My thoughts on the NAK controversy

“Did you hear about Nouman Ali Khan?”, my sister asked as we were chatting on Whatsapp.

“No, I haven’t. What’s going on?”, I asked her. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what she was going to tell me. When she shared the news about the ongoing scandal of his “inappropriate interactions” with women, I was in disbelief.

Although the term “inappropriate interactions” is very vague, my head started spinning because it brought so many different kinds of thoughts. I was immediately swept by anger because this was Nouman Ali Khan, someone who I had deep respect for. He couldn’t do anything wrong in my eyes.

Some of his lectures had brought me through my darkest days and opened up my mind towards looking at the Quran in a different light. How could he have been involved in such activities?

I already have a tough time trusting men due to past experiences in my life, which is why I was angry. It felt too close to home for me. Most of all, I was disappointed by how even the most pure and intelligent men could be so hypocritical.

With Islam already under attack by the mainstream media, this wasn’t the best news. There was already so much scrutiny and negativity surrounded around Islam. A prominent figure such as NAK who inspired so many people to turn towards Islam and understand the Quran was suddenly under attack and so was our religion.

It’s funny how even one person or group of people’s actions who are Muslim represent the entire religion. I was afraid that these allegations would further make people turn away from our beautiful religion that only promotes peace, love, and tolerance.

People immediately start questioning our faith based on a very small percentage of Muslims who are misguided. But what they don’t realize is that they should be referring to the Quran and Hadith instead of judging Islam based on people’s actions.

To top it all off, it was my birthday the same day I heard the news. Suddenly, I wasn’t in the mood to go out with my friends. My heart felt as though it was slowly sinking like a heavy, massive ship.

My mind and heart couldn’t accept this news and I was wondering why I was taking it so personally. It really felt as though I knew Nouman since I would listen to his lectures so frequently.

Nouman Ali Khan giving a lecture – Photo: Bayyinah Institute
When the screenshots of his racy Whatsapp conversations were posted online, they propelled me into further disgust. I didn’t want to read all the text messages, but I still managed to scan through all of them. A part of me wanted to believe that these images were just created by someone on Photoshop.

I couldn’t sleep last night because of all the questions circulating in my mind. I didn’t know what to believe anymore. I was hopeful that it was someone framing him who decided to create these images, which is very easy to do these days. Anything can be instantly sensationalised, thanks to social media. 

I was very distressed and decided to let my feelings out to our Creator. I made a special dua for Nouman to guide him if this news was true. Somehow, I was convinced at the time that it was after reading all the posts on Facebook. I was too disheartened to think clearly that night.

When I read Nouman’s Facebook post the next day, my mind was suddenly at ease. He clearly stated how these allegations were all lies and a group of people were manipulating the facts and taking things out of context.

It is a very long and detailed post, but when I was reading it I suddenly began seeing the human side of him. All along, I had been glorifying an image of perfection in my mind of him. If he was in contact with women as prospects for a potential spouse, who are we to decide if these interactions were “inappropriate”?

Even if he is guilty for these charges, I have no right to judge him. And before you think I am only trying to support a religious figure, then please think again. I don’t have the right to judge anyone nor do I question someone’s actions. It is their personal life and that is between them and their Creator.

We all have our flaws, whether they are big or small. Nobody in this world is perfect nor were they created to be. If perfection existed, then what would be the purpose of this life which is merely a test?

We are given the biggest privilege that no other creation has: a choice. This means that it is up to us what kind of life we want to lead, which road we will take, and what decisions we feel are suitable for us.

Some of us make the wrong decisions while others learn along the way. It doesn’t mean that we can point fingers at them and broadcast their mistakes for everyone to be aware of. I can’t say what the actual truth is because only God has the knowledge of that and what is in every individuals heart.

I tried to put myself in NAK’s shoes and think of what he must be feeling like. If my flaws were presented in front of the entire world and people were examining my actions under a microscope, I don’t know how I would muster the courage to stand on my own two feet again.

I don’t think I would be able to face my family, friends, or anyone at all – especially if I was a public figure. But the fact that he came out and declared these allegations are lies, has evidence to support, and will continue to stand strong and not hide behind closed doors is commendable.

Even our prophets and companions who had the highest levels of faith have been through major trials. Prophet Musa killed a man, but is he remembered as a murderer? The stories of his life and miracles are mentioned the most times in the Quran out of any of the prophets.

Prophet Adam ate the forbidden fruit, but was he punished for that his entire life? Umar (R) was on his way to kill our Prophet (peace be upon him) before he became one of the closest companions, but was he remembered only for his past mistakes?

Instead of criticizing someone based on allegations, let’s try to change our perspective. If someone is trying to make a sincere effort to spread goodness, we shouldn’t be the ones to reprimand him or her if they make a mistake along the way. Instead, we need to look past human error towards what will never change: the Quran.

“And the word of your Lord has been fulfilled in truth and in justice. None can alter His words, and He is the Hearing, the Knowing.” – Quran, 6:115

Humans are merely conveyors and interpret the Quranic teachings to the best of their ability. If they are trying to spread goodness and have dedicated their lives to understanding and teaching the Quran, then who are we to condemn or judge them regarding their personal affairs?

I think that this goes for anyone, not only prominent religious figures. If we start altering our focus and reflect upon this thought, it has the power to change perceptions.








One thought on “My thoughts on the NAK controversy

Add yours

  1. The way you started the narrative is quite dramatic, and kept the interest alive. The outcome was in fact predictable.

    It looks you have learned to sermonize from NAK- the last part of the blog entry can be considered a sermon.

    Finally I’d say it is in Allah’s hand to give honor or dishonor to anyone He wishes to. My prayers and well wishes go out for NAK. He is among the few real scholars of Islam in the western world.


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