After our previous posts on the Nouman Ali Khan sexting scandal, a friend reached out to explain what’s really going on with the scandal. Initially this seemed like a classic case of clerical hypocrisy – and so the exposure of Nouman Ali Khan’s haram behavior by community members seemed a healthy development because these abuses are usually hushed up. It’s like Harvey Weinstein’s abuses finally coming to light.
But my friend – he is a survivor of salafi circles – explains that the story is much darker. Here is his explanation of a cult taking out a rogue element:
Nouman Ali Khan is the poster boy for American Salafis. The salafis created him, and now they are destroying him.
Nouman was a nobody, a random Pakistani American kid, until the salafis built him up as a role model. They constructed this founding myth that Nouman was a secular assimilated kid who had an awakening one day with a taxi driver who got him to pray. That epiphany made him change his life, abandoning his misguided Western ways to immerse himself in Qur’an and the pure salafi way of life.
Unlike all the old generation immigrant salafis, Nouman was young, accent-free, and just like the target audience the salafis are trying to brainwash. They created him as a living example for what they want to trick young people into becoming. Be like Nouman! An American Islamist, or as they phrase it, “an American Islam.” From American society but not part of it. Living here but resisting American popular culture.
Nouman was a fantastic salesman for their main source of revenue: Islamic academies. He was the living proof of the “positive” and enduring change one can find after taking their courses i.e drinking the Salafi Kool Aide. His born-again story was evidence that their training programs, like Al Maghrib, work and can transform your life.
Nouman’s usefulness to the business empire and the cult (I repeat myself) was contingent on him toeing the line by touting the line. In other words, he had to stick with the salafi ideology in his lectures and writings.
The Islamist leadership had no problem with Nouman hitting on women and hooking up with them. In fact, there are many other Islamist clerics who have done much worse things. Nouman after all is divorced. But there are lots of Salafi clerics who go around to communities lecturing and picking up women at their talks. The modus operandi is to “marry” the young lady in the evening with two lines of religious text, get their groove on, and then send a text message the next morning divorcing her.
This goes on ALL THE TIME. Nouman is tame by comparison to the shenanigans and abuses others in the Islamist network are perpetrating. So why did the leadership suddenly turn on Nouman???
The answer is he began to slightly deviate from the accepted dogma of American Salafis. Nouman had apparently been telling followers that Muslims can marry outside of their “Aqidah” (faith/doctrine), which was understood by Salafis to mean that they could marry people outside of the Salafi fold – even Shi’a!!! – a major no-no.
There were other small signs that Nouman had some doubts about Salafi dogma. That’s understandable. I would suspect most of the people in the salafi network do not buy everything the movement tells them. There are several examples of other salafi clerics who began to deviate in small ways and paid a price, some in Saudi and some even here in the US.
If you read carefully the statement by Omar Mozaffer, you see that the Salafi leaders demanded Nouman stop speaking in public or releasing statements, especially on issues of marriage. They said it was fine if he played old lectures. But the price of keeping his scandal under wraps was that he stop challenging the dogma. When he refused to abide by those terms, the Salafis leaked the WhatsApp chats and text messages.
They knew all along about his alleged womanizing but chose not to disclose it so long he was touting the official line. A more succinct description would be: blackmail. My guess is that Nouman, in the aftermath of the divorce and puffed up with two million Facebook followers, felt he didn’t need to submit to them anymore. Well, we see how that turned out.
The real story here is that the Salafis created Nouman and now they are crucifying him to send a message to anyone else who might dare deviate. Once you understand this, the whole scandal – which seems bizarre at first – makes sense in an entirely new light. This is not an embarrassment for the Salafis. It’s a show of force. And nobody outside the inner circle gets it.
Wow. It sounds like all those Marxist purges of one-time true-believers. It’s a tell-tale move by a cult-like ideology that feels it can only exist if it zealously keeps its people in line. In the salafi leaders’ view, Nouman can mess around with chicks as much as he wants. But if he dares question orthodoxy publicly, he must be destroyed. Everyone needs to remember who the boss is.
I almost feel bad for Nouman. Almost.