Shaykh Google as Ḥāfiẓ al-Aṣr: The Internet, Traditional ʿUlamā’, and Self Learning (2020)*

Main Article Content

Emad Hamdeh



More than any other period, the last hundred years have witnessed
a rise in the accessibility of information through books, media,
and the internet. This introduced new ways of learning and sharing
Islamic knowledge. In this article, I consider how traditional
Islamic knowledge and pedagogical techniques are challenged by
the growing number of lay Muslims participating in religious discussions
through print and the internet. I explain why the ʿulamā’
perceive self-learning as a threat not only to the ostensibly proper
understanding of religion but also to the redefinition and reinvention
of their authority. I observe how print and digital media
caused a shift away from the necessity of the teacher and facilitated
autodidactic learning and claims to authority. Despite their criticism
of self-learning, Traditionalists have embraced the internet in
order to remain relevant and to compete with non-experts.

Writing is inferior to speech. For it is like a picture, which can give
no answer to a question, and has only a deceitful likeness of a living
creature. It has no power of adaptation, but uses the same words for
all. It is not a legitimate son of knowledge, but a bastard, and when
an attack is made upon this bastard neither parent nor anyone else
is there to defend it.

*This article was first published in the American Journal of Islam and Society 37, no. 1-2 (2020):

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1 Gary Bunt, Islam in the Digital Age: E-Jihad, Online Fatwas and Cyber Islamic
Environments (London: Pluto Press, 2003); idem, Virtually Islamic: Computer-
Mediated Communication and Cyber Islamic Environments (Cardiff: University of
Wales Press, 2000); Göran Larsson, Muslims and the New Media: Historical and
Contemporary Debates (Vermont: Ashgate, 2011); Jon Anderson, “The Internet and
Islamʾs New Interpreters,” in New Media in the Muslim World, ed. Dale F. Eickelman
and Jon W. Anderson (Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1999); Francis Robinson,
“Technology and Religious Change: Islam and the Impact of Print,” Modern Asian
Studies 27, no. 1 (1993): 229-251.
2 Tom Nichols, “The Death of Expertise,” The Federalist, January 17, 2014, http://thefederalist.
com/2014/01/17/the-death-of-expertise/. Nichols later published a book with
the same title (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017). Citations of The Death of
Expertise throughout this article are from the book unless not accompanied by a
page number. On the internet and religious authority see Heidi Campbell, “Who’s
Got the Power? Religious Authority and the Internet,” Journal of Computer-Mediated
Communication 12, no. 3 (2007): 1043-1062.
3 Nichols, “Death of Expertise.”
4 Nabil Echchaibi notes that unlike the political arena, the religious one allowed for
more individual autonomy and maneuvering of structures. Individual Muslims
feel summoned to use the internet as a place of mediated daʿwa to contribute to
the reconstruction of their communities as well as the broader Muslim umma. See
Echchaibi, “From Audiotapes to Videoblogs: The Delocalization of Authority in
Islam,” Nations and Nationalism 17 (2009): 20.
5 Popular preachers were prominent in Islam since medieval times but only recently
acquired technological outlets (like the internet) to promote themselves. In many
medieval texts, popular preachers are viewed as a threat to Islamic religious authority
and to public morality. Some could attract huge crowds of followers (through
their personal charisma, emotional performances, personal appearance, impressive
clothing, and so on); the jurists viewed them with suspicion because they were often
not trained or educated in law and theology. See Jonathan Berkey, Popular Preaching
and Religious Authority in the Medieval Islamic Near East (Seattle: University of
Washington Press, 2001). Also see ʿAbd al-Raḥmān Ibn al-Jawzī, Kitāb al-Quṣṣāṣ
wa-l-Mudhakkirīn (Beirut: Dār al-Mashriq, 1971).
6 Several other scholars have similarly defined this group. See Jonathan Brown,
Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s
Legacy (London: Oneworld, 2014). Suheil Laher correctly notes that Traditionalism
is composed of a “three-fold knot”: adherence to a juridical school, theology, and
Sufism. See Laher, “Re-Forming the Knot: ʿAbdullāh al-Ghumārī’s Iconoclastic Sunnī
Neo-Traditionalism,” Journal of College of Sharia and Islamic Studies 1 (2018): 202.
