“And that when you judge between people you judge with justice.” (Qur’an 4:58)
The Pre Debate Chaos.
First, there is one thing that needs to be absolutely clear. Asrar Rashid and Nahiem Ajmal did not have a debate. Anyone who thinks they had a debate is really out to lunch.
To my understanding, Shaykh Asrar Rashid challenged Nahiem Ajmal to a public debate on the issue of the descent of Nabi ‘Isa at the end of times.
Shaykh Asrar Rashid has done such public debates in the past with Shaykh Atabek and Ustadh Abdul Rahman. I watched both debates and I felt they were well conducted.
Personally, I think that this type of format is exactly what Nahiem Ajmal wants to avoid at all costs. If anything this exchange proved beyond a shadow of a doubt Shaykh Asrar Rashid’s position of having a public formal debate.
This type of setting, which is chaotic, where one side cannot give a cogent thought, constant interruptions, no cross-examination is a very comfortable environment for Nahiem Ajmal.
It does a few things for people who are followers of his.
It puts his follower’s minds at ease. You see I’m not afraid to meet Asrar Rashid.
Gives a false impression that Nahiem Ajmal can take on anyone.
Gave a false impression that an actual debate took place.
In fact, Nahiem was extremely frustrated throughout this interaction. “Are you going to let me talk.” Even though, when he gets cornered by Asrar Rashid again and again and again, Nahiem becomes evasive and interrupts Shaykh Asrar again and again and again.
I’m going to say something now to the followers of Nahiem Ajmal you will never see Nahiem Ajmal in a public debate like the one’s that Shaykh Asrar has participated in. A debate format like the following for example.
Nahiem Ajmal opening statement: 30 minutes.
Asrar Rashid opening statement 30 minutes.
Naheim Ajmal rebuttal 30 minutes.
Asrar Rashid rebuttal 30 minutes.
Naheim Ajmal cross-examines Asrar Rashid 15 minutes.
Asrar Rashid cross-examines Naheim Ajmal 15 minutes.
Closing statements Nahiem Ajmal 15 minutes.
Closing statements Asrar Rashid 15 minutes.
However, you won’t see Naheim Ajmal in this type of debate setting at all. You will not see him in this type of setting with Shaykh Asrar Rashid, Adnan Rashid, Mohamed Hijab, ever. It is something I am very skeptical of.
If there was something I was very disappointed in concerning Shaykh Asrar was how he was toying with Naheim at least for a good 30 minutes. On the issue of knowing when he is joking or not joking.
In fact, Shaykh Asrar was pedantic at times. I often wondered if he was there to toy around with Nahiem the whole time. He seemed completely relaxed, [did he put his feet up on the couch at one point] ?? As opposed to brother Nahiem who was constantly leaning forward, moving his jewelry around on his arm.
However, there is a side of me that wants to have husnul zann towards Shaykh Asrar. Maybe he was there to poke and prod Naheim a bit to let Naheim save face? Maybe he was there to field a few questions so Naheim could reflect on the fact that he may be out of his depth. It did seem like that at times.
I mean, after all, there was no debate that took place after this exchange. Naheim simply beat a hasty retreat and suggesting that Shaykh Asrar was only capable of having a 19th-century debate. Can you say, “tuck tell?“
Wasn’t he aware of Shaykh Asrar’s style from simply watching his public lectures? Wasn’t he aware of his style from watching his debates with Shaykh Atabek and Ustadh Abdul Rahman?
Again with due respect to Naheim once we peel back the thin veneer, uncovering the pretense, and move beyond the pomposity we simply have from him empty words. It’s unfortunate because it’s possible that most of Naheim’s followers have more confidence in him than he has in himself. Wallahu ‘Alim.
So don’t just think that Shaykh Asrar has a ‘19th-century debate-style‘. The same thing will possibly be said in regards to Mohamed Hijab and or Adnan Rashid and anyone who would like to have a formal debate.
