Adnan Ibrahim: An Islamic Thinker's Struggle for Reformation
Adnan Ibrahim is a Palestinian Islamic thinker, speaker and physician. He is the president of the Civilizations' Meeting Association and the orator of the Shuraa Mosque located in the Austrian capital, Vienna. His controversial views and proposals within the Sharia (Islamic) Law earned him a wide reputation within the Islamic community.
He is famous for his strong statements and relentless fights against what he perceives to be the biggest threats facing the contemporary Islamic world: sectarianism and religious fundamentalism. It safe to say that the man has sunk in the world of philosophy, adopting intellect rather than Sharia, which is something one immediately pays a price for in the Islamic world.
His continuous criticism of many historical aspects of the rise of Islam made him the recipient of heavy criticism from both Sunni and Shia scholars. And the fact that he often favors Shiite references over Sunni ones although being Sunni himself made being constantly accused of being Shiite a natural event in the course of his life.
Adnan regularly gives talks about new atheism and the underlying factors that led to its rise within the Muslim world. He has recently published a transcript of his long series of criticism of new atheism called The Hammer of Proof and The Glass of Atheism.
The Schura Mosque.
Early life and education
Adnan Ibrahim was born to a poor family in the Nuseirat Camp in Gaza, and received his primary and secondary education in the schools of UNRWA ( the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East). He thereafter traveled to Yugoslavia where he studied medicine to later continue his studies Vienna after the outbreak of the Yugoslav Wars.
His passion with Islamic studies emerged since the early days of his childhood. As he grew up, his range of subjects exceeded to reach philosophy, which he later taught, psychology, history and comparative theology. He now lives in Vienna with his Palestinian wife and his seven daughters and two sons.
Besides his studies in human medicine, he holds a baccalaureate in Sharia studies from the faculty of Imam Al-Awza'i for Islamic studies in Beirut with an honor status. He later continued his Islamic studies in Austria where he received his Master's degree and PhD from the University of Vienna. His thesis for his PhD was titled "Freedom of Religion and the Quran". In 1995, he participated in a Quran Intonation contest and won the first prize in the whole Europian continent.
Adnan considers himself to be one of the few Muslims who are aware of the fact that Islam has entered a dark phase in its history in which it is losing its adherents by the thousands on a daily basis, something it never witnessed before in all the course of its history. This loss, he describes, has been brought upon Islam by a hideous version of religious fundamentalism accompanied by widespread ignorance within the ranks of contemporary Muslims of the very basic historical, philosophical and scientific facts that are inherently needed to cope with the intellectual advancement the world has seen.
And he declares new atheism to be the main winner in this internal war that Islam is enduring, claiming that atheism is on an exponential rise within the Muslim world and that the level to which it has propagated has reached an unbelievable level, giving, among others, the example of an active mosque Imam who has been secretly an atheist for years now.
This migration towards atheism will have devastating effects on society, he claims, attacking his usual “we can’t be good without God” debate. He strictly claims that there is no atheistic moral philosophy that managed, even remotely, to answer the question of morality in a worldview that doesn’t include God. “You will hear atheists say that they are moral”, he says in one of his recent lectures in the Schura Mosque, “but they are only moral to a certain limit.” He claims that, out of all atheist philosophers, only Nietzsche is an honest atheist, given his cruel and inhumane philosophy which, according to him, is the only possible outcome of the atheist worldview. The other philosophers, he adds, are trying to give people a wrong and dishonest image of what the atheistic ethical promise really is.
Regarding this issue, he commented on a famous and controversial debate that has taken place in the University of Notre Dame between Evangelist Christian apologist and philosopher William Craig and atheist neuroscientist Sam Harris titled the God Debate II, telling his audience to “watch the debate and see the size of this and the size of that”. In a step that has resulted in considerable criticism from his audience, he attacked atheism for the “horrifying” answers, as he described them, given by leading atheists to the question “what do you think of incest and of a parent who has sex with his own son or daughter?”
