Alsuleiman, who is based in Australia, attracted controversy in 2009 when he invited radical cleric and Al Qaeda recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki to give a private sermon to hundreds of Muslim youths in a Sydney Mosque.
Al-Awlaki was linked with two 9/11 hijackers, the Fort Hood shooter, and many other terrorists, before being killed by a US drone strike in September 2011. US President Barack Obama stated: “The death of Awlaki is a major blow to Al-Qaeda’s most active operational affiliate. He took the lead in planning and directing efforts to murder innocent Americans.”
In addition to his decision to invite Al-Awlaki to speak in Sydney, Alsuleiman is known for his hard-line preaching. The Guardian reported that Alsuleiman “has supported the stoning of adulterers”, and the sheik probably won’t be buying a Rhythm & Vines ticket while he’s in New Zealand given his comments: “A New Year’s party, it’s worship of Satan. A Christmas party, it’s worship of Satan… It’s a party in the fire of hell. It’s a party with the anger of Allah.”
Alsuleiman has also condemned homosexuality as “a major, major sin”, saying “homosexuality [is] spreading all these diseases. Let’s not deny the fact. Don’t call it the name of freedom… These are evil actions that bring evil outcomes to our society.”
Critic asked several campus groups what they thought about Alsuleiman being invited to give lectures on campus. Representatives of the local Young Nats and Young Labour branches both said they disagreed with the sheikh’s views, but that university societies are entitled to invite speakers of their choice.
OUSA President Logan Edgar said: “I think university campuses are always a good platform for student activism and freedom of thought, a good place to be a bit fucking out there in the way you think, so good on them for being different, but he’s certainly not someone I’d invite over for tea. My comment there would be that they probably need some better role models.”
Edgar continued: “I guess we’re an international campus and we’ve got to be a wee bit lenient, a wee bit accepting because it’s sort of a home for everyone. But fuck I hate those people that make women wear veils and shit. That’s just fucked.”
MUSA President Mostafa Amer told Critic he had never heard of Al-Awlaki, and was not aware of any controversy involving Alsuleiman: “My understanding is that the sheik is well recognised amongst the scholars as a trustworthy man.” When asked whether it was inappropriate for Alsuleiman to have invited Al-Awlaki to speak in 2009 given Awlaki’s Al Qaeda connections, Amer said: “It entirely depends what that speaker was there to talk about…. If he was there just to preach violence towards civilians, ‘you should go out and bomb places’, that’s unacceptable. But if he was preaching the importance of being active in the community, of not just being sedentary, then that’s acceptable.”
Furthermore, “Islam forbids homosexuality”, so Alsuleiman’s negative comments about gay people should come as no surprise.
Amer said the purpose of Islam Awareness Week is “to promote NZ’s awareness of Islamic beliefs and practices, and it’s also to tackle misconceptions which are often portrayed through the media. We want to be able to represent the true image of Islam.”
LIFE ACCORDING TO SHEIK SHADYThe term “Haram” means an act that angers Allah (God). “Haram” actions are seriously sinful and totally forbidden. Alsuleiman’s Sydney Muslim Youth online forum has a section called “Ask the Sheik”, where he answers questions about what’s haram (forbidden) and what’s halal (legit).
The Sims (video game)Haram. “This game is made to destroy the kids and the youth.”
Music?“It’s haram to listen to music at all times… It is haram to use all musical instruments except the duff (drum).”
WhistlingMakrooh – not as sinful as haram, but should be avoided.
MasturbationHaram, although the Sheik causes some confusion by inadvertently creating the best double-entrendre ever: “Allah said the believers are those who protect their private parts from any unlawful sex except [with] their wives and what their right hand possesses.” In the Qur’an, “what your right hand possesses” refers to slaves rather than what immediately springs to mind.
Plucking EyebrowsNormally it’s haram, and both the plucker AND the pluckee will be cursed. But “if the eyebrows are excessive that makes
her look like a man” then it’s okay.