The fact is this type of chaotic ‘discussion‘ was highly favourable to Naheim and he still didn’t fare very well.
If there is one big take away from this discussion it is that Asrar Rashid exposed the most fatal flaw of Naheim Ajmal. Anyone who was to have a formal debate with him in the future can see it. That fatal flaw is epistemology.
It was that very issue that left Naheim visibly shaken every time it was brought up. It is more than fair of Asrar Rashid to bring the issue up and the reason why a formal debate makes sense.
Shaykh Asrar is sensible in that he has these pre-debate discussions so he can understand from his interlocutor what will be admissible as evidence. A person who is afraid to get pinned down during a debate -and is there for the sake of looking good, rather than truth, will be as evasive as possible on this very issue.
For Naheim to say, “Qur’an and Sunnah” were as laughable as it was disingenuous. Does he really think his followers are that naive?
Most of these people who were turned on to Naheim were people who were tired of the simplistic views of, “daawat salafiyyah“. Certainly, they were just as shocked as I was to see him take this particular stance.
And as Asrar teases out of Naheim we find that even this is not the case at all. It’s not simply a matter of ‘Sunnah‘ and Naheim knows better. What is the Sunnah? Do you find the Sunnah in the hadith? What epistemology or methodology do you use to determine what hadiths are acceptable or not?
If we don’t understand a person’s epistemology or what is admissible as evidence than how do you even have a discussion?
The first point that Shaykh Asrar corrected Naheim on concerning the Qur’an.
“And behold! Allah will say: “O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst you say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah’?” He will say: “Glory to You! never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, You would indeed have known it. You know what is in my heart, Though I know not what is in Yours. For you know in full all that is hidden.” (Qur’an 5:116)
Did Naheim really try and say that Jesus is saying here, “I don’t know?” Wow.
Talk about disrespect and dishonor of the Prophet. They don’t know if they told people to commit shirk or not? If Naheim thinks that Shaykh Asrar has elevated Jesus above the Blessed Messenger [saw] than certainly, Naheim has taken Jesus to the bottom of the barrel. Authubillah min dhalik.
at 53 minutes and 09 seconds, Naheim makes the kind of comment that if I was there I would have leaned over put my hand on his shoulder, and said to him, “Naheim is this really about the honour of the prophet?”
Look at the language that Naheim uses: “What you talking about Allah everybody is a believer now?” Wow.
Shaykh Asrar tried to do Naheim a solid at that point by trying to get him to retract such a statement -which at this point cost Naheim the discussion and the debate if there ever was one.
Now while it is correct that Naheim didn’t say, “You don’t know what you’re talking about Allah.” what he said was bad enough.
At that point any supposed moral high ground that brother Naheim thought he had in supposedly defending the status and dignity of the Blessed Messenger [saw] simply crumbled.
Another point that Shaykh Asrar makes with Nahiem.
at 56:24 when discussing the following verse:
“It is knowledge of the Hour; doubt not concerning it, and follow me. This is a straight path.” (Qur’an 43:61)
Shaykh Asrar mentioned that he didn’t say there was ‘ijma concerning the verse and he asked Naheim how can it be a Christian belief if it is a valid interpretation? In other words, Muslims held this belief and they were not Muslims they were Christians.
This provided an opening for Naheim to than explain how it is a Christian belief that crept into Islam. A missed opportunity for sure. Naheim simply offered that it was a Christian belief that crept into Islam, no explanation of how, no genesis, or evolution of how this occurred.
That was also a missed opportunity by Shaykh Asrar who should have pressed him on that point as well.
at 57:03 a rare point of agreement between Shaykh Asrar and Naheim. That when a person makes a statement of the Blessed Messenger [saw] there is a method of authentication. They both agreed.
at 57:50 Naheim makes the point that Bukhari says that the Prophet went to Isra three years before he became a prophet. This Shaykh Asrar did not reply to.
58:20 Shaykh Asrar tries to bring Naheim back to the area that Naheim feels most uncomfortable with-formal debate, epistemology.
