On October 7th, 2019, veteran Muslim American Mansoor tweeted out a list of people titled, “Who NOT to learn Islam from.” On November 26th, 2019 he did it again. The tweet received mixed reaction, including my own.
The first time I supported the tweet on the premise that unless Muslims brave speaking critically of our theology, others will do it for us. Seeing the tweet again, it’s time to unpack the question of who not to learn Islam from.
Both times, the list is simple and there is no follow up thread. It doesn’t offer any more conversation that distinguishes one person on the list from another. It’s an incomplete conversation and it was my mistake to support the initial tweet without taking the time to unpack it in my own thread. So I will do that here.
To tweet that same list twice now (two unique tweets instead of simply a retweet of the original tweet) without further context, makes the list less of a confessional Muslims can align with and more of an attack. So let’s talk about that list.
The Intention Behind the Original Tweet?
For whatever their merits or criticisms the fact is that as far as I know, no one on that list has studied Islamic theology in full spirit of scholarship, as a student of theology, and/or with a reputable teacher in the faith. If I am wrong, please correct me.
As someone who continues to study privately, studied with Sheikh Uthman of Critical Loyalty, and put myself through a gauntlet of critique including critical self-review, at this stage it’s becomes easier to discriminate between someone who has and has not studied Islam. Someone who has studied Islam without looking to weaponize it, speaks differently. They tend to step out of their echo chamber. They ask more questions. They tend to be less combative.