Umar Lee: Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish

For those who don’t know, former Muslim convert Umar Lee, is (or should I saywas) a well known blogger in the “Islamic” blogosphere.  I must admit, I do not know “Mr. Lee” personally, but I have read some of his writings and heard about him from those who know him personally.

First of all, I didn’t agree with most of what Mr. Lee said while he was a so-called “Muslim” because most of it was extreme “Salafi” or “Wahabi” methodology;  meaning that he being a recent convert to the centuries old religion of Islam, suddenly became an expert without any type of formal religious teaching or scholarship – but of course that didn’t stop him from condemning his fellow (or former fellow) Muslims on how they should dress, act, speak and worship.

Most people probably are unaware that Mr. Lee was investigated by the FBI because they believed he had connections to terrorists.  Of course he was cleared of all suspicions, but very conveniently in 2010 he suddenly had dreams of Sheikh Gilani and started to leave his “Salafism” for the more peace-loving Sufism.  This according to his own blog post (which has since been removed).

Unfortunately, that did not completely cure his hatred and jealously of other “successful” American-Muslims, and just last year in May of 2012 he publicly attacked some Muslim “Hip Hop” artists as well as some scholars for not being true Muslims and in his words, “just going after some Pu–y”! (This YouTube video has also been made private now).

So now one year later, Mr. Lee issues a new video, but instead of attacking specific Muslims for not following Islam the way he thinks it should be practiced, he starts by saying that he is “gonna come out with a book” and that he “has left Islam” and “found his Lord and Savior in Jesus Christ” (PBUH).  Now, before we proceed further, let’s quickly analyze this.  The very first thing he says is that he is going to write a book!  Now for someone who has just found their “God” would writing a book be the first thing you proclaim?  Maybe, maybe not, but it is quite obvious after watching and listening to the rest of his diatribe on why he supposedly left Islam, he has become (or was always) one of those “Sell-Out Muslims” that he always use to diss and rag about on his blog posts and videos!  Very Ironic if you ask me.

The rest of the video proclaims that Muslims are always fighting each other.  They are racist.  They don’t mix with different cultures and races. They kill each other, etc.  If I were to use Mr. Lee’s same methodology to attack his new religion and the Southern Baptist Church, then I would have to say that they are over whelming White (80 percent, according to a 2010 study).  And looking at their history:  They were notoriously known to have filled the ranks of the Ku Klux Klan, Southern Baptists have been vociferous defenders of anti-miscegenation laws, Jim Crows edicts, lynching mob justice, to name a few. The Southern Baptist Convention was founded in 1845 in defense of slavery.

Now of course, I’m not saying that all Southern Baptist Christians are racist, but if you only look at one segment of a society, culture or a religion, then you can sway your reader’s views in that direction.

To be fair, Mr. Lee does bring up some important issues in his video about the Muslim Community – especially about the way we treat and help out converts to Islam.  There is very little support given to them, and many times, Like Mr. Lee they end up going back to their old way of life and leaving Islam. 

But I find it very surprising that someone like Mr. Lee, who was a practicing “Muslim” for more than 10 years, did not follow one of the basic rules of Islam, which is that before you try to educate others, you need to educate yourself.  Before you try to change others, you need to change yourself to be a better Muslim.  Before you blame others, look at yourself and try to correct your own mistakes.

Mr. Lee had some type of following and fanfare from other Muslims.  He could have used that fanfare to highlight how he would have helped a new Muslim.  He could have shown that this is how you treat a new person (or even an “old Muslim”) who is learning the ropes of Islam.  He could have assumed a leadership role like other activists. But he didn’t do that.  He took the easy way out.  Instead of trying to help his fellow converts, new and young Muslims – he decided to abandon them – for a quick buck.  He will probably be paraded around by Evangelical and Right-Wing Christian groups as another one of those “Ex-Muslims” who has come back to Jesus!  They will help promote him (like they are already doing on certain Islamophobic websites).  They will pay him to speak and to write his memoirs.

But in the end, he will be the loser and will be forgotten like the rest of those who just wanted fame and not the truth.  In his video Mr. Lee proclaims “I don’t see any joy” in the Muslims!  And this is one of the main reasons why he left.  Are you kidding me?!  If I hung out with Salafis for 99 percent of my time, I wouldn’t see any joy either.  Islam is too diverse to be described in a short video or even in a small blog post like this. 

