The Blackburn-based Ummah Channel has come under fire over “sectarian” presenter Shaykh Naveed Ashrafi.
YouTube videos showing Ashrafi denigrating “Wahabis” and Shias have been widely circulated this past week although the comments seem to have been made a while ago.
In one video he tells a caller not to associate with “Wahabis” because it would be endangering her Iman. He also tells her that it’s okay to call them “Wobblers.”
5Pillarz understands that a complaint to broadcasting regulator OFCOM was made but the channel was cleared over it.
The video can be seen here:
And in another video he tells a caller that it’s strictly forbidden for Sunnis to marry Shias as they are “not proper Muslims” who have “filthy beliefs.” He adds that “Sunnis” are not supposed to have any kind of relationship with Shias.
Again, the video can be watched here:
Ashrafi is the founder and principal at Madani Education Centre in Blackburn, and is still given a platform by Ummah Channel despite his controversial comments.
After viewing his “Wobbler” video, prominent Salafi-oriented preacher Abu Easa Niamatullah quipped on his Facebook page: “Without any exaggeration, when the girl says at the end ‘Is it allowed to call ’em wobblers’, I spat out half my breakfast and now I might need to get a new computer screen.”
After Abu Easa posted the video most comments on his thread blasted Ashrafi.
Ikram Hussain said: “These are the people supposedly giving guidance. Last time I checked, we Muslims are not even allowed to ridicule or belittle another person never mind race and religion.”
Sofees Mehdi added: “What an *****, misguiding people and causing division within the Ummah. An honest person would have advised to converse with these people, unless he has something to hide.”
Massoud Shadjareh from the Islamic Human Rights Commission struck a more serious note.
“It’s outrageous that any Islamic Channel is giving anybody a platform to promote this level of disunity and hatred,” he said.
“Who is Muslim and who isn’t has been settled many centuries ago and is enshrined in the Amman Declaration. So any presenter who’s promoting takfir – from whatever sect he comes from – should not be given a platform. This is not a small issue, especially in the troubled times we are living in now.”
Meanwhile, Ashrafi himself was unrepentant on his Twitter account after being critcised for his comments. “Oops! Just noticed, lots of wobblers wobbling around on Twitter,” he said.
5Pillarz understands that Ummah Channel, which has broadcast many programmes in the past encouraging Islamic unity, took Ashrafi off the air for 12 months following his controversial outburst. But he has since come back and is apparently now “a lot more careful.”
In a statement in response to the furore, Ummah Channel said: “A short video clip taken from the programme ‘Your Questions Answered’ which airs on the Ummah Channel has recently surfaced the net where certain statements were made about the Wahhabi sect by the scholar Shaykh Naveed Ashrafi.
“This video aired over two and a half years ago and has never been shown again on the Ummah Channel. The matter has been dealt with and the scholar in question was reprimanded as soon as the programme finished over two and a half years ago.
“Any views expressed in any of the programmes that air on the Ummah Channel are the personal views of the scholars and presenters that make the comments and statements and in no way represent the views of Ummah Channel. There is a clear disclaimer which is aired before every show on the Ummah Channel to highlight this point.
According to the mission statement on its webpage the Ummah Channel states: “Our mission spirituality, humanity, morality and the promotion of knowledge on the basics of Islam are at the foundation of everything we do. Our aim is to enrich viewers’ lives through free to view programmes which are not only educational and entertaining but also contribute towards individual spiritual development.
“Our beliefs are clear… We believe in: Promoting Islamic knowledge, teaching and educating all viewers regardless of their background in the true way of Islam, guiding individuals in fulfilling their spiritual and religious development. Being trusted for accuracy of content, airing programmes in English, Urdu, Arabic, Gujrati, French, Punjabi and Bengali which our viewers want to see.
“Our values are natural… At the heart of the Ummah Channel is the message of love, peace, harmony and respect. Love we profess our endless love for Allah the Almighty and His Last Prophet (endless peace and blessings upon him).”