بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ
Setting the Record Straight & Addressing the Slanderous Attacks Against me
By Imām Na’eem Abdullah
February 4, 2019
All Praises are due to Allah. Peace and Blessings be upon our Master Prophet Muhammad, his Family and Companions.
On January 30, 2019 a group calling itself MEMRI (The Middle East Media Research Institute) published a slanderous attack piece on me with the following title:
“Pittsburgh Imam Naeem Abdullah In Lectures And Sermons: Jews 'Run Everything,' 'Have All The Money,' And Are Cowards; Allah Changed Some Jews Into Apes And Pigs; White Supremacy Has Co-Opted Judaism And Christianity; 'Modern-Day Corrupt Scholars' Call Offensive Jihad Invalid; [U.S. National Who Pleaded Guilty On Al-Qaeda Charges] Tarik Shah Was My Housemate In NY And 'One Of My Wazirs [Deputies]'”
This published attack uses carefully selected clips of my words taken from about a dozen khutbahs (sermons), classes, radio programs and lectures to stitch together the FASLE NARRATIVE that I teach hatred for the Jewish Community, disrespect for Law Enforcement and intolerance of non-Muslims (among other things). This is the link to attack article; (https://www.memri.org/reports/pittsburgh-imam-naeem-abdullah-lectures-and-sermons-jews-run-everything-have-all-money-and#_edn1)
In a follow-up to this initial slander, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Peter Smith doubled down on the original report; and to add insult to injury evoked the horrible massacre which took place in Pittsburgh on October 27, 2018 at the Tree of Life Synagogue. This is when white supremacist Robert Bowers entered the synagogue and mercilessly executed 11 innocent Jewish worshippers during their services!
He then ends his attack piece by quoting Joshua Sayles, Director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, who branded the talks as “hate speech” and called for the isolation of our small, predominately African-American congregation from the larger body of Muslims in the region!
It is my intent to clarify these distortions. This is addressed to the Muslim Community in general and anyone else who sincerely desires to arrive at the truth. We have divided this into 7 issues along with this introduction and a conclusion. Success is with Allah!
ISSUE #1 – A PURPOSEFUL MISCONTEXTUALIZATION = A LIE!
All of the clips used have been taken out of their original context and reworked in order to support this anti-Semitic, anti-law enforcement, pro-violence FASLE NARRATIVE. Anyone Muslim or not, who listens to the entirety – not the carefully selected clips – of any of these lectures would agree that they don’t promote any of the aforementioned negative stereotypes.
ISSUE #2 – I AM NOT ANTI-SEMETIC OR ANTI-JEWISH.
Contrary to how they are trying to brand me, I do not personally hate nor do I teach hate of any faction of the Jewish Community. I’ll go even further to say that it is un-Islamic to do so! As a Muslim I believe Islam is the right and correct way of life in the same way that any Christian or Jew believes they have chosen the correct path. In the same vein it is against the Qur’an to make mockery of other people’s understanding of God:
“And do not insult those they invoke other than Allah, lest they insult Allah in enmity without knowledge. Thus We have made pleasing to every community their deeds. Then to their Lord is their return, and He will inform them about what they used to do.” – Qur’an: Sūrah al-An’am (#6), verse #108, Sahih International Translation.
ISSUE #3 – REFERENCE TO SOME JEWS BEING TRANSFORMED INTO MONKEYS & PIGS.
This is something miraculous that happened long before the coming of Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace). It is mentioned in the Qur’an:
“And ask them about the town that was by the sea - when they transgressed in [the matter of] the Sabbath - when their fish came to them openly on their Sabbath day, and the day they had no Sabbath they did not come to them. Thus did We give them trial because they were defiantly disobedient.”
And when a community among them said, "Why do you advise [or warn] a people whom Allah is [about] to destroy or to punish with a severe punishment?" they [the advisors] said, "To be absolved before your Lord and perhaps they may fear Him."
And when they forgot that by which they had been reminded, We saved those who had forbidden evil and seized those who wronged, with a wretched punishment, because they were defiantly disobeying.
So when they were insolent about that which they had been forbidden, We said to them, "Be apes, despised." – Qur’an: Sūrah al-A’raf (#7), verses #163 - 166, Sahih International Translation.
“Say, "Shall I inform you of [what is] worse than that as penalty from Allah ? [It is that of] those whom Allah has cursed and with whom He became angry and made of them apes and pigs and slaves of Taghut. Those are worse in position and further astray from the sound way."” – Qur’an: Sūrah al-Mā’idah (#5), verse #60, Sahih International Translation.
