Saturday, December 26, 2009

COMMENT/MEDIA: On Afroz Ali, Saudi qualifications & the ABC Compass Progam cont ...

Readers may recall this post regarding "imam" Afroz Ali's appearance on the Compass program on ABCTV in 2007.

Yours trully contacted the Compass program and there was some exchange of correspondence which I will reproduce here. The initial contact was as follows:

2 December 2007

G'day,

I occasionally write for various places (including NewMatilda.com). I noticed that in a recent edition of the Compass program, the following was said ...

Imam Afroz Ali is founding president of the Al-Ghazzali Centre for Islamic Sciences and Human Development in Sydney’s south-west. Imam Ali has qualifications from Saudi Arabia and he’s studied in other significant centres of Islamic learning. At the Al Ghazzali Centre he teaches Islamic sciences, jurisprudence, ethics and corporate citizenship.

Can you please advise as to where you obtained this information from. Was it provided to you by Mr Ali and/or someone from the Al Ghazzali Centre? Did Mr Ali advise you of which qualifications he completed in Saudi Arabia?

Regards
Irfan Yusuf


I have received a response from Sharon Connolly, the Story Editor, as follows:

6 December 2007

Dear Irfan,

Many thanks for your inquiry about the Compass program One Vote, Which Values.

Information about Imam Ali and his qualifications was provided firstly by Imam Ali himself in an interview with Compass producer Peter Kirkwood published in Tomorrow’s Islam, G.Doogue & P. Kirkwood, ABC Books, 2005, and from information provided on the Al Ghazzali Centre website last August (unfortunately the site seems to be under reconstruction at present).

My understanding is that Imam Ali has studied in a number of centres, including Saudi Arabia, the US, Yemen, Mauritania and, most recently, at Al-Azhar University in Egypt.

Whilst I am not aware of which of his qualifications come from Saudi Arabia , I understand that Imam Ali is qualified to teach in various Islamic Sciences.

Please let me know if I can be of further assistance,

Sharon Connolly
Story Editor


I responded to Ms Connolly as follows:

5 December 2007

Dear Sharon,

Thank you for your response.

Did Mr Ali state that he had obtained a university degree from Saudi Arabia? Did he mention any specific university from which he graduated? Did he provide the year of graduation and the specific degree he obtained? Did he advise if the degree was an undergraduate or postgraduate qualification?

Regards
Irfan Yusuf


Ms Connolly responded as follows:

6 December 2007

Dear Irfan,

I am afraid that both you and Imam Ali have now alerted me to an inaccuracy in the narration for One Vote, Which Values.

In response to your email yesterday I was about to revisit the research files for the program this morning when I received an email from Imam Ali. He is currently in Cairo and though I have sent him a DVD copy of the program he has not yet received it. However as you’ll see in his message (the relevant passage of which I have copied below), Imam Ali has read the transcript of the program on the Compass website.

Imam Ali’s clarification is as follows:

Also, just as a quick note for your records, in the intro part of the transcript i was introduces as holding "qualifications" from Saudi Arabia . I just want to clarify that whilst i have studied in Islamic University, Madina, I did not complete my studies (due to a Wahhabist leaning of the teaching when I was there), nor do I reallu rely on that knowledge base. My qualifications as an Imam comes from Traditional source of one-on-one with Scholars. Just for future reference, if you need me for an interview again!!!!

I regret that there appears to have been a misunderstanding on my part, and hope that the above information clarifies the position.

Yours sincerely,
Sharon Connolly
Story Editor,
Compass


What a strange coincidence. Anyway, more questions were put to Ms Connolly.

6 December 2007

Dear Sharon,

Thank you for that. I would still be interested to know if at any stage Mr Ali did represent to you or anyone else that he had completed a degree or other qualification.

It is a representation that has been made in the past. For instance, in 2005 in New Zealand ...http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0506/S00251.htm

... Mr. Afroz Ali of Sydney, also well versed in inter-religious matters, holding degrees in Islamic Studies and Shari'ah from Islamic University, Madina, Saudi Arabia, thereafter continuing through traditional Islamic learning styles under scholars such as Shaykh Hamza Yusuf of the United States, Shaykh Salik bin Siddina and Shaykh Murabtal Hajj of Mauritania.

... and at the University of Western Sydney in 2004 ...

Mr Ali graduated in Islamic Studies - Sharia after studying in Islamic University, Madina Saudi Arabia ...

This shows the problems arising from the absence of a proper system of accreditation of imams. Perhaps an idea for a future episode?

Regards
Irfan Yusuf


Ms Connolly responded:

6 December 2007

Dear Irfan,

I haven’t myself seen a description of Imam Ali’s qualifications like those that you quote. I think my ideas about his qualifications came from the program researcher’s notes which say that he is a “qualified Imam” and that he “received licence to teach in various Islamic Sciences.” Those notes contain no more specifics about the qualifications, simply a list of countries (not universities) in which he studied.

I have been unable to contact the researcher concerned as she is no longer working with the ABC. However I understand that her information came from the sources I mentioned to you in an earlier email; basically the Al Ghazzali centre website, Tomorrow’s Islam and from discussion with Imam Ali.

There is however nothing in the material I have revisited to suggest that Imam Ali has misrepresented the case; rather I have erred (as his email points out) in suggesting that he has qualifications from Saudi Arabia. As I said earlier, I think this is a case of misunderstanding on my part.

I agree with you that - to the uninitiated at least - the system for conferring qualifications upon Imams is not perhaps as clear as for some other denominations, and have mentioned your program idea to the Compass Executive Producer.

