Navigating Defilement: Thoughts on the Navigating Differences Statement

On May 23, 2023, a public statement was released in the United States titled, “Navigating Differences: Clarifying Sexual and Gender Ethics in Islam.” Traditionally studied scholars, post-Salafi preachers, celebrity imams, small-town masjid imams, Muslim academics, well-known bloggers, and a slew of people from other diverse backgrounds signed onto the statement. The signatories are not names that you would expect to find on one page, as they have their differences, but they all united on this one issue. This is not a common occurrence in our modern context, and it deserves to be acknowledged as a milestone in some ways. 

As expected, commentary on this statement has been a cesspool consisting of every possible reaction. While the overwhelming majority of commentary has been positive, Alhamdulilah, there have been some loud voices among the opposition. And although the majority of them are not worthy of a response, some obscure voices did level valid critiques. In the following paragraphs, I will provide a measured analysis of the statement, mentioning both the good and the bad, with utmost respect and love for the scholars and righteous leaders of the Western Muslim world. I am speaking to them, as well as the average Muslim with enough taqwa to care. To note, I have chosen to remain anonymous for reasons that are obvious, and I hope that my thoughts are received with open hearts.

For the Muslims to unite upon a credal matter is a sign of the barakah of this Ummah. It is certainly a mystifying and encouraging sight to see such a long list of diverse yet united voices, especially in the current climate. Many from among the traditional scholars of Islam have been calling for such an effort for a long time, and the advent of this public statement is relieving. This is especially true for those of us that have firsthand experience with the utter suffocation of gender ideology and its proponents. Functionally, this statement has exposed the land mines hiding within our community, making clear to us who is an enemy and who is a friend based on their reactions to this effort. For this, we thank the progenitors and signatories alike. 

There is a class of Muslim scholars that have had the courage to speak out against gender ideology over the years. Some of them have tackled the issue head-on, instead of trying to convince us that it is being over-exaggerated. Unfortunately, these scholars have been lumped together with celebrity preachers and other figures that have remained silent on this issue, or worse, obfuscated the truth with their chronically docile and elusive modes of communication. Though some of the online detractors will not recognize the merits of the outspoken scholars, I believe it is necessary to acknowledge them for their courageous work. I have no doubt that this statement will serve these outspoken Muslim scholars well in the afterlife. As for the rest of them, we pray for Allah’s mercy. 

The bottom line regarding this statement is that it is a necessary and critical step in the right direction. However, this statement is at least a decade too late, and there is no context across the vast landscape of creation that will afford you points for such significant neglect. This is not merely an observation for the sake of finding fault. Rather, there are grave consequences to such an egregious level of tardiness, the most obvious of which is the disappearance of a previously ubiquitous credal point from an entire generation of Muslims in the West. 

It is not lost on those of us who are active in the Muslim community that this was a topic that was purposefully avoided by the biggest names in the world of Western Islamic media. From those popular imams that held expensive retreats across the country to the club of celebrity conference preachers and even the Muslim academics who rubbed shoulders with the traditional scholars, this topic was avoided in a way that many of us find utterly unjustifiable. Many of them tried to justify neglecting this topic, telling themselves that it would derail all the good they’re doing with their current modus operandi. All the while, it was their audience that functioned as the transmission vector for the progressive disease that trickled down from the top. When our campus Muslim groups were corrupted from the inside and ended up collaborating with local LGBT organizations, it was not done by some pariah who identified with a deviant sect of Islam nor was it done — at least not directly — by a government agent fueled by a shady grant. In my experience and that of many others, it was done by fans of Imam so-and-so, or Shaykh this-and-that, or Dr. blah blah. These were people who slipped into their campus organizations, constantly praising some well-known podcast or a Ramadan YouTube series, or an annual retreat as their primary source for Islamic knowledge.

At the end of it all, when a demographic of consciously Muslim young adults come forward with hostility towards these impotent religious figures, they are beaten down with language about unity or “alt-right” accusations. The same tactics that the brigade of progressives are currently using to attack the figures behind the statement are often employed by some of these same figures when criticism is leveled by orthodox Muslim laypeople. The irony is that the cowardice of our religious figures has forced the role of denouncing heresies and obfuscations of aqidah upon the less polished constituents of our community (often manifesting as anonymous accounts online or distasteful commentators that operate like TMZ), and these religious leaders find themselves caught in the crossfire.

The traditional Muslim scholars who frequently addressed such controversial topics were never as famous as some of the aforementioned celebrity preachers for various reasons, so their voices were not enough to significantly move the needle. While the pathological silence of our loudest voices continued to facilitate the erosion of Islam among the youth, we were inundated with a repulsively excessive and unoriginal broken record of sermons and media, preaching “hate the sin not the sinner” or “God loves you” or “we Muslims are nice people” or bedtime stories about some lesser known historical figure. I do not mean to denigrate these topics, but when something is magnified beyond its place such that it stifles the prosperity of everything around it, we call it cancerous — and ought to treat it as such.

