On the 9th of January 2016, the Daily Mail published an article about me, which was wrong and defamatory. They misrepresented me sourcing videos that I had produced to counter misconceptions about Islam, and the Daily Mail’s hurled many scurrilous allegations at me. I responded to each and every allegation in correspondence written by my lawyer, but they published these allegations without my response to them.
Here are excerpts from the letter dated 1st January from my lawyer to the Daily Mail, to prove that all these allegations have no basis:
- In the time available and because of the holiday season, our client cannot deal with each and every allegation in your four-page letter. However, his views are not as you suggest. Our client has already explained to you, and we set out here, that he lectures in a particular way. Our client will explain the extremist views of others in order to show why these are absurd. There will therefore be videos and lectures in which, with selective editing, will make our client seem as if he is supporting extremism. However, if you consider these in detail and in full, you will see that this is not the case. The reason for our client setting up these extremist arguments are so that he can knock them down; he does not hold these views and to suggest that he does would be false and defamatory of him. When our client explains controversial issues, he does so gradually and there is a reason for this. He believes that the damage caused by extremists cannot be fixed by watching one or two videos, it is a long process of rehabilitation. He believes that the best way to achieve this is to hold a magnifying glass up to the extreme views to debunk them and show that they are either misinterpretations or misunderstanding of the text.
- The quotes which you set out in your letter are taken out of context. By way of example, our client’s views on women are not extreme and he is against misogyny. He has made a film about empowering women which was filmed in 11 cities in 9 countries around the world. In our client’s videos he has said very clearly: “I want to emphasize that in Islam matters are not left to the whims of people. Men are not free to beat their wives as they wish. Prophet Mohammad explicitly forbade such beating of women. Although I don’t consider Saudi Arabia to be a good example of the implementation of Islamic law, I must mention that about five or six years ago an Islamic Law court in Saudi Arabia sentenced a man to 300 lashes plus six months in prison because he beat his wife.”
- The same can be said of the other views which you seek to attribute to our client. Of course our client is a Muslim and holds views which are consistent with the Quran, but he does not believe in extremism or terrorism in any form. Further, he believes that Islam obligates Muslims to respect the law of the country in which they live, as long as the law doesn’t force a Muslim to act contrary to Islam.
In a letter dated 5th of January 2016, which was sent to the Daily Mail my lawyer wrote in correspondence:
- You state in your email that our client is seen in videos “defending the right of a husband to hit his wife with a stick”, but this is not true.
As we have told you already, our client is totally against any sort of domestic violence and considers that there is no room for it in Islam. Our client has stated in videos that the “Prophet Mohammad explicitly forbade such beating of women. Although I don’t consider Saudi Arabia to be a good example of the implementation of Islamic law, I must mention that about five or six years ago an Islamic Law court in Saudi Arabia sentenced a man to 300 lashes plus six months in prison because he beat his wife”. Our client clearly considers that a man who beats up his wife is to be punished.
- Further, our client speaks of the Prophet Mohammed, who said, when it came to his attention that some of his companions had beaten their wives, “the noble ones don’t do that.”
- What our client is doing in the lecture is explaining the Quran and trying to explain the concept of “idriboo”. Some consider that this means beating or striking, but our client interprets the Quran as a far lesser meaning, setting out that the proper interpretation is that this should not be a beating but rather a light ‘prodding’.
- Our client explains that the Quran sets out that men should follow a sequence, which does involve “passing through two stages of non-physical interaction” which you note. Following those stages, the Quran suggests that the man should “idriboo” his wife. Our client does not believe that the purpose of this is to cause humiliation or pain and you also note this in the quotes which you attribute to him. Our client believes that the point of idriboo is for a husband to indicate to his wife that the situation is serious and that the next step is divorce. It is a warning of divorce and it is not a disciplinary action nor is it meant for itself. Our client believes that idriboo is a precursor to divorce which can be easily replaced by any other warning step which would indicate the seriousness of the situation.
- Indeed our client even distances himself from the wrong understanding of some people that this is a strict sequence in the Quran, stating in his video that the man “should start by advising his wife, telling her that they should work at keeping the marriage intact, telling her that the children are bound to suffer if they separate, and so on. If that doesn’t work, he can move to the second stage which involves refraining from marital relations with his wife. They may continue to share a bed, but he should turn his back to her. Now if both of the previous measures do not work, then divorce could seem to be the only option left.” This completely skips the step of idriboo and reinforces that it is only a warning which can be replaced with any type of warning that matches the culture and the law of the country.