Fallout: A Real Account of Calling Out an Abusive Shaykh

Fallout: A Real Account of Calling Out an Abusive Shaykh

By Danish Qasim
December 17, 2019                                                                                                                                                      

The following accounts come from people in a tariqa who have come forward with complaints of an abusive shaykh. I’m writing this as an example of what can happen when a shaykh admits to his transgressions, those around the shaykh acknowledge the wrong, yet blame is placed on victims and those who spoke out. Stories like this exist both in and out of tariqas; what is important to note is the spiritual rhetoric to justify abuse, as well as the secrecy and deception that accompanies abuse. All names have been changed.

During Sha’ban of 2019, Ali, still serving as a murid of Shaykh ‘Adil received a message from a woman whom we will call Aisha (name changed to protect her identity). Aisha had been sexually assaulted and needed help and guidance. She reached out to various murids, explaining to them in humiliating detail what had happened to her, only to be blamed for her own sexual assault––much in the same way that other women who had come forward in the tariqa had been.

Hurt, confused, and not sure what else to do, Aisha didn’t know where else to turn. At the point of almost giving up, she decided to give it one more chance and reached out to Ali. Ali was a murid of Shaykh ‘Adil for ten years and was a muqaddam––a representative of the Shaykh. For many years he had served Shaykh ‘Adil with great dedication. Aisha confided in another sister, who told her to speak with Ali, assuring her that Ali is trustworthy and would listen. Aisha, desperate to be heard, took her chance.

‘Aisha reached out to Ali and sent him a long audio message about her experiences and later shared the experiences of other sisters in her area with the Shaykh. After hearing Aisha’s story, Ali reached out to another muqaddam (M1) of the Shaykh with whom he was close. It didn’t take long after that before the accusations she made were confirmed. However, confirmation of said facts failed to bring Aisha the expected relief. The response to the allegations implied that the assaults against Aisha were justified by those in positions of power because they were occurring for the tarbiya (spiritual edification) of the women. M1 went on to insist that the average Muslims (‘awam) would not have the capacity to understand the spiritual reality of the Shaykh’s actions.

After speaking with ‘Aisha about her experiences, Ali learned of four other women who had been abused by the Shaykh. Their accounts are summarized below:

Sister 2 [S2]

Aisha told Ali about another sister in her town, S2. Shaykh ‘Adil kissed S2 on her mouth against her will. She never asked him at the time for any ruqya. Seven months prior she had quit smoking, and when she complained about struggling with her temper, the Shaykh advised her to return to smoking to curb her bouts with anger. On a different occasion, which she chose to discount, she recalled an incident when Shaykh ‘Adil suddenly blew lightly on her mouth.

Sisters 3 and 4 [S3 and S4]

When S3 met Shaykh ‘Adil for the first time, she said he “held both my hands and kissed them, and then kissed me on my forehead, and said, ‘You are so beautiful.’”

When Shaykh ‘Adil met S3’s college-aged daughter (S4), he asked the young woman, “Where did your father use to kiss you?” The young woman replied by pointing to her cheek. The Shaykh then proceeded to kiss her all over her face. After the incident, S4 rushed to tell her mother what had happened. As often the case with molestation cases, the victim felt violated and confused, looking for answers from someone she trusted––in this case, her mother. However, because her mother (S3) was also a victim, she wasn’t able to offer the needed solace to her daughter, nor did she know what to say to her.

 Sister 5 [S5]

S5 had been a murida for five years when Shaykh ‘Adil asked her if she wanted ruqya. She declined. Shaykh ‘Adil began talking about a murida who has sexual feelings when she sees men and asked if she also gets the same feelings. S5 replied that she didn’t, but Shaykh ‘Adil continued to hound her about sexual feelings.

At this point, S5 did not know that kissing Shaykh ‘Adil ‘s hand was haram (forbidden), thinking of him as a father, so she asked if she could do so (as the male murids routinely did). Shaykh ‘Adil told her he would kiss her at the door. S5 states the following account of what happened:

Shaykh ‘Adil went to the door and kissed me on my forehead first, then kissed me on my mouth. He then pushed my head towards his chest and kept pressing down on my head too hard. I pushed back so I could distance my body from him. By then, I had lost my senses––I didn’t understand what was going on. It felt unreal what was happening. By this time, he held my head on his chest for a while. Shocked, I still couldn’t understand what he was doing to me. Then he grabbed my hand and sat on a chair where he stretched his legs far and wide on a pillow. This was when he proceeded to do the ruqya ––despite the fact I had repeatedly refused it at the beginning when he had first asked.