Classical Qur’anic Commentators and scholars in general have stated this transformation was not figurative but literal, they didn’t live long, nor did they procreate.
I’ve always used this Qur’anic story to highlight mainly 2 points:  Muslims should not use “the letter of the law” to justify or to maneuver around “the spirit of the law”, and  in the face of evil or wrong-doing Muslims should not participate in the act, remain silent or neutral. It was those 2 groups who were transformed. The group of Jews who were not punished by this transformation were those who were steadfast in their adherence to the Sabbath. And I usually make a passing reference to some protestors who would refer to Jews as “sons of monkeys and pigs” and clarify that this is Islamically incorrect.
I guarantee that if one were to listen to the entire section of that talk it would be clear that this talk had very little or anything to do with Jews. It was a Qur’an-based, historical reference which promotes Islamic morals and ethics.
ISSUE #4 – THE REFERNCE TO JEWS GETTING EXPELLED FROM MADINAH.
Anyone who knows the Seerah or biography of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) knows that they were not expelled from Madinah because they were Jewish. These 3 Jewish tribes were expelled on different occasions due to various acts of treason against the “state” – not because they were Jewish. Again, context is everything!
ISSUE #5 – THE REFERENCE TO “BLACK NATIONALISM”.
Again, just like everything else mentioned in this smear campaign, all one would have to do is ignore the carefully tailored clips and refer to the original, unedited lecture.
In short, “Black Nationalism” suggests that Black People should control the economy, politics, politicians, etc… in their communities. The definition was inspired by Malcolm X in his famous lecture called “The Ballot or the Bullet” – which can be easily located on YouTube & elsewhere on the internet.
There is nothing wrong, subversive or criminal about this! Almost every other community exercises this right. But somehow this becomes news-worthy when we express the same aspirations!
ISSUE #6 – “LIVING UNDER OCCUPATION” AND OTHER RELATED REFERENCES
These comments were made after a young, unarmed boy named Antwon Rose Jr was shot in the back after he jumped out of a car that was pulled over by police officer Michael Rosfeld in East Pittsburgh (a small borough outside of the City of Pittsburgh). As a Muslim Imam - who happens to be Black, whose congregation is overwhelmingly Black – it is my duty to provide textually-based spiritual guidance and context to the prevailing issues of the day; and extra-judicial murder of unarmed, non-threatening Black people is one of those issues.
Eric Garner chocked to death on camera for allegedly selling cigarettes in front of a store; 12 year-old Tamir Rice shot to death for playing with a toy pistol outside; Sandra Bland pulled over for a turn signal, arrested and turns up dead in her cell; and we could literally go on and on and on with dozens, if not hundreds, of similar horrific killings of unarmed Black People.
In the same way that our Muslim brothers of Palestinian origin reserve the right to speak to their issues; the same way that our brothers from the Indian Sub-Continent address issues such as the Kashmir problem; we likewise reserve the right to address social justice problems which directly affect the African-American community. And there is nothing un-Islamic about that.
ISSUE #7 – THE “ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM”.
In an attempt, I believe, to rally the emotions of their readers behind this false narrative, they stooped so low as to mention one of the most disgusting attacks upon Jewish people in this country! Just in case anyone has forgotten, the one guilty of the October 27, 2018 massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue was Robert Bowers! He was not Muslim, not Black, not a “Black Nationalist”, not “echoing rhetoric from the Middle East”, or any of that. He was/is White, digested and espoused the rhetoric of White Identity Extremists and this diet of REAL “hate speech” translated into the REAL deaths of 11 innocent people, on their Sabbath, in their place of worship! Where is all of the pseudo Journalism and investigative reporting on ROBERT BOWERS, his connections, his religious affiliations and the remainder of his ilk?
This is the real clear and present danger to our community, not some small-time Imam, with a small social media following and an even smaller real-life following; who had his words cherry-picked, recontextualized and stitched together to form this FALSE NARRATIVE such as myself.
In conclusion, it was not my intention to address or untangle all of the less-than-half-truths used to construct this FALSE NARRATIVE of anti-Semitism, etc…which is being used against me. My only intent was/is to go on record and challenge these FASLE ALLEGATIONS.
To my Muslim family, Imams, Scholars and leaders: If I have said anything that was Islamically incorrect, baseless, false or inciting to violence I’m more than willing to offer a retraction, correction and public apology! We all make mistakes and no one, especially me, is above correction.
I’ll end with this general advice to myself and all of you which comes from the Qur’an:
“O you who have believed, if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful.” – Qur’an: Sūrah al-Hujurāt (#49), verse #6, Sahih International Translation.
Imam Na’eem Abdullah