Society Ummah

Answering the Bizarre Claims of Younes Mohammed & Yusuf al-Khattab (as seen on CNN)

The Question:

Last night on CNN I noticed these two guys claiming that the Qur’an encourages them to scare every non-Muslim on the face of the globe. I wanted to know if this is true? I live with Muslims and share no hostilities towards them. But these type of people do scare me.

The Answer:

Thank you for stopping by and asking instead of allowing this experience to shape your vision of Muslims.

It is one thing to say something about someone which is not true, but it is an entirely different affair when one does so with God’s words. In fact, one of the major sins in Islam is to speak about Allah without knowledge.

A quick look at the entire verse, and the one that follows it, should be enough to clarify the ignorant nature of Abdullah’s claim:

“And prepare against them whatever you are able of power and of steeds of war by which you may terrify the enemy of Allah and your enemy and others besides them whom you do not know [but] whom Allah knows.” (Qur’an, 8:60)

Orthodox scholars hold that “them” in this verse is in reference to “the polytheists of Mecca;” the reference to “others besides them” was in reference to a tribe known as Bani Quradha which was a Jewish tribe that acted traitorously, or as some said, the Persians. I’m not sure how `Abdullah and his friend apply this verse to people who live in New York City on their way to work? But a simple glance at the next verse clarifies their false claims and ignorant notions.

“And if they incline to peace, then incline to it [also] and rely upon Allah. Indeed, it is He who is the Hearing, the Knowing.” (Qur’an, 8:61)

Thus, instead of seeking to strike fear in the hearts of people, the Muslim is encouraged to seek peace.

About the author

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb is a contemporary American-Muslim educator, activist, and lecturer. His work bridges classical and contemporary Islamic thought, addressing issues of cultural, social and political relevance to Muslims in the West. After converting to Islam in 1992, Webb left his career in the music industry to pursue his passion in education. He earned a Bachelor’s in Education from the University of Central Oklahoma and received intensive private training in the Islamic Sciences under a renowned Muslim Scholar of Senegalese descent. Webb was hired as the Imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, where he gave khutbas (sermons), taught religious classes, and provided counselling to families and young people; he also served as an Imam and resident scholar in communities across the U.S.

From 2004-2010, Suhaib Webb studied at the world’s preeminent Islamic institution of learning, Al-Azhar University, in the College of Shari`ah. During this time, after several years of studying the Arabic Language and the Islamic legal tradition, he also served as the head of the English Translation Department at Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah.

Outside of his studies at Al-Azhar, Suhaib Webb completed the memorization of the Quran in the city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia. He has been granted numerous traditional teaching licenses (ijazat), adhering to centuries-old Islamic scholarly practice of ensuring the highest standards of scholarship. Webb was named one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in 2010.

Add Comment

  • Imam Suhaib, the best description of these two clowns was given by Anderson Cooper, who said: “just four morons on a street corner.”

    Fi aman Allah,

  • People with violent and dangerous messages work so hard with their da’wah, and the rest of us are not nearly as passionate about peace and justice. It’s scary.

    May Allah ta’ala strengthen us and make us vehicles for the spread of correct ideology and His worship to spread. Ameen.

  • As salamu ‘alaikum,

    I assumed these two to be agents off-rip. It’s was so preposterous I couldn’t think otherwise. Plus the lamenting of the reporter that the “security forces” can’t do anything about them because they are “protected” by the Constitution. Please! There are brothers who have been under FBI/CIA surveillance for years. They have been threatened and terrorized by so-called raids and investigations. But two guys on a street corner are just sooo unstoppable.

  • This Yusuf al-Khattab guy was raised in the US as a secular Jew but joined a Yeshiva at age 18 and moved to Gaza to live in a Jewish settlement, home to some of the most extreme and fanatic elements in Israeli society. Finding the schooling there to be too liberal, he moved to Netivot in Israel proper. At some point, he converted to Islam, moved to East Jerusalem, and declared his love for Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. Richard Dawkins interviewed him for a documentary a couple of years ago in which he rants about how Western women dress like whores (it’s interesting that these are the characters Dawkins seeks out as representative of religious people in general, but that’s a separate point). The important thing to note is that this guy’s worldview has always been characterized by extremes. He rejected his secular upbringing in favor of Orthodox Judaism and religious Zionism, a way of life at the extreme opposite end of the spectrum. Later, he rejected that in favor of another extreme opposite, radical Islamism. This guy clearly has a rebellious personality prone to extremes.

    These people’s temperaments are what draw them to the rigid absolutism of extremist movements. They’re not attracted to the belief system that the movement claims legitimacy from, they’re attracted to the simplistic, dichotomous worldview that the movement espouses. When they encounter a circumstance that doesn’t fit neatly into that dichotomous worldview, they quickly become disillusioned and abandon the belief system entirely. This is psychology at play here, not religion.