“You and me need to agree on the principles of what we are debating.” -Shaykh Asrar says this and you can see Naheim get quite defensive over this.
Again in any debate, it is only sensible to understand the epistemology of one’s opponent. It is only sensible to understand what is and is not admissible as evidence. Why is Naheim so defensive about this?
at 59:00 brother Naheim puts forth a rather queer objection. “To divert this into a mustalah hadith……”
But isn’t Naheim the one who said, “Qur’an and Sunnah” and as he didn’t define what he meant is Shaykh Asrar wrong to seek clarification?
Again, what would be the point of either side bringing up anything if the other side does not accept it as evidence?
at 107:19 Shaykh Asrar mentioned to Naheim that he would prefer to have the discussion in his library, where again Naheim did not seem comfortable with the idea. Shaykh Asrar is simply pointing out that indeed there are terms that are technical that require clarification. Naheim should be aware of this.
As Sadat Anwar has mentioned and something many of Naheim’s followers most likely missed out on is the frequent use of the phrase: “Our Savior Jesus Christ.” -Naheim is careful to use this phrase again and again and again.
As Sadat Anwar pointed out this is a tactic by Naheim to subconsciously equate the Sunni Muslim belief of Nabi ‘Isa return with the Christian/New Testament. Also, Naheim’s use of the term “Our savior” again is a tactic to equate the Christian concept of “savior“.
Even I myself as a Muslim who doesn’t believe that Jesus is coming back I can understand the point Sadat Anwar made about Naheim being strategic in using such phrases to play upon the emotions of his audience.
In this regard, Naheim is quite emotive throughout this discussion.
at 1:13:48 Shaykh Asrar brings up a valid point that what is given to some prophets may not be given to others. And guess what? As soon as he brings up the word epistemology Naheim absolutely panics.
at 1:15:58 Here Naheim is just completely going off the rails. Does the presence of God himself establish world peace? This becomes the type of thinking and world view that one would expect from an Atheist.
It is poor critical thinking skills and again underscores the importance of understanding one’s epistemology.
at 1:18:25 Shaykh Asrar says he will answer Naheim on the condition that he is not interrupted but low and behold at 1:18:30 Naheim interrupts him..
That is why as I said Naheim is more comfortable in this type of interaction because people can talk over each other, and interrupt and it gives some impression to his followers that he can vie with people like Shaykh Asrar, but than of course formal debates are out of the question.
After trying to explain his viewpoint that everything good is a hassanat of the Blessed Messenger [saw] Naheim responds with a complete emotional outburst.
Ask yourself as an objective reader. How is this the ‘voice of reason‘?
“Why do you put the prophet down there and Jesus Christ up here?”
Again this coming from a person who a few minutes early had Jesus interacting with Allah by saying: “What you talking about Allah everybody is a believer now?
So Naheim’s facade of honouring the Blessed Messenger is exactly that, a facade. It’s an emotive point appealing to emotion rather than what is sensible.
at 1:22:55 this was the point where I began to have more empathy for Naheim Ajmal because you can clearly see that he is a person struggling with himself. He is bringing into the discussion Atheist talking points which you have to wonder as a Muslim where is he going with this?
The fact that it doesn’t seem that he has a sufficient answer for the Atheist underscores again Shaykh Asrar’s point about epistemology; because if Naheim had a sufficient answer for Atheist than he wouldn’t object so much to Shaykh Asrar’s position.
at 1:24 again Shaykh Asrar after giving points about people being more wealthy than in the time of the Blessed Messenger does not diminish his status the analogy is a good one but not acceptable to Naheim.
Shaykh Asrar again pleas with Naheim to reveal what his methodology is for rejecting or accepting a hadith and Naheim again does not wish to discuss this.
Again Shaykh Asrar asked Naheim if Jesus brought the dead back to life, something that it is not reported from the Blessed Messenger [saw]. Than Naheim tried to deflect from this by offering, ‘brain dead‘ ???
