In all honesty, I did not want to write on the banal, stereotypical, anti-Muslim, “Halal hysteria”. There has already been a cogent piece written on this topic which deserves a read.
The thing is when something like this becomes current again you wonder what runs through the minds of neocons, liberals and anti-Muslim hate-mongers. Really. It has happened before. And it is only convenient (for the neocons and the right-wing extremists), to regurgitate the same. This time around the Sun sensationally claimed that chickens are slaughtered alive! Even Russell Brand picked up on the inherent prejudiced attack on the Muslim minority. As per the neocon demonisation formula, a report about food chains “secretly” feeding halal meat to the unsuspecting public is revealed. Perhaps a few reports by apologetic Muslims who do not follow Islam is published stating that they have no real concern about eating halal food.
The “Devout Muslim Scholar”!
And then you have the “devout Muslim scholar”, Taj Hargey. When a “devout Muslim” feels the need to express his (unqualified) opinion in the diatribe-churning, neocon-serving Daily Mail which produces less news and more Goebells-inspired war propaganda, then his credibility will come in for some serious scrutiny. He has of course attacked Muslims before. For instance, he called the niqab and burka a “cultural monstrosity”, calling for it to be banned.
Another reason for me necessitating the placing of my fingers to keyboard is the gratuitous maligning of the Muslim minority and Islam through Hargey’s deviousness. Had Taj Hargey, instead of misleading his readers to the false notion that he is a “devout Muslim scholar”, clearly highlighted that he does not represent normative Islamic thought and instead represents a fringe group then certainly, it would have been more honest of him. That is not the case.
In his addition to the plethora of reports on the halal media hyper-stupidity, he deviously links the choice made by companies to offer halal meat with “covert religious extremism and creeping Islamic fundamentalism making its way into Britain by the back door.” He further goes on to malign in essence, a large majority of the normative Islamic communities:
“Three of the main fundamentalist Muslim sects — the Wahhabi fanatics in Saudi Arabia, the Salafi extremists of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and the Deobandi zealots from India-Pakistan — are foisting their fabricated notions about it down our collective throats.”
Deceptively, he has associated these three groups to “extremism”. Adding sinister adjectives to groups does not negate the fact these very groups represent a large part of the Muslim minority. Hargey is lying when he associates “Salafis” with the Muslim brotherhood – a point which further accentuates when we realise that the Saudis, in accordance with their government approved scholars are supporting Sisi in Egypt against the Muslim brotherhood. The brotherhood consist of many theologically differing groups including Sufis. In fact the founder of the movement, Imam Hassan al-Banna (rahimahullah) was a Sufi! The Deobandis follow the Hanafi school of thought and are also Sufis. Hargey’s unscrupulousness is most evident here.
Onwards, he commences his attack on the entire theological basis of Islam and proceeds to lie. He continues:
“The Hadith consists of the reputed sayings of the Prophet Mohammad, only compiled some 300 years after his death, and it is replete with gross contradictions and anti-Koranic statements. We all know about Chinese whispers, and how anything can be unintentionally distorted as it goes from mouth to mouth through the generations. It’s inevitable that when words are transcribed into writing 300 years later, all kinds of differences, deviations and embellishments arise.”
Imagine statutes without competent judges who have spent years learning the various rules of interpretation and common law to help elucidate the meanings of the sections. There would be complete anarchy in both law and society.