  • Agreed. I loved the part when they were like “You will stand in front of Allah for not standing up against america” something like that…The same country they curse is the same country they turn to for protection of their “right to speak.” In a Muslim country they would not be able to speak like that, they’d be locked away never able to see their families without any due process of the law. Very ironic!

    2ndly, if you hate America so much what is stopping you from getting out of here? If you’re not here to bring any good to the society then what is your excuse? These people frustrate me with their gangster mentality. They steal from the good of this country and spit it back in its face.


  • To the RevMuslim guys:

    If you hate America so much, why do you continue to live here?

    I’m not asking for myself, but I’ve witnessed some people slandering you by bringing up this point. I’d suggest addressing that as well to clear doubts.

  • There has to be intelligence, balance, and sagacity along with strength, conviction, and sincere intentions. All of this must, of course, conform with Quran and Sunnah. Speaking harshly can have a negative effect. Being silent can, at times, be the best recourse. Soft speech and harsh speech both have their place. Wisdom is the key.

    Many times Muslims forget that we are all growing and learning. Yes, the shaytan is out there and Yes, the USA has declared war upon Islam and the Muslims. That means, wisdom is needed MORE, not less. Cowardice is to be hated, strategizing is commended.

  • May Allah forgive those misinformed brothers and guide them to the straight path, because only Allah knows what they will die on. And I pray to Allah that the Muslims in that area try to reach them. Alot of us think different today than we did yesterday, Alhamdulilah.

  • { فمن يعملْ مثقالَ ذَرَّةٍ خيراً يَرَهُ، ومَنْ يَعمل مِثْقال ذَرّةٍ شراً يَرَه } ، { تُرْهِبُونَ بِهِ } تُخوِّفُون { عَدْوَّ ٱللَّهِ وَعَدُوَّكُمْ وَءَاخَرِينَ } ، أي: وترهبون آخرين، { مِن دُونِهِمْ لاَ تَعْلَمُونَهُمُ ٱللَّهُ يَعْلَمُهُمْ } ، قال مجاهد ومقاتل وقتادة: هم بنو قريظة. وقال السدي: هم أهل فارس. وقال الحسن وابن زيد: هم المنافقون، لا تعلمونهم، لأنهم معكم يقولون لا إله إلاّ الله. وقيل: هم كفار الجن.

  • Comment:

    Unfortunately, Yousef al-Khattab neither demonstrates the skill of scholarship we would expect from a person who is said to study at a Yeshiva nor a sign of scholarship in the world of Islam. We do not have before us the mind of (RAMBAM) Maimonides nor Imam at Tabari (r). So, where do we stand with Yousef al-Khattab who claims to have the ability to interpret the Qur’an with the sayings of the Ulema? By what criteria are we obliged to negate the multiplicity of scholarly opinions surrounding the above text to come to accept that opinion transmitted by Yousef as being the soundest opinion to practice? What scholarly criteria is used to come to that position and neglect others?

    وقوله: { تُرْهِبُونَ } من الرهبة وهى مخافة مع تحرز واضطراب.

    والضمير المجرور – وهو قوله { بِهِ } – يعود إلى الإِعداد المأخوذ من قوله { وَأَعِدُّواْ }.

    أى: أعدوا ما استطعتم من قوة، حال كونكم مرهبين بهذا الإِعداد عدو الله وعدوكم، من كل كافر ومشرك ومنحرف عن طريق الحق، وعلى رأس هؤلاء جميعا، كفار مكة الذين أخرجوكم من دياركم بغير حق، ويهود المدينة الذين لم يتركوا وسيلة للإِضرار بكم إلا فعلوها.

    وقوله { وَآخَرِينَ مِن دُونِهِمْ لاَ تَعْلَمُونَهُمُ ٱللَّهُ يَعْلَمُهُمْ } معطوف على ما قبله.

    أى: ترهبون بهذا الإِعداد أعداء معروفين لكم – كمشركى مكة ويهود المدينة، وترهبون به أيضاً أعداء آخرين غيرهم أنتم لا تعرفونهم لأنهم يخفون عداوتهم لكم، ولكن الله – تعالى – الذى لا يخفى عليه شئ يعلمهم، وسيحبط أعمالهم.

    وقد اختلف المفسرون فى المراد بهؤلاء الأعداء الذين عبر الله عنهم بقوله لا تعلمونهم الله يعلمهم، فمنهم من قال: المراد بهم بنو قريظة ومنهم من قال: المراد بهم أهل فارس والروم.

  • { تُرْهِبُونَ } قرىء بالتخفيف والتشديد وقرأ ابن عباس ومجاهد رضي الله عنهما «تخزون» والضمير في { بِهِ } راجع إلى ما استطعتم { عَدْوَّ ٱللَّهِ وَعَدُوَّكُمْ } هم أهل مكة { وَءَاخَرِينَ مِن دُونِهِمْ } هم اليهود، وقيل: المنافقون وعن السدي: هم أهل فارس، وقيل: كفرة الجن، وجاء في الحديث:

    -Here is documented proof for the position of Shaikh Suhaib that there is reference to the People of Makka.


