In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Grande Strategy

Tarek Fatah - Chasing a Mirage (2008)

Posted From:

In the Name of Allah; Most-Merciful, Most-Compassionate.

Tarek Fatah is speaking out “against the hijacking of my faith and the encroaching spectre of a new Islamo-fascism” (p. xii). He says that his book [Chasing a Mirage (2008)] speaks “the unspeakable” (p. xiv) and that religious leaders ought to tell Muslims: “You have been lied to for centuries” rather than proselytizing (p. xvii). He says that Muslims have been “force-fed” falsehood and “indoctrinated”, and he says that “countless lies have been drilled in the minds passing generations (p. 87). Tarek Fatah is a sought after personality by the media to speak about Islam and he is the founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress.

Chasing a Mirage (2008) sets out some main premises, which I will inshaAllah address here. The first and central premise (p. 20-23) is that no Islamic State existed during the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and the second is that there is no justification in Islam for Statehood. What this review will determine is: Is the telling of history by Tarek Fatah correct? And, if not, what about the conclusions he draws from it? As such this review will focus upon Chapter 6 of his book.

Due note: It is very easy for anyone to re-write history when they don’t reference material, selectively use sources and choose to ignore the authenticity of reports. For example: If we look at the chapter that tells the history of the death of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) Tarek Fatah uses orientalist sources (for example, pages: 90, 92, 98, 101 and 108), Sunni sources (for example, pages: 88, 89, 92, 96, 97, 100, 103, 105, 106, 108), Shia sources (for example, pages: 91, 97, 98, 105, 109, 110, 111, 112) and various uncited authors such as “one historian” (p. 102; and p. 94, 95, 96, 99, 101, 103, 108) – and that is only a breakdown of Chapter 6! An outsider may think that such an inclusive view ought to be beneficial – however, it is important to note that Tarek Fatah has selectively used these sources to find points that support his claim and completely ignores anything that would run contrary to it – which of course is plentiful, as we shall see. Furthermore, if Tarek Fatah bothers to cite Prophetic narrations (which he does not usually do) he completely neglects to check the authenticity of claims, and presents narrations that have been unanimously agreed upon as fabricated and false. Throughout the text Tarek Fatah does not refer to original Arabic sources – either he has refused to or is unable to.

Since the main objective of the text, mentioned above, does not specifically relate to an analysis of modern nation-states I have not delved into the extensive time Tarek Fatah gives to modern nation states – Pakistan (Ch. 1, 2), Saudi Arabia (Ch. 3), Iran (Ch. 4), Palestine (Ch. 5). Instead, in wanting to focus on the idea that no Islamic State existed during the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and that there is no justification in Islam for Statehood, I have focused my attention to the chapter that dealt with how Tarek Fatah explains and understands what occurred during Prophethood and afterwards. Finally, I have pointed out just a few examples of blatant errors – I’ve done this so that those with intellect may reflect about how erroneous the “facts” and “history” presented by Tarek Fatah are.

To proceed:

Despite his main premise being that no Islamic State existed and that there is no justification for Statehood in Islam, Tarek Fatah writes that “almost all Muslim scholars” agree upon the power transfer process. Tarek Fatah narrates in his telling of history the odd stories, mostly of fabricated or Shia origin, to create a new version. For the most part his telling focuses upon the renditions as told by Ali Dashti, Mahmoud M. Ayoub and Liyakat Takim – all Shia sources. For those new to this terminology, Shia refers to a minority sect of Islam comprising less than 10% of Muslims, based most in Iran, who believe in many ideas rejected by mainstream and traditional Muslims. Many Shia sources he us using does not abide by the authentication system of isnad (chain of narration) making them unusable in the Islamic Sciences and hence are largely inauthentic.

Although Tarek Fatah advocates that there is no basis for Statehood in Islam and that the concept of an “Islamic State” is a mirage (p. 91), he interestingly speaks about law, punishments and economics and other aspects of governance. He even goes so far as to say that maybe Muslims are to develop governance “according to socio-economic conditions” (p. 90-91) – the latter being a confirmation that some form of Islamic State would exist and the former requiring that some form of governing body enact such legislation. Furthermore, he provides evidence from both Sunni and Shia sources that refute his own premise. For example, he cites Shia authors say that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) asked Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) to remain behind so as to be the leader of the State and he cites Sunni reasons why Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) was in fact chosen to lead the State (p. 97). Thus, he proves false his own premise – displaying the bizarre use of materials and contradictory nature of Tarek Fatah.

Tarek Fatah uses Shia sources to describe the moments after the death of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as being tribal, political and violent. He attempts to justify his telling of history by occasionally referring to mainstream sources (for example p. 99). He tries, for example, to present the idea that Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) did not give allegiance to Abu Bakr and that Ali was asked to accept allegiance from ibn Abbas – however, he fails to cite the original sources and relies upon a modern Shia author to explain the history of a 9th century Sunni scholar (p. 95). Tarek Fatah does not mention in the text that this Sunni historian is being quoted from a Shia text. It seems that Tarek Fatah did look into some sources regarding “Ghadir-e Khumm,” which he notes is disputed by Sunni scholars and that no original of this text exists (p. 97); however he relies on it for his telling of history nonetheless.

