The War on Modern Intellectualism: Sh. TJ Winters and Stephen Hawkins
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ ,
Two recent events have called into question the delimitations of academic freedom in the ‘free world‘. Western educational institutions have always lauded themselves on being the bastions of modern intellectual thought, rationalism and research. Yet, there seems to be some sort of a ‘morality mob‘ or ‘political oligarchy‘ being practised within these institutions. For those who are unaware:
1. Sh. Abdal Hakim Murad (TJ Winters) was put to task for statements he made several years ago on homosexuality.
2. Dr. Stephen Hawkins was vilified for boycotting an Israeli academic seminar due to Israeli apartheid.
Why is there a need for Sh. Abdal Hakim Murad to be sacked for statements he made years ago? One anti-Islamic ignorant, Douglas Murray of The Spectator called the Shaykh’s statements bigoted, “Students, LGBT groups, unions – everyone wanting to make a stand against bigotry – would be screaming about this.” As far as I am aware, the Shaykh did not call for violence, abuse, hatred of, or mockery of homosexuals. He merely expressed his academic opinion on why he disagreed with homosexuality:
‘Stretch your imagination as you might, you cannot conceive of any abuse of the form which Allah has given human beings which is more extreme, more blasphemous, a denial of its manifest created purpose than the crime of the people of Lut.’
Where in this was a call for violence, hatred or abuse? Nowhere. In any culture, we have a standard of living referred to as norms and values. Academically speaking, it should be considered an ‘expected’ act of intellectualism, to challenge modern day norms and values. The Shaykh and Professor (by right of his educational standards) did no wrong by bringing into question the legitimacy of homosexuality as something which is ethical and moral in light of his religious beliefs. Moreso, his beliefs were not expressed on the Cambridge University’s platform, but on a religious platform, in which ethics and morality are bound to be discussed. Therefore, on what grounds are the Shaykh’s statements bigoted? They are obviously not. If the Shaykh had perhaps said that homosexuals should be banned from his classes, or refused the right to be educated, then perhaps then I can understand the furor, but for merely shunning a sexual act he considers to be gross abuse, I do not understand the outcry. If he were to have said that ‘incest was blasphemous‘, would there have been the same outcry? The same crusade against him? That in itself is also a sexual act which by today’s norms and values are okay in some parts of the world, but because the Shaykh disagrees with such an act, does he deserve to be persecuted? Rather, it is bigoted and spiteful to call for his sacking because he has voiced his opinion on a contentious matter. It is bigoted to want to have someone fired because they do not share your views or accept your personal code of ethics and morals. Britain’s Muslim Debate Initiative’s Br. Abdullah al Andalusi’s article is also a quite revealing read on the topic.
Another popular academic, Dr. Stephen Hawkin faced a mountain of abuse and mockery because he decided to join the boycott of the apartheid state of Israel. In a public letter, he stated:
The Palestinian Solidarity Campaign later released the full letter from Hawking to conference organisers, which read: “I accepted the invitation to the Presidential Conference with the intention that this would not only allow me to express my opinion on the prospects for a peace settlement but also because it would allow me to lecture on the West Bank.
“However, I have received a number of emails from Palestinian academics. They are unanimous that I should respect the boycott. In view of this, I must withdraw from the conference. Had I attended, I would have stated my opinion that the policy of the present Israeli government is likely to lead to disaster.”
According to several tweets via the social media website, Twitter, Dr. Hawkin was mocked about his illness which has crippled him for some time. The Huffington Post (UK) says on this issue, “Some of the ugliest responses to the boycott came on social media, with several accusing Hawking’s singling out of Israel for boycott as “anti-Semitism” and making distasteful comments about his disability.” One person even tweeted: “Just die Stephen Hawking #team #Israel.” You can view the abusive tweets via images on the Huffington Post’s website. When does it become acceptable and okay for abuse towards an academic because he does not share prevailing political views? If governments were to punish academics because of their political views, wouldn’t this be intellectual barbarism akin to the violent suppression of the Catholic Church towards European enlightenment? On what grounds is it okay that an academic cannot express his right to disagree with the violent, apartheid, inhumane actions of the Israeli government? Dr. Hawkin made no reference to the ethnicity of the Israeli people or to their religion, therefore why the cries of anti-Semitism? I do not hold it to be ‘anti-Semitism‘ when a secular government, consisting of European migrants is the antagonist.
Where does this leave us? Have the bastions of modern intellectual thought fallen prey to their own dogmatic and popular cultural prowess? Surely, none of the statements of either the Shaykh or the Prof. are bigoted in any manner, however the statements directed towards these two individuals because they do not succumb to the views of a few, cannot be tolerated. Such intellectual bullying, harassment and abuse are perhaps signs of a rising political-cultural oligarchy overcoming the field of contemporary academia.
wa Allaahu ‘Alam.
The interesting thing is that Hawkings is an atheist just like the rest of so-called “rational and enlightened academics” and yet that did not protect him from the subsequent furor. With respect to Shaykh Winters, well, when Islam is concerned, bigotry has new definitions for many people.