Shock and fear worked like a drug on me. Unable to think clearly, I couldn’t comprehend why he was doing all these strange things. Frightened, I kept silent, repeating Astaghfirullah, Astaghfirullah, Astaghfirullah, but he, of course, announced what I said as unnecessary since he wasn’t doing anything wrong; at one point claiming that anything I felt that was wrong was on account of “my own illusions.’

Instead of receiving help and moral support, the women were slandered. Maligned. They were characterized as ‘problematic’ for daring to raise such uncomfortable issues with their tarbiya. M1 asked Ali to reach out to another muqaddam, M2.  However, before calling M2, Ali received an audio recording of a message M2 sent to one of the sisters who was assaulted. M2 stated on the audio call that Shaykh ‘Adil admitted to kissing her on the mouth, but that he did not intend anything evil, nor did he experience anything sexual, nor was he aroused. Finally, the Shaykh apologized, saying he was sorry for what he did. M2 went on to say the behavior of the Shaykh was haram (forbidden). He also asserted that the Shaykh is not infallible, and that he personally categorized what had transpired as nothing more than a ‘mistake in the shaykh’s ijtihad’ (legal reasoning).

After Ali reached out to M2, M2 instructed Ali to reach out to another muqaddam, M3. During that discussion, M3 also admitted the contact between Shaykh ‘Adil and the sisters did, in fact, take place, and it was a ruqya ghayr shari’ (impermissible ruqya) but the type of ruqya seemingly required ‘at the moment.’ He went on to explain that the Shaykh’s actions were similar to ‘touch therapy,’ claiming the sisters needed this particular ‘show of affection,’ and that many of them suffer from ‘father issues.’ He informed Ali that the Shaykh determined that the sisters were in a precarious spiritual state, and that kissing and touching them were a lesser of two evils (akhaff al-dararayn) He went on to insinuate that these women lacked moral value in the sight of the spiritual leaders involved, asserting that ‘one woman owned a dog and the other smoked cigarettes,’ thereby invalidating anything else either woman had to say.

Meanwhile, the rest of the complaints coming from the other women whom Shaykh ‘Adil assaulted went unanswered. Many were shunned and called liars. When one of the women did decide to confront Shaykh ‘Adil about kissing her, the Shaykh replied angrily, “You know nothing about haqiqa,” ––as if this affirmation explained everything. Frustrated, many of those sisters either left or stopped pressing the issue until the sister shared her audio with them.

Deeply troubled by all of this, Ali reached out to an heir and representative of the Shaykh, a man named *Hassan, who had been a friend of his, and a confidant of Shaykh ‘Adil. Hassan did not hesitate to remind Ali that he had spent nearly twenty years with Shaykh ‘Adil, and had full confidence in the Shaykh’s righteousness. To Ali’s astonishment and sadness, Hassan based his unwavering trust in Shaykh ‘Adil on times he witnessed Shaykh ‘Adil remove black magic and evil spirits from people, curing them through ruqya, as well as his observance of Shaykh ‘Adil’s good character. Hassan also reminded Ali that Shaykh ‘Adil was not a prophet, and therefore like any other wali, he could be subject to making mistakes.

Up to this point, everyone Ali turned to for help continued to label the sexual assaults committed against these women as ‘mistakes’ ––slight gaffes––Nothing but simple, run of the mill missteps, but never categorized as the grave abuses of power they were.

This was not the first time Hassan was told that Shaykh ‘Adil had behaved inappropriately with women. In 2015 he was informed by an elder in his community that the Shaykh had inappropriately touched another murid’s wife during a ruqya. Hassan and M3 were made aware that Shaykh ‘Adil would routinely touch women during ruqya on his trips to their locale. Still, his inappropriate actions were once again minimalized and categorized as normalized behavior.

As a result of Ali’s tenacity and persistence in seeking truth to secure justice for the wronged women, Ali and his wife have become the target of vicious slander and reproach from Hassan for daring to speak out against such a noble shaykh. In retaliation, Hassan also attacked the integrity of the other victims. And despite the fact it had been emphasized several times during the exchange that what Shaykh ‘Adil did was wrong and his behavior could not be justified, leaving any question as to the veracity of accusations made whatsoever, the blame remained solely on Ali for not letting the issue go.

These confrontations, as stressful and painful as they were, did not deter Ali, who then reached out to another mutual friend of his and Hassan’s. A man named *Adam, not a member of the tariqa.