7 On modernity, see Emin Poljarevic, “Islamic Tradition and Meanings of Modernity,”
International Journal for History, Culture, and Modernity 3 (2015): 29-57.
8 William Graham, “Traditionalism in Islam: As Essay in Interpretation,” Journal of
Interdisciplinary History 23, no. 3 (1993): 522. On ‘tradition’ rather than ‘traditionalism’,
see Muhammad Q. Zaman, “The ʿUlamāʾ: Scholarly Tradition and New Public
Commentary,” in The New Cambridge History of Islam, vol. 6, ed. Robert W. Hefner
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 3-16; Talal Asad, “The Idea of an
Anthropology of Islam” (Washington, DC: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies,
Georgetown University, 1986); Kasper Mathiesen, “Anglo-American ‘Traditional
Islam’ and its Discourse of Orthodoxy,” Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies 13
(2013): 191-195
9 Scientific truth is based on empirically reproducible data, whereas religious truth
(for scriptural religions such as normative Islam) is based on authority of sacred
texts and precedent within the religious community.
10 For instance, approximately 55 of ʿAbd al-Fattāḥ Abū Ghudda’s 73 publications
are commentaries on the works of previous scholars. See Muḥammad Āl Rashīd,
Imdād al-Fattāḥ bi-Asānīd wa-Marwīyāt al-Shaykh ʻAbd al-Fattāḥ (Riyadh: Maktabat
al-Imām al-Shāfiʻī, 1999), 180-215. On Abū Ghudda, see Emad Hamdeh, “The Role
of the ʿUlamā’ in the Thoughts of ʿAbd al-Fattāḥ Abū Ghudda,” The Muslim World
107, no. 3 (2017): 359-374.
11 Zaman, “The ʿUlamāʾ,” 10. In this sense, ‘traditional’ scholarship consisted of a
rethinking, adaptation, and expansion of the legal tradition, while ‘modern’ scholarship
often portrays the pre-modern Islamic tradition as rigid and stagnant. Recent
works on the history of pre-modern Islamic law have demonstrated that the door
to ijtihād was never closed, but the schools of law were continuously evolving.
See Zaman, “The ʿUlamāʾ,” 18-21; Sherman Jackson, Islamic Law and the State: The
Constitutional Jurisprudence of Shihab al-Din al-Qarafi (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1996);
Wael Hallaq, “Was the Gate of Ijtihad Closed?” International Journal of Middle East
Studies 16 (1984): 3-41.
12 Mohammad Fadel, “Islamic Law and Constitution-Making: The Authoritarian
Temptation and the Arab Spring,” Osgoode Hall Law Journal 53, no. 2 (2016): 474-75.
13 The term Traditional Islam or Traditionalism incorporates the essential antithesis
and antidote to many manifestations and versions of reformist, modernist, and
even revivalist Islam in the modern period in its very name. See Mathiesen, “Anglo-
American ‘Traditional Islam’,” 193-194.
14 Ibid.
15 Zaman, “The ʿUlamāʾ,” 10.
16 See, accessed September 10, 2015. There
are other efforts and websites, such as, which are less popular but
nevertheless seek to respond to contemporary legal challenges while preserving
the legacy of Sunni traditional knowledge. See Fachrizal Halim, “Reformulating
the Madhhab in Cyberspace: Legal Authority, Doctrines, and Ijtihād Among
Contemporary Shāfiʿī ʿUlamā’,” Islamic Law and Society 22 (2015): 425.
17 The isnād is a record of transmission and is not the instrument of pedagogy.
However, the record of transmission could be used to establish a relationship. In
other words, the word isnād here refers to the student-teacher relationship.
18 Robinson, “Technology and Religious Change,” 231.
19 Jonathan Brown, Ḥadīth: Muhammad’s Legacy in the Medieval and Modern World
(Oxford: Oneworld, 2009), 273-274. Despite going through this system, some
Traditionalists still arrive at conclusions that are condemned by the vast majority
of Muslim scholars. For instance, the Egyptian scholar ʿIzzat ʿAṭiyya gave a controversial
fatwa if a woman can breastfeed her male coworker, they would establish
a family bond that would make their seclusion in the workplace permissible. This
caused a great deal of backlash and he eventually withdrew his fatwa.
