Sunday, February 01, 2009

COMMENT: How to become an "renowned international scholar" ...

Well, it looks like our Maulana Afroz Ali has moved up in the world. His Al-Ghazali Centre is organising a retreat in Christchurch, New Zealand which he describes as the "Inaugural International Deen Intensive".

That's right. This is the very first time in the world that anyone has ever organised a Deen Intensive. It is a world-first. No one has ever held a Deen Intensive before. Anyone who claims to have held a Deen Intensive in the United Kingdom or North America is just lying.

But it gets better. This Deen Intensive is not only the first to be held anywhere this side of the galaxy. It is also to include classes from ...

... two renowned international scholars ...

... among them ...
... Imam Afroz Ali from Al-Ghazzali Centre based in Sydney, Australia.

And who is the other renowned international scholar? Why none other than Usama Canon of the Zaytuna Institute. Indeed, the actual flyer lists the name of "Shaykh Afroz Ali" above that of "Shaykh Usama Canon".

So is this the first Deen Intensive to be held anywhere in the world? Well, not quite. But you have to read all the way down to the bottom of the page to realise this.
This program is the first of its kind for Australia-Pacific and should not be missed, and is part of a formal ongoing collaboration between Zaytuna Institute and Al-Ghazzali Centre.

Is this the same Zaytuna Institute where Ayatullah Afroz Ali claims is currently home to his numerous ijaza documents? The same Zaytuna Institute some of whose personnel inform yours truly that they do not keep ijaza documents for anyone, let alone Mufti Afroz Ali?

If you go to the Nawawi Center (sic.) of Christchurch website, you will find some carefully written and rather restrained biographical information for Usama Canon taken straight from the Zaytuna Institute website. There is also the updated biography of Fadhilat ash-Shaykh Afroz Ali, written in characteristically unrestrained language with plenty of clumsy hyperbole.

And what a glowing bio it is! You will see Professor Afroz Ali has become, amongst other things:
... a qualified Imam in the Islamic Tradition, having studied under Traditional Islam and received licence to teach in various Islamic Sciences.
So Hujjat al-Islam Afroz Ali has studied "under Traditional Islam". And what is this "Traditional Islam"? Is it the name of a teaching methodology? An institution? A university? Kiai Afroz Ali says he has received license to teach in various "Islamic Sciences". Which "Islamic Sciences" is Maulay Afroz permitted to teach? Is Molvi Afroz permitted to teach entire sciences? Or parts of sciences? Or certain books? Or parts of books? Will Shaykh al-Islam Afroz's teaching at the Deen Intensive be limited to these particular "Islamic Sciences"?

Mullah Afroz then repeats his mantra about how he studied at the Islamic University of Madina, leaving vague exactly what studies he did and/or what level of study he achieved. And so we read that Shaykh al-Hadith Afroz's ...
... studies have taken him from university-based Islamic University- Madina, Saudi Arabia ...

... before he moved on from his university studies onto ...
... Traditional Scholarship in Yemen, United States and Mauritania, where he has spent considerable time to learn from the most esteemed Rightly Guided Islamic Scholars of our time.

Considerable time? How long? Days? Months? Years? Did Dr Afroz spend time listening and learning in the presence of these scholars? Did the Reverend Dr Afroz download their lectures onto his iPod and listen to them whilst bushwalking? And who were these scholars? What did they teach Sayyidina Afroz? What made Khwajaji Afroz convinced that these were "Rightly Guided Islamic Scholars"? What makes a scholar "Rightly Guided"?

Still, it gets better.

He has also travelled to Cairo, Egypt for further studies in Islamic Jurisprudence with Scholars at al-Azhar University ...

In which areas of Islamic Jurisprudence? In which schools of Islamic law? For how long? When? What qualifications, if any, did Allama Afroz achieve?

The claims become even more hysterical ...
He has presented lectures, workshops and training programs worldwide, including Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, United States, The Emirates, Egypt, China, Japan and Denmark.

Pfft. Did Rais al-Ulama Afroz send a video message? Was Chairman Afroz in China at the same time as Haji Noor Deen Mi Guang Jiang?

But wait, there's more ...
He lectures around the world on Islamic Jurisprudence, Spirituality, Ecological Wellbeing, Ethical Rights and Responsibilities, and Personal and Corporate Citizenship.
Around the world? Where around the world? Denmark and Japan and China? Indeed, can someone point out to us one place on the map below where Imam al-Azam Afroz has not taught?

Seriously, I am under-selling myself. I might have to update my biography. I've travelled to Malaysia and Indonesia on Muslim exchange programs funded by DFAT. There I met with various government officials, Muslim religious and social bodies, media, academics, NGO's as well as the odd Aussie diplomat. I had to make a few presentations here and there, including at universities in Yogyakarta, Jakarta and Bandung as well as at a pesantran just outside Jakarta. Perhaps I could say something like this in my biography:
Shaykh Irfan has delivered lectures and workshops at universities and institutes of Islamic learning across Indonesia. He has represented the Australian government in numerous sensitive diplomatic negotiations.

I have delivered two lectures at Macquarie University to students doing Masters in International Relations, not to mention a few bayaans when attending Tablighi Jamaat outings in Australia and Pakistan, including a bayaan in the presence of some scholars from Darul Uloom Karachi. I've also been in jamaats with prominent Indian scholars including the late Maulana Palanpuri. I was even asked to do a bayaan after fajr prayer in 1998 at the masjid in San Bernardo du Campo, a district of Sao Paolo in Brazil (though mainly because the usual bloke who did the bayaan was on holidays and the 3 or 4 people present wanted to brush up on their English). So now my bio can state:

Shaykh Irfan has lectured to scholarly audiences across Australia, Asia and the Americas. He has studied at the feet of some of the world's foremost scholars.

In 1998, I also made bay'ah to a Naqshbandi shaykh who also was authorised to teach in the Chishtiyya, Qadiriyya, Suhrawardiyya, Shadhiliyya, Kubrawiyya and Mawlawiyya traditions of Islamic spirituality. That shaykh (through one of his students, a respected Melbourne imam) also taught me how to perform a daily wird (set of furmulae for remembrance of God). I guess I can now say in my bio:
Shaykh Irfan is a master of seven sufi turuq [plural of tariqa, I think], having learned at the feet of masters of all these Islamic spiritual traditions.

You can find this updated extended stretched and exagerrated biography of Molvi Afroz Ali at the website of the Auckland-based Rasheed Memorial Trust here. Now doubt the trustees of that organisation (among them a young barrister) will have verified the information provided to them by Hujjat al-Islam Afroz, including his claim to have received from some unnamed organisation or body:
... the International Ambassador for Peace award.

Words © 2009 Irfan Yusuf

Bookmark this on Delicious


Get Flocked

Stumble Upon Toolbar