By and large, the community considered Adam a respected religious leader. He, along with Hassan, had taken in the past a strong collective stance against other corrupt religious figures. Ali felt comfortable mentioning to Adam what had taken place. Concerned, Adam agreed to go to the Shaykh to see for himself and question him. It turns out, during the visit, Adam was informed by those involved with Shaykh ‘Adil (and who continue to be around him) that the accusations made against the Shaykh were, in fact, true. However, they contended that since Shaykh ‘Adil was not a prophet, he was thereby subject to committing sin. They also informed Adam that the Shaykh had since made *tawba (repentance) and took steps to ensure that he would not be alone with women again. Case closed.

Adam, a man whom Ali once respected as someone who stood up against wrongdoing, returned from his visit with Shaykh ‘Adil, expressing to Ali that Shaykh ‘Adil had done nothing more than ‘slip.’ Adam went on to explain in no uncertain terms that the Shaykh had made amends by apologizing to the sisters, and it was Ali who needed to make amends by understanding that Shaykh ‘Adil was an older man and the one in need of tolerance. This was a lie, as Shaykh ‘Adil only apologized to one sister while ignoring and slandering the other women who made repeated attempts to contact him.

 Blamed for Not Ignoring

Two out of four muqaddams admitted that Shaykh ‘Adil acted inappropriately, while one maintained the Shaykh’s actions are not something the average Muslim can understand, and the fourth has remained silent about the issue. Not one of them accused the women of lying, but just wanted Ali not to make a ‘big deal out of it.’ As the story spread, however, and Shaykh ‘Adil and his representatives’ reputations took a dive, they began claiming the allegations were all slander against Shaykh ‘Adil.

Nonetheless, instead of Adam becoming outraged by the situation, he instead turned his torment on Ali, expressing his so-called concern for Ali’s apparent lack of ‘spiritual wellbeing’ and his unwarranted need to continuously focus his attention on a poor, aging and noble Shaykh. Adam’s wrath toward Ali was far from over.

When Adam took a trip to Medina, he texted Ali from there, telling him that he has complained to the Messenger of Allah (salla Allah ‘alaihi wa sallam) about Ali’s intolerable behavior. And since Ali cannot seem to leave Shaykh ‘Adil alone, daring to go after one of the Awliya, or aid the Shaykh in covering his faults, Adam raised the matter to the Messenger of Allah, and now threatened Ali that the Prophet was “after him.”

The day after he texted Ali his complaint to the Prophet, Adam texted another du’a in which he asked Allah to destroy “those who seek fitna” and who “harm Allah’s servants.” He prayed that they are “denied the hand of the Prophet (salla Allah ‘alaihi wa sallam)” because they harmed his kin and caused offense to them.

Attacks against Ali have continued. Shaykh ‘Adil’s daughter has made numerous Facebook posts warning against Ali. She has written poems against him, calling him a faithless Zindiq (one who masks his disbelief while claiming to be a Muslim), an ex-Wahhabi, and ‘someone who is barely a student let alone a shaykh.’ Here is a translation of one such poem:

Bleating sheep abound. May Allah hurl lightning bolts at them!
In every age and region, you will find that they are zindiqs [people who mask their disbelief while claiming to be Muslim]
You will come to know them by their features: they hail from a fugitive folk.
The lineages are scattered, their pedigrees shorn.
They are blue-eyed, reddish complexioned, like lecherous wolves.
Bereft of lineage, transmission chain (sanad), or knowledge—except from phony devils.
Their inner secrets were exposed, and so they maligned the honor of their intelligent masters.
They have brought tribulation to the righteous and their light with their disreputable horns.
The so-called iman in their hearts is counterfeit.
You will know them through their manner of speech—their souls are hypocrites!
Fame is their aspiration, at the expense of penitent hearts.
They became hypocrites due to their intense rage against the Folk [the Sufis].
Through pretense they took on the hue of the deen with an eloquent English and Arabic tongue, and so they put the believers through tribulation—they are the sprouts!
They carried their sins and the sins of those whom they’ve caused to suffer tribulation
—and so the divine curses upon them are successive, uninterrupted!
O how far they are from the mark! Their souls are trembling!
May Allah curse them for as long as the invocation (dhikr) of the Folk is uttered!
Allah has blotted out their hearts, and so they have become utterly destroyed, spoiled.
May they be encircled with obliterating evil from Allah!
Be on guard against them, O you possessed of insight and loftiness!
I will divulge to you all my secret: they are the non-Arab Orientalists
This is my decisive word on the matter for every spiritually wayfaring soul.