20 Muḥammad ʿAwwāma, Adab al-Ikhtilāf fī Masā’il al-ʿIlm wa’l-Dīn (Beirut: Dār
al-Bashā’ir al-Islāmiyya, 1997), 159.
21 On curricula and the ijāza system, see Jan Witkam, “The Human Element between
Text and Reader: The Ijāza in Arabic Manuscripts,” in Education and Learning in the
Early Islamic World, ed. Claude Gilliot (Burlington: Ashgate Publishing Company,
2012); G. Vajda, “Idjaza,” in EI2, 3:1020-21. On ijāzas, see Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn al-Munajjid,
“Ijāzāt al-Samāʿ fī-l-Makhṭūṭāt al-Qadīma”, Majallat Maʿhad al-Makhṭūṭāt
al-ʿArabīya/Revue de l’institut des manuscrits arabes (Cairo) 1 (1955): 232-251; Qāsim
Aḥmad al-Sāmarrāʾī, “al-Ijāzāt wa-Taṭawwuruhā al-Taʾrīkhīya”, ʿĀlam al-Kutub 2
(1981): 278-285; Yūnus al-Khārūf, “al-Samāʿāt wa-l-Ijāzāt fī-l-Makhṭūṭāt al-ʿArabīya,”
Risālat al-Maktaba (Jordanien) 10 (1975): 16-22; Devin J. Stewart, “The Doctorate of
Islamic Law in Mamluk Egypt and Syria.” in Law and Education in Medieval Islam,
ed. Joseph Lowry, Devin Stewart, and Shawkat Toorawa (Cambridge: EJW Gibb
Memorial Trust, 2004), 45-90.
22 Barbara Metcalf, Islamic Revival in British India: Deoband, 1860-1900 (New Delhi:
Oxford University Press, 2002), 18-20. Also see George Makdisi, Institutionalized
Learning as a Self-Image of Islam, Islam’s Understanding of Itself, ed. Speros Vryonis,
Jr. (UCLA Press, 1983); Dale Eickelman, “The Art of Memory: Islamic Education and
its Social Reproduction,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 20, no. 4 (1978):
23 Jonathan Berkey, The Transmission of Knowledge in Medieval Cairo: A Social History
of Islamic Education (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992), 23.
24 Yusuf Talal DeLorenzo, Imam Bukhari’s Book of Muslim Morals and Manners
(Alexandria: Al-Saadawi Publications, 1997), i-iii.
25 Ibid., ii.
26 Ibid., ii-iii.
27 Muḥammad ʿAwwāma, “Ḥadīth al-Dhikrayāt maʿ al-Shaykh Muḥammad ʿAwwāma,” ʿAwwāma was one
of ʿAbd al-Fattāḥ Abū Ghudda’s main students. Abū Ghudda was strong critic of
self-learning and also the student of Muṣtafā Ṣabrī (d. 1954) the last Shaykh al-Islam
of the Ottoman Empire. He experienced first-hand the frustration and decline of
Traditionalist authority and spent his life trying to revive it.
28 ʿAwwāma, Adab al-Ikhtilāf, 149.
29 Robinson, “Technology and Religious Change,” 236.
30 Timothy Mitchell, Colonising Egypt (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991),
133. On active learning, see Annie Murphy Paul, “Are College Lectures Unfair?” The
New York Times, September 12, 2015.
31 Muhammad Mustafa al-Azami, Studies in Ḥadīth Methodology and Literature
(Indianapolis: Islamic Teaching Center, 1977), 30. Azami notes that this is similar
to modern copyright laws in which one could buy a thousand copies of a book but
may not print even one copy without permission. Similarly, Muslim scholars would
not allow someone to use the material in a book by simply obtaining it. Also see
ʿAbd al-Fattāḥ Abū Ghudda, al-Isnād min al-Dīn (Aleppo: Maktabat al-Maṭbūʿāt
al-Islāmiyya, 1996), 146.
32 Brown, Ḥadīth, 273.
33 Muhammad Mustafa al-Azami, The History of the Qurʼanic Text from Revelation to
Compilation: A Comparative Study with the Old and New Testaments (UK: Islamic
Academy, 2003), 147-148.