Again epistemology. You can see the puzzled look on Shaykh Asrar’s face.
This discussion would have been more helpful to brother Naheim if he said, “Look if something sounds silly to me I’ll reject it.”
Whereas Shaykh Asrar could say, “Rather something seems incredulous to us or not it is sound tradition and scholarship that informs us. We believe that the overwhelming consensus of the scholarship of Ahl Sunnah down through the ages is that Jesus will return.”
Naheim at this point is quite shaken. Shaykh Asrar presses him again and again and again, “did ‘Isa raise the dead“? Naheim completely dodges this question because Naheim knows it is the absolute end to his analogical reasoning. Shaykh Asrar beautifully answers his objection through Qiyas.
This type of talking over each other is exactly why a formal debate is needed. Again one wonders why our Naheim our Naheim Ajmal avoids such a format? Is he truly capable of sitting still for 30 minutes taking notes and preparing his opening and rebuttal statements? Wallahu ‘Alim.
This is what makes Shaykh Asrar such a dangerous opponent. He totally busted Naheim’s chops on this. Naheim got backed into a corner.
Think about this from the perspective of rationalism and reason. In actual fact raising the dead, any one person for that matter is a greater feat than world peace.
Who says so? I say so. This is why Shaykh Asrar is really clever if people stop and think about this.
Naheim’s epistemology is that miracles like raising the dead don’t really happen. Don’t believe me ask him. He interprets such things metaphorically you saw say as much above, “brain dead“.
So if we are to think about it is world peace conceivable? Yes, world peace is conceivable. However, ask any rationalist skeptic alive today which do you think is more conceivable?
Establishing world peace.
Bringing someone back to life
So Shaykh Asrar corned Naheim with a double whammy.
Jesus raised the dead and the Prophet Muhammed didn’t so does that make Jesus better than the Blessed Messenger or lesser in station?
Jesus raised the dead which is by rationalist/skeptics standards actually a greater feat than world peace-which is conceivable.
You can see at 1:28:00 that Naheim says that the people Jesus raised were ‘perceptibly dead‘. Which again goes into Naheim’s epistemology that he desperately tries to avoid as he did here again.
Not only this but Naheim Ajmal has done a huge blow and I mean a huge blow to people like myself who do not believe that Jesus is coming back.
Why do I say this?
Well, if he is going to force his world view upon the text of the Qur’an by having maut mean perceptibly dead than people like Shaykh Asrar are going to come back and say, “I am causing you to die.” means “I am causing you to be perceptively dead.”
“And for their saying, “Indeed, we killed the Messiah, Isa, son (of) Maryam, (the) Messenger (of) Allah.” And not they killed him and not they impale him but it was made to appear (so) to them.” (Qur’an 4:157)
Which in all honesty is the biggest gun in the arsenal from a textual perspective that those of us have in the argument against Jesus coming back.
However, Naheim Ajmal by superimposing his hyper skeptical worldview on the text absolutely blew it for us. Thanks allot self-proclaimed ‘voice of reason’!
How is he going to come back and say, well for Jesus, ‘maut’ means like really dead but for those who Jesus heals it just means perceptively dead.
Have you lost the plot mate?
Another point that Shaykh Asrar could have brought forward as a member of Ahl Sunnah is the issue of the Shafa’at of the Blessed Messenger [saw].
What’s bigger than establishing world peace? I’ll tell you what is bigger than world peace, making shafa’at on behalf of the believers. That’s the Prophet Muhammed [saw] who has the final say, not Christ Jesus.
“If you ask a human being what would you love for all humanity your not going to say go around and resurrect all the dead.” –
How presumptuous. Naheim you don’t speak for me so don’t assume that you do.