After being informed about what Shaykh ‘Adil did, another sister who attends the gatherings of the Shaykh claimed that she possesses a gift of insight and can tell who an abuser is by looking at their faces. She claimed she did not see anything that would indicate an ‘abuser’ in the face of Shaykh ‘Adil, so she determined that the allegations the women made were to make Shaykh ‘Adil’s family look bad.

In the years prior, Shaykh ‘Adil raised funds for a zawiya, which is a building for members of the tariqa, in addition to a hefty endowment. However, the zawiya paid for by public donations made in good faith ended up being registered as Shaykh ‘Adil’s private property.

It is also worth noting that at one time, the tariqa was proud of Ali. They admired and respected him, and often propped him up unabashedly, but once he dared to stand up to the Shaykh, they attacked his reputation, deeming him ‘a ‘self-proclaimed shaykh’ on ‘an offensive.’

Hassan’s wife has also been busy sending messages, urging people to forgive, and reminding them that only Allah can judge us. Instead of ‘being cowardly’ and warning against the Shaykh, she has urged others to seek forgiveness for the Shaykh in his presence courageously.

Aisha’s Key Points:

“In my first meeting with Shaykh ‘Adil, he was very sweet, asking if I had any problems. I started crying. He placed his hands on my back and my head. He was also saying salawat. I thought it was some type of ruqya.

After the zawiya gathering, I spent the night at the muqaddam’s wife’s place. I was asking everything about the Shaykh. I was really curious. The muqaddam was not very educated, but I knew of illiterate Awliya.

Shaykh ‘Adil, asked me, “How many countries have you been to?”

“I do volunteer work in a lot of countries,” I told him. Then he asked me a strange question.

                     “I know this will make you feel uncomfortable,” he said, “but are you a virgin? I’ll ask you something else, do you see images of men in your dreams?”

            I said, “no.”

 He then said, “You have never been touched by a man? Have you had sexual thoughts about anyone in classes?”

            I interpreted his need to know what happened for murids. He called me, batul (chaste/virgin/pure), and praised me.

3rd meeting:

“He asked me if I ate breakfast. I hadn’t opened the fridge because the sign taped to the front said not to. He opened it and quickly kissed me on the forehead. I had seen him do this same thing to others, young and old. It left me shaken, but I tried to dismiss it.”


I came back another time. I went to pray Maghrib in the Zawiya. Two people rang the doorbell in Zawiya: a woman and daughter. I opened the door (a Faqir told me not to open the door for anyone. I told no one to tell him). But his daughter found out and told him. As a result, I was called into his office. I felt terrified about what he’d say. Two of my friends came with me, but he told my friends to leave after I told the story.

After she left, but during the same discussion, I didn’t make eye contact, but he came closer to me and started kissing me on my face and all over. I froze in my place, unable to move. Finally, I ran out, and upstairs, and told another sister what had just happened.

“This isn’t right or in the Sharia,” she told me. Then she said, “Well, you know what, you’re not the first one, and you should talk to him.”

Scared, I told her I don’t want to talk to him. I brought what happened up to the other lady, and she mentioned that he’d often greet them while kissing them on the cheek.

Surprised, I asked her why she let him do this, but she remained silent.

Then I went to the mother of one of the muqaddams and asked her if this is acceptable.

She asked me, “Oh, did this really happen?” She went on to tell me that, “he’s like our grandfather, and you are experiencing waswasa (satanic whisperings). I asked her to make sure and ask her son (a muqaddam) to see if it’s okay.

Then we had a dhikr session, but I couldn’t concentrate. My mind was somewhere else. I remembered back to a story about another Shaykh who had harassed one of my friends. As my mind wondered, everyone else in the room noticed when I didn’t join the dhikr. I was told later that I wore a weird expression on my face.

Then the Shaykh confronted me in front of the other women, and said, “Do you know how old I am? And you’re not even that beautiful!”

I laid on my bed in physical pain the whole night. He had convinced me and those around me that I was the one wrong, and how dare I backbite a wali.

“I kissed you because this is haqiqa,” he had said. “You don’t know anything about haqiqa.”

Everyone remained convinced that I had backbitten a wali. I prayed to Allah to forgive me for backbiting an inheritor of the Prophet (salla Allah ‘alaihi wa sallam).

One other lady said, “He’s the Qutb [a high spiritual ranking wali]. He can do whatever he wants.”

The Shaykh accused me of speaking ill of him and trying to find out more about him. He quoted ayah Hammazin mashha’in bi namim. (An ayah that faults backbiting and carrying tales) He told me, “to repent and pray two rak’at.”