34 Muhammad Ibn Adam, “Learning from a Teacher & the Importance of Isnad,” Daruliftaa,
September 3, 2004, node/5795?txt_QuestionID.
35 See Daniel Brown, Rethinking Tradition in Modern Islamic Thought (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1999).
36 ʿAwwāma, “Ḥadīth al-Dhikrayāt.”
37 On the history of the status of the Companions, especially in ḥadīth literature, see
Scott C. Lucas, Constructive Critics, Hadith Literature, and the Articulation of Sunni
Islam: The Legacy of Ibn Saʿd, Ibn Maʿīn, and Ibn Ḥanbal (Boston: Brill, 2004), 221-282.
38 ʿAlī b. Aḥmad Ibn Ḥazm, al-Fiṣal fi-l-Milal wa-l-Ahwāʾ wa-l-Niḥal (Beirut: Dār al-Jīl,
1996), 4:185-188.
39 ʿAbd al-Fattāḥ Abū Ghudda, “Lecture in Turkey,”
40 Muḥammad b. ʿĪsā al-Tirmidhī, Al-Jāmiʾ al-Kabīr Sunan al-Tirmidhī (Beirut: Dār
al-Gharb al-Islāmī, 1996), Bāb Al-ʿIlm, 4:414 no. 2682. Ibn Rajab al-Ḥanbalī has a
treatise on this ḥadīth where he defines who a scholar is and how one is to properly
attain the level of scholarship. See Ibn Rajab al-Ḥanbalī, Majmūʿ Rasāʾil Ibn Rajab
al-Ḥanbalī (Cairo: al-Fārūq al-Ḥadītha li-lṬibāʿa wa-l-Nashr, 2001), 1:5-60.
41 George Makdisi, The Rise of Colleges: Institutions of Learning in Islam and the West
(Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1981), 7.
42 Laury Silvers, “The Teaching Relationship in Early Sufism: A Reassessment of Fritz
Meier’s Definition of the Shaykh al-Tarbiya and the Shaykh al-Taʿlīm,” The Muslim
World 93:1 (2003): 72.
43 Mathiesen, “Anglo-American ‘Traditional Islam’ and its Discourse of Orthodoxy,”
44 Ibid.
45 For example, see Muḥammad b. Jamāʿa, Tadhkirat al-Sāmiʿ wa-l-Mutakallim fī Adab
al-ʿĀlim wa-l-Mutaʿalim (Beirut: Dār al-Bashāʾir al-Islāmiyya, 2012); Burhān al-Islām
al-Zarnūjī, Taʿlīm al-Muttaʿallim Ṭarīq al-Taʿallum (Beirut: al-Maktab al-Islāmī,
1981); Yūsuf b. ʿAbd Allāh Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr, Jāmiʿ Bayān al-ʿIlm wa Faḍlihi wa mā
Yanbaghī fī Riwāyatihi wa Ḥamlihi (Cairo: Dār al-Kutub al-Ḥadītha, 1975); Abū Bakr
Aḥmad b. ʿAlī al-Khaṭīb al-Baghdādī, al-Jāmiʿ li Akhlāq al-Rāwī wa Ādāb al-Sāmiʿ
(al-Dammām: Dār Ibn al-Jawzī, 2011).
46 Yedullah Kazmi, “The Notion of Murabbī in Islam: An Islamic Critique of Trends in
Contemporary Education,” Islamic Studies, no. 2 (1999): 231.
47 See Anderson, “The Internet and Islam’s New Interpreters,” 42.
48 Silvers, “The Teaching Relationship in Early Sufism,” 73.
49 Zahra Sabri, “Why ‘Sufism’ Is Not What It Is Made out to Be,” Herald Magazine,
May 28, 2018,
50 For instance, Muḥạmmad b. Ismāʿīl al-Bukhārī composed his Taʼrīkh al-Kabīr while
sitting next to the Prophet’s grave. He organized the names in alphabetical order, but
began with the Prophet and then those named Muḥammad, out of love and reverence
for him. See his Kitāb al-Taʼrīkh al-Kabīr (Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya, 1986), 1:6-11.