The description of dissention and conflict regarding the events that took place leading up to selecting Abu Bakr as State leader is told from the Shia perspective. Tarek Fatah tries to explain that the process was based on “tribalism” (p. 110), “racial superiority” and that Abu Bakr convinced everyone regarding the leadership by speaking about tribal rivalries (p. 104). Tarek Fatah cites “one historian” (p. 105, again covering his Shia sources) that Umar cursed Saad ibn Ubadah. Musnad Ahmed reports that Saad ibn Ubadah approved of and agreed to the speech given by Abu Bakr about leadership, and he said: “You have spoken the truth. We are your ministers, and you are our leaders.” Tarek Fatah fails to mention this authentic report, and relies upon weak and fabricated stories relying completely on second-hand materials. When abu Bakr was officially made head of State all of the people were called to the masjid, where Umar (may Allah be pleased with them all) made the announcement – and the people pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr. Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) pledged allegiance the day after the death of the Prophet (peace be upon him), despite Tarek Fatah’s fabricated claims of otherwise. The Shia history told by Tarek Fatah continues with Ali’s (may Allah be pleased with him) withdrawal, seeking support for himself against Abu Bakr and his saying that Umar broke into Fatima’s home and forced her and Ali to make allegiance – he shares this version of history without mentioning the fact that these reports are unauthentic (p. 108-109).

Tarek goes on to speak about Shariah, Islamic banking, Jihad, music, hijab and other issues – however, having already shown his lack of understanding basic Islamic Sciences, his use of fabricated and false information, his reliance upon Shia sources, his unwillingness to use and acknowledge traditional Sunni sources, and his self-contradictions I’ve decided not to waste my time on those chapters. If it is required, kindly request me to do so. I truly hope, however, that this analysis of the history presented by Tarek Fatah will be enough to steer anyone away from the religious rulings he gives.

Errors (a brief selection):

a) Tarek Fatah states: “it is difficult to say if this is an authentic hadith or merely the creativity of contemporary naysayers of the royal ibn Saud family” (p. 44). Although it would make things nice and easy for people such as Tarek Fatah if the rulers of Saudi Arabia wrote the books of Prophetic narrations, they did not. In fact, this statement shows his complete lack of understanding the sciences of hadeeth, its analysis and understanding. Throughout the text Tarek Fatah does not reference the authenticity of Prophetic narrations – some of which have been proven to be false and/or fabricated, which he shares as truth regardless. For an in-depth analysis of this fatal error Tarek Fatah see the post (here).

b) Tarek Fatah claims that Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) buried the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) alone during the night against general plans for burial in Baqiyyah. It was the information given by Abu Bakr, a Prophetic narration, that Prophets are to be buried in the place where they die that resulted in the change. Tarek Fatah does not mention this Prophetic narration and writes as if the change was due to a power struggle between the two, which was clearly not the case – as is described in the most famous modern biography, The Sealed Nectar.

c) Tarek Fatah says that “we defend the most horrendous treatment of our mothers and daughters” (p. 87). He does not define what this means or give any examples regarding what this means.

d) Tarek Fatah attempts to highlight the Prophetic narration about seeking knowledge in China, which he fails to cites the matn (text), isnad (chain) or text (p. 89). Al Qaysarani, Ibn Jawzi, ibn Hibban, al Dhahabi, al Albani, al Sakhawi, and others rejected this narration. Other scholars have declared it Hassan, while Tarek Fatah continues to narrate without feeling the need to cite anyone or any book.

e) He claims that after the death of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) “tribalism” and politics took over piety – providing no evidence for his claim, and neglecting the vast sources counter to it (it can also be noted that he tries to use a false orientalist claim about abu Dharr on p. 91, which has been address in Uthman’s biography by al Sallabi).

f) Tarek Fatah says the companions began to disobey the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) before his death. He says that this “was indicative of things to come, though, as the power struggle would unfold” (p. 96). This refusal to go North on the expedition with Osama ibn Zayd, however, is a falsehood – and one that Tarek Fatah does not bother to provide a reference for.

g) He says that “women were wailing and beating their chests” (p. 99) after the death of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), providing no sources or citation. And, he cites an orientalist author saying that in the hours that followed Prophet Muhammad’s death (peace and blessings be upon him), that “God’s Messenger was the last thing on the minds of his followers” (p. 101).

h) He says that since Fatima (may Allah be pleased with her) did not inherit from her father, Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him), then “what are the chances of the millions of daughters who are denied their just inheritances” (p. 109). The hadith on this matter is very clear, and even Tarek Fatah mentions it: specifically Prophet’s are not inherited from. So no one is invoking “Islamic law” to prevent women from inheriting based on this – another fanciful tale Tarek Fatah would like us to believe.

Tarek Fatah argues that “the vast majority of the Ummah” are “blissfully ignorant of the sad side of their heritage and thus refuse to or cannot learn the lessons” (p. 100). Having looked briefly at only one fundamental chapter by Tarek Fatah it is clear that at least one person has refused to learn his lessons.

Tarek Fatah clearly lacks a basic understanding of the Islamic Sciences. His persistent use of fabricated and false information makes one question his integrity. Tarek Fatah relies upon Shia sources and shows an unwillingness to use and acknowledge traditional Sunni sources, which is the reason he is able to come up with such bizarre versions of history. And his self-contradictions, proving false the main “mirage” premise of the text, are examples of his inconsistent and erroneous methods. I hope that Muslims and non-Muslims alike will realize that Tarek Fatah is selectively using information in insidious ways, seeking only to confuse and misinform.

And Allah knows best.

May Allah guide us to the truth.
Vision Without Glasses


Post a Comment