I will just conclude with a short summary of a discussion I had recently with an older white Christian man, who works with our local Muslim community once a year on the day of Eid here in the Bay Area.  He helps to arrange for the carnival rides and games for the children.  He told me that he enjoys coming to our Eid program because he sees so much JOY in the eyes of the Muslim children and families who also come up to him and thank him for doing what he does.  It makes him (a non-Muslim, remember), feel happy.  Now, if this old man, had the same ideas as Mr. Lee, he probably wouldn’t be doing what he does (run carnival rides on the weekends), but instead he would be a racist, hateful, jealous and ignorant fool, who just likes to hear himself talk and make stupid videos with his camera phone and post it up on YouTube and then disable the comments, so he can’t hear anyone else in the world.

If you want to live like that Mr. Lee, go right ahead.  Like I said before: Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish.

  • The Sanity Inspector

    As an ex-Muslim, he can be lawfully killed by any Muslim anywhere in the world, forever. Hope he stays safe, & doesn’t have to live in hiding like other defectors.

    • IrfanRydhan

      Hello Sir. That is incorrect. Islamic Law, like other Law is based on rules and regulations as well as with judgements from proper judges. No one can kill anyone for no good reason. You have been watching too much FOX News my friend.

      • The Sanity Inspector

        The author of the book “Why I Am Not A Christian” lived openly and with complete acceptance his whole life, whereas the author of the book “Why I Am Not A Muslim” has to use a pseudonym and watch his back. We can’t help but notice these things going on behind your smiles, sir.

        • IrfanRydhan

          Hmmm, so you assume that only people who claim to be “Muslims” kill people they don’t agree with? May I remind you of Hitler (Christian), Timothy McVeigh (Christian), as well as those Right-wing Extremists who incite their fellow Christians to kill abortion doctors, immigrants and people of other religions here in the U.S. (Ann Coulter, Tim Nugent, Rush Limbaugh, etc.) – who are all so-called “Christians” as well. But unlike you, I don’t condemn a whole group, race, culture or religion of people because of the actions or words of a few.

          • The Sanity Inspector

            Nor do I. Unfortunately, homicidal jihadists, who obey their religion’s call to attack all unbelievers everywhere forever, are not “a few”. There’s a Timothy McVeigh in the Islamic world every month and sometimes more often than that. And too many allegedly peaceful Muslims feel compelled to provide rhetorical cover for them, as you do here, rather than engaging in honest self appraisal, as is the custom in the Christian, scientific West.

          • IrfanRydhan

            My friend, you seem to be very unfamiliar with world history as well as
            the problems of the world today. Unfortunately, uninformed people such
            as yourself believe Muslims are so violent and crazy that they are
            “attacking all unbelievers” every month! Wow that is such an ignorant
            comment. If that were reality, then that would mean that a majority of the 1.5 billion Muslims in the world would be killing their fellow human beings! I think you need to do a little study of whats going on in the
            world, because if you did you will find that the vast majority of the
            world’s violence is committed by Non-Muslims – including people from the
            “Christian, scientific West” as you say. Forget about the Crusades, Hiroshima and WW1 and WW2 for a minute. There are hundreds and thousands of innocent people being killed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan by bombs, drone attacks and military personnel of the so called “Christian, scientific West”! Read the book “Dying the Win:
            The strategic logic of suicide terrorism” as one example of how Muslims
            are assumed to be the cause of all violent suicide attacks – as one
            example. And no, I do not believe that all “Muslims” are innocent or do
            not commit any crimes – yes they do. And this was one of the points of
            my piece here. So-called “Non-Muslim Westerners” are always saying
            that Muslims don’t call out those Muslims who are extreme, etc. Here is
            one example where a former extremist Salafi leaning Muslim is being
            called out (Umar Lee), and now because he has “converted” back to
            Christianity, he is “forgiven” for all the harm he committed to the
            community (with his hateful and extremist views) and instead of the
            community being supported for rejecting his extremist views – the
            Non-Muslims are worrying about him being attacked or killed for becoming
            Christian. My friend, you can have him. I just hope he doesnt
            continue his hateful and extremist ways in a different religion. Oh
            wait, there is no such thing as a hateful and extremist Christian. NOT.

          • Obaid

            A couple things I thought might also be worth mentioning:

            -The Qur’an does not prescribe an earthly punishment for the apostate. The apostate’s punishment will come in the afterlife [2:217 (...And whosoever of you turns back from his religion and dies as a disbeliever, then his deeds will be lost in this life and in the Hereafter, and they will be the dwellers of the Fire. They will abide therein forever."); 4:137 (Lo! those who believe, then disbelieve and then (again) believe, then disbelieve, and then increase in disbelief, Allah will never pardon them, nor will He guide them unto a way.)]

