Update: Nouman Ali Khan posted this reply. I feel that it's only fair to mention this at the beginning of the post, even though I don't feel that he dealt with the actual statements that were made.

O Nouman Ali Khan...fear Allāh!

As a person who has dedicated themselves to explaining the Qur'an to others, you must appreciate the value of that oft-repeated, golden piece of Qur'anic advice: اتق الله. Perhaps we should be more precise in our translation and say: protect yourself from the punishment of Allāh; since taqwaa is just that - to protect yourself from the punishment of Allāh, by doing that which Allāh commanded you and refraining from that which Allāh prohibited you from, with sincerity, and by following the sunnah of the Messenger of Allāh صلى الله عليه وسلم.

So fear Allāh in what you say! Didn't Allāh tell us in the Qur'an of the severity of the sin of saying about Allāh that which you do not know? Didn't the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم tell us of a people who would come, "they are asked to deliver religious verdicts and they deliver them without knowledge, they go astray, and lead others astray"? Didn't the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم tell Mu'aadh ibn Jabal (may Allāh be pleased with him), "Is there anything that causes people to be thrown into the Hellfire upon their faces — or: upon their noses — except the harvests of their tongues?" Fear Allāh, and protect yourself from being one of them.

I do not claim to have watched all of your videos, or to have done any kind of in-depth analysis of what you have or haven't said in the past, although I have seen more than enough to write this to you. I keep on coming across clips and quotes of yours which are a cause for great concern; none more so than the video in which you speak about ‘aqeedah and the Qur'an. What follows is an advice to you, to those who follow you, and to those who have made similar statements to the one which you made. I am sharing this advice in public because of the huge amount of confusion that I see from the general people with regard to what you said, and their need to be made aware of the truth.

Let us start by looking at the word ‘aqeedah and what it means; as I'm sure you are aware, since I see that you teach Arabic, the root ‘aqada conveys the following meanings:

  • to tie something firmly
  • to become hard and strong
  • to hold on to something tight
  • to take or grasp something
  • to be certain about something
  • to affirm something with conviction

If a word does not have any specific definition in Islam, then we resort to the linguistic meaning of the word, and therefore we come to the conclusion that our ‘aqeedah refers to those beliefs that we grab and hold to; things that we remain firm and strong upon; things that we tie ourselves to and link ourselves to; and those things that we affirm with conviction and certainty. A reasonable definition of ‘aqeedah in an Islamic context would be:

"Those matters which are known from the Qur’an and sound ahaadeeth, and which the Muslim must believe in his heart, in acknowledgement of the truth of Allaah and His Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم."

Let me ask you: Does the Qur'an speak about the fundamental beliefs which every Muslim must hold to be true? Are those beliefs given importance in the Qur'an? If you say no, then there is nothing more that I can say, except to seek refuge with Allāh from a person who interprets the Qur'an and does not know the most basic interpretation of the first few aayaat of Surah al-Faatihah. If you say yes, then please explain to me the linguistic error or the legislative harm in terming those beliefs ‘aqeedah, especially knowing that many of the early generations used this word to refer to fundamental beliefs? (This may help you to appreciate this: http://www.ajurry.com/vb/showthread.php?t=8947).

Let me phrase that in another way: Would I be wrong to invite people to read a book which summarises the most important beliefs that a Muslim should hold, based on those beliefs that are emphasised in the Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, particularly in those areas of belief that people are making mistakes in? Is that over-complicating things? Is it not then true to say that by the same token a book of tafseer is over-complicating things, and that people should just read the Qur'an as it is? Are not books of fiqh and for that matter all of the books of classical Islamic sciences over-complicating things as well? If we just take a minute to consider the various Islamic sciences, how many of those have names that are mentioned in the Qur'an? Should we throw away all of those books and just "follow the prophets"? I would suggest to you that the person who makes this statement is not following the guidance of the prophets at all, but is following their desires, and seeking to deceive people by using something true: that the word "‘aqeedah" is not mentioned in the Qur'an, to peddle something false: that ‘aqeedah is not mentioned in the Qur'an.

In the video that was shown to me, you also spoke of the division of tawheed into three categories, and you appeared to suggest that this had no basis in the Qur'an. This is simply false, and it is a lie against Allāh and His book. The division of tawheed into three categories is mentioned clearly in the Qur'an, such as 19:65, to quote one simple example. I would again recommend that you take some time to acquaint yourself with the division of tawheed in the Qur'an, and this is an excellent resource: http://www.al-badr.net/web/download/ebook/almukhtasar.zip, as well as the original, more detailed work: http://www.al-badr.net/web/download/ebook/kaol-sadid.zip.

At this point, I want to emphasise that this is not a matter of arguing with one another about terminology, such that you call it īmaan and I call it ‘aqeedah. Rather, there is a fundamental difference between a person who says that it is sufficient for a Muslim to say that Allāh is not the sun or the moon, and a person who says that Allāh clearly states in the Qur'an the obligation of singling out Allāh in His Lordship, His worship, and His perfect names and attributes.

Finally, I am at loss to understand, if we take Kitaab at-Tawheed as an example (and I don't know if that is the book that you were referring to), why you consider this kind of book to be incompatible with the simple explanation of beliefs in the Qur'an that you advocate? If you open the book, the majority of it is simply aayaat of the Qur'an, stating the beliefs that Muslims must have, with little or no further explanation. Occasionally the author brings a hadeeth, which I presume that you would not object to. He adds chapter titles, and a few bullet points at the end. If it is true that you object to a book like this, then I cannot for a moment understand why, since the book is little more than a collection of aayaat of the Qur'an on the topic.

Your statements carry great weight among the English-speaking Muslim community, and they are transmitted many thousands of times to people around the world. So fear Allāh, O Nouman Ali Khan, and protect yourself from his punishment, by expressing your regret for this foolish and deceitful statement of yours, and by resolving to teach people in accordance with the beliefs of the early generations; those companions about whom Allāh said:

"If they believe as you [all] believe, then they have been guided; but if they turn away, they are only in dissension." [2:137]

Your brother in Islam,

Muhammad Tim Humble