Shaykh ‘Adil then warned me never to tell anyone, including any of the other ladies, as well. The isolation caused me to become consumed by guilt and fear, especially after they came to my hometown to make sure I never told anyone. The stress also caused me to lose a lot of weight. I looked thin and very pale during their visit.

They kept asking me, “What’s wrong, what’s wrong.” Then he said, “This is a test.”

When one of my friends phoned, he told them, ‘We’re all going through tests, and we will pass them, in sha’ llah.”

After that, he stopped talking to me, and this increased my guilt.


After a few months, he called and said (quoting a prophetic hadith): “If you have no shame, do what you will.”

When he came to my town last February, one of the older murids, a sister-in-law of the muqaddam, was the first to affirm we have to follow Sharia. While we spoke, we were interrupted but another girl who said, “Are you still talking about this?”

She then went on to tell a story about three other girls who accused the shaykh of sexual harassment, but, “he forgave them, so don’t worry about him forgiving you.”

She didn’t know what happened after that, except that they made a big fuss. They went to the police, but in the end, they returned to tariqa.

The other lady said, “I used to wonder why we kiss his hands,” but then added, “You kiss the hands of the one you took bay’a with.”

Testimony from Aisha to Ali:

I came to [the city where Shaykh ‘Adil lives] last summer, 2018. I came all the way to meet Shaykh ‘Adil and take the nisba [the formal pledge of spiritual connection to the Shaykh] The first time I met him, he asked me to sit next to him on the couch. It was downstairs. He said, “Come close,” and placed his hands on my back and recited some stuff. At the time, I thought it was the blessing and the ruqya of a righteous Shaykh.

On my second meeting with him, he began asking me why I am still not married, and if I have any dreams where I see men. I couldn’t understand what he meant, but I said, “No.”

He smiled and said, “Woah, you are a batul” (a woman who turns away from men), then he asked me which countries I traveled to.

After I gave him an answer, he said, “This may sound like a weird question to you, but has any man ever touched you? Are you still a virgin?”

It was incredibly humiliating to be asked something like that, but under husn al-zann [holding a good opinion] and adab towards the Shaykh, I replied to him even though he could sense my uneasiness.

The biggest event of all was when I opened the door of the zawiya when I wasn’t supposed to. I was worried if the Shaykh found out that he’d think of me as someone who has bad adab, especially since I had been asked not to open the door but did it anyway. The Shaykh found out, and I was crying because I thought he would scold me. At that time, X, one of my friends, also a murida, called me to his office. He told her to go out of the room, and I stayed with him alone, and he said, “Tell me what happened.”

I cried while I narrated what happened. The Shaykh said it’s okay. Then I found him kissing me on the cheek and right on top of my mouth. It was so sudden; I couldn’t understand what was happening. I stammered, frozen in my place, and hurried to tell X the murida what had just happened.

X said: “You aren’t the first one, and he doesn’t actually do that with everyone.” She also said I should be feeling special.

I told her this isn’t right, and this is an act that’s prohibited in the Sharia, but she said, I’d better face him myself and that he is our spiritual father, and he means well.

The only thought that persisted in my head is that my personal space had been violated by someone who claimed to be a Shaykh.

Another old murida was there with her sons, and I went and told her what had happened. In the beginning, she was surprised and said this isn’t right, but then said, “These are all wasawais [whisperings] of shaytan,” and that he is like our father!”

I still wasn’t convinced. I stayed the whole day in a daze thinking about it until, suddenly, X the murida called me and said the Shaykh wants to see me in his office. Me, her, and another murida went.

We sat down, and he started saying, “Do you have any questions for me?”

I replied, “No.”

Then suddenly, his face turned red, and he said, “I am X years old, I have no shahwa [sexual desire], and I wasn’t harassing you. You are such a person with bad khuluq [character]. Are you testing me? I was only consoling you at that time when I kissed you. You go around asking people about me behind my back––you are such a backbiter.”

He was yelling at me when he said this, and told me to, “GO OUT OF THE OFFICE RIGHT NOW!”

The only thought that came to my mind at this time was ‘Who told him about my thoughts, and could he really be a wali? He must be, because how else would he find out?’

Those muridas witnessed this scene. I went to my room, feeling I had committed a sin; I felt in physical pain the whole night because I thought I committed a big sin of backbiting a wali. My friends came and tried to calm me down and told me to apologize to him the next morning. His           [Shaykh ‘Adil’s] daughter was there, I asked if I could come in, she looked at me like I was the guilty one, but let me in.

