Shaykhs in the Service of Imperialism

Developing Just Leadership

Salina Khan

Sha'ban 15, 1439 2018-05-01


by Salina Khan (Opinion, Crescent International Vol. 47, No. 3, Sha'ban, 1439)

If popular Islamic lecturers can get banned and even imprisoned for alleged sexual misconduct, why do “shaykhs” who sell their souls by peddling imperialist wars continue to get away with murder?

President Donald Trump attacked Syria again (April 13), and some Muslims are celebrating. Even in the cacophony of Muslim war cries, one voice has been consistently the loudest and steadiest in pushing for regime-change by hook or by crook in Syria for the past seven years. This person is an Islamic “scholar” with a huge celebrity-like status among the Muslim masses in America. He has 231,000 followers on Twitter and 1.2 million likes on Facebook. He has a vast “sphere of influence” to say the least.

His name is Omar Suleiman — Islamic researcher, associate professor, and imam of a Dallas masjid. He is also the “poster” scholar for Syria in the United States, leading humanitarian trips to refugee camps at the Syrian border, delivering webinars on the “Children of Syria,” and posting prolifically about developments in the war-torn country. In fact, he was voted Islam’s most recent “Muslim Celebrity of the Year” for “his selfless efforts to raise awareness of all of those suffering around us.”

But it is time to expose Muslim leaders like “Shaykh” Suleiman who seem “woke,” but in reality serve as the US empire’s gatekeepers, misdirecting rising social activism toward actions that are useless, low priority, or worse, detrimental to the cause.

The destruction of Syria was planned before September 11, 2001, and put into action in March 2011 when the US and its allies armed insurgents to take down President Bashar al-Asad, an independent ruler and key supporter of the Palestinian resistance. When al-Asad fought back to protect Syria from being run over by terrorists as were Iraq and Libya, the US establishment branded him a “butcher” that “must go.”

In this age of deception, Muslims need scholars with political insight and courage to see through such manipulations and protect their followers from falling into enemy traps as they all move toward social justice. “Shaykh” Suleiman is not one of those scholars.

As a study of his Facebook posts from 2011–2018 reveals, he takes a page out of the script of Western warlords when it comes to Syria. Like the mainstream media, he promotes foreign-backed armed rebellion in Syria and when the government fights back, he accuses al-Asad of being a “murderer.” Then he grabs people’s interest by highlighting stories, articles, and photographs of Syrian children tragically suffering in the crossfire. With emotions high and people ready to help, he offers solutions aligned with imperialist policies in a one-two punch.

The following excerpts (in italics) come from Shaykh Suleiman’s Facebook page (my comments follow each of his posts):

August 22, 2011: “Every dog has its day... Allahu Akbar Wa Lillahil Hamd... Words cannot express how happy I am for the people of Libya! [Syrian President] Bashar Youre [sic] next inshAllah!” Libya became a failed state and terrorist haven after the NATO killing of Muammar al-Qadhdhafi. Had Shaykh Suleiman’s du‘a’s been accepted, Syria would be one today, too.

February 7, 2012: Suleiman posts a link to a video by Saudi Shaykh Muhammad al-‘Arifi (later banned by European countries for promoting jihad in Syria) in which the latter says, “I appeal to everyone who belongs to his army not to cooperate with him in his oppression. I appeal to everyone here to join the Free Syria[n] Army. I appeal to everyone free in Syria to rebel against this cruel evil regime. If he asks for help from the Persian, Shia, the traitors, the villains and ask victory from Hizb al-Lat, we ask victory from Allah.” This video calls for treason, armed rebellion, and sectarianism, a recipe for death and destruction in Syria.

February 29, 2012: “Please take a few mins to do this [sign a petition asking US Congress to call for al-Asad to step down as well as support Friends of Syria arming groups to overthrow the Syrian government].” With friends like these, who needs enemies? The US government (police) kills its own people daily but Suleiman neither calls for Trump to step down nor supports arming protestors to overthrow him. Why did he do so in Syria?

Aug 29 2012: “…if anyone has any doubts that this man [al-Asad] is a pharaoh, watch this video [“Shirk of the Syrian Alawi religion/regime ‘Asad is Our Lord. We will push Allah into a corner’”]. Why blame al-Asad for the extreme views of certain followers? This serves no purpose other than causing divisions and inciting hatred (and violence) against al-Asad and minorities.

June 17, 2013: “If we spent more time invoking the Creator to make things easy for the people of Syria rather than writing long comments on the politics of Syria, it would be time better spent. We need to…stop ourselves from indulging in all of the conspiracy theories.” By 2013, people were waking up to the lies being told about Syria and were commenting so on his posts. Instead of encouraging critical analysis, Suleiman shut down their “conspiracy theories” by telling them to make more supplications (a typical retreat for “scholars whose political parochialism has been exposed)!

Aug 23, 2014: “It’s pretty apparent that Syrian forces tolerated the rise of #ISIS in a bid to divide the rebels and scare off wary Western supporters.” Two years later, however, Suleiman had no qualms propagating his own bizarre conspiracy theory, adding to his followers’ confusion.

April 10, 2016: In a speech titled “What will you do for Syria?” Suleiman urges his followers to support a proposed US-led no-fly zone — an act of war and a risk of a nuclear showdown with Russia — that would have required 70,000 soldiers to enforce. Luckily, it did not fly.

Aug 15, 2017: “Aminah is 6 months old and has to sleep in a ‘bassinet’ hung above the floor to protect her from snakes and scorpions. She also suffers from kidney stones and lives nowhere near a doctor to get checkups or treatment.” This is sad but an obvious consequence when the Syrian government is forced to fight the invasion of Western-backed terrorists from 80 countries. Yet…

April 17, 2017: “I am willing to admit that I am conflicted about the [US] airstrikes [against Syria] last night.” Wait, I thought you were a champion of Syrian children?

April 13, 2018: “Oh Allah, protect all of those beautiful innocent children in Syria from the forces of evil, whoever they may be. Guard them from the falling bombs, whoever may be dropping them.” Ameen! But no condemnation of the 103 US missiles launched at Syria that day?

Revealing comments under Shaykh Suleiman’s posts reveal that more and more of his followers are on to him. Here are two comments made on his post after Trump’s latest missile attack,

Sometimes this is a hypocritical prayer [“Oh Allah, protect all of those beautiful innocent children of Syria”]…because we supported the US in making up claims (without clear evidence) about Assad “the butcher” and propelled the satanic armies forward into Syria… now we want to pray for Syria.

Sheikh, Just Duas are not going to work… We should unite with our Shia brothers whatever maybe our [exploit-able] differences.

Shaykhs who provide religious cover to harness public support for imperialist plots and destruction of Muslim countries should be stripped of their leadership roles and charged for war crimes. They are, in fact, part of the “forces of evil” from which the “beautiful innocent children of Syria” must be protected.

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