51 Brown, Ḥadīth, 273.
52 Kazmi, “The Notion of Murabbī in Islam,” 213.
53 Ibid.
54 Mathiesen, “Anglo-American ‘Traditional Islam’ and its Discourse of Orthodoxy,”
55 Eickelman, “The Art of Memory,” 487-488.
56 Mona Hassan, Longing for the Lost Caliphate: A Transregional History (Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 2017), 10.
57 Metcalf, Islamic Revival, 18-20.
58 Suha Farouki & Nafi Basheer, eds., Islamic Thought in the Twentieth Century (London:
IB Tauris, 2004), 6.
59 See Yvonne Haddad, “Muhammad Abduh: Pioneer of Islamic Reform,” in Pioneers of
Islamic Revival, ed. Ali Rahnema (London: Zed Books, 1994), 31. Also see Uthmān
Amīn, Rāʼid al-Fikr al-Miṣrī: al-Imām Muḥammad Abduh (Cairo: Maktabat al-Anjlū
al-Misṛ īyah, 1965), 25.
60 Eickelman, “The Art of Memory,” 488-489.
61 Basheer Nafi, “Ṭāhir Ibn ʿĀshūr: The Career and Thought of a Modern Reformist
ʿālim, with Special Reference to His Work of Tafsīr,” Journal of Qur’anic Studies 7,
no. 1 (2005): 13.
62 ʿAwwāma, Adab al-Ikhtilāf, 161-162.
63 Ibid. Also see “Ṭāhā Ḥusayn,” Encyclopædia Britannica, November 10, 2018, https://
64 Farouki and Basheer, Islamic Thought, 6.
65 See Rudolph Peters, “Religious Attitudes towards Modernization in the Ottoman
Empire: A Nineteenth Century Pious Text on Steamships, Factories and the
Telegraph,” Die Welt des Islams 1, no. 4 (1986): 76-105.
66 Cardinal Monique, “Islamic Legal Theory Curriculum: Are the Classics Taught
Today?,” Islamic Law and Society 12, no. 2 (2005): 268-269.
67 David Waines, “Islam,” in Religion in the Modern World: Traditions and
Transformations, ed. Linda Woodhead (New York: Routledge, 2002), 194.
68 Brannon Ingram, Revival from Below: The Deoband Movement and Global Islam
(Oakland: University of California Press, 2018), 40-44.
69 Abū Ghudda, “Lecture in Turkey.”
70 Larsson, Muslims and the New Media, 41.
71 Dale Eickelman, “Mass Higher Education and the Religious Imagination in
Contemporary Arab Societies,” American Ethnologist 19, no. 4 (1992): 646.
72 ʿAwwāma, Adab al-Ikhtilāf, 164.
73 Eickelman, “Mass Higher Education,” 650.
74 Larsson, Muslims and the New Media, 37.
75 Halim, “Reformulating the Madhhab in Cyberspace,” 433.
76 On cassette tapes and Islamic revival, see Charles Hirschkind, The Ethical Soundscape:
Cassette Sermons and Islamic Counterpublics (New York: Columbia University Press
2009). Also see Jakob Skovgaard-Petersen, “New Media in the Muslim World,” in
Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Politics (Oxford, 2014).
77 Anderson, “The Internet and Islamʾs New Interpreters,” 49.
78 Jan Scholz, Are Selge, Max Stille, and Johannes Zimmermann, “Listening
Communities? Some Remarks on the Construction of Religious Authority in Islamic
Podcasts,” Die Welt Des Islams 3, no. 4 (2008): 460. Also see Anderson, “The Internet
and Islam’s New Interpreters,” 48.
79 Jawad Qureshi, “Zuhayr al-Shāwīsh (1925-2013) and al-Maktab al-Islāmī: Print,
Hadith Verification, and Authenticated Islam,” presentation of an unpublished paper
at the American Academy of Religion, November 21, 2016. ʿAlī Jumʿa also attributes
al-Albānī’s popularity to Shāwīsh: see “Wallāhu Aʿlam: al-Duktur ʿAlī Jumʿa
Yataḥaddath ʿan Adawāt al-Albānī fī Taḍʿīf al-Aḥādīth,”
80 Qureshi, “Zuhayr al-Shāwīsh (1925-2013) and al-Maktab al-Islāmī.”
81 On the rise and impact of print in the Muslim world, see Larsson, Muslims and the
New Media, 21-45.