In order to discredit mainstream Islamic thought he further exaggerates his claims. The Hadith were categorically not compiled 300 years after his death. In Islam the two primary sources of law have always been the Qur’an and the complimentary, elucidatory Sunnah (the sayings and actions of the Prophet (peace be upon him)). The Muslims the world over have taken their guidance through the four systematised jurisprudential schools of thought (and other defunct schools which preceded them) and all four have taken the Hadith as the secondary source of Islamic law. Imam Abu Hanifa (rahimahulla), the earliest of the four Imams of the schools, died in 149AH. He left a collection of Hadiths entitled Kitaab al-Athar. Around that time Imam Malik (rahimahulla) (d.179AH), the founder of the Maliki school, also wrote the well-known Hadith collection al-Muwatta. Systematised collections of hadith already existed approximately a century after the death of the Prophet. The recording of sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in fact occurred during his life. One of the most prolific narrators of Hadith is Abu Hurayra (radhiyAllah ‘anhu), a close Companion of the Prophet (may peace be upon him). He would sit down and record the hadith narrations and actions with the approval of the Prophet (may peace be upon him). (Bukhari, (1998) Sahih Al-Bukhari, [Chapter: (what is said) regarding the memorisation of the (religious knowledge)], Hadith #119 and 120 (Karachi: Darul-Ishaat) p.106-7)).
The transmission of the narrations has been meticulously recorded. Imam Bukhari, the author of the most authentic hadith collection refused to take a hadith from a man who hung food over the head of animal which was working the land (see here an extremely short summary of Imam Bukhari’s criteria in accepting a narration). The method of transferring the knowledge of hadith is in fact the same as transmitting the Qur’an. Thus to reject the mutawatir hadith (a narration which has been narrator through so many narrators it is impossible to deny) for instance, which have been transmitted through the same means, is to cast doubt upon the infallibility of the Qur’an.
Clearly the “devout” scholars’s “intellectualism” runs only Dail Mail deep.
Conman Hargey’s Sycophantic Reality
In 1989 he sold a dream to American students of starting up a newspaper about apartheid, head quartered in South Africa. He told the students that he was a professor at the University of Cape Town, something later which, after being exposed he admitted to being a lie. He then conned the money from various sources including the students, promising them an “educational” trip. After being exposed his little support group made of students abandoned him. His various claims, lies and swindling can be seen in the original newspaper report here, here and here.
Not exactly the most trustworthy person then.
There is a further explanation to his intellectual dishonesty and lies regarding the hadith, and his excessive sycophancy with the policy of the current neocon, imperialistic government. Taj Hargey came from a family of Qadiyanis (a small heretical sect which rejects the second source of Islamic law and denies the finality of the prophethood of Prophet – a fundamental aspect of the Islamic faith). During the 80s Hargey was an ardent Qadiyani in South Africa’s Cape Town, where he owned a shop pumping out Qadiyani literature. His deceitful projection as a “devout Muslim scholar” and “intellectual” which neatly sits with the neocon and far-right agenda of increasing the hatred against normative Islam and the majority of the Muslims, is thus explained.
The founder of the Qadiyani sect, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiyani, who believed himself to be Mary at one point, supported the British colonialists in his writings against the various revolutionary groups who sought to de-shackle themselves from the abuse of their lands and the economic pillaging of their resources. In a letter to the colonialist appointed Lieutenant Governor of Punjab he wrote,
“I beseech and hope from the exalted Government that they protect the family which has proven through fifty years of extreme faithfulness and sincerity that it is most loyal to the Government and ready to make sacrifices… So, this Government should be mindful when dealing with its own self-implanted seedling, with due attention, and should order its officers to take into consideration the devoted services of this family and give preferential and sympathetic consideration to me and my followers.” (Tabligh-e-Risalat, Vol. 7, P. 19)
He regarded himself as the amulet and citadel to protect the English government from afflictions. God had apparently given him glad-tidings that He would not chastise the English as long as he was among them (Nur al-Haq 1894, p.34).
Whether Hargey still accepts himself as a Qadiyani is something to be confirmed, however his tirade against classical Islam and all of Muslims around the world strongly indicates that he has not left his roots. His excessive sycophancy in proving his “British-ness” whilst attacking Muslims also mirrors his leader’s behaviour.
Islam is not a faith which can be tampered with abandon. The arrogant, pseudo-intellectualism of Taj Hargey and his blatant lies with the smearing of a faith which reverberates in the hearts over a billion Muslims will not harm Islam, nor its followers. A pebble does not affect a mountain.