have not seen anyone in the West who parallels his knowledge” in a video urging Muslims to study under him, and posted a picture grinning alongside him saying “After Allah, His Messenger, and my family, no one is more beloved to me than my teachers”.
Video: Suleiman eulogises Salah al-Saawy and urges Muslims to study under him

As for Hatem al-Haj, who is best known for a controversy around him advocating “female genital cutting”, his contribution to AMJA includes fatwas saying the punishment for apostasy is death. Suleiman also refers to al-Haj as “my mentor and beloved teacher”.

Additionally AMJA have other fatwas such as one responding to a question about whether there “is such a thing as marital rape?” which states “as for the issue of forcing a wife to have sex, if she refuses, this would not be called rape” and “there is a great sin upon the wife who refuses”. Suleiman endorses this group as “a very qualified fatwa issuing body” and has forwarded people towards them for advice.
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Suleiman with Abu Eesa Niamatullah
and Muhammad Alshareef

The Al Maghrib Institute

Suleiman also works an “instructor” at the ultra hardline Islamist Al Maghrib Institute, which is led by its founder and president Muhammad Alshareef, who’s authored a paper titled “Why the Jews are cursed” and endorsed stoning as a punishment for adultery among many other things.

Also among Suleiman’s colleagues at Al Maghrib include Kamal El Mekki, who has stated his belief that drug dealers should be beheaded, thieves have hands cut off, and described why apostates are killed in an Islamic state.

Abdullah Hakim Quick, who decries “filthy” Jews and kaffirs, and pushed hatred towards gays calling them “sick” and referencing the Islamic position being “death”, along with apparently some wacky New World Order theories.

Abu Eesa Niamatullah, who has a record of advocating Sharia law, complained of advances in gay rights, pushed the death penalty as punishment for blasphemy, plus expressed extremely anti-Semitic, misogynistic views, and regards liberal secular Muslims as a kind of fifth column.

Abdul Nasir Jangda, described by Suleiman as “awesome” and “a beautiful person”, who defends Islamic slavery, and teaches people drinking alcohol publicly should be beaten; thieves have hands cut off, and advises on when adulterers or apostates should be killed.
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Suleiman with Yasir Qadhi

Then there is of course Yasir Qadhi, the best known figure from Al Maghrib with numerous vile views on the topics such as homosexuality and barbaric punishments.

Suleiman has referred to all of these as people as “my dearest Teachers and Brothers” and promoted their articles, videos, or speaking events, and posted grinning photos alongside them on social media hundreds of times.

Praise for various other Islamists

Others from the American Islamist circuit Suleiman has praised include Siraj Wahhaj, who has a 30 plus year record of espousing vile views including endorsing various hudud punishments such as lashes for drinking alcohol, stoning adulterers, or chopping off the hands of thieves, and also a big supporter of notorious anti-Semitic lunatic Louis Farrakhan.

Plus Wahhaj has ties to actual jihadists having served as a character witness for Omar Abdel-Rahman (aka “The Blind Sheikh” convicted of a terror attack on the World Trade Center in 1993 that killed 6 people and injured thousands) where he called him a “respected scholar” and “bold, as a strong preacher of Islam”. He’s also been recorded asking for donations for the Benevolence International Foundation, an Al-Qaeda front which was designated in 2002 as a “financier of terrorism”.

Audio: Siraj Wahhaj on stoning, lashing, and chopping off hands.

Suleiman calls Wahhaj “my beloved Imam” and a “legend”, plus said “every time I meet him I feel like a little child meeting his hero [...] he is truly the Imam of America”, and encouraged his followers to attend his events or “get a hold of some of those old Imam Siraaj Wahhaj tapes and Abdullah Hakim Quick tapes!”

Then there’s Jamal Badawi, who has for decades expressed his belief in Islam’s superiority to “man-made law”, and repeatedly spoken in support of Palestinian terrorism. Suleiman praises him (along with Siraj Wahhaj and Abdullah Hakim Quick) “for inspiring so many people to dedicate themselves to the cause of Allah”.

Suleiman also seems to like Bilal Philips, who endorses the killing of apostates, and other hudud punishments, says there is no such thing as rape in marriage, and is banned from entering numerous countries. He’s tweeted “give my salaam to him”, and attacked an article critical of Philips urging his followers “to write to the paper expressing your dissatisfaction with their biased reporting” (for the record the article in question merely seems to be quoting the awful things he’s said about homosexuals).
Suleiman with Ismail Menk

And Ismail Menk, a gay bashing cleric who says they are worse than “the dogs and the pigs”, plus also defends hudud punishments such as for adultery (“the Sharia says such a person should be stoned to death, that is there, there is no doubt, no debate”), preaches that music is haram (“there is no scholar on earth who allows you to listen to Beyoncé or Michael Jackson”), and promotes gender segregation, and is friendly with various reknowned extremists including Zakir Naik. However Menk is described by Suleiman as “a wonderful individual and great scholar” and “who embodies love and peace in so many ways”.

The British Islamist circuit

Suleiman has praised some of the vilest figures on the British Islamist circuit too. He describes Hamza Tzortzis, a Hizb ut-Tahrir linked Islamist who has endorsed apostasy and blasphemy punishments, as “awesome” and promoted his classes, posted “beautiful” speeches from Haitham al-Haddad one of the ugliest Islamist preachers in the country, posts pictures grinning alongside Zahir Mahmood who is known for praising Hamas “as freedom fighters”, and of course he’s a supporter of Moazzam Begg and his despicable Caliphate advocating group CAGE.


The Aafia movement

Finally Suleiman is also a supporter of Aafia Siddique (another cause that unites the worst of Islamists), named by the FBI as “an Al Qaeda operative and facilitator” and serving an 86 year prison sentence for an attempted terror attack. Suleiman has posted Facebook messages that he is “praying for Dr. Aafia Siddique to be freed”, and has forwarded petitions from the “Aafia movement” (whose site is full of the same sort of foul anti-Semitic ramblings Siddique herself was known for) urging people to sign it.

The Yaqeen Institute

Suleiman is President of the “Yaqeen Institute” a think tank he founded last year. It has already published dubious content via their scholar Jonathan Brown on the topics of apostasy, hudud punishments, and sex slavery as referenced above.

Also listed as part of the Yaqeen Institute team are one of the world’s best known Islamists Tariq Ramadan (recently in the news for criticising critics of FGM), and another very well known figure Dalia Mogahed.

Also there’s Hatem el-Haj from AMJA (see above). Hatem Bazian who’s social media feed asks questions like “should Jews have to pay reparations for slavery?”, speculates Benjamin Netanyahu might have been behind terrorist attacks in France, and has been involved in numerous controversies around anti-Semitism over many years. And Mohammad Elshinawy, who thinks women who don’t wear the hijab will be condemned to hell fire and are likely to get breast cancer.

Another Islamist Daniel Haqiqatjou, who frequently complains of gay rights and also endorses hand chopping and other hudud punishments, has contributed to the think tank too. These are the people Suleiman hand picked for his “Yaqeen Institute”.

[Note: Suleiman has a habit of deleting relevant tweets or posts when attention is drawn to them. If something is missing try searching for the URL on archive is.]

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