Another glaring issue is how out-of-touch this statement is with reality. I do genuinely understand the effort to speak within the context and legal landscape of the United States, but the time to discuss rights and liberties is long gone. Laws are frequently passed and repealed on a state and federal level to increase the power that the perverted gender ideologues have over our society, at the expense of religious, financial, and other private liberties. Across the country, children are being subjected to pornographic books in their school libraries, pedophilic men dressed as flamboyant women (calling themselves drag queens) are visiting classrooms, ordinary people are losing their jobs if they express the mildest disapproval, school counselors are brainwashing students into believing that they are in the wrong body, girls are being forced to share locker rooms and bathrooms with mentally unstable boys dressed in skirts, children are being mutilated and sterilized by physicians in the name of medicine, and degenerate academics are bullying students and colleagues into silence (if they are unable to prevent them from getting hired/accepted to the universities in the first place). On the rare occasions when our leaders did address gender ideology (beyond their reflexive affirmations that “we Muslims respect everyone!”), they would make completely ignorant claims that often revolved around the belief that supporting perverted liberties is in our interest since we are also a marginalized minority group. If they are not yet embarrassed by having held this position, then they either have serious ego problems or debilitating intellectual deficiencies. 

To state the obvious, the proponents of gender ideology are not operating on the terms of the United States Constitution because they do not believe in it. It is that simple. When they are forced to confront an obstacle in the legal system that can be traced to the Constitution, they will reinterpret it or functionally abolish it. There is no layer of government that will stand in their way. Not at the local level nor with the Supreme Court. This is no longer a war of civil liberties (if it actually ever was). This is an overt war of propaganda, desensitization, and demoralization. You are not fighting a legal battle. This is a battle against hordes of brainwashed ideologues, infiltrated academic institutions, corporations that will paint anything with the colors of the rainbow to make some money, and deranged politicians that are chasing public approval. The fact that many of our well-known figures are unable to see this is deeply disturbing and utterly disappointing. The point is that these are no longer mere differences. Our “interlocutors” in this matter are actively defiling our communities with the help of the government. They would not hesitate to sic the regime on us because they genuinely believe that the expression of our beliefs is violent. As you all have now seen, no matter how much confetti, whipped cream, and fudge you add to your sugar-coated words, you will always be accused of violence and intolerance. You are dealing with a social contagion, and while the infected hordes believe in over 600 genders, they only believe in two political positions: their own, and Nazism. There is no room to reason when the opposition acts in this way. 

More than a decade of the unopposed onslaught of gender ideology upon Muslims has left me jaded, as my gut feeling is that the same suspects of silence and obfuscation will just quietly go back to their usual ways after submitting their signatures. Still, it is my hope that this public statement will be the first step, in sha Allah, towards the baseline level of ghayrah that is required for us to face this issue with adequate strength. There is no point in pretending that this is still a legal fight. We must tap into our protective jealousy over our beloved religion and increase our efforts to disseminate proper theology in a way that is conscious of what our society needs. This is the only way to ensure that the Muslim laity is hearing what benefits them and promotes their salvation, rather than hearing the same assembly-line sermons that our leaders have been packaging and repackaging for as long as we can remember. If your audience holds beliefs that unequivocally remove them from the fold of Islam, then there is frankly no way they can benefit from your next “10 benefits of ablution” clickbait video. If my words are not convincing enough, then these leaders should look at the responses they received after signing the document. If some of your fans are expressing shock and disappointment after finding your name on there, you should be utterly ashamed at your failures as a public figure. We know who you are, and you are the problem — but it is never too late to change.

If there is one message I wish to convey, it is that this statement is not enough. As I have mentioned, I believe it to be necessary and a net good, but it is not where this fight should end. The proponents of gender ideology are rabid in their defense of perversion, and we must be unyielding in our resolve to speak the truth when it matters. There is no more room for excuses citing the prospect of losing influence, the fear of mass apostasy, or simply denying that there is a problem. I could have written responses to the many terrible arguments and accusations leveled against this statement, but I decided that it is time we spoke internally. We have been on the defensive for far too long. There is so much more I want to say on this topic, but I wish for this to be a suggestion in the spirit of strategy and redemption from the nearly bottomless pit we have dug ourselves into. Allah promised us that the truth will always prevail, and His messenger ‪ﷺ‬ promised us that the Ummah would never unite upon falsehood. In this we have certainty.

Disclaimer: Material published by Traversing Tradition is meant to foster scholarly inquiry and rich discussion. The views, opinions, beliefs, or strategies represented in published articles and subsequent comments do not necessarily represent the views of Traversing Tradition or any employee thereof.

Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

11 thoughts on “Navigating Defilement: Thoughts on the Navigating Differences Statement

  1. The purpose of the underlying document is to provide a shield rooted in the constitutional right to freedom of religion to those Muslims who feel like they’re being coerced to compromise their principles when interacting with non- Muslim institutions. To that end the underlying document is absolutely not “too little too late”. It is, in fact, a welcomed and hopefully effective tool that will benefit the community. However, for those who are reading the document as guidance to the  Muslim community about the topic, then yes, it is inadequate and late. However, this is not the document’s primary purpose.
    Furthermore, no legitimate traditional scholar ever said homosexuality is permissible. The confusion arose as these scholars were struggling with the issue of how to address the lgbt movement as a minority living in a secular society. Even if some scholars were merely reiterating the traditional position on the impermissibility of homosexuality, I’m fairly certain that they weren’t offering any real guidance on how to address the movement as a community living in secular lands.

    Just take a look at the criticisms being leveled by DH and his band of circus freaks, including some unfortunate ulama who are teaching at darul ulooms. None of these unfortunate individuals have offered any practical advice on how to engage the lgbt community or what to work for politically in this regard. Nor have they themselves attempted to spearhead such an efforts. They just sit back and criticize any attempts being made while they themselves do nothing – probably because outside of DH, they are largely ill-equipped to tackle the various problems arising from modern thought.

    In the end, the underlying document is largely beneficial. The tardiness of our ulama in adequately responding to this predicament is understandable given that this is a novel and complex situation.

    1. What is there for these “unfortunate” souls to “engage”? They fulfill their duty by clearly disapproving of sins and immorality and opposing them, without compromise. Just as you do not expect them to directly engage murderers, rapists, gangsters, drug dealers, etc., do not expect them to be hugging those who wave rainbow flags.

      1. No, they actually haven’t opposed them. Opposing them would require that these ulama go out and engage the lgbt movement and clearly articulate their stance. Where were these DH fanboys when DOMA was being repealed? How many amicus briefs did they submit in the line of Supreme Court cases normalizing lgbt? Have they ever even tried to articulate the harms of lgbt in light of secular ethics? They haven’t done anything to oppose lgbt aside from sitting in their silos preaching to their choir about its impermissibility. Now they’re sour here on social media criticizing those real ulama who are actually opposing them. What a joke.

    2. “Real” ulama, according to you, are those who engage in “secular” ethics. By this definition, even giants like Imam Al-Bukhari would not qualify as “real” scholars. What gives laymen the authority to judge the scholars in this manner?

      1. What? That’s not true. You obviously didn’t get the point. Looks like you miser the point. You’re not gonna convince a non-Muslim audience about the harms of lgbt in light of Islamic ethics.

    3. Of course you can convince a non-Muslim of the evils of same-sex lifestyle! I do it all the time giving public dawah in North America. This is the submissive, brainwashed and defeatist mentality of liberal Muslims that’s at the heart of such compromises and subjugation.

      Why can’t you can ally with like-minded religious conservatives on these issues to make changes to the constitution and legislation? Don’t you see the abortion ruling that just passed?

      If you WANT to reform Islam to fit the modern, secular, liberal world order, then sure, you can do that. But don’t say that “Muslims” don’t have a choice, as minorities or as majorities, in the West or elsewhere.

      Muslims always have a choice: we will always choose the Qur’an and Sunnah. Always.

      1. Really? You convince non-Muslims that lgbt is wrong because Allah and his messenger ﷺ say so?

        Anyway this is a digression from my point about the DH fanboy scholars which is that they’ve done absolutely nothing to combat the lgbt movement.

  2. Nice job explaining that what is missing from the statement and it’s complacency as the critical flaw. This is a deceptive piece that leads to enforcement of the status quo while the damn is already broken and water is bursting forth. The only thing you have missed is a discussion of the role of hijrah with your children and dignity. Islam is not a gamblers religion, and pew poll after poll prove western Muslims are gambling. Imagine, a tiny bit of protective concern about our brothers who are on the receiving end of american brutality would have protected those who remove themselves from such a sick environment, but who of the western muslims is willing to sacrifice their materialism for the blood of a brother? The so called ulama in the west almost burst a capillary in their eyes when hijrah is merely suggested. When did any one of them mention the ethical problem of donating your presence and taxes to a criminal regime? Imagine what any of the salaf would accuse them of!

  3. Thank you for this article,
    I am a Muslim still struggling with same sex attraction, while I agree with the statement I hope the next step is that for the community to help struggling people like me overcome this sin.

  4. Asalam Alaykum,

    jazakAllahu khairan for writing this. I used to take the perspective that strategy and being pragmatic meant we couldn’t be open about these things or hardliners. I then learned that to progressives, simply affirming our theology made us hardliners and facists. Maybe a softer tactic would’ve worked two decades ago. In today’s America, it does not, and our younger generation has grown up subsumed by the confusion and our neglect. My own family members are in school being taught to believe in the morality of same sex marriage and self-identification. Meanwhile, our some of our community leaders are busy talking about other issues, at the cost of our aqidah. The Muslim laity deserve to not be coddled and be guided directly and sincerely on these issues.

Leave a Reply