I said sorry, and the muridas were there with me.

He told me, “I am ashamed to report you to the police. The Prophet has been called a womanizer too, and I am so glad to reach that maqam [spiritual station] where he [was] being slandered with such words.” He said I only kissed a mouth that makes dhikr of Allah. “This is haqiqa,” and then told me I know nothing about haqiqa. He told me in the end that he forgives me and to never let anyone know about this, and the other muridas too who were with me the whole time. He told me to make istighfar [seek forgiveness] and repent about what I did.

The day before I left, his eldest daughter came and told me that her heart was broken over what she heard. She meant the scolding scene where she witnessed the Shaykh telling me I am a backbiter and all that, and that if I had approached her and asked her about his actions, it would have been better. I told her I was so uncomfortable speaking about this, but I asked her, “I have the right to question when someone doesn’t follow the Sharia, right?”

“But he is like your father,” she countered.

I told her, “But does the Sharia say that this is halal for him because he is in the rank of my father?”

She went silent, then said, “He is my father, and I follow him no matter what he does.”


I went back home feeling heavy with all this guilt I carried around. I kept asking Allah to forgive me for questioning the Shaykh and even accusing him of something like that. I didn’t know at the time that I was emotionally abused, or that they had brainwashed me into thinking I did something wrong while he was innocent.  I remember the wife of the muqaddam in my city asking me what was wrong with me because I looked so pale. I couldn’t explain what happened because I promised not to bring it up. I just told her, “I questioned the Shaykh in something,” to which she replied, “Well, some women before that accused him of sexually harassing them, so I am sure your problem is lighter. Take it easy.”

I stopped and asked, “How did he react?’

She said, “Well, he forgave them.”

At that time, my only thought was that “Okay, since he forgave those women who accused him too, he might as well forgive me.’

Another older murida asked me the same thing. What is it I could have done, and she asked, “Have you questioned the Shaykh being in khalwa [seclusion] with women?”

I stared at her and said, “No,” but since they were normalizing all this, I was convinced at the time that this [behavior] was okay when clearly this was all fed to them as being okay.

Once, while inquiring about this action, I asked about kissing the hands of the shaykh, and this same murida told me, that “it’s okay to kiss the hands of the Shaykh because it’s the hand that gave you the nisba.”

Then she said, “This is a new culture,” and “that we must adapt! I have seen it happen a lot of times in the zawiya in the city [where Shaykh ‘Adil resides]. I never liked it or conformed with it, but when he came to our city, he would let certain women kiss his hands and decline it from others. When he would see me in the room, for instance, he knew I objected to this so he wouldn’t do it in front of me. This is downright hypocrisy. He chooses where and when and to whom he’ll make or do specific actions to. It is all a part of his show.”

The emotional abuse went on…                                                         

When Shaykh ‘Adil came to our city for a visit, one of the muridat * also a friend* disappeared from the majalis; she didn’t even come to say goodbye to him. We met during a Quran lesson, and she told me, “Never, ever stay with the Shaykh in a room alone with him.” She told me he had kissed her. “It had felt like someone had woken me up from a mental coma. I remembered everything that happened to me.

I decided to share my story with her, which I had promised to bury, and she became extremely furious. This is when we [both] realized we were being fooled, violated, and that the Shaykh is definitely someone who knows what he is doing. He didn’t ‘slip.’ He does this on purpose, and this has happened to a lot of other women as well.

This man not only touched me, but he kissed me [an intimate gesture], and these are all actions prohibited by Islamic law. I feel pity for anyone trying to justify these actions because they are now a part of the emotional abuse I went through. Besides committing a major sin, they are not following a claimant of the Messenger.

I am thankful Allah has shown me the truth after six months of thinking I was guilty of something. Even while I know, I was thinking right, but the people around me shut down my thoughts and were the biggest supporters of the Shaykh, even when they witnessed falsehood right in front of them.


  • During the mawsim [yearly gathering with the Shaykh and murids at his zawiya] while I was in his office with the other two muridas, a girl came in. She threw herself at him and kissed him. It was so strange to see this, and after this scene was over, my other two deluded muridas told me: “See, it’s normal.”

For the record: I never considered this behavior as normal even when haram was being normalized in front of me. I admit I was so afraid because they kept poisoning me with those words––“He is a wali. He is a wali. He is a spiritual father… He is too old to think of you in this way.”