            -According to Companions of the Prophet (saws) (ibn Masud) and Islamic scholars, apostasy is only a capital crime when one not only leaves Islam, but takes up arms against Islam and Muslims. That is the important qualifier when it comes to a death sentence. There’s a historical context for why apostates were treated so harshly during the early spread of Islam. Apostates threatened the stability and safety of the early Muslim ummah. However, a modern apostate wouldn’t have the same affect on the stability of the ummah, therefore (in my humble, unscholarly opinion) treating apostasy as a similar threat is unnecessary.

            So, just because a Muslim does it, doesn’t mean Islam allows it.

          • IrfanRydhan

            Thanks Obaid!

          • Noor

            Almost all Shia and Sunni sects agree that the punishment for apostasy is death.This position is usually backed up by various hadiths and 4:89 of Qur’an. Moreover, historically apostates were put to death in Islamic world.There were huge wars just after Mohammad’s death because some tribes turned back from Islam. Uthman’s assassination was justified because the rebels claimed that he’s an apostate.He was even buried in Jewish cemetery.You’re twisting facts to suit your view, but the reality is that many apostates are in grave danger and don’t feel safe to express their opinions because the majority of Muslims believe in death penalty for apostasy.

          • mudsack

            Neither Hitler nor McVeigh were Christians.

      • Noor

        Of course, but one of those good reasons is apostasy.It should be out of question to kill someone because he or she decided to leave a religion but sadly that’s not the case in Islam.

  • Daniel R Catone

    So, a good Muslim calls a former Muslim rubbish. And you wonder why we look askance at Islam? I think this is where I part ways with your faith.

    • IrfanRydhan

      Dear Sir. I am not calling myself a “good Muslim”. But I am just analyzing Mr. Lee’s own comments he made on video about his own former community of Muslims in St. Louis area. He is the one who attacked them first – and without providing any facts or figures to back up his claims that the Muslims are the most racist and have the most divorces, etc. etc. in America. So I was responding to all that “rubbish” – which it is. If he said that I’m becoming Christian because I love Jesus, etc. that would be a total different scenario – but he didnt come out like that. He came out attacking the very same community in which he was a part of for well over 10 years.

      • Daniel R Catone

        Nice try. The title of your post is “Umar Lee: Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish.” The use of the title with the colon designates Umar Lee as the object equated with rubbish. You are therefore calling Mr. Lee rubbish, and not his arguments. You should use some Christian charity and realize Mr. Lee is not rubbish, but a child of our God.

        • IrfanRydhan

          Mr. Catone. My Blog post title may be harsh, but It seems to me that you are very unfamiliar with the writings and sayings of Mr. Lee. If you were, you would not be so quick to “forgive” him. Let’s just put it this way, if he were still a “Muslim” and you knew the things he has done and said to hurt the community he was a part of, then you would probably call him worse words than “rubbish”. But because you believe he is a Christian now, then all his past mistakes are forgiven and he shouldnt be held accountable. Sorry, I don’t agree with that. If you say and do things which are harmful to the society you live in, then you need to be held responsible for that. Hiding behind a “new religion” does not save you from that.

          • Daniel R Catone

            And here you find the chief difference between our religions: My religion teaches that even the greatest sinner is forgiven by Christ. Yours does not. Even Mr. Lee is forgiven. Even you and I are. I don’t know Mr. Lee and I probably would find his beliefs of the past abhorrent, but I am not the one calling him names. You say that “If you say or do things which are harmful to the society you live in, then you need to be held responsible for that.” You are not the one to hold him responsible and you judge his new found religion as something he is hiding behind, as if he were faking it. You cannot read his soul and have no right to condemn him as rubbish any more than I could judge your beliefs as something you hide behind.

          • IrfanRydhan

            Ok, so now Mr. Lee has gone back to claiming to be a Muslim again. Check his latest video here:
            So. Mr. Catone, what do you say now? Is he still forgiven?