82 For example, there were a total of four English translations in the seventeenth to
nineteenth centuries. Conversely, there were approximately forty translations in the
twentieth century, and thirty in the twenty-first century. Charles Hirschkind argues
that the authority and transmission of the Qurʾān were based on both hearing and
listening. It is not possible to obtain religious authority through a single medium
because it interconnects the ear, heart, and voice. See Charles Hirschkind, “Media
and the Qurʾān,” in The Encyclopedia of the Quran, ed. Jane McAuliffe (Leiden: Brill,
2003), 342. On the Qurʾān and new media, also see Larsson, Muslims and the New
Media, 167-193.
83 Hirschkind, “Media and the Qurʾān,” 343.
84 Reinhard Schulze, “The Birth of Tradition and Modernity in the 18th and 19th
Century Islamic Culture: The Case of Printing,” Culture and History 16 (1997): 48.
85 Larsson, Muslims and the New Media, 44.
86 On al-Albānī’s encouragement of laity to challenge scholars, see Emad Hamdeh,
“Qurʾān and Sunna or the Madhhabs? A Salafi Polemic Against Islamic Legal
Tradition,” Islamic Law and Society 24, no. 3 (June 2017): 1-43. On al-Albānī’s life and
autodidactic education, see Emad Hamdeh, “The Formative Years of an Iconoclastic
Salafi Scholar,” The Muslim World 106, no. 3 (2016): 411-432.
87 See Jonathan Brown, “Is Islam Easy to Understand or Not? Salafis, the Democratization
of Interpretation and the Need for the Ulema,” Journal of Islamic Studies (2014): 1-28.
On al-Albānī encouraging laity to challenge scholars, see Hamdeh, “Qurʾān and
Sunna or the Madhhabs?”
88 Muḥammad Sulṭān al-Khujnadī (d. 1380/1960), Hal al-Muslim Mulzam bi-Ittibāʿ
Madhhab Muʿayyan min al-Madhāhib al-Arbaʿa?, ed. Salīm Hilālī (Amman: al-Maktaba
al-Islāmīya, 1984).
89 Halim, “Reformulating the Madhhab in Cyberspace,” 425.
90 Scholz et al., “Listening Communities,” 462.
91 The importance of knowing the identity of the questioner is more important in
a fatwa than it is in transmitting knowledge. Fatwas are often geared toward the
specific questioner and not meant to be general. However, these fatwas are available
online for others to access and adopt for their particular case, even if the mufti may
not have intended it for them. This poses a problem to scholars because it sometimes
results in people choosing fatwas that best suit their personal interests or what they
find easiest (the process glibly referred to as “fatwa shopping”). In the past, this
would have required traveling or directly communicating via phone or mail with
numerous scholars to obtain a variety of opinions. In some cases, scholars refused
to give fatwas if the question was tied to a local cultural issue that they did not
have knowledge of. The internet removes the time, locality, and particularity of the
fatwa. Internet search engines provide a large database of information that supplies
common people with a wide array of fatwas and religious teachings, but not the
tools to properly deal with it. On the internet and the process of decision-making
and construction of Islamic knowledge, see Vít Šisler, “The Internet and the
Construction of Islamic Knowledge in Europe,” Masaryk University Journal of Law
and Technology 1, no. 2 (2007): 205-217.
92 Peter Mandaville, “Reimagining Islam in Diaspora: The Politics of Mediated
Community,” International Communication Gazette 63, nos. 2-3 (2001): 183.
93 Reza Aslan, No God but God (New York: Random House, 2011), 281.
94 Peter Mandaville, Islam and Politics, 2nd ed. (New York: Routledge, 2014), 394. Khaled
has also been dismissed by activist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood for being
out of touch with the reality and struggles of everyday Egyptians. They dismiss him
as being representative of what Haenni and Tammam have called “air-conditioned
Islam.” See Patrick Haenni and Husam Tammam, “Egypt’s Air-Conditioned Islam,”
Le Monde Diplomatique, September 2003.