  • Asalamu alaykum,

    I’ve been out all day and missed the fireworks. I in no way intended to say that Muslim states don’t have a right to defend themselves under international law and have a strong army. My point is that the verse was used in the wrong context, 96th street on a sunny afternoon, or imply that someone can show up anywhere and start killing innocent people.

    Actually, I gave the khutbah there (96th) a year ago and, mashallah, two ladies became Muslim. I didn’t yell at them, nor try and scare them. But I recalled the verse: “Invite to the way of your lord with wisdom” and the satement of the Prophet (sa) as related with sound narrations by a large number of companions when he sent Muadh and Abu Musa to Yemen, at that time Yemen was a non-Muslim country and the Prophet did not say to them, “Scare them! Scare them to death” instead he said, “Give good news and dont’ cause people to flee.” This is important because this happened towards the last few weeks of the Prophet’s life after al-Anfal was sent.

    I recalled the incident of Tufail al-Dawsi who came to the Prophet and said, “Please make dua that Allah will destroy al-Daws!” The Prophet raised his hands and said, “O Allah guide Daws” and then “Indeed kindness always bring good, and harshness always brings evil.”

    As shown on the tape itself, the Brothers don’t have much Arabic knowledge. One stated, “This is an order” but, in fact, it is Mudar’i and not an order. Secondly, the verb alone does not provide the meaning of the verse since it is hal connected to a majrur which Br. Abdullah didn’t even mention. Thus, his tafsir was wrong as was his reading. Also, the fact that there are two Qir’at of the verb itself which were not explained shows a problem as well since according to the rules of Usol as noted by al-Suyuti in al-Itaqan, the reading with the heavier verb is given priority and this wasn’t done?

    While there are commentators that hold this applies to anyone who fights the Muslims, I have yet to come across one that would agree with what these brothers are doing. Here’s a list of tafsir’s who mention the opinion that I stated. Perhaps these Imams are just simple sellouts like me?

    Tabari mentions the Mushrikin of Mecca:

    { تُرْهِبُونَ بِهِ عَدُو اللَّهِ وَعَدُوَّكُمْ } يقول: تخيفون بإعدادكم ذلك عدوّ الله وعدوّكم من المشركين.

    Regarding the second part of the verse he quotes the Companions saying it was Bani Quradha, the Persians or the hypocrites. Al-Razi held that the latter opinion was stronger and some even held it was the Jinn such as al-Tabari.

    قوله تعالى: { تُرْهِبُونَ بِهِ عَدْوَّ ٱللَّهِ وَعَدُوَّكُمْ } يعني تُخيفون به عدوّ الله وعدوّكم من اليهود وقريش وكفار العرب. { وَآخَرِينَ مِن دُونِهِمْ } يعني فارس والروم؛ قاله السُّدِّي. وقيل: الجنّ. وهو ٱختيار الطبري.
    States that striking fear applies to the Yahoud of Medina, the Qureish and the disbelievers of the Arabs.

    Tasir Jalaayin:

    { تُرْهِبُونَ } تُخَوِّفون { بِهِ عَدْوَّ ٱللَّهِ وَعَدُوَّكُمْ } أي كفار مكة { وَءَاخَرِينَ مِن دُونِهِمْ } أي غيرهم وهم المنافقون أو اليهود
    States the kufar of Mecca, the Jews of Medina and the Hypocrites

    Imam Nasafi says the same:
    [البقرة: 98] { تُرْهِبُونَ بِهِ } بما استطعتم { عَدْوَّ ٱللَّهِ وَعَدُوَّكُمْ } أي أهل مكة { وَءَاخَرِينَ مِن دُونِهِمْ } غيرهم وهم اليهود، أو المنافقون، أو أهل فارس، أو كفرة الجن. في الحديث ” إن الشيطان لا يقرب صاحب فرس ولا دارا فيها فرس عتيق ” وروي أن صهيل الخيل يرهب الجن

    Imam ibn Ashur in his Tafsir:
    وعدو الله وعدوهم: هم المشركون فكان تعريفهم بالإضافة، لأنّها أخصر طريق لِتعريفهم، ولما تتضمنه من وجه قتالهم وإرهابهم، ومن ذمّهم، أن كانوا أعداء ربّهم، ومن تحريض المسلمين على قتالهم إذ عُدُّوا أعداءً لهم، فهم أعداء الله؛ لأنّهم أعداء توحيده وهم أعداء رسوله صلى الله عليه وسلم لأنّهم صارحوه بالعداوة، وهم أعداء المسلمين، لأن المسلمين أولياء دين الله والقائمون به وأنصاره، فعطف { وعَدوَّكم } على { عدوَّ الله } من

    May Allah grant us insaf