Regards,
Sharon Connolly
Story Editor,
Compass

Perhaps the contents of these e-mails can be discussed separately.



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5 comments:

Kal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kal said...

Brother Irfan,

I am not sure what your obsession with Imam Afroz is, but you are only bringing detriment to yourself by trying to discredit him. I have had discussions with Imam Afroz and he has been clear that he discontinued his studies at the University of Madinah. Do you have any evidence that he ever tried to represent otherwise?

An upright Muslim never brings an accusation against another person without producing solid evidence, and calling Imam Afroz a fraud is a very serious allegation. Considering that everything that he teaches (and his actions) are all in accordance with Islam, I find it hard to believe that there is any truth in what you say.

Fortunately no one with an ounce of intelligence would take advice from you in matters of the deen.

As far as I can see your allegations of fraud is as Rumi says;

"Many of the faults you see in others, dear reader, are your own nature reflected in them."

If you want to do justice to the Muslim community, first work on yourself rather than criticising others. Think about the impact your words, actions and appearance have on others perception of Islam.

Develop your own character, work on defeating your ego and then perhaps you can put something positive back in to the Muslim community. Maybe you can learn from Imam Afroz on how this can be achieved.

"Fight against the ego with the four swords of training: eat little, sleep little, speak little, and be patient when people harm you. Then the ego will walk the paths of obedience, like a fleeting horseman in the field of battle." (Yahya ibn Mu'adh al Razi)

With Peace,

Kal

Anonymous said...

I know of one thing- I have sat with with both these men: Irfan and Imam Afroz. And I know I know to be a genuine man of Understanding of the Deen - Imam Afroz. It is his courage, humility and patience that is evident in almost everything he does that stops people like him to slap people like Irfan out of their rudeness and silly ego trips.

I just spent 4 days at an International Deen Intensive in Adelaide where Imam Afroz taught alongside Shaykh Faraz Rabbani and Shaykh Yahya Rhodus. Everything Imam Afroz said and taught was echoed by the other two Mashayekh, and he was teaching directly from the Classical Arabic texts. His classes were of the highest standards, and for me personally the most practical and useful of three teachers at the retreat. He is one of the most knowledgeable people I have learnt from only in four days, and I have been learning Islamic sciences at very many places including Daar Aisha.

Imam Afroz refused for people to stand up for him, and he actually served people and was constantly concerned for all attendees- a clear sign of great character. We all may have had shortcomings in the past, but, as Imam Shafi'i has said that the measure of a person is today, not yesterday or tomorrow.

Irfan, you need to take a hard look at yourself, because it was your poisonous articles that actually stopped me for years to go to Imam Afroz's classes. I am thankful to Allah that I finally went to the Retreat and now I know from first-hand experience that he is from amongst the scholars of today, and we should be proud and happy that he is from Australia and is able to match the teaching standards to the international scholars.

Irfan, you are collecting so much of sayyi'aat and you should really stop, and spend all this time looking at yourself before it is too late for you with Allah. I pray you have the courage to take good advice and turn away from that which is hated by Allah.

Samad

Irf said...

"I have had discussions with Imam Afroz and he has been clear that he discontinued his studies at the University of Madinah. Do you have any evidence that he ever tried to represent otherwise?"

=> Read other posts on this blog and you will see for yourself.

"An upright Muslim never brings an accusation against another person without producing solid evidence, and calling Imam Afroz a fraud is a very serious allegation."

=> It is, but it was made by a court of law after hearing evidence and after giving Afroz a chance of defending himself.

"Considering that everything that he teaches (and his actions) are all in accordance with Islam, I find it hard to believe that there is any truth in what you say."

=> Are you saying he is perfect? Does he teach you that all his actions reflect Islam? Strange.

"Fortunately no one with an ounce of intelligence would take advice from you in matters of the deen."

I don't volunteer such advice. I have in the past, but that was with the guidance of qualified scholars. And unlike some, I never charged a red cent. I do, however, sometimes charge for legal advice. Though I have qualifications and a practising certificate which allows me to do this. I can show it to you if you like. Good luck if your pseudo-imam does the same if you ask him.

"If you want to do justice to the Muslim community, first work on yourself rather than criticising others. Think about the impact your words, actions and appearance have on others perception of Islam."

=> I don't know who you are or how old you are (though if you are a member of the Afrozite cult, my guess is that you are under 24), but I think Islam is not served by unqualified persons with a track record of fraud representing the classical tradition. Still, I could be wrong.

"Develop your own character, work on defeating your ego and then perhaps you can put something positive back in to the Muslim community. Maybe you can learn from Imam Afroz on how this can be achieved."

=> I'd rather learn from someone with ijaza to teach the sciences of sulook and tasawwuf. Afroz is not such a person.

Irf said...

"I have been learning Islamic sciences at very many places including Daar Aisha."

You clearly did not learn much there. Shaykh Abdul Muiz is far more qualified than Afroz. If you benefitted from your stay at the Deen Intensive, it must have been because of the suhbah of people like Yahya Rhodus and Faraz Rabbani.

"Irfan, you are collecting so much of sayyi'aat and you should really stop, and spend all this time looking at yourself before it is too late for you with Allah."

=> I see a danger and I am warning people of it. Many people much more qualified than me can see the same danger. If you cannot see it, that is not my problem.

=> Ask yourself this: If you had to have heart surgery and you had suspicions about the qualifications and claims of the surgeon, would you go ahead with the surgery? Or would you judge by the fact that a small number of genuine surgeons are happy to be seen with him for reasons best known to them? Why do you treat your physical health as more important than your spiritual health?