95 Mandaville, Islam and Politics, 395.
96 Aslan, No God but God, 281.
97 Bunt, Virtually Islamic, 3.
98 Ingram, Revival from Below, 213.
99 Paul Heck, “The Epistemological Problem of Writing in Islamic Civilization: al-Ḫaṭīb
al-Baġdādī’s (d. 463/1071) ‘Taqyid al-’ilm’,” Studia Islamica, no. 94 (2002): 86.
100 Abū Isḥāq al-Shāṭibī, al-Muwāfaqāt (al-Khubar: Dār Ibn ʿAffān, 1997), 1:145.
101 On a separate but related issue, ʿAbd al-Fattāḥ Abū Ghudda explains that while some
Orientalists who study Islam are objective and well-intentioned, their knowledge
is still not considered authentic because it lacks the methodology and spirituality
that is passed down in Traditionalist circles. He explains that Orientalists often err,
because “they acquire knowledge from other than its people, they acquire it from
books, and they study it in a language other than their own. They are studying sciences
without having a spiritual connection to them and base their study on faulty
methodologies established by their predecessors. On top of that, there is still the
influence of their upbringing and beliefs which overcomes them, and they end up
diverging from genuine knowledge.” See Aḥmad Shākir, Taṣḥīḥ al-Kutub wa Ṣunʿu
al-Fahāris wa Kayfīyat Ḍabṭ al-Kitāb wa Sabq al-Muslimīn al-Afranj fī Dhālik, ed.
ʿAbd al-Fattāḥ Abū Ghudda (Cairo: Maktabat al-Sunna, 1994), 13.
102 See Brown, “Is Islam Easy to Understand?” 1-28. Zaman, “The ʿUlamāʾ,” 8.
103 Muḥammad Ramaḍān al-Būṭī, Al-Lā Madhhabiyya Akhṭar Bidʿa Tuhaddid al-Sharīʿa
al-Islāmiyya (Damascus: Dār al-Farābī, 2005), 146.
104 Bunt, Islam in the Digital Age, 3.
105 Abū Ghudda, “Lecture in Turkey.”
106 Ismāʿīl al-Anṣārī, Ibāḥat al-Taḥallī bi l-Dhahab al-Muḥallaq wa-l-Radd ʿAlā al-Albānī
fī Taḥrīmi-hi (Riyadh: Maktabat al-Imam al-Shāfiʿī, 1988), 106.
107 Nichols, Death of Expertise, 119.
108 Ibid., 115-120.
109 Muḥammad Amīn Ibn ʿĀbidīn, Radd al-Muḥtār ʿalā al-Durra al-Mukhtār Sharḥ
Tanwīr al-Abṣār (Riyadh: Dār ʿĀlim al-Kutub, 2003), 139.
110 Muḥammad Ḥasan Hitou, al-Mutafayhiqūn (Syria: Dār al-Farābī, 2009), 26-27.
111 Muṣṭafā al-Sibaaʿī, al-Sunna wa Makānatuhā fī al-Tashrīʿ al-Islāmī (Beirut: al-Maktab
al-Islāmī; Cairo: Darussalam, 2006), 367.
112 Hitou, al-Mutafayhiqūn, 2-3.
113 Abū Ghudda, “Lecture in Turkey.”
114 Brown, Misquoting Muhammad, 7.
115 See Hamza Yusuf Hanson, “The Crisis of ISIS: A Prophetic Prediction,” https://www. Also see Hassan, Longing for the Lost Caliphate,
116 Hitou, al-Mutafayhiqūn, 17.
117 Abū Ghudda, “Lecture in Turkey.”
118 Yasir Qadhi, “One of the Biggest Tragedies…” Facebook, accessed 16 August 2015,
119 Nichols, Death of Expertise, 106-110.
120 Ebrahim Moosa, What is a Madrasa? (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina
Press, 2015), 59.
121 Qadhi, “One of the Biggest Tragedies.”
122 Nichols, Death of Expertise, 106-109.
123 Echchaibi, “From Audiotapes to Videoblogs,” 27.
124 Easy access to the teacher and private online communications has sometimes resulted
in cases of sexual abuse. See Zaynab Ansari, “Blurred Lines: Women, ‘Celebrity’
Shaykhs, and Spiritual Abuse,”, May 27, 2015, https://muslimmatters.