A few years ago some very disturbing allegations and counter-allegations circulated on the net about the spiritual abuse of some women by some well-respected teachers. I had it in mind when I wrote the slightly flippant blogpost “Groucho Marx, the Borg and Me“.

This very thoughtful, balanced and courageous article by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari tackles the issue head on, from her own experience of dealing with the victims.

“How can our leaders recite platitudes about women’s empowerment and status in Islam publicly, while privately undermining those very rights they claim to cherish? How is it acceptable to publicly proclaim respect for women, while privately deeming them little more than sexual conquests?

It has recently come to my attention that there are well-known individuals who are using their platforms for more than the dissemination of Islamic teachings. There is evidence demonstrating that these individuals are using their positions in circles of sacred learning to groom, recruit, and entice female followers with promises of marriage, access to Shuyukh, study abroad opportunities, and entrée to exclusive socio-spiritual networks. Under the guise of mentoring, these individuals are engaging in private, unsupervised conversations with marriageable members of the opposite sex. These conversations, carried out in the relative anonymity of cyberspace, appear to run the gamut from fairly innocuous exchanges of biographical information (à la pen pals in the pre-computer era) to material that is merely suggestive to thoughts and sentiments that are wildly inappropriate.”


“If you want the mirror to reflect the face,
hold it straight and keep it polished bright;
although the sun does not begrudge its light,
when seen in a mist it only looks like glass;
and creatures comelier than angels even
seem in a dagger to have devils’ faces.
Your dagger will never tell you true from false;
it will never serve you as a mirror.”

Hakim Sanai, 12th Century Persian poet and one of Jalaludin Rumi’s inspirations.
Translation by David Pendlebury, ‘The Walled Garden of Truth’.

Reflection of the soul by Astridle on Deviantart

Mullah Nasruddin was in a contemplative mood, drinking coffee with his friends. They found themselves pondering death and the legacy they would leave behind.
“When you are lying wrapped in your shroud, with your friends and family mourning you, what would you like to hear them say about you?” asked a friend.
“I would like to hear them say that I was a great healer who saved hundreds of lives,” said the local hakeem.
The barber stroked his ample beard and said, “I would like to hear that I was a great father to my children and raised a fine brood who will bring honour to our tribe for generations to come.”
The Mullah smiled at their words. “Well, what I’d really like to hear them say is ‘Look! He’s MOVING!!!” he exclaimed.


Have you ever woken from a half-remembered dream, feeling like you’ve returned from a journey of a thousand leagues or more? I’ve  just discovered the quirky, dark and playful landscapes of Jacek Yerka.  Got to love his dreamlands, even if they make your head spin a little.

Jacek_Yerka_Erosion (more…)

Salams and Juma’ Mubarak,

I could say a lot about this video – that I’ve been waiting for someone like him to say something like this for longer than I care to recall. That it’s an overdue wake-up call to the Ummah, especially those of us in the West…but I’ll let the Shaykh do the talking.

The video is only 13 minutes long and it starts with an appeal on behalf of a destitute woman. Shaykh Habib Ali al Jifri then reacts to what he hears, and tells it like it is.

“To the men, especially those who are religious – before looking right and left, look at yourself. How do you view women? Your night prayers, your daily fasts, your memorization of scripture, your charity, your pilgrimage, your knowledge and your teaching, your struggles for the sake of God – everything you do – won’t get you to a point where you are something before God if you don’t let all of that pass through the gateway of benevolence to women.”

May Allah grant us the tawfeeq to stop talking and walk the walk. May we establish justice within our communities before we are held to account for it on the Day of Judgement. Ameen.


A gallery of photos by one of my favourite photographers, on the theme of one of my favourite things. Enjoy.

I thought I’d start a collection of  ‘Unexpected Muslims’ – living or late, converts or born into the faith, whose lives challenge our preconceptions of what a Muslim ought to be. The collection will include people who’ve done something unexpected, unusual or outright eccentric with their lives – like deciding to become Muslim in 19th century England.

Our first unexpected muslim is Henry the brother baron, born in 1827. Or to give him his full title, Henry Edward John Stanley, 3rd Baron Stanley of Alderley and 2nd Baron Eddisbury (11 July 1827 – 10 December 1903). He may have adopted the name Abdur Rahman.

Edward John Stanley senior

Couldn’t find a photo, sorry, so here’s his dad instead – Edward John Stanley.

Henry could have lived an unremarkable life as just another member of the Victorian British aristocracy. Instead in 1862, aged 35, he converted to Islam. Incidentally, his sister was the mother of Bertrand Russell, the Nobel prize-winning philosopher and agnostic anti-war activist.