The emotional abuse continued even after I came back home, and the Shaykh requested the muqaddams read a book for Shaykh Muhammad al-Hashimi al-Hall al-Sadid ‘ala ma Astashkalahu al-Murid (a book on the etiquette of the murid with his or her Shaykh). The muqaddam kept repeating the part: “If you ever think of your Shaykh as someone who’s bad, then you better leave him, because his madad [spiritual support] will never reach you.”

The Shaykh, at that time, wouldn’t return my calls. I had to send the local muqaddam a message asking him why the Shaykh doesn’t respond, to which he replied in a message, “He doesn’t want to speak to you.”

When he finally answered my call, the first thing he said was, “You have been such a bad girl,” and he even recited the hadith, “If you feel no shame then do as you wish.”

Looking back at how this all played out and the show, I thank Allah a thousand times for showing me the truth. When I started warning other people, I was sent a message through the murida who was with me at the Shaykh’s zawiya, telling me to stop making fitna and to stop talking about it, to which I sent back my reply, “You think you are on a path of tasawwuf, while you are on a path of falsehood.”

Now I know the Shaykh isn’t a wali. He is a fake person who disguises himself under the cloak of a Shaykh. He uses people for his own interests and desires. He is knowledgeable at convincing people he is a Shaykh. I am thankful to Allah He hasn’t left me blind-hearted and that He saved me.

–Transcript ended–


A Muqaddam of Shaykh ‘Adil’s Advice to a Non-murid:

It should be noted that physical and emotional exploitation by a group extends to the counsel they give, which when extended, can reveal the skewed mindset and conviction of the individual providing the advice. For example:

A brother had trouble consummating his marriage. A muqaddam of Shaykh ‘Adil meddled greatly in the marriage and gave unsolicited advice, going so far as to tell a different Shaykh about the issue. Besides breaking confidentiality, this other Shaykh told the brother to give his wife Rohypnol and have sex with her when she passes out. (Rohypnol, best known as a ‘date rape drug,’ is a tranquilizer ten times more potent than Valium.)

On another occasion, the muqaddam (who is also a doctor and has access to this drug) told the brother’s wife, in front of her father, to “spread your legs whether you like it or not.” All this eventually led to the couple getting divorced. The muqaddam of Shaykh ‘Adil and the other Shaykh insisted the couple was not a good match once they were heading to divorce, denying their part in the group meddling.




Since these abuses have been made public, many of Shaykh ‘Adil’s students have left him. However, he still has loyalists who remain steadfast by his side, despite being confronted with the alarming truth. Several of them continue to slander Ali and the other victims, and when able, harass those they can get close to.

Finally, I asked Ali to share a few reflections from his journey that we can all benefit from.


Danish: You spent ten years as a murid of Shaykh ‘Adil. Were you nervous when you realized you had a to take a stand against him?

Ali: I can’t say that I felt nervous; however, I knew that once I spoke out about what happened I would receive push back and be treated as a renegade. I’m not a confrontational person, but strangely I didn’t feel nervous about speaking out. Truth is truth. The Prophet (salla Allah ‘alaihi wa sallam) taught us to make the du’a “O Allah, show us truth as truth and enable us to follow it, and show us evil as evil and enable us to shun it.” As painful as the revelations were, I saw them as an answer to that du’a, and so I had to act accordingly and not prefer illusions, delusions, and cultish group-think over truth.


Danish: When you look back at your time spent in the tariqa, do you feel you wasted your time?

Absolutely not. The vast majority of my time in the tariqa was around fellow murids and not around the Shaykh directly. There was beneficial companionship and connection among us on a weekly and sometimes daily basis. Our time around the Shaykh was limited to the annual five or six weeks he would spend with us. There is sadness, anger, and grief of course, but no regrets. I consider it a very valuable lesson that Allah decreed for me in my journey. I can’t thank Him enough. As painful as it is, it has enriched my life beyond measure.

Danish: What is your advice to someone else who has spent years learning and serving a Shaykh, only to then learn that the Shaykh has abused others?

Firstly, it is critically important for a person to study their deen and know exactly what they are seeking and getting into when they join a tariqa or give bay’a to a spiritual guide. A spiritual guide is a mentor. A means. The Prophet Muhammad (salla Allah ‘alaihi wa sallam) is the real spiritual guide and the shaykh is a conduit, a medium who is supposed to be modelling the Prophetic Way and transmitting the dhikr.

Secondly, everything is from Allah. In our study of ‘aqida (doctrine) we learn that the means (asbab) in the world do not act independently of Allah. Water does not quench thirst independently of Allah, nor does Allah give water an autonomous creative power to quench thirst. Instead, we learn that Allah creates the quenching of thirst in conjunction with the drinking of the water (and not by the water, since Allah is free of needing objects). The same may be said with respect to the Shaykh of tariqa. He is a means. It is Allah who purifies and refines our souls. Loyalty to the Shaykh can never be at the expense of loyalty to Allah and His Messenger.