In fact, I might want all the dead to be resurrected -especially Jesus if he’s dead because then he could sort this whole debate out now couldn’t he? In fact, why wouldn’t I want all the dead to be brought back so that people like Hitler who got away with suicide could properly answer for his crimes? Or why wouldn’t I want all the prophets to be back from the dead so we could clarify all the matters of dispute in the world thus leading to world peace?
The self-proclaimed ‘voice of reason’ is often unreasonable.
at 1:39:42 at this juncture, Naheim is arguing like a hyper skeptic whereas Shaykh Asrar is arguing like someone who’s epistemology rests on the divine decree.
at 1:41:59 Shaykh Asrar brings Naheim back to a point about ‘Ijma. Which is a fair point to discuss. If Naheim Ajmal believes that Ali is a caliph of Islam how does he come to believe this? Again Naheim simply wants to avoid talking about establishing principles.
In fact, not everything he says and teaches is ‘Qur’an and Sunnah‘. For example, I can challenge Naheim Ajmal and everyone under the sun for that matter to show me a single place where the Qur’an mentions the term tawhid. It simply isn’t there. Yet, I have often heard Naheim speak about Tawhid.
at 1:44:53 Shaykh Asrar Naheim Ajmal another very powerful question: “Do you believe the Qir’aat are Mutawattir?“
Shaykh Asrar asks again, “Do you believe the 10 Qir’aat are Mutawattir?” What is the response from the “voice of reason“? He shrugs his shoulders! Wow!
Again epistemology. And notice that contrary to what Naheim has said it hasn’t at all in this discussion been ‘Qur’an and Sunnah‘. It’s been ‘rai-reasoning, qiyas-analogy, quoting scholars, I mean are we going to pretend that Naheim hasn’t quoted scholars?
Naheim keeps insisting that ‘I am giving you Allah and his Messenger‘ and he has to know that this is simply being slippery. Every time Shaykh Asrar has given a point Naheim defers to some scholar some Maliki ‘don‘ or Ibn Hazm or someone who differs on the issue.
I think the intended audience is intelligent enough to catch on to that.
at 1:50:15 Shaykh Asrar is actually the voice of reason. He simply says, “Do you want to have two minutes each” To which Naheim objects, “No this is a discussion.”
No, it is not a discussion.
In summary, I can say that Shaykh Asrar certainly got the best of that exchange. There certainly is a reason why Naheim did not want to have a formal debate with Shaykh Asrar on the issue.
Even in this setting of chaos which favoured Naheim, he showed inconsistency in his reasoning, specious arguments, and he certainly brought an abundance of emotive language and expression. That he had no shortage of.
Naheim can pat himself on the back and reassure his followers by possibly saying, “You see I asked him to show me one verse in the Qur’an and he couldn’t.” So that is possibly the only consolation for him.
Naheim can champion that this was a victory for Quran Only Islam.
However, to imagine that it is any victory for the Maliki school can be dismissed outright.
For Shaykh Asrar the moment he saw that Naheim was not there to discuss the principles for an upcoming debate, or outline what would be admissible as evidence he should have saved himself the time.
Shaykh Asrar was a bit pedantic with Naheim Ajmal and in the beginning, toyed around with him a bit too much. However, Shaykh Asrar was laser-focused on trying to find out what Naheim’s epistemology was; and what could and could not be brought as evidence.
By getting Naheim to expose himself in terms of inconsistency in how he applies reasoning as well as inconsistency as to how he understands Arabic terms was rather clever of Shaykh Asrar.
Shaykh Asrar for the most part was quite relaxed and his voice was measured and calm. It was Naheim who very often was very animated, and filled with emotive language.
These are my thoughts and before I am accused of bias it should be known that when Naheim Ajmal was being assailed left, right, and centre over the idea that Jesus is not coming back I wrote several articles at that time showing the strength of that position.
That being said, in this chaotic environment that is favourable to Naheim’s style, he simply was all over the place. There was nothing cogent at all.
As I said, I wouldn’t expect to see him in a formal debate with Shaykh Asrar, not tomorrow, and not ever….and Allah swt knows best.