Besides the moral failure of atheism, he also justifies his fear over the propagation of atheism to potential spiritual and social outcomes caused by the abandonment of religion which he describes to be the only foundation of social stability (marriage) and spiritual prosperity (worship), the last one being intrinsically an essential irreplaceable component of human well-being.
Although having had produced long series of objective criticism of Darwin's theory of evolution and going through many of its best criticisms along the two last centuries, Adnan's opinion on the subject is in fact quite simple: he accepts the evidence proving that all living creatures have a common ancestor but rejects the idea that evolution is blind (not guided by a creator). This denial of his is, of course, based on religious scripture.
The return of Jesus:
While most Muslim scholars view the return of Jesus as a basic teaching of Islam backed by many Hadiths, he denies it arguing that it clearly contradicts with the sayings of the Quran.
The marriage of Aisha:
It was a wide historical research that Ibrahim had done within the last year of his Islamic studies in Vienna that led him to believe that the age of Aisha, when she got married to Muhammed, was not 9 -as many scholars suggest- but rather, most likely, 21.
Adnan is a strong advocate for peace and respect between the Sunnis and the Shia sects. He is the only reputable Sunni Islamic thinker to praise Shia public thinkers, philosophers and intellectuals in front of Sunni audiences who are used to being taught that all Shias are worse than the Jews themselves, who, needless to say, aren't very welcome within Muslim-majority societies. He's also the only known Sunni scholar to invite a Shia public figure and deliver a lecture with him side by side on the same table. He is notably famous for his anticipation and warnings of the current sectarian wars within Syria and Iraq.
What do you think of Adnan Ibrahim?
The topic of religion-inspired terrorism is particularly a topic that Adnan never seemed to let go of at any time throughout his career. While many fundamental scholars were praising Al-Qaeda's acts and while the majority of Islamic figures seemed to have no opinion whatsoever on the actions of the terrorist organization, Ibrahim took a mighty whack at it whenever a change was available. Needless to say, ISIS was the main subject of all his public lectures and television interviews within the last two months.
Punishment for apostasy:
Contrary to the popular interpretation among Muslim scholars that any Muslim who leaves the Islamic faith should be put to death under Sharia Law, Adnan argues that the implementation of the death penalty by Muhammad as a punishment for apostasy was but a political decision suggesting that all Muslims are free to leave the religion if they so wish.
He is a strong defender of the case that there is not a single reliable text within religious scripture that can even begin to justify such atrocity although the side he takes on this topic is one of a minority.
Eternal punishment in Hell:
There is no such as an eternal punishment in the afterlife, Adnan claims. His view is mostly inspired by old discussions on the subject of the nature of the punishment in Hell and although most contemporary scholars take their view from a literal read of the Quran, many Islamic thinkers have expressed their agreement with him on the topic.
Ma'awiya ibn Abu Taleb:
Contrary to the popular view within the Islamic schools of today about Ma'awiya, Adnan refuses but to express his sharply negative view of the Caliphate pointing out the undeniable sources that prove his illegitimacy as a leader of the Islamic nation. This particular take of Ibrahim has earned a negative reputation within the Sunni ranks and a positive one within the Shias. He later declared in a TV interview in Saudi Arabia that he is no longer going to discuss such historical issues due to the negative reaction of the Muslim audience towards them although he sees such discussions as crucial given the widespread waves of sectarian hatred reigning the Islamic world of today.
Ibrahim expresses his discomfort with the Book of Al-Bukhari, the second most important book in Islam after the Quran, on a regular basis, often pointing out the inconsistencies and nonsensical claims within it alongside with the contradictions with the Quran.
Adnan Ibrahim's Youtube channel, his main connection with his audience, has more than 110k subscribers. He has more than 200k fans on Facebook and about 160k on Twitter.
"The Palestinians of Austria" on Al Jazeera
He is God (on Rotana Khalijiya)
"Sharia Law and the Civil State" on Al Jazeera
Mercy to the Worlds (on Rotana Khalijiya)
"At heart" on Rotana Khalijiya
The Perfect Example (on Rotana Khalijiya)