          • Aishah Schwartz
  • DefSufi

    I don’t agree with most of what Umar has said in his blogging career. But slagging him off in such a hateful manner can’t be constructive. If you’ve read “Rise and Fall of the Salafi Movement” on his blog, you can see why, where and how he went down the path he did, and why he seems to have abandoned Islam altogether. His views don’t make him rubbish. They make him at worst, misguided, uneducated, zealous and unquestioning. What the community should be doing is helping converts learn what Islam really is, rather than abandoning them to the wiles of those who approach the religion as if its a game of dress-up, toe the line, and don’t ask questions. We should be helping converts deal with the baggage they come with, smoothing the transition to Islam for them, not dumping them in the deep end and leaving them to be preyed on by the politically motivated or those with their own, uneducated ideas of what Islam is and isn’t. We also need to look at who we install as community leaders, especially in the West. Islam is not a culture or a nationality or a race or a political stance. It is not an allegiance to Saudi and their rulers, and it is not a game where what you wear is more important than what you do and how you treat your fellow human beings. It is not searching for and pointing out only the haram and waving off the rest. And it’s not about writing off someone because you disagree with them. If you see your brother in error, remind him, don’t club him. If you see your brother struggling, aid him, don’t burden him. If you’re not willing to help provide a solution, don’t slag off the problem. I wish Umar Lee the happiness that any human being deserves. As the Prophet (pbuh) said, “None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.”

    • IrfanRydhan

      Dear Sr. I don’t believe I “slagged him off in a hateful” manner. If you watched Mr. Lee’s latest video he is the one who starts attacking the Muslim community (after spending more than 10 years of his life as part of it) and make general comments without any stats or facts at all. So I was responding to his comments. Also there are many things which he has done or said which hurt not only his fellow Muslims, but also the larger community of Non-Muslim friends and neighbors in his area (St. Louis). I have been told first hand knowledge of things he has said or done, but did not mention in my short piece due to not having time to verify them. But that being said, if he wanted to Ieave Islam, he could have done so without having to attack the community who he was a part of for so long.

  • Ambaa

    Seems to show yet again that when people get really, really upset over someone doing something, it’s probably because they are themselves doing it or want to be doing it. His condemnations of others just sound like jealousy.

    Seems like he also fell victim to a common problem with converts to any religion: getting super enthusiastic to the point of burning themselves out.

  • Matthew Smith
    • Aishah Schwartz

      I tried to access your post but got a “Page not found” error message.

      • Matthew Smith

        I removed it because Umar Lee decided to return to Islam.

  • Haroon Rashid Abbasi

    My two cents –

    While I do not agree with the title of this piece, I can understand where Irfan is coming from. I started watching some of Mr. Lee’s video blogs a few years ago. Some of his work and writings weren’t that bad. But of course he did have the videos where he went off on a personal attack on a few people that I am acquainted with and am friends with in regards to certain personal lifestyle choices. THere were times where he seemed sincere in his faith, and there were times where he had a holier-than-thou attitude, leading to people probably distancing themselves from him.

    I have interacted with him online, and he seems like a nice person. But his reasons for leaving the deen, were unfounded. No joy in the community? Lack of brotherhood? If this is the way he felt, may God correct the ways of our Ummah. But individuals are individuals – and certain groups may aspire to interpret the Quran for their own personal or political agendas.

    I have noticed people going off on Islam in regards to certain verses. Anybody can pluck verses out of a book and malign them to fit their personal agenda. Wife beaters, terrorists and religious pundits are good at doing that. But we can’t deny that even the bible has verses that can be taken out of context as well.

    Mass murders and slavery, as well as the subjugation of women have all been done in the name of Christianity. I am not trying to cover up the actions of certain Muslims, but in all honesty – the problem of the Muslim world is really the lack of education, poverty, and a CLEAR lack of educated Muslim leaders who have studied the deen as a science. Mr. Lee went off on tirades at time and forgot that he DID to people what he is accusing our ummah of doing.

    I did speak to him a few times via Facebook. I do wish him well. He seems to have deleted most of his Muslim friends on Facebook.

    • IrfanRydhan

      thanks for the comments Haroon!

  • Jocelyn Roberts

    Great job, brother. Go ahead and attack him and practically kick him while he’s down, so that he thinks he’s made the right decision by returning to Christianity.

  • IrfanRydhan

    Update on All This. Mr. Lee has come back to the fold of Islam. I am happy to hear that he is trying to get back to being Muslim again, but at the same time, I suggest he get’s some serious psychiatric help because some of what he is saying is still very weird and out there. No one is perfect, but if someone is making public videos, then they are opening themselves up to public criticism and they are obviously looking for some kind of attention. I wish Mr. Lee the best and I hope he can find some peace in whatever path he ends up taking. Check his latest video here:

  • Aishah Schwartz