Thirdly, when we invoke with the prophetic du’a “O Allah, show us truth as truth and enable us to follow it, and show us falsehood as falsehood and enable us to shun it,” we must remember that the answer to that du’a may not always be pleasant, but it is critical to our spiritual growth. When a person joins a tariqa, they are seeking to draw near to Allah. To know Allah and become transformed through the Prophetic Way as embodied and taught by the teacher. A part of the Prophetic Way—haqiqa—is to see things as they truly are. There is a saying, often mistaken for a hadith, which says, “O Allah, show us things as they really are.” (Allahumma arina al-ashya’ kamahiya). It is quite possible that you may be shown falsehood as falsehood in the person of an abusive shaykh that you served and learned from over many years. As painful as that realization is, it is a great blessing in the ultimate scheme of things, provided you remember that it is about Allah.

Fourthly, if a person spends years with a Shaykh and later learns that he is abusive or fake, it doesn’t mean that Allah wishes bad for murid or that he or she is deprived. There are many accounts of Shaykhs in the past who in their early days were under false guides. For many people, that is a part of the journey itself, as it teaches them through direct experience what not to be like, how to prefer truth over illusion, and how to endure in seeking Allah.

Fifthly, never surrender your discernment and intellect. Trust your senses and don’t be afraid to ask tough questions. A great Shaykh once said, “The seeker must be vigilant and trust his senses when something feels wrong. The seeker must use his eyes, his ears, and his nose, for if a wolf eats him, it won’t spit him out. A person might seem qualified, impressive, learned, whatever else it may be, but if he ‘smells’ wrong, one must not ignore this.”

Finally, a person can spend years under an abusive Shaykh but still benefit from him. If the Shaykh is teaching and inspiring people, the student can still grow spiritually, since their own sincerity and truthfulness will enable them to progress. The source of growth under an abusive Shaykh is the murid’s own truthfulness and the correct teachings imparted by the Shaykh. But like Sayyiduna Salman al-Farisi (radiya Allah ‘anhu), who spent years with and benefited from false guides before eventually meeting the Prophet (salla Allah ‘alaihi wa sallam), one must move on and never forget that ultimately it is about Allah’s pleasure and nothing else. Sayyiduna Salman recognized that those teachers benefitted him in his journey, but when their abuse came to light he did not stick around out of a false sense of loyalty. His loyalty was to the truth. Likewise, once a person discovers that a shaykh is abusive they should leave him and speak up and not hesitate to tell others.

Danish: In hindsight, were there any ‘red flags’ or clues you saw before Aisha reached out to you?

Yes, in hindsight, there were red flags, but in ‘murid mode’ I either didn’t notice them or, if I noticed them, I filed them under husn al-zann (having a good opinion) or taslim (submission to the Shaykh), or didn’t seek an explanation. Many of those red flags appeared as anomalies, behaviors that I interpreted away. Once it became crystal clear to me that there were repeated cases of abuse and I made the decision to leave, many of those buried memories resurfaced and I saw them for what they were.

The biggest red flags that stood out in hindsight were:

  • Laxity with the prayer (often praying in the later (daruri) time without reason)
  • Lack of focus on spiritual progress beyond gatherings of dhikr and qasidas (spiritual songs sung in a group).
  • Backbiting of murids in the company of the “inner circle”.
  • Divulging murids’ personal business that they shared with him privately.
  • Basic violations of the Shariah in monetary transactions, where others were strong-armed through his authority into breaking contracts they had with others.
  • Rudeness (interpreted as “Oh, the Shaykh is being jalali [stern].”)


But again, when someone is in murid-mode, all of those behaviors are either ignored or interpreted to either minimize them or make them seem as perfections.[1]


It is easy to condemn abuse as an abstraction. No one defends the idea of oppression or abusing others. However, when mistreatment or abuse does happen in one’s own group, difficult challenges can arise when faced with the task of addressing the accused, sometimes turning old trusted friends and associates into foes. Nevertheless, in the end, we as Muslims must stand up to abuse to the best of our abilities, as both Ali and ‘Aisha have bravely demonstrated.





[1] The fault is branded as a perfection. For example, Shaykh Adil’s kissing was seen as tarbiya, helping people, etc.


To contact, please email Danish